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Thing of the week: Comedy

We found ourselves in London on Saturday evening. Being at a bit of a loose end, and in search of cheap entertainment, we decided to visit a comedy club. We’ve been to The Comedy Store before and really enjoyed it, but I didn’t recognise anybody on the bill this time and the ticket prices seem to have crept up a bit since the last time we visited. Looking bit further afield, I discovered Chris McCausland was headlining at a small comedy club called “The Funny Side…”, somewhere near Covent Garden. I’d heard Chris perform on a Richard Herring podcast last year, been really impressed by his “5 Petes in our pub” routine, and had made a mental note to check him out if the opportunity ever arose. Tickets were only £12.50. Sorted!

“The Funny Side of Covent Garden” is situated on an upper floor of a nice old pub called The George, on the junction of The Strand and Fleet Street. It’s maybe a bit of a stretch putting “Covent Garden” in the name, since it’s just over half a mile / 10 minutes walk from the market itself … but, hey, I’m not a local, what do I know? 🙂 … it was pretty easy to find anyway.

The club is fairly cosy, and seats about 80 (not sure where I pulled that number from — think I must’ve seen it on their website). They don’t issue physical tickets; a booking via the web site gets you added to the evening’s guest list, and your name is checked at the door. The staff were really friendly, and showed us to our seats upon arrival. There’s a bar at the back of the room (£6 for a pint of guinness and a half of coke — eek!), though you need to have your hand stamped to exit the room if you need to venture out to the toilets(!)

The stand-up night follows the standard formula of 3 acts and a compere. The night we visited was hosted by Jonny Freeman. I have to admit, I’d never heard of him before, but apparently he appears in a kids TV show about spies, and this is him looking a bit like Nick Cave and advertising Trebor mints:

He was a really, really good compere; very quick-witted, brilliant at bantering with the audience, and a natural host. I was totally impressed… impressed to a degree where you think: “we’ll probably be sitting on the sofa watching this guy on telly one day, and turn to each other and say – hey, remember that time we saw this guy in that back room of that pub, before he got hugely famous?”. Good stuff. He certainly seems destined for big things.

First act on the bill was Rhodri Rhys. His set was a bit of a mixed bag, and he probably didn’t endear himself by opening with a line about “It’s so good to be back in civilisation, I was in Middlesbrough last week…” before going on to mock the ways of simple Northerners. He then moved into self-deprecating material about the Welsh (sex with sheep. yawn.) and some semi-misogynistic stuff about the prettiness (or lack thereof) of Welsh girls. The set improved later, with some observational comedy about Dinner Parties, Mountain Climbing and Nudism festivals… but never quite hit the mark for me. Not an awful routine, by any stretch, but I guess a lot of it just wasn’t _quite_ my kind of humour.

Second on the bill was Roger Monkhouse, who was brilliant. My favourite act of the night. There seems to be precious little of him online, but here’s a snippet from YouTube:

His routine mostly covered the woes of being a middle aged male, the bleakness of the economic situation and other depressing things like that… but delivered in a disarmingly warm, likeable, and irresistibly-genial sort of way, with a healthy amount of audience interaction and quick-witted improvisation. His slot seemed to fly by — was it really as long as the other two guys?? I’m definitely going to keep my eyes open for a chance to see him again.

And finally, Chris McCausland, whose routine about “5 petes in my pub” was instrumental in convincing us to go to this particular club on this particular night… and which he rather obligingly opened his show with:

McCausland is — apparently — the only professional comedian in the UK who is blind… but while his disability is referenced in a fair bit of his material, it never feels like it’s the overbearing feature of the comedy, or like the guy is specifically trading on being “THE blind comedian”. He’s just a really good observational comedian, who also happens to be blind. He’s got an engaging, warm style of delivery, and the set was highly enjoyable. Good headliner. And the 5 Petes thing still made me laugh the second time around 🙂

Verdict: An excellent night out, and very reasonably-priced… I’ll definitely consider another visit when we’re back in the city.

Best bit: Roger Monkhouse.

Worst bit: Wooden dining chairs which felt a little bit hard after a couple of hours, and the fact that the (rather large) lady sat to my right had a buttock encroaching onto my seat for at least two thirds of the show. Awkward! :S

Official Web Site: The Funny Side of Covent Garden

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Pie, Mash & Jellied Eels.

