Angelic Paranoia

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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 22nd July 2020 4:57 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
A whole lot of fanfic. I put a load on my ebook reader and worked through it. In the meantime I've bookmarked more, but at least my AO3 reading later page is only one page. Because I've been catching up on stuff from a while ago, it's been interesting to see who replies to comments. Some authors reply to all, some reply to none, some reply for a while and then stop (sometimes that's years sometimes that one day of replying and then stop). I know there are lots of reasons authors don't always reply to all comments, but when I see that none have been replied to and I'm not sure I liked it or it was just ok I tend to veer on the side of just ok and not leaving a comment.

What I'm Currently Reading
Back on the non-fiction: Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes by Virginia Nicholson. I've enjoyed two of her other books, on women after WWI and during WWII. This one is about women in the 50s. It's strange because it's so recent but so different. We had two world wars where women worked and the 'surplus women' after WWI meant marriage wasn't the be all and end all for women. And yet the 1950s might as well be the 1900s for all that's changed. At least so far, we're only on the early 1950s.

There was a chapter on the queen's coronation and I knew it rained that day but I didn't know it had only been 12C! And to think I thought this June had some cold weather, it wasn't that bad during the day.

What I'm Reading Next
The book I'm currently reading is 500 pages, and heavy to read in bed, so it's going to take me a while. I don't know, I'll see what I fancy off my to read shelf.


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Whose Line is it Anyway?
Sunday 12th July 2020 12:17 pm

Back in December, when I was ill, I started watching Whose Line is it Anyway? on All4. Earlier this year I got into a pattern of watching it at lunchtimes when I worked from home. This week I finished all 136 episodes.

I did enjoy it, but sometimes it got samey. Watching a lot in a short time would expose the times they repeated a joke. Authors was good for being able to make lunch while watching it, because there wasn't much to see, but I often wouldn't know the authors they were spoofing and it was only really funny when someone did a silly author. And Film and Theatre Styles got old quickly, especially when they did it twice per episode. That was also not helped by me not knowing some of the styles. Hoedown/Gospel/March gets old after a while too.

My favourites when I watched when it was first on were Josie Lawrence, Tony Slattery and Ryan Stiles. They're still my favourites, but to that list I add Sandi Toksvig, who is really funny and really quick. I was pleasantly surprised this week to find her in an episode I watched, because I thought I'd seen them all (she wasn't in many).

There was a surreal point where I watch the What's the Matter with Tony Slattery? documentary and they showed some Whose Line clips, all of which were from the first series, which I'd just been watching that week.

During this time I also saw The Comedy Store Players, who had an hour's worth of one evening's performance that you could pay to watch in a 3 day window. All but one of those had been in at least one episode of Whose Line. That made me laugh so much it set my asthma off. It helps that they've been doing it a long time so they keep getting better at it and also that I'm not struggling for 20-30 year old references. And they had different games, so it felt more interesting.

As to what I'm going to watch during my lunchtimes now, I don't know. I've reduced them to 30 minutes, so I can just about get Whose Line in, but anything longer is trickier. Although I could made my lunchtimes however long I want at the moment, as long as I get 7.5 hours of work in each day. Or I could watch half of something at lunchtime and the other half after work when I need a lie down before starting on something else (watching something helps better than reading). I don't know.


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Yes, Minister
Wednesday 8th July 2020 7:49 pm

I've been thinking about Yes, Minster recently.

Yesterday I read a headline that said one-sixth of British people wouldn't take the Covid vaccine when we have one. At first I thought this is just clickbait, but it was The Guardian and I was curious, so I read it. And it was all about how people who get their news from social media rather than traditional channels are the ones who won't have the vaccine. It told me how many people the survey asked, but not anything else. Like what question did they actually ask.

It reminds me of a scene from Yes, Prime Minster where Humphrey demonstrates how to get specific answers out of people in surveys.

Leading questions

I've also been rewatching The West Wing. I got through series 1-3 and then stopped three and a half years ago. I re-started from the beginning of series 4 and am now halfway through series 5. There was recently an episode talking about the muclear threat. Which reminds me of this scene where we prove that Hacker would never press the button (it's the way he says "Picadilly?!" towards the end that really gets me)

"Would you press the button?"


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Titles meme
Tuesday 30th June 2020 8:22 pm

Look at your most recent 20 fanwork titles and answer the questions.

1. How many are you happy with?
One of them came from another fic, so doesn't count (You, Me, Red Wine, and the Edinburgh Night Sky). But of the remaining 19, I'm happy with 12 (which is a pretty good ratio):
Teatime Stories
Baby, Baby (Between You and Me)
Banned Books
More Trouble Than They're Worth
Willing to Walk Away
Runaway Colleague
The Thing's the Play
But for the Grace
Strictly Romance
The Time Lady and the Lamp
Love Me, Love Me Not
Bloomin' Aliens

2. How many are... not great?
Giselle's Honeymoon I really struggled for a title for and then pretty much gave up. It really wanted a Rocky-style title and it turns out that that's really hard.

