fringe: flesh and blood

adelaide fringe: flesh and blood by unpolished theatre
Let's just start with the most important thing and move on from there, shall we...

Flesh and Bone by London's Unpolished Theatre is AMAZING!

Writer, director and actor Elliot Warren has taken the rhythm and metre (and occasionally the words) of Shakespeare and transported it to an East London housing estate and the two just mesh together perfectly.

The stage is bare, the five actors are dressed much as you would expect in singlets, tracksuits and the like, and some of the language definitely leans towards profanity.

But the way language, foul or otherwise, is used is what makes this show so incredible.

Warren displays incredible skill in combining the spirit of Shakespeare with that tough as nails, rough as guts reputation of East London, but at the same time managing to make the characters humorous, relatable and sympathetic.

And the show goes from hilarious to moving to thought provoking and back again at the flick of a switch and had me in welling up towards the end.

I don't want to say too much about the plot of the show itself as it is definitely something that needs to be experienced, but it's arranged in a number of separated but connected scenes, sometimes soliloquies, sometimes groups, but with that Shakespearean conceit of allowing a character to speak directly to and only to the audience at any moment.

Alongside Warren on stage as Terrence are his co-director Olivia Brady as Kel, and co-stars Alessandro Babalola as Jamal, Michael Jinks as Reiss and Nick T Frost as Granddad, who are all equally brilliant, although Jinks, Babalola and Warren were the ones that really stole my heart in the second half of the show (especially Jinks during his scenes as Reiss).

And because it was our day for audience participation I did have a somewhat intense moment with Babalola's Jamal where he took my hand (and I think I threw him off for a split second when I patted his hand and told him it would be okay) and then I got moved out of my seat during another scene and Warren's Terrence hugged me as I moved back (which I wasn't expecting at all).

Suffice to say that this is theatre done right, and definitely a show to go and see.

yani's rating: 5 footballs out of 5

fringe: kaput

adelaide fringe: tom flanagan - kaput
We first saw Tom Flanagan's Kaput back in 2012 and the show has only gotten better in the last six years.

If I'm remembering correctly, almost all of the show is the same, structure wise, it just feels more "lived in" if that makes sense.

And I absolutely laughed until I was crying.

Although, full disclosure, part of that was because Ma ended up being a major part of the finale of the show, which just made it all the funnier. Part of the show involves him "wooing" a woman from the audience, and in this particular instance he chose my 70 year old mother, and she played along brilliantly. In fact a number of people came up afterwards to tell her how good she was.

I also had Flanagan throw a box of popcorn in my face, as part of the aforementioned wooing... it was definitely our day for audience participation.

At it's heart, the show is pure slapstick, with it's roots in silent comedians like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Norman Wisdom, Michael Crawford or Rowan Atkinson plus a little of the British pantomime tradition and some Looney Tunes cartoons thrown in for good measure as Flanagan tries, and fails in increasingly destructive and insane ways, to show a movie to the audience.

As with this type of humour, part of it comes from the fact that at times you know exactly what is about to happen but Flanagan's hapless and bumbling character is seemingly clueless to everything going on around him. Until he's not and the panic sets in.

With this type of show the comedy and seemingly "out of control" nature of it often belie the skills of the performer, and while the character is often losing control, Flanagan maintains it beautifully, especially with the ladder tricks.

What I love also about Flanagan is that he's clearly having just as much fun as the audience, and there were some brilliant moments where he either breaks "character" because someone in the audience does something he wasn't expecting or something odd happens with the sound effects (I'm not sure if some of those were a "supposed to happen like that" or a "happy accident" to be honest... in either case it was hilarious).

Plus it doesn't hurt that he's incredibly charming (even when pelting me with popcorn) and, let's be honest, very pleasant to look at.

It's also a show that kids love, if the amount of squealing and laughter was any indication.

yani's rating: 5 flat caps out of 5

photo saturday: birds and boats

duyfkensandwalker

watchersails

shore thingsydney gull
Remember last week when I sang my own praises... yeah, I was a Very Bad DM this week...

But first... it's Fringe time! Yay! And that'll have it's own posts, and I'll possibly dig in a little more later, but the word of the day was Audience Participation.

Rolling back to things earlier in the week.

Firstly I completely and totally forgot that last Tuesday was Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday until about 11pm... so no pancakes for me this week. I will however probably just make pancakes randomly one day next week because I'm an adult and can totally just have pancakes for lunch or dinner any day I like... provided I remember to buy lemon juice first, which I did not do today.

Thankfully after this week I potentially get to stop being a DM for at least parts of the next few weeks. I have promised to run something for a group next week, but otherwise I think I need to play for a while.

