News and comments from Arthur

12

Who`s back?

 Saturday 31 Mar 2007, 7:18 PM Doctor Who series 3

It`s back and Arthur couldn`t be more excited! He has just finished watching the first episode of the new series of Dr Who and he can breathe a big sigh of relief as it didn`t disappoint.

The big question of the night was "will the new assistant, Martha Jones (played by Freema Agyeman), be any good?". Well after Arthur wrote off Billy Piper as a braindead, talentless bint before the start of the first series and then had to eat a sizable helping of humbe pie as she turned out to be utterly fantastic, Arthur wasn`t going to make any judgements until he had seen the first episode. The departure of Rose (played by the aforementioned Billy) was a big hole to fill and it was never going to be an easy job. Fortunatley, Arthur found that Martha worked really well and the chemistry with The Doctor, although different to that with Rose, was still great. Sure there were a few silly bits and a few duff lines of dialogue but the previous 2 series had more than their fair share of those too. And this new episode had plenty of great stuff to balance out the weaker bits. A very good start indeed.

Other than the introduction of Martha, the series also started off in a big way with plenty of special effects, aliens, action; all the best parts of a good Doctor Who story. The production values certainly seem to be on the up again. The only possible downside was Martha`s slightly steroetyped "Eastenders" style family . Still, having seen how well the family angle worked in the previous 2 series, Arthur expects that this will improve in coming episodes.

Less than 7 days to go until episode 2...must....contain....excitement....

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Go Ninja, Go Ninja Go!

 Tuesday 27 Mar 2007, 1:01 PM TMNT movie poster

Yes, being a big Ninja Turtles fan, Arthur went to sew the new TMNT computer animated movie last night. Arthur`s original love of The Turtles comes from some time around 1986 when someone showed him a copy of issue 6 of the original comic book series. Arthur was instantly hooked despite not really being into American style comics previously (he only really read 2000AD up until that point). A couple of trips to Forbidden Planet 1 in London (this was back in the good old days when Forbidden Planet was two separate shops, the first for comics and the second for movies, rather than the one giant and rather characterless geek superstore it has now become) and Arthur had himself reprints of the first couple of issues along with issues 7, 8 and 9. And he has been collecting ever since, even filling in back minor gaps to this very day.

The cartoon series of the early 90`s was somewhat of a mixed affair. Whilst Arthur was happy to see The Turtles getting big time recognition and success, they weren`t really the Turtles he liked from the original comics. And this certainly wasn`t helped by the fact they became "Hero" Turtles rather than "Ninjas" in the UK. The 3 live action movies were better still although number 2 was scraping the barrel and annoyingly they changed The Turtles` back story which seemed totally unnecessary.

Which brings things very nicely to the new animated movie. This is partially based on the success of the recent new cartoon series (which is a definite improvement over the old one) and the movie does a very good job of pleasing fans of the original comics whilst still also catering for kids and people who grew up with either of the cartoon series`. The first half of the film is a relatively slow affair, building up the Turtles` characters and the family dynamic and it is this that Arthur enjoyed the most. The second half has more of the fantastical stuff with living stone warriors and giant monsters. Still this also features some nice ninja fight sequences and a great geeky ending for Turtles aficionados. All in all, well worth seeing.

The computer animation wasn`t up to Pixar standards but then again no one, regardless of how big a film studio is producing the film, has got compuetr animation as right as Pixar. Arthur is also excited to note that the Hong Kong based animation company responsible for TMNT are also working on a new Battle of the Planets/Gatchaman animated film, which is another favourite!