3. How many did you scramble for at the last minute?
Amazingly, the answer is not all of them! But the last 20 go back three years so I don't remember how many. It's probably all of the ones not listed in the next question, though.

4. How many did you know before you started writing/creating, or near the beginning?
This is unusual for me. But it's two!
Baby, Baby (Between You and Me)
Strictly Romance

5. How many are quotes from songs or poems?
Just one, Bed of Roses.

6. How many are other quotes?
A whole lot - or at least variations on quotes:
Banned Books
More Trouble Than They're Worth
Willing to Walk Away
The Thing's The Play
But For the Grace
A Last Supper
The Time Lady and the Lamp
Love Me, Love Me Not

7. Which best reflects the plot of the story/content of the fanwork?
Giselle's Honeymoon does what it says on the tin. As does Ghost in the Bathroom. Baby, Baby (Between You and Me) is reflects the plot and how it was remixed. Strictly Romance is a romance set during a time when one half of the couple is on Strictly Come Dancing.

8. Which best reflects the theme of the story/fanwork?
Memories of Home tells you it's nostalgic. I think that's the only one, really, it's hard to tell.

9. Which best reflects the character voice of the story/POV of the fanwork?
I think Bloomin' Aliens gives you a clue that it's Gita.

10. Which is your favourite?
Baby, Baby (Between You and Me). I did think 'If I do the remix like this I can use this title' because it was just so good. Second favourite is Strictly Romance.


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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 17th June 2020 5:38 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
Peace Comes to the Chalet School by Katherine Bruce. It's typical Chalet School stuff, so not much to say about it really. Although the author chose not to focus on just one girl/form, which makes sense since it's about the end of the war, but it does feel more like I've read a selection of short stories rather than a whole book. Which is not to say that it's a bad thing, it just makes it different from other Chalet School books.

What I'm Currently Reading
Funny Ha, Ha by Paul Merton. I'm more than two-thirds into my library borrowing period and less than halfway through the stories. I've not been reading them in order - I've mostly been going backwards through the authors. The trouble is that some of them are just a bit dull and it always seems to be the longest ones! But then there are also some gems. Like all of Victoria Wood's ones and one of Oscar Wilde's ones. I'm currently enjoying one by Jincy Willett, who I've never previously heard of.

When I'm reading a good one then I'm keen to read it. But when I'm reading a dull one, more so if it's a run of dull ones, then I struggle to motivate myself to get through it. Overall I think the book would be better off having a few really good stories rather than lots of stories that include some really good. When I have to return it to the library I will probably read something else, then get this out again and read some more.

What I'm Reading Next
Some fanfic. Which counts as a book because they're on my Kobo. I had loads of catching up to do because I was too busy to read any from October to mid-December. Then I got ill and couldn't look at a screen (or read much at all, to start with). I finally managed to get my AO3 to read later down to one page, and had a few long stories left in the SGA Secret Santa collection. So I've put everything that's left onto my Kobo so I can finish them off.

And I keep doing my (virtual) choir recordings in front of my to read shelf and therefore keep thinking about how much I want to read them. So I will probably one of those next - maybe some non-fiction.

And maybe also one of the three books on my bedside table that I'm currently reading...


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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 3rd June 2020 6:35 pm

I discovered that the crossposter didn't crosspost any entries for May to Dreamwidth. Because DW crossposts to LiveJournal it didn't crosspost to LJ either. It didn't occur to me that when DW said you had to use an API key now, rather than a password, that it would apply to the crossposter too. I've now crossposted all (four) posts from May, and am crossposting directly to DW and LJ so if one fails it won't take the other down with it.

What I Just Finished Reading
The Demon Headmaster by Gillian Cross. I wanted to read this because I watch a 2019 Demon Headmaster series on the iPlayer and thought I really don't remember the book (or the original TV series). It turns out that I do remember the book, there's just not as much in it as is hinted at in the new TV series. But I do have a big problem with it - I assumed it just had a new cover, but it's not just a re-print, they've actually changed things to update them. So at one point Dinah tries to record what happens during assembly using a phone on video mode. When I read this a phone was plugged into a wall in the house and you could only move as far as the cord let you. I don't know what the original had instead - a dictaphone perhaps - but a) if you're going to update the text you should say so (if I'd known I wouldn't have bothered with this version) and b) why? It's no wonder kids today can't conceive of a time before smartphones if all the books written last century contain them!

