CRRRaSh! 316 Louche Adventurer

By Roy Mathur, on 2020-06-02, at 17:09:53--18:01:06 BST, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen

Virus Diary

Up and down. That's how I feel. Even if it weren't for the additional stress of the pandemic, I would be in a state of personal and professional flux. Covid-19 has made the flux more like chaos.

There's a specific reason for this that I'll talk about in the creative section.

I also had a run in an unbelievably officious man enforcing social distancing outside Screwfix. There was no one around, so no one was at risk, but because I took a shortcut to the waiting area he harangued me. Instead of leaving things there, he kept badgering me and insisted that I re-enter the queue the proper way, i.e. go the long way round, even though there were still no customers in sight. It didn't help that he had a high, nasal voice. Words were exchanged---"Plebgate" comes to mind---and I almost got barred from the store before I ate crap and apologised just to end the escalation. I'm suddenly happy about ToolStation's aggressive, slightly piratical policy of locating their shops right next to Screwfix.

Back when I had a real life, I could have shrugged this off and just let the power-mad, petty little man have his way, but at the time I was incensed. At least it just wasn't me he was hassling. His own colleagues seemed annoyed with him too. To cap it all, for the second time Screwfix mixed up my order with someone else's and I had a long wait. Click-and-Collect? My wizardly arse. To my childish satisfaction, when I drove past recently, I saw that he'd been replaced. But enough of this and more on that real life later in the show.

What else? Excuses for fewer episodes? Okay, here it is. It's not that I don't have material or I'm losing enthusiasm. Apart from the personal strain I'm feeling, it's because I can't get a consistent time to record. It's a nasty spiral because the less I record, the worse I feel, and the worse I feel, the less I record.

As for national Covid-19 news in the UK? I finally caught up on the news, after weeks of avoidance. Near 40,000 dead and schools reopening in England. I'm as sick of the lockdown as everyone else, but you have to ask yourself what could possibly go wrong?


The first of two things I consumed called Snowfall. This is comic book series I mentioned years ago, then bought a few less years ago.

In a corporate future America, the global weather has gone to hell, and a young person sticks their nose too far into the mystery of a weather controlling supervillain/antihero.

The art far outweighs the story, though that is not a small thing. I enjoyed the cover art featuring the supervillain becaause you can't beat a good supervillain design.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Retro review time. I saw this ages and ages ago, possibly even back in 2012 or 2013. I suppose it's not in my notes because either I didn't review it, I didn't think it fit into the show's geekly theme, or I did chat about it, but just didn't write anything down. There are many media like that, though as I remember them, I try and add them to the show.

This is a film based on a YA novel about a depressed teen trying to fit in, when he meets two new friends and blacks out after defending one of them. Eventually we find out the reason for the black outs. When I first saw this film, the trailers and reviews had done such a good job that the horrifying reveal caught me off-guard.

It is amazing how media for young adults or children so often manage to deliver the gut punch far more effectively than that aimed at adults. Remember that first scene in the clearing in The Hunger Games?

It's a good film, but it seesaws into a jarring, bolted-on, positive ending. I would have gone for something less trite and more ambiguous.

Maleficient: Mistress of Evil

I really liked Angelina Jolie's live action and sympathetic take on Disney's villain from Sleeping Beauty (1959) in Maleficent (2014).

I did not like the sequel that plays like a straight war film and also reveals too much of the character's new and ridiculous origin. Jolie is great, but the film built around her lacks mystery and is boring.

Color Out of Space

A mess of a H.P. Lovecraft horror adaptation by Ricard Stanley that isn't even saved by Nicolas Cage being Nicolas Cage. It's The Thing in the woods... only it's bad.

That bugs me because I was an early Richard Stanley fan (Hardware and Dust Devil). Seeing him back in filmmaking after the The Island of Dr. Moreau debacle, from which he was fired, is really great. I also like him because he looks a little like a wizard.