We were in London this weekend… and for no reason other than it seemed like a really good idea at the time, we decided to visit a traditional London Pie & Mash shop for our lunch.

We went to Manze’s in Chapel Market… a decision mostly influenced by 3 key factors:

(1) It wasn’t too far away.

(2) Time Out have it listed on their page of “London’s best Pie and Mash shops“.

(3) Giffgaff’s mobile data service was borked that morning (grrr!) and Chapel Market was one of the few places I thought I could successfully navigate to without the aid of cybernetic augmentation (AKA GPS and google maps!)

Fortunately, my sense of direction prevailed, and we got there easily. The shop looks like this:

Manzies, Chapel Market

And, through the magic all-pervasiveness of google street view, you can even have a virtual wander around the shop interior. Here’s the table we sat at:

Isn’t technology wonderful?

Anyway, the place certainly looked like the real deal. But what was the food like? First up, pie and mash:

Pie and mash is a traditional East London dish, dating from the 19th century. Back in days of yore, pretty much the only meat that working class Londoners could afford to eat was eel — a fish that thrived in the filthy waters of the river Thames. The eel would be served in a pie, along with cheap mashed potato, and accompanied by a sauce known as “liquor”. The liquor was a green sauce, made from the water that the eels were cooked in, flavoured up with parsley and other herbs.

As the Thames’ eel population declined though overfishing, cheap cuts of mutton or beef were minced up and used in the pies instead… but the liquor remained. Nowadays, the pie you get with pie and mash will almost always be minced beef, but it’ll still be served with the traditional liquor. It seems like a bit of an odd combination, if you don’t know the history. (Actually, it’s a bit of an odd combination even if you DO know the history).

We were pretty hungry, and opted for “large” pies… (you could also opt for “small” or two “small” pies on one plate – which is — confusingly — actually a bigger serving than the large pie). The mashed potato is traditionally scraped along one side of the plate (just like you see in the photo); I can only guess that’s to act as a kind of dam for the liquor, and to make the plate easier to carry without spilling its contents.

Verdict: I really wasn’t very impressed. I like pies. A lot. And I’m also quite fond of mashed potato. And this is a shop which specialises in selling those EXACT two things. I was, therefore, expecting some kind of near-religious experience. What I was actually served was some of the blandest mashed potato I’ve ever eaten, and a barely-passable mince and veg pie.

The potato didn’t have any flavour to it at all… no hint of butter, or salt, or milk… or even the flavour of a particularly good mashing potato. It was just white, mashed vegetable matter. As for the pie; I don’t know if that’s how it’s *meant* to be served, but the top was nicely browned, but the bottom crust was barely cooked – it was more like the texture of pasta than baked pastry … a bit like if you’ve cooked a frozen pie but got the oven temperature wrong, so the top burns and the bottom barely cooks at all. The filling was OK; the meat was cooked through, but the root vegetables were a bit tough. In summary: not a particularly edifying pie experience at all. I could walk into any Newcastle chip shop, and get a pie ten times as tasty as that one, for half the price.

The only redeeming feature of the dish was the liquor, which at least had a bit of flavour about it. But… on the whole, it was probably the blandest and least-interesting plate of food I’ve ever paid for in a restaurant/cafe.

However, Pie and Mash shops are not just famous for their pie and mash. They also sell THIS epicurean cockney delight:

Jellied Eels! … and, obviously, we couldn’t pay a visit to a Pie and Mash shop without sampling this stuff too. Though we decided a single bowl shared between the two of us would probably be sufficient for our needs 😉

I’ve never had eels before. The flesh wasn’t too bad — it tasted like cheap, white fish; you’d certainly never mistake it for cod or haddock, but it was perfectly palatable, and might even make a tasty dish if it was served hot in a nice sauce. Jellied eels are, however, served chilled… and — as such — taste pretty much like what they are: cold, white-fleshed, not-quite-premier-league fish.

The skin was slimy, fatty, and unappetising in every way … and quite a chunk of each slice of eel was occupied by the spine of the fish … so it was quite picky stuff to eat. The jelly — which is apparently made to a different secret recipe by each pie and mash shop — just tasted like slightly-briny water to me.

We picked our way through the white meat, and decided we’d probably had a sufficient amount of jellied eel for one lifetime.

