Grimm TV

Title card for "Grimm"

I’d like to tell you how fucked up German broadcast television is.

Really, it’s an insult to viewers.

There’s no continuity. Unless it’s some staged “reality show” or “docu-drama” featuring a local wanna-be starlet with big tits or a Promi washed-up celebrity we’ve never heard of, it’s impossible to follow any weekly TV series. Characters’ age, voices, hair styles and relationships change abruptly. The dead can reappear at any given moment.

No, we’re not talking about marathon sessions of “Walking Dead”, this is regular TV programming where an Ashton Kutcher episode of “Two and a Half Men” immediately follows one in which Charlie Sheen is very much alive — as if the producers of an evening’s light entertainment had intended viewers to track parallel universes, alternative time lines and cases of déjà vu. You could, for instance, be sitting down to watch the next three Season 8 episodes of “NCIS” (because we were somewhere in Season 8 last week, right?) but, instead, you’re shown three random episodes from previous seasons where the deceased are back on active duty. Continue reading

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Racial diversity in a group of hikers

Once in a while there’s a trending topic on Twitter that just grabs everyone’s attention.

Last weekend the #tt was Explain A Film Plot Badly.

“Racially diverse group journeys to a volcano to destroy jewellery”, for example, did a stellar job of badly summing up the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Imaginations run wild, plots become riddles. The trend goes viral. Continue reading

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Goodbye, VHS

Metres and metres of half-inch tape

Or: R.I.P. V.H.S. – part III 

Farewell, VHS. The time has finally come to lay you to rest.

I remember the day when we happily welcomed you into our home. It was 1989, and you were all grown up by then.

You were built your very own little nook, hidden away from those evil magnetic fields, the harsh rays of the sun, and the prying fingers of unwanted visitors. We dressed you up in hand-made clothing. People admired the custom covers made just for you.

Yes, VHS, you were well cared for. In return, you gave us many hours of viewing pleasure — as and when we chose.

While you helped unshackle us from the constraints of scheduled TV programming, you were also able to gleefully swallow the superior dish that was digital satellite television and afterwards regurgitate those same morsels in such a manner that they were still nutritious (although less tasty) with each play. You were entrusted with the safe-keeping of mass-market entertainment, historical artefacts, and unique personal memories. And when that wasn’t enough, we went out to a store to get you more media to nibble on — although, admittedly, binging on five “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies in one sitting was quite a bit to swallow.

But you knew the end was close at hand. You saw it coming. By the beginning of the new millennium your functions were reduced to gathering dust and telling the time as a new generation of shiny, digital offspring took your place in both purpose and prime shelf space. Nobody noticed that you had quietly starved in an old-age home – nor could we be bothered to scoop up your remains. Until now.

It was April 2014 that everything related to VHS was rounded up for the final curtain call of a play dubbed “VHS2AVI”. Continue reading

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Internet killed the video star

CAT-5 versus VHS: And the winner is...

While ripping what’s left of my VHS collection I was reminded of the tedium of physical media — especially that of visual media: Movies. Videos.

No sooner had I transferred the first batch of videos onto my digital media player’s hard disk did it occur to me how convenient it is to pick a selection from an à la carte menu and play whatever I had fed the device with.  There’s no indecisive head-tilting in front of a shelf of movies, no boxes to put them back into, no rewinding of video cassettes, no tapes getting eaten by an ageing VCR — all that falls away.

In fact, halfway through the ripping process I asked myself, “why am I even doing this?” Continue reading

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One decade at Discogs

Niki Belucci for Discogs!

So today is my 10th Oggsday.

I’ve been a member of for a full decade.

It has become as much a part of my daily online regimen as checking my email or Twitter feed. No other site has grabbed my attention in the way that Discogs has, nor has any other online resource infuriated me in the same manner.

Discogs is as fascinating as it is frustrating.

But why did I sign up for the torture? How did it get this far? Continue reading

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Han shot first

A long time ago...

The Star Wars saga is as much a part of my DNA as is the very air that I breathe.

In fact, it’s so imbued that I happen to have three versions of the original trilogy.

It shouldn’t surprise me then that it would be on “Star Wars Day”, May the fourth, that — as a matter of sheer and utter coincidence — today would be the day when I start ripping my old VHS copies. Honestly, I didn’t realise this until later!

There’s nothing I could add to what hasn’t already been said or written about the Star Wars movies. They are legend, loved so much by so many that George Lucas’ tinkering in the late 90′s was seen not as an act of completion but, rather, an act of vandalism to our collective culture. Han Solo shot first. Period!

Continue reading

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VHS digitisation: Theory before practice

Duplication by any means is prohibited

Ripping a bunch of VHS tapes is a most peculiar undertaking.

It’s a project I’ve been waiting to start for several years — a task which (lack of personal experience with PC-based video work aside) I’ve therefore come prepared for:

  • VCR? Check.
  • VHS tapes? Check.
  • Adequate PC? Check.
  • Video grabber? Check.
  • Digital video playback device? Check.
  • Video grabbing and editing software? Erhmm… waitaminnit!

Being late to this particular party, one could’ve expected that much of the rudimentary groundwork had already been covered by others, with the common pitfalls marked out and FAQs on the topic being widely available. Suitable software should be a pound a GB, and there must be many useful, all-in-one programs for what by now must surely be a common task. Self-proclaimed experts should’ve dished out reams of advice.

No, not quite. Continue reading

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Remembering the Inner Sleeve Record Library


The Inner Sleeve Record Library was exactly that: not a library where one would get books, but one where you could borrow records. Vinyl records. Black gold.

It was located at No. 4, Pretoria Street, Hillbrow, Johannesburg.

Though I remember not the circumstances under which it was first discovered, what I do recall is the sheer delight when I did.

This was the mother lode! Continue reading

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