News and comments from Arthur

Depressing entertainment

 Thursday 22 Jan 2009, 12:55 PM

Saw the film The Wrestler a few nights back. What a great film. Great but very, very depressing. Haven`t seen a film that difficult to watch in quite some time. I felt like going home afterwards and watching a couple of episodes of new Battlestar Galactica to cheer myself up! I`m glad to see that Mickey Rourke got his Oscar nomination for best Actor for the film today as he really made it. Like No country for old men the year before which was simply a story for Daniel Day Lewis to act his socks off, this was Mickey`s chance to shine. I think the basic story itself has been done before and isn`t anything new or exciting. But it is told so well and feels so realistic, thanks largely to the cast involved, that you are totally drawn in and taken on this journey though a particularly tough part of Randy "The Rams" life. Well worth seeing - but not if you`re feeling a bit down and want cheering up (try Slumdog Millionaire instead - also a great film and also nominated for many Oscars)

And going back to my earlier mention of Battlestar Galacticam, the new series has got off to a flying start. If this is just the beginning, the grand finale in 11(?) episodes time should be pretty spectacular.

This opening episode answers plenty of questions and raises lots of new ones. And for good measure, ups the misery and depression to levels that an entire years worth of Eastenders episodes can only dream of. I think I ran out of fingers trying to count the number of suicidal (succesful or otherwise) characters crammed into 45 minutes of TV! Roll on next week I say!(although TV watching is becoming a bit tricky and time consuming at the moment with a new series of 24 already 5 episodes old and Lost due to start again any day now)

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Things going wrong

 Monday 19 Jan 2009, 6:08 PM

My breadmaker is oficially dead (the element has burnt out and I can`t find anywhere that seels a replacement) and now my bike is having a funny turn too.

I think the bottom bracket has been on its way out for a while as it makes a nasty clicking/pinging noise when I pedal (it could be the pedals but they are only 6 months old so I doubt/hope it`s not them). And then today, I notice the steering seems to be posessed and occasioanlly the bike doesn`t quite want to go exactly where I want it - it`s almost like it`s stuck in a rut and I need to make a bit of extra effort to turn where I want. A quick play with the handlebars/steering when I get home and I realise the headset bearings sound more like they`re full of gravel rather than finely tuned and lubricated ballbearings. A quick spray of WD40 has got me going again for the moment but I can see thesewill need replacing very soon priobably at great expense ( I would guess in excess of £100 for getting both these jobs done professionally). Then I think I could do with a new back wheel too - spokes go on a regular basis and the bearing doesn`t run smoothly even though I have replaced the axle recently (the wheel itself is worn). So that will cost even more. I might as well get a new bike at this rate. Trouble is finding one I like. I like my old/current bike (when it is in good working order) but I very much doubt they make it any more (it`s over 10 years old now). Why can`t things last forever?

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Toothpaste or antispectic cream

 Thursday 15 Jan 2009, 12:53 PM

It must be my week for learning valubale life lessons. Todays pearl of wisdom is as follows: do not buy large tubes of Boots antiseptic cream that just happen to be the same type of plastic tube (the same size, the same shape, similar colours with the same scretwop lid)

as the the brand of toothpaste you use on a regualr basis - in my case Mentadent SR. Also, do not store you antisepctic cream in the same cupboard as your stocks of tootpaste. And most imprtantly, considering all the previous points, when getting a new tube of tootpaste out of the aforementioned cupboard, make sure it really is toothpaste and not antisepctic cream you`ve picked up by accident beacuse you are a bit too tired to pay proper attention.

Brushing your teeth with antiseptic cream really isn`t a great idea.

Whilst it didin`t make me throw up or anything like that, I was initially a bit confused as to where the regular minty fresh taste had gone. Still, it could have been worse; if I`d cut myself and tried to rub toothpaste into the wound I expect it would have stung quite a lot!

