Archive for May, 2011

In the last 17 months, I’ve watched a lot of kids TV. It’s been there to on occasion to distract the boy whilst being changed or just general to keep him quiet while me and my wife catch a breather.

Originally there were mutterings of these programmes not being as good as they were in our day, but it took an absurdly long time to realise that these programmes weren’t aimed at me, rather the children.

I also realise that there was a lot of terrible programmes on in my day. Finger mouse springs to mind, it was just some middle aged guy with a piece of paper wrapped around his finger for God’s sake. At least the Tellytubbies put a bit of effort in.

But we did have Dogtanian, Thundercats, Dungeons & Dragons, MASK and Going Live among other things. So it was pretty good.

So if it’s okay with you I’m going to a poor man’s screen-wipe style look at some of the programmes I’ve seen on the last year and a half.

In the beginning there was nothing. Then there was Disney. Specifically Playhouse Disney and it was colourful and weird. Disney was a good place to start because you know that they’ve been entertaining kids ever since they took over Korea with a bunch of heavily armed animators.

They know their stuff, but you do notice that it’s pretty much all CG. Not even good CG, it looks pretty basic; like someone is using a mouse to drag the arms back and forth and doing their best to try and not makes any wanking gestures. But again, you remember it’s for infants and toddlers and they don’t care if the texture on Special Agents Oso’s fur is correctly lit. They care if he falls over or not in a funny way.

Speaking of Oso, he’s been the biggest hit in this house. Maybe the boy has an appreciation for Sean Astin’s body of work, I’m not sure. Whatever the reason he’s the go-to bear around here. To start I was concerned that Oso was a special agent who forgot nearly everything that he’d been told literally seconds ago. He wouldn’t last two seconds in the real world, he’d be picked off by rival agents and water boarded for information. But he would’ve forgotten everything anyway so he might be alright. Or killed instantly. So to begin with I was dismissive, but then something happened that made me smile. I think it was Oso jumping a bike into a tree. After that it began to grow on me and now I consider it positively Shakespearean in its design. It’s the little things that get you.

Mickey Mouse was a big hit for a while too, the same level of CG and that chirpy voice that will make you develop a nervous twitch every time you hear it. He’s got a club house that looks like someone has chopped him up and planted the dismembered corpse randomly in a field. He’s also got a train that’s vomits its own rail track piece by piece when it moves. What a horrible tortured existence that poor fucker has. He’s in his garage somewhere shying away from daylight begging not to be made to move for fear of losing his mind and whatever he’s eaten for lunch.

The writers in this one are a bit cheeky. I swear they put in innuendo that goes over the kids’ heads. I noticed a few but my wife caught the best one. Minnie Mouse was on the hunt for her missing muffin (the cake, but you can see where this is going). She asked Daisy Duck if she’d eaten it. Yeah they went there, the dirty bastards.

This one made a bit of a comeback due to the hot dog dance they do at the end (I have no idea so don’t ask), and my boys burgeoning dancing skills.

(He’s a right little mover and got a shoulder wiggle that’ll melt your heart.)

There’s also the Imagination Movers. An American kids’ band who work in a TARDIS warehouse and one of them has a TARDIS hat. They’re awesome. I’d love to say something funny about them but they’re the most likeable Americans I’ve ever seen and they’re music is really good. Sometimes a bit Kraftwerk inspired which is a bit weird, it’s a bit like seeing Bob the builder covering NWA.

More recently Cbeebies have been incorporated into the viewing. The BBC has still got it when it comes to entertaining the kids, but it took me a while to notice the quality. I was instantly charmed by Disney and their cheap thrills but the beeb have got class.

They incorporate proper presenters and have great shows to learn with. Stuff like arts and crafts and cooking and gardening and reading.
With Cbeebies one of the biggest and still one of the best for the boy is Alphablocks. It’s still the only thing that he sits there for the entire episode; it’s just a shame that the episodes are only three minutes long.

