February 16th, 2014

marcus 2013

The Third Shoe

Forgot to say that the third shoe duly dropped yesterday - I wanted to go somewhere on my motorbike, for the first time in several weeks, and found that the rear indicators have stopped working. I was already late so ended up taking the tube. This is probably just a relay or connector problem caused by the damp weather, but I need to fix it before I can take the bike out on the road. I also need to think seriously about whether I still want to keep a bike - this probably wouldn't happen if I used it every day, but infrequent use is not good for electrics etc., the battery, water in the fuel, etc. etc., and it actually turned out that I made this particular journey much faster by tube.

I'm not going to decide quite yet, I'd want to wait for the warmer weather to sell it anyway, but I think I'll have to get my head around the idea before long. Or actually start using it again, which really isn't a necessary part of my life style these days - it's fun, but public transport and walking meet most of my needs.
marcus 2013


I was going to fix the bike today but ended up getting some other things done; I've "repurposed" the top of a really wobbly folding wooden table to make a new lid for my laundry box / bathroom seat, which is now looking a hell of a lot better, and started backing up some of the analogue-sound laserdiscs to DVD so that I can play them without messing around with cables (for some reason laserdisc players won't play the sound from analogue-only discs through the player's digital output). One of the disks was Queen's Greatest Flix, which is not as good as I thought I remembered, the other was the stop action versions of The Pied Piper of Hamelin and Cinderella. It's a 1982 laserdisc based on children's TV shorts from 1979 and 1981, made by Cosgrove-Hall, a company with a long track record for children's animation. I don't have equipment for a direct video image capture, so the shots that follow come from the DVD I recorded and aren't as good as I'd like since I already had another hour of video on the disk and had to use too high a compression rate - I'm going to have to do it again some time with nothing else on the disk. Both are about half an hour long.


The animation used wooden dolls (I think), claymation, and anything else that suited the needs of the production company. It's occasionally a little slow-moving compared to modern animated film, but works well.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin is basically an animated version of the traditional poem and paintings based on it, read by Robert Hardy. The town of Hamelin is infested with rats, a mysterious Piper arrives and offers to get rid of them for a thousand guilders. The mayor and council agree, and he gets rid of the rats... then the council reneges on the deal, and the Piper takes the town's children instead of the money.

The Piper's first appearance:

Confronting the Mayor and council

The Piper starts to summon the children

The children follow the piper out of town

Despite its age the colours are really vibrant and the recording is still extremely clear.

Cinderella uses the same animation techniques, but the colour tends more towards pastels, gauze filters, etc. so clarity isn't always so good. It's the traditional story as told by Perrault, ditching some of the later additions to the story such as Buttons. It does still have the cat, mice, pumpkin, etc. Unusually there's no narration or dialogue, just music.

The wicked stepmother tears up Cinderella's invitation to the ball

Cinderella and the Prince dance at the ball

Cinderella and the Prince at their coronation

Both are very good considering their age - the disk seems to be VERY rare, so if you ever see it, grab it and pass it on to someone who can use it!

Also finally sold my old DVD player!
marcus 2013

Letter Meme

major_clanger gave me M. Probably not the best set of answers ever, but it's about the best I can come up with tonight:

Something I hate: Mice. Despite being a biologist the little bastards really annoy me, as does the damage they do and the mess they leave. Currently I'm (hopefully) mouse-free, apart from the frozen ones I keep for the snakes.

Something I love: Marmite, I really love the savoury yeasty taste - unfortunately the stuff is loaded with salt and really bad for me. I don't dare buy Twiglets and other foods made with it because I scoff them in about ten seconds...

Somewhere I have been: Milton Keynes. I've been through there a few times, never stopping long. It doesn't look as awful as some claim, but I've never been there without a motorbike, I suspect that it would be a bugger without transport. I've even written some fanfic which doesn't destroy the place, They Saved Milton Keynes, a Top Gear / Wallace and Gromit / multiple others crossover.

Somewhere I would like to go: Mars. Fat chance; medical limits aside, I'm claustrophobic enough that I think I'd freak out aboard a spaceship eventually. Metropolis, if the place actually existed and I could be sure I wouldn't be zapped by invading aliens or Lex Luthor. More realistically, Manhattan might be interesting some time, but I'm trying to avoid air travel as much as possible so it'll have to wait for the Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!

Someone I know: Oddly difficult, since I know several Ms - I'll go with Matt Goodman, of Heliograph Inc., who published several Forgotten Futures books and Diana: Warrior Princess. A nice guy who I don't see often enough.

Best Movie: While I'm tempted to go with M I'm not actually a huge film noir fan. Metropolis is another possibility, of course, fitting in to a lot of my interests, but on the whole I think I'm going to go with Monty Python's Life of Brian; the Pythons were a big influence on my sense of humour etc., and I think it's their best film (though Holy Grail and Meaning of Life come close).

Ask for a letter in comments if you want to give this meme a try.