What I'm Currently Reading
Funny Ha, Ha by Paul Merton after [info]liadtbunny talked about it. I read the introduction where he was talking about not being familiar with some of the authors before he put the anthology together (of 80 short, funny stories) and some authors have three stories in. It could be easily cut down right there! So far I've read the Margaret Atwood one and the three Victoria Wood ones and they are funny. I'm thinking I won't get through all 80 before the library takes it back, but I could always borrow it again some other time, just as long as I can remember what I've read (unhelpfully the chapter listing only includes titles and not authors).

Peace Comes to the Chalet School by Katherine Bruce. Despite what this post looks like, I've been reading a lot of non-fiction recently and I really wanted some fiction that didn't take much effort. Which this is. I am enjoying it, it's typical Chalet School stuff really.

What I'm Reading Next
One of the books I've started and not finishing would be a good idea...


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Dancing
Sunday 31st May 2020 12:30 pm

I tried morris dancing as part of I've Never Seen Star Wars. As I documented at the time, I thought it would be easy, so I wouldn't enjoy it. But it was just the right amount of hard and so I did.

The way it works, in normal years, is that we practise from September to April, then from May to July we dance out one evening at week at a local pub, along with another morris side. We also dance at weekends at festivals - generally one a month from April and September (and sometimes in October and January!). Inevitably we'll end up dancing on the hottest day of the year - least year that was the day it was in the high 30sC and by the time we danced in the evening it had gone down to 31C.

What I didn't know until I started is about all the different types of morris dancing. The one that most people in this country know about, and would describe if you said morris dancing, is with people in white with sticks and hankies. They have a lot of bells going on. That's called Cotswold, because it was historically danced in the Cotswold region.

The type I dance is North West. You'll never guess what part of England it comes from... It was danced by mill workers. They wore clogs in the mills, so we wear clogs to dance. You do not have cold feet in clogs... They are great, though, because they make lots of noise. We do have sticks, but we don't tend to do a lot of hitting other sticks. Our sticks have bells and ribbons, and we also have bells on the clogs. But no bells on us.

In my first dance out season I was watching a border morris team. That's from the England/Wales border. They traditionally didn't want to be recognised, so they painted their faces. They also dance with long sticks that they clash. Watching them hit sticks I thought I'd quite fancy the stick hitting part. But less so the face painting part because I have sensitive skin and everything makes it itch. So finding something to paint my face with would be more effort. You also find at morris events a load of border morris people around the sinks painting their faces.

What made me decide that North West was the type for me was one day when we were discussing the surface we'd just danced on. It was nice and flat, but not great for the sound - it absorbed a lot. People discussed how they like to make noise with their clogs and I could get behind that idea. It was reinforced a few months later when we danced on a wooden stage. We had twelve of us doing a dance that involves a bit of stamping. Since it was loud, we all obviously stamped as loud as we could. When we came off all the dancers said how great it had been; all the musicians complained they couldn't hear a thing.

Recently, my neighbours have had the pleasure of enjoying the noise from my clogs (minus the bells). On our practise nights we've been dancing and imagining the other people dancing around us. Which is really hard. Sometimes you have to go around other people until you get to a certain spot. When there are no people there it's a lot harder to work out how many you've gone round.

I am missing dancing properly, although I am not missing dancing in the weather - there's a very narrow window in which it's the right weather to dance in. No wind, no rain, not too hot.


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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 20th May 2020 8:23 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
Dear Fatty by Dawn French. This is Dawn French's autobiography, which she's written as letters to people in her life. It took me a while to work out that 'Fatty' was Jennifer Saunders. I don't know when it was published - it wasn't at the start of the ebook at all. But it was a bit weird to read about how amazing she thought Lenny Henry was when they've been divorced for a while. Overall, although it was interesting, I just found it quite hard to read. I think it was the snippest of silly letters in there that were a bit hard going.

What I'm Currently Reading
Or rather what I've decided I'm not reading any more. Which is Star Trek: Collateral Damage by David Mack. I got it because it is literally the only Star Trek fiction ebook in the library. I'm 100 pages in and I still couldn't summarise the plot for you because there are lots and I don't care about any of them. The final straw came during Picard's trial for something (I don't know what, presumably it's in a previous book) and there were two pages of lawyers talking about Space Corps Directives. OK, so not literally, but it was as dry as that. I have officially given up on it.

It's Not Me, it's You! By Jon Richardson. I bought this because it was 99p. It's something he wrote a while ago about his search for perfection. So far I'm stuck in the very long introduction and am hoping the book improves.

