photo saturday: blue and white

blue sky operabobbing blue surf

blue sky pointercloudy pipe beast

white pipe on bluesilver nest
It has been a very long week.

Not bad you understand, just long.

So long in fact that I don't even remember what I did last week, so we won't even worry about that, suffice to say that making a soup that was half pea and ham and half potato and leek worked out very well.

The reason there wasn't a Saturday post last week is that I spent the whole day playing Dungeons and Dragons, and then all of Sunday night. In fact I played a total of about 16 hours across the two days (11 on Saturday, 5 on Sunday), and it was a lot of fun, even though I was starting to come down with a cold and I lost a bunch of my voice over the weekend. And when I got home on Saturday my ears were acting as though I had been at a concert and listening to loud music, due to the noise in the room the whole time.

But a good time was has by all, even taking into account the fact that I died a somewhat low-key but spectacular death due to a chest of cursed treasure.

There were also the usual three games of D&D through the week, plus an extra game on Tuesday because it was Talk Like A Pirate Day (which I'll admit I haven't really paid any attention to for the last few years).... so there was a LOT of stuff going on this week.

Due to excessive amounts of gaming I also didn't get a chance to make soup until Monday afternoon, and because I was feeling sick, I went with chicken noodle soup. Actually more of a chicken noodle stew if I'm being honest, but not bad.

I also had my chiro appointment on Friday, so with one thing and another I never spent a whole day at home this week.

Today was a return to The Before Times. For the first time since last November, Ma came down to me first thing this morning and we went shopping together. Huzzah. Okay, so it took longer and I didn't get to just listen to podcasts the whole time, but it's a step forward.

The shopping itself was fairly standard... I decided to make tomato soup this week, so that should be simple enough.

After we were done with shopping, someone Ma knew was doing a thing at a car related thing, so we stopped in there for not very long as all thankfully. Long enough for Ma to see the woman she knew and to get a sausage sizzle and a cupcake.

Obligations taken care of, we didn't do all that much of anything else, we just took a brief trip to Big W, then off to Kmart, mostly just to run a couple of errands. and that was about it. Nothing spectacular or dramatic, but at least it was a return to the old ways.

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state theatre company's macbeth

Imagine, if you will, a combination of The Scottish Play, a suspense/horror video game set in an insane asylum and a post apocalyptic world at war.

That's probably the best jumping off point to start talking about the State Theatre Company's production of Macbeth. As always, my history with Macbeth is long and varied, but I will say that every time I watch a new version I'm always collecting details to add to the one that I would make (if that ever just randomly happened). And this production, directed by Geordie Brookman, had a number of those details.

Starting with the set design by Victoria Lamb and the lighting design by Geoff Cobham, you feel the weight of the play right from the moment you step into the theatre. As I mentioned before, the set feels very, very much like a run down, broken space, and the first thought I had was of an old insane asylum, but then the moment when the table first appeared absolutely wowed me and made me look at everything with fresh eyes. And there were other unexpected moments like that throughout the play that surprised and amazed me.

Likewise the lighting was amazing throughout. From the barely lit pre-play moments though to the very end, the lighting added another level to the characters and the setting, particularly the varied uses of the high up windows within the set. And because a lot of the lighting was very, very bright, the moments when the stage was plunged into darkness were totally black which is always what you want from a play like this. I think my favourite lighting moment was when Macbeth speaks with the assassins, just the way he's lit partially in green versus them under downlights, gorgeous.

Lamb also designed the costumes, which really went for the post apocalyptic/warrior vibe, not flashy, but perfect for the characters and the world they enhabit. A particular standout was the witch, partially due to the choice to dress her in colours that were much closer to those of the set than anybody else so at various points she disappears slightly, but also the decision to mask off her eyes. That definitely contributed to the suspense/horror vibe, as did the decision to have her drool, spit or pour blood on other characters throughout the play.

Speaking of which, this is by far the bloodiest version of the play I've ever seen. By the end the majority of the cast is slathered with varying degrees of gore, and the play even starts on a scene of blood, leaning into the idea (as I've seen in a number of other productions) that Lady Macbeth was pregnant and lost a child, in this case seemingly to miscarriage.

If I have any complaint from the production standpoint, it's relatively minor and concerns the music. DJ Trip has put together a unique electronic score for the production, but, at least at the beginning, I found the music slightly drowned out a couple of the performers. As the show progressed they either addressed that if it was an unintentional technical issue or I grew accustomed to it, because I'll admit that by the end I barely noticed the music on a conscious level.

