Monthly Archives: June 2013

100 things to do in 1000 days; #65/71: Watch all of Blackadder. Black Adder. BlackAdder? Whatever.

BlackAdder_UltimateEdMy last few posts have been rather long, and I still have a memo on sleep and dreams in British literature to write, so today, it’s time for another Half-Assed Review from a Lazy Person!

Series 1 (The Black Adder):

  • Ep 1 – The dead king ghost is vaguely amusing, as are some of the elaborate insults, but otherwise – bah.
  • Speaking of bah, the baaaa made me laugh out loud. So that’s one.
  • Ep 2 – meh.
  • Ep 3 – I laughed! parts were fully enjoyable! Progress!
  • Ep 4 – also okay!
  • Ep 5 – I did NOT like this one (witch smeller was a pain in the ass)
  • Ep 6 – this one was alright; I liked the closing theme; also the ending to Cougarton Abbey makes sense now.
  • That was really…underwhelming. But the theme song is the ear-wormiest thing I have ever heard. I go humming it around the house, at dinner time, at parties.

I bought the complete series on DVD, and after watching the first series, I was beginning to regret my investment. But certain friends talked me into giving the rest of the show a chance, and I’m glad I did.

Series 2 (Blackadder II):

  • Ah, we’re off to a much better start. I actively enjoyed the first episode (except for Lord Flashheart, who can bite me, and not in the way he’d want to), and have already laughed out loud twice at second. Way to go for meeting the bare minimum of comedy, Black Adder!
  • I pity the loss of smart Baldrick, but smart Blackadder is plenty entertaining (and…kind of weirdly attractive).
  • New lyrics every episode?? Excellent.
  • Also, the queen character is weird as hell, but…you know how when sometimes things annoy you for no reason you can name, you say they “rub you the wrong way”? Well, she rubs me the right way.
  • The last episode of s2 was best so far. Am I biased because Hugh Laurie had a major role? Only perhaps.
  • As for the special features: the commentaries are decent but unremarkable.

Series 3 (Blackadder the Third):

  • Wait, Hugh Laurie’s in ALL of s3? Excellent. This is now my favourite season.
  • The music isn’t as good as the first two, though.
  • Also s3 has more clunkers than s2. Really didn’t like Nob and Nobility (even if it was nice to see Percy again) and…um, one of the others. Can’t remember which.
  • Amy and Amiability was good, though. Also liked Duel and Duality. Although it didn’t end with Blackadder and everyone else dying, so I’m not sure it was the right episode.
  • Overall, I think I’d rate it about the same as s2; more uneven on the one hand, but regular dosage of Hugh Laurie on the other.
  • Commentaries are better in s3 as well.

Series 4 (Blackadder Goes Forth):

  • He’s in all of s4 as well??? I AM OVERWHELMED WITH RICHES!
  • Ah yes, series title. I see what you did there.
  • I think part of the reason I like Tim McInnerny so much is because he reminds me of Michael Palin. I’m glad he’s back full-time.
  • Enjoying s4 best (British M*A*S*H* is the obvious comparison…except that I’ve never seen M*A*S*H*. I know, I know) but I miss the credits of s2. I think I’m mentioning that I miss them now just because it’s been two whole seasons without them, instead of just one, and I’m really feeling the loss.
  • There’s a bit of Bertie (Wooster) in both of Laurie’s main characters, and a bit of Jeeves in Atkinson’s Blackadder the Third butler. And references to the name Bertie. But imdb tells me that Blackadder came first, so I guess it’s just coincidence.
  • Yes, this one is definitely my favourite, and one I can see watching over and over again.
  • Commentaries are also quite enjoyable.

The Specials:

  • As nice as it always is to see Stephen Fry, the Cavalier Years felt like a bit of a waste of time.
  • Christmas Carol was decent, though.
  • I know I’m in the minority, but I really did enjoy Back and Forth. Like, a lot.
  • Might as well say it here: Before Blackadder, I’d known Rowan Atkinson from Mr. Bean during vaccination days at school, and Rat Race. So his ability to speak in complete sentences was surprise enough, but to see how funny he can be as straight man? Damn my North American ignorance!

