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Wow. I think the BBC forgot how to BBC.

We’re getting pretty desperate for stuff to watch on TV these days. We both favor non-fiction — documentaries, science, history, that sort of thing — and the BBC has arrived at a rigid formula for this kind of programming that is just unbearably dumbed down and insulting.

First of all, they’re clearly hoping each new presenter will turn out to be some kind of enduring BBC superstar. The whole series will be written through the eyes of some unattractive douche-canoe you never heard of and her meaningful journey to discover some boring shit that is peripheral to the main topic. (I blame Carl Sagan and Cosmos for this phenomenon).

This person will invariably have a serious speech impediment. The successful candidate will be a young fat goth chick, an old skinny goth chick or a dweeby guy of ambiguous sexuality. He or she will have a PhD in something. Go figure.

For certain sure, the presenter will NOT be an elderly white man who knows what the fuck he’s talking about.

There will be much dumbness, condescension and breathless reporting of facts that were once regarded as common knowledge. Oh, and animations. Silly ones in the style of Terry Gilliam with goofy music. Tubas and or kazoos feature prominently here.

So we feared the worse for the most recent BBC program we recorded, a three parter on the British food harvest. But…actually…its awesome.

I know you USAians can’t use the BBC iPlayer, but if you click the link, I think it’ll allow you to play clips and look at charts and stuff. The program is chock full of big robot machines driven by GPS satellite, fun science facts and nifty gadgets for measuring the moisture content of grain and much more. Also, capitalism. And it isn’t dumb at all.

But here’s the thing — we’ve watched two of the three programs, and there has been a noticeable absence of these words: organic. Sustainable. Climate change. Shoot, they even revisited how plants love, love, LOVE some sweet CO2.

The BBC.

You reckon we’ve maybe turned a corner on globular warmening at last?

September 16, 2013 — 10:43 pm
Comments: 18

Say a little prayer for Socks tonight

Here is the entirety of the text that ran with this picture:

ginger and white kitten 14 weeks old naughty and hard work looking for a really good home.

Emphasis mine. Emphasis totally makes me want to take this bad boy home. Doesn’t sound like he and Charlotte would hit it off, but I appreciate the honesty, anyway.

Yes, I’m kitten shopping. In my defense, I’ve never bought a cat before. All my cats have come to me as desperate strays — most of them fully grown — and I have taken them in and spoiled them to the best of my ability. The Cat Goddess has been kind enough to send me good cats, and never more than I can look after at a time.

But, begging Her Grace’s pardon, I grow tired of waiting for that special ginger tom. And with Autumn descending upon us from on high, like unto an Acme safe, I really think I need a kitten. For medicinal purposes.

So every morning, over coffee, I refresh a few select classified ad websites and search for kittens. I am very specific in my requirements this time. I’ll know him when I see him. I think. I’ve been at it for about a week now, and I’ve stared at hundreds and hundreds of goofy kittens.

Not sure if that makes me feel awesome or suicidal.

September 13, 2013 — 9:32 pm
Comments: 35


Mmmmm…nope. No idea. But he and an hundred-fifty of his friends can be yours, p’raps, for the modest sum of £150.

I get at least one mailing a day for an upcoming auction. This one is from Fraser’s Autographs and there are some interesting things in the catalogue. Not just plain autographs, but sketches and photographs. Worth a browse.

Because this one is being handled online by The Saleroom, you — yes, even you! — can sign up, give them a credit card and bid in the auction, either ahead of time or in real time on the day, though I don’t know if I’d trust a webcam across the Atlantic for anything involving money. And because these are little things, you could probably get them to put your items in an envelope and stick them in the mail.

Don’t ask me about the time I was the winning bid for a lovely…a big, lovely mahogany chest in Shropshire.

September 12, 2013 — 10:01 pm
Comments: 16

Ugh. This day.

I don’t post an essay on September 11 any more. I’m as heartsick and angry as I was on this day twelve years ago, but I’ve already said everything I have to say about it.

This is just a bad topic for my silly blog, but I can’t ignore it, either. So, a non-post post.

Talk about whatever you like in the comments. If you want cheering up, poke this.

September 11, 2013 — 7:33 pm
Comments: 12

Getting closer

I love this thing. Meet the Venus of Cupertino. Here she is an iPad docking station — and she can be yours for £150. She and a companion are soon to be in the lamp biz. You can follow her adventures by signing up for her newsletter.

The artist is Scott Eaton an anatomist who works mostly in the 3D modeling program ZBrush. He teaches what looks like awesome anatomy classes, online and in IRL, to people like the character developers at Valve software.

I so would like to take his anatomy class. For that matter, I so would love my very own copy of ZBrush. Oh, why are my wants cost so many moneys?

Anyway, you guys don’t have Galaxy chocolate in the States, do you? So you probably haven’t seen this TV ad. Go watch it. I’ll wait. (Assuming it’ll play outside the UK).

We’ve seen this kind of thing before, I know. But this one is eerily good. I assumed, like earlier such, this was cleverly stitched together modern footage and classic film.

Nope. She’s a computer model. Well, she’s an actress with a computer model attached to her face. Eaton sculpted her head and the people at Framestore did the rigging (and all the rest of production). Very worth reading about.

