By Roy Mathur, on 2020-07-31, at 23:19:22--00:08:01 BST, for Captain Roy's Rusty Rocket Radio Show, Listen
It's hot again. It's humid again. Global Goddamn. Warming. Of course, I choose smack-bang in the middle of a heatwave to re-start work on the garden.
I also seem to have cold in one nostril, or is that a sinus infection? Whatever it is, according the NHS website, it isn't Covid-19 and it is mild.
Actually, weaning myself off a reflux prescription, dealing with migraines, hot weather, the Corona, and the general hell that is life, isn't as bad as usual. That means I've either given in, or that I'm coping with it. Or are those both the same thing, with the latter only seeming more positive?
Lot's this week, so strap yourself down and take your medication, we're going in!
The Light Fantastic is a graphic novel adaptation of Terry Pratchett's book of the same name, a sequel to his first Discworld novel The Colour of Magic.
It was a random buy for 25p from Milton Keyne's Central Library's perpetual book sale local library, back when we still had one (are they open yet?), which is why I only have the sequel. I can't remember exactly when I bought it, but I think it was a year or so ago. My copy is a 1998 paperback reprint published by Corgi Books, on a nice heavy weight paper, and it smells glorious.
The plot follows Rincewind, the wizard on which I base my DnD character, Twoflower the tourist on which I base my Nethack character, on their continuing calamitous adventures on and off Discworld. It soon morphs into an unintentional quest to prevent the destruction of Discworld by reading out the spells of an extremely powerful magical book. At one point there's an amusing scene of reverse racism when Twoflower calls the massive stones of the druid's computer "ethnic".
Over the years, I have read most of the Discworld series, so I already have a general idea of the setting, characters, and the plots, though I haven't read many of the graphic novels. This one has bright punchy colours and the art is half-way between Josh Kirby's distinctive cover art style used for the novels and something that is more human-centric and easier on the eye.
This is still the same Joe Harris and Martin Morazzo et al comic book from the Image Comics series I mentioned years ago (pod 128 in 2016), then bought a few less years ago, then started reading in 316, but have only just finished.
In a future run by a single corporation, in which global warming has killed the weather, a young student investigates the disappearance of an enigmatic, weather controlling supervillain. All hell then breaks loose as a cybernetically enhanced corporate goon is sent to retrieve the weather controlling technology from the supervillain, long dormant, but now active again and committing destructiive outrages.
I said back in 316 that the art far outweighs the story, and it still does, but I found the panel layout occasionally confusing, the text in places too small to read, the dialogue stilted, and the plot rather too conventional for my tastes. It's worth buying the paperback trade though, if only for the sheer eye candy. The art reminds me of the work of the late French comic book artist Moebius (Jean Giraud). In fact, the story does seem like something he and his sometime collaborator, writer Alejandro Jodorowsky, might have made, with some of Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira, and a smidgen of Koji Suzuki's Ringu thrown in for good measure.
Tom Hanks is a first-time leader of a group of warships escorting freighter's across the U-Boat-riddled Atlantic during World War 2.
It's an efficient action movie, with lot's of interesting nautical stuff going on, so yeah, I enjoyed it.
Biopic snippet of author Shirley Jackson's life is a gothic psychological horror film.
Which sounds great, except I hated it. I hated it because I didn't like anyone in the film. I didn't like her abusive, belittling husband. I didn't like Shirley's psychopathic mind games. I didn't like their guests/victim's; the pathetic academic butt-licker and his sexually confused fangirl wife. There was no one I could even slightly relate to---not even Shirley the horror writer---which, given my creative interests, makes this film a failure. I found it hard to get through and I was glad when it was over. I wish I hadn't watched it, because it's going to be an effort to not let this discolour my future reading of her material.
As a vignette of predatory middle-class intelligentsia and academia it works, but then so does Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), evilly casting Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor because of their toxic on-screen chemistry; a result of their chaotic real-life relationship.
This is a one-off BBC feature length documentary about the extraordinary rise of the iconic rural residential studio near the incredibly coincidentally named village of Rockfield in Wales. You've probably seen it portrayed in films like Bohemian Rhapsody.
Being a bit of a rock nut, of course I enjoyed this.
Michaela Coel has written and stars in a powerful and unsettling drama about sexual consent based on a personal traumatic incident. Rashoman-like, we see the assault from every angle and also the many possible outcomes. Nothing is easy and the protagonist is not easy to relate to. I watched it all
Three years after the show ended, I caught up and watched seasons two and three.