What I'm Reading Next
The Demon Headmaster by Gillian Cross. I discovered recently that there had been another TV series of this late last year, and I watched it on the iPlayer. It was a while through it before I discovered it wasn't just a remake with different people and a lot more technology, but a sequel (not like the other sequels). After watching it I wanted to re-read the book, since the series referenced some things from it and I don't remember it that well. Of course it's too old for the library to have it, but it was 83p. I would have read it next, but library books got in the way.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars: The Good Place
Friday 8th May 2020 2:19 pm

I'd heard of The Good Place, but really all I knew about it was that it was an American TV series. Then, on the Hitchhiker's 42nd anniversary evening they mentioned that The Good Place owes a lot to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. So I thought I'd see what it was all about.

It turns out to be a sitcom - although more in the manner of The Thick of It in that it's amusing but not laugh out loud funny (and with no studio audience). It's about Eleanor Shellstrop who dies, ends up in the good place, but there's been a mistake and she's not the Eleanor Shellstrop they think she is. So she tries to make sure no one finds out, while learning how to be good in order to stop everything falling apart.

At least, that's how it starts. Each series is different, which took a little getting used to at the start of the second series.

Generally, I liked it. It was 22 minutes of unimportant, amusing entertainment where nothing that bad really happens. It's also a bit silly. The demons (who run the bad place) and angels (who run the good place) all have human names. The angels' response to pretty much anything is to write a strongly worded letter. The favourite torture method of the demons' is penis flattening. In one episode there's a clam chowder fountain.

There's an AI/robot in the shape of a woman who comes in good, bad (always on her phone), neutral and disco (on roller skates) versions.

The only thing I didn't like about it was the last episode, which was really sappy and a lot less funny. I would say that the penultimate episode is probably a better place to stop.

I'm going to give it 9/10 - it would have been 10/10 had it not been for the last episode.


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WIP meme
Sunday 3rd May 2020 11:05 am

When you see this, share 3 lines from each of 3 WIPs.

Because I've actually been doing some writing. And it's entirely possible I might finish something sometime...

Doctor Who/SJA, Sarah Jane and Kate go on a date to the ballet, with aliens
There were plenty of pubs in the vicinity, so they didn't have to go far for that drink. Except they hadn't even made it inside when Kate's phone rang. She had to check who it was and gave Sarah Jane an apologetic look once she'd seen the screen.

"Kate Stewart," she said into the phone, hoping it wasn't going to be something else to derail their date.

"We've had a message," the soldier at the other end reported. "Someone from a planet called [planet name]. Said their daughter is being held hostage here and said she'll start shooting if she doesn't speak to someone in charge."

Kate sighed. Why couldn't anyone ever come just for a peaceful discussion?

This was supposed to be shippy fic with some aliens, because these are two people who can't go anywhere without aliens being involved. And then it got plotty and will be over 5000 words if I finish it, and how can I not write short any more?

Quantum Leap post-Mirror Image
Al opened the door to the waiting room, to see who Sam had leaped into this time. His eyes widened at the person he saw in there.

The young woman inside was equally wide-eyed. "Dad?"

I started this one in December and once I've written the first draft I realised there were major problems with it. I have notes about changes to fix it, so we'll see.

Star Trek Original Series/Discovery fic
"Admiral Cornwell is on her way," Pike said, once the doors closed and they were on their way. "She'll want to speak with you."

Spock nodded. "She believes I am guilty of murdering the medical staff."

Pike couldn't hold back a small smile at the calm way Spock said it. He had missed Spock these past few months. "She's a fair person, don't worry."

"I am not." There was a note of amusement in his voice. "I am innocent, therefore I have nothing to fear."

Pike opened his mouth, then changed his mind and closed it again. But Spock did know much of Earth's history and had surely learned enough to know that wasn't always the case. He let it go. "You're probably safest staying on Discovery for now." Enterprise was too stationary for hiding on right now.

"I concur." They exited the lift and stood outside it, before they went in different directions. "I do not believe you will allow any harm to come to anyone on board this ship."

Pike watched Spock go and blew out a breath.

This is an AU where Vina leaves Talos with Michael and Spock. It was supposed to be Pike/Vina, but it's complicated. And then Spock got involved and because I love Spock and the Pike-Spock friendship it's involved a whole lot of that. In some respects this is the closest to being finished because I am partway through v2. But it's also already over 10,000 words, so it's going to take a while. And looking through it, will also involve some more research as I've forgotten all the rest of the characters since I last touched it last summer...

And a fourth, because this is on v2 and is short, so might actually be possible to finish.
Randall & Hopkirk cake!fic
Jeff somehow managed not to groan out loud. This was all he needed. Marty would completely misread the situation and get into a flap, and Jeff wouldn't be able to talk him down, even if they were alone. Which they were not likely to be at any time soon.

