CRRRaSh! 278 Stranger Things and Other Things

By Roy Mathur, on 2019-08-01, at 18:44:35 to 19:36:32 BST, for Captain Rocket Roy's Radio Show, Listen

Hey Geeks! Get Out More

In your off time, put down the damn phone and get out. Maybe even smile at people. Don't let life pass you by. Yes, I am mainly talking to myself, but also to other shy people like me. It may feel that when you tried it before, that no one wants to see you or interact with you, or it wasn't quite as enjoyable as you had hoped. But if you don't pop your head out from your cave, you'll never know (or, as my parents used to say, "emerge from his nest", which sounds both ominous and comedic, but is factually accurate).

Take a book in case outside is a bit rubbish, because that's an even better way to telegraph your disapproval than pointedly staring at your phone, and books also make you look clever. (I used to favour headphones, but that's just a little too passive aggressive). Books can also signal what kind of person you are, and have been used as a pickup prop since, I assume, the very first books. Though, now that I think about it, I can't see how peacocking the c.1450 CE Gutenberg Bible can help one attract a mate. That may explain why this method (along with the cruelly and deceptively named Plenty of Fish; no, there aren't) has never worked for me. I tend to just read them now (books in general, not the Gutenberg Bible. I mean have you seen the size of the thing? You would not get it into a manbag).

Stranger Things Season 3 (2019)

Watched the latest season of HBO's sci-fi homage to the 80s almost the moment it was available a few weeks ago. Whereas Season 2 went horror, Season 3 goes comedy. It's jarring. I think Season 1 was the best.

I often rail against nostalgia, but some of it was okay, like the arrival of the mall. It reminded me of the arrival of Lewisham shopping centre in S.E. London, like a massive, marbly, glossy, snaky, alien worm tunnelling straight into the centre of the town (surely a case of rose-tinted spectacles). The impact was so huge, I cannot even remember a time before the mall. I also loved how they leaned heavily into The Neverending Story.

Other bits of nostalgia, or rather retro-xenophobia, made absolutely no sense. How exactly did the traditional 80s villainous Soviets get to that hick town and why are they wearing their uniforms? What is the point? Comedy, one supposes.

I liked what they did with Winona Ryder's character and her relationship with the sheriff. Admittedly, perhaps this is because I simply like her as an actress, and the more screen time she gets, the better.

Veering between horror and comedy felt unbalanced and the season has done nothing to advance the story, but I enjoyed it anyway.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)

After posting a couple of photos of the Dark Crystal trades, I also had a chance to see the trailer and a look behind the scenes of the new Netflix TV show based on The Dark Crystal (1982). That was another of those movies I saw the first time round in a cinema. I remember enjoying it immensely and being struck at how similar the mythos was to the Jedi/Sith relationship of Star Wars.

I have no doubt that The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance will be good, but again I worry about so much safe, but money-spinning, nostalgia in lieu of risky new work. I feel strongly that both the audience and creatives are missing out because of betting on a sure thing, versus putting money down on promising new content that may remain undiscovered forever because of this financial gatekeeping. This week we started with Stranger Things and, as you are about to see, this week's content is particularly replete with nostalgia.

Veronica Mars (2019)

The Veronicas Mars TV show is back.

I haven't watched anything about the teen and now adult detective, Veronica Mars, since the 2014 movie spin-off back in episode 38.

The show seems competent, but please, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, we need new stuff.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

I don't know about this one.

It's great to see Linda Hamilton back, but the language seems a little off, as if the scriptwriters don't know how real people swear. It seems a little shoehorned in as part of this new R-rated version.

The film is released in October.

Star Trek: Picard (2019)

In the latest Comic Con trailer we see more of the upcoming Picard show.

Data appears to be in it, along with Seven of Nine from Voyager and a lot of new younger faces, but what of Troi, Riker, La Forge, Guinan, and Barclay etc.? I'm not sure I'm entirely happy not seeing them in the trailer, so I hope they are in the show.

Though TOS is my favourite, followed by DS9, I do have some fondness for the oddly English fictional Frenchman.


Harry Potter Rewatch

Ahhh... this is nostalgia the way it was meant to be; actually watching that old thing you miss, rather than pining for a reboot.

Maybe it's because I'm feeling a little pah lately, but really... the last film wrecked me emotionally and is partly how I came up with the Preshow topic.

Inspector Morse Rewatch

And even more of the old. I also watched a couple of old episodes Inspector Morse; really television films.

I enjoyed them, and seeing a few famous faces like Mark Strong (with hair) and Ian McDiarmid in Masonic Mysteries (1990) directed by Danny Boyle was fun.

The Boys (2019)

Something new at last; an okay show about a CIA sponsored anti-superhero death squad.

It dials back the sexual violence, but amps up the non-sexual violence of the original Garth Ennis comics, which is a very American thing to do. This is a mixed blessing, as it means that despite what I said about the violence being a potential turn off for me in 276, I'm okay watching it. On the other hand, the hideous abuse is an important aspect of motivation for Butcher and his gang in the comics.

