CRRRaSh! 386 Uncle was a Stage Magician

By Roy Mathur, on 2021-06-08, at 23:20:05--00:07:57 BST, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen

Another Second Taping

I'm taping this again because yesterday I used my Behringer XM8500 mic plugged into my Sony PCM-M10 recorder, so I could get more field recording practice for the road show.

Unfortunately the audio was bad. The gain was set to 8 to accomodate the dynamic mic, meaning the noise floor was dreadful for such a low noise recorder. The sound quality was even worse than recording directly into a phone nine years ago in my first and second episodes. I only knew this after importing into Audacity. Maybe I should have tried turning the gain down and moving closer to the mic?

The Sony is a good recorder with its built in mics or externally powered condensers. But I've found it sounds awful with the gain cranked and my dynamic mic.

The second taping is proof that even after nine years I can still badly mess things up. To not mess things up tonight, I'm recording a low volume safety track with a second mic.

Han Solo

Further to a fellow podcaster recently saying that no communication from your listeners could mean they don't think your opinion worthy of a response, perhaps because this is a one-man show---wow, triggering---here's something I feel like we've covered before regarding my choice of running a solo podcast.

Remember the quote from Star Wars: A Han Solo Story?

Imperial Recruiter: "Who are your people?"
Han Solo: "I don't have people. I'm alone."
Imperial Recruiter: "Han... Solo."

That's either a fancy way of saying you have no friends or if you are Han Solo, something to say that's quite cool and will make the hearts of women melt when they hear it.

I know which I prefer.

Uncle was a Stage Magician

The topic of stage magic came up when I was recently talking with my mother and she repeated a story that I keep meaning to relate to others. That story is that a distant great uncle was a stage magician.

I've heard this story a few times, but somehow (magically?) it keeps slipping my mind. What's even more incredible is that he was involved in a feud with another jealous stage magician, who sabotaged my uncle's sawing a person in half trick, leading to a police investigation after a performance went horribly wrong. (Mum tends to embellish that last bit with blood and screaming and panicking running crowds).

I know what you're thinking. Shaggy dog story, right? Or, if something like this actually happened, perhaps it was a publicity stunt set up by a couple of dodger performers?

I know that the cutting a woman in half trick is possibly the simplest trick ever devised, and once you know how it's done, you'll be kicking yourself, but that's also the case with many tricks, like Criss Angel's leaning trick; which is what started us talking about magic in the first place. If it's so simple how could it go so wrong? Your guess is a good as mine. I think the son of my uncle may still be alive, but I'm not about to fly to Mauritius to investigate. Unless... Beeb! You pay B-listers to do far less interesting things than that.

At least this has given you a chance to hear another astonishing piece of my weird family history.

Blade

Blade's British? (The comic character, at least). No way! I used to own an early comic with a Blade story, but that was in the 70s when we didn't know they would be valuable later. (Are they valuable?)

Wesley's brilliant in the film though, so don't use this as an excuse to reboot.

Vivarium

Strapped for cash house hunters visit a bargain house on a new-build estate. When they are abandoned in the maze-like structure, they are given a task in return for their release.

It's a contemporary and possibly unconscious spin on golden age sci-fi horror. It's something you would read as a short story in a 1940--1950s anthology or magazine. I say this because, from the interviews I've read, I don't think the filmmakers would understand the references. I'm not being condescending, I just don't think they are old enough. Though I'm not old enough either, but I do have a taste for the era.

The spin here is alien invasion, but just not in a way you would expect. You may think I'm spoiling this movie, but I'm not. The movie does that itself from the second it opens. And not just once either.

The 2019 film stars Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, and a fantastically unnerving estate agent played by the excellent Jonathon Aris.

The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil

This is one of those morally questionable movies. This one is a 2019 action flick about a cop and a mobster teaming up to catch a serial killer, when the gangster accidentally bumps into the serial killer on a dark and stormy night (that's not my purple prose, it actually sort of happens) is almost filleted.

It eventually morphs into a revenge film as one does not want to rile the intimidating gangster played by the, only slightly less intimidating in real life, Ma Dong-seok. Ma Dong-seok's character is also extremely charismatic and incredibly well dressed throughout this movie. You may recognise him; he is THAT guy from Train to Busan (2016).

If you can stomach the "vigilantes are okay" message of the film (why are there so many of those?) you will enjoy this crazy, violent, mangaesque ride through the underworld of South Korea.

Riders of Justice

Danish revenge flick about revenge gone wrong is a nice follow up to The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil.

In it, an odd bunch of science geeks and hard man Mads Mikkelsen, seek revenge for the supposed bombing of a train by a violent gang. Supposed. Revenge is so difficult to take back when you cock it up.

The film is also about the stupidity of the male ego and machismo. Mads is an alpha, but a muscle head. The nerds are just as bad; flexing their neurons, but with zero common sense.

It's also about the topical subject of the idiocy of poorly thought out algorithms.

It's very violent and funny in a way I found strangely compelling and unique to the Danish sense of humour (one supposes).

The Courier

Benedict Cumberbatch is a businessman recruited by MI6 to spy for his country when he makes contact with a potential Russian double agent in order to prevent a nuclear escalation with the Soviet Union over their use of Cuba as a missile base.