"Jeff! What's this?" Marty gestured at the scene in front of him.

It was, Jeff had to admit, pretty damning if it didn't have an innocent explanation. Which, of course, it did. Jeff was sitting on a bed, legs rapidly going to sleep, but not daring to move them because the only item of clothing he had on was his right sock. Although he was covered in Christmas cake it merely made him feel sticky while leaving everything exposed. And it was cold in here.

No prizes for guessing that Jeff's handcuffed to Jeannie.


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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 15th April 2020 8:47 am

What I Just Finished Reading
At Childhood's End by Sophie Aldred. I don't know if I liked it or not. The Ace in it is 50 so it's not unreasonable that she'd have calmed down a lot. Based on the TV series then I want to be Ace when I grow up. Based on the book then I don't want to be the Ace at the start when I grow up. Even though she has a ton of money, a flexible job, a cat, a whole load of tech and some alien stuff. But at the Ace at the end I maybe want to be. But only maybe.

Who am I, again? by Lenny Henry. This is an autobiography that just covers his life up to when he was 21. Which turns out to be a lot of comedy as he started at 15. I realised reading it that I had no idea really about his comedy and what he did. He's always just been there really. Mostly I associate him with Comic Relief these days. It was really interesting to see where he came from and how he got into comedy. Which he says at the end is all very different these days.

What I'm Currently Reading
Who was Ann Gregg? by David Cooper Holmes. I'm struggling with this. Partly because it's really heavy so it's hard to read in bed. And partly because it really needed editing - there are grocer's apostrophes in it and the wrong word sometimes (who's instead of whose). It's harder to concentrate on something when you want to take a red pen to it. There's also old newspaper clippings which are really hard to read when there are no full stops. It's about his ancestor who had a life of crime and used a lot of pseudonyms. It is interesting, just hard to read.

What I'm Reading Next
It feels like a good time to go back to Jeremy Hardy Speaks Volumes in the wake of Tim Brooke-Taylor's death.

And I bought Dear Fatty by Dawn French a few weeks ago because it was 99p, so that should be an interesting read. It was marketed as being perfect for Mother's Day which I find a bit bizarre - other than of course everything is perfect for Mother's Day if you're trying to sell it three weeks before Easter and everything is perfect for Father's Day if you're trying to sell it in June.


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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 1st April 2020 7:46 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
I Love the Bones of You by Christopher Eccleston. This came out of me looking through the library's ebooks and finding some things to read. It's terrible for fiction, but better for non-fiction. This is a bit weird to categorise because although it's an autobiography it's also all about his relationship with his father. His father had dementia and he had anorexia and depression, so it's quite a dense read. Interesting, but I found it hard to get through when I really wanted to be reading something lighter.

What I'm Currently Reading
Doctor Who: At Childhood's End by Sophie Aldred. I stopped to read the library book and I'm back on this one now. The jury's still out on whether I like it. There are (non-time travelling) motorbikes and fast cars and aliens, but it's not entirely clear how much alien stuff Ace has been getting into since leaving the Doctor. And a possibility that there was something going on that made her choose that life. It's interesting to see Ace meet the Thirteenth Doctor and the story is interesting, but I'm still not sold on Ace as a businesswoman.

What I'm Reading Next
Unless one of my library holds comes in, or I decide to actually finish one of the other books I've started recently, it'll be Who Was Ann Greg? by David Cooper Holmes. All All I currently know about it is that it's surprisingly heavy considering its size and Mum leant it to be because she thought I'd like it. So I expect I will.


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A little more normality
Sunday 29th March 2020 6:38 pm

I intended to post something for Reading Wednesday this week, but I've been so busy this week I just didn't have time. In the first 50 days of my 100 days of code I missed one day. This week I missed three. But I had one evening where I was worrying about my smoke alarm going wrong. And if it's one of the mains-powered ones then it can only be fixed with an electrician. But I came up with a plan for that. I just need it to go off again to work out which one is it.

One evening I went food shopping. It takes a while because I'm trying to do two weeks' worth at once, I have to try and think of ideas to get round things you can't, and going round the shop takes longer if you're going to stay two metres from anyone. Also, I managed to open the car door into my face. My face hurting afterwards, because my glasses smashed into it did not help concentration. At least my glasses are bendy so they're fine and I don't need a (closed) optician.

And after a week off dancing, we're back to dancing. Over the internet, of course. There's a dance that no one knows that's danced more like a chorus line, in that we're all doing the same thing individually. Based on one week's session it's going to take a while before we're able to dance it out.

Hopefully now, things are going back to a routine more like I had before. Most of my days are taken up with work. Then straight afterwards is half an hour of choir with Gareth Malone. Then I need to do an hour of coding and an hour of TV watching before bed. And get in some dancing practice, some reading and some things off my to-do list.

