CRRRRS 498 Better a Clownish Wizard Than a Medicated Zombie

By Roy Mathur, on 2023-08-10, at 23:46:53--01:44:03 BST, for Captain Roy's Rusty Rocket Radio Show

Herr Fygor Gestalt

Let me offically introduce you to my butler/majordomo/PA/agent/head of security/sergeant-at-arms/henchman/assassin, Herr Fygor Gestalt. He is a unique gestalt entity made up of the vintage movie classic henchmen, Igor, Ygor, and Fritz. He took over from my regular staff---Horsey, Boris, Ratty and Bumbles---who went on holiday due to overwork some months ago.

In his duties as my personal assistant, he says that due to the time between this and the last geeklife episode, there was too much to cover, so he had to draw a line in the sand somewhere, and demanded that I save extra content for a future show. As it is, this one will probably run on for too long.

In closing, he tells me to say hello to the nice reviewers of this podcast and that the nasty ones should pray he is merely a figment of my imagination.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

My re-to-the-power-of-infinite-reading of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe concluded.

There are a few excerpts that caught my eye, but only one I actually remember: "something like 85% of all known worlds in the Galaxy have invented a drink called jynnantonnyx". Perhaps this accounts for my predilection for the tasty tipple I like to call Victorian crack.

Life, the Universe and Everything

Inevitably, I continued my read. My copy is a Pan paperback from 1982 that appears unused new old stock; prestine, but age yellowed. Incredible.

Here's to my reintroduction to reading streak! Hic! Only joking. I'm pretty sure a G and T is the last thing I need right now.

Star Trek, Mission Impossible, Sherlock, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Since my petites problemes, I'm on a talking therapy waiting list, but I have been trying something other than scoff down the doc's prescription because I've been down the path of the medicated cooperative zombie before. Better quirky than numb. Better a clownish wizard than a medicated zombie. (Not medical advice). As I'm temporarily not out and about as much as before (though I'm improving) I've been filling in the bench time rewatching the rebooted Chris Pine Star Trek and Tom Cruise's Mission Impossible series. The latter in preparation for Dead Reckoning. Medication via the screen is better than chemicals and it have the same effect, so let's call it part of the treatment.

My conclusion is that all these movies look amazing, but have remarkably ludicrous plots. Why are the reboots less sophisticated than the originals TV programmes? Mass global appeal? Yes, but doesn't that sound incredibly condescending? Still, I enjoy fanservice and acting of Star Trek and the rubber masks, grand deceptions, and the exotic James Bond-style jet-set travelogue of Mission Impossible, and the non-stop action of both.

Late breaking: I'm finished yet another rewatch of Sherlock. Like Star Trek and MI, it is a very entertaining and fanservicey modern adaptation, but unlike them, also fantastically cleverly written. Not that it needs repeating so late in the day, but again, nice one, Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat, and Stephen Thompson.

Even more late breaking, I started rewatching the Harry Potter series. What can I say? It's brilliant, but does male me feel like revisiting the even better books.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Feedback regarding Indiana Jones 5 (pod 495) on Twitter or Xitter, or whatever stupid thing Elon Musk is calling it now, from Saul Garnell (@sgarnell) on July the 8th, replying to me (@RoyMathur):
"Saw IJ5. I thought it was fun and not deserving much of the negative press. But is it a plot-hole free hard science thriller? Nope! But it never was. I think many people have unreal expectations based on fond memories."

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning

Feedback regarding Tom Cruise motorcycling off a cliff and base jump in Mission Impossible 7 on Twitter from Saul Garnell again on July the 7th:
"I'm not a huge MI fan, but yes. Normal actors don't put their lives on the line like this. Would I be surprised if he got himself killed ? Not really. I just wonder with so many movies bombing nowadays, can big budget movies like this survive in the future?"

My view, after watching the incredible stunt repeatedly enacted on YouTube, was that I was very impressed with Tom Cruise's skills, though it gave me the collywobbles. I also think that perhaps there's an element of not wanting to risk other crew on very high risk stunts. It would be difficult to come to terms with killing someone for the sake your film, as opposed to risking one's own life.