And not least of all because I ran the same game for two different groups and nearly killed a group of three players because I was running it too hard (in fact I did kill one character, a second one "killed himself" with a bad roll... again partly my fault for running it too hard... but I retconed that one) and then I ran it again with seven players and only afterwards did I realise I ran it way too easy.

I was also really surprised that a couple of the players reacted to what I thought was a really shitty and pointless "twist" in the story way more strongly than I expected them to. Shows what I know I guess.

I really need to play again though... and I have a new character I really want to debut (well, technically he's a character who has been banging around in my head for years and years now, but hasn't seen the light of day yet). My problem right now is two-fold... either playing adventures that I've already run or played and, more importantly, now that I've DM'd quite a bit, finding a DM I can actually put up with for any length of time. There are a few people I haven't had run for me as yet, but I have a relatively short amount of fuck to give when it comes to DMs of questionable quality...

As with every social activity I ever done, the problem is always Other People. But what are you gunna do.

So, yeah, three DnD games as usual this week, the Epic was today, but we had Fringe stuff and while I probably COULD have done both, I kinda didn't want to.

Friday I went into the city to have lunch with Owlgirl after her USA trip.... and lovely girl that she is, she brought me some swag back from Walt Disney World. It was good to see her though, even without the presents.

Today... as tends to happen once Fringe time rolls around... was a long day. A good day overall, but long.

We started with the usual shopping thing...  and is it just me or do everyone else usually end up just buying mostly the same stuff with no actual plan on what meal items to turn it into... no, just me then? Awesome.

Anyway, after shopping we had many hours to kill and nothing particular to do with them. So we went down the road to Big W and Target and wandered aimlessly.

I say aimlessly but I found a book that's been on my "to buy" list for a little while, Call Me By Your Name, mostly because the internet is currently losing it's shit over the movie adaptation that's just come out... is about to come out... one of those. And it was cheap, so double bonus.

Then I was killing time in Target while Ma was looking at clothes and happened to find a $6 clear phone case that actually had some protection on the corners and wasn't just a "style case" like all the others... and as much as I LOVE my Lego phone case, all the Lego logos rubbed off it years ago and a large number of the studs have actually been worn through completely... so it's seen better days.

It does feel weird having a smooth back to the phone though... I'm use to the studs and the general texture and, I'll be honest, knowing instantly which way up the phone is lying in my pocket. But this new clear one isn't bad, and I actually get to look at my phone for a change.

After that we headed back here, grabbed some food from the Village and killed a little time here before we headed into town for a bit of a wander and then the first Fringe show of the year.

Little did we know that Ma was going to take on a starring role... but more on that later.

In fact, in both the shows we saw today both Ma and I were picked for some kind of performer/audience interaction. Yes, it's because we like to sit in the very front row, but it was unexpected in both situations.

Between shows we grabbed some food on Rundle Street then headed off to Holden Street Theatre for the second show.

I will say that we haven't had as good a first night of Fringing for... a while.

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photo saturday: beach forms

silver seagreen blades

channelsilver jump

beach lampwood man
I nearly didn't bother with a post today...

But we'll get back to that.

This week was just hot... hot and blah and m'eh. And it also turned out to be a week in which I had to leave the house more than I usually would. So in addition to the three DnD games I also had Haircut Day and a chiro appointment.

Plus I think I was possibly having a mood this week... not sure if it was just a generalised mood or if it was the weather, or what (okay, I kind of know part of it, but let's not go there right now, it was definitely a mixture of things).

Of the three DnD games I ran this week, only one happened like I planned it... the other two none of the people I ran for the previous week bothered to show up, including three quarters of the Thursday group. Which is fine, it just means that if they come back next week, they're playing the third part of the trilogy without the middle part.

I also got told again that I'm a good DM, by a total rando on my table... but one of what I think of as "the high level DMs/players" was also on my table and complimented me on the fact that I can bring a table to order when necessary. So that felt pretty good. And I know that sounds like I'm blowing my own proverbial horn, but half the time I don't feel like I've got a good grip on the modules until I've run them at least once, and there are usually some random bit of rules minutia (or not even minutia to be honest) that I blank on, and there's at least three times in every adventure that I literally just make something up on the fly, whether that's the difficulty for something the players want to do, or just finding a way to stop everybody from getting too stupid and off the rails (it happens) without being an ass about it.

The double-edged sword is that I really, really want to play... I have so many characters who haven't even seen the light of day yet... but I really enjoying running games and I'm getting fussier about who I want to run games for me. Did I say this last week... I feel like I said this last week.

Okay, now that I've devolved into repeating myself...

Haircut Day was... well, it was Haircut Day... and Toner Day, since we only colour my hair every other time. It was pretty much the usual thing, although both the junior members of the household are now in school or preschool, so it was perhaps a little quieter than it has been.