And I will post a Reading Wednesday post this Wednesday!


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A lot of hours
Sunday 22nd March 2020 11:06 am

I am not short of things to do.

I started a second round of 100 days of code at the beginning of February and today is my 50th day. Since I now have more time to learn stuff, the list of stuff to learn has grown longer - I shrunk it when I started this round because it was too long. But the list of things I could learn is never-ending. But I found this week, when I overdid it, that I can't do more than an hour on weekdays.

I also have a lot of TV to watch. I added up the number of hours of TV I have on my PVR and it came to about 64 hours. If I watch an hour a day, it'll take me until late May to watch it all. And that doesn't include more stuff being on (not that there is much, since it's nearly Easter and most things stop until September).

I've also been rewatching all of Whose Line is it Anyway. I've seen all of series 7, 8 and 9. But I'm still not halfway through. I worked out that at one a day it'll take me until the end of May to get through them all. Except I'm not watching one a day, I'm watching one at lunchtime if I'm working from home. So it'll take longer than that to get through them all.

And I finally got round to writing down all the films that have come out in the last couple of years that I haven't got round to watching yet. So maybe I will at some point when I cam fit them in.


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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 11th March 2020 6:04 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
Only When I Laugh: My Autobiography by Paul Merton. I saw this mentioned somewhere and thought it would be interesting. And it was. As he points out in it that the traditional route into comedy at the time was via Cambridge or Oxford, neither of which he was clever or academic enough to go to.

What I'm Currently Reading
Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay. I reserved this in December and I finally made it to the top of the list last night. I'm already a quarter of the way through it because it's very easy reading. It's basically the same sort of stuff as his other book, but from around the Christmases he worked.

Mack the Life by Lee Mack. I saw something recently that mentioned that Lee Mack had written an autobiography and that it's good. It was also 99p. I'm only a couple of chapters in, but it's interesting so far. Especially because he just can't resist making jokes, just like on WILTY.

Jeremy Hardy Speaks Volumes. I 'panic-bought' ebooks and that included this one. It's snippets of his stand-ups and his rants and they're interesting and funny. Although, as the introduction points out, they're not as funny to read as they were to hear.

Doctor Who: The Day She Saved the Doctor by various people. This was down to a reasonable price and also includes a story by Susan Calman (and Jacquline Rayner, who always writes good stuff). I enjoyed those two stories, but then it also helps that they were centred around Sarah and Clara. Where the Rose one I was less enthused by and I haven't quite managed to start the Bill one yet.

What I'm Reading Next
Doctor Who: At Childhood's End by Sophie Aldred. Having listened to the recent Big Finish audio with an older Ace running A Charitable Earth I then really wanted to read this. So I bought it. And then read other things first/instead.


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Whose Line is it Anyway?
Saturday 22nd February 2020 8:15 pm

When Missy died I learnt the best thing to do is to always have something to watch/listen to, then it's harder to think. So after Sammy died I was on the look out for podcasts and found one called Rule of Three, where comedians talk about a comedy thing they love. Cariad Lloyd did one talking about Whose Line is it Anyway. One of the things she mentioned was that it was all on All4. When I was ill I re-listened to bits of the podcast and thought that it was the perfect thing to watch because the cameras do not move. And you only get 12 minutes at a time before there's adverts (and when I first started watching 12 minutes was all I could get through in one go).

And I've discovered all sorts of things I never knew about it at the time.

The game I remembered most was World's Worst, where they step off the world's worst step. One of the reasons I remember it so well is that the last round on Mock the Week - scenes We'd Like to see - always reminded me of it. Turns out the person in charge of/who set up Whose Line did the same with Mock the Week. And when Mock the Week began it had a lot more in common with Whose Line than it does now.

When it was originally on I didn't like Greg Proops. I felt like he'd taken over Tony Slattery's part as the person who is guessing on Let's Make a Date and Party Quirks. It turns out that Greg was before Tony 'left'. (It turns out that Tony was fired because he was self-medicating for his bipolar disorder with drugs and alcohol and it didn't go well. It's really sad.) And there were plenty of other people who were the guessers. And Greg is funny. I don't remember/didn't notice at the time how antagonistic he and Clive Anderson were to each other. I found a video of Greg guesting on Clive's talk show, which was 8 minutes of them insulting in other - occasionally getting some questions and answers in.

I knew Stephen Fry had been in it. I have a vague memory of having listened to one of the radio episodes. I've only seen him in one episode so far but he not only refused to sing in the Hoedown but he didn't even talk in time. In comparison, in the last series of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue he sung without complaint - although it would have been in bad taste to complain. His singing is fine - it's perfectly average.

