Funny

Black Sheep DVD

I finally got around to seeing 'Black Sheep' last night. What a fun film! Killer attack sheep, threatening the New Zealand countryside! What's not to like?

My favourite sequence of the film involved a truck and an attempt to getaway from the sheep...

It's not high art - it's not really even scary - but it is fun.

(Note, the film's website has much sound)

Cranked and Yehuda Moon

Cranked has a nice interview with the creator of Yehuda Moon. Worth a read. The article is packed full of nice links, such as this one to the Dutch Bicycle Company (is there a UK equivalent?) and the Rivendell Reader, produced by the Rivendell Bicycle Works (again in the US)

Another interview is here, this time with photos of the proofs of the printed Yehuda. I stumbled upon these searching for an explanation of the 'Lauterbrunnental Leaflet'

I do like Yehuda Moon - it's only been going a few months, and I discovered it pretty early on, so it feels like I'm in at the ground floor. I'd love to see Yehuda Moon reprinted in CTC's magazine... One thing Yehuda Moon is missing, from my point of view, is an accompanying text based blog, which could look at some stories which inspire the strips (or just linking to new bits of kit or things mentioned in the strip - and it'd be nice to be able to see trackbacks and comments for a strip).

I will probably get a copy of the printed version, if it's not prohibitively expensive in the UK. I'd really like to see a Yehuda Moon cycling top...

Another cycling site I read in google reader is The Fat Cyclist. Their tops are nice, but the branding is a little too close to home for me to wear without irony! I'd get car drivers shouting 'Yep, we know!'.

It was through the Fat Cyclist site that I learned of the Utah Tour de Donut - it's probably for the best that this isn't a UK event! - though the Utah event isn't unique, there have been events in Illinois since at least 1995 so who knows? Maybe someone will organise an event in the UK... or maybe it'd be better for me if they didn't!

My 'cycling' category in reader is getting rather full right now... I subscribe to RSS feeds of the following sites (though admittedly some haven't had an update in a while, and some would be removed if they were updated more often):

  1. Bike Noob.
  2. Cranked Magazine.
  3. Fat Cyclist.
  4. Foldable Walter.
  5. Jim Langley's Bicycle Beat.
  6. Kent's Bike Blog.
  7. Love the Fold!
  8. Rivendell News.
  9. RoadCycling.com
  10. SurlyBlog.
  11. The Cycling Dude.
  12. The Daily Randonneur.
  13. Vik's Tikit to Ride.
  14. Wheelism.
  15. Yehuda Moon.

I hope that you find some interest in these links - to be honest, I find some of them fascinating, not least of which is the ability to provide regular content in quite a narrow field! Vik's Tikit to Ride is a prime example of this, focussing as it does on one particular bike.

Oh no... this is getting out of control. I've just added one more to the list.... Vik's Big Dummy.

On another cycling related note; as I posted earlier, I'm doing the London Bike-a-thon this summer, and am raising cash for Leukaemia research on the way. Please do try and support me, every little helps!

I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue

Last night we went to see the 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue' tour at Reading. This was a 'not for radio' show - probably best thought of as the 'Tim Brooke-Taylor retirement fund' (Humph isn't likely to retire!) As might be expected it was very entertaining (though, heretically, Mornington Crescent doesn't do it for me).

I loved Jeremy Hardy singing ('Thank you for the Music'... and as Abba fades out, Jeremy continues....), he also did one song to the tune of another - singing 'I tawt I taw a puddy tat' to... ack, can't recall. It may have been 'Jerusalem'.

In the 're-written nursery rhyme' round, Graham Garden managed a nice reference to Bill Oddie... it's frustrating. With comedy, I know if I enjoyed it, and at the time I think 'I'll remember that' - but within a minute the next few gags have come along and it all becomes a blur.

The perfect audience member for 'Clue'.

My favourite game had to be when the audience used the kazoo to play a song, and the panel had to guess. Hundreds of people trying to play 'Feelings' or 'I like to go a-wandering The Lonely Goatherd' was just chaos. (memory is such a fallible thing!)

