quiet but useful saturday shopping

trolley bird
Today was pretty damn low key... which is good given that I was a little seedy when I woke up this morning. And doubly so because I woke up at like 5:45...

Although an early morning gentleman caller was just the thing to wake me up properly and shake the last of my hangover loose.

Yeah, I know, but it was a case of right time, right place, right guy.

Anyway, after he left I took a second shower and got ready for the usual shopping Saturday.

When Ma got here, we went and did a somewhat minimal shop... on my part, that was mostly because I didn't have dinner for two nights last week... one due to the gigantic afternoon tea which meant I ended up just having cereal... and the other being last night and the beer adventures where my dinner was whatever food ended up on the table.

After a quick turn around Target it was back here for the usual unpacking.

We really didn't have anything planned for today, and neither of us had anything we especially wanted to do, so after a bit of back and forth we figured we could always go to the movies. Ma was looking in the paper, I was looking on my phone, and we both went "Hmmmm" at about the same time, and Ma started reading something from the paper. I turned my phone around to show her... same movie.

So we headed into the city.

We had some time to kill before the movie, so we wandered up to the Mall and dropped into Dymocks so that I could see if they had a copy of Giraffes Can't Dance to replace the copy that Tink lost due to water damage after the fire.

They did... so that's a plus. We then wandered around upstairs and I grabbed the Terry Pratchett book that I was missing from the end of the series (I would have bought another one but I couldn't remember where I was up to in that subseries) as well as the second Veronica Mars novel.

Then we headed back to the movies.

Afterwards we called into Burger Theory for a very, very late lunch... and after reading the not exactly "food porn", but very appealing description of the falafel burger earlier in the week, we both decided to go with that. Turned out to be a very wise decision, because it was damn tasty.

So not really an exciting day, but useful.

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photo friday: petals

pastel spikeswhite magnolia

yellow seekerpink spike
I went to a funeral yesterday.

It's only the second funeral I've ever been to, the first one in the past 23 years, and the first that wasn't for a family member.

It was for my erstwhile friend, Stu, who long-time readers of the blog may remember from my Camera Club posts. I also went to his 40th birthday party in 2007 and his housewarming in 2008. And every now and again, he'd message me during the work day and we'd go and get some lunch. Somewhere along the way we just dropped out of contact. Not for any particular reason, but we just drifted away from each other.

Which seems to be what happens to me... I'm the first to admit that I'm horrible at keeping in touch with people. Partly because it's often that "out of sight, out of mind" thing, but more so because I always feel like the other person is the one with the busy life, family, responsibilities... whereas I don't really have those things, so I'm happy to hear from you whenever, plus as a general rule, I'm good just bobbing along on my own. Maybe that makes me the horrible friend, maybe that makes me the person where you always feel that you have to make the first move and get in contact... maybe that's true, but it's just how my brain is wired.

Anyway, I got a call from Stu's wife, Mrs Stu, last Sunday telling me that he had died the previous Thursday. He wasn't sick, he wasn't in a horrific accident, he was going about a normal Thursday and was at the supermarket with one of his daughters when he just dropped dead. And the paramedics worked on him for over an hour and just couldn't get his heart started again. So a little bit of a shock.

And I told Mrs Stu that I'd be there for the funeral.

Because it was in the middle of the day, I had to duck out of work for a couple of hours, which just felt weird. But if I'm being honest, everything about the whole situation was weird.

It was also in their church (which makes it sound much grander than it actually turned out to be, it was actually a dinky little building)... while I knew that both of them were fairly religious, it never overly factored into my dealings with Stu, beyond the number of times "someone from church" factored into conversations we'd have about various things. And I don’t' want to say that the service was "hardcore religious" because I only really have one other funeral to compare it to, but there were hymns and a lot of standing up and sitting down and passages from the bible and the minister (if that's what he was, I honestly have no idea) gave this speech/sermon that made me equal parts angry, frustrated and sad... because, well, religion. But, you know what, if that provided comfort to Mrs Stu and the kids, then fine, whatever.

Because of the high religious quotient I never really felt that sad, although the few bits of stuff that was actually about Stu and not religion did affect me a little. It was also strange, although I guess that happens in every situation like this, where while I definitely recognised the person they were talking about, there were both elements of his life that I really wasn't aware of as well as there being a large chunk of the Stu that I knew that wasn't mentioned, and I'm pretty sure there weren't many people in the room who would have been aware of it. So, yeah, strange how a person's past can be so easily compartmentalised or edited or presented that differs from how you knew them.

Afterwards I didn't feel like I wanted to "intrude" into the line of people giving their condolences to Mrs Stu, so I hung back for a bit and ended up going through to the church hall. They had a couple of books of Stu's photos laid out on table, and it was both weird and good to be able to look through the prints, the majority of which were from Camera Club days which meant I'd seen them before or alternatively I was with him when took them (and in some cases, both things at the same time).

I also ran into the guy I mentioned in both the birthday and housewarming posts as "kind of attractive/what was I thinking"... and yeah, I can see both sides of that coin... weird. But we had a little conversation, mostly related to the photos.

When the crowd had thinned out and I could go and talk to Mrs Stu, it was... odd I guess. I don't mean that in a bad way necessarily, but she said, more than once, that I'd been her rock while she was giving her eulogy... and to be honest, all I'd done was happen to sit on the aisle in a place that ended up being in her kind of neutral line of sight. And somehow for some reason, that was helpful to her. Yeah, I have no idea either.