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300 and the Empire Cinema

 Sunday 25 Mar 2007, 7:03 AM

Arthur went to see 300 at the cinema last night. The film was really good but only from the visuals/action point of view. The story was pretty basic and the characters somewhat one-dimensional (although this was to be expected given they were playing uber-warriors who had been raised as killers from the day they were born). The film was pretty much one large action scene, punctuated with quieter moments featuring deformed Persians or sweaty, well oiled Spartans. As a visual exercise it was stunning having been heavily CGId to give a very comic book feel (again not too surprising given the fact it was based on a comic). There was lots of slow motion (in fact the film would have been half an hour shorter had it all been played at proper speed) and felt pretty much like Gladiator - the MTV music video. The main charcater, King Leonidas, spent much of the film looking very angry and shouting a lot with a big, booming voice echoing out from behind his bushy black beard. In fact Arthur thought that if anyone ever made a film about the life of Brian Blessed then this chap would be perfect for the lead role.

Arthur went to see the film somewhere different to his usual local cinema. From reading a news blog by the Mad Cornish Projectionist (basically loads of cinema industry related news), he discovered that the Empire cinema in High Wycombe had converted all 6 of its screens to digital projection and Arthur liked the sound of giving this a go as digital projection is rather nice.

This cinema had previously belonged to Odeon before it was purchased by Empire and before that it was a UCI cinema. And it was back in these days in its guise as a UCI cinema that Arthur used to visit it on a regular basic as their main screen had an amazing THX sound system and was one of the best (if not the best) cinemas Arthur had ever visited. The screen had really luxurious seating, great ornamental lighting hanging from an overhanging, galleried wall all round the edge of the cinema. The walls were covered in plush red gathered fabric and the screen had a pleated roman-style curtain over it that would come down before the main feature (and the all important, booming THX certification logo). Sadly Arthur heard that when Odeon took the cinema over they had made a few chnages and the screen had lost its THX status. Thus he stopped going. However his return to the cinema under the Empire cinemas name had him hopeful that some elements of the THX sound still remained; after all, it would be relatively easy to remove the amplification and processors but not a very cost effective exercise to rip out all the speakers. Surely no-one would be that stupid?

Nothing could quite prepare Athur for the shock that awaited him when he went back in that very same screen. Although, to call it the same screen is strecthing things a bit far. In fact the only thing that could be called "the same" is that the screen occupies the same geographical longitude and latitude as before.

The old door was blocked off and a new one at the side had been created which led you down a corridor to the very front of the cinema. Gone were all the red drapes, the galleried ceiling, the pleated curtain, the fancy lights, the luxury seats. The whole auditorium had been totally ripped out leaving nothing but a bare, empty shell into which they had just added a steep wall of basic (and rather uncomfortable) stadium seating that felt more like a temporary structure built on a bit of old scaffolding. The wall lighting was nothing more than 12 or so white plastic fluorescent light boxes with the Empire logo on them, which were unceremoniously flicked off rather than gently faded when the film started.

Arthur just could not believe it. Why on earth would anyone rip out a luxury cinema and replace it with quite possibly the pikiest, nastiest auditorium Arthur had ever seen. OK, the screen was a bit bigger and stadium seating can be nice when done well (like at his local Vue cinema) but this was just appalling. With the exception of the digital projection, this screen had absolutely nothing good to offer. It was like watching a film at your local town hall it was that grim. But what made it even worse was knowing what had been there before. It`s like remodelling a Ferrari and, after spending thousands of pounds and hundreds of man hours, handing over a Skoda in it`s place. It just makes no sense. It really is a complete and utter waste. Arthur really cannot get his head round it at all. Perhaps some bean counter saw that by remodelling he could fit an extra 10 seats in and the extra revenue would pay for the conversion in apporximately 100 years. If Arthur ever meets him (or her) then they will get the beating of a lifetime. Odeon has just made a pretty big jump up Arthur`s list of despised companies.

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Beans and sauce

 Tuesday 20 Mar 2007, 5:08 PM

Arthur isn`t a "brand label" type person at all. In fact he tends to avoid poncy, so-called fashionable labels at all costs. However one of the few brands he is loyal to is Heinz, in particular Heinz baked beans. Back in his student days when he was feeling a bit poor, Arthur once tried some co-op own brand beans thinking he would save some money. How wrong he was. The rest of the tin went in the bin and he didn`t even bother to finish his beans on toast, that`s how grim they were. The only beans Arthur ever eats are Heinz.