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Bad Bread

 Wednesday 14 Jan 2009, 12:49 PM A loaf gone wrong

I came home from the cinema a few nights back expecting to be greeted by a nice fresh baked loaf form my breadmaker. Instead I got a tin full of warm dough for my troubles. Clearly something ghad gone wrong - probably the elemt durnt out of the thermostat had died. Either way it meant no fresh bread tonight or for the foreseeable future. However, all was not lost as it was just dough after all and it just needed baking. So, I unceremoniously scooped it out of the breadmaker tin, chucked it on a baking tay and shoved it in the over. I never preheat ovens (actually that`s a lie - I once did it for a luxury frozen pizza I had treated myself to and wanted the best possible results, only to discover afterwards that for this particular type of pizza you weren`t supposed to preheat. Grrr....) and to make matters worse I had no idea what temperature to set. So I just turned it up and cooked it until it started getting burnt round the edges.

Tragically, even though most of the hard work had been done for me, even I cocked it up as I discovered, once the loaf (and I use the word loaf in the loosest possible sense - I think free-form bready blob would be a better description) had cooled down, that it was still rather doughy in the middle. Clearly my temperature and cooking time were wrong. Still, I hate to see good food go to waste so I ate what I could, avoiding the really bad bit in the middle that was more like playdough tha bread.

However, this was an even worse idea than trying to cook it in the first place as I think the unbaked yeast continued to thrive inside me and gave me the worst indigestion and wind that night (and for a large part of the next day) that I think I`ve ever experienced.

So, valuable, but kind-of-obvious lesson learned - do not eat unbaked bread. I am now surviving on Morrisons bread rolls until I can see if I can get another element/thermostat or buy another bread maker.

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New TV

 Monday 5 Jan 2009, 10:03 PM

I saw the new ITV Saturday teatime/Dr Who competition TV show Demins yesterday. I was out on Saturday night and, not having an means of recording TV these days I was relying on Virgin on Demand. Unfortunately they have yet to sign up ITV to the service, so I then fell back on ITV`s wtach online service. I got about 30 seconds into it when I gave up because the quality was really poor - there is just no excuse when BBCs iPlayer does it so much better. So I fell back on good old BitTorrent. It`s a pretty sad state of affairs when going the iilegal route gets you a better quality prodcut than the legal one. ITV just have no defense for this. SORT IT OUT!

In the end I actually abandoned the torrent as I realised it was repeated on ITV2 on Sunday night so I watched that instead. The show wasn`t bad - very Buffy-esque and, although it looked quite dark, it was relatively light and fluffy in the story department which basically revolved around Uncle Rupert suddenly appearing and telling teenage hearthrob Luke that he was a relative of Van Helsing and destined to kill monsters. Personally I think it was all just a bit too rushed - they could have kept the mystery going a bit longer but as it was, Luke was a fully fledged monster hunter by the end of episode one and seemed relatively accepting of it all. Personally if I`d been aged 18 and some fat uncle with a weird American accent turned up with a cheesy ray gun and started killing every deformed person who crossed our path, I would have gone to the police for a restraining order fairly sharp-ish. But then that wouldn`t have made good televison for kids so I guess I`ll let them off and suspend my belief for a bit longer.

Far more importantly on Saturday night, the next actor to play Dr Who from 2010 was announced. They went for a pretty much unknown named Matt Smith. My thoughts: yes, he looks odd. Yes, he`s younger than I hoped (I`d rather they`d gone older). Yes, he had really floppy hair. And whilst the programme didn`t do him many favours, in particular the cheesy turn to camera gurn at the very end, the clips of him in previous TV dramas looked very good. And if Stephen Moffat, writer of all the best Dr Who epsiodes in the last 4 years and head writer on the series from 2010, says he`s the one, then I guess that`s a good enough recommendation for me. Tennant will be a tough act to follow but overall I think it is a good choice.

And, as an added bonus, a Dr Who/Mr Potatohead toy crossver line will now be a really easy sell.

