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  => Freewheeling => Topic started by: sam on May 13, 2008

Title: feeding the octopus leaves
Post by: sam on May 13, 2008
Rupert Murdoch may not actually be the antichrist. That's the best I can say about him.

Recently our freeview digital channels disappeared. Turns out to be leaves interferring with the signal. Nothing we can do about it until autumn; fortunately just in time to watch The Daily Show's coverage of the presidential elections, including Jon Stewart's always welcome skewering of the media. ( (But no Stephen Colbert? That's just cruel.)

Strictly speaking there is something we can do about it: get a dish. The cheapest option by far would be to have Sky install it, with their "pay once watch forever" freesat scheme.

We can't. It's annoying enough seeing Sky News in public places, like train stations in London. I'm not paying one single p to feed the octopus if I can help it.
Title: [insert rationalization]
Post by: sam on March 05, 2009
where's the clicker? (
Title: Re: feeding the octopus leaves
Post by: sam on March 06, 2009
My only solace is that the cost of the equipment and installation couldn't have net them much profit. Their cunning plan to hook me on reruns of The Wire on FX will not come to fruition.

Title: mad men and women
Post by: sam on April 10, 2009
Fortunately FX is now superfluous to requirements. ( And the BBC continues to run Mad Men (, for my money currently the best thing on the tube.

Title: bite me
Post by: sam on November 28, 2009
I've long been a fan of Armando Iannucci productions, the historical problem with them being that they usually run on the noncommercial BBC and there are few lulls for toilet breaks. Thank God for iPlayer and the ability to pause, seeing as my VCR refuses to talk to the skybox.

Lately I've been playing catchup with The Thick of It, featuring Peter Capaldi as the fearsomely spinning Malcolm Tucker. Here he is in the early 80s charmer Local Hero to the left of Peter Riegert:

ouch (

His character Oldsen likes bunnies ( and falls for a marine biologist who could probably beat Malcolm at mud wrestling.

Iannucci describes The Thick of It as

Yes Minister meets Larry Sanders. Whenever I watched Larry Sanders it was very funny, but I also thought that it showed what it must be like doing a chat show in America. It was a sitcom but it didn't feel like one. The characters felt real. (

In series 3, episode 5 Malcolm is given an appropriately decorated birthday cake: 


Episode 7 sees Malcolm and Secretary of State for Social Affairs Nicola Murray not very politely ( discussing candidates to put a public face to a health campaign.

The Beeb has come a long way. (

Title: no angel
Post by: sam on January 17, 2010
I just discovered Nurse Jackie on BBC2! With Edie Falco! And Paul Schulze! (They meet again, but this time without all that manicotti in the way!) And now I've used up my quota of exclamation marks for the year.

Title: what YOU want?
Post by: sam on February 23, 2010

If EastEnders is half as entertaining as this review (, I've been missing out.
Title: Shameless
Post by: sam on March 10, 2010
An acquired taste, like tripe.
- Patty Croker


Tickets this way for the Chatsworth Express!
Come and watch pikeys making a mess
Of the lives they were given by Him upstairs
And kids, they're convinced, aren't actually theirs.
What sounds on earth could ever replace
Kids needing money? Or wives in yer face?
'Cause this, people reckon - and me included -
Is why pubs and drugs were kindly invented
To calm us all down and stop us going mental
These are Chatsworth Estate's basic essentials.
We are worth every penny for grinding your axes
You shit on our heads, but, you pay the taxes.
Imagine a Britain without Chatsworth buccaneers
Who'll cum on your face for the price of a beer...

Make poverty history! Cheaper drugs now!
Make poverty history! Cheaper drugs now!

Libby to Frank: "You had me at 'I'm a twat'."
Title: 888
Post by: sam on April 14, 2010
A trio of eights summons subtitles from the British teletextual service, faithfully manned by expert transcriptionists who work for the satisfaction not just of helping the hearing impaired, but of allaying the anxieties of people like me who find that words are all too easily lost in the ether and require an imprint in

Title: idiot vox
Post by: sam on May 14, 2010

Post-election edition

Best rebuttal to Do you feel betrayed by the LibDems?, a narrative the media is keen to promote:
"The choice was between 'betrayal' and irrelevance."

Most amusing spectacle:
Confused and indignant flapping all around in answer to the question What would you have had happen given the way the vote went? Runner-up: Who could have possibly imagined that a coalition means that there has to be compromise?

Panelists most deserving of the sweet blessed relief of the TV mute button:
Three-way tie between the Daily Mail's LibLemon sucking Melanie Phillips, Labour wind generator Charles Falconer and New Statesman political editor Mehdi "I admired the LibDems until they actually managed to put themselves in a position to influence policy" Hasan.

Best line of the evening:
Delivered by Michael Heseltine, when asked who should be the next Labour party leader:

Title: once more into the Alpha Quadrant
Post by: sam on July 26, 2010
Now on CBS Action, through the wormhole of syndication: Star Trek Deep Space Nine. Sexy Bajoran earrings. Rules of Acquisition. Sis-ko-dic-tion. Odo before he meets Captain Kirk in Boston Legal. Julian Bashir making puppydog eyes at Jadzia and envious of doppelgänger Gaius Baltar for starring in the vastly superior Battlestar Galactica. "Modifying the flight program to compensate for spatial discontinuities." Why do I watch it?