The highlight of the evening, as always with 'Clue' was Humphrey Lyttleton. The man is a legend, with a sense of timing that's superb. After a hilarious stint by the panel, Humph will pause, say 'mmm' in a resigned way... and move on. The best bit of the show was the finale - after the kazoo and swannie-whistle round, Humphrey's trumpet came out, and we were treated to 'We'll meet again'. Accompanied of course, by kazoo and swannie-whistle.

After the show, I really wanted to wait by the stage door - mainly to meet Humphrey, but also to see the Goodies (sorry, Jeremy, Barry and Colin). Unfortunately we had a little drive to get home, and needed to get home safely with tiredness creeping up - so it wasn't to be.

Update: Post from someone else who was there

Look! It's Bicycle Repair Man!

Yesterday, I took my bike on the train to Waterloo, and cycled in London for the first time. It was actually pretty pleasant - I was a bit nervous about the traffic, but I chose my route well. I went along the south bank, and near the Golden Hinde I changed to go along the road (with good cycle lanes). My reason for going in was that I was booked in on a cycle training course, concentrating on the maintenance of the bike. It really was a good course. It started with the tools, adjusting riding position and the very basics of cleaning the bike. Then it was time for puncture repair.

A screw was put into the back wheel of a demonstration bike: 'Whoops, a puncture'. High gear (small sprocket), release brakes, undo wheel, lift bike and wheel drops out. Tyre levers, extract tube, inflate and find hole, patch, put it all back again. It was pretty easy - then it was our turn... and it was easy (though we didn't put a screw in, but instead extracted and replaced the inner tube, and then patched a spare tube).

The next topic was the brakes, and we looked at all the adjustments that could be made, e.g. keeping them symmetrical, stopping them squeaking, changing pads and so forth.

Finally it was gears, we looked at adjusting and indexing the rear derailleur, and then moved to the front derailleur (mine was out of alignment and the chain was rubbing, so this was really welcome).

It was all basic stuff, but we all really benefited from being shown. There were some jobs that I thought I knew how to do, but as I'd never actually been shown, so I'd missed a trick or two. For example, with the brakes I discovered that fine adjustment could be made with the barrel adjuster near the lever, previously, I'd done it the hard way by shortening the cable at the brakes.

It was an excellent course, really good - I'm glad I did it.

One Man Star Wars

We've just returned from seeing One Man Star Wars Trilogy with Charles Ross (he also does the One Man Lord of the Rings, which he's currently not allowed to tour in the UK, presumably due to the musical). The warm up at the start of the show was a guy called Matthew Reed, he was amusing enough and raised a few chuckles. He wasn't laugh out loud funny though. His stint was about 20 minutes, and then a break of about 15 minutes (we'd only just settled in!)... and the main event.

We didn't know what to expect... Well, we did... we expected One Man Star Wars (the clue is in the title). What we didn't know was, frankly, if it'd be much cop. We were pleasantly surprised. He does each of the three films in the original trilogy (not the prequels) in 20 minutes each, with most of the major plot points present. There are even the opening lion's roar and the scrolling text (okay, you have to imagine the actual text).

I won't recount the details, as if you've seen the films, you know the plot. As we left I overheard one woman saying 'I didn't really know what was happening'. Unsurprising, you're not going to understand the parody without at least some familiarity with the thing being parodied!

His rendition is hilarious. C3P0 was very well done, and Luke was uniformly presented as whiny, which hit the nail on the head. Not every word uttered was directly from the film (Luke's last line of 'Jedi' was very amusing, as was Han's reaction to Leia's revelation at the end of 'Jedi').

Chewbacca's reaction at the medal ceremony at the end of 'A New Hope' was very funny, and echoed what I've thought each time I've seen that scene.

Yoda was very well observed, the physicality with Yoda's (imaginary) cane was spot on.

For me, the best parts were the appearance of some of the minor characters. The thug in the bar who abuses Luke ('He doesn't like you..... I don't like you either') was very well done. Admiral Ackbar was good too, and reminded me of Columbo.