It also suffers, as I said in 276, from Karl Urban's appalling attempt at a London East End accent. Oh, and if there was one show that could have worked favourably from a little with race-bending, surely it's this one. Stay with me, this is relevant, because can't you just see towering Idris Elba from Hackney as Billy Butcher? I have often complained about Elba's strong London accent, but here it could have worked. Further regarding dialogue, I appreciated the swearing, using just about every explicit London English word I myself have favoured and overused over the years, and with which I also managed to offend a lot of middle-class people and non-Londoners. Although I no longer speak that way, at least not sober, I fervently hope that the people I shocked over the years bleed from the ears when they hear the strings of foulness emanating from Billy Butcher's nasty gob.

The acting is good all-round. Karen Fukuhara stands out as a less faceless (than the comic's) version of the Female.

The laser baby scene reminds me of Samuel Vimes brandishing a baby dragon in Terry Pratchett's Guards series or Chow Yun Fat in Hard Boiled.

RIP Rutger Hauer

One day after the last general geek episode of CRRRaSh! Rutger Hauer died. RIP Rutger Hauer, 23 January 1944 to 19 July 2019.

Not only because of the iconic and poetic Roy Batty from Blade Runner, the Dutchman was also one of my favourite genre actors from many, many 80s movies. I remember him best from Ladyhawke and Split Second (where he menaces Ian Drury), but there's also the notoriously nasty Flesh and Blood, and the barmy post-apocalyptic sports blood fest The Salute of the Jugger. There is, in fact, a long list of B-movies spruced up by the presence of someone with serious acting chops like Hauer. Also seek out the excellent The Legend of the Holy Drinker for a quite different, but still fantastic Rutger Hauer performance.

CRRRaSh! salutes Rutger Hauer!

BT Infinity: I'm Sort of Getting Fibre

After BT bothered me for months with offers for a free upgrade to fibre from copper ADSL, then rescinded because I waited too long, I recently got a letter offering the "free" upgrade again.

It's only to the cabinet though and the "free" bit? That's subject to BT's restrictive new contract and an eventual price hike. I'm also a bit worried about my noisy line for that last cabinet-to-home over copper leg, but I'm sick of not having a live TV service and relying on an utterly useless satellite dish.

I'm not holding out much hope, because my opinion of BT is very, very low. Wait for an update, which, no doubt, will probably contain a lot of shouting. If you're listening in the UK you'll know what I mean. If you're outside the UK... imagine any large, greedy, incompetent, and arrogant communications monopoly.

Turn It Off!

My electricity bill suddenly spiked and the only new thing I have is the big TV. So now I'll turn the thing off at night. It's a bit of a faff, but it saves money, carbon, the planet, my karma etc.

50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing

The 20th was the 50th Anniversary of the Moon landing on 1969-07-20 20:17. I talked about my own experience of the moon landing in 249. To celebrate the 50th anniversary, NASA has a page full of photographs, video, and audio.

Humongous NASA Media Dump

If you have more time to spare, you might also want to peruse NASA's vast stock of media encompassing their entire history. As well as by browsing directly, you can also programmatically trawl through the data using their API.

Iceland's Revolting Vegetarian Fish Fingers

This isn't the first time I've complained about vegetarian food; I talked about the unappetising Beyond Burger in 255. This time it's Iceland's own brand vegetarian fish fingers.

I knew something was wrong the moment I opened the box when I got a strong whiff of chemicals. Was this normal, or was I about to poison myself? Despite every instinct blaring the four minute warning, I donned an idiotic devil-may-care floppy cavalier's hat and popped them into the oven. As they cooked the smell was appalling and graduated from whiff to stench, and yet I persisted. When they were ready, I stabbed a fork into one and took a bite. It was chewier than polystyrene flakes of... stuff drenched in chemical warfare. I immediately aborted the experiment and dumped them in the bin, where they continued to waft the scent of chemical death into my home.

While I found the Beyond Burger to be unmeaty and a little unpleasant, the Iceland fake fish fingers were positively offensive.

It's hard to imagine how these were developed. Were the chemists, cooks, and tasters completely devoid of olfactory senses and flensed of taste buds? Back to the drawing board Iceland, you missed the mark by a nautical mile.

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

The RPi 4B was released about a month ago. Compared to my RPi 3 B+, the RPi 4 B has upgraded CPU, Ethernet, USB, video, and can almost work as a desktop. It is available with 2GB RAM for c.GBP 35 or with 4GB RAM for c.GBP 55.

Drawbacks? It runs hotter and due to a design cock-up, only certain USB cables can power it. Either wait for the revised version or buy the official power cable.

Caramel Baritone Electro Acoustic Ukulele Problems Update

My cheap baritone ukulele is finally working. I had to change all of the electronics with a kit of replacement parts from the manufacturer, including the preamp, jack socket, cabling, and piezo pickup, but it now works three weeks after I bought the thing.

It definitely wasn't a job for the faint hearted and, given this instrument is aimed at beginners, I really can't see anyone going to the lengths I have. And I still need new tuning pegs to replace the barely acceptable mangled ones fitted by an orc. Frankly, I feel like a bit of a mug, but at least I can add how to electrify acoustic instruments to my very amateur luthiery skills.

Dreaming Stories

I had a couple of weird nightmares recently, probably brought on by cheese. The point is, I quickly mumbled what happened into the recorder app on my phone before flaking out. Always have some means of recording your ideas to hand, and a recorder is easier to operate when half asleep than pen and paper.