So that was my Thursday, not a typical Thursday by any stretch of the imagination.

And part of the reason that I'm very, very glad that we're going out for work drinks this afternoon (and, clearly, I've written this before we go out for drinks, because I intend to get as liquored up as is allowable on a work related drinks excursion (and taking in my general ease at going from sober to somewhat intoxicated).

It's been something of an odd week all up really... and there have been a couple of afternoons where I've just lost the will to be bothered doing much of anything at work. One was obviously after the funeral, but that was more because my head got stuck in an introspective space... not sad, but I just got stuck in my head. The other was after the afternoon tea for the March birthdays (which was green themed, because St Patricks Day)... we ALWAYS over-cater for these things... so I was very, very much in a food coma for the latter portion of the afternoon.

Much, much later...

Yep, beer is both my friend and really, really not my friend.

We went out for drinks, I drank much more than I normally do, perved on the cutest engineering student with the perkiest, hottest little ass and as usual was one of the last four people to leave. While the walk home sobered me up somewhat, but given that I'm a cheap drunk and I'd had about a third more beer than my average, I'm a little... fuzzy around the edges.

Tomorrow may be a challenge... we'll see.

Current Mood:

pic-a-chur related saturday shopping

my gallery wall
Today has been all about the pic-a-churs.

I woke up this morning with a mild case of heartburn/indigestion from the taco leftovers I fashioned into a rudimentary nachos. Urgh. So it was a couple of Alka-Seltzer and then back to bed for a bit.

When I finally rolled my ass out of bed, I was running a little behind my self-imposed schedule, but I still managed to tidy the kitchen a little, have a shower and get read and out the door just as Ma arrived.

Shopping was the usual wandering around the throwing things in a basket. Then coming back here and throwing it all in the fridge/cupboards.

Our errands today were, as I mentioned, mostly of a picture nature.

We started off with a trip to Frame Connection to get the flamenco dancer I bought for Ma for Christmas framed up properly, and I had a few things I wanted to get done.

They're good people... but then anyone who can mostly keep up with Ma and I is already ahead of the curve.

The first couple of things were simple enough... a matt for the merman print I got with my calendar at Christmas, a new wire for the Alice in Wonderland boys piece... but the last one was the incredible Labyrinth 2 poster from the Sequel show at iambit gallery.

That's the one where I lost my mind a little bit. Partially because the exact colour of grey-green I wanted wasn't among the matt colours, but also when I did find what I thought was a great light chartreuse colour, the woman at the frame place thought I was nuts. In part she was right, while it would have worked brilliantly in the top half of the image, I don't think it would have been right for the bottom half. So in the end, I went with a slightly shiny black matt, which sounds even weirder, but the print is so super matt itself that I think it's the only thing that would really have worked.

I'm still not 110% convinced that the green wasn't the right thing... but I think this will be easier to live with in the long run.

Then we took a quick trip to IKEA for some more frames (yeah, I know, but I'm planning on reworking one of the walls in my bedroom slightly and hopefully adding a bunch more stuff... or else I did notice today that the wall in the toilet is big and mostly empty, so that could be interesting) as well as some mostly disappointing lunch.

That was followed by a quick stop at Bunnings for more Command hooks to be able to hang said art on the walls.

And we finished off with a non picture related task... picking up our Easter supplies from Haighs. I'm very glad we didn't leave it for another week, because it was chaotic enough as it was... next week is going to be bedlam. So that really only took as long as it did because of the crowd.

When we got back here, I popped the Danny Elfman poster I grabbed off the wall at breakfast last weekend into one, and the Le Gateau Chocolat poster I snagged on my way back from picking up some lunch, and gave the latter to Ma in exchange for her red frame that I'm going to put the Briefs tea towel into once I work out the best way to put it together.

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photo friday: painted curves

blue creaturehungry croc

newtown facesurfin panda
So how do you make the transition between Fringe time and the rest of your normal boring life less of an abrupt change?

Well, if you're me it involves two days of sleep deprivation (ten hours in two days), a minor bout of mental trauma (completely unrelated to Fringe), a confession in an area I didn't want to make a confession, sex with a stranger that included a massage that, while lovely, has left my back a little unsettled... and a work week where I wasn't the least bit productive.

But on the up side I posted more stuff to the blog than usual.

I also took myself to breakfast last Sunday, like I do most every year (last year not included due travel plans)... and as usual treated myself to a big fat breakfast, coffee and and orange juice while I worked on my review for the Danny Elfman show.

Then on Sunday night as I was on my way to my last Fringe show I noticed the boys from Bromance just inside the entrance to the Royal Croquet Club, and once I realised it was them, I had to stop and tell them how amazing their show was and how it had affected me... and got three hugs... well, technically two bro hugs (that peculiar hug which involves having the almost arm wrestling hand hold between the two bodies as you hug) and one regular hug. But given the topic and theme of the show, I did find that slightly amusing.

And really, that's about it for this week.

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lego: batman & super angry kitty attack/double decker couch

lego: batman and super angry kitty attack and double decker couchlego: batman and super angry kitty attack and double decker couch
When Lego announced they were going to release the Batman and Super Angry Kitty Attack set and the Double Decker Couch set, they both immediately went on my wish list. C'mon, two different versions of UniKitty plus glow in the dark Ghost Vitruvius and Benny!

