threemonkeys: (drowning)
Catching up on the new season in case anybody is interested.

First a couple of Brit series that are almost through their short runs. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is a pretty faithful telling of the novel of the same name. Like then novel, like the TV series.

Then yet another one of those gritty, brassy, working class Brit cop shows they see to do a lot of. Quality varies, but in the case of No Offence, we have a good one. In fact one of the best in a long time.

Also for Iain Banks fans, there is a two part dramatisation of Stonemouth. Again, read the book, watch the show.

Then there are the new season shows from the states. Lots of them this time around - too many to write about. Of all of them, nothing stands out as great, but quite a few are at least worth a second or third watch and may be good for the long haul.

The Whispers (ABC) is a horror mystery. There have been one or two of these each season in recent years and they all go too hard on the brooding atmosphere. But this one pushes the mystery investigation side and works a lot better for it. The only problem is the mystery paranormal(?) evil works through children. All the kids seem to have been cast from the same big eyed moppet agency and I can't tell them apart.

Do you watch reality dating shows like The Bachelor. Then you need to watch UnReal (Lifetime) to see a fictional view of what happens in the production crew. And if you, like me, does not watch such reality shows then watch it to see your prejudices confirmed. Has a vaguely Sorkinesque quality.

A couple of types of shows are around at the moment. Shows where the dead communicated back to the investigators to catch the killers. Shows where social dysfunction (eg Autism spectrum) is a kind of intellectual superpower. So obviously somebody is going to combine them. The result is Stitchers (ABC Family). Does what it says on the can.

Mr Robot (USA Network) also plays the social dysfunction card. But the storyline is in the field of data security and cyber crime. If that is your thing, then this is so so much better than the turgid CSI:Cyber.

I don't know the underlying agenda of Proof (TNT Drama) but I do know it has one and what way it swings will depend on whether the show is worth persevering with. The theme of the show is investigating life after death. I detect a bit of an X-Files inspiration.

Humans (Channel 4) does look promising. It explores the nature of what makes a human by looking at androids becoming part of society and what happens if an emergent consciousness transforms then from mere machines. These theme hark back to Asimov and Dick and are no less valid for being looked at again.

Do you remember Andromeda? Well Dark Matter (SyFy) has some of the same underlying plot basis. A group of nasty misfits on a space craft find themselves turning into good guys after an incident. They find themselves using their skills and their nifty ship going up against the evil corporations. Actually on second thoughts, perhaps it is more Blakes 7. The production values are high enough that it might have legs.

I'm not so sure about Killjoys (Syfy). It is a similar proposition, but this time it is interplanetary bounty hunters. There is just something about the bounty hunter narrative then seems to lend itself to low budgets and bad acting. That isn't necessarily a problem, but out of the blocks, Dark Matter seems the better proposition from Syfy. Interesting that they are side by side in the schedule.

No sitcoms on the list yet? So many bad ideas made into half hours comedy shows. The best of them is Odd Mom Out (Bravo) because of the talents of the lead. Sin City Saints may also have promise.

Any questions? Didn't think so - you need to make up your own mind.
threemonkeys: (tick)
The hot water pressure at my place has always been pretty poor. From time to time it would drop from poor down to pathetic or non-existent. At those times I'd call a plumber, they would expensively fiddle with (replace) valves and the pressure would return to its previous poor level.

This time when it dropped down to a pathetic dribble, I bit the bullet and arranged for the whole system to be replaced by a new mains pressure hot water system. Oh joy - what a difference that makes. For the first time in this place I can take a shower that delivers a proper blast. I'm sure that the main reason I like staying at hotels when I travel is that they usually have really good pressure in their showers. Finally I can enjoy that every day.

Also generating pleasure was seeing the plumbers in action. They worked hard and more importantly showed a real commitment to doing a really good quality job. This was most obvious when they uncovered yet another bit of shoddy DIY in my house. See, the house was really well built originally, but the previous owners did quite a few renovations, and over the years as I have had cause to look at their changes, they have all turned out to be rubbish. This latest example was hidden from view until the new cylinder went in. The plumbers could have just left the rubbish installation in place and headed off home (it was getting late), but they showed me the issue and explained the options. Then they quickly and efficiently fixed the issue.

A good days work I'd say. Time for a shower.
threemonkeys: (tick)
It is a little breezy in the Wellington region today**. Here in the LH western hills, it is also rubbish collection/recycling day. That means locals get to pay recycling bin roulette. Bet your bin and after collection, watch the stream of empty bins slide, skip and skitter along the road. See if you can retain yours. See how many others turn up. Wonder where all the unclaimed ones end up.