EMBARRASSING CRAZY SIDE NOTE: As if I needed it, I have been well and thoroughly reminded of how much I love Hugh Laurie, how amazing and talented and funny and tall and blue-eyed he is, and how much everyone else in the commentaries and interviews thinks so too. And how adorable his relationship with Stephen Fry is. So now my obsessive little fangirl heart has been reignited and validated. So thanks for that.

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100 things to do in 1000 days; #94: Spend a day tree planting.

IMG_0659I have a very ambiguous relationship with nature. I love looking at pictures of it. I think we should be nicer to it. Several plants and animals that exist in it are pleasing to me. However, it also tends to make me itch and sneeze. My nose basically runs year-round; colds in winter, pollen and ragweed in summer. I also react badly to bug bites; they itch, swell, burn, and bleed. Last summer, one on my arm looked so bad (it had…a tail) that doctors thought I might have blood poisoning. (I didn’t. But that is not the point.) I’ve never been stung by a bee before, but family history isn’t uplifting. A classic approach/avoidance dilemma. Basically, the math is this:

(wonder + beauty + science + actual place that provides sustenance and shelter for life) – (allergies + fear) = …positive x? minus x? irregular x? y?

I don’t garden, and I’ve never owned any plant that wasn’t either a cactus or one of those idiot-proof bamboo trees that don’t need too much water. And I’ve still managed to kill two or three of them. (And remember that one plant I bought for #89? Remember how I kill things?) But I try. (Oh my god, do I try.) And how much damage can I really do here? Tree planting is fairly intuitive; dig hole, insert plant into hole, refill hole.

So I put “spend a day tree planting” on the list, because it’s all about learning and doing new things, and that’s why Claritin was invented. Only in this case, “a day” means “two hours” because the only tree planting program I could find that wasn’t both a) in another province, and b) about 4 months long was through Green Toronto’s Natural Environment and Community Programs, organised through the City of Toronto Forest Initiative and Toronto Region Conservation Authority under the Urban Forestry Naturalization Program.

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Forgive the picture quality, it was taken through a window.

About 35 people, children and adults, showed up to the event, which took place at Marie Curtis Park in Mississauga.

Together, we planted about 400 trees in just under two hours.

The weather was perfect. The sky had been threatening rain all day, but the downpour only started (and with a vengeance) a couple of hours after planting finished. So we got to plant in the sunshine, and the plants got refreshment. Win-win. I planted 11 trees, plus, I escaped with only several mosquito bites!

My first tree!

My first tree!

The park used to be the site of an old arms factory, and we also dug up a lot of brick, plastic bags and tape, and one explosives fragment with fuse.

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Most Toronto tree plantings take place in open areas, but this one took place in an already established forest. Why? I spoke to two leaders of today’s event, Jeanette and Cheryl, who told me that although this is a mature forest with high quality understory, they want to protect the older healthy trees and help the endangered species that grows in the area, the butternut tree. There are a lot of bike paths and hiking trails in the park, so we helped to close some of them by planting new trees on the former pathways, and thus concentrating traffic in a sustainable way. Or, if you’d like, we re-routed the routes to avoid roots.

We planted iron wood, American beech, sugar maple, alternate dogwood, choke cherry, black cherry, and red raspberry on nice, soft soil, and on gravel-and-stone-infested soil.

I can see how some people get addicted to this; I added it to the list a few years after reading a short story by Charlotte Gill, taken from her novel Eating Dirt, because even after all this time, her story (which I read in J-school) stuck with me. Nature may be icky, but if you spend enough time in it, icky becomes okay, even fun, and I’d gladly do it again. The trick is to just immediately get dirty, and the rest is easy. It’s kind of like paper mache that way.