As the titular Lord and Lady, Nathan O'Keefe and Anna Steen are incredibly strong. O'Keefe has moments of genuine madness towards the end that can sometimes be lacking and is at other times truly frightening. Steen has some brilliant moments, not least of all the traditional "out damn spot" scene, which was heightened in this production by using the witch and the fact of Lady Macbeth's eventual suicide and combining all three elements together, which is both acted beautifully, but also a brilliant choice for the story. I will say that their chemistry as a couple wasn't perhaps as strong as it could have been. There were moments, but in this production I really thought of them as two independent characters rather than as a malevolent duo most of the time.

While I've mentioned her a couple of times already, Rachel Burke as the singular witch was phenomenal. She never leaves the stage and will often drift behind the characters, moving incredibly slowly, only to lurk or drool blood on a murdered character or otherwise interact with them in an otherworldly fashion. Add to that the fact that she also fills in as both Fleance and Macduff Jr and masterfully transforms her personality for both of the characters, while still keeping her witchly appearance.

Her turn as junior Macduff also lead to one of many, many brilliant small directorial details that were littered throughout the play. As she is both the witch and Macduff Jr, when Macbeth appears and stabs the child, it is Lady Macduff who receives the wound, even though she hasn't been touched.

I also totally appreciated that as the play progresses the people that Macbeth has murdered appear as parts of a dead chorus, and in the final pre-battle madness they fill in as guards and stewards and the doctor, leaving you never completely sure whether or not Macbeth is just talking to the voices in his head or to actual people or to projections by the witch.

Another stand-out for me was Elena Carapetis in a very small role as Lady Macduff (as well as being part of the dead chorus and one of the murderers), and while I'm incredibly glad that they gave her that role because she's excellent, I really, really wished we'd seen more of her throughout.

All in all this is definitely a very strong outing for The Scottish Play with some incredibly strong directorial choices and beautiful performances thoughout.

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photo saturday: metalwork

art cagearts frame

caged birdiron shapes
Hmmm... let's see...
  • Monday was Haircut Night... not the usual night obviously, but the last time I would squeeze in before Tink and Co moved house. In every other respect, it was much the same as a usual Haircut Night.
  • That meant that there was only time for 2 D&D games this week, Wednesday and Thursday. And weirdly on Thursday I was the only one of the usual crew who showed up. Not sure if it was because of the Sportsball or the (as somebody described it to me) Moneysuck that is the Royal Show, but yeah, myself and the DM were the only two from that group who were there. We still had enough people for a game though, so that was fine.
  • This week I made a minestrone soup that kicked the ass of all other minestrone soups I've made (or, I'll be honest, almost all the minestrone soups I've ever tasted)... the one flaw was the fact that I added a tin of mixed beans right at the end, and they could have done with a little actual cooking time.
Today was the most atypical Saturday we've had in a long while.

I still did the usual shopping thing in the morning, but then I essentially pottered around the house and did my own thing until early afternoon when Ma came to me! Yes boys and girls, mostly inspired by the fact we have a show to go to tonight, Ma got in her little car and tootled all the way down the road to my house.

We have re-entered the Before Times. Kind of.

However it wasn't a very exciting day.

australian geographic nature photographer of the year
We did head into the city to check out the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibit at the museum though.

I will say that the arrangement of both the gallery itself and the photos was probably the best it's ever been. The photos themselves were actually pretty good, some of my favourites are over on the right.

Otherwise we really just had a bit of a wander, the city was pretty damn busy given the combination of the Royal Show and whatever sportsball game was on tonight, so we didn't stick around for all that long.

We came back to my place, hung around for a bit then headed out for dinner before the show.

You know what's weird... when you think about something and then later that day that very thing happens. While we were out and about earlier, I was thinking about the fact that I haven't really run into anybody from the D&D sessions outside of those sessions.

And then when I went up to order dinner, of the the guys who runs the games was there waiting to order. Weird.

Otherwise we had dinner, found a park closer to the theatre and headed down, then afterwards we drove back here and Ma headed home. I will say that it was nice not to have to drive all the way to Ma's place and then all the way back here after a show.

So yeah, that's about it really.

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photo saturday: man singular, men plural

boogie boybatting duo

tradie triobridge bike

back alley bustedsandstone group
This week featured:
  • the perfect beef and barley soup... literally one of the best soups I've made ever
  • the usual three games of D&D
  • the announcement of the closure of my favourite online D&D character creation website (dammit)
  • drinks with The Nuthouse crew to celebrate OwlGirl's new job somewhere that's not The Nuthouse.
It was good to see those folks that actually showed up for drinks... but also just weird somehow. Partially because we were celebrating someone getting a job, partially because it's like no actual fucking time has passed since I last saw everyone, partially because I really don't have any news to share.