I bought the Batman set for myself, but the Couch set was from Ma for my birthday, and because that was only a week after we bought them, I waited to put them together until I had both sets.

lego: batman and super angry kitty attack - the bagslego: double decker couch - the bags
The brick bags and instructions weren't really all that surprising, although I wasn't sure what the little white cardboard boxes in each set were for... turns out they're Batman and Vitruvius's capes.

lego: batman and super angry kitty attack - knollinglego: double decker couch - knolling
I do enjoy knolling out all the pieces... sure it probably takes longer to do than to just dump all the pieces out and start building, but I feel like you save some time at least in the actual construction phase, and trying to lay them out with most of the similar colours together does make for a pretty photo.

lego: batman and super angry kitty attack - bats and skellylego: double decker couch - the spirit, the spaceman, the suit and the special
The main plus to both of these sets are the minifigures...

I mean the robot skeleton is a bit average, although the pieces used for the arms and legs were interesting. And although it's hard to see, Batman's grappling gun is a serious bit of construction, all based around one of the regular gun models. I also noticed that the other gun was actually featured in the last minifig series as the Alien Trooper gun.

The minifig I was the most excited about though was Spaceman Benny, mostly because he's my favourite character from the movie. What's nice about all of the couch set minfigs is that they have double sided faces with one side the happy faces seen in the photo, the other sad or confused faces.

Oh and I get the waffle (kind of), but that's the deal with the sausage?

lego: batman and super angry kitty attack - she's super angrylego: double decker couch - confused kitty
And here we come to my favourite parts of both sets. The UniKitties.

I do love her, never more so than when she loses her cool at the end of the movie and turns into the red, fiery Angry Kitty. And having these two variations, the Super Angry Kitty and the Confused Kitty (who also comes with Sad Kitty face... see the extra image at the end of the post) was nice, especially the sitting Kitty.

But I will say that the neck joints are a little flimsy. Yeah, I realise it's just held in place with a single stud, but even the act of turning her head is enough to either push the larger head bricks off the round brick that serves as her neck.

She is adorable though (and her horn was also used by the last minifig series, unsurprisingly for the unicorn girl's horn).

lego: batman and super angry kitty attack - mini micro managerlego: double decker couch - the couch
Next up are the non-minifig parts of the builds... the Micro Manager and the Double Decker Couch.

I will admit that while the Micro Manager has some nice playability features, it does make it harder to just display, and I'm thinking I could do with some transparent bricks to get it up off the ground (I ended up holding it up in the air while I took the shot at the top of the post, and although I couldn't show the whole thing, it did work out pretty well). The cube construction and the arms are pretty cool though.

After building the double decker couch though, I fully understand why Vitruvius told Emmet that his "idea is just the worst". There really are a number of strange things about the build and I don't know how long it would last actually being played with.

Firstly, the ladders on the side don't actually connect to anything at the top, and they actually flare out slightly which just looks wrong to me aesthetically. And because the whole thing is constructed with hinges, and the only place where the top and bottom parts are connected are at the back, it just feels a little wonky. If the ladders had clipped into something at the top it would have just felt more stable.

lego: batman and super angry kitty attack - the finished build

lego: double decker couch - the finished build
The two finished sets look pretty damn good though... and I'm especially in love with Emmet's little car (more on that in a second). It should all make a nice general display once I work out exactly how I'm going to arrange the two sets and mix in the other Lego Movie minifigs (and whether or not to display them with the Emmet's Construct-O-Mech set).

I also wasn't aware that the ghost costume actually glowed, which is pretty damn cool.

lego: double decker couch - bonus sad kittylego: double decker couch - bonus emmet's wheels
These are the extra pieces from the couch set... firstly, UniKitty comes with these sad eyes (and an extra pair of eyebrows), and then the other major part of the set is Emmet's car.

It really is so adorable, and comes with a cute little hatch in the back to store his hard hat.

But it was definitely a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

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post fringe round-up 2015

Towards the end of the Fringe I saw an article called "Five tips for getting the most out of your Fringe" (or something similar). I think it was actually more of a tourist type list but it did spark off the idea of what my tips would be for Fringe, and I'd been musing about it over the last week or so. And then I had a little time to kill on Sunday night while waiting in line for Briefs, these "rules" just poured straight out of me.

So if people now ask me... "How would do I get the most out of Fringe", here's what I'd say.

Rule 1.
Get out of The Garden
Actually I could be more specific... go and see something that isn't a well known TV/radio comedian doing stand up (except if it happens to be Adam Hills, I make an exception for Adam Hills). But mostly this means realising that the Fringe exists in other places than just The Garden. Check out Gluttony or Holden Street Theatre or The Rhino Room, or just that shop/bar/cafe/empty building/laneway/rooftop/shipping crate that has been transformed into a venue for the month of Fringe.

Rule 2.
Take a chance on something new
This has always been my Fringe mantra (as well as being a variation of the tagline for this year) and kind of follows along from the first rule. It got me through the door on improv comedy, it allowed me to be blindfolded and led around the North Terrace, it got me the opportunity to discover so many amazing things. Although after five years it's a little harder to be surprised when returning again and again to see amazing acts that surprised me the first time I saw them. But take a chance, you never know. Sometimes they suck, but more often than not I've been really pleased.