The total bill came to thirteen-pound-something. It was certainly a memorable experience, and at least I can now claim to have eaten Pie, Mash, and Jellied eels in an authentic London Pie and Mash shop … but I couldn’t help looking enviously at the customers of the branch of McDonalds three doors down as we made our escape…

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Newcastle Gamers – 13th September

Bit of a landmark visit for me, this one. My first ever visit to Newcastle Gamers was the late-October meeting of 2011… and last night’s session was the early October meeting of 2012… which means I’ve now clocked up a full year of attendance. I could probably fill up a whole post with my reflections on my first year with the club… so, yeah, I’ll probably bore you all with that in the near future. But for the time being, here’s a round-up of the stuff I played last night…

Colonial

Those are my elbows in that picture. Olly’s Camera is very slimming!

Following my previous Newcastle Gamers session, in which I played Dungeon Lords and Ora & Labora (a pair of lengthy and moderately heavyweight titles) back-to-back, I’d kind of gone to the club this week with the intention of only playing short-to-medium-length games. This master plan lasted a grand total of… well, about 10 minutes? In my defence, John B. (the game’s owner) claimed that the game was around 90 mins to 2 hours long. And it possibly is, if you’re up-to-speed with the rules… but, colonial is a fairly complex beastie, and I think it took us the best part of an hour just to set everything up and get through the rules explanation… and then there was the obvious overheads of playing a complex/unfamiliar game for the first time. So… yeah, it took quite a while. Oops.

John owns the first edition of the game. A second edition of the game is currently in the final stages of production, which (amidst much chuntering on the Board Game Geek forums from people who bought the first edition) contains significantly-altered rules, and slightly different components. John has modified his copy with paste-ups to match the new edition rules, and I think this was the first time he’s tried it out this way — so the game (as played) was pretty much new to everybody at the table.

The game’s theme — which you might have guessed from the title/photograph — involves the countries of renaissance Europe sending explorers and military forces around the world to colonise, subdue and exploit the natives of various foreign territories, in an attempt to become rich and prestigious(?) in the process. Mechanics-wise, the game is a very nice mix of simultaneous role selection, risk management, and area-control/empire-building. Colonise the world, secure the most beneficial trade routes, maintain a military deterrent, thwart internal uprisings, win victory points.

I’m not usually a huge fan of RiskTM-like games (are you ready for the obvious pun? “I’m a bit risk-averse”! *badum-CHING!*) … and yes, I realise I massively over-generalise by dumping everything involving spreading-an-empire-over-a-map-of-the-world into one amorphous category … but this one was pretty compelling, with the role-selection mechanism (12 possible roles to pick from each turn, from which you’ll play 5, and various of them being mutually exclusive by virtue of sharing the same physical card) seeming particularly well-constructed. Everything makes good thematic sense, and the artwork is a real treat.

I won the game, with a last-minute colony-building rush. I doubt I would’ve got away with that tactic against more experienced players — I’d left myself wide open to military intervention in the last round, with a very weak naval force — but we’d been playing a fairly gentle game, without much war/aggression, and (luckily for me) nobody had placed an attacking card high in their selection during that round.

So, yeah, pretty enjoyable title. I’m not sure it’s one that I’d rush to play again — mostly because there are other genres that I enjoy a lot more than this type of game, and which I’d probably pick in preference — but I’m quite pleased to have given it a go.

Next: Hanabi

Hanabi

I took a big bag full of games with me to this session and — ironically — the only one that got played is the one that would’ve fit into my jacket pocket(!).

Hanabi is an odd game. But odd in a good way 🙂

It’s a co-operative card game, for 2-5 players. Thematically, players are supposed to be putting on a fireworks show, and trying to please the audience with a perfectly-synchronised display … but, it’s a bit of a weak thematic association for an otherwise-abstract game, and I guess mostly just there to make the components look pretty.

The core of the game is simple: There’s a deck of cards, with 5 different coloured suits. Each suit contains cards with values from 1 to 5 in differing proportions (getting rarer as the numbers increase). Each player is dealt a hand of 4 cards.

On your turn, you have a choice. You can play a card into a pile in the middle of the table … cards need to be played in numeric order, and into 5 piles representing each of the coloured suits… so, a pile needs to start with a 1, then have a 2 placed on it, etc etc, until you place card number 5 and that part of the fireworks display is successfully completed.

Alternatively, you can discard a card from your hand, and pick up a new one from the deck.

All seems simple so far, right?

