Monday, 27 October 2008

The Importance of Being a Spy

Well I read Anna’s review of Spyski, and decided it was just the thing for half term with teenagers. Leaving no stone unturned in the search for comedic possibilities, we had genetically modified babies, murdered spies, Russians, British double agents, Chinese baddies, inventive uses for hospital beds and filing cabinets and a wild selection of ludicrous accents, as well as some lovely light little homages to various spy stories. In the tradition of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, or the National Theatre of Brent, it could have been just painfully bad, but instead it turned out to be gloriously silly. At the Lyric Hammersmith until 1st November, I hope it gets a quick revival.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Electric Dreams

Great news this week that Red Dwarf is to return with the majority of the cast intact, including Kryten, the robot who broke his programming. This was cause for celebration in the Chatterbox household, as our dvds are very well worn, and some new material will be seized upon with much delight. Once we had shared our worries that they will get rid of the wonderful grunginess of the original series we moved onto one of our favourite topics of the moment, which is whether a robot will ever be able to tell a joke that it has created all by itself.

In science fiction, robots are constantly breaking out of their programming to develop independent thought and sometimes a sense of humour, but even in fiction there are very few examples of robots designed with the consciousness and creativity to make a real joke. I certainly can’t think of any evidence of this in the real world, even with the fancy chess-playing computers. Somehow I have difficulty with the idea that Deep Blue, or even one of his cleverer descendents could get the giggles. Maybe that’s my lack of imagination though….

The jury is still out in our house, mainly because we run out of processing power before reaching a conclusion.

While you are thinking about it here’s a bit from an early series of Red Dwarf.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Absolutely bloody fabulous

Yes, I'm resorting to the lazy blogger's lifeline, a youtube clip, and a chat about what's on the telly.

Life is very hectic at the moment, so a tv programme has to be very special for me to make the effort. Even more so, when you consider that I usually share my viewing with my teenage sons. Beautiful People has really hit the spot though. Based on the book by Simon Doonan and with the wonderful Olivia Coleman as the mum, Debbie, it is about a gay teenager growing up in Reading during the 90's, with the usual comedy complement of idiosyncratic family and friends. What makes the difference though is the amount of really sharp lines which have made us all laugh out loud, mixed with a seriously over-the-top campness. More Malcolm in the Middle than The Wonder Years, we're now half way through the series, but you should still watch it if you can. Here's a clip from episode 2.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Heath Robinson Heaven

For anyone who likes machines, James May's Big Ideas is a bit of a must see, even if you do have a bit of a problem with some of Mr May's dodgy friends. It gave my geeky heart a huge thrill when this week we saw steel being melted with nothing more than solar power. I don't really care about all the problems with turning this into something that is practical. The mere fact that there are (let's be honest) slightly strange men in deserts doing these sorts of things makes me very happy.
I think James May might find himself thrown out of the petrol head gang if he keeps this up though.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The Odd Shoe Shuffle

The last time I went out with odd shoes on was 17 years ago, and I had plenty of justification.
  1. I was pregnant with twins so couldn't see my feet

  2. It was dark when I put my shoes on

  3. The shoes were the same style, just different colours

I have just got back from Tesco, where I looked down at my feet beyond the trolley to see this:

On the left, my smart-ish Tesco-suitable boots. On the right, my muddy, baggy and quite frankly a bit leaky gardening boots. I am not pregnant, it wasn't dark, and one is a whole inch higher in the heel than the other. I would be glad of any explanation that doesn't include senility.

On the plus side, I did finish my shopping pretty quickly.