As for the future of big budget movies. I honestly have no idea as I have no interest in box office stats. However, peripherally, I do know that some of these movies are tanking at the moment, but others, like Guardians 3, are not.

Made for Love

This HBO Max series is a Black Mirror-like sci-fi tale of a Neuralink-like brain implant, but to confer digital telepathy between couples in love. Urgh!

It's quirky and funny, as are some of the stars, especially the lead, Cristin Milioti. There's also touching and deeply unsettling portrayal by Ray Romana of as her father who's new partner is a love doll. Quirky.

This feels like a one-off feature length drama that's been overstretched.


After Cleon's bonking Dermezel (gender bent R. Daneel Olivaw) and naked fighting of episode one (In Seldon's Shadow), the mysterious telepathic mutant conqueror, the Mule, about the only reason I'm still watching season two, finally makes an appearance in episode two of season two (A Glimpse of Darkness). Not the weedy gothy harlequinish minstrel, Magnifico Giganticus, brilliantly painted by Michael Whelan for the 80s Del Ray cover of Isaac Asimov's Foundation and Empire, but Goyer's gritty uber warrior. I am not impressed.

Apple TV+'s show is good looking, but so loosely based on Asimov's writing that it's hard to see this as a serious attempt to adapt Foundation. This could definitely be done better in the future.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

The Below Decks crossover episode arrived (S02E07: Those Old Scientists).

I liked the live action versions of the animated actors, but including Below Decks comedic animation ruined my suspension of disbelief, unlike the old The Animated Series (1973--1974).

I love Star Trek (TOS), but most series after that had some real issues. TNG could be dry, DS9 manufactured conflict with the Cardassions and the Changlings to be interesting, Voyager's Kazon stories bored me senseless, Enterprise's irritating temporal cold war (and gung ho Makos) seemed to go nowhere, Discovery was too grimdark, and Strange New Worlds, perhaps a reaction to that, has massive tone shifts from episode to episode; animated fun one week, then next week, Doctor M'Benga suffers massive battle-fatigue derived PTSD and commits a violent murder (S02E08: Under the Cloak of War). Taken as a whole though, the Star Trek franchise is great, so I'll live with those flaws, as long as they keep churning out decent content. Trekkie4Life.

Paper Girls

The promising Amazon Prime Video sci-fi series based on the titular comic about a gang of paper girls caught in a time loop has been cancelled after only one season.

I think the problem is that it wasn't a mini-series.

Dead City, Daryl Dixon

AMC's The Walking Dead whas many spinoffs, the last of which, Dead City and Darry Dixon, hold know interest for me.

Even if I wasn't tired of the franchise as a whole, Dead City reminds me too much of Escape from New York and DMZ. Also, much as the reformed Nazi biker, Darryl Dixon (trailer just released), is an interesting character, I've watched, and largely enjoyed, the main show in it's entirety and I'm out.

Fright Fest

Update: I'm not going.

The tickets sold out too quickly and the remaining single film events are about GBP 15 each. That's not too bad, but I've had no retweets or interest from the organisers. Perhaps I should have been pushier.

I muffed this one, sorry.

The Old Man

The entertaining Jeff Bridges spy/action thriller about a deadly but old spy on the run has been renewed for a second season.


The bloody and adult crime drama seen from the drug dealers' point of view has finished. The final season ties up loose ends and has a very disturbing Nightmare Alley denouement.

This is a great FX series, created by the late John Singleton, and available on iPlayer in the UK.

The Sixth Commandment

This is a 2023 BBC drama based on the true story of black widow Ben Field's murder of two older vulnerable people.

Timothy Spall is great as the first victim, an elderly English teacher, as is Eanna Hardwicke as the cold killer hiding his true nature in the guise of a deeply religious church warden.

Code of a Killer

John Sim, is geneticist Alex Jefffreys, in this fact based 2015 ITV crime drama.

The obsessive scientist is called in to use his groundbreaking genetic fingerprinting technique in an immigration case against the Home Office, and to solve a series of rape-murders, but also cursing the UK with mass DNA testing.