It appears some passing good samaritan passing my place has snagged a nearby bin and secured it in a quiet spot next to my letterbox. Thing is, I have already rescued my bin and it is safe inside. I wonder if the owners have written their street number on it?


**Metservice predicted "severe gale gust 120 km/h" - seems about right.
threemonkeys: (Default)
Posting this really so as to keep a link to this article. Just to keep some ammunition ready in case I need it once I get back into the workforce.

I really hate these workplace "fun" or "teambuilding" exercises. But when they come along, you put on a brave face and "show willing". Turns out most people feel the same way - especially if you read the comments in the linked article.

The best workplace fun happens spontaneously, whether it is a coffee trip or an impromptu seminar on (say) where atomic energy comes from. Fun is not something imposed from management or worse from an HR department.

Daredevil

Apr. 22nd, 2015 12:13 pm
threemonkeys: (tick)
Have you watched the new Netflix series Daredevil yet? Why not? Are you sick of all that superhero stuff? Do you think that they are all two dimensional characters? Perhaps, based on previous evidence, you think that they are a boys club that treats women as cyphers - victims or prizes.

Well that isn't this rendition of Daredevil. It really is worth the effort. This isn't a silly Hollywood blockbuster style work. This comes from a creator (Drew Goddard) who traces his TV lineage back to Buffy and that heritage shows strongly here.

But be warned, there is pain. Lots and lots of pain - the boring physical sort and all sorts of the mental variety. I have not read many Daredevil comics, but those I have seen always have lots of trauma on show. That is brought through into this series as its driving engine. That pain is transformative for all that suffer it. You see the (properly complex) characters grow and twist as they feel the hurt.

So are you going to watch it now?

Race Track

Apr. 16th, 2015 02:46 pm
threemonkeys: (cat)
Out by my mailbox and along comes a late model AMG Merc - heard it way before I saw it as it was being driven very hard. As it comes by my place, the driver is very conspicuously a young guy wearing a mechanics overalls. So many options...

a- Mechanics get paid a lot more than you might think.
b- Somebody practices maintenance on their own car - although on a Merc, you generally do that with a laptop.
c- There are some cool benefits to being a mechanic
d- That is a very thorough road test
e- Do you wonder what is happening to your car while it is being serviced - serious trust issues next time you get it serviced
f- Those AMG built cars make a great noise

But the thought that dominated my mind was how dangerous it was driving that fast on a narrow suburban street with lots of blind corners. Especially in the school holidays when there are kids around. NZ is full of empty roads - why drive somewhere so dangerous to others.

And yes, this rant does make me feel old.

Con Report

Apr. 9th, 2015 05:33 pm
threemonkeys: (books)
I could probably fit this con report into a single tweet, except that I only keep my twitter account open these days for civil defence/disaster alerts.

Basically, I had a good time catching up with people, some I hadn't seen in many years. Also Rotorua has many good restaurants.

I did go to two items. The auction and the con bids for 2017. Happy to see LexiCon win. The overwhelming vote shows that fandom is basically inclusive in nature. There were a couple of very conspicuous exceptions. Nasty bigots are people too - inclusive right????
threemonkeys: (mars)
Australia deservedly won the Cricket World Cup last night. A magnificent first innings bowling and fielding display was too much for New Zealand.

But am I down about it? Not a bit. Being a Kiwi cricket fan makes you pretty philosophical about defeat, if not actually masochistic. I've been a cricket fan for a long time. I was in the crowd for the very first ODI in NZ and have followed all the world cups since the first one (Radio of course). Over that time there have been a lot of lost games. Many lost semi-finals. You learn that loss is part of the appreciation of the game here.

But you also learn to appreciate the good time when they turn up. And there were some excellent times in this cup. Not just watching the NZ team, but all of the matches. I have spent a whole lot of time in front of my tv and computer following the action.

So the ICC are to be congratulated for producing a well run tournament where the best teams got to the pointy end. A tournament remarkably free from the sort of politicking and bad taste that some series attract (a bit of juvenile Bangladeshi reaction excepted). But did it have to be so long. I'll add my voice to all those saying it could be more compact. The days with double headers were the best days of all - why not way more of them. I had a look and it would be easy to have two games a day (one day and one d/n) while still giving the teams more recovery time than they would usually get in a series.

So on to the host broadcaster - ESPN-Star. Only a bare pass mark there. On one hand, the camera work and direction were top notch. Then there were the commentators and they were a very mixed bunch. Some of the best and some who could barely string a sentence together. The basic problem being that former great players do not always make the best commentators. There is a lot more that can be said about this, but I'll leave it there because there is also the matter of the on-screen graphics. The obtrusive and garish on-screen graphics that were always an irritation. Perhaps I have been spoiled by Sky and Channel 9 who manage this so much better, but I have to say that this aspect was the biggest failure of the coverage - a constant low level itch. And yes, I understand the needs of the Indian market (which drive all the broadcasting decision) - but I don't care, they deserve better too.