The battle to blow up the Death Star, with the visual representation of the various ships was good - we could instantly distinguish an X-wing from a Y-wing from a Tie Fighter.

A good night out, but it's not one for those rare people who aren't familiar with the films. The show is touring in the UK until mid-July. For one night at each venue it will visit Kings Lynn, Canterbury, Bradford, Newcastle, Nottingham, Northampton, Cardiff, Leicester, Cheltenham, Lichfield, Salford, Reading, Poole, London (for 7 nights), Durham and Lincoln. It ends its tour in Lincoln on the 12th July.

Oh, one thing.... there are StormTroopers at the Theatre. If you want a photo, go early and bring a camera. I didn't have mine.

Other Reviews: Christina on Myspace, Daily Vodcast, The Loy and a Video Clip via Chris Drummer and a podcast interview from iscifi

Supermarket 2.0

Via Userfriendly I came across an excellent video on glumbert parodying 'Web 2.0' (for those not in the know, that's all the sites that have tagging, rss feeds etc) What if a supermarket went 2.0? I particularly liked the reference to 'Ajax', to 'Stumbleupon', and the ever-present tagging.

I loved the delicious punning, and the cookie.

I think my favourite part was the flickr reference with quakr.

Blue Man Group

Tonight, we went to see the Blue Man Group in London. It is closing down this month (on the 24th) and so it was a case of 'now or never' (assuming they don't tour it!) It really is a great show. Very funny, hard to explain. Very visual. Very weird. We were sitting in the second row (plastic ponchos were provided, but not needed).

I came very close to catching a marshmallow in my mouth, but these guys can play 'chubby bunnies' at 10 paces (they can, honestly!)

It's a phenomenal show, great percussion, great visuals. Very funny too. There was a lovely bit with waste pipes that was very inventive, and I loved the drumming with the coloured liquids.

I want to go again!

If you can get to see it, you really should take the opportunity.

Monica meets a Blue Man

The Producers

Last night we went to see The Producers (UK) (US tour) (The Stage info). This was an excellent show, and for sheer entertainment was one of the best things I've seen in a while.

The Leo Bloom character was Joe Pasquale, and Max Bialystock was Cory English (though to be honest I wouldn't have known if it were an understudy). Both were excellent. I was worried about Pasquale squeaking his way through the piece, but he can go deeper if he needs, so it worked well.

The pair worked well together, and had little nods to the audience when needed, for example, Bialystock through a large sheet of paper across the stage, which drifted and landed in the waste paper bin.... the audience cheered. He acknowledged it, looked amazed and asked 'shall we put the fourth wall back up?' before carrying on with the number - he pitched it exactly right.

The playwright was excellent, and his pigeons were choreographed very well.

The star turn had to be Russ Abbot, who was excellent. Honestly. Russ Abbot played the director of the play. His entrance was very well handled, spectacular one might say. He carried off his dress that looked like the Chrysler Building with applomb. He also has what is my favourite line in the piece, the one about 'the singing Hitlers over to the left, and the dancing Hitlers to the right, please'.

The major set-piece was the actual staging of 'Springtime for Hitler'. This they handled beautifully.

Goose-stepping chorus-girls? check. Smarmy looking guy dressed in black singing the lead? check. Big mirror over the stage for the dance routine? check.

I was wondering how they'd manage the 'signature' routine, would they have enough people? The answer was no, but it didn't matter - they got around it in such an elegant way (think of what the PoWs did to avoid the Germans picking up on an escape, i.e. having a dummy in place of a prisoner). Essentially each dancer stook in a contraption flanked by two dummies, they then controlled the legs of the two dummies allowing them to 'march' in formation. It worked, it really did.

The Producers is something that is worth seeing, we came out with big grins.

For those unfamiliar with 'The Producers', it should be mentioned that the show is about making a bad-taste show in order to try and produce a flop - so it's not about glorifying Hitler and his ilk. At one point the playwright complains 'you've made Hitler look stupid', to which the Russ Abbot character said 'he didn't need our help'.