Dectorists is a half-hour comedy, written, directed, and starring Mackenzie Crook (Pirates of the Carribean and The Office). It follows the lives of a couple of Essex metal detector hobbyists, sifting through the history under their feet. The BAFTA award-winning series is a summery, sweet, rural, low-key series, punctuated by some real laugh out loud moments.
It's also psychotherapy for me. As a disillusioned ex-career archaeologist---the academic portion of which almost destroyed my love of history and my life (I'm not exaggerating)---I have mixed-to-negative feelings about watching shows like Time Team. Fortunately, as one of the characters, Lance, says: "See, archaeologists, they gather up the facts, piece the jigsaw together, work out how we lived and find the buildings we lived in. But what we do... that's different. We unearth the scattered memories. Mine for stories. Fill in the personality... We're time travellers." I'd forgotten that when academia changed the course of my life---at the same time almost ending it---about a decade ago. Thanks to this show I was reminded of why I love history.
The next day after finishing the show, I spoke to my mother and we reminisced about our finds at our home in SE London many years ago. I might have more to say about this, but let's leave that for the future.
Fourteen years later I finally sampled this New Who spin-off.
Whereas Doctor Who and the Sarah Jane Adventures are aimed at children, the spin-offs Class is aimed at teens and Torchword at young adults and is swearier and bonkier than the other shows. ("Swearier" and "bonkier"? How old am I?)
The first episode saw the unfortunate victim of a serial killer brought back to life, with just enough time to be told that he was already dead and only had two minutes of conciousness left. So, like Doctor Who and all it's off-shoots, depsite it's more adult orientation, we're in familiar science fiction horror territory.
It's a Russell T. Davies show, so it's inclusive. I appreciate the little snippets he throws into the script to just make the world a better place, like when a minor character says that he'd rather hire hard working Poles.
The Cardiff setting, with many overhead shots, is also interesting and different, as I have only driven through the city once before.
I quite enjoyed the first two episodes and, in lieu of little else Whoish to watch, after my recent re-re-re-New Who rewatch and current Old Who rewatch, I'll probably intermittently watch an episode. Something to do at dinnertime.
I've just caught up and watched the rest of season one. It's refreshing take on teen superheroes, and both metaphorically and literally a critique about the underbelly of the American rural dream.
I probably won't stick with the show past this season, though I have enjoyed learning about DC's Golden Age Justice Society of America and Seven Soldiers of Victory.
This is the first animated show since the excellent Star Trek: The Animated Series that played from 1973--1974.
This time around it's a comedy, and though I was initially rather dubious about it, I have recently seen the trailer, and it does look like something I'd like.
The one reservation I have, is that the show follows the lives of junior officers, while I would have preferred it to be about ordinary crew, which is something we rarely see in the franchise.
What happened to The Expanse? I don't know, but as far as I can see, it will still return for season five. It just appears delayed due to Covid-19.
Because I wasn't paying attention, I missed the free Comic-Con@Home. I heard it wasn't great, and looking at the video panels, I don't think there is much that would have interested me anyway.
Currently Twitter is the only social media I use on a regular basis.
A scheduler like Twuffer is essential for what I do. After Twitter killed Twuffer by blocking their API access, I found out that a similar third party Tweet scheduler called Tweetdeck had been acquired by Twitter. I tried it out and think it's clunky, and I also have problems displaying the entire page of the app on my desktop's non-HD 1600 x 900 screen.
I'm still writing show notes in ANSI plain text with UNIX line endings for both maximum compatibility and because I am lazy. Yeah, not even Unicode. I had another stab at returning to using HTML, but no way man. Writing notes that way is unbearably slow. Same goes for Markdown, before anyone suggests that. Not that anyone ever suggests anything, but... (enough with the passive aggression Roy).
Anyway, the new thing I'm doing is that I'm also finally embedding the show notes as metadata into the #CRRRaSh! MP3 files. Of course, no podcast manager and barely any media players display this. Even with VLC, you have to dig down a little. I'm doing this anyway to future proof my episodes by making them self contained. This is a bit like in embedding the runtime library into a MS QuickBasic executable you've just compiled. It makes a slightly bigger file, but you don't have to worry that the end user will be missing out.
Out are blacklists and whitelists, and master and slave drives.
I approve. I never felt entirely happy with the old nomenclature.
Even if that stuff never bothered you before, as logical techie nerds we hate ambiguity. Replacing "master and slave" with, e.g., "primary and secondary", just sounds easier to understand.
I'm not going to jump down someone's throat for an occasional slip of the tongue (or brain), but neither am I going to be kind to those who just relish getting upset that yellow, brown, red, and black people have actual feelings. I think that railing against simple politeness is a nasty little hobby of the privileged whiny few.