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My head hurts

 Saturday 3 Jan 2009, 8:11 AM

Today (and for most of yesterday) my head and neck have been hurting. I think it is delayed aches and pains from falling flat on my back on new years day and banging my head. I think I have "gardeners whiplash" (as I have now named the condition) and possibly mild concussion as I can feel my brain ache inside my skull when I move my head too quickly. I think, as is the way with most people in my family, I shall just put up with it and assume it will go away in time (someone has tp balance out all the people who call ambulances because they have a broken fingernail) If it gets worse and blood starts leaking from inside my head or I discover I cannot feel my feet when I wake up one morning then I shall reconsider my decision not to go to hospital.

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More than I can chew

 Friday 2 Jan 2009, 2:44 PM

If you were to look up the phrase "biting off more than you can chew" in a dictionary (or whatever book it is that contains meanings for phrases rtaher than just single words) and you would probably find a picture of me standing up a ladder with a saw trying to chop down a surprisinlgy large tree.

Today I moved into the next phase of "Operation Garden Tidy" and went to my neighbour at the back of my house to try and chop down several sycamore tress in their garden that had got out of control. Again, this is a pensioner who cannot do it themslevs or can`t really afford to get someone in to help (I walked though the house and I really can begin to appreciate the term "poverty" after seeing how they lived - beilve me there are far more important things for them to be spending money on than chopping down trees).

A couple of smaller tress right in the corner near my garden came down with relatively little trouble (the trunks were quite thick so needed a lot of tiring sawing but they weren`t very tall at all). The main 2 I wanted to get rid of were growing though an old wooden greenhouse. It didn`t take much to demolish some of the rotting frame of the greenhouse and I tidied away a lot of the old sheets of broken glass (I didn`t fancy falling onto that after yesterday`s near miss with the metal spike). Howvere oce I got the ladder up to them, I ralised just how tall they were. I`d expected the ladder to get about halfway up so I`d cut off the top 1/2 or 1/3 then come down a nd do the rest. Well, the ladder probably only made it 1/3 of the way up this tree and it was only stanbding underneath it that I rtealised just how big it was. And this was one of the smaller ones that needed to come down! There was just no way to cut it down safely with only one person as it ideally needs at least onme other helper with ropes to help control the descent of the but being but off (falling in the wrng direction would have it landing on a house, a caravan or a green house!) Plus a longer ladder would help. And possibly someone else to hold the ladder. And a chainsaw. Maybe it`ll jus be easier to fork out some of my own money to get it done.

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Happy new year?

 Thursday 1 Jan 2009, 7:31 PM

I spent new years eve in Azeroth watching the fireworks in Booty Bay and Stormwind Keep. I tired visiting Thuinder Bluff, the Horde party capital but it was a total damp squib. Theose Tauren just don`t know how to throw a good party like the humans at Stormwind where there were loads of people seeting off various party spells and partaking in the free ale.

And back in the real world I consumed chocolate cheesecake, crisps and watched Meet the Fockers on TV. I dislike new year. All it does is mark the end of one shitty period of time and herald the arrival of yet another. "Life is shit and then you die" - what a great saying.

And this aftrernnon I continued clearing my neighbours garden. I have decided that the way forward is to start dumping sacks of rubbish into wheely bins as often as possible. It`s slow butover several months it should make a clear difference. I even made the extra effort to extract plastic bottles and cans to put in the recycling bin. I will also be writing to my MP to complain about how useless Affinity are - the last time I did this it got a vague result so it`s worth a go.

And as well as cleaning up rubbish I cut a few more tress back to stumps although one of them nearly killed me. It was only about 2 foot tall and I`d cut it through close to the ground and decided to stand on it to get it to break off the rest of the way. Well it broke far easier than expected - the tree stunp went one way and I went the other and I found myself flat on my back with various bits hurting lots. The back of my leg and elbow took most of the impact and were bruised and grazed. And my head hit the ground too but, ironically, I think the blow was cushioned by the thick layer of undergrowth. Fortunately I managed to avoid landing of the 4 inch metal spike sticking out of the ground less than a few feet away. Had I landed on that I expect it would have been an extended hospital trip or death for me. Thus I have now decided it really is worth the extra effort to saw tree stumps all the way through.

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