Well, Hanabi has a very clever twist to it… the type of twist which — when you reveal it to a table full of experienced gamers — makes their faces instantly light up in an “oh wow… this is clever” kind of way. And the twist is both simple, and elegant:

You can see everybody’s cards except your own.

You hold your cards in a fan, facing away from you, so that you can only see the backs, and when you pick up a new card, you take great care to not see what it is yourself (very counter-instinctive!) … everybody else knows what you’re holding, and you know what everybody else has, but… the decisions you make will be entirely dependent on the clues given to you by other players, and by keeping careful track of what’s already been played.

So… about those clues. There’s a system by which — instead of playing a card, or discarding a card — you can give a clue to another player. Giving a clue costs a clue token… and these come in a limited supply (you can replenish them by discarding cards). The type of clues you’re allowed to give are very specific: You can either tell a player about a particular colour he’s holding (e.g. “you have a blue card here, here, and here”), or about a particular number he’s holding (e.g. “you have a number 3 here, and here”). The information you give must always be “complete”… e.g. you can’t tell him one particular card is blue, without telling him all the other blue cards he’s holding are also blue.

Using a combination of the clues you’ve been given, knowledge of what’s already been played, knowledge of what’s in other people’s hands, and anything you can infer from the context in which particular information was given to you — “why did John just tell me those cards were twos? That doesn’t make deductive sense… Maybe he means it’s safe to play either of those twos right now…” — you try to complete the 5 firework sequences, making no fewer than 3 errors, otherwise the show is a disaster and you fail the game without scoring.

It’s a clever game, and a very unique bit of design; it’s a safe bet that you’ve never played anything quite like this before, and that’s quite a rare thing to say of new games. It’s also notable by being a co-operative game that can’t be played solo, and thereby can’t fall foul of “dominant player” syndrome, as *nobody* in the game is ever in full possession of all the facts. Impressive.

The only thing that — for me — brings Hanabi up a tiny bit short is that there’s a tipping point in the game, at which you realise you’re not going to get a “perfect” game any more, and that you’re now only playing for a good score. Prior to that point, the tension in the game is *brilliant* — people audibly groan with torment over the decisions they’re making. They pull faces. They are visibly anguished. You are genuinely nervous when you reach for a risky card… but once the group has made it’s first major error — and a perfect score is no longer viable — the game seems significantly flatter. I suppose you could stop playing at that point and start over… but you kind of want to play it out anyway and see if you make it through to the end with a reasonable score.

In this particular game, we had an outright fail… 3 misfires, meaning the show is (thematically) abandoned in the face of a booing audience, and you get nil points.

Good fun though… and an enjoyable enough experience to prompt me to try a second game later in the evening.

But first:

Alien Frontiers (with Factions Expansion):

From one type of colonialism to another…

I like Alien Frontiers … in terms of games-I-don’t-own-but-which-I-really-enjoy-playing, this is pretty high in the ranks. Actually, I _do_ own the iOS version now, which is OK for partially scratching the itch … but the AI is a bit rubbish, and nothing really beats sitting around a table for a proper face-to-face session.

Alien Frontiers is a dice-for-worker-placement game which I’ve covered previously, so I won’t go into the basics again… but this is the first time I’ve played with the “factions” expansion, so I’ll talk about that here.

“Factions” adds a bunch of modules to the base game — I’m not sure how mix-and-match-able the individual modules are, but we played with the full shooting match, which comprised:

Agendas – “hidden” objective cards. These give you secret ways to pick up one or two (or three!) victory points during the game, or at the game’s end. Some seem to be way harder to achieve than others… but you can swap cards from your hand by visiting the marketplace orbital station, so a duff draw isn’t too much of a long-term hinderance. I quite liked the idea of these, as I can see them mitigating the end-game AP that the game is often prone to.

New alien tech cards – Not sure about these. They certainly add variety and new tactical possibilities to the game (I’d attribute my victory in this game to the fact that I got the “experimental FTL drive” in my initial draw, and totally milked it for 6’s so that I could repeatedly use-and-block the terraforming station). The downside is that they seem to severely dilute the cards that allow you to move the influence fields around the planet. In my previous games of Alien Frontiers, these have been a huge feature of the end-game. This time, they didn’t even come onto the board!