I covered Amazon's profiteering from the sale of neo-Nazi goods in some detail in pod 261 last year. I'm not the first to have done so, or the last---BBC Click recently looked into the subject---but unlike the BBC, I was completely ignored by Amazon who said in an email, "Please bear in mind, however, that as a retailer, our goal is to provide customers with the broadest selection possible so they can find, discover and buy any item they might be seeking. Because our customers represent a wide spectrum of opinions, that selection may include some items which people find objectionable."
While I'm glad Jeff Bezos has apparently suddenly developed a social conscience and now supports BLM, I'm curious why he thought ignoring this was okay before the BBC took an interest. Actually I'm not curious at all because, as we know, it's the size of your platform, not your voice, that matters. Incidentally, I also tried contacting just about every publisher I could find, but at the time none were interested.
As a ordinary consumer, if you see something disgusting on Amazon, write directly to Jeff's minions via email@example.com.
We've broached this topic many times, but since I talked about The Light Fantastic earlier, let's first talk about the late great Terry Pratchett.
On the subject of Terry Prachett's conciousness of diversity and representation in his entire canon, I think he was kind of half-arsed about it. I also remember him blowing a gasket and saying the same tired old nonsense about how he didn't see colour when called to task.
That was as demi-bottomed as J.k. Rowling exclaiming Dumbledore's gayness, by previous semi-buttocked implication, rather than by explicitly stating in the text that Dumbledore snogged Grindelwald. And let's not even go into her bizarre views on transgender people.
Pratchett was better than most, but until Pyraminds; no, he wasn't that diverse a writer. And yes, I've read Johhny and the Bomb, and no, it is not realistic that a black character would be lovely to an arsehole bedecked in racist symbology, even if only for the sake of protective camouflage. Yes, that character probably learns the error of his ways, but don't expect me as a brown person to be all warm and fuzzy. Oh, and Two-Flower... that's not diversity, that's Orientalism-lite. On the other hand, I'll let that one go because I enjoy Twoflower's tourist naivete, on holiday I look like a darker version of him, and he occasionally gets to stick the boot in (see what I said about The Light Fantastic previously).
I'm still a fan of Pratchett and Rowling and I'm not about to cancel them, and, like I said they are better at inclusiveness than most white Western genre creatives, but I'm also not a blinkered suck-up who treats them and others who create the stuff we in geekdom love as gods.
I'm saying this because I remember a long time ago, a white male fellow nerd tried to, "don't you agree" me that Terry Pratchett was an inclusive writer and, "can you just believe those non-white ingrates? Blah, blah, blah". I'm paraphrasing---he wasn't quite that rude---he was more weasely than that. Now I feel bad for having bad-mouthed weasel-kind. Let's just say he was a little bit of a git. As nerds of colour we've all heard this bollocks before.
If you are a creative, don't be passive, be active in being inclusive in the worlds you create, because those worlds generally reflect this world where everything is a shade (unless you are deliberately creating some revolting dystopic mono-culture). If you're not sure about how to write a minority character, ask someone who shares those characteristics. Don't just make them a skin-deep minority, who underneath is actually a straight white, able-bodied chap in his mid-20s--early 30s because that's what you are or you couldn't be bothered to do the research. And remember, it's not only about race or gender, it's also about portrayals of disability and neurodiversity.
If this all sounds like a bit much, well I'm not getting any younger and I'm saying this in my pod as a way of standing up and being counted in this current climate of change, because I have never found any genre character or setting---in literature, cinema, or gaming---relatable as a South Asian, neurodiverse male.
Diversity means putting those different people in. Now you've done that, great, but are those people just window-dressing, or do they have agency? Do you remember how, in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, there were non-white characters in Lake Town who did little apart from appear on camera? They were only even there because of fans like me shouting for a long time. That's lip service diversity with zero representation.
Then there's also all the other roles in genre media, like acting, writing, publishing etc. Despite media supposedly being left-leaning and liberal, where the hell are people like me? It's 2020 now and I've been talking about this since I was a child and online in my first blog post in 2011.
Not convinced? A final shot at creatives who think that all this diversity business is stifling. Tell you what, ignore diversity and representation and keep doing exactly what you're doing and you will end up with fans like weasel-face and the gamergate and comicsgate dickheads.
Stick that up your wizarding robes.
The first theme of this show was a free electric guitar riff from a music magazine CD from the early 2000s or 1990s that I heavily reworked. Then, over the years, I have tried many others, but many don't sound upbeat enough or are a little too long.
I've now settled, for time being at least, and as you no doubt already heard, on my own take of the George Formby triple strum played on my banjolele. It should be familiar to you as it has introduced the mid-roll advertisement for my latest novel many times in past episodes.