Bizarre classes

I've just been playing with the Basic/Expert D&D random class generator and came up with this one:

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It's clear to me that what I have here is a devout follower of some kind of animal deity. Let's call him a Fauna Fanatic.

The Fauna Fanatic's deity demands that its followers have the same strong constitution and animal magnetism as the animals it favours. They are permitted to wear leather armour to simulate the strong leathery skin of animals and carry a shield to represent the natural carapace of some creatures. The only weapons they are permitted are small daggers, representing animal claws. As a religious devotee, they are granted cleric spells. They are gifted with animal training skills, and eventually the ability to fly like winged creatures. They are forced to retain the saves of a normal human, however, since they will never be true animals.

Historical cookery fail

For those of you who enjoyed Marc's recently stroganoff fail, here's one of the first meals he ever cooked me.

He said he was making me spaghetti bolognaise. While a spag bol isn't quite as simple as a stroganoff, it is fairly uncomplicated:

Beef mince
Tomatoes (either canned or passata)

For variety, you could add some mushrooms, or swap out the beef mince for lamb, but in general this is the stuff you need. And I admit he did do an immacualate job of cooking the spaghetti, but here's what not to put in a bolognaise sauce:

Beanfeast soya mince that's been lurking in the back of the cupboard for about 10 years

Marc would like it noted that it was bolognaise flavour beanfeast but given that I find all beanfeast disgusting anyway, I don't think this helps.

I picked up the real ingredients for pork stroganoff on Friday, which Marc then cooked for me, and I can assure you it was lovely.

Cookery fail

In another exciting edition of 'funny things Marc does,' we feature cookery.

Marc is a big fan of what he calls 'bung cookery' and I call 'shoving stuff in a pan and seeing if the end result is edible'. Usually it is. However...

I love pork stroganoff. I love how such a simple dish can be so perfectly constructed. My recipe for pork stroganoff has only four ingredients: diced pork loin, mushrooms, sour cream and rice. I've taught Marc how to make it, and after repeated reassurances that no matter what the stuff they serve in the canteen looks like, no other ingredients are required, Marc can now make an excellent stroganoff.

The other day Marc wanted to make a stroganoff, but couldn't find all the ingredients in Tesco. So he decided to substitute things.

Now a certain amount of substitution is possible in a stroganoff. For example, you can use stir fry beef or chicken instead of the pork loin. And you could serve it the Russian way with fried potato sticks instead of the rice. What you can't do is swap out everything except the mushrooms, and expect the end result to in any way resemble a stroganoff. Or, indeed, food...

What Marc actually cooked was:
Goat's cheese
Chopped up gammon steaks

Seriously, never cook this.

A surprise story

While browsing Techtales I found a story from 2003:

“I work in the IT dept of a medium-sized company. We'd just taken on a few new staff, and I didn't really know much about them. Most of our staff are fairly clueful and tend to leave us alone. One lunch time I got a call from the new girl in the testing department, asking for help plugging in a network cable and configuring a machine in their server room upstairs, because, as she put it 'the rest of my department are at lunch.'

“Now, I didn't know much about her apart from the fact that she'd enjoyed helpdesk (and so is clearly a few pins short of a DIMM) and had aced the first semester of CCNA before her previous company had realised everyone who got one would leave for a better job and stopped paying for it. It was hardly a task that should have been beyond her, and in that department, one she *should* have done several times before.

“I realised the problem straight away when I got up there - she couldn't actually get behind the servers to reach the cable that needed connecting, and she couldn't reach the machine's keyboard at the front of the cabinets. I'd forgotten that a lot of people were dressing up for charity as it was Red Nose Day. She was wearing a victorian ball gown with a huge crinoline, and the off-the-shoulder bodice didn't let her move her upper arms - which probably explains why Victorian women were apparently so useless at everything.

“Considering that she apparently made the thing herself in four evenings, I think she missed her calling. Once I'd set up the network for her she got on with her testing using remote desktop.”

Now there can’t be that many women with both the technical knowledge to do that kind of job and the ability to make their own Victorian ballgown to wear for Red Nose Day, so I’m confident this can only have been random_c. I saw the photos, and I can vouch for her looking amazing.

Faraday cages. Never forget.