Sandi Toksvig is great in it. Which is not a surprise. But she's a rare short person in it - most of the other performers are around six foot, if not more. Her voice has not changed at all since the early 90s. She did a game of Authors where her author was a cake baking book. Particularly ironic as I watched it the same week she announced she was leaving Bake Off.

There were some interesting people in one (or two) episodes. Graeme Garden was in an episode in series 1. He did ok - it felt like they were all feeling their way through it. Somehow he doesn't look any different 30 years later. Ardal O'Hanlan was in an episode and he wasn't great. Eddie Izzard was good - but another person who looks even shorter next to all the tall people.

When it was on I really liked Ryan Stiles for the same reason Cariad Lloyd did - the physical comedy he did. This time I am particularly liking Josie Lawrence, Caroline Quentin, Sandi Toksvig and Tony Slattery.

It turns out the the US version was a 'family show' so they censored all sorts. It's hilarious given that All 4 ask me to confirm that I'm 16 before every episode, the first one I watched at Christmas had naked people in Newsflash, and at the end of one game of Party Quirks where Tony didn't guess two of the quirks he told Clive to F off.

It also turns out that they started making more Whose Line in America in 2013. Amazon Prime has a random selection, where the description of who is on it doesn't match the episode. I made the mistake of starting with 'series 5' which all had guest stars, none of which I've heard of and none of which are improvisers (or necessarily any good at improvising). Series 6 was better but it took me a little while to get into it. It was the Science of Laughter episode on The Infinite Monkey Cage that helped me understand why the audience seemed so excitable.

In Britain if something is funny we laugh. If something is really funny, or really clever, or more often both, we clap. In America if something is funny they laugh. If something is really funny they cheer. And they're really into cheering. When a game is announced they like (eg Scenes From a Hat) they cheer over Aisha's whole explanation. In comparison, an announcement of Mornington Crescent on ISIHAC will get a brief "Yay".

I also remember hearing a while back that on Red Dwarf they try and cut out all the clapping. Whereas in American sitcoms they'll leave it in. The Science of Laughter also pointed out that you laugh more when other people laugh. So a live audience laughing will make you laugh more. But a live audience clapping (or cheering) doesn't do anything for you.


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Updates
Sunday 9th February 2020 5:10 pm

Or things that have (or have not) happened since I had time to blog, months ago...

1. Back in November Sammy had a stroke, struggled for a week and then died. It was a year and seven months old, which made him an old man, but on the young side of old. He couldn't sit up and hold his food and after some experimentation I ended up hitting it with a hammer to break it into bits. Although I found that the sweetcorn pieces still stay in one piece. And it's hard to get into a sunflower seed shell using only your fingernails. I will get another hamster later this year.

2. I still haven't read Yuletide. Or any of the other secret santa ficathons. They went live around the time I was ill and it was a while before I could use a computer and then a while before I could use one much. And before then I hadn't read much, mostly because I was either busy or tired. So it just hasn't happened. None of it is going anywhere, so there's plenty of time to get round to it.

3. I have got back into 100 days of code, starting at the beginning of this month. So far I've created two sites, although one was so simple it only took me two hours.

4. One of the things I need to do before I get a new hamster is to sort the lounge out. When I had Sammy, getting to some of my DVDs was a bit tricky. And some of them had poos on. I first need to sort out the mess/dumping ground of my spare room so I can see what space I have for stuff and what storage I have spare. I've started doing half an hour per free weekend, so I've not done much but I will get through it slowly. I definitely need to sort out the kitchen cupboards too, as I have mugs in one cupboard, glasses in another and tumblers in a third. Mind you, if you want something to drink out of, opening pretty much any cupboard will get you something.

5. Tesco have started reducing the amount of frozen free from they have. But I have found that Asda are pretty good for free from (better than Tesco proportionally) and even Lidl have some. But Sainsburys are now the only shop in this town that sell my milk, since Tesco decided to increase the amount of space they had for alternative milks so couldn't fit in mine. My grocery shopping has ended up being all the shops.


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What I am reading Wednesday
Wednesday 5th February 2020 8:59 pm

What I Just Finished Reading
The Book of the Year 2019. I've read the previous two so I knew what to expect. But this is the first I've read in ebook format - the only other choice is hardback, which is heavier to carry around and read in bed. It worked out mostly ok, although it took me a while to work out how to zoom into the images and then I couldn't work out how to move around them (kobo help was useless). But I managed to read all the text on them.

What I'm Currently Reading
Not Quite 30-Love by Sally Bradfield. I thought I'd try this because it's all about tennis and written by a tennis insider. But it is a romance. So it doesn't require much brain to read it, although I have been struggling because it's not written in order and I've been confused about the sequence of events. But I am enjoying the tennis. Couldn't care less about the romance.

