The Cauliflower Of Morbius

February 26, 2011

So, I was tidying around the website – polishing the fonts, putting doilies on the html code, that sort of thing – and I found this image in the comments that you may have missed the first time around. Either enjoy the sheer inconguity of it, or if you’d like to know why this exists read our review of The Doctor Who Cookbook and the follow-up article.

No, you’re welcome.

Thank you to David AA for his photshopping expertise, and why not buy a copy of The Brain Of Morbius from amazon.co.uk? Part proceeds go toward buying John coffee. Or buy the Doctor Who double pack of Kinda and Snakedance just because they’re both grouse and have giant snakes in them.

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Want To Be In Outland?

November 10, 2010

Outland is a new comedy series for broadcast on the ABC in 2011 and already being called “the best gay and lesbian science fiction fan club themed comedy series ever.” By us. Just then. And you can be part of it!

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In Memory of Alan Turing

September 17, 2009

Since I still haven’t finished setting up the Almost Fabulous site, I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at this week’s tribute to Alan Turing. You can find the audio version (complete with bonus jokes!) in episode 11 of the radio show, downloadable from iTunes or direct from here.

alan turing

When we started the Almost Fabulous project, all those years ago, our goal was to bring attention and love to those potential queer icons who had been left out in the cold. At that time I considered including mathematician and cryptologist Alan Turing, but decided he was already a well-known and celebrated figure. After all, he has been the subject of award-winning plays and documentaries, and in 1999 Time Magazine named him as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.

But since the comments of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown put Turing back in the media this month, I thought it was time to re-acquaint ourselves with this extraordinary gay man.

In the 1930s Turing was a mathematician working at Cambridge and later Princeton University, working on algorithms, theories of computation and – like any uni student – building simple electro-mechanical binary multipliers. Little did he know that years later his work would lead to the personal computer and the most efficient porn delivery system the world has ever known.

But as important as his work on computers is – and seriously, without him we wouldn’t be able to watch footage of cats on treadmills on YouTube, so for that alone, Mr Turing, we salute you – it’s his work during World War II that makes him a bona-fide hero.

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Housekeeping

July 24, 2009

Hello lovely readers. Or lovely listeners. Or lovely “reaners”, if you do both.

I’ve added a page (to the right of the “home” above) where all the info about the radio show will live, so you can read playlists, see who is being interviewed, and various show notes. This will be a static page that will be updated at the top (shows in reverse order), as WordPress doesn’t seem to allow me to have two pages with multiple posts on them. You can, of course, leave comments there.

As requested, I am also going to set up a separate site for the Almost Fabulous segment, so you will be able to play embedded audio and read the text. I will get this done as soon as possible. Honest.

And thank you for your kind words. And your kind vowels. And your friendly punctuation.


Accept No Irritation

May 2, 2009
bitter
(Bitter, lesbiany T-shirts available at http://www.redbubble.com/people/boxcutters.)

Last week we talked about Henrie Stride and – let’s be honest – I wasn’t very complimentary. In fact, I was downright irksome.

You may remember that Ms Stride is convinced that people are only interested in “pretty” and “upbeat”, so how did my low-level sniping affect the popularity of The Outland Institute? We had a massive spike of readers and Wednesday the 29th had the most visitors the Institute has ever seen. Why? Because misery loves company. Everytime I write something that drips of bile – like this review of BBC’s Survivors – the numbers shoot right up.

I think the truth is that “contented” is not the same as “interesting”. As our old friend Leo Tolstoy once said, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. He’s a laugh-riot, isn’t he? You should see the thing he wrote for Adam Sandler.

I had been pondering on what this all meant when I found myself at a party, trying to talk to someone I hadn’t met before. The conversation was stilted, so in desperation I said, “Tell me five petty things that annoy you“. And let me tell you – it’s an ice-breaker. Soon we were all getting along like a house on fire. A funhouse on fire. Full of clowns. A funhouse full of burning clowns.

When it comes to misanthropy, of course, no-one beats the British. The BBC have an excellent television show called Room 101, which is like Enough Rope for the terminally depressed. A celebrity guest comes on to discuss the things they hate, hoping the host will remove them from existence (which is to send them to Room 101, in a strange conceptual mangling of George Orwell’s 1984). Starting life as a radio show in 1992, it moved to TV in 1994 and has even seen a Dutch spin-off (presumably as a form of revenge for Big Brother). And that’s without mentioning the “Grumpy” franchise, which started with Grumpy Old Men (2003), then led to Grumpy Old Women (2004), Grumpy Old Holidays (2006) and will presumably soon include Celebrity So You Think I Love The Make Me A Grumpy Old Supermodel, Get Me Out Of Here House (2010).

101

And I find I like Will Self more knowing that he hates airport architecture. Knowing Meera Syal dislikes Austria is strangely comforting. And seeing that Michael Grade still feels the need to openly despise Doctor Who – nearly 20 years after he cancelled it – says more about him than the program in question. I find these petty dislikes give me a much better view of the person – they feel more intimate, somehow, and less filtered than hearing them talk about their love of fine wines, or charity work. (Remember how on Perfect Match everyone used to like “travelling, raging and meeting people”?).

So do the things we hate define us better than the things we like? I sent an email out to a number of the Institute’s Friends and Leavers Of Comment, to gauge their opinion, and to ask them to list five minor things that annoy them. I swear I have NEVER seen emails come back so fast. It would seem people love to talk about things that irritate – but does it give you an insight into their character?

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Happy Baby Jesus Day!

December 24, 2008

From everyone at The Outland Institute, have a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, and a Kwanzaa Kwanzaa Kwanzaa.

May all your Wong Kar-Wai Slippers come true.

Love,

John


Tim Tam or Not Tim Tam? That Is The Question…

October 16, 2008
As the world hurtles toward an economic meltdown, The Outland Institute looks at the most important issue of the day – which is the best Tim Tam-like biscuit? We put them to the test and you might be surprised by the results. Or you might not.

Tim Tam. Just the name sends a shiver down the Aussie spine. The chocolate biscuit is as true-blue an Australian icon as Donald Bradman, Mr Squiggle or casual racism. Like most Australian icons, it’s owned by America – since 1997 Arnott’s have been a fully-owned subsidiary of The Campbell Soup Company of America (you may know them from their work with Andy Warhol).

Wikipedia describes the Tim Tam as “two layers of chocolate malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate cream filling, and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate”, which I think takes away some of the magic. The Tim Tam is so much more than wafers and chocolate – it’s a delightful treat, it’s a straw for coffee, it’s a lonely girl’s companion. Launched in 1964, the name comes from a prize-winning American racehorse which Ross Arnott had seen win the 1958 Kentucky Derby (by a strange co-incidence, the horse that came second was called “Chocolate Wafer Biscuit You Can Drink Coffee Through”). Tim Tam (the horse) was inducted into The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1985, no doubt leading to endless disappointment for biscuit-starved ex-pats visiting Saratoga Springs, New York.

As the old saying goes, “if you build it, they will copy it under a slightly different name”. So the original Tim Tam now competes with several similar biscuits on the supermarket shelves. How do they stack up? In the interests of science, The Outland Institute gathered a panel to do blind taste tests of four contemporary Tim-Tamalikes.

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