A happy accident from the recording of Alphablocks overrunning was catching a programme called ‘Something Special’. At first it looked like some random bloke dressed up as a clown called Mr Tumble and falling over, much like those cheap ones you saw in school that would tell you about traffic awareness. But as I watched it showed that it was about taking children with disabilities out on a day they wouldn’t forget. Any snide sarcastic quips I might’ve made were washed away by a double wave of guilt and shame.

One of the elements of the programme is clown dude using sign language and teaches it we the episode progresses. I’ve learnt a fair bit myself. Granted, I should’ve paid more attention to more important words other than “barbeque” but it might come in handy one day.

So in your face Disney, the Beeb are showing equality and tolerance to children from a young age. You don’t see Mickey doing that do you? They’ve got a presenter with a disability as well which shows that Cbeebies have got more balls than nearly all other TV channels put together.
Kudos.

They also have Rastamouse. ‘Nuff said.

The only one I’ve got an issue with is in the night garden. It’s just mental, frankly. There’s a ninky nonk, a plinky plonk and others that defy any logical and grammatical explanation.
I’m just glad they stopped when they did otherwise you’d have splinky wink, a minky mank a tooble tum and one day they’ll maybe show the unaired episode involving the gropy pope.

It seems that kids TV is in good hands. You’ve got the kind of programmes that you can use to catch 5 minutes for yourself and you’ve got the usual BBC quality, the same as it ever was.

Of course, you should probably take them outdoors once in a while as well…

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>My son can eat like his old man, I’m very proud of this.

You can tell when he likes something by the simple “mmmmmmmmm” noise he makes. It’s awesome and man, can he pack it away.

Using Sherlock Holmes’ deduction methods I’ve come to the conclusion that he is some kind of human TARDIS.
There’s no other explanation. He simply must be bigger on the inside.

I used to be like that, but lately I’ve feel like it’s no longer happening. When I have a curry I tend to spend the rest of the night propped against the sofa like a tree that hasn’t quite fallen over. Well, either that or the foetal position, but that’s mostly reserved for when the boy accidently kicks me in the gonads.

He’s got a hell of a kick by the way, once I was changing him and he delivered a kick so powerful that it made my balls bounce of the top of my ribcage and back down again. I sounded like Frank Spencer for the best part of the day.

But anyway, I may have mentioned it before but using Holmes’ methods once more I think I’m getting old. Not just old but premature mid-life crises. There’s plenty of evidence.
First of all, I’m going grey. But that’s been happening for a while. I’ve got a line of white in my hair that would make peppe le peu jealous. Or possibly aroused.

(Great now I’ve got the disturbing mental image of peppe le peu trying to hump my hair).

I don’t like much new music, mainly because its horrible generic Godawful shite. The stuff I like I thought would still be cool. But then one day I saw an advert. That advert has for the “Best Dad rock album in the world, ever!!!” and my insides died a little when I saw that it had a lot of stuff on there that I like. I know I’m a dad, but come on. Those albums are for stuff from the sixties surely?

I often think the dreaded phrase “in my day”. But it’s true, have you seen the price of a chomp these days? Seventeen pence? Surely they’re only supposed to be ten pence. Fifteen at a push.
Teenagers annoy me, I’m looking to see what’s on G.O.L.D far too much and I make a very old man noise when I sit down. There really is no hope.

Technology I’m still ok with though, but I fear it’s only a matter of time before it’ll get the better of me. I imagine it’ll happen when I have to ask one of my boys to help me with a computer or phone, and when that day comes I’ll buy myself a rocking chair, a cardigan with leather elbow patches and blow my brain out with the nearest ray gun.

But I’ll probably need help with that too.

>As previously mentioned, Port Talbot is bat shit crazy. But it appears we are not alone.

Don’t get me wrong, since I last mentioned it I’ve seen some fantastic shout outs from the nutter posse (as some “yoof” might say…well I think. I’m not exactly on the same wavelength).

I was wondering down the shop; probably for the second time that night because I’ve got a memory like a sieve that been massacred by an AK47, and I overheard someone clapping. This you may think is not uncommon, but the claps were getting louder. As I wondered what to expect when I turned the corner, a man walked past. As he was walking he was clapping in time with his steps (concentrating very hard I might add). He looked up and saw me and instead of looking embarrassed or giving something of a sane explanation, he simply gave me an approving nod. For what I have no idea.