Rule 3.
If you loved it, tell them
You might see a show that made you cry or expanded your mind or made you make a major life change or just made you laugh your ass off, so if you get the opportunity, even if it's a week later, a month later or the following Fringe, tell the performers. I've done this three times this Fringe, and a few times before and it's always worthwhile. And if you happen to run into them in a pub or one of the many Fringe bars, maybe ask if you can shout them a beverage.

Rule 4.
Tell everyone
Fringe performers should live and breathe social media during the festival and many of them do (and the ones who don't, or don't have an up-to-date web presence perpetually baffle me). If the show was great, tweet it, status it, write a little review... just tell people, both online and offline. And Talk Fringe is a great tool for that too.

Rule 5.
Go and see a circus act
If you've never seen one before, then take a chance. You don't have to love it, but if you do, see rules 3 and 4. If you have seen one before, go and see somebody new... Or ask one of the performers you do love who they love.

Rule 6.
Ask people what they loved
This is similar to part of rule 5 and the flip side of rule 4, but ask people you know about what they've seen... everyone probably knows at least one person who goes to a bunch of stuff during Fringe. For everyone I know, I'm pretty much that person, so I get this from a lot of people because of the sheer number of shows I've seen (I'm thinking about having little score charts made up that I can hand out to people). But this even extends to people you don't know... if you happen to strike up a conversation in line for something, ask them if they've seen anything amazing.

Rule 7.
Be a person
This is a general life rule, but in this context it means show respect for the performers and other Fringe goers. Show up on time, don't be obnoxious in the line (which includes having loud personal conversations, the rest of us don't care, especially when you've been drinking), and find a seat as quickly as is practical. And it definitely means don't talk all the way through a show (learn how to whisper if you absolutely have to talk). It also means put your damn phone away for at least 90% of the show unless it's an actual life and death emergency.

Now, on to this year's Fringe specifically.

It's been a very emotional Fringe this year in a lot of ways, I've laughed my ass off (so much so that I actually ended up with sore ribs at one point), I've cried or been close to tears on more than one occasion.

But I've also had an incredibly good time.

Once again Gluttony ended up as the prime destination, but I began and ended the Fringe in the Royal Croquet Club which is turning into a really good venue, especially since they used both sides of Victoria Square this year.

There were also a number of returning artists that merited a second (or sometimes third or fourth) visit... Sound and Fury, Gravity and Other Myths, Le Gateau Chocolat, Trash Test Dummies and Paul Dabek. We also had The Long Pigs cancel their show, and Inconceivable had the performance we booked cancelled so that it didn't clash with Clipsal's main day of racing.

And I know I say this just about every year, but it's probably more true this year than it's ever been before. The differences between essentially the first half of the shows on the list is so slight as to be not worth mentioning... and it was really, really difficult to work out where to slot things in towards the end of the Fringe... things that were genuinely great only ended up so far down the list because I couldn't bare to move other things.

Of the remaining shows, only the last two on the list were in some way disappointing. Although both of them had redeeming features, they just didn't live up to my expectations.
  1. Bromance
    Bromance is also one of the most beautiful circus shows I've ever had the privilege to see, and the first one that has ever brought me to the brink of tears."

    While this was the first show that I saw in the 2015 Fringe, it was also the one that I continually mentioned to people as my major highlight. And it's the only circus based show that I've had such an intense emotional reaction to.

  2. Cadence
    "It's circus but it's not, it's music but it's not, it's five very unique performers bringing their very diverse skills together to make something greater than the sum of it's parts."

    This is so incredibly unique, both in concept and execution, that I can only hope we see much, much more from this quintet at future Fringe's, or that it inspires a whole new way to think about circus.

  3. Boris and Sergey's Vaudevillian Adventure
    "Without giving too much away, there's puppet acrobatics, cross dressing, explosions, flashbacks, poker, audience participation and a finale that was both moving but also flat out incredible."

    This is definitely one I will be recommending to people next year, and I will be eager eagerly searching future Fringe guides to see what other things  the puppet duo get up to.

  4. A Simple Space
    "Circus rarely gets much better than this, so any time you get the chance, make sure you go and see them."

    Having seen them develop over the last few years into this world-class acrobatic troupe, they just go from strength to strength (no pun intended) and this year felt like a very polished piece of physical theatre.

  5. Le Gateau Chocolat - Icons
    "The show may be inspired by Le Gateau's Icons, but it proves that this glorious Chocolat diva is an icon himself. And as I've said after both of the other shows, that brief hour we get to spend with him is never, ever enough."

    This was a brilliant return from everybody's favourite diva and one that definitely moved me.

  6. Briefs: The Second Coming
    "It's guys, but it's burlesque. It's feathers and frocks and sequins and glitter, but it's hard male bodies, hairy chests, beards and strength. It's light and fluffy, but it's raunchy and occasionally incredibly crass and filthy."

    Briefs has heart and balls in equal measure, not to mention some great asses.

  7. Sound and Fury's Hamlet and Juliet
    "One of the things I really love about Sound and Fury is that they go out of their way to make a connection with the audience... whether that's chatting with people before the show, making everything feel really informal once you go inside the venue, or just the fact that they always seem to be willing to go that extra mile to get a laugh."

    There's always a permanent spot on my Fringe list reserved for whatever Sound and Fury return with, and even with a local temporary replacement they were still as great as ever.

  8. Death Comes at the End
    "The cast was all brilliant, and I'm just sad that this was the last night, because I cannot recommend this highly enough."

