Monthly Archives: September 2013

September 2013 Round-up

Well, that’s September out of the way, which means it’s time for another one of these things.


September 1: 220 pounds (15 stone 10 pounds, 99.8 kg)
September 30: 219.9 pounds (15 stone 9.9 pounds, 99.7 kg)

That’s an insignificant difference, though there was a moderately wide variation throughout the month.


I’ve mostly been moderately good.


I did some epic walking in London, but that was about it.


Another quiet month, with this report bringing the total to 44.


Having had a moderate attack of the lurgy earlier in the month, and a London trip, I haven’t got up to much in the way of photography, or indeed much else. Maybe October will be better…

Weight and Stuff Report – 30 September 2013

Up again today, mutter.

I managed a short walk at lunchtime, but nothing very much.

Here’s a sample photo taken with the iPhone 5S. I turned on the “HDR” function, and it did produce more detail than the unprocessed image. This is straight out of phone, and just resized in Lightroom:



Camera: iPhone 5s
Aperture: ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed: 1/1050s
Focal length: 4.12mm
ISO: 32
Taken: 30 September, 2013
Location: 54° 58.2518′ 0″ N 1° 35.8793′ 0″ W

Atlantis – The Earth Bull

Now this has potential. Since Merlin finished, there’s been a lack of pseudo-historical fantasy-ish drama with added laughs on Saturday evenings. That gap has now been filled with a new series, created by the same guys who brought us Merlin, with an added dose of Misfits creator Howard Overman.

The story starts with a young man called Jason (Jack Donnelly) taking a mini-submarine in search of his missing father. He finds some wreckage and a bright light. The light grows brighter, the window of his submarine begins to break, and the next thing he knows he’s washed up on a beach, wearing nothing but the pendant his father left him.

Having found some conveniently abandoned clothes, Jason walks a short distance to an impressive walled city, where he runs into trouble with a cute two-headed lizard, even more trouble with the guards, and drops in on the not actually mythical so what’s he doing here Pythagoras (Robert Emms) and his friend Hercules (Mark Addy). Hercules is not as heroic as the legend he’s attempting to create would have you believe, and Pythagoras is a triangle-obsessed geek. Errr, right.

This being that kind of show, the next day is when the trouble starts. It’s the day when seven people will be selected to be sent into the labyrinth to meet the Minotaur, who in this version of events is supposedly a former human cursed by the gods. Atlantis is also cursed in that if seven people a year are not fed to the Minotaur, Poseidon (god of the sea, creates earthquakes, etc) will destroy the city.

After a bit of general silliness, our three heroes end up going to say hello to the Minotaur, which was very nicely created, but very easily killed.

King Minos (played by Alexander Siddig in moderately sinister mode) seems to be quite happy about this, but not as happy as his daughter Ariadne (Aiysha Hart), who’s taken a liking to Jason.

There is, as you might expect, more. There’s the Oracle who tells Jason that he was actually born in Atlantis and taken to “the other world” by his father when he was young, and that his father had returned to the city, but is now dead. But there’s something she’s not telling him – apparently he’ll be safer if he doesn’t know who he really is.

So, good silly fun. Like Merlin, it takes a relaxed attitude to its mythological and historical sources, and is all the better for that. Nice banter between the three main characters (“Whoever heard of a hero called Jason?” and “Pythagoras, you’re an idiot” come to mind), and great sets.

Worth watching.

Doctor Who – The Ice Warriors

While we wait for the 50th anniversary special, not to mention the regeneration at Christmas, it’s a good time to catch up on the classic Doctor Who DVDs, which are, sad to say, rapidly approaching the end. Soon, every complete story will have been released. But it’s not quite the end. It’s been a while since The Invasion was released with two episodes recreated in animated format, and it seemed that this experiment was not going to be repeated. But it has indeed been done again, so at least some of those gaps can be filled in. In this case, four of the original six episodes are intact, and two have been animated.

This one was first shown in November/December 1967 and stars Patrick Troughton as the Doctor, Frazer Hines as Jamie and Deborah Watling as Victoria. The TARDIS arrives in a polar landscape, which turns out to be England. There’s a new ice age, and some mumbleworthy[1] technology is holding back the glaciers. There’s the usual human problems making things worse, but what really messes things up is the alien in a block of ice. He’s been frozen there for a very long time, but soon thaws out and starts causing trouble. The alien is a Martian, dubbed an ice warrior because of his location and generally aggressive attitude.

Can the Doctor and his friends save the base, and indeed the world? Well, of course they can…

Like a lot of stories of the time[2], the pace seems very slow, and six episodes a bit too much for the actual content, but it was enjoyable enough. There are far too few Second Doctor episodes available, so make the most of what we can see.

In addition to the usual commentary, photo gallery, production subtitles (not included on the animated episodes) and so on, the special features include:

  • Cold Fusion The usual “making of” recollection thingy.
  • Beneath the Ice Documentary on the animation process
  • VHS Links When The Ice Warriors was released on video tape, short narrative pieces with still images were used to stand in for the missing episodes. These are included to stop anyone complaining about the animation. Well, I presume that’s the reason.
  • Blue Peter – Design a Monster Clips from the long-running BBC children’s show featuring a competition.
  • Doctor Who Stories – Frazer Hines (Part Two) More of an interview with Frazer recorded for the Story of Doctor Who.

