QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded
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Inside No. 9 and Room 104


These are two television shows with a very similar theme. Presently both are available on HBO, where I watched them.

Inside No. 9 is a BBC anthology series were every episode involves the number nine, usually in the form of a location. Karaoke room nine, hotel floor nine, many buildings with address number nine. For many all of the action takes place on a single set, but some branch out a bit. Multiple rooms in a single building, brief outdoor scenes setting location, that sort of stuff. The creators act in all of the episodes, but sometimes just bit parts, the rest of the cast rotates.

Room 104 is an HBO anthology series were every episode takes place in the same location, that of a motel room numbered 104. The time jumps around, and there's some standard room decoration that will indicate what decade, but a few of them stretch that, eg a campfire on the site of a to-be-built building, a therapy session with dolls in a motel room diorama, etc. This is much stricter about location, a large room with a pair of beds, a small closet, and the adjoining bathroom. For this the entire cast rotates.

Both of them hop around genres a bit. In Room 104 there's a noir-ish one that turns supernatural, a musical sword and sorcery episode, an animated episode that looks like kids TV but deals with rape, a "documentary" about a father-son art collaboration, a Faustian bargain, and a nearly wordless dance. Inside No 9 doesn't stretch the genres as far afield, but still seems more creative with the stories.

Inside No. 9 is billed as a "dark comedy". Most episodes have a twist at the end. Death, fraud, and theft are frequent plot points. One episode is very much like a Shakespearian comedy, with separated at birth twins, love story, and a murder plot (and done in iambic pentameter). Some use well-known stories as jumping off points, there's a monkey's paw gimmick in one, another has an art show has echoes of Christie's And Then There Were None. But the flexibility with location allows creativity you can't get with the same motel room over and over.

Room 104 has four seasons of twelve episodes each, and is finished. I felt season one was the weakest.

Room 104 at imdb

Inside No. 9 has five seasons of six episodes each, and a new season has just started in the UK (not available on HBO). There are weak episodes -- I think s1e1 is not very good -- but not particularly weak seasons.

Inside No. 9 at imdb

There's no continuity between episodes, feel free to jump around. And if you don't like one, that doesn't mean you won't like the next. FWIW, there are some out of season things for No 9. I found the web-only episode on youtube, but I didn't think much of it and didn't save the link.

Special Breakfast


Once a month my dogs need to get dosed up. There's a pill for flea and tick prevention and a "treat" for heartworm. Willie hates them. The treat is inedible to him and the pill a terror. He is not tricked by embedding medicine in tasty things like cheese or hot dogs. So how to get him to take it?

Special Breakfast.

This is a literal dog's breakfast of a meal. Crush the pill, finely chop the "treat".

Dog food bowl with medicine.

Add to that some of this and some of that, basically any dog-tasty leftovers in the fridge. Maybe like pesto linguini, grilled chicken, and french fries, then top with some crushed cheese crackers. Looking good, right?

food."

Now add a few pieces of kibble and dress with mayo and water. I use hot water to make it a warm meal. Delicious.

Dog food bowl with medicine, human food, kibble, and dressing.

And that's how Willie manages to tolerate medicine. Hazel, on the other hand loves to eat and will easily accept pills in cheese or the like. She gets Special Breakfast to be fair, not because it's necessary.

Simple Book Binding


Stack of bound PDF print-outs

I like printed documentation. You can add sticky bookmarks, highlight material (I typically use colored pencils for that), annotate the text, and have multiple things open at once easily.

I'd really like to find an easy way to turn a Gutenberg Project book into a decently bound volume through some print on demand service. Getting things like page numbers, headers, footers, and proper margins (need more space at spine than at fore edge!), to say nothing of cover, illustrations, and table of contents makes it hard.

But for smaller works, say things that can print on a few dozen sheets of duplexed paper, that's achievable. First get the document ready for printing. Things that start as PDFs are usually good. Things that are HTML pages are sometimes good, and sometimes need the HTML paired down some.

I print my stuff on a "business" Brother laser printer, the HL L6200DW. In general the monochrome laser printers (single purpose, as opposed to "all in one" scanner/copier/printer ones which are more hit-and-miss) from Brother are a good deal. Thanks to the large amount of printing my wife does for her business, we've run through quite a few. After about 60,000 pages the replacement parts needed start to cost more than buying a new one. Most people won't have that problem. The Brother printers are cheap and Just Work(TM) with Mac, Windows, and Linux. And they print double sided (duplex) automatically.

So print the material duplexed and then neatly collate the output. If you've got less than 25 sheets (50 pages), an ordinary stapler will work to bind the edges. If you have more than that, you need a heavier duty stapler and extra long staples. Swingline makes a few options, but be sure to be careful about staple selection.

Staple close to the edge, six or seven times along the spine. This will make the printout function like a book.

Binding process

Then use a medium thick tape to cover the stapes and bound edge. You can use one peice wide enough to fold around, or multiple strips. This is important to prevent the staples from catching on things (eg fingers) and improves the look of the binding considerably.

You can quite easily print some parts on larger paper and fold them so only one edge staples in. For my Vectrex Service Manual here, I printed the schematics single sided on legal (8.5"x14" paper) in landscape orientation. This is probably close to how the original was done.

Extra wide foldout sheets

The Act of Sewing


laser printed manuscripts stacked

How It Started

cover of final printed book

How It's Going

My wife's book, The Act of Sewing launches this week. Work started a long time ago, with finished manuscript going to the publisher before this covid-19 thing appeared.

This book is for you if you are looking for beginning sewing patterns and want to learn how to adapt patterns to suit your own tastes. Both cosmetic variations and adjusting the fit are covered.

(NB: The patterns are aimed at women's body shapes, but could be adjusted.)