The Chalet School in Exile. I bought this from GGBP because I have the very cut paperback. And then I haven't got far through it because I know what's going to happen and it's not am easy, happy read. I know it's all happy in the end, but I sort of want to put off them having to leave Austria.

What I'm Reading Next
Probably Theodora and the Chalet School, which I got at the same time as Exile and for the same reason. Or Doctor Who: At Childhood's End, although I am less keen on it being £10 for an ebook. Or, it doesn't come out until later in the month, but Jeremy Hardy Speaks Volumes. Although that's £14 for an ebook which is insane. How can an ebook be more expensive than a paperback (it's just not available in paperback)? Who decided hardbacks are a good idea anyway?


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2019 live comedy round up
Monday 27th January 2020 7:34 pm

My 2019 round up is entirely about live comedy. I used to go to quite a bit with my sister and then she had a baby. It took me until last year to admit that I was not happy about not going to stuff and I should just go on my own, that way I don't have to deal with people umming and ahing about whether they can make it until it's sold out. Nor do I have to buy tickets and get money off people or tell them what time trains to get. Most of the time the other people I see there are with someone else but are on their phones, so they might as well be on their own. (I take a book)

Last year I went to quite a bit of live comedy:
Ed Byrne
Ellie Taylor
Griff Rhys Jones
I'm Sorry I Havem't a Clue
James Acaster
Josh Widdicombe
Lucy Porter
Mark Watson
No Such Thing as Fish
Rhod Gilbert
Rob Beckett
Romesh Ranganathan

Some of them I'd see before, most of them I hadn't.

Rob Beckett was shorter than I thought he was. Josh Widdicombe I struggled with because I had a cold with bad asthma and laughing made me cough. So I was trying not to laugh too much. I failed (unsurprisingly) and had lost by voice by the end of the night and didn't get it back for three days.

I was a bit unsure about Ellie Taylor because when I last saw her her set was all about how all her friends were having babies, but she wasn't interested in cuddling them and wasn't sure if she wanted one of her own. When I went it was around the time when everyone was having babies. But since then she's had a baby and I was worried it would be all about that. And it was, but it was still funny, so that was ok.

Some of them had support acts, which were a mixed bag (most of them I can't remember the names of). The funniest was a Canadian bloke living in France who had cats. Three of the support acts were lesbians and their set was all about that. They did all have slightly different spins on it, but it's just not unique enough when there are so many lesbian stand-ups if that's all they talk about. One of them, though, lost the audience right at the start when she acted as if the audience all hated that she was a lesbian, when in reality they couldn't give a shit. So after that she struggled to get any laughs because everyone was so put off by her attitude.


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I’ve Never Seen Star Wars – December and 2019 wrap-up
Saturday 25th January 2020 8:51 pm

You may have noticed it's really not December any more. That's because just before Christmas I had a bad dose of labyrinthitis, coming at the end of two months of crazy business at work. So I am still catching up with everything and this wasn't top of my list.

Due to this, I am going to take a year off from Never Seen Star Wars, at least formally. I have plans to do/see/read new stuff, so I will post about those things when they happen.

Last month I was trying coffee. There was a day when I met some friends in a coffee shop and one of them advised me to try a latte, so I did. I went with the Lactofree option on the basis that at least I like that milk (it's just cow's milk with lactase added) - or I did when I was last able to drink cow's milk 15 years ago.

it was alright. I thought the initial tasted was like hot chocolate and then a different taste came through at the end of the mouthfull. Which must be because that's what hot milk tastes like, but I've only ever had it in hot chocolate so that's what I associate the taste with. I did finish it, but every sip was a disappointment that it wasn't hot chocolate.

I am going to try some other coffees, as they might be different. Especially something cold, as I won't associate the taste with hot chocolate so much. I will report back when I've tried some more - probably in the summer when it's easier to get cold drinks (as well as hot drinks).

So I'll give trying coffee a 7 out of 10.

And a summary for 2019 of what I did and how I rated it:
January: Reading Dune 4/10 (I still haven't been able to bring myself to go back to it)
February: Reading Rivers of London 7/10
March: 100 days of code 6/10 (I got really into it after March and am going to do another 100 days this year)
April: Watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo 7/10
May: Watching The Orville 7/10
June: Pilates 8/10
July: Reccing at [dw-comm]tardis-library[/dw-comm] 10/10
August: Glamping 3/10
September: Murder mystery 9/10
October: Stand-up workshop 10/10
November: Watching How to Train Your Dragon 9/10
December: Drinking coffee 7/10


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