Some Faction Boards

Factions – the titular feature of the expansion is the factions module. Each player is given a faction board. This grants that particular player a unique special power, and also adds a new space station to the game which any player can dock a ship at to exercise the station’s unique ability. As an example, the faction that I was randomly allocated was the “New Gaia Engineers”. This gave me the special perk of being able to take the entrance fee any time another player uses the terraforming station (not a lot of use, as it turned out, since I was the only player who used the terraforming station!), and — as a perk for landing a ship at my New Gaia station in a turn — a player who then used the terraforming facility would have a 50/50 chance of their ship surviving the experience (which was a lot more useful!). Obviously, none of this will make much sense to anybody who hasn’t played much Alien Frontiers, so for those folks, the short explanation of factions is : “Woo, Perks!”.

The factions module seems OK. It tweaks the core gameplay a fair bit; adds more options, and you’re going to get a different mix of factions every game, so I can see it massively improving the game’s longevity for seasoned players. But I guess I’m probably at the stage of play where I’m still appreciating the core game for the nice, elegant, well-designed gaming experience that it is … and at the moment, the idea of adding extra stations to the mix doesn’t really do much for me.

5th Player – Almost forgot! The expansion adds game material for a 5th — purple — player. I’m not convinced that this is a good idea (but, can’t really complain, since I was the 5th person to arrive at the table, so without this add-on I wouldn’t have actually got a game!!).

The 5th player “issue” isn’t so much a problem of downtime (true, there’s a little bit more of it, but not overwhelmingly so) — but more to do with the impact that a 5th player has on the ore market. Ore was painfully scarce in this game, with the market permanently locked up with level-6 dice, and I’m pretty sure that’ll be a common feature of 5-player games. It changes the game a lot. Doesn’t break it… but definitely gives you a very different experience to a game where ore is more abundant. Hmmm. Not keen.

Off-the-cuff Verdict: Agenda cards are an instantly-appealing addition, and the factions will likely grow on me once I’ve got a few more “standard” games under my belt and am looking for more gameplay variety. The alien tech cards and 5th player seem to have a far more radical effect on the game than they instinctively should (though maybe we just had a particularly odd draw of tech cards in this game). However, on balance, this seems like a decent expansion.

And… following an outright rush-build tactic, I won my second game of the night. Which was nice 😉

Once we’d finished playing Alien Frontiers, the conversation turned to Hanabi (which I’d originally played at a different table, with different people), so I suggested another game. Folks seemed keen and — well, it’s always nice to get your money’s worth from a new game — so out it game again…

Hanabi (again)

Hanabi

Similar sort of starting experience to the earlier session: explain the game, reveal the big twist, and watch big grins spread over the faces of people when the concept strikes home 🙂

This game went better than the earlier one (perhaps the cards were kinder?) … we avoided the 3 failure counters, but lost the opportunity to complete the blue firework when a second blue 4 was discarded mid-game. Nevertheless, we forged onward, and ended the game with a score of 18 (out of 25) … which, according to the chart in the rule book corresponds to: “Excellent, your display charms the crowd”. Could’ve been worse.

Fun game… at first blush, it seems maddeningly difficult, but I guess it’ll become easier if you play it with the same people over time, and get accustomed to the type of clues/group-think that emerges from repeat attempts. It’s certainly a very unique gaming experience, and on that basis alone I’d recommend it as a title that every seasoned gamer should try it at least once.

* * * * * * *

The second game of Hanabi wrapped up just before midnight… I’ve no idea where the evening went; Colonial seemed like a long game, but the others flew past(!)

Highlight: Giving Hanabi it’s debut play — it’s always nice to get a new game on the table for the first time — though it was good to finally experience Alien Frontiers Factions first-hand too.

Lowlight: Not playing John F’s new copy of Pillars of the Earth… (he kindly offered to delay the start for me, but the game of Colonial I was locked into wasn’t showing any sign of ending, so I thought it best to pass on the opportunity). Oh well… hopefully there’ll be future opportunities! 🙂

CREDITS:
The in-game pics were snapped by Olly, and appear via the Newcastle Gamers Google+ Group. Other pics were gratuitously stolen from manufacturer promo shots. Newcastle Gamers meets on the second and last Saturday of the month. Usual cost is £3 (or £1 for concessions), but your first visit is free … check the G+ group for more info.

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Telescope

With all this exciting space-type stuff in the news of late, I’ve had the urge to turf my telescope out of the garage and find out what sort of state it’s in.