13 minutes in, I thought Greville was a bit of a gullible chump Also, why not do it for your country, the world, and a big pile of cash? It's actually offered later, but it's not clear from the film whether he did or did not get paid handsomely for the risks he took. I hope he did.

What did I learn from the movie? Either:
1/ Greville naive, CIA incompetent, MI6 leaky, Soviets paranoid.
2/ Greville brave, CIA daring, MI6 sensible, Soviets cautious.
CYOA
I'm sure the real story is more nuanced than that, but I do feel sorry for Mr Greville M. Wynne and Colonel Oleg Vladimirovich Penkovsky.

As for the film, that dark, grimy palette filled me with nostalgia for the 1960s Cold War thriller. It was very nicely done. Merab Ninidze was convincing as a GRU Colonel and Cumberbatch good, but perhaps going a little overly method in his portrayal of Wynne. Was it really necessary that he lost so much weight for the role?

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

Endless voiceover with mostly useless exposition and non-stop pop soundtrack, i.e. another Warner Brothers DC joint. What is wrong with them?

In the film, the Joker's main squeeze (or stalker) Dr Harleen Frances Quinzel PHD, relates her life post-dumped by Mr J. While Harley does strike out on her own after being corrupted by life with the Joker, as she tries to extricate herself from a bounty now that she is no longer under his protection, she does not return to her own life as a respected psychiatrist but continues as a career maniac. There's a whole thing about getting a diamond back, lots of Gotham characters like Black Mask, Black Canary, Huntress, Victor Zsasz, Rene Montoya, etc., make an appearance, but it's directionless.

This isn't a movie I was looking forward to as I don't like characters like Harley Quinn or Deadpool; characters some nerds love, for their supposed status as feminist and LBGTQ icons respectively. Quinn's movie roller derby antics are a lazy, cliched, on-the-nose, vague nod in the direction of grrrl power and Deadpool has always half-arsed his LGBTQness on the screen. Though I do not feel entirely qualified to speak on behalf of those groups, I don't think there's anything laudable about characters like Quinn or Deadpool.

That huge aside...er...aside, Margot Robbie is undeniably charismatic and funny and endearing and terrifying as a supervillainess/sometime antihero ally of the Birds of Prey team of superheroines. The movie is, however, too long, too boring---an amazing feat to archive with all that action---too wordy, the stars are wasted, but it is colourful, ridiculous, and doesn't sway in showing Gotham's villains and Quinn's monstrous sides. Daddy's Little Monster is a monster.

Cruella

Addendum: Cruella reviewed in 385 received the seal of approval from my mother.

Also a big shout out/woof-woof to Wink, the talented rat-dog. Hahahahahahaha! Trivia from the Disney fandom wiki: Wink a male Chihuahua, was played by Bluebell a female Chihuahua.

Amazon Will Not Rule the World

Just because Amazon bought MGM, does not mean that they or Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, etc., will eventually rule all aspects of our lives with their iron corporate fist.

Why? It's too easy to not make money when you take on the big stuff like infrastructure, health, transport, etc. Do you fear a Big Tech takeover of TfL? TfL wishes! The thing's a giant money suck. The only company genuinely stupid enough to try similar projects would be Tesla, and then only until Elon realised he'd bitten off more than he can chew. Hyperloop anyone?

Twitter Blue

Twitter Blue is Twitter's new paid subscription service that gives users extra functionality like Bookmark Folders to organise saved content, a nicely formatted reader mode, etc., all for the low low price of about GBP 2/month.

I recently held a Twitter poll and here are the results:
Result = 100% in favour of Twitter Blue, but with a meaningless sample size of one.

Still, thanks to that one person, hopefully a listener, who participated. Personally, I think it's a waste of money and advise people not to subscribe. Buy delicious sherbet lemons instead.

Arthritis

Welcome to another edition of old man complaints. Everything is hurting a bit more in the last two years. Hands, feet, hip, knees; the bloody works. It's all catching up with me.

Some of the pops and squeaks as I move are even loud enough to be heard on mic! That Arthur Itis... he's a right bastard.

Bonk

I clonked myself on the head recently. I was assembling a bed, when the head end of the steel bedstead toppled a metre and the big brass ball finial hit on the head. It hurt like hell for moment and scared me, but other than a tender skull no concussion followed.

I tried 111, but couldn't get through and was directed to the NHS website. It was useless saying take a paracetomol, which is it's advice for everything now. Worried about the possibility of a detached retina I asked the optician, who predictably told me to see a doctor. Fat chance.

I'm Saying My Name Wrong

I hate hearing my surname Anglicised or Frenchified, but I'll accept phonetic pronunciation because it shows at least people are willing to try.

According to Mum, the proper way is MATOOR as in Mathura (that's with a rolled "r"). There's also a third way used by another Indian family who share the name, but to whom we are not at all related, but let's not tangent further.

Interestingly, until I too starting saying it phonetically, MATOOR was the way I said it. You can hear me saying it that way in the first episode of this podcast in 2012.

What happened?

I bullied myself into incompetency. I read the description I wrote in my About page of how I mock those who get my name wrong so many times that I forgot that MA-THUR, while not a grievous insult is the incorrect pronunciation.

"Hoist with his own petard" means blowing oneself up with one's own grenade. Don't do that.