However Heinz have begun to let Arthur down a bit recently. On buying a tin of beans with min sausages he noticed that the sausages were slightly shorter than usual. This was confiremd upon consuming further tins. OK, so you get a few more beans instead but it`s still cheap and nasty cost cutting. And speaking of cost cutting, the other travesty Heinz have recently performed is to transfger the production of HP Sauce (a brand Heinz purchased a few years ago) from Birmingham where it has always been made to The Netherlands. Given the very British-ness of the product (HP saude always has a classic line drawing of the House of Parliamnet on the front, hence the "HP" name) prodcuing it abroad seems a bit of a mockery. Indeed the press have made many predictbale comments about putting a picture of a windmill on the bottle instead. Although it`s not Arthur`s favourite sauce these days, he still eats it on a regular basis, something he will now have to reconsider given this recent travesty.

And whilst on the subject of sauce, Arthur will have a quick rant about his favourite Sainsburys Fruity Brown sauce. A while back Arthur thought they were due to stop making it but to his relief it was only out of stock for a short while whilst changing the bottle design. Or at least that`s what Arthur thought. When Arthur tried the sauce in the new bottle he thought it tasted different; not as nice. And a quick inspection of the ingredients confirmed this; tomato content was way down and vinegar content was way up. This was no doubt another cheap cost cutting exercise designed to make more profit for Sainsburys. What is more ironic is that the calories, fat and sugar have all increased, which rather makes a mockery of Sainbury`s so called "be good to yourself" healthy eating policy. Greedy, devious cunts the lot of them.

In the mean time Arthur has found a yummy new sauce which is rising fast in his top 10 favoutie sauces; Lea and Perrins Tomato and Worcester sauce. Arthur doesn`t like tomato ketchup at all but this is much more like a rich, spicy, tomatoey brown sauce. Fantastic.

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A depressing day

 Saturday 17 Mar 2007, 5:05 PM

Last night Arthur thought his plague was getting the better of him; he was very wheezy and coughed an awful lot. Also his throat left like it was on fire (not the usual sore felling though, it was very rough). He curled up in his favourite big, thick, scratchy brwon blanket and went to bed propped up on a mountain of pillows. He awoke some 12 hours later having had a very good nights sleep but still felt rather under the weather.

Unfortunately his day was not to get any better, not because of his illness but becasue he discovered that his boiler had stopped working and his mobile phone was buggered (the screen would not work apart from showing some flashing white squares). The mobile phone had been a gift from kind uncle Rob so the 9 months use Arthur had got from it had been a blessing. Given Arthur`s general ambivalance towards mobiles he`s not sure if he`ll get a replacement or not and he certainly won`t be in any particular hurry to replace it.

The boiler on the other hand was slightly more pressing, especially given the foracst of snow sometime in the next day or two. Fortunately it was an easy problem to fix as the thermocouple (the thing that keeps the pilot light going) just needed replacing. He took a trip to Screwfix to get one and found it to be very busy with big queues for the tills that Arythur sneakily skipped by paying cash at a cash onyl till. Then, whilst Arthur was up that end of town he popped into Dunelm Mill to look for curtain fabric. As usual he really wasn`t in the mood and even though there were probably some nice fabrics he could have had, he came away empty handed.

Upon getting home he felt somewhat better and started to put up the trim around his living room windows. Taking the sheets down that Arthur had up to keep out prying eyes but that also left Arthur living in a sort of twilight world, Arthur was very depressed to see that, byt the light of day, the plasterwork in his living room was even more shoddy than he had previously thought. There were loads of cracks and bumps and the supposedly smooth ceiling was just covered in trowel marks. Why is it that the only parts of his house that Arthur thinks are of low quality with poor workmanship are all the bits that he has paid lots of money to supposed professional to complete? Fucking useless cunts the lot of them. It just goes to prove, if you want something doing, do it yourself.