And let's totally skim over the fact that I very nearly merged my car into the side of another car on the drive there... it never actually happened and it was only very nearly almost a close call.

Friday I would have spent entirely in the air-conditioned splendour of my apartment had it not been for the need to go and see my chiro (and I totally considered putting the appointment off until Monday)... and of course, much like Thursday's DnD game, it meant I had to go out during the hottest part of the afternoon, so much fun there *sarcastic face*.

Ma also called me yesterday to say she wasn't coming down today because her shoulder was playing up... not words I really wanted to hear... certainly not words I want to hear the week before Fringe. She spoke with her doctor again later in the day and it seems everything is not coming apart at the seams (she may just have some inflammation), and she's feeling better today, but seriously...

So today was real simple...

I went to the supermarket. I shopped. I came home. I unpacked. And I essentially did fuck all for the rest of the day.

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photo saturday: port and starboard

mooring lineroof shed

stone peakriver rope
Remember how I mentioned/complained that it was hot last weekend... well, this week started off incredibly humid but there were actually points where I put on a hoodie. Granted I was wearing shorts at the time, but still... a hoodie.

I DMed all my games this week... there's a new epic coming up, and like last time, I wanted to ensure that people had actually played adventures in that location, so last week, this week and next week I'm running a trilogy of modules... which essentially means I ran the same thing three times this week, and will run Part 2 next week and finish it up the week before the epic.

And I managed to have NPCs flirt with players at each of my tables... because why the fuck not.

I also managed to find that thing I said last week might not actually exist... turns out it exists at Officeworks... white board tape. As in tape that is made of white board material. So there was some crafting that happened this week...

Oh, and weirdly I got a text from The Nut House on Wednesday morning... asking if I'd be interested in a job. A relatively junior, seemingly temporary job. I turned it down. Could I have done with the money, fuck yes, and whereas last time I was a whole world of "yes, give me that sweet, sweet job", this time every part of me was "nope, nope, nope, nope". It was sweet of them to think of me, and it would have been super easy to just slide on back, but it absolutely wasn't something I wanted.

Those may be words I regret later, but... yeah.

Otherwise, the week wasn't much of anything.

Today I totally forgot that Ma had a haircut booked... and I got up early and tidied the apartment up, so at least that was a thing. But then I went shopping on my own.

Which was fine.

When I got back I had time to put everything away and watch some stuff on YouTube before Ma arrived.

Neither of us really had any grand plans... Ma wanted to take a trip to Kmart, I wanted to look at something in Officeworks... so we did that. But it turned out that while the storage device I wanted would fix A4 paper, it wouldn't fit A4 paper inside the display folders I use for me DnD stuff... so that was annoying. Fortunately I figured that out BEFORE we left the store, not afterwards.

Then, because we weren't that far away, we decided to go and wander around IKEA, because why not. It did mean that I could grab some relatively cheap magazine files (you know, the ones with the diagonal) to stash everything in for now.

That was really about it though... we did have some (as always mostly disappointing but cheap) food there though, then called it a day.

But I don't really mind the slow weekends... especially since it's two weeks until Fringe starts...

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photo saturday: bricking it

mini citytrue building

sea spilldrone heads
You know, it's kind of hard to start these things off when there isn't really a lot to say about the week that was. Which is partly why I've been staring at a blank screen for the last ten minutes on and off.

So, yeah, not a lot really happened this week.

I did have a really nice compliment after I ran a DnD game on Wednesday... one of the guys (who'd also been on my table on Monday when I ran) said that he only ever wanted me or one other DM to run for him. And if the other DM was the one I think it is, that's pretty damn high praise.

Also it doesn't hurt because he's quite cute and seems to be a functional human being, which is occasionally in short supply.

I also got to the "run the same module four times" threshold with a second module this week, which is kind of impressive. Granted it's one I enjoy running because it's just a straight dungeon crawl, full of undead creatures, so it's pretty easy to run. I will say that the last time was the only time I've really run the full final encounter with all of the 17 enemies (usually we're running out of time at that point, so I tend to shorten the encounter), which was kind of intense.

That's really about it... I mean Friday was Australia Day, but public holidays don't mean very much to me right now, so I just stayed home and tidied up a bit, then played video games for a while, then watched some stuff on YouTube... so a fairly standard Friday all things considered. And probably what I've done for the last several Australia Days to be honest.

Today was stupidly hot (well, actually, it wasn't as stupid hot as it was supposed to get or that is suppose to get tomorrow), so it ended up being a pretty brief day all up.

We did the supermarket thing, and we possibly both got a little over excited with buying things... me partly because a whole bunch of things in my kitchen all chose to run out in the same week.

