Who remembers Infinity Limited?

Sometime one morning in 1983 (I think) I was walking through Elsterwick Park on my way to the bus stop to go to school (year 7), when I saw a hot air balloon at low altitude.

On the basket appeared to be a Penrose triangle — the logo for Infinity Limited, the ABC’s science show for kids, which we used to watch at school. Turned out they were filming a scene for an episode — the park is less than a kilometre from the ABC studios in Ripponlea.

To my amusement, the someone’s found it and put it on Youtube.

In each episode, Infinity Limited’s Rick and Krystal would try and solve a science-related problem for their clients, with downstairs company Vortex Ventures, run by Vortex and his assistant Plankton, would try and steal their ideas and customers.

I’m not expecting anybody to watch the whole thing, but the balloon bit is at 16:20. There are also some scenes with Vortex and Plankton trying unsuccessfully to take-off using small balloons — I think that looks like Caulfield Park — the playground at 18:50 looks very familiar, though the big slide has now been removed.

Computer geeks might like to note the presence of an Atari 800 at 1:40. Wouldn’t be surprised if something like it was used to create the first part of the title sequence.

Who else remembers watching this show in the 80s?

RIP Rik Mayall

BBC: Rik Mayall, star of The Young Ones, dies aged 56

I’m quite upset by this news.

As a teenager, I grew up with – and adored – the shows he was in… The Young Ones of course, but I went hunting for those that people may have since forgotten (or never seen, because they didn’t make it to air here, or were on at obscure times)… Filthy Rich And Catflap, The Comic Strip Presents (including the Famous Five spoof Five Go Mad In Dorset, and Bad News, the heavy metal spoof which pre-dated Spinal Tap), The Dangerous Brothers, and later The New Statesman (once the subject of an angry letter to the Green Guide from me about Channel 7′s scheduling of it) and Bottom.

RIP Rik.

The Young Ones Book (1984)

PS. Here’s something from Wendy Harmer — another comic I admired in my formative years (and in fact asked for an autograph, on the school steps one day after she’d spoken at an assembly — she signed it “Thanks for asking”):

A little anecdote here. In the dim, distant past I found myself in a bar at the Edinburgh Festival with Rik Mayall and Nigel Planer and we struck up a conversation.

I was in awe of the both of them, obviously, and was looking for a discreet way to say to my idols, “I’m a comedian too”.

Just then a very pissed Aussie reeled out of the shadows and said: “Wendy Harmer! Big Gig! Fucken funny show. Love ya!”

Rik and Nigel both knew of The Big Gig and said they loved it.

For one moment there I was in the tent of comedy greatness and I thought I would die happy.

I can picture that moment, exactly. Recall my utter fandom and how pleased I was to think of myself as one of the “New Wave” comedy alumni.

They were the best, most thrilling times of my life. Inspired by all the genius performers in “The Comic Strip”.

All of you changed my life. Wouldn’t have run away and joined the circus without you!

And Rik – you were the daring young man on the flying trapeze.

The one we gasped to see.

And,whoever that pissed Aussie was… thank you.

Physical wreck: There will be snot

I’m a physical wreck this weekend, from head to foot.

Some new shoes are fine for me, but the ones I wore on Thursday resulted in three blisters: one on each heel, and another on one of my toes. I’m sure the shoes will settle down after a couple of wears, but in the mean time, I’ve got bandaids on every time I leave the house.

And I’ve got a head cold. It’s not at the top of the scale when it comes to colds and flu, but it’s not very pleasant either.

The movie In The Loop (which is a spin-off from the TV series The Thick Of It) has some very funny deleted scenes on the Blu-Ray disc. In one, Jamie (aka The Crossest Man In Scotland) rants to Malcolm about going to see the movie There Will Be Blood… he complains that there’s hardly any blood in it.

My weekend so far could be called There Will Be Snot. On Saturday I went through an unbelievable number of tissues, thanks to an alternating blocked/sneezy/runny nose. The house sounded a little as if someone was doing a day-long really really bad trumpet rehearsal.

So far Sunday is looking like it might be a day for a sore throat rather than lots of nose action, but we’ll see.

Hopefully this cold will be on the retreat by tomorrow. I’ve got important things to do during the week.