And just to finsh the day off, Arthur`s throat is beginning to burn again...

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The plague

 Thursday 15 Mar 2007, 12:54 PM

Arthur has had the plague for the last couple of days. He`s not entiely sure whats wrong but in involves headaches, snot, hot flushes, aching, coughing, sickness, nausea, fast beating heart... you name it Arthur seems to have it! Actuualy half these symptoms have been palguing him for a while. The snot and coughing are from his semi permanent cold and he has felt tense and had an increased heart beat for a week or so now.

Having not had any food for the last day Arthur tucked into a small portion of left over curry for dinner (possibly not such a good idea but he has loads of it to consume before it goes off) only for his stomach to instantly react and off he rushed to the toilet. Whilst Arthur is no doctor he knows poo isn`t supposed to be yellow and runny. Definitely not good. Still, once it had all come out he felt much better (and emptier) and consumed the rest of his curry wil no other incidents.

Earlier in the week Arthur had once again started cycling to work (he hadn`t really cycled since Christmas due to his cold and rainy weather) but this sudden sickness will certainly put pay to that for the next few days. Never mind, back to the car again (which Arthur really must get around to servicing in the next week as it`s due at the end of the month).

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Silicone sealant is evil

 Tuesday 13 Mar 2007, 7:42 AM

Arthur spent last night sticking up plastic trim around his windows (actually just round one window as it took a lot longer than he thought). He had ordered about 40m of trim from the place that had fitted the new glass in his windows the other day. As the company were just down the road they very kindly delivered it which was rather fortunate as it came in 5m lengths which is about twice the length of Arthur`s little Toyota Yaris!

Arthur decided to first trying glueing some up around his bedroom window. He had purchased a tube of silicone sealant from B&Q and some magic tool for finishing it off from Drews the Ironmongers, one of the few truly independent shops in the area (Arthur managed to tear his fingernail on their counter - there weas blood, yelping in pain and much swearing).

Unfortunately it was all a bit more complicated, messy and involved than Arthur had expected. It took a lot more Silicone than Arthur had expected - over half a tube for just one window! This also meant a lot more mess as silicone is really icky and just gets everywhere, which in this case means all over Arthur`s nice brown suede curtains (sounds like an alternate universe Elvis song - "Don`t get silicone on my brown suede curtains"...).

Anyway, after an hour of messing about with buckets of water to clean everything off and smooth out all the edges of the sealant it looked quite good althiugh Arthur still has to finish off one edge that he didn`t want to tough until iot had all set in place. The magic tool had ended up being of little use and Arthur had just resorted to using hot sopay water and his finger to get it all looking good (his fingernail injurury had been for nothing). Arthr will pop along to Screwfix after his hospital appointment today to pick up many more tubes of silicone at hopefully a bgeter price than B&Q as he is going top need wuite a few more to finish all the windows in his house.

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Mong (and getting back on track)

 Monday 12 Mar 2007, 12:11 PM Mahjong Tiles

Arthur has been neglecting his blog/news for quite some time now and feels somewhat ashamed having done so well over the previous year. In an attempt to get back on track he is staring afresh from now and will be filling in the missing month or so when he gets the chance.

Last night Arthur played Mahjong or Mong as it is commonly known in his circle of friends. If you were to look up Mahjong on the internet you would get lots of colourful looking computer games that involve

stacks of oriental tiles and removing them in pairs or something like that until you have none left - basically a Chinese version of solitaire. But the proper game is played by four players and is more like poker and involves forming 3 or 4 of a kind of the various suits of tiles (characters, bamboo, circles, winds and dragons) and various other special hands to win the game.