Why would he approve me? Was he respecting my choice to walk normally? He also had a crutch hanging from his arm, something that just added to the hundreds of questions that popped into my head in the space of those two minutes.

The other particular highlight was when I was taking the boy to town. During one of his games of “Lets see how many times I can throw my hat on the floor and get Dad to run over it”, two men walked past on the opposing pavement. Usually I wouldn’t listen in to other people’s conversation but it’s hard not to when one person says: “And then he went like this….”

He then proceeded to hop backwards down the pavement like a New Zealand player doing the Hakka who’s been stuck on rewind on the TV, and the spun around and did what I can only assume was an impression of a javelin thrower and making a noise that can only be written thusly:

“FNNNEOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWMMMMMN”

His companion said nothing. Neither did I. Frankly I was bewildered by the whole thing. The only thing that would’ve compared to that level of madness would’ve been if a leprechaun had appeared out of thin air, jumped up and slapped me and rocketed off to the moon.

But that’s Port Talbot.

I was in Swansea the other day. At the start it was relatively sane, but it was only when I got on the train that things went a bit strange.

Turns out it was rather packed, and rather than walk through all the carriages and catch a line of people on the back of the head with my bag (my record is seven in a row), I took one of the seats by the door. I figured that I’d be getting off in fifteen minutes or so it wouldn’t be an issue.

Unbeknownst to me, I had chosen a seat that had ‘toilet attendant’ written above it. I assume I did considering the situation that unfolded. A middle aged woman approached and asked if anyone was in there. After stating that there wasn’t (that I was aware of) she proceeded to press a button to open it.

Well, that’s what she thought. She was pressing a part of the wall that was quite clearly blank. Maybe she thought it was one of those magic wall buttons that blend into the background that we all use on a day to day basis. There’s not a day goes by where I don’t see someone franticly groping a wall to get into buildings that don’t exist. I pointed out the clearly marked button. She went in.

Going back to my world blocking out music, I noticed when she came out that she began pressing this newly discovered wonderful non-camouflaged button. She pressed a lot of times. She then asked me if said action would close the door. Avoiding the billion sarcastic comments that entered my head I said that it probably closes by itself.

She went away. I sighed relief.

Not two minutes later a man walked up and pressed the button to open the door. This guy was obviously ahead of the curve. Except that he was standing outside the cupboard doors that were right next the actual door, patiently waiting for them to open. Meanwhile the actual door was (loudly) opening mere millimetres away. I waited for as long as I could before my newly self-appointed toilet attendant instinct kicked in and I had to point out the three foot gap that had suddenly appeared to his right.

He entered. I stifled a laugh to myself.

Another two minutes later the first middle aged woman showed up again, only to have who I assumed to be her mother in tow. She began to show her mother the wondrous button she’d discovered only five minutes previously and pressed awaiting a gasp of amazement from her mother. Except that it didn’t open. She turned to me as the keeper of the gates and asked if there was anyone in. As she asked me I couldn’t help staring that the massive red “TOILET ENGAGED” sign just to her left.

I was biting my lip so hard that I almost felt blood dripping down.

I pointed out the sign. The doors then opened and the guy left and the mother and daughter went in.

Thankfully the train pulled up at the station and I exited pondering if I could be the best toilet attendant the world never knew about.

I’m not looking down on the people around here. Well, maybe a little bit but no more than other people probably do to me when I’ve been out. I’ve been in town sometimes and when I’ve got back I’ve noticed my hair. On occasion when it’s long enough and I haven’t done anything to it I can look like Wolverine who’s let himself go and got baby sick on either shoulder. Then I’ve noticed it down my back and front.

I’m sure that there’s a genius on every street, it’s just I’ve got a habit of seeing the card carrying members of the numpty-verse.

But I can’t complain, it gives me something to write about

>Going slightly off topic on this one. I’m not normally this abrasive (my anger management counsellor will tell you that) but the stuff below really does annoy me.

