The A To Z Of SFF:- A Is For The Avengers: The TV Series

No, we’re not done yet.

Rob and Clive explore the slick, surreal and sexy world of The Avengers: the John Steed version, that is. Rob gets hot under the collar about a certain leather outfit, and Clive forgets who’s wearing the kinky boots.

Bowlers and brollies at the ready, Listeners!

The A To Z Of SFF respectfully dedicate this episode to the memory of Brian Clemens, whose creative stamp was all over The Avengers and so much great British genre TV.

The A To Z Of SFF: A Is For Avengers: The Marvel Comics Universe

Ok, Cyclo Media is REALLY on an Avengers tip.

This week, Rob and Clive dip their toesies into the very deep water of Marvel’s Avengers comics. From Doctor Druid to The Secret Wars, we cover it all.

Brace yourself, listeners. It’s about to get cosmic.

The A To Z Of SFF: A Is For Avengers: Age Of Ultron

CycloMedia is clearly on an Avengers tip.

Rob and Clive pick apart Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron, rant about the character that should be in there, and find out that it’s not smart to laugh at the idea of AI rights.

And a quick peek at what we’re on about here:

X

Today’s the day. Now is the time. It’s been five years since we had the chance to elect a representative government, fighting hard for our right and privileges, and for the good of every single one of us.

We ballsed that one up good and proper, didn’t we? Time to give it another go.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. I have the cliches here in my cliche bingo box. Voting never changed anything. Whoever you vote for, the government always gets in. If voting did anything, they’d ban it. Blah blah blah HOUSEYYY.

Of course voting changes things. The democratic process is the thing that gave us the forty day working week, paid holidays, the right to tribunal and a fair trial, an end to slavery and discrimination, the vote. In a dizzying period of change between the 1850s and 1970s, the society we know and take for granted was built by people on the streets and in the House of Parliament, who believed that we deserved better and were prepared to risk everything in the pursuit of that dream.

Now, of course, we think we know better. The system has broken, favouring the entitled few, open to abuse. Who’s in charge of changing that? They are. So what’s the point? We protest, and we’re ignored. So best to hide out, grumble a bit and give up.

Anyone that saw the recent BBC documentary series on the inner workings of the House Of Commons would, like me, have been slack-jawed at how out-of-date and out-of-touch the place seemed. Our system of government is filled with loopholes, stifled by tradition, unwilling to change. So what’s to be done?

Well, duh. We vote, and we vote for the party that best covers our needs. If we can’t find one that does, we vote tactically to kick out the people who don’t. If we don’t feel that anyone in government is on our side, we put a big black cross through the ballot paper. It’s called spoiling, and the great thing is that it’s still counted.

A third of the British electorate didn’t vote in 2010. That’s 15 million people who felt so disconnected and disenfranchised by the system that they decided not to be counted. That was the worst thing they could have done. If that 15 million had spoiled their papers (or as I choose to call it, choosing the “none of the above” option), it would have sent an incredibly clear message. We choose to vote for none of you. You don’t represent us. But deciding not to be counted meant that the 15 million chose to be ignored. And that’s a real shame, because 15 million no-votes would have beaten the votes gathered by Labour and The Conservatives. 15 million people rejecting the current system would have been the majority vote.

Imagine the shockwaves that would have sent through the Houses Of Parliament, and then tell me that voting is meaningless.

The thing is, career politicians are terrified of elections. It’s the one time when they have to justify themselves to the public, the one time when they actually have to do something to keep their jobs. The smug, over-stuffed bloater who keeps knocking at your door and shoving leaflets with his smug over-stuffed face through your letterbox? That’s your MP, who you haven’t seen in five years. Guess what? He needs you to vote for him. So don’t ignore him. Open the door. Have a chat. Ask him an uncomfortable question. Look at the fear in his eyes*. That’s the power of democracy.

Now tell me that voting is meaningless.

Today, we have a chance to change the political landscape. We can support the MP who works hard for his constituency, or help to bin the smug fuck who’s put through his second house on expenses. This time, the field is wide open. There’s a chance to get independent voices into Parliament, or to make safe seats less so. If you’re not sure who to vote for, there are a ton of online tools that’ll match your needs and values to a party. You might be surprised at who you support. Even if you just cross out every choice on the ballot paper, you’re making yourself known.

So get yourself to the polling station today. They opened at 7. They’ll be open till 10. You have no reason not to take the time. Today is the day. Now is the time.