There is loads of tradition involved in the game from the special way of laying out the tiles at the strat of the game, to drawing your hand and the scoring system at the end of each hand. One of the biggest probelms when Arthur and his friends play is that the rule books that usually accomp

any the mass produced sets in the west are often very bad translations form Chinese to English and, as such, are pretty much incomprehensible. It is a good thing that Arthur and his friends can usually pretty much remember the rules whenever they play. The most difficult bit is always the scoring system which involves exchanging sticks of various values with the other players depending on the value of your hand, the current wind of the round (each round played is named after a direction of wind) the particular wind you have been assigned for the round etc. It also doesn`t help that the scoring sticks don`t have obvious values; one red dot = 100, 8 small back dots = 20, etc.

And is if all that wasn`t complicated enough, there as loads of different variants of the game! Still the game is always fun, particularly because Arthur tends to be quite good at it (he won last night after getting a particularly good hand with a large final). Arthur doesn`t have his own set of tiles as they can be fairly pricey for even the most basic of sets. Plus the scoring sticks, tile rails and alike all add to the cost. Arthur can remember the very first time he played many, many years ago at a friends house whose mother was Chinese; she had an amazing antique bamboo set that Arthur is quite sure is worth a few thousand pounds these days.

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Very smelly tonsil stones

 Saturday 10 Mar 2007, 7:39 AM

For quite a few years (approximately 15), Arthur has occasionally had a rather nasty lump of "stuff" just appear in his mouth. Not very often, maybe once a year or so. Upon examination, the off white blob about the size of a baked bean would be found to stink really, really badly and Arthur assumed it was just a blob of half digested food that had popped up from down below to say hello.

More recently, about 3 or 4 months ago, Arthur noiticed whilst examining his new filling, that one of these blobs was stuck at the back of his throat in all the fleshy folds back there. Careful use of the finger dislodged it (there was some gagging) and the same smelly blob popped out, But over the next few months Arthur noticed more such blobs appearing, each time stuck behind the tonsil on the right hand side of his mouth. Again Arthur just dismiised it as being food not going down properly and rotting away at the back of his throat (not a pleasant thought) and resolved to chew his food properly to try and reduce the incidenes of the blobs appearing.

However, after a recent few days where Arthur`s sinuses whre particualry gooey (Arthur has blocked sinuses that lead to all sorts of trouble including headaches, aching eyes, permenant ringing in the ears, colds lasting forever etc.) he wondered if the blobs could be related. A quick visit to Google and the search phrase something like "white blobs tonsils" revelaed that these blobs were in fact called Tonsiloliths or Tonsil Stones. Consulting the Wikipedia page (Warning: nasty pictures on this page. Note that Arthur`s tonsil stones are like the top picture, not the bottom one!) on the subject reveals the cause isn`t 100% known although they appear to be the formation of general mucus, bacteria, whote blood cells etc. One site described them as "dandruff of the throat". Whatever they are, Arthur is going to visit the doctor as it sounds rather likely that it all these gooey head type problems are related. And Arthur would rather not spend the rest of his life coughing up smelly blobs of gunk from the back of his throat!

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New Windows

 Thursday 8 Mar 2007, 11:47 PM

At last Arthur has had his new windows fitted. Apparently the shop had lost hos phone number so truned up at 7:30am at his front door to ask when they could come over. Arthur had literally just got out of bed so was not asleep at the time but was still in that incoherent morning mode where everyhting is confusing. Arthur answered the door expecting the postman (he was waiting for some new DVDs) but instead gopt someone he knew he recognised but couldn`t quite place. Was it the next door neighbour? A friend perhaps? Even when this mystery person started talking about fitting glass it still took some time for Arthur`s brain to start working!

Anyway, eventually Arthur worked out who he was talking top and arranged for the glass to be fitted the next day. It all went in easily and Arthur now has 2 perfect living room windows. The other panes of glass look really filthy by comparison, although this probably has something to do with the fact that they have only been cleaned three times in the twelve years Arthur has lived at the house. Now Arthur just has to find some curtains and net curtains (or similar) and his room will be complete. With a bit of luck he`ll find something he likes sometime in the next couple of years!

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