My trusty old telescope has been woefully neglected for a few years … I did drag it out a few months ago, spontaneously, in the middle of the night, because my brother-in-law was visiting and he had a sudden desire to have a look at the stars(!). Sadly, this occasion mostly just made me realise precisely how much I’ve forgotten about astronomy (and — for that matter — precisely how much I’ve forgotten about how to set up and operate my ‘scope!). We did manage to see _some_ stuff (a very fuzzy venus, and a couple of star clusters)… but the telescope’s tracking and optics were noticeably off, and the sky conditions weren’t really ideal for seeing anything particularly exciting that night anyway.

Nevertheless, the experience was enough to prompt me to think about re-aquainting myself with the hobby a bit later in the year, once the skies got a bit darker.

It’s now a bit later in the year, and the skies have got a bit darker.

This is my telescope. It’s a Newtonian telescope, with computer-controlled tracking and a 130mm (5 inch) aperture. There’s a truism with amateur astronomy which says that no matter how big a telescope you have, you always wish you’d bought the next size up… but it’s a decent little scope, which had very good reviews at around the time I bought it, and I’ve seen some pretty nifty things through it.

I wasn’t really sure what sort of state it would be in, as I haven’t examined it (in daylight, at least) for quite a while. Newtonian telescopes use a very high-quality, precision-ground mirror to capture light, and after a number of years, the surface of these mirrors tends to tarnish a bit, and they don’t work very well any more. Getting your mirrors shiny again is a time-consuming and/or expensive process… so if the mirror was looking grubby, this whole project (which I’m keen to do… but no *so* keen that I actually want to throw a lot of money at it) would pretty much be a non-starter. Fortunately, I was pleased to discover that the primary mirror still looks bright, shiny and new (at least to my casual eye!). ‘Phew.

Next task: Sorting out the mirror alignment. Because the mirrors in these things are a bit on the delicate side, and because of awkward physical considerations like material expansion and stuff like that, they can’t be bolted firmly into place … instead, they’re suspended on a system of clips, springs, and screws, which tend to move around a bit over time, and require periodic adjustment. Having been left in an unheated garage for a few years (and therefore subjected to some variable temperatures and a fair bit of expansion movement), my primary mirror was *way* off alignment… and I wasn’t entirely sure that the secondary mirror was quite where it should be either.

It takes a fair bit of fiddling, skill and practice to achieve an optimal alignment. Or, failing that… TECHNOLOGY!

Fortunately, I have one of these things:

This is a laser collimator (“Collimation” being a fancy word for “getting all your telescope optics in alignment”), and it makes mirror alignment really easy. It mounts where your eyepiece would normally go, and shines a laser beam down your telescope…

If your mirrors are all perfectly positioned, the beam’s exit path and return path should be identical… and the laser will shine back in on itself. There’s a plate inside the collimator where you can see the beam shining back towards its source… in this (somewhat fuzzy – sorry!) pic, you can see the beam hitting just a millimetre or so below the hole – a couple of screw-turns later, the red dot disappeared back into it’s source, and the telescope was collimated.

…well, actually, that makes it all sound considerably easier than it actually was; I haven’t done this for a few years and it took quite a while — and considerable experimentation — to remember how all the screws and adjustments work. It’s good working practice to tilt the telescope towards the floor while you’re adjusting things … so that if you end up dropping a tool, or screw, or whatever, it doesn’t fall down the tube and hit the mirror. This proved to be sound advice, as I fumbled an alan key once or twice during the process. The disadvantage: back-ache from bending over the tube for a prolonged period. Doh! Still, at least a sore back will fix itself … a dinged mirror would’ve been a more formidable problem.

And so, with my mirrors in perfect alignment, I decided that this was enough science (/back-ache) for one day. Next time: sorting out the spotting scope.

(to be continued…)

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VSauce

Some footage that I shot at the World Gurning Championship got used in an episode of (popular YouTube series) VSauce this week…

…albeit originally without any kind of credit (naughty!!).

After some gentle prompting, VSauce back-linked to my original YouTube clip and the corresponding page on the Calendar Customs website. Interestingly — and despite the fact that both links are right next to each other in the video description text — the web analytics for calendarcustoms.com aren’t showing any significant upsurge in traffic …whereas my YouTube video is up from 17,000 views to 27,000 views (and rising) in just a couple of days.

There might be an interesting lesson to be learned there about the efficacy of linking outside of YouTube’s ecosystem vs linking to other videos.

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