[1] My new word for dubiously described sciencey bits
[2] This isn’t unique to Doctor Who, of course

Robert Rankin – The Chickens of Atlantis and Other Foul and Filthy Fiends

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. Yes, it’s that time of year again, when we are blessed by the appearance of the latest work from the Bard of Brentford, Mr Robert Rankin.

His alternative version of the late 19th century, as seen last year in The Educated Ape and Other Wonders of the Worlds, is once again the main setting, but this time there’s a difference. The book is presented as the memoir of Darwin, the Educated Ape (though he’s actually a monkey[1]), which have been slightly edited by Robert Rankin[2]. Darwin recounts his further adventures with Cameron Bell (world’s greatest detective, etc), and this time there’s a lot of trouble with, err, time. The chickens of the title are rather large, which gave me some amusement when I was in London last weekend and saw one of them in Trafalgar Square.

Indeed, this time there’s a really serious arch-villain to deal with – Arthur Knapton, who’s determined to be the sole ruler of all time and space, and who keeps turning up in different time periods. I’ll omit the details, as I’d hate to spoil the fun, but I have to mention one scene.

Darwin and Cameron Bell have travelled to London in the year 1940, expecting to find a glorious technological golden age, but instead finding themselves in World War II. Time has been changed, and they need to find out what happened. But before they can move on, they’re arrested by the Home Guard. Yes, of course it’s that Home Guard mob. You know:

Much silliness follows, as you might expect. Much champagne is drunk, and many adventures are had, and even more are mentioned.

It’s all wrapped up at the end, so this could be the last in this particular series, but with Robert Rankin, you never know…

[1] Librarian comments on a banana, oook.
[2] He adds occasional footnotes commenting on how preposterous the story is

Terry Prachett – Going Postal (revisited)

We’ve now reached the stage in the Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon where the books are recent enough for me to have already mentioned them here. What I’ll be doing from now on is giving you a link to my previous posts, and then going on to write a new post as if the previous one hadn’t happened. I’ll include links to both posts on the ever-growing list.

Here’s what I had to say about Going Postal in 2004.

I’ll now pay no attention to that and give my current take on the book. The amusingly named Moist von Lipwig has had a somewhat profitable career as a conman, forger, and general-purpose taker of things that don’t, strictly speaking, belong to him. He’s generally been able to get away with it, but in Ankh-Morpork, it all catches up with him, and in the person of his current alias of Albert Spangler, he’s sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead. Which would have made for a rather short book, as that happens on page 17.

As it happens, he was merely hanged until extremely confused, and finds himself in Lord Vetinari’s office. The Patrician makes him an offer he can’t really refuse. Well, he could, but the consequences of the refusal would be fatal, and having tried that already, he’s not too keen. And so Moist becomes the new Postmaster General, a challenging position given that the Post Office is generally run down, hasn’t actually delivered a letter in years, and seen as pointless now that the Clacks[1] network has grown and become more sophisticated.

Moist starts off seeing this as an opportunity to run yet another con and then disappear, but that doesn’t quite work the way he planned, and gradually both he and the Post Office change…

It is, in essence, a story of redemption. It’s also nicely funny, as you might expect. Much fun can be had with the old “spot the reference” game, too, such as the scene where Vetinari introduces Moist to his new guardian (of the make sure he doesn’t run away kind), the golem known as Mr Pump. Moist thinks this is a bluff, he’s quite sure golems aren’t allowed to hurt people. He’s quite insistent about it

Wait! Wait! There’s a rule! A golem mustn’t harm a human being or allow a human being to come to harm!

Which should sound familiar to anyone who’s done the required reading[2].

When Moist takes it upon himself to actually deliver one of the letters that have been piling up in the Post Office for years, he ends up at a greengrocer’s shop, which has just the  kind of sign you might expect:


What’s less expected is that Mr Parker talks like that as well. To avoid making myself twitch too much, I’ll refrain from quoting him.

As the story develops, we learn more about the development of the Clacks, and how the company was effectively stolen from its original designers and owners by a consortium of dodgy businessmen led by Reacher Gilt, who lets you know what kind of chap he really is by means of his eyepatch and shoulder-mounted parrot (who likes to squawk “twelve and a half percent”).

And we meet Adora Bell Dearheart, daughter of the late owner of the Clacks network, founder of the Golem Trust, and generally quite angry. She introduces Moist to a bunch of, err, clackers known as The Smoking Gnu, and a Cunning Plan is forged…

Excellent stuff, but watch out – this one has got actual chapters!

[1] Very clever telegraphy system
[2] And if you haven’t, start here:

Weight and Stuff Report – 29 September 2013

Up a wee bit today, but never mind.

Looks like I’m having another quiet day in today. My cameras are muttering at me, but the motivation to get it together and go somewhere is altogether lacking.

Now i’ve caught up with myself, here’s a photo. This statue is perched on the wall of the former premises of the Dame Allan’s Schools in Newcastle. I believe it’s the Dame herself…

Dame Allan, I presume?

Dame Allan, I presume?

Camera: X-E1
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/90s
Focal length: 55mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 14 September, 2013

Weight and Stuff Report – 28 September 2013

Down again today.

I did have the vague intention of going out somewhere today. I even did my shopping quite early to leave more of the day free. But I was still feeling tired from the over-long week, and decided that a quiet day in was a better idea. So that’s what I did.

Normal daily report service will resume soon…