But irritations aside, I derived a lot of pleasure from this iteration of the world cup. Now to get back to real life.
threemonkeys: (boxes)
So, I have just watched the second episode of iZombie.

First, a few things you need to know about me:
- Zombies have never worked for me. I've never engaged with them as a proper horror threat. Even the good stuff (Shaun of the Dead)is good despite the undead not because of it.
- I don't do iStuff. In fairness that is to do with the Apple religion and not ascii 105.
- I'm hype averse, so when the NZ Herald did a big write up about the show because the lead is a Kiwi actress, then that is a significant turn off.

Given all that, iZombie I think is very very good indeed. It is clever and sweet and funny and just a little dark. If it helps you place it, it is a kind of mix of Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies with a little Tru Calling thrown in. A post-living medical examiner eats the brains of the corpses in a morgue so as to find their killer.

One note - if you read and love the iZombie comics and expect a literal live action version, then perhaps best that you don't watch. If you haven't read the comics, then give the series a few episodes to sink in first.

And because somebody complained (nicely) that I don't do my regular round up of new season shows any more, a mention of a few recent shows that I am finding worthy of further watching:

Backstrom: Offensive cop show. Imagine if Jeremy Clarkson had worse personal hygiene and was a homicide cop in Portland. Shouldn't work, shouldn't be entertaining and yet is.
Raised by Wolves Dysfunctionally funny family life in low-rent Wolverhampton - The Independent's review covers it nicely.
Powers is a superhero drama available only on the Playstation Network (WTF!). The acting is seriously awful (blame the director I think) and the effects a bit dodgy, but the story/writing is brilliant. It reminds me of my favourite Garth Ennis comics.
threemonkeys: (tick)
I have been trying to de-clutter my house a bit. Getting rid of stuff or organising things differently. One thing I looked at very hard was my old stereo system, including turntable and the associated vinyl record collection. It has all been sitting stored in a cupboard for some time now. The philosophy with de-cluttering is "use it or lose it" - if it isn't something that you need then get rid of it. In the case of this old sound gear, so important to me in the past, I decided that perhaps I could still use it - a trial was necessary.

So a month or two back I freed up a couple of wider shelves in the library and set up turntable, amp and speakers as well as all that vinyl. Since then every so often I pull out an old album and have a listen. Usually something I'd never bothered to digitize. I know some people are still enamoured by the whole ritual of putting a vinyl LP on the turntable and love the hiss and crackle of the more "real" sound. To be honest, none of that really works for me. But it has been fun listening to the old music I had been neglecting.

Today I have been listening to an album by Steve Miro and the Eyes called Rude Intrusions. I do like the album and I played it a lot back in the day, but that isn't the reason I first bought it. I purchased it purely because of the album art. I didn't even listen to it before buying. I may have had a vague idea based on the back cover info, but that was it. What I got was an answer to the question - "What would Madness have sounded like if they came from Manchester".

So I don't miss the ritual and sound of vinyl, but I do find that I miss album cover art. Perhaps I should frame a few covers and hang them on the wall.
threemonkeys: (mars)
Conventions - should I go to any this year given my lack of income? The answer it turns out is yes. I have been persuaded to attend the NZ Natcon at Easter. At worst it will still be a holiday in Rotorua with friends. A pretty nice prospect in any circumstance. See you there?

Fire Watch

Feb. 10th, 2015 10:35 pm
threemonkeys: (mars)
There was a house fire just across the valley from my place today - there is a report here.

I could see the smoke but not the fire itself so I didn't know at the time whether it was a house or a bonfire/rubbish fire. There is farmland over there and they do sometimes burn off rubbish.

What I did find interesting was this bit of the report "It's one of the most difficult these guys have had to deal with. Narrow, winding Normandale Rd make access difficult for fire engines."

As a local, I know that there are three realistic routes you could take to get to the area where the fire is. Two of them (one being the road I live on) are narrow and twisty. The third is wider, has better visibility on the corners and can be driven at greater speed with much greater safety. The third route is a little longer however, but would be the best for large fire appliances.

Yet the report implies that they took the other narrow route - which I can confirm or else I would have heard them on my road or the wider route.