A while ago I discussed the importance of shielding your electronics in the future in the context of Terra Nova. Having recently watched The Matrix, I was reminded that despite being one of the most awesome films of the 1990s (and incidentally one of the greenest films ever made), it also suffered from a serious lack of electronic shielding. The ridiculous scene where Neo is stuck in the Matrix and the squiddies are attacking could have been avoided completely with an appropriately positioned faraday cage.

I promise right now that should I ever write a sci-fi novel, at no point will anyone fail to shield their electronics.
like a rose

Abortion in popular culture (for which read TV that I've seen recently.)

I've been watching Bedlam series 2 on Sky Living, and to be honest, it's not that good. When you've only got six episodes in your series, you need to make every one count. This series has had five episodes so far (I haven't watched the finale yet) and only two of them really felt worth the effort.

The main reason I've kept watching is the Bedlamwatch blog. It's made me way more invested in the character of Max than I would have been just watching the show.

But I read some reviews of various episodes, and seen something interesting. At least two reviews have complained that the 'Ellie's pregnancy and abortion' storyline doesn't seem to have been given enough attention or played up enough. I disagree. I think they did it exactly right.

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I've also been watching Murdoch Mysteries, currently showing at random times and in a seemingly random order on Alibi. And one of the recent episodes was 'Shades of Grey'. Nothing to do with that ridiculous book, thankfully, this one was about abortion. Specifically, abortion in Canada in the late 19th century, when abortion was illegal.

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Hellraiser, as watched in 2012

The trouble with 80s movies is that no matter how much of a classic they might have at the time, when I watch them now all I can think is "So much synth!" or "Mullets mullets mullets!" which is really quite distracting. Terminator was an excellent film, but it was difficult to be scared of the clunky stop-motion animation while everyone ran around with perms and godawful synth music played in the background.

Apart from the prospect of synth and mullets, Hellraiser is one of those films I've always pictured as massively scary and horrific, and since gorn is not really my thing, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Someone took the sensible decision not to use the new and exciting synthesizers, and stick with a plain old string quartet, so the soundtrack is unobtrusive and not particularly dated.

The cast is sufficiently small that once I'd finished laughing at the wife's shoulder pads, I was pretty much done with fashion comedy and could get back to the plot.

There is a bit of clunky stop-motion, but it happens fairly early on so not too much of a distraction.

As as for the aforementioned horror and gore...well, there's been 25 years of TV crime drama since then, and I have honestly seen much worse things just watching Bones.

In fact it only really went wrong near the end where Thingy was using the McGuffin to defeat the bad guys and suddenly everything went a bit 8bit and wireframe and #FFFF00 yellow. What on earth was that all about?

Reading up on later movies in the Hellraiser franchise, it appears that as time goes by, the cenobites get less and less interesting, and more and more stupid. They start out as a thing in their own right and their realm only appears to be hell from a human perspective. Later on they're just plain old demons, and their ranks have been swolen by such ridiculous creations as Camerahead and CD, who are just too damn silly to be scary. Like Highlander and The Matrix, I'm just going to pretend that there were no sequels.

I understand there's a remake in the works, but they haven't asked Doug Bradley to play Pinhead. I can't really imagine anyone else playing him.

Anyway. Hellraiser: nowhere near as shocking as it was in 1987, and well worth a look, having aged better than most 80s movies.

Fetch the scorpion pit, or, in which my beloved fails at communication

Another item in the growing list of funny things Marc does: attempt to communicate through mime. I have no idea why. As far as I know, he has no formal theatrical training. He's not Italian, or related to my paternal grandfather (a man who I suspect could be rendered mute with a set of handcuffs). He just periodically abandons spoken language in favour of dramatic gestures.

It's not that the mime is completely incomprehensible (although I maintain there is no possible way to distinguish 'masturbation' from 'shake-weight') but even when I get the basic gist, I still lack context. After all, I can figure out that finger and thumb pinched together near his mouth accompanied by strange sucking motions is probably something to do with a cigarette, but whether this refers to a tobacco cigarette or something less legal, or to a smoker/stoner, or indeed to the act of smoking itself, is as impossible to determine as the difference between 'masturbation' and 'shake-weight'.

Each time Marc does this I remind him that I don't understand Marc-mime, and ask if we could have that in English please, but that doesn't stop him trying. Clearly the message isn't getting through. Perhaps I should try a different approach? How exactly does one say 'your gestures are imprecise and lack context' in mime?