    There's just something about the general insanity of improv comedy with really sharp performers that just works for me, and this cast had it in spades.

  9. Trash Test Dummies
    "If I had to chose one word for Trash Test, it's energy... high energy specifically (but that's two words)."

    Speaking of insanity... the Dummies are the best kind of crazy, and as I keep telling everyone, they also have one of the best uses of music in any Fringe show I've seen.

  10. Paul Dabek - Mischief!
    "But it's honestly not about the magic itself, while some of the tricks are brilliant (like the card trick... even if it is a union requirement), it's honestly Dabek himself and his cheeky personality and quick wit that really makes the show what it is."

    Dabek was the other half of the pair, along with Sound and Fury, that had me laughing until I literally hurt my ribs.

  11. A Butterfly Effect
    "As a result the whole thing felt incredibly natural and almost totally unscripted. Which I guess is how improv theatre should feel."

    Having seen other reviews for this show, I now know that what I saw was a totally unique story from top to bottom and I've even gladder that I got the opportunity to see it.

  12. Great Detectives of Old Time Radio Live
    "Preachrs Podcast OnStage chose the perfect venue for Great Detectives of Old Time Radio LIVE... like the three radio plays (Dragnet, Candy Matson and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar) that made up the show, the Capri Theatre was built in the 1940's, so it just felt right."

    This was decidedly good fun, and like Death Comes At The End above, this has given me a new name to watch out for in future years, Eden Trebilco.

  13. Inconceivable
    "It wasn't always the most polished of productions, but it was clearly done with great affection for the original material and that definitely counts for a lot."

    This was a very smart idea and they managed to pull it off really well given the limitations of the venue.

  14. Illuminate
    "I do enjoy a show where they turn the usual "no flash photography" announcement on it's head by following it up with "these bodies are too nice to hide away" (or something similar) and then having everyone take out their phones and the performers pose."

    Without being rude, I feel like these guys could learn a lot about putting together a show and an experience from the top three circus acts on my list, but they were very talented.

  15. The Naked Magicians
    "I'll be honest, it took a fair while for me to warm up to both them and the show in general once I realised that we weren't in for a night of full frontal male nudity. But they're sweet and they're funny and, the nudity thing aside, they're good at what they do. And I did get into the swing of the show by about the half way mark."

    I still maintain that there's an issue with having the word "naked" in your show title and then only being naked for a small portion of that show... having said that, they are excellent magicians and showmen.

  16. A Midsummer Knight's dream... What?!
    "Which isn't to say that it's a bad story, it's just not what I was expecting and it's also... well, the best phrase I can really think of to describe it is a little bit awkward. And it was made a little worse because there were only about ten people in the audience."

    I can't fault the energy of the performer, but like the previous show, this just wasn't what I thought it was going to be, and didn't really work for me.

So if you'll excuse me, I'll just go and lament the fact that Fringe is over and that we have to wait another eleven months for it all to start again.

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fringe: briefs - the second coming

adelaide fringe - briefs: the second coming
Five years ago I had my first proper taste of the Adelaide Fringe with Briefs. So it only seemed incredibly fitting that I close out the 2015 Fringe with Briefs: The Second Coming (and as it turns out, I was the only person in the finale night crowd that had seen the previous show, or at least was brave enough to admit it when asked).

And what a difference those five years have made to the House That Fez Fa'anana Built! What was only the smallest seed the first time has flowered into something glorious... and this show is properly boylesque, and seriously sexy.

I totally screamed my lungs out and also clapped until my hands were properly pink and a tiny bit numb for essentially the whole show.

It's not really a huge surprise that they won the Fringe Award for Best Circus and Physical Theatre this year.

Fa'anana, self proclaimed ringmaster and bearded lady, is everything you could want from somebody in charge of this powderkeg of a show. I wouldn't in a million years want to get on his bad side, but at the same time Fez has a heart three times the size of the biggest wig in their collection and a wicked sense of humour.

But let me just state here and now that my heart belonged to Louis Biggs from the first moment I saw him... okay maybe not the first moment, although he was the cast member I most wanted to buy a raffle ticket from as they mingled with the audience (more on that in a second), and when he came out to do his first number as a naughty schoolboy with his Rubix cube and his obscene yo-yo tricks, I was in fact completely smitten (and yes, I may have asked for a little kiss on the cheek after I bought some of their merch post show, and yes, I may have gotten one... and yes, I may be the most gigantic dork that has ever walked the face of the earth).

On top of him being great at what he does (seriously, one handed Rubix cube solving... plus yo-yo, plus breakdancing and hat juggling), and the fact that he has this wonderfully cheeky stage persona that shines through everything he's doing and just make you want to hug him... after all of that is said and done, he's just a sexy, sexy, sexy man (his bare butt in the mostly backless/thong finale costume... I died!), but all the more so because of his personality.

Which made me doubly jealous when it turned out that the raffle prize was a bodyshot of tequila using Bigg's body.

And speaking of sexy men, it's absolutely no surprise that new recruit Thomas Worrell was nominated as one of the best emerging artists in the Fringe Awards, because the young contortionist, aerialist and hand-balancer is amazing to watch... especially with his work in the aerial hoop. There is just something so incredibly elegant and graceful about him.

Overall the show doesn't take itself itself the least bit seriously... which isn't to say that there aren't some serious elements but everything is done with a sense of humour, bitchy or otherwise. From Fez's rule that phones should not be seen lest you kill one of the performers, to the entire gay fetish/dog show routine with the unexpected and unsettling ending thanks to Captain Kidd and Evil Hate Monkey.

Actually Monkey was wonderful... crazy as the proverbial barrel of monkeys, and twice as crude, but fun to watch when you're not on the receiving end of inappropriate banana touching.

Captain Kidd is, for all intents and purposes, a Disney Villain come to life. He's very talented and has an amazing body, but frankly I'm a little scared of him. He's what you would call angry-sexy. He also wonderfully subverts the tropes of both the "boy in the bath" and true burlesque shows with his very acrobatic but also incredibly wet finale number in a big plastic bird bath.

Actually that's one of the things that Briefs does quite often... it feels like a properly subversive show in a lot of ways. It's guys, but it's burlesque. It's feathers and frocks and sequins and glitter, but it's hard male bodies, hairy chests, beards and strength. It's light and fluffy, but it's raunchy and occasionally incredibly crass and filthy. It's funny and entertaining, but it has serious comments to make about people and being present in the moment and what it means to be an artistic company in 2015.

In the interests of full disclosure, Dallas Dellaforce was the only cast member I didn't really warm to... I can in no way fault his work as costume designer extraordinary putting together all the costumes for the show, but that particular style of performance art drag isn't my particular cup of tea. Although having said that, the number with the treadmill, wind machine and "hair dress" was brilliant.

Like with all shows that have a mix of acts (and especially when it's a two hour show like this one), there's always going to be something that doesn't appeal, but in this particular case, the good things about Briefs far, far, far outweigh anything I didn't like.

And hopefully it doesn't take them five more years to come back again.

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festival: danny elfman's music from the movies of tim burton

adelaide festival - danny elfman's music from the movies of tim burton
The Danny Elfman's Music from the Movies of Tim Burton is a hell of a mouthful, but it does tell you exactly what you're going to get.

Danny and Tim have been working together since Pee-wee's Big Adventure all the way back in 1985, through Beetlejuice and Batman, Mars Attacks and Sleepy Hollow, Big Fish and Corpse Bride, all the way up to the recent Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie.

And this Australian premier of the concert exclusively for the Adelaide Festival took in all of these and more.

Conductor John Mauceri and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra were in fine form, and I don't know if it was because we had front row tickets or if it was just the nature of Elfman's music but there seemed to be more members of the orchestra than I remember from previous excursions like Bugs Bunny at the Symphony. It's possible that it also gave that impression due to the members of the Adelaide Festival Chorus along the back of the orchestra, because if it's one thing Elfman knows how to do, it's make use of a chorus.

Mauceri is a brilliant conductor, he's so bouncy and energetic and just seems like he'd be a fun maestro to work under. He clearly also loves the music.

I occasionally have a love/hate relationship with some of Burton's movies. There are some that I love, specifically The Nightmare Before Christmas (which technically isn't a "Burton" movie because it's not directed by him, but his DNA is all through the story and characters and the overall look of the thing), but also Sleepy Hollow, Batman Returns, Beetlejuice, and for all its flaws, Planet of the Apes.

So I will admit that either there are some of the movies I've only seen once, or while I've seen them a few times, I'm not necessarily someone who pays complete and total attention to the score. And in a few cases, that's what the ASO were playing, just the score... like with Batman, Prince did the soundtrack for that, Elfman did the main title theme and all of the other music that wasn't one of Prince's songs. But really, once you've got a full symphony orchestra playing the Batman theme, what else do you really need.

That's all kind of a really long way around to say that while I've seen all of the movies they were featuring music from except for Pee-wee's Big Adventure, there was music (even from movies I've seen multiple times) that I didn't instantly recognise. But almost all of it was recognisable at some point as an Elfman creation, or more specifically a Burton/Elfman collaboration.

I did notice that there were more than a few sections that featured circus inspired themes, specifically the aforementioned Pee-wee, Batman Returns, Big Fish... and I feel like there were others that are slipping my mind at the moment. And it took me a second or two to realise that it wasn't that Elfman has a particular weakness for that circus sound, it's that Burton has a fascination for them and that the three movies I mentioned above all feature a circus, or circus performers.

There was something wonderfully off-balanced about those sections though.

There is a particular Elfman sound though... I don't have the musical vocabulary to describe exactly what that is, but hearing all of his Burton scores back to back to back definitely shows it off. In fact I'm sure that the "Making Christmas" sing-song rhythm from Nightmare shows up in one of the later scores (I just can't for the life of me remember which one). And there's also something of the military march in a lot of his work... which is actually some of the parts that I love the most.

What was interesting to see was which of the Burton/Elfman collaborations stand out as being different. Planet of the Apes is very heavy on some wonderful percussion while Big Fish, at least until it gets to the circus portion, has a more fifties kind of vibe.

Each suite of music also had visuals to go along with it... both Tim's original sketches (and although Ma and I went to the Burton exhibition in Melbourne five years ago, quite a lot of the sketches they showed were things I hadn't seen before) and snippets from the movies. But at a certain point, the screen turned to a very Burton black and white swirl design which gave me a chance to focus on the orchestra and Mauceri's wonderful energy.

There were also three guest soloists, singer Bertie Blackman (more on her shortly), violinist Sandy Cameron and local boy soprano, nine year old Charlie Wells. Wells was so adorable, especially during the Alice in Wonderland suite which was the first of two encores. He was so earnest and has a glorious voice and you could tell he was as proud as punch to be there.

I'll be completely honest though, Cameron, during her solo in the Edward Scissorhands suite, left me completely cold. Firstly she just seemed to be trying too hard to make her solo look interesting. It was all "look at me and how sexy and interesting I am while playing this violin". The slightly Edward inspired outfit didn't help, since it was more Disco Dominatrix than it was Scissorhands, but it was mostly all the bouncing around and back-bends and some of extra twiddly bits she did on the violin that bugged me. But the rest of the audience seemed to think she was awesome, so this seems to be one of those "probably more about me than her" things.

As enjoyable as the rest of the concert was, really all of this is just a lead up for me to talk about the Nightmare Before Christmas suite.

Because that was when Danny Elfman came out on stage.

I guessed it would be, since he is the singing voice of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, but it was incredible to just watch Danny but hear Jack. And they definitely saved the best for last, because they did almost all of the numbers, and certainly all the Jack numbers.

A video posted by Yani (@yaniism) on

That's my favourite number from the whole movie... "What's This?".

This is definitely when having front row seats was brilliant, watching Danny stalk around the stage, bringing more than a little bit of Jack to life in his performance.

Also brilliant was the "This is Halloween" number where he was joined by four of the chorus (who sadly aren't listed specifically in the program), and they really hit it out of the park, funny voices and all.

And the part of Sally in "Sally's Song" (unsurprisingly) was where Bertie came in... she was actually a brilliant Sally and it was a little bit of a shame that she didn't return to sing with Danny for Jack and Sally's brief duet at the end of the movie, but it is only a couple of lines.

The crowd, myself included, were loving it though, and by the end Danny and the orchestra must have had at least four standing ovations... but not before Danny came back out for the very last encore after the Alice suite and did "Oogie Boogie's Song", with Mauceri filling in with the Santa Claus parts.

It was a brilliant concert though, any my hands are still a little sore from all the applauding we did. Plus, a thoroughly perfect end to my birthday!

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it's my (41st) birthday

happy 41st birthday to me
Happy 41st Birthday to me!

And, as with every year, happy birthday to Johan Paulik, Taylor Hanson, Michael Caine, Chris Klein, Albert Einstein, Corey Stoll, Daniel Gillies and for the second time, Jamie Bell.

It's been a funny old day really. Very busy, lots of shopping, lots of fun stuff. And it ended brilliantly.

I started the day off on my lonesome... Ma was getting her hair did this morning, so I was flying solo at the supermarket. But as I came downstairs, I discovered that the workmen fixing the roof, who I assumed had finished as of yesterday, were back again today. And they were blocking my car in. Thankfully they weren't already on the roof, so it was easy enough to sneak my car out.

The supermarket safari was pretty standard, I didn't even buy myself anything special or fancy (if you don't count a giant jar of Nutella, which I'm not counting, so shush), I just tootled around and then, after a brief but pointless detour into Target, came home again.

Normally, having people tromping about of my roof, screwing things, drilling things, just generally making noise would drive me crazy, but because they weren't doing it constantly, plus I know that it's actually something that will benefit me, it really didn't bug me at all.

Once I'd unpacked the groceries, I went though and tidied up the apartment, and hung up the now framed Le Gateau Chocolat poster I got out of the local gay paper. It looks pretty good under the Macbeth poster from The Bunker Trilogy last year too.

I also got the left over birthday cake from last year out of the freezer... and, clearly that cake is some sort of witchcraft, because after sitting in my freezer for over twelve months, it tastes just as good as it did when it was fresh. Amazing.

Then Ma finally arrived... and brought presents!

my birthday presents 2015my birthday presents 2015 (post shopping edition)
On the left, birthday presents from Ma... on the right, my ill-gotten shopping booty using a combination of birthday money, Christmas money and that general "leftover" money that I tuck away at the end of each week.

Given that I still hadn't spent the Christmas money from La Cousina, and I had some birthday money to spend, I figured I would finally get around to buying the Emmett Construct-O-Mech set I've essentially been obsessing about since we saw The Lego Movie.

Weirdly, I'm going to go from having no Unikitty figures to having three, since these two sets both have one, plus there's one in the set I bought myself last weekend.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We decided to start off at Arndale, so we headed down there, poked around Big W, then I got drawn into EB Games since they're having a Buy 2, Get 1 Free sale... So I decided to branch out from the Assassin's Creed franchise, and I bought Red Dead Redemption, Heavy Rain and BioShock Infinite, all of which I hear great things about. Plus those should keep my occupied for a good long while, since I'm kind of plodding through the first Assassin's Creed game at the moment, and I have Assassin's Creed Rogue waiting for me as well.

That was pretty much it for Arndale, so we then headed down to West Lakes, to do a price comparison on the Construct-O-Mech set, since I was sure we'd seen it somewhere slightly cheaper the other week.

I also wanted to have a quick look for either of the Terry Pratchett mini-series, The Colour of Magic and Going Postal, since I don't own good copies of either.

It just so happened that JB HiFi was also having a sale, plus they had the third season of The Legend of Korra right out there calling my name. So I managed to get that and Going Postal. Had I been properly paying attention at the time, I would also have grabbed the third season of Teen Wolf, since I keep wanting it to come out as one DVD set, but the season itself was basically two regular seasons long, so it makes perfect sense that they're not going to lump it all together.

Anyway, once we'd done all our intended errands (including grabbing my free birthday Boost Juice), we grabbed a little bit of sushi and then headed back to my place.

We had some time to kill, so after having them sitting on my TV table for the last month and a half, I popped in the DVDs for Sound and Fury's "Testaclese and ye Sack of Rome", which I bought last year and just never got around to watching. It's very filthy, and given how much I adore Sound and Fury, it was an enjoyable way to spend part of the afternoon. Then I broke out the Gravity and Other Myths DVD from the first show of theirs we saw, Freefall. The quality of the recording isn't completely brilliant (to be honest, the Sound and Fury one is better, but not by a ton), but it was interesting to see what they still do and what they've developed from those humble origins into their current (and fantastic) show. And we had some cake.

Once they were done it was pretty much time to get organised and go and get some dinner before the evening's entertainment, so we headed into the city to Jamie's Italian.

If we'd been thinking about it properly, we would have booked. Hell, I went past the place on Friday after work (which isn't my usual route), and could have dropped in then, but I wasn't sure exactly what we were doing, so I left it in the proverbial lap of the gods.

Turned out that went we rocked up there was a two hour wait for a table, so since we didn't actually have a backup plan, we decided to just grab some food at the bar, where there's no waiting for a spot.

It was actually a pretty good decision I think. We got fancy non-alcoholic cocktails (well, I say fancy, they were fancier than what we usually drink), then decided on the same plank we had last time, which is very tasty, along with some of their baked mushrooms, which are also really, really nice. I was glad my brain went with that at the last minute while I was ordering, because the women next to us had a number of the other bar items, and some of them were just a little strange looking.

We both finished it off with the Tutti Fruiti pie... sure, there may be other desserts on the menu, but screw that says I... I could eat that every time I go and be a very happy man (although I will say that the meringue top wasn't quite as fancy looking as previous iterations). I also went with my current obsession of an affogato... although after eating my slide of pie and finishing off the last bit of Ma's after she couldn't fit another mouthful in, my affogato was essentially just coffee, and not the least little bit sweet. Tasty as hell though.

And then it was off to the Entertainment Centre for the "Danny Elfman's Music from the Films of Tim Burton" concert. But I think that might need it's own post, and that may actually have to wait until tomorrow since it's very late.

Suffice to say that it was amazing, and whatever deity was looking after me enough to give me front row tickets deserves a votive offering of some sort.

It has been, in point of fact, A Very Good Day.

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photo friday: lego boys

lego - little traveller shootslego - little bf rocks

lego - little plumber plungeslego - little r2 d2's
This week has been a hell of a thing...

Firstly work got so crazy I had to go back to making a master list of all the things I had to do, which I haven't really had to do since I started back at the Nut House... but I ended up with a raft of tasks that weren't my usual ones, so I knew if I didn't keep them all straight in my head I'd miss one.

Then on top of that I haven't really had time to do all the things I usually do in addition to the new stuff. Thank goodness for Pixie, who just got on with all the stuff I couldn't.

Also this week, after what felt like forever, the workmen finally game to make the repairs to the roof of my apartment block to fix the issue I had last year with water in places it shouldn't be. This involved a gigantic crane and them seemingly tearing up half of the roof. Which may not have been a problem had they done it during the period of time where we hadn't had any rain for over a month, no, no... they had to come right after we had rain.

So of course I came home on Tuesday night to find that some very dirty water had dripped down the wall in a number of spots, plus some general grit and dirt that must have fallen though the crack between the wall and the architrave while they were ripping up the old gutters.

That meant that I spent a good chunk of this evening washing down that wall, moving furniture around and vacuuming the carpet. Not exactly the most interesting way to spend a Friday night. Doubly so because I had to nail the backboard back onto the little bookcase since I tried to move it while it was full, and I think I ripped all the nails loose.

We've also had two Fringe shows this week, and I had a haircut with Tink in the middle of the week, so compared to a normal week for me, it's been very busy.

It was great to see Tink again though, and hear about all of her dramas after the fire next door to their place. The weirdest thing though is that the place they've now moved into is almost a perfect combination of the last two houses... it has the kitchen and laundry of the last place and more of the feel of the place before. Cool, but strange.

And what with the combination of all the things she had to tell me, and all the things I had to tell her, plus the haircut, we ended up sitting around and chatting until almost 11pm.

The nice folks from Adam also finally got around to reinstating my FTP files, so at least the mood icons are working again on the blog, although I still can't actually get into the account yet, but this is at least progress.

I've also been having a little bit of a nostalgic flashback the last couple of days because this time last year Ma and I were in Sydney... which is doubly on my mind because we don't currently have a plan for heading back any time soon. It's still be nice to head over there for the Vivid Festival in May, but I feel like that could be better in theory than in practice.

I was also really sad to hear about the death of one of my favourite authors, Terry Pratchett. But at the same time the number of people sharing their favourite Discworld quotes on social media made me very happy.

I don't know that I have a favourite quote... but I do have two favourite characters... Granny Weatherwax and the anthropomorphic personification of Death.

Which is part of why I found the three tweets they used to announce Terry's death with so touching... as well as the fact they just sounded like Terry.

The messages read:
AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.

Terry took Death's arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.

The End.
Good travels Terry!

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