Title: Little Britain
Post by: sam on September 17, 2010
This review of The Great Outdoors ( reminded me of the brilliant but short-lived How Do You Want Me, starring the brilliant but short-lived Charlotte Coleman* married to the brilliant Dylan Moran grumpily coming to terms with inlaws and village life. Also appearing as a love interest from the past is the brill—sorry, the very very good Mark Heap, and other fun to watch actors.


* Whose boyfriend also died young, in a cycling accident
Title: addictive TV
Post by: sam on November 14, 2010
I have arrived fashionably late to Breaking Bad, and am now hooked thanks to Amazon/Lovefilm's DVD rental service. Here we see a bit of creative problem solving from season one: what is the best way to secure ( a former business associate in your basement?


Also works for innocent hostages like Alice Creed.

Co-star Anna Gunn, answering her own question for many viewers:


And then of course there's Weeds: smart, funny, a good source for new music for my ipod -- the whole package.

Title: shot in the stomach
Post by: sam on December 26, 2010
A thread about televisual delights and I haven't mentioned Peep Show?


Here's The Dabbler's take on it, ( because in a Jeremyesque way I'm insufficiently motivated to write my own. In keeping with that theme I've done a minimum of googling to find that link. For the record, my search terms were 'peep show super-ego'.

My subject heading references the episode where Mark and Sophie marry. One of the most unbearable denouements imaginable, this was rerun on Christmas Eve in the delightful British tradition of screening horrifying entertainment for the holidays, e.g. various soap opera disasters, the Men Behaving Badly "tissue" Christmas special of '98, the Queen's Speech, etc.
Title: Goodnight Betty Friedan
Post by: sam on January 08, 2011

Every episode of The Waltons, last seen running on a short loop on the True Entertainment channel, starts and ends the same way, with the family conscientiously unpacking Chinese goods and stocking shelves in their hometown Bentonville Arkansas store, then after an honest day's commerce, counting down the register to see if enough profit has been made so that they can give some lucky orphan a trip to Disneyworld a grown up John-Boy plugging the Great Depression, then after a hard day learning lessons in its moral crucible, those members of the family who had benefited the most from the wisdom of the mountain saying goodnight to each other. Thin walls.

Here we see Olivia in a very rare state: uninhibited joy


Having just bought a bike from Ike (who's hard not to like), she practically floats home


into the arms of her tickled family. Only her husband John seems worried, about the impression a freewheeling woman will make on the good townsfolk. Bikespotters: the bike doesn't figure prominently in the story except as a symbol of her apparent restlessness. In the end, Olivia decides that her role as wife and mother is fulfilling enough that cycling is surplus to requirements, and she gives the "contraption" away. We'll have to wait for one of the reunion specials to catch her reading The Feminine Mystique.
Title: a life more or less ordinary
Post by: sam on February 05, 2011
I came for the dry wit of Hugh Dennis, I stayed for the improv of Ramona Marquez. Outnumbered is a domestic comedy set in a messy house in west London. It also stars Claire Skinner, who is still handy with a pipe wrench 16 years after Life is Sweet (

( then

( now

The Christmas special introduced me to The Felice Brothers ( See if you can get through that without bang bang banging.


I'm also hugely enjoying Charlie Brooker's How TV Ruined Your Life, though it may be necessary to stop watching it while eating dinner for fear of choking and really ruining my life.
Title: and now a word from our sponsors
Post by: sam on February 07, 2011
A couple of popular ads from yesterday's Superbowl (except they keep disappearing on me):

#Invalid YouTube Link#

"Imported from Detroit" (, a great line, was the cherry on top of an overbaked American pie.

#Invalid YouTube Link#

Oh great, another one gone.

( (
Ahem. (
Title: trə-MAY
Post by: sam on June 18, 2011
Lovefilm finally came through with Treme. (


I've been a fan of David Simon's work since his book Homicide, which was so quirkily adapted to the small screen. Later came The Wire and presidential favor ( [link advisory: you may experience a gag reflex made even more wretched with hindsight. And see this (].

Treme is practically a musical; if you like jazz you'll be in heaven. I don't, particularly, so the constant name dropping of jazz legends falls on deaf heathen ears.

The cast is excellent. Here Homicide alumnus Melissa Leo shares some quality time with Thoreau quoting husband John Goodman.


It could get pretty boring alone in the cabin
Title: good fences make good neighors
Post by: sam on December 12, 2011
Here's a man who knows what he wants. From The Hand That Rocks the Cradle:


Title: housemate from hell
Post by: sam on March 03, 2012

Hal on Being Human appears at first glance to be tidying his set of The National Encyclopedia (, books I think it would be in character for him to have. But on closer inspection the spines don't seem to match. My disappointment doesn't stop me from transcribing the following, which I was surprised to find in this serious work of Victorian scholarship:

VAMPIRE (German, Vampyr).  According to Dom Calmet's 'dissertation sur les Vampires,' the vampire is a dead man, who returns in body and soul from the other world, and wanders about the earth, doing all kinds of mischief to the living. Generally he sucks the blood of persons asleep, and thus causes their death. Those who are destroyed in this way themselves become vampires. The only manner of getting rid of such unwelcome visitors is, according to this author, to disinter their bodies, to pierce them with a stake cut from a green tree, to cut off their heads, and to burn their hearts.

The superstition about the vampires is chiefly prevalent in some parts of eastern Europe; and it was during the five years from 1730 to 1735 that it reached its height. The chief periodicals of that time contain accounts of cases in Hungary; and mayo of them were the subject of judicial proceedings. In this strange belief originated the popular name of the Vampire-bat, Vespertilio spectrum [Cheiroptera.]

He probably wouldn't subscribe to the following: