my adelaide fringe picks 2018

my adelaide fringe picks 2018
Guess what time it is!

Okay, obviously you don't have to guess... and if you've been here a while you know that the beginning of December marks my annual Adelaide Fringe Festival post.

The online version of the guide dropped last Friday and I spent a good chunk of the day going through it all.

I will say that one of two things (or a combination of the two) happened while I was going through everything... obviously this year I'm on a more restricted budget, and that may have factored into whether or not I put things on the first cut shortlist, but I honestly think that there just weren't as many things I was especially interested in this time around. The first cut list was only 27 shows, which isn't really a lot when you compare it to the 41 shows from last year.

There was also a major dearth of Shakespeare related shows. I think last year was definitely an aberration with the number of shows, but I struggled to really find much this time.

And there are only five shows this year that I'm going to all on my ownsome.

There are some familiar faces and names on the list once again... Kaput, A Night at the Musicals, Raw Shakespeare, Dirk Darrow, Gravity and Other Myths, Sound and Fury and the boys from Elixr. But some of them are bringing new shows or shows I haven't seen before, or I just haven't seen them in a while and I wondered how the show had changed.

There are definitely some wild cards in the pack though, including one I was pretty sure I'd dropped off the list at some point, but really didn't remember that that was the case until after I'd bought the ticket... so we'll see how that goes. But as the second rule of my 7 Steps For Getting The Most Out Of The Fringe says: Take a chance of something new.

The full list of shows for this year is:
  • Kaput: Slapstick and silent clowning at its finest: Tom Flanagan amazes, delights and leaves audiences in stitches as he pays homage to the greats Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton in this one-man acrobatic comedy for all ages.
  • Flesh and Bone: It explodes on to the stage as if Shakespeare was alive and well and living in a tower block in East London. Feast your eyes upon the depravity, triumphs and utter hilarity of the underprivileged in a vivid and fast-paced ride through a working class estate which fuses Shakespeare-inspired lyricism with cockney accents.
  • The Bridge: A post-apocalyptic tale in which an anonymous man and woman search for salvation and the remnants of human civilization under the beaconing arch of the Golden Gate Bridge. Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, it's a story of love and survival embellished with song, shadow puppetry, and Christopher Walken.
  • Heathers The Musical: A hilarious, heartfelt and homicidal new show based on the greatest teen comedy of all time. With its moving love story, laugh-out-loud comedy and unflinching look at the joys and anguish of high school, Heathers will be the most popular new musical in town. Are you in, or are you out?
  • The Displaced: A collaboration between seven circus artists. It conveys the beautiful and ugly, the devotion and play, and the chaos and calm. The acrobats invite audiences into their world, a world where there is no conformity. The acrobats are individual bodies and nothing else, their thoughts influence emotions and they work together as one.
  • Attrape Moi! (Catch Me!): These fearless Canadians have been wowing audiences and critics around the world with their spectacular brand of radical feats, extreme acrobatics, breath-taking trampoline turns, awesome parkour and cheeky comedy.
  • A Night At The Musicals: Jonny Woo and Le Gateau Chocolat will drag through the back catalogue of fabulous musicals for a raucous night of ballsy ballads, delightful duets and slaughtered show tunes. High glammah, intense assholism, divine costumes and raggedy choreography are guaranteed in a night you’ll never forget!
  • Grimm Tales: Not mincing any of our words here - the Brothers Grimm are really, really grim...Hansel and Gretel are murderously abused (almost) and Ashputtel (Cinderella ) watches the seriously ugly stepsisters lop off some of their own flesh to win that Prince.
  • When There's No Strength In Men: On an intimate and raw stage, some of Adelaide's best young Shakespearian actresses bring new life to the famous roles of 'Lady MacBeth', 'Princess Katherine of France', 'Rosalind' and 'Orlando,' with stories told through their character's eyes - strength in the weakness of the men around them. 
  • 6 Quick Dick Tricks: A Dirk Darrow Investigation: A mind-blowing mentalist collides with thrilling danger in this ALL NEW film-noir murder mystery adventure. Unbelievable magic tricks to delight the senses and rapid-fire comedy to fracture the funny bone, this hilarious psychic detective with the winning smile puts on a killer show... literally.
  • Intoxication: Intimacy is dead, and we're partying with its corpse. A post-dramatic patchwork about queer millennial anxiety; exploring how the intense fear of being alone rules our modern society, and how one person's loneliness is symptomatic of everyone's problem. 
  • Box and Cox: Two men, one apartment. Seems perfectly legit, however neither one knows the other lives there for one works during the day, the other at night. Ask the lodging house keeper about it and she would say nothing could go wrong.
  • A Simple Space: The must-see, internationally acclaimed circus sensation returns to the Adelaide Fringe! A show that is simultaneously raw, frantic and delicate. Supported by driving live percussion and presented so intimately that you can feel the heat, hear every breath, and be immersed in every moment.
  • That Daring Australian Girl: The amazing true story of Muriel Matters; the Adelaide-born Actress who became one of the leading figures of the UK's Suffragette movement and was the "Foremost Woman Orator in Britain".
  • Sound and Fury's Cyranose: The classic tale of Cyranose de Bivouac and his perfectly normal love for his cousin Roxanne. Sound and Fury's Fringe-Award-Winning Hit Show returns to Adelaide!
  • Circus'cision: A variety mash-up of circus superstars, Spiegeltent legends, and the hottest acts of this year's Adelaide Fringe. With a rotating cast each night, different fringe artist guests get to showcase their best, weirdest and most hilarious talents, backed up by the incredible acrobatics of Head First.
  • By A Thread: An ensemble circus creation exploring the relationship between trust and play. Like the booms and sheets of a sailing ship, performers are hoisted and swung by one another to create striking tableaux and breath-taking dynamics. The actions of one acrobat affect the movements of others in a mesmerising negotiation of cause and effect.
Current Mood:

photo saturday: plain sailing

tall ship sidedark sail

saturday sailing tripduyfken
Well this week... happened.

It's weird, technically a lot of stuff happened, but there's nothing particularly exciting.

I only ran one game of DnD this week, which was good... not that I mind running, but after last week it was nice to actually play again. But I did run Monday because we had too many players at not enough DMs when we started.

I also played today... but more on that later.

This Thursday was also Haircut Day... although driving up the hill to Tink's place in the rain wasn't exactly the best time ever. It wasn't hugely traumatic though and I did manage to miss the heavier rain.

As far as the actual haircut, it's the same old same old, but we went a little more silvery with the toner, which actually makes my hair slightly purple for a couple of days, but it does last longer.

Otherwise not much to report really.

Oh, other than the fact that the Fringe guide came out on Friday... and I think I said this on Twitter after having been through the whole guide a couple of times looking for stuff (and I'm pretty sure I'll say it again when I do the traditional Fringe post), I'm not sure if it's because I was trying to be more frugal this year or whether it's just a much leaner year, but I didn't pick out anywhere near as much stuff for my first-cut shortlist. Only 27 shows... and I cut that down to about 17. I haven't had a chance to go through and work out when we're seeing things, and that may have to wait until Monday... but I always a little too organised with this stuff, so it won't kill me to leave it a couple of days.

Today was very non-traditional... well, kind of... there's usually some point in December where I don't see Ma on a given Saturday, but that usually means that we're doing something on the Sunday... this year that's all over the place but today Ma had a thing (she did tell me, but I don't really remember... a lunch, a pre Christmas get together, a birthday, one of those), and it happened that the usual Thursday DnD crew were getting together at the house of one of the DMs to play. Normally I wouldn't have been able to go, but things all came together with the aforementioned Ma thing, so I could.

I probably should have gotten out of the house a little earlier than I did, but I had just enough time to do the shopping, come back, unpack and then head out to the DM's house, which fortunately wasn't all that far away.

When I got there I discovered that they'd changed the time to 10:30, but nobody remembered to tell me. So I was there half an hour early... whoops.

It was a good session though, and lasted about five hours, which is probably about average for a four hour module.

Ma did head up this way after her thing though... there was an afternoon market on in Norwood, so she dropped in here afterwards.

But that was really my week in a nutshell.

Current Mood:

trimming o blass tannenbaum

Today was... easy. Relatively speaking.

Today was also the age-old ritual "putting up the tree at Ma's place" which takes place each year on the first weekend in December.

I don't know why it was so easy... maybe it's because the weather was mellow, I was mellow and/or had no actual fucks to give, and the process just went well... dunno... but it was fairly straightforward.

This morning I rolled out of bed, had a shower and got myself ready to go by about 7:40... which meant that I was down at Ma's place before 8:30.

We had breakfast and then we got shit happening.

Every year since... I dunno, at minimum it's at least 2005... I tend to write little notes to the future versions of us, and receive messages from the past versions. This year was no different, and it's sometimes really weird to see messages from yourself a whole year beforehand. Especially since I'd forgotten that clearly my mood last year wasn't the most yuletide filled.

Some of the notes are actually useful though, things to remember while putting up the tree that we would otherwise completely and totally forget in the 365ish days between efforts.

But the tree went together quickly and easily, the lights are technically always a problem, but were probably the least amount of a problem for some time and we have what can only be referred to as "a metric fuckton" of baubles.

I don't think we even put on half of what we had... and while it's not dripping with baubles, I did definitely have trouble trying to find where new things could go comfortably without having too many of the same colour in the same place. And looking back at last year, clearly that was the year with no fucks to give, because that tree looks bare by comparison.

We also made plans for the arrangement next year... so that's another note on the box.

But all of that only took us to about 10:40... which feels super early.

We tidied the detritus away and put a few of the other bits and pieces up around Ma's place, before settling down to wrap up and sort out a few presents. As usual it was mostly stuff for La Cousina and Co, and we were perhaps less worried about making a big, grand extravaganza this year, so all of that didn't seem to take a ton of time either.

Then there was some general sorting out of various stuff, a fairly late lunch and I called it a day and was on my way home by about 3:30 or so.

Not bad all things considered.

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photo saturday: christmas markets

nice nosessilver leaves

silver shinemarket dresses
Do you remember a few weeks ago when I was all "I don't know if I'm ready to start DMing DnD games"?

Yeah, that didn't last long, I ran all three games I was part of this week. Mostly through a combination of the number of people wanting to play and the other available DMs... but also because there's a lot of people going "I don't mind, what do you want to do?" which is fairly high on my list of "things that bug me". If I ask you if you want to do something, make a declarative statement.

I also ran the same adventure all three days (for three different groups of people), which when you add it to the time I ran it the week before, means that I got a big fat bonus in XP the fourth time (a 4000 XP bonus), so that doesn't suck.

Otherwise I kind of stayed in the house with the aircon cranked up for most of the week. The weather wasn't terribly pleasant... although saying that, I'm currently sitting here in a hoodie, so it clearly can't make up it's damn mind one way or the other. Granted I much prefer there be some level of consistency in the weather, but it's going to be too hot for my tastes in a solid block soon enough, so I'll take the fluctuations now while I can.

I spent most of Friday pottering around the house tidying things up and putting up Christmas decorations. I say "putting up"... it's essentially ten things. Because I really can't be bothered taking existing stuff down for a month before having to take new stuff down and put old stuff back up. But I also listened to Christmas music and felt much more Christmassy than I was previously feeling... which is to say the difference between "not at all" and "a bit".

In previous years this would have been Fringe Day... but the program doesn't come out until next Friday, so I just need to be organised then instead. Even though it will probably be a lean one this time given everything.

Today wasn't supposed to be a big day (due to the fact I'm going to Ma's place tomorrow to put the tree up), and I suppose it wasn't really, it just felt like we were efficient and got stuff done.

We started with the shopping... and I'm pretty sure I'm going to get to about Wednesday and go "Well, fuck, I don't have anything for the rest of the week", because I did fuck all shopping.

I also bought a "bow" to put on my door... I put it in quotes because it cost $2.50 and will probably not make it past this Christmas, but if I like it I can always look for something nicer later.

When we were done with all the usual whatever at mine, we headed into town to check out a couple of markets. The first one, on Leigh Street, was a bit of a fizzer. I don't know if it was because there were other markets in other places, or if it was because the weather was looking very dour, or what, but there were about four stalls.

Still, Ma managed to find something for one of her friends there, so it wasn't a wasted trip.

From there we headed to the City East Markets (formerly the Flinders Street Markets before the FSM people took their bat, ball and the name and went elsewhere), which was much better.

Yes, we did get there about 45 minutes before it actually opened, but some of the stalls were already set up, and we had a bit of a wander. I found something for Tink's girls (although they'll have to share it, or it's more a present for the house than the individual girls), Ma found a few cards to add to La Cousina's usual box of cards present, I found some old game tokens at one of the stalls to use for tokens when I'm running DnD games, we grabbed some amazing tasting chutneys and stuff from one of the stalls (I don't remember the woman's name, but the stuff was amazing, and we'll definitely be using some of it at Christmas), we spent way too long at the stall of a woman selling great magnets (and I picked one up for Owlgirl, so I'll need to organise to see her before Christmas) and I bonded briefly with a very nerdy girl who was selling animal ears on hairclips. Yeah, I know.

Then we had some gozleme, came back to my place, faffed about a bit and then called it a day.

So, like I said, efficient.

Current Mood:

movies: murder on the orient express

murder on the orient express: everyone is a suspect
Sometimes there's a movie so absolutely perfectly wonderfully over the top that you really can't understand how it can be improved... then someone announces that they're remaking it. And you wonder a) why they'd bother and b) what they can possibly think they'll add to the original.

Murder on the Orient Express doesn't really answer either of those questions, as far as I'm concerned.

Let's start with a somewhat obvious admission... I LOVE the 1974 version of Murder on the Orient Express with a passion. It's full of (at the time) big name actors, it has one of the best Poirots, Albert Finney, and while the end is a little tone deaf when set against the rest of the movie, Sidney Lumet gives a masterclass on how to put a bunch of people in a confined space, stay within that space and make it interesting. It keeps a ticking clock firmly in the background and the finale has the kind of denouement that I expect from a Poirot story, with everyone gathered around to hear Hercule let them all know exactly how clever he is.

The 2017 version? Well... it's pretty.

No, in all seriousness, it's a beautiful looking movie, with both cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos and the set and production design (with the possible exception of a hideously blatent product placement for Godiva Chocolate... who unsurprisingly have a whole selection of "Murder on the Orient Express" chocolates on their website) pulling out all the stops, this movie is a delight to look at. There are beautiful uses of glass reflection and refraction in several scenes and the way the camera moves through spaces is gorgeous.

However the whole thing is very clearly 90% computer generated. At least anything outside of the train. That's one of the things about the original, they give you an establishing shot to show where the train is and then you're inside the train and you don't even notice that you can't really see very much outside the windows. Mostly because you're paying attention to the people and the story.

This time it all has that same slightly stilted and hollow feeling that CGI backgrounds still provide.

And in this movie Hercule Poirot can't seem to sit in one place for more than 30 seconds at a time. There are several things that Poirot would not, under any circumstances, do. These include:
  • climbing on top of a train
  • engaging in a chase scene
  • hand to hand combat
  • leaving a perfectly warm and pleasant train to question a suspect in the snow
  • revealing to people that he knows things before it's advantageous to do so.
And yet, Kenneth Branagh as both director and star has him doing all of those things. Don't get me wrong, Branagh makes for an interesting version of Poirot, but he's not especially Poirot-like as a person. Most of that comes from Branagh's physicality, he's not a fussy little man in the way that, for example, Finney played him. And yes, Peter Ustinov wasn't small, but he captured the fussiness of Poirot.

Branagh does have the fabulous moustache though. Even if I'm pretty sure you can see the lace front in a couple of shots.

As far as the rest of the cast, firstly it's a much larger overall cast from the original (that may be because these days you have to acknowledge even the people who show up on screen for half a second, whereas you didn't back in the day), but they've still decided to combine one of the less active characters with one of the mains in a way that's slightly strange. They've also messed around with names, ages, backstories and the like... none of which is a major drama, and some of which was required by the casting of certain actors in certain roles, so overall I'm not really bothered by it.

However they do skim over or simplify certain elements of plot (or rearrange them in a much less interesting way) in order to, as previously stated, include a stupid partial chase scene and a moment or two of combat, as well as shoehorn in some Poirot backstory about a woman.

And they still come in about 15 minutes shorter than the 1974 version.

As far as the 2017 cast is concerned, it feels much less balanced between all the characters, possibly because not everyone's interrogation seems to be given the same weight and importance. However Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley and Judi Dench all put in good performances, although with possibly only Depp surpassing his 1974 equivalent... he manages to make Ratchett quite unlikable. Pfeiffer comes close a couple of times and has a nice little sequence at the end that her counterpart never had which certainly helps.

A number of the others seem to fade into the background more or less, and oddly both the Count and Countess are essentially missing from the whole movie with the exception of a couple of scenes. I mean, within the logic of the movie it makes sense, and I'm not sure they show up all that much more in the original, but they just seem totally absent (and forgettable when they do show up). It was also disappointing that while they made better explanations for certain characters motivations, the rest of the character was so completely overlooked that it didn't even matter (I'm thinking specifically of Penélope Cruz in this instance, but the same could be said for Derek Jacobi).

One of the things that irked me more than anything was Poirot giving away what he knew randomly while talking to people... it makes no sense both from a story perspective and a character one. Maybe both the writer, Michael Green, and Branagh wanted to keep the audience in the loop... but that's not what I want out of a Poirot story... I want the big reveal at the end. And that was there, if a little joyless at times, but some of it's power had been lost along the way. Which also wasn't helped by the fact that they skimmed right across certain clues and moments (the grease stain, the divorce, amongst others). If they'd spent more time on the actual plot and less on ridiculousness like climbing on trains and chasing people, they probably would have had time for that.

Likewise, I understand the desire to show who Poirot is at the beginning of the film, because not everyone is going to know exactly who he is, but it just felt... tacked on. And it just pads out the run time, meaning they have less time to spend on actual plot, character and motive.

Thinking about it, I think the problem may be that the movie doesn't feel smart. It certainly wants to think it is... but it's not sharing that with the rest of us. The characters spend too much time giving each other knowing looks which just telegraph things far too much.

All I can really say is if you want to see a great version of Murder on the Orient Express, get your hands on the 1974 version.

yani's rating: 2 moustaches out of 5

photo saturday: lines over lines

white pipescopper corners

diagonal lineswhite ribs
I said it once before... and this week just reiterated it... three sessions of DnD in a week, good, four sessions, a little too much.

Also I DM'd two of the games (bringing my DMing total up to four sessions) which didn't help, that's so much more tiring than just playing because you've got to be concentrating the whole time. It was pretty good though... even if the second game I ran I was mostly running from the memory of the first and only time I played it, so I kind of fluffed my way through the last encounter according to what actually is supposed to happen. But everyone seemed to have a good time, so that's the main thing.

I also realise that I need to only take stuff with me I know I'm going to need on any given day... because I really just have too much crap right now. I mean, not really crap, because it's all useful, but there's just too much to lug it all around at once. We'll see.

But the fact that I had four sessions this week meant I was out of the house on Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday day and Thursday night... so I was very pleased to just stay home and do nothing on Friday.

All in all it was a week that seemed to go remarkably fast for the most part.

Today could have been challenging... it was the Norwood Christmas Pageant, and you may remember how spectacularly well that went last year... and by well I mean badly... but then we were only a week out from Ma injuring her shoulder at the time. But at least today we managed to get our collective acts together.

This did involve Ma coming down super early and leaving my place in enough time to get to the supermarket by 7:30 when they open... and then getting out before everything got too crazy. Which meant that we were heading into town before 10am, which is kind of unheard of.

Ma dropped me at the bank so that I could deposit all my coinage... well, not all, but a good chunk of just the silver stuff. Once again, that coin machine hates me/doesn't like taking large amounts of coins/has a mind of it's own. It dumped everything out the first time for some reason I still don't understand, then got to a "you've submitted too many coins" and spat about a quarter of them back at me, then finally sorted itself out and let me process them all.

There weren't supposed to be any gold coins amongst them, but I did end up with a couple of $2 coins... along with 232 fifty cent coins, 347 twenties, 202 tens and 158 fives... which comes to a grand total of $217.50. Much less impressive than previous instances, but like I said, no gold coins.

From there we headed off to find the last few Christmas presents on Ma's list... which we managed fairly well and without too much drama. Although we're clearly well into the "people lose the ability to complete simple tasks" portion of the year already. But that was mostly other shoppers rather than staff, so that's at least a bonus.

Thankfully, that's the last of the Christmas presents... or at least the last things that I actually have to be involved in the purchasing of.

Then it was off to Burger Theory for a fairly early lunch and then we moved the car down to the Hindley Street end of things and went to the movies down at GU House (more on that shortly).

And that was about it... it doesn't sound like a hell of a lot, and really I'm not sure it was, but at least we got some stuff sorted.

Oh, and I'm sure everyone is already aware, but it's just a month until Christmas...

Current Mood:

photo saturday: november fork on the road

forking it 2017 - big open spaceforking it 2017 - notorious p.i.g.
Guess what... there was a Fork on the Road today... it's been five years (technically the anniversary is on November 30, but close enough) since the very first one in Victoria Square, which I dragged The Proto Nuthouse down to. It's also the first one we've been to since July last year.

Not really surprising considering the amount of crap that's happened in the last year, but they also moved to having them mostly on Sundays, which didn't help.

And of course, because this is the most amount of time I've spent in the sun for about nine months, I'm already a bit sunburned.

But more on that later...

forking it 2017 - line up line upforking it 2017 - mexican bucket o'balls
This week... well, parts of it went in unexpected directions... mostly the DnD parts to be honest...

I ended up running a second game on Wednesday... which was actually the same module I ran a couple of weeks ago as it's the only one I've actually prepped. But I ran it for four people I really like, so that always helps. I managed to make some of the changes I came up with after the first time, and partially because of that and partially because there were only four of them, I at least knocked some of their characters unconscious.

Then Thursday we didn't get to play our regular Thursday characters... which annoyed me... doubly so because while I love the regular Thursday crew of people, I'm not a big fan of these new characters. We'll have to see what happens, but I either need to play a completely different character (maybe a fighter... since we're a little low on front line characters in this combo).

We did end up doing some role playing as those characters even though we weren't playing them... given things that happened the last time we played. That is one of the issues with playing Adventurer's League games... there's not all that much time to do things other than the adventure in front of you. The fact that we've managed the amount of role play we have says a lot... even if we had to do some of it out of play sessions.

forking it 2017 - down by the riverforking it 2017 - dessert fries
I also had my chiro appointment this week... which was the second to last one before the end of the year. Yeah... that's a thing to think about.

Today was a little all over the shop... Ma was getting her hair did, so I was on my own for shopping. And that meant I really didn't get my ass into gear like normal. So by the time that I made it back home, Ma was already here.

We headed out to have a wander around Target, pick up a couple of things... but mostly to kill time before Fork on the Road started. I did pick up some new shoes... well, new as in new versions of the ones I bought last year and have grown fond of.

Then we had to try and FIND Fork on the Road. Which previously has been simple. But this time not so much. It turned out to be much further back from the road than it was the last time it was in that spot... and because we were on the opposite side of the road as we went past... and we ended up going all the way around the North Adelaide, then up to the Morphett Street bridge, because coming back around and finally finding it tucked away amongst the trees.

forking it 2017 - looking backforking it 2017 - honey puffs
I don't know if it was just a very spread out location, or if there was just a lack of trucks, but it did seem a little bit light on for people, at least at the start. But then there are also about 150 different things going on around the city this weekend, so that may have been part of it.

We ended up trying a number of things, and the photos in this post correspond with the order...

We started with a Notorious P.I.G toasted sandwich from Cheesy Street, then the Bucket O'Balls from Delectaballs (I'll be honest, it was mostly full of corn chips, with only two actual meatballs... but the whole thing was tasty).

Then we stopped for a Bubble Tea (not pictured, because it's not a very interesting photo, but it was a very tasty lemon Bubble Tea)... and then headed in a dessert direction. We started with dessert fries from a new outfit, Hipster Chipster. And yes, dessert fries... they're savoury fries, covered in soft serve icecream and chocolate sauce, with little fried apple bites on top. The whole thing is really like dipping your Maccas fries in your sundae, which I haven't done a hell of a lot, mostly because I hardly ever get sundaes. And they were wrong... so, so, so wrong... so wrong in fact that they were VERY right. Totally insane but perfect.

And we finished up with way too many of the honey puffs from the eponymous Honey Puff Ladies... they're really, really good, but we really only needed the smaller amount.

So that was my day... full of food, a little bit sunburned around the edges, but generally okay.

Current Mood:

photo saturday: words

arbour towncunard


Words, words, words.

I feel like they've been used well this week... and badly... and sometimes not at all.

People are weird, right... it's not just me being me is it? People are just weird. And I don't always mean that in the negative sense... I'm pretty weird at the best of times, and all the good people tend to be a particular kind of weird. But people are weird.

Can you tell I'm having an introspective five minutes? Not necessarily a deep one, but yeah, I'm a little in my head right now.


Let's see what happened this week... although it's nothing too stunning to be honest...

  • The usual amount of DnD... although I did actually level two different characters up from Tier 1 to Tier 2 this week, so that's something. And a roleplaying thing happened on Thursday that will have repercussions for that group, I just need to work out how my character will react... to a couple of different things actually.
  • Friday was Haircut Day... I'm still not completely comfortable driving up into the hills, and stupidly I took a wrong turn this time, whereas the first time I had no problems... it was also a little calmer this time as it was only Tink's youngest this time, not the pair of them. The haircut itself was same old same old, because of course it was.
  • I got Ma's calendar bound, complete with the calendar cut out and hanger... although I did have a false start because when I took it into the little Officeworks in the city they didn't have any idea what I was talking about. Fortunately the one down the road from me got it done.
  • The weather in general and hayfever in particular can kiss my ass. You gotta love a snuffly nose and itchy eyes when it's around 34°C. Actually today wasn't completely foul, well, yes it was, but at least it was heavily overcast and 33°C, somewhat better, but it's the general humidity that's really less fun.
  • It is 6 weeks until Christmas. Panic accordingly.
Today was... how many different ways are there to say "average"...
Mediocre, moderate, ordinary, regular, common, commonplace, familiar, humdrum, mainstream, middling, standard.
So quite a few actually.

Today was middling.

We did the usual shopping thing, bought somewhat more than usual, but seemingly less actual things. I think I bought too much cheese.

And the only decent checkout girl was actually back on a checkout, which was fantastic.

From there it was all Christmas related whatever. Well, almost all. We started with a trip to Big W, which was perhaps less fruitful... and then went down the road to Kmart, which was fruitful. Nothing exciting, just those little "oh, we need another little something for BLANK", or whatever. So that sorted a few little bits of things out.

And then we stopped off at Haighs on the way back to my place... which was a little more intense to be honest.

But that's about it really.

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movies: thor - ragnarok

thor: ragnarok - no hammer, no problem
Thor, God of Thunder is back... and he's bringing with him Ragnarok... the end of things. And damn, but Thor: Ragnarok is one hell of a ride.

We're not stuck on Earth, or Asgard... and there are no dark brooding elves... no... this movie is bright and bold and brash and bubblegum and pulling it's inspirations from the 70's and 80's. And doing a damn good job.

Director Taika Waititi has managed to create the ultimate Marvel movie... it's fun, light, full of action and doesn't take itself too seriously. I feel like part of why it works (if something I read online is to be believed) is that Waititi had the actors improvise about 80% of the dialogue... and it shows, in the best possible way.

Everything seems real and the humour often doesn't feel like it's something that's been workshopped and refined, but genuine moments. And yes, it lacks the heartfelt moment that some of the other Marvel movies have had (I'm thinking mostly of either of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, since they've mixed pathos and humour the best of all the Marvel movies), but that's not what this movie is... it's a big, bold, fantasy action movie, and it does that exceptionally well.

Returning, naturally, is Chris Hemsworth as the titular thunder god, and even the new haircut (which appears towards the start of the second act I think) makes sense here... this is Thor stripped back to basics and as much of the theme of this movie seems to be, shedding the old in place of the new. Also, Hemsworth looks the best he's ever looked at Thor in this movie... I mean, there's only one shirtless scene, but the man looks impossible... amazing, but clearly impossible for mere mortals to achieve.

Joining him once again is Tom Hiddleston as the trickster Loki... and this is possibly Hiddleston's best turn as Loki. Again, I think it's because the humour is dialled way up, and the best Loki moments are actually those fun, playing, teasing moments.

Also visiting from the wider Marvel universe is Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk... and honestly, mostly Hulk and not Banner. It's fun actually getting to know the big green guy this time around, yes, he's a giant toddler having a temper tantrum, but he's fun (again, I just keep coming back to that word). And the CGI on Hulk are just amazing. Yes, you've kind of, sort of been able to see Ruffalo in there in the two Avenger movies, but this time, he's so clearly 100% there under the green, it's kind of spectacular.

There's no Natalie Portman and Co this time around... apparently she dumped Thor (I'd say spoilers, but they throw it out within about the first 20 minutes), and I'm actually okay with all of that. Like I mentioned before, this movie is about shedding the old and reinventing what comes next.

Taking the villain's chair this time around is Cate Blanchett as Hela (in this incarnation of the mythology, spoilers, Odin's first born... but still the goddess of death)... and Blanchett is just having THE BEST TIME with this. I will reiterate my usual complaint that the Marvel villains often feel somewhat toothless, and Hela suffers from that as well (although given the body count in this movie, she shouldn't... but still manages to), but I don't quite know how you balance an unsettling or creepy villain with the light tone of these movies.

My favourite moment is when Hela is talking to her lackey, Scourge (played incredibly well by Karl Urban) in the throne room of Asgard... everything about her body language and tone and their back and forth dialogue is what makes this an engaging movie. The interaction itself isn't something we've never seen before, but the way the two of them do it makes it worth watching.

Returning from the previous Thor movies is Idris Elba as Heimdall, who, out of everyone is the only one really making the movie that was presented on the page. Which isn't to say he's bad, because he's not... but he's making a much more serious movie, which completely works for the character and his scenes, and never threw me out of the moment while watching, but he's the stakes. He represents what really going on and what Thor ultimately needs to get back to and focus on.

The other new face is Tessa Thompson who seems to have made a career out of playing strong willed, but sometimes not totally likeable, women (I'm looking at you both Veronica Mars and Westworld as the two characters I'm most familiar with). And she does that here as Valkyrie to some degree, but I quite like her character here. And she's no so much unlikable as she is complicated, which is fun to unpack.

Also deserving of a mention is Rachel House who did the voice of the grandmother in Moana as the second in command to Jeff Goldblum's character (yes, Goldblum is also in this, having the time of his life, just doing whatever the hell he wants really)... but back to House... her character, Topaz, is just so dry and funny and bitchy... not to mention looking like she's ready to kick all the butt and take all the names. I loved every scene she was in, I'm not going to lie.

As I think I've mentioned multiple times now, this movie is bright and colourful... I think this even our sparkles either of the Guardians movies to be honest, and it was nice to see an alien/future city where the buildings aren't either a) all the same colour or b) all grey/white/silver/gold/blue.

And for the most part, the effects are amazing. Possibly the only bit that didn't quite look "right" was the giant wolf, Fenrir... I mean it looked pretty damn good... it just didn't look 100% believable... and this is in a movie with a guy made out of rocks, and spaceships. It's a minor nitpick to be honest, but it's still there.

The music is also amazing... with the most brilliant uses of Led Zeppelin's The Immigrant Song (you know, the AH-AH-AHHHHHHHH-AH.... AH-AH-AHHHHHHHH-AH song), and something called In the Face of Evil by Magic Sword... which made me think very strongly of the Stranger Things title song during the movie, there's a synth thing going on certainly which carries over to the score itself (so maybe it was part of that instead).

At the moment I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is my favourite Marvel movie to date.

And as a final note, and a slightly spoilery one at that... pay particular attention during the "play" being performed when Thor returns to Asgard for the first time... the actors playing Loki, Odin and Thor are Matt Damon, Sam Neill and Luke Hemsworth respectively.

yani's rating: 5 undead warriors out of 5

photo saturday: bobbing along



This week was definitely full of things that happened... whether those things were actually interesting or not is a matter of opinion.

These things included but were not limited to there being a hailstorm come through at about 4:30 in the morning and wake me up due to how loud it was. Yes, a hailstorm, in October... with accompanying wintery weather, as much as I don't like the summer heat, this was a bit much, even for me.

Also, Halloween, which I treated in the usual fashion and ignored entirely. I didn't even bother watching Hocus Pocus which I've done the past couple of years, to be honest I totally forgot about it.

And I DM'd my first DnD game.

Yeah, that last one was totally unplanned... but it turned out that we didn't have anyone willing to DM on our table on Thursday, and I did have a module with me that I'd read through at least twice (several weeks ago). So I DM'd.

It wasn't half bad... although I'll have to ask the players next week if they thought the combat was too easy... it just seemed to all go very quick and I didn't really get to do a ton of stuff with the bad guys. Plus I only managed to knock one character unconscious. I could definitely do better though, I kind of fluffed through what should have been some roleplay stuff and jumped straight into the combat, which does kind of happen, but I feel like it should have gone a slightly different way.

Also, I definitely need to print the next adventure in a different way so that I don't loose all of the monster stats (which I did, more than once).

But it was my first time.

It was also good that I got to do it with people I feel comfortable with and know how to push some of their buttons occasionally. And it just felt a lot more chill, so that was good.

Do I want to do it regularly... no, probably not. But I will definitely do it again... eventually.

I also printed Ma's calendar.

ma's calendar 2018
As I think I mentioned last week, it's not especially innovative but it did come out fairly well, even though I totally forgot how the hell to make my printer print full page until after I'd printed the cover. It doesn't look too bad though, so all I have to do now is get it bound... which I may to on Wednesday after DnD, just because it will save me a trip.

It's definitely not my best effort, but it's not bad.

Today we really knuckled down to knock off some more Christmas shopping. And yes, I know it's barely November but the shops (and the city) are already putting up their Christmas decorations, and Christmas products have been available in the shops since the end of September. Thankfully there isn't really a lot we need to get, so we made some definite in-roads.

Rolling backwards a little, we did the supermarket thing this morning... where both of us proclaimed that we "didn't need a lot"... and then proceeded to buy what certainly seemed like a lot of stuff, although I think it was really only the usual amount to be honest.

We decided to head down to Marion (theoretically for the last time before Christmas, because it gets more than a bit nuts), do a little shopping and then take in a movie.

Which we did... and we also managed to knock all but a couple of ill-defined things off Ma's list too. So a successful trip all up.

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