Let's hope whatever he does next is better.

The Report

It isn't All the President's Men, but it is at least a B+ topical political drama about the US using torture post-911.

Adam Driver is good as a gestalt character, but the script gave him little to play with.


Fun Chronicle/X-Files-ish alien abduction sci-fi until halfway through, then made unintentionally hilarious with ludicrous robotic henchmen and shots reminiscent/an homage/plagiarised from THX 1138, which did it better almost half a century ago.


I've continued watching the (still) depressing tale of crack flooding 80s Los Angeles, which I talked about in a previous episode.

It's absorbing, but despite the 80s gloss, horribly bleak.

I didn't feel the same about Breaking Bad because that felt like make-believe, while this does not. Oh, and ex-lucha libre masked wrestler Gustavo is my favourite character---probably because of that fantasy element that lets me escape the everyday misery of the show.

The only thing that snaps me out of the moment is seeing the same house dressed up as different places and Gustavo's too modern suede hooded jacket (which I rather like, so I'll give the jacket a pass).

I finished at the end of season three, a point at which I think is the show's natural end.


Similarly, partly thanks to the damp squib season three ending, I've also ditched Westworld at the end of season three. Besides, in much the same way as I should have dropped Killing Eve when it's creator left, I'm leaving as Westworld creators Jonathon Nolan and Lisa Joy depart.


Even more depressing light-hearted black comedy, which really feels like a whole series based on one Black Mirror episode. Upload is about a future in which, if you have the money, you can live in a digital afterlife.

The Kurzweillian dream is something I used to think was pretty cool, but this show, with it's fake and commercialised heaven run by a big tech, convinces me that it might actually be a horrific idea.


This is an ITV show in the UK about a police officer, covering up a murder that she herself committed.

I found it engaging enough to boxset my way to the latest episode. What I particularly like about it is that, in my non-medical judgement, even as the bodies stack up, she doesn't seem to be a psychopath or sociopath. Though I'm not sure those are even valid diagnoses any more.

As for diversity? There are certainly plenty of people who look like me. The chief copper is an unbelievably dense Asian played by Art Malik, all the criminals are Asian, and the one good Asian is an ineffectual forensic scientist. Of the two Asian marriages featured, one is forced. The Asians are all either crooked, stupid, or weak. Diversity.

The End of the F***ing World

I watched season two of the black comedy out of sheer boredom. It's both a prequel and sequel of season one.

This time we follow Bonnie, the naive love interest, if you can call it that, of abusive lecturer Clive Koch killed by our anti-hero James when he tries to rape Alyssa in season one. This is the story of Bonnie's attempt to avenge herself on the pair, as well as what happens to James and Alyssa after the raid by armed police.

The show is based on an American comic book and this season there is an attempt to make the show seem set in some weird mid-Atlantic no man's land occupied by films like Hellraiser. It neither helps nor hinders, but is a little off-putting.

It's okay, though it does contain a lot of pointless driving around the countryside.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I have been re-listening to the original 1978--2005 radio series, not including the radio adaptation of Eoin Colfer's And Another Thing..., which I thought wasn't great and didn't feel very H2G2 when it came out.

Repairing Your Own Stuff

Most consumer power tools are not designed to be serviced. Given that the planet is turning into a vast rubbish dump, and older tools are of far better quality (I almost blinded myself when the blade from a new hedge trimmer exploded), I decided to service my old hedge trimmer. I managed to disassemble and clean it, with only minor blunders, and re-filled the crank case with grease.

While it is environmentally sound to fix rather than replace, I'm not sure about the economic viability of always repairing your own stuff because the parts and tools you need will often cost more than a new appliance, but there is something satisfying about knowing how something works. For example, I now know the basics of how an electric motor works, which, as electric vehicles become more widespread, is something we should all know.

Tradesmen and Covid-19

Some plumbers came around to give us an estimate and seemed blissfully unaware of not spreading the infection.