But at the same time I don't miss the place like I have done in previous instances. Like not even a little bit.

Weird.

Today was... [copy and paste from the last several weeks]...

I did forget my phone when I went off to the supermarket this morning, so that was both a total #firstworldproblem and also annoying.

And I didn't actually need to do any shopping for Ma this week (much like last week), so that was a bonus.

Otherwise nothing of note to report.

And when I went down to Ma's place it was the same old same old yet again.

Blah, blah, blah... all done.

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photo saturday: back fences

fence facejigsaw fence

stencil 504syke creature
This week didn't end up being quite as busy as I thought... okay, it was kind of busy...

I did have my dates confused for going to see My Dad Wrote A Porno Live though, having thought it was Tuesday, but since it was Wednesday I was out of the house more than I was in.

And there was some talk of drinks on Friday, which never eventuated, but I still had my chiro appointment.

But otherwise it was just a lot of Dungeons and Dragons again.

I'll admit that on Thursday I had a brief bout of not really wanting to go out for the game... but then I got there and had one of the better sessions thus far. Which pretty much sums up my whole life (don't want to go, sometimes go anyway, usually have fun).

I also finally got around to stopping off at Pearl's Pizza, the Burger Theory offshoot in Adelaide Uni on Wednesday after D&D. Now, I know I'm a total BT fanboy... and 99 times out of 100 I love what they do (there's the occasional Burger of the Month that I'm not nuts about, but otherwise, it's all good). So it's not really going to come as any surprise to hear that the pizza was fucking amazing.

Which is actually kind of weird because it's the most deep dish pizza I think I've ever experienced, and as a general rule I'm very much about thin crusts, not deep ones, but this is all kinds of amazing.

I may have to remember to wander down after other games, just to try different flavours.

Oh, and I made what essentially turned out to be chicken stew this week. It sort of started it's life as soup, but to be honest everything absorbed the liquid and it really was just stew. But weirdly you never really hear people talking about chicken stew for some reason.

It was good though. A large part of which was due to the chorizo sausages I put in.

Today was very rinse and repeat. Supermarket, home, down the road to Ma's, a circuit of her shopping centre and then home again.

So that's about it for my week really.

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my dad wrote a porno live

my dad wrote a porno live tour
I honestly don't remember where I first heard about the My Dad Wrote A Porno podcast... it may have been on one of those lists of "50 podcasts you should be listening to" or something.

But I decided to give it a go, and have been hooked ever since.

If you're not familiar with the podcast, Jamie Morton (in the centre) has a dad who self publishes erotic fiction under the nom de plume Rocky Flintstone. I say erotic, but it's some of the weirdest, least erotic, badly written erotica ever to appear in print. And he decided to get together with two of his best mates, James Cooper and Alice Levine, and read the book chapter by chapter, with James and Alice providing blow by blow (pun very much at your discretion) commentary.

They're currently near the end of Book 3, and it's ridiculous, but at the same time, genuinely hilarious.

And they've now gotten infamous enough to be able to do a live tour. They started in the UK, they've doing Australia and New Zealand currently and they're headed to the US in October.

But Wednesday night was Adelaide's turn.

The show is structured around the reading of "Belinda Blinked: The Lost Chapter". And it's supposedly so bad that even Rocky decided not to include it in one of the books. I'll be honest though, there have been worse chapters, plot wise.

They've obviously done everything that they can to ensure that the show feels like the podcast, but clearly both James and Alice have heard this chapter a number of times, and there are a number of "scripted" responses. I also think it's a show that won't always feel the same as I'm sure that while they have points they want to hit, there's also a lot of room for them to just play depending on both the room and how they're feeling on any given day.

There's also a small amount of audience participation in the show, most of which I think works pretty well in the context of the show (I'm not completely sure about the point of having someone in the audience read one of the characters lines... maybe it works in the UK, if they can actually find someone with the particular accent needed, but it just felt a bit pointless otherwise).

Normally the podcasts are between about 35 and 40 minutes, so a roughly two hour live show (including the intermission) is triple that, but weirdly it still felt too short.

The three of them are all people you'd just like to hang out with and have a drink or two. Jamie is velvet voiced and cuddly, Alice is just the right amount of acidic and world weary and James may very well be Too Gay To Function but is also easy on the eye.

It was absolutely too much fun though, and I laughed my proverbial ass off.

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photo saturday: green pairs

pig facesucculents

fern pondleaf droplets
To quote Herman's Hermits... "Second verse, same as the first!"

There's not a lot new to report this week. Just more of the same really.

I made a fairly successful pumpkin soup this week. Doubly successful because I didn't overspice the hell out of it like I did last time, so it was actually edible. I did, however, forget to buy onions, so it was pure pumpkin (and some sweet potato).

D&D continues to be both a major obsession and the highlight of my week. I experienced the first character death this week also... not one of my characters to be honest, but one of someone I've played with a number of times. As stupid as it sounds, I was genuinely shaken by it, even after the DM threw in an in-universe way for us to bring the character back.

In the same game I also had one of the other players say that his character saw mine as a mother-figure, which is actually really awesome, and will definitely influence the way we interact in future. I also had a player call me out on a particular bit of behaviour fluff I've been doing with the same character. Not in a bad way, more in a "hey, you did that last time, what's up with that", which I kind of didn't necessarily expect to happen that quickly, but it was nice that he noticed.

I also busted out my Crumpler laptop bag, that has just been taking up space in the wardrobe (albeit filled full of old busted laptop) to use as my D&D bag, which is about 90% effective, although that's not a hell of a lot of room for anything other than my gear and dice.

And yes, I'm probably going to mention stuff like this a fair bit, deal with it.

Today was decidedly the definition of "second verse, same as the first". Although I did have a fairly late start this morning.

So, yeah... shopping, home, off to Ma's. Then we headed off to the shopping centre, had a slightly pointless wander around the centre, an even more pointless stop for food (because really, it was a bit m'eh) and called it a day.

It's so weird that it's been 9 months of this. Thankfully Ma is definitely on the improve and it shouldn't be too much longer before she starts coming down to this neck of the woods on a Saturday. And I think that's possibly like the 80th week in a row where I've mentioned that or something similar.

Ah well.

That's really about it to be honest.

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photo saturday: minifig professions

captain of the fortin the navy

crackpot inventorjailbreaker
So this week can be summed up by two D&D games and a haircut.

Because I was due to see Tink on Thursday night, I needed to skip the Thursday night D&D game, but Monday night was interesting because there were a couple of new people, who were so new to the idea they didn't even have characters yet. It did mean that we lost the first half hour or so to that. It was more fun than it sounds, just from the perspective of inducting brand new people to the game.

Wednesday was a little nuts because we had three of the DMs playing, which was half the players. But it was a fun adventure all the same.

I also managed to use my beard trimmer on Wednesday morning without putting the attachment on it... and basically hacked a chunk out of the right side of my moustache. Given that the only two options were living with it as it was and shaving, I opted to go with living with it. Yes, it's going to look a bit naff for a couple of weeks, but I really didn't want to shave it all off.

Thursday was Haircut Day. The second to last Haircut Day before Tink and the family moves up into the hills. Which is not ideal. In theory it shouldn't be a much longer drive, but it's into the hills, and I hate driving in the hills. So we'll see what happens.

I really, really don't want to have to find a new hairdresser, especially given that it's so much cheaper to go to Tink. Hopefully once I'm used to it it'll be fine.

Today was pretty much a paint by numbers Saturday. Got up, went to the supermarket, came home, unpacked, drove up to Ma's place.

We did drive out to look at some reverse cycle airconditioners for Ma's place, which was a slightly pointless journey, but Ma just wanted to have a look at the units in the flesh as it were. But she's going to have somebody come out and go through all the details with her, so that'll probably be more informative.

Afterwards we did swing by the shopping centre and do a lap, which was about the same as every other time we do it.

I did take a detour on the way home (well, I went past home and kept going) to pick up the few minifigs I wanted from the Lego Ninjago Movie set.

So, yeah, not a terribly exciting week, but that's fine.

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movies: cars 3

cars 3 - from this moment, everything will change
It's not really any great secret that the Cars series is my least favourite Pixar subset of movies, but Cars 3 is possibly the best of the bunch.

My main problem with the first Cars movie was that it was incredibly predictable plot-wise. The second one I enjoyed a lot more, but it is incredibly goofy.

The third outing manages to combine an effective and moving story with less wacky humour but with stunning visuals.

Like the first one, this is Lightning McQueen's story, but this time it's about what happens when "the up and comer" becomes "the veteran"... and given that the first movie came out in 2006, it seems appropriate.

Once again, the story feels a little predictable in a way that other Pixar movies don't, but I'm not sure if that was because I'd read or seen something about the story, or if it was just that obvious after a certain point. This time though I didn't mind as much, possibly because it was a more interesting story.

I will also say that this is, without a doubt, the most beautiful Pixar movie since The Good Dinosaur. Water, plants, lighting, weather effects, everything. It's all gorgeous, especially once they head across the country.

Part of the problem with this series has always been that it's hard to pay off the large cast of characters from the original movie, which they've done in both of the sequels by mostly isolating a character with a couple of new cast members. In this case it's mostly Cristela Alonzo as Cruz Ramirez. But also, hats off to Nathan Fillion for his second Pixar role.

And I'll admit, I did get a little choked up towards the end, which is pretty much to be expected from a Pixar movie, if not necessarily from a Cars movie.

Oh, and the short that precedes this one is called Lou, and I think it's the most beautiful and emotive short they've made yet.

yani's rating: 4 treadmills out of 5

photo saturday: artimals

plaster catrusty giraffe

wire dingosmarble koala
This week got a little crazy at times...

I made potato and leek soup this week, and it was pretty good, thanks to a liberal helping of cheese.

My obsession with D&D continues... I went to all three sessions this week (Monday night, Wednesday morning and Thursday night), Monday was kind of nuts with five or six tables, each with at least six or seven people, so the noise was a little crazy.

It's also kind of interesting that the guy who I really dislike as a player actually makes an outstanding DM, possibly because he's a little too "into" the roleplay aspect as a player, but that is a good trait for a DM.

The other realisation I had this week, which is probably so outstandingly obvious, but I don't think I'd ever organised the thought into exact words before. D&D is collaborative storytelling. The DM has a version of a story, but each of the players bring the story of the characters to that, and then once the game begins, each person's actions change the story, for good or ill, depending.

I will also say that D&D is a great excuse to buy more stationery... because of course it is.

I started playing my second character this week as well, who's a cross between Moana's grandmother and Oprah basically (more that she looks like Oprah and acts like the grandmother to be honest), who's called Mama Lullaby. Which meant that for four hours on Thursday night I had a room full of six grown (presumably straight, but I'd hate to be presumptuous) men referring to me as "Mama".

And that wasn't even the weirdest thing that happened in that game.

Also on Thursday I went for my walk, came home and went to plug in my iPhone to charge it. I've been having trouble with the phone charging for a while now, and it'd gotten to the point where it would only charge in very specific positions. I assumed it was because of the way I used to hold it when it was on charge (applying a small amount of pressure to the charge connection), and over time the connectors had just ended up being bent.

I've been trying to avoid using it as much as possible, which has been relatively easy, given that I'm at home and can easily just use the laptop instead, and only charging it when I absolutely need to.

And when I plugged it in on Thursday... nothing. I tried all the usual tricks but the damn thing would not register that it was attached to the charger. And I had 9% battery left. And I haven't synced my phone with iTunes for... three years. I don't know exactly, but I know that I haven't done if for the entire time I've had this laptop, since I never got around to reinstalling it on here.

In the afternoon I headed into the city to go visit the Apple Store. I should really have called ahead and arranged an appointment, but I didn't... so when I got there it was an hour and a half wait. Given the time frame, I ended up catching the bus back home, grabbing my D&D gear and driving back into town, so I didn't need to rush afterwards, since I had no idea how long the appointment was going to take.

Turned out that it didn't take all that long as all. After waiting for a little while, the bearded hipster Apple Genius boy came and found out what was wrong, then took my phone in the back (because they always take stuff into the back and do something magical and mysterious with it) for maybe ten minutes tops, and brought it back out, 100% fixed.

Yaaaaay!

From what he said there was "stuff" (pocket fluff most likely) wedged into the charging port as well as the headphone jack, so he did whatever they do to clean that stuff out and I was good to go.

Well, as good to go as I could be with only 1% battery left. But he also plugged the phone in for me and told me I could hang around as long as I needed to to charge it up. Which was very sweet of him.

I stuck around for maybe half an hour, until the phone was up to about 40% charged, then went off on my merry way. It's so weird the difference between having a phone that you avoid using or that isn't working properly and one that is back to full strength. It's a little like having a fully functional limb again.

Which I fully acknowledge is all kinds of lame, but it's the world in which we find ourselves at present.

This morning I went off to do the usual supermarket thing. I honestly bought hardly anything, if I hadn't been buying things for Ma my trolley would have looked very sad. After unpacking and the like I headed off to Ma's place.

You can tell Ma is much on the mend, because she'd been making Ham Hearts. Which was sweet, because we never had any this Christmas, and it was definitely one of the things she's mentioned as being something she wants to do "when she's better". Plus, Ham Hearts straight out of the oven... there's nothing nicer.

We didn't really have any plans, so we just headed off to the movies, but to Hoyts instead of Reading, which was a nice change, if only because they have fancy reclining chairs at Hoyts.

Afterwards we stopped off for some food and got some really, really nice stuff from Noodle Box, which isn't somewhere we usually go.

And then I headed home. So not really an exciting day but it wasn't too bad.

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