Dead film star resurrection day — that we have been promised for so long — is on hand at last.

September 10, 2013 — 9:48 pm
Comments: 22


I had never seen this before. Had you? It’s a chunk of Hillary’s offical first lady portrait. I love the near randomness of her props. That’s a weenus picture of the White House, a blue glass…candle holder? A copy of It Takes a Village and a chair.

In the annals of royal iconography, that’s…probably not at all what she was looking for. Why not…oh, a paperweight, a gym sock, an onion and a stepladder?

Anyway, I was browsing pictures of Hillary because I noticed in today’s speech photo, she has a new ‘do. Made me wonder if this is her runnin’-for-president look.

I still think her Bond Villain getup is totally the way to go if she wants to be a world leader, but I’m not holding my breath. Hillary has had so many, many different hairs.

Incidentally, I’m all in favor of Kerry’s accidental gaffe/plan to put Russia in charge of taking stock of Syria’s WMD’s. Sure, it’s pointless — but pointless is a big improvement over all the other options. It would put an end to this thing, save face, extricate our military from this slow-motion clusterfuck and put Vlad on the hook if any more brown people get gassed.

I wonder if any of these bozos has the smarts to go for it.

September 9, 2013 — 11:01 pm
Comments: 21

be sure to leave a saucer of milk

This little feller is from the town museum in Pevensey, the one we visited last week. I’m assuming they’re assuming this is was Rowling’s inspiration for Dobby the House Elf.

I confess, I didn’t finish Harry Potter — books or movies. I found them a little hard going, to be honest. Like most fantasy books, they borrow heavily from all the books that came before. Which is fine, except I’ve been reading the genre since I was a wee slip of a weasel, which gives newer entries a real aw, geez, not this shit again sort of ambiance.

Anyway, it’s the weekend. Um, open thread…?

September 6, 2013 — 11:10 pm
Comments: 33


Last one. No, really, this was probably the last really hot day of Summer. Heavy rain tomorrow, then nice enough for the rest of the week, but ten or twenty degrees cooler and windy. That’s it. The end.

The Daily Mail says it was the hottest September day for seven years, but you know. Pff! The Mail. Still, it was pretty toasty.

So we packed a lunch for Bodiam Castle — that’s the really cool ruin with the big moat and the ducks and the steam trains. It’s a pretty easy trek for us (and takes us past our favorite Chinese takeaway), which makes this one of our best options on a hot day. Also, the kiddlets went back to school yesterday, so it was just us dessicated old people. Ahhhhh. Such a quiet, polite bunch.

I love the way the ducks and the fish totally ignore each other.

Oh, also — points to the Brits: I love it that we aren’t forbidden to feed either (throwing food into ponds was aggressively illegal in New England). Does the heart good to see people and nature enjoying each other so much — and so what if sandwich ends are not the optimum diet for any of us?

As for politics — help me out here, folks. I’ve wanted to talk about the Syria thing all week, but I just can’t work out the angles. Obama and Kerry both — especially Kerry — made their names in politics as totally anti war. So what is it about this one stupid bad-guys-versus-bad-guys civil war that’s got those two all revved up to put their whole careers on the line, just to lob a few pointless missiles in a vaguely menacing direction? I can’t make this make sense.

September 5, 2013 — 10:30 pm
Comments: 31

Mystery as Tunbridge Wells bread fairy leaves loaves with cars

That is the actual title of the article. I did not make that up.

Of course, it isn’t a very good story, but it’s the best I could come up with, having spent the day sacked out on the beach eating convenience store sammiches, skimming stones and squishing sand through my toes. It was probably 80° here today, which is pretty good going for us and may well be the last gasp of Summer.

We’re spending every minute we can out rolling about in it before Crap Descends.

So, would you eat a loaf of bread left mysteriously on your windshield, or would you assume a madman had laced it with LSD?

September 4, 2013 — 10:44 pm
Comments: 22


I fell asleep and snored through my usual post composing time tonight, so you get beans. Or, beanz. Specifically, here’s a Mail article about Heinz Beans advertisements through the ages.

It’s hard to overstate what an enormous brand Heinz is over here. I tried to scratch up a country-by-country sales comparison, but the best I could find were these bullet points:

●Heinz employs approximately 2,500 people across the UK and Ireland

●The Kitt Green factory, in Wigan, produces more than 1 billion cans per year of beans, soups and pasta meals and is Heinz’s largest food factory around the world

●The UK is the biggest bean eating nation in the World

●More than 1.5 million cans of Heinz Beanz are sold each day

●Recently recognised as one of the UK’s most loved food and drink brands following consumer research by FreshMinds

Those English people up there? Yes, they are doing what you think they’re doing: they’re making baked bean sammiches. Because, fuck knows. Baked beans are principally a breakfast food here (aiiiiii!), but they’re good for a snack any time because…no, they’re not. They’re runny orange sweet beans, Jesus what is the matter with these people?

I mean, being a Southerner, I grew up on beans. Nice, salty beans, slow cooked with a bit of pork and served with a garnish of raw onion and slice of cornbread.

Honestly, I do not know what these things are supposed to be. Get them away from me.

September 3, 2013 — 10:45 pm
Comments: 50