Obviously I don't know what decisions were made or why. But I would be very interested to find out if satnav was used. Any time somebody has used satnav to get to my place it has brought them by one of the sub-optimal narrow twisty routes.
threemonkeys: (tick)
I've just been binge watching The Last Detective. I didn't know it existed until a couple of weeks ago - even though it was made/screened from '03 to '07. As far as I can tell, it was never shown on local TV until it turned up recently on UKTV. Thing is, it is really rather good. Peter Davison as the rather shabby middle aged detective who sits with the lowly rank of detective constable. Good scripts (based on books by Leslie Thomas), an excellent performance by Davison and a low key humour that characterises the best of Brit TV.

Always good to find something binge-worthy.

Oh yes and for you DW obsessives - check out the episode called "Once Upon a Time on the Westway - ep 401" - it features Camille Coduri and Georgia Moffett accompanying the fifth doctor.
threemonkeys: (drowning)
Today marked the official end of the xmas holiday period. So what is the bakery department at the local supermarket selling - yep it is hot cross buns.

Hmm - Easter means natcons - I suppose I should begin to think about potentially contemplating preparing to decide which one to go to.
threemonkeys: (drowning)
Since this is the time of year when family congregate in the same area, I went down to Timaru for a few days. The family stuff was cool, but a few other notes on the experience...

My luggage didn't arrive on my flight down. There were only eight passengers on the flight to Timaru, yet the bags belonging to two of us didn't turn up. The folks at Timaru airport were helpful, took our details and arranged to deliver the bags to where I was staying when they turned up (on the next flight). So no big deal, my bag turned up a few hours late.

To be clear, this was a problem caused by Wellington Airport - it was their job to load the bags - I don't blame the airline nor Timaru airport. So, these things happen right? With so many flights, there must be the occasional problem. However a few days later when I was leaving, I was approaching the (only) checkin counter at Timaru airport and there were a number of people there from the flight that had just come in - their luggage had gone astray as well. Now I know it is only two data points but you do have to wonder what is happening at Wellington airport.

You may have gathered that Timaru airport is not a large place. However, until you go there you cannot grasp just how tiny it is. It serves local small planes etc, but for national scheduled services it only has 2 or 3 flights a day and they only go to Wellington. The planes are 20 seat Beach 1900s. That is a maximum of 60 people flying in and out every day. This serves a population of close to 50K people in the region.

To really get a sense of Timaru though, the local newspaper for today is a good illustration. All of the above the fold section of the front page was taken up with an article and picture about nine cats escaping from a cattery.

I recommend it as a place to visit if you have serious need of sensory deprivation (the area inland of Timaru actually has spectacular scenery - you should see it).

FFANZ Race

Nov. 26th, 2014 08:47 am
threemonkeys: (tick)
Pass it on - the FFANZ race has started for an Aussie to attend the 2015 NZ natcon. All the details are here.

A Mandate?

Nov. 18th, 2014 03:06 pm
threemonkeys: (boxes)
So the Labour Leadership vote is in - The Herald has a breakdown of the voting. Andrew Little is the new leader.

Personally, I'm not sure who I preferred between him and Robertson but he sure has got his work cut out for him just within the party. If I read the article correctly...

Little was only first choice for less than 30% of the overall weighted vote - compare to Robertson who got over 36% in the first round. It was second and third preferences which gave Little the win.

Even after preferences, Little only got under 44% of the caucus vote. In fact he was only first choice of 17% or so of the caucus.

The overall vote margin after preferences was 50.5% to 49.5% - hardly a resounding victory.

Despite this, I do think he has the better skills for pulling people together than the others (and certainly better than Cunliffe), so I await his performance with interest.

Circular

Nov. 15th, 2014 04:25 pm
threemonkeys: (cat)
I was updating the emergency numbers in my phone today - specifically the numbers relating to electricity supply, in case of a power outage.

On the web site for the retail electricity supply company it says:
...please call your network company to report your fault or outage.

On the network company web site, it says:
For any matters regarding your electricity supply ... please contact your individual electricity retailer.

I figure, ring both.
threemonkeys: (drowning)
Must be a week out from the 5th of November. I spotted two pop-up fireworks sales places in Lower Hutt today. One of them advertised "Annoy your neighbours - buy our fireworks". They sure know their market.

I like my across-the-road neighbours, but at this time of year, any given saturday night between now and new year will be accompanied by at least one volley of explosions. At least these days, there is no clatter of spent bottle rockets on the roof.
threemonkeys: (tick)
So the Replacements are back touring and have been for a year. I don't know how I missed that. Well yes I do but lets not go into that. But there is a little bit inside me that is more excited than a Jack Russell at a bouncing festival.

But what I want to draw you attention to is this concert review of their first show back by singer Patrick Stickles (of Titus Andronicus). Particularly the first section - the rise of a band as Norse myth. This is how concert reviews should be but almost never are.

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