They told me that the last plumbers semi-cocked up the job, but they could jury-rig a repair. Given that the plumbers before them said the same thing, I'm wondering when this chain of bodges will eventually stump the poor plumber hired to fix a future problem. I'm not exactly swimming in a bottomless pool of confidence, though I guess someone, somewhere along the line, will be swimming in a pool of something terrible.

If you are a tradesperson listening to this, of course, you are not all cowboys, but I've had so many problems recently that my view is rather jaundiced. If it makes you feel better, the last two of your tradesmen brethren to visit; internet techs from BT and OpenReach respectively, were, unbelievably, okay. Also, I was a crap PC repairman and a rubbish security guard, so maybe pick a job to which you are better suited. I'd spring for louche adventurer personally.

Coil Whines and Ground Loops

I'm not electronically inclined enough to know the exact reasons these things happen, but when they do, they can wreck your day.

I bought and immediately returned my first and last backlit keyboard from London Drugs in Vancouver many years ago because of an irritating persistent high pitched coil whine.

I did the same with a Fender Acoustasonic 15 watt amp from PMT in Northampton about a year ago because and an annoying ground loop hum.

I was about to abandon my Mac Mini 2012, which I thought had developed a coil whine; something Apple acknowledges is a known problem, but for which they take no responsibility. Turned out to be a Kensington Orbit Trackball, which is much, much cheaper to deal with.

Twitter vs Twuffer

The Tweet scheduler is closing down. I got an email recently saying:

"We're shutting down
As many of you are aware our access to the Twitter API was unexpectedly suspended by Twitter on February 24, 2020. Without API access Twuffer is unable to communicate with Twitter.
After several months of unsuccessful attempts to contact Twitter and restore access we are forced to shut down.
All Twuffer data will be deleted on June 5, 2020. If you'd like to export any unsent Tweets you can do so until that date. After that all data will be permanently deleted."

Twitter vs. Trump

The orange idiot is hammering Twitter for fact checking him... but he is a lying git, so...?

Argos Product Range and UI

I recently complimented Argos on their delivery system.

On the other hand, regarding their online ordering system, while desktop browser access is okay, there are ocassional issues on mobile devices. I gave up trying to order on mobile because the experience is too slow and glitchy, for example, sometimes the progress spinner would just stall.

Another annoyance is that you know have to dig into a dropdown list just to read the product deatils. Why? What is the point of that? Why make the user work harder. I hate most UI designers.

Final annoyance---what the hell happened to their extensive product lines? I rememebr a time when you could buy almost anything. Now? Not so much. It's as if most retailers have just given up. I wonder why... Oh. Amazon.

(If you're not in the UK, Argos is a UK catalogue shop).

Press Events

Before all hell broke loose globally, I was about to start accepting invitation to press events once more and start talking and writing about them. I used to get them because I am a journalist and occasionally interviewed the right people. My enthusiasm for such things dribbled away since I was gradually involuntarily benched as a freelance journalist a few years ago, when there was no interest paying for my work, i.e. newspaper and blog editors suddenly wanted freebies; a situation familiar to most freelancers. The benching was a foreshadowing of furloughing perhaps; though a furlough that wended it's way into the infinite.

That changed this year when I thought to myself, if fellow bloggers and podcasters don't get press invitations, maybe it's a opportunity cover events that only the big media outlets can usually get into. In fact, I have missed a few unbelievable opportunities, but, in my defence, social anxiety was a strong factor too.

Then this buggeration happened.

Of course, when this hell is finally over, and my life is no longer on hold, I will have to reach out to those PR people to remind them that I still exist and ask them to please get me back on those lists.

This time I'm determined to get back into freelance journalism, even if I don't get paid immediately. I need something that makes me feel, if not important, at least not on the scrapheap. Everyone needs that.

At least they'll be free food and entertainment. Hey... "louche adventurer"!