You’re in charge. Enjoy the feeling.
*Notice I’m describing your MP as male. The gender skew in Parliament is still deeply biased towards men. Is that a bad thing? Well, it’s certainly unrepresentative to a population that’s pretty much half and half male to female.

The A To Z Of SFF: A Is For Avengers Assemble

Of the spate of superheroing movies that cluttered up the early part of the 21st century, Joss Whedon’s Avengers Assemble was among the best.

With a little urging from Cyclomedia, Rob and Clive look back at this underappreciated gem.

Oh, and while we’re at it…

The Wight Stuff: The Food Of The Isle Of Wight

If you're a foodie, Britain has some amazing places to visit. Scotland is a cornucopia of bounty, from salmon to beef to whisky. Welsh lamb is the world's best, and the welcome and scenery are pretty tidy too. The seafood in Cornwall blows most other places out of the water.

And England, dear England. TLC and I have eaten our way around the country. From Northumberland, breakfasting on that morning's kippers, to rural Shropshire and Ludlow, the beating heart of English grub. We've seen it all, and loved it all.

But there's an English secret when it comes to amazing grub, and I'm here to reveal it. Hands up who thinks of the Isle Of Wight when you consider great British grub?

Well, you should.

OK, some of you may already have something to say on the matter. Yes, the Isle does have a rep when it comes to a certain pungent ingredient most kitchens would suffer without. But there's much more to enjoy. Especially as the island itself is only just waking up to the realisation that it has so much on its plate.

Let us consider the Isle Of Wight. A diamond-shaped island in the Solent, about 4 miles off the Hampshire coast, small enough to cycle from nose to tail in a day. It's drier and warmer than the mainland, with a microclimate centred around the southern town of Ventnor that's basically a Mediterranean suntrap. This means the island has a longer growing season and better weather than some parts of Northern Spain.

With fertile land and perfect growing conditions for a whole host of goodies, it should be no surprise that the Isle Of Wight is a bit of a food basket. It's lush and green, with sheep and cattle grazing on every hillside. The local asparagus is as fresh as you get (and disappears bloody quickly–find a good local deli and be prepared to snag every bunch you can lay your mitts on).

The food culture is pub-centric, which always pleases me as I get to try out local ales alongside my fresh-caught fish or local lamb. There are three breweries on the island, and it's rare that a hostelry won't have at least one of their beers on offer. If not, never fear: Goddard's and Island Brewery have a solid bottling operation, and you can pick up a little of what you fancy in most shops. Goddard's Ale Of Wight and Fuggle-De-Dum are personal favourites, but as between them the three breweries have fifteen ales on offer you have plenty of opportunities for research. They even have a mini-beer festival in May, in the grounds of the local steam railway museum. And let's not forget Quarr Abbey, whose Benedictine monks brew their own delicious take on Belgian Trappist ales.

Viniculture is also taking root on the Isle Of Wight. Adgestone and Rosemary Vineyards produce cracking whites and sparkling wines, unsurprising given the similarity of the terroir to the Champagne region. They're small but growing businesses, who offer a great range of juices and vinegars alongside the more traditional offerings.

And then, of course, there's garlic. Brought over by Free French troops stationed there during WW2, the stinking rose flourishes in the island's rich soil. Now The Garlic Farm is the success story of food on the Isle of Wight: 80% of garlic grown in the UK comes from the fields around Newchurch. It's a tourist destination in its own right, with a brilliant restaurant serving all sorts of garlicky goodies. I can heartily recommend the hot dog, as long as you don't have any heavy activity planned for the rest of the day. The gift shop is one I found difficult to leave. TLC and I are going to be vampire-free for a while.

The island has its own pace of life, slower and less keen to impress than many food destinations in the UK. Chatting to locals, we quickly came to realise that it's taken the Island a while to wake up to its true potential. Eateries like Salty's in Yarmouth, and the amazing Red Lion in Freshwater are only now offering the simple, locally-sourced grub that foodies like me crave. Delis are starting to pop up, but they're still comparitively rare. Wierdly, the best place to source locally caught meat and fish is The Co-Op. That, I'm sure, is in the process of changing. To be fair, I didn't get a chance to check out the one Waitrose on the island. I bet that's got some treats.

We knew, going into it, that there was going to be some good eating on the Isle Of Wight. We were not disappointed. It's a place that's coming into its own as a food destination, and with easy access via the ferry, not a pain to get to, either. We're already making plans for our next visit.

And I've not even mentioned the history and culture of the place yet. That's a whole other blog post…