Another absorbing drama starring Mr Everybody.

Trivia! There's a scene set in 1987 with a BBC Micro on Alex's desk. I don't remember seeing anything quite that primitive in an office back then.


When Sacha Diwan, Doctor Who's latest Master and Iwan Rheon, GoT's Ramsay Bolton come to visit in the linked side plot, things are not going to turn out well in this 2023 BBC thriller about a likeable, but vengeful a copper, played by Ukweli Roach.

A little of the originally of the script was lost as the murderous pair immediately reminded far too much of Michael Haneke's Funny Games (1997 and 2007).


TMZ is my not-so-guilty pleasure; moreso since Charlie Cotton took over hosting the podcast.

Personally, I don't like talking about celebs (or production or box office; urgh), but it's okay if others want to gossip and I'm happy to listen.

Chat GPT

I've been trying ChatGPT.

I first tried seeing how it was at writing a literary query. It was quite good. I then asked it recently to summarise text from my website, but found it outdated and overly verbose.

I also tested it writing some Lua and Javascript. It's like Stack Overflow without knowing who to thank (or getting a snarky bot telling you your question is off topic).

If you want to hear how I got on with art prompt AI software, listen to 459, in which I played with Stable Diffusion.

Samsung A14 4G

Update on my new phone. This budget phone's camera is much better than my old Honor 9 Lite. My one criticism is that the screen isn't bright enough to comfortably use in direct sunlight.

It's amazing how even cheap tech gets better each year. I'll have a smartphone that can teleport me before long. It that ever happens, please let us opt for wormhole technology, not Star Trek's barbaric disassembly.

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B 8GB

Amazingly, I got alert email that Raspberry Pis are again in stock in the UK; even the rarest of Pis, the RPi 4 8GB is, or was, at the time of writing, available from Pimoroni and the Pi Hut in the UK.

Somewhat resentfully, given the stock allocation nonsense the Raspberry Pi foundation put us ordinary consumers through, I immediately bought one, and subsequently an Akasa Maze Pro passively cooled case and other accessories.

I'll report on my progress in future.

Cinema Mathur

Originally, the above Raspberry Pi 4 8 GB was so that I could pass on my Raspberry Pi 3B+ for the Cinema Mathur project, so that my parents have a decent cord cutter's selection of Bollywood and Disney, etc. movies to enjoy. Given streaming price increases and the flakiness of future media availability, I strongly suggest you stock up on physical media, which is what we are doing here. We have already acquired almost a foot high stack of Disney DVDs.

Unfortunately, our big main TV is far too old to be in any way smart and can't even run HDMI-CEC, so the remote is useless. The Kore Kodi Android app is an option, but I've found it buggy. Another way is for Mum to stream from her Android phone via the VLC app from LibreELEC on the Pi. As we already have Roku, I tried an Emby server on a PC streaming via the Roku client app, but I found the quality unacceptable.

However, as I'm familial IT support, another even more hands-off option for me is to use my cheap, tinny Sony Blu-ray player's USB port and built-in media player. It's a crude device that only plays a few formats. Also, there are no place markers or breadcrumb trails, so you'll have to tediously fast forward to where you left off last time if you stop midway through.

The point is we have a few solutions, Cinema Mathur is live, and so far has shown Shree 420, Sholay, and Snow White.

Shure Beta 58 A, Scarlet Focusrite 4i4, Soundcraft EPM6

I upgraded the studio recently with mixed results.

I bought a Shure Beta 58 A. The supercardiod microphone with neodymium magnets was cleaner than my old Shure SM58, but more suseptible to my clicky mouth.

I also bought a Scarlet Focusrite 4i4 USB audio interface's, but the software was a giant pain in the bum that refused to run loopback consistently on my Windows PC running Audacity. (Loopback: combining audio from mixer and computer, then sending it back to the computer).

The Beta 58 A and the 4i4 were therefore returned to Thomann. And, by the way, Thoman needs to ditch DHL. Their couriers are okay, but half their bloody outlets can't seem to handle the work.