As previously mentioned, I kinda like gadgets. Grown up toys and generally things that are shiny and bleep. Me and the boy have this in common. But sometimes people can spoil this by taking so-called sides to rival tech firms.
For example; recently the Playstation network game thingy went down (or it broke, as normal people would say) and the Xbox crowd went mental. Not as mental as the Playstation users that had to cancel their credit cards, but still they were rather boisterous. They were going on about how shit Sony are and how Xbox live and Microsoft were far superior.

Hmmm….

My brother handily pointed out that Microsoft (aka Bill Gates’ empire of nerd) owns and operates Internet explorer. you know, that amazing blue ‘e’ symbol that sits on the desktop and has never broken down or been infected with viruses for crashed unexpectedly or….I forget my point.

If it sounds like that I’m taking Sony’s side, I’m not really but I do tend to go for the their consoles over Microsoft. But it’s not like I’d not get an Xbox either. If I was offered an Xbox I wouldn’t go on about how I wouldn’t dare have such a thing in my home and then pledge my allegiance to Sony by having the Playstation symbols carved into my forehead. I’d probably say “ta very much” and lose the next 3 hours of my life to it.

It just the snobbery of the people who decide the open source/more techy/more likely to get them to see boobs tech is the best and spend their time shaking their head in disbelief and snorting contempt at the lowly folk who dared to show the ability to express free choice.

you can also get into this type of conversation:

You: “I have this console”

Tech snob: *snort* “why did you buy that?”

You: “I had a look at all the options and decided this was the best one for me”

Tech snob: but that can only do (drones on about processing power or some bollocks) whilst my
machine can (even Goddam longer) and also (your now thinking of ways to kill him).

At this point they’re explaining everything they know about coding and other things, by which time you’ve already made the mental note to de-friend them on facebook.

The one that really gets me annoyed it the whole shebang that I’m going to call “the apple-android smackdown” (I may change that).

Why this “grinds my gears” more than anything is that I’ve had experience of both sides. I’m currently with an android powered phone. I have had an iPhone in the past but made a change (for reasons i’m not going into). I can already hear the pro android army making approving noises, but I prefer Apple. I just do.

I’ve literally read people saying that the iPhone is rubbish. Well no, frankly. It’s clearly not.
If it were rubbish it wouldn’t sell, and it has sold lots.
“But wait” I hear the tech snobs cry, “the Apple service is a walled garden environment and you can only get software through itunes”.
That may be, but the app store is great. and correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure you can download music from other places like Amazon and then put them on your phone.
Besides, Eden was a pretty big walled garden, that seemed like a nice place to be.

Yes, I will concede that the lack of flash support on the iPhone was on occasion a pain in the arse. “At least” I thought “Now I can do all that flash stuff I didn’t realise I wanted to do or never really thought about now with my android powered gadget”.

Yeah. My phone doesn’t support flash. My Android phone.

So I cant use the BBC iPlayer (fuck me there’s a lot of things with an “i” in front of it these days) on it to catch up on any TV & radio stuff I might have missed, LIKE YOU FUCKING CAN ON THE IPHONE!!!!!

I’m not saying that Apple is perfect. It’s not. iTunes can be a right fuckwit a lot of the time, and registering the phone itself is a pain. But I think it’s better. Granted, I havent got the best phone for the android experience but I can’t see how it would make much diffence. And before you say anything you can take the words “widgets” and “customisable” and “open” and source” and shove them up your arse. I don’t want these things.

I suppose there is a point in this uneven stuttering rant.

The point is, people choose things that right for them. If you force an opinion on them and bully them into thinking they’re stupid, then fuck you. You are no better than the people who probably bullied you in the past because you could set up a computer and they could throw or kick a ball really well and yet somehow they get to be more popular.

By the way it may appear to some that I’m focing my opinion on you. I’m airing what annoys me about this topic. The next time you want to get something (whatever it may be, a phone, a car, a gimp mask) but have doubts about what people might say, ignore them do what’s right for you. Don’t conform for other people, you’ll never be happy that way.

Or something. I don’t know I’m just some idiot with a blog…

(Also I realise the title makes no sense.)

Next time, my theory on how my son is a human TARDIS.