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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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