Also purchased from the Thomann, was a Soundcraft EPM6 mixer. It is often described as a "small mixer", but let me tell you, it is a massive steel battleship, with faders, mutes, and all the analogue goodies. It takes up four times as much desk space as my old Yamaha MG06. The preamps seem cleaner than the MG06, but the mic and headphone channels have significantly less output.

Thus, my current setup remains the MG06 and a SM58 for podcasting because it's a compromise with my smoother, but less punchy Shure SM7B. However, I'm hanging onto the SM7B and EPM6 for the day I have a proper studio and more space. As for voice acting and bluegrass-style single mic technique (singing and twanging my banjolole), that is now the domain of my old Audio Technica AT875R shotgun ENG mic. There's also the usual spaghetti of cables that would give you a psychotic episode if I were to explain how it all worked.

Sunn Amplification Reissue Amps

The first of August saw Fender revive the cult Sunn Amplification brand.

Disappointingly, the reissue of the solid state Sunn Beta Lead, something fans of doom, drone, and stoner rock have awaited for with baited breath, is far too expensive to compete with amps like the Orange Super Crush at around half the price. Sunn's most expensive valve amp is USD 3199. That's more than a even a Green Matamp GT120MV and about double the price of a Marshall JTM45 reissue. Boutique prices, pah! It's as if Fender's marketing department have no idea what their customers want.

Toni Basil

I was awoken by a nightmare recently (2023-07-24 a.m.). This time it was Toni Basil's voice whispering the words to Micky in monotone, in total blackness, with the Transformers/Inception BRAAAM (created not by Hans Zimmer, but Mike Zarin) in the background.

The BRAAM turned out to be a road sweeping truck. The rest? I have no idea.

My YouTube Mix Tape Playlists Are Being Screwed and I Hate YouTube Shorts

It took time and effort to set up these music playlists I have curated for my entertainment, and for the entertainment of others, but for whatever reason, be it YouTube copyright or flaky YouTubers, or petty jealousy, songs keep dropping off. When they do, some of the playlists are long enough that I can't remember what has been lost. Whoever's to blame, stop messing with your uploads because it screws up playlists!

One solution I can think of is to manually create streaming playlist files for VLC, which is what I used to use for radio station DJ sets, so that if it all goes tits up, I'll have a record. Also, I can hopefully still play them straight from VLC on my phone, if YouTube still allows that. The last time I tried, I think there was a problem. This merits further investigation.

While I'm complaining, I hate YouTube Shorts and make a special effort not to watch them. Creators, hello! Look, you do what Almighty YouTube tells you to do if you want, but don't expect me to care about this unpausable TikTok Sherlocking nonsense.

George Alagiah, Bram Moolenaar, Tony Bennet, Sinead O'Connor, Paul Reubens, William Friedkin

All died recently.

Alagiah was a well known and liked British Asian BBC news presenter, born in Colombo, partly educated in Ghana, then the UK.

Moolenaar founded Vim, the vi-based text editor I have used since around the early 2000s. He died on the 3rd after a short illness. His family have posted details on a Vim Google Group. I remember him most from the mild trolling he gave me after I lost my forum password. I thought it such a touching gesture that many people added a ":wq" to their tributes. I commemorated the occasion with a comment in my _vimrc. RIP Bram, and long live the Cult of Vi!

Bennet was a Vegas crooner, who counted Sinatra amongst his fans.

O'Connor doesn't need an introduction with her massive and deeply romantic single Nothing Compares 2 U (1990).

Paul Reubens portrayed comedic geeky one man mishap machine, Pee-wee Herman, from 1977 to 2017.

William Friedkin; director, producer, and screenwriter; directed The French Connection (Oscar for Best Director, The Exorcist, etc.

RIP to all, of course, but doing these obits is depressing.

Doctor Who

Expect more classic Doctor Who revisits more frequently.

Earlier, I talked about absorbing a high level of entertaining rewatch silliness. That has left me hungry for something more, hence the current upsurge of classic Doctor Who revisits I trust you are enjoying.

Steaming on ahead like this, I'm quite looking forward to The Five Doctors, The Caves of Androzani, and Colin Baker's reign of terror as the maniacal Sixth Doctor.