Here for your enjoyment is Jamie McDonald, the Crossest Man In Scotland. (Coarse language)

Finally, what is amazing about In The Loop is that they managed to construct a trailer with no swearing (apart from one bleep):

The Daily Telegraph, the copied quotes, the problems they caused, and #MediaWatch

During my time involved with the PTUA, there’s been a policy to not comment on issues outside Victoria, for three main reasons:

  • It’s a Victorian organisation. There are local groups covering other parts of Australia.
  • You make media comment on stuff outside your knowledge at your peril.
  • It takes away effort from activism for and in Victoria.

So I was very surprised to discover some quotes of mine in the Sydney Daily Telegraph last week.

Sydney: Domestic airport station

INCONSIDERATE travellers putting their feet up on train seats have been fined $48,000 in the past year.

Daniel Bowen, president of the Public Transport Users Association said it was “completely appropriate” for people to be penalised for placing their feet on seats, however he said more should be done to educate people it was an offence in the first place.

“It would certainly make sense to have an awareness campaign not only to warn people of the fine but to ­discourage people from engaging in anti-social behaviour in the first place,” Mr Bowen said.

– Daily Telegraph, 24/3/2014: Rude travellers toe the line: 480 people fined for putting their feet on train seats

I only found out about it because at least two Sydney radio stations contacted the PTUA wanting further comments (and specifically, audio quotes to use in their bulletins).

I hadn’t given quotes to the reporter, but they sounded vaguely familiar, so I did a bit of Googling and found them in a 2012 Age story.

The situation in Sydney is unclear to me. I know from the story that 480 people were fined in a year (a tiny amount compared to 17,592 people fined in Victoria in a year).

But the offence in Victoria includes (basically) putting your feet anywhere that isn’t the floor. Is that the same in Sydney? Is there signage in Sydney? Are there education campaigns in Sydney?

I don’t know, and the PTUA office received at least one grumpy email from a Sydneysider noting that the comments were uninformed. Well, yeah.

The interest from radio and from Sydney punters meant that PTUA volunteers had to spend time dealing with the fallout from two-year-old quotes copied out of context.

Some people suggested I contact Media Watch. So I did.

Media Watch: Daily Telegraph copied quotes

If you missed the story, it’s online here.

I should note that in no time in my dealing with the Melbourne media (including Daily Telegraph stablemate the Herald Sun) have I experienced anything this dodgy.


Update 14/4/2014: With thanks to Peter (see comments below), Crikey is reporting today that Phil Jacob has resigned from the Daily Telegraph after other instances of plagiarism came to light.

A Crikey investigation has uncovered a series of highly questionable articles published in The Daily Telegraph that appear to borrow — liberally and in some cases word-for-word — from reports in other publications.

The reports were all penned by Daily Telegraph state political reporter Phil Jacob, who was slapped down on the ABC’s Media Watch program two weeks ago for lifting quotes from a report in The Age to illustrate a story about rail commuters. But it appears this wasn’t the only time Jacob has lifted copy from stories other than his own.

– Crikey [Paywall]

The digital TV re-tune 7th Feb – and: It’s nice to know genuine technological reform can happen

This Friday 7th February is Melbourne’s re-tune day for digital television. This is when the frequencies of some channels change, so they can make more efficient use of the spectrum.

If you don’t re-tune your digital TV devices, you may find some channels don’t work after this. Hopefully most people will figure out how to do it.

On the television

The whole shift to digital TV, and the shutdown of analogue services, has been interesting to watch. Once the benefit of the extra channels were there, it seemed like there was a stampede of people switching.

It’d be interesting to know what the next planned stages are. Will we move towards all HD channels? It’d certainly be nice to make use of the available technology to get that higher quality.

Digital TV is one of those changes that governments implement from time to time to help the country move forward, and it’s nice to know that — despite some rightly highlighting issues with it — it’s gone ahead relatively smoothly, and without the kind of luddite response to change that you see in some other parts of the world.

Other similar changes that spring to mind from recent decades:

The USA’s near-paralysis on some of these types of issues is an interesting contrast. They’re one of a handful of countries steadfastly resisting metric despite the economic benefits, they still have 1 cent coins and $1 notes despite inflation, their telephone numbering system is a complete mess with more and more cities now having multiple area codes

But they have managed to largely migrate from analogue to digital television — and might even have more free-to-air HD channels generally available than we do.

And of course, the USA leads the world in other ways, particularly around innovation, so I don’t know if these things are necessarily holding them back, but you’d have to wonder how much better they’d do if their government was able to push ahead with basic technological reform.