Normally on a hot day with not much else planned we'd go to the movies, but even though Ma has aircon in her car, I didn't want to send her home during the hottest part of the afternoon, and there really wasn't much on close by.

So we just went down the road to Big W, poked around there for a bit, I was looking for something that either a) doesn't actually exist or b) exists but not in the places we were looking, which is always helpful. In either case, I'll work something out to do what I need.

Then we headed over to Target, but took a detour past the Laygo store on South Road, just for funsies.

And there wasn't really much at Target, although Ma bought a big tub of mini candy canes and a couple of Christmas stockings for the grand total of 50 cents.

After that we headed back here and Ma headed off down the road before it got much worse, heatwise.

So, yeah, not terribly exciting, but that's basically my life anyway. Although I suppose not doing a whole lot now is a pleasant lead-in to when Fringe starts in 3 weeks.

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movies: the shape of water

the shape of water: a fairy tale for troubled times
Director Guillermo del Toro's new movie The Shape of Water is strange, and beautiful and the most unique thing I've seen since perhaps The Red Turtle.

In short, the poster kind of tells you what you're going to get... a woman falls in love with an Amphibious Man... it's part Creature From The Black Lagoon, part Hidden Figures, part Hell Boy.

Coming from del Toro, that last one isn't too big of a surprise, and while it does feel like it's an extension of the Abe Sapien story from those movies, this is entirely it's own thing with just a few idea sprinkled in from Abe's story.

The other thing that's incredibly unique about this movie is that the two lead characters don't talk. One is a fish person, the other is entirely mute. Which leaves the majority of the talking to be done by secondary characters, and given that they're a black woman and a closeted gay man in the 1960's, speaks volumes.

The acting is amazing throughout, Sally Hawkins as Elisa and Doug Jones as Amphibian Man put so much into both of their characters (although the focus is really on Hawkins) that it doesn't matter that they don't speak. Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer as the aforementioned characters who do all the talking are likewise excellent, but then Spencer was also excellent in Hidden Figures.

Michael Shannon is also perfectly cast as the 1960's Company Man/Army villain... he does creepy incredibly well. An additional shout out needs to go to Michael Stuhlbarg who plays one of the scientists and makes a slightly odd character incredibly likeable and engaging.

The story is very sweet (mostly when it's focused on the main characters), although there are a couple of points where you need to suspend disbelief (and things like logic and physics) beyond the fact that fish people exist. There's also weirdly a "circled date on the calendar" that makes no actual sense when you think about it (without spoiling anything, why exactly do they need to wait for the rain... can't they just drive to the ocean?).

But the story and performances are so charming and beautiful that I'll happily let those things slide.

yani's rating: 4 boiled eggs out of 5

photo saturday: circles and rectangles

flinders streetferry bow

fishburn ferryflinders tower
Let's be honest, I've had better weeks...

It's not like anything major fell over/down/off, it's just been a less than idea week.

The weather definitely didn't help towards the end of the week and I felt a little... housebound. It's not that I didn't leave the house at all, it's just the time I did spend here was in a closed up house. I dunno, maybe I was in my head a little bit too much.

I will say that I've never been more pleased to own a functional air conditioner though.

Monday's DnD session was something of a clusterfuck... a bad DM, too many people/too much fucking around and an adventure I've not only played before but run on four different occasions. I really, really wish I'd run a table of my own to be honest, which is what I may do next Monday, depending on circumstances.

Wednesday and Thursday were much better, not least of which was because I ran adventures.

I feel like I'm getting to the stage where I don't want a lot of general fucking around in games of DnD, and that I'd much rather run something that be subject to a bad or mediocre DM. But at the same time I have so many new (and some existing) characters I really want to play.

It's a problem.

The other thing I did a bunch of this week was play Assassin's Creed Origins. Mostly doing a lot of side missions and general fucking around unconnected with the main story, but some of that too.

Otherwise a whole lot of nothing this week to be honest.

Today was... well, it wasn't much of anything also.

We did the shopping thing, we returned a DVD Ma accidentally bought two copies of (not at the same time, obviously), then we went to Marion, wandered around for a bit before going to the movies.

Then we had pizza and came back here before Ma went home (this time remembering her shopping, unlike last week).

So, yeah, I'm basically declaring last week null and void and moving on to next week if that's okay with everybody.

Current Mood:

photo saturday: waving

manly shorebetween the waves

big manly boardmanly views
This week involved:
  • a haircut
  • a lot of Assassin's Creed Origins
  • three games of Dungeons and Dragons
  • a trip to the chiro.
Monday was Haircut Day... not much new or exciting to report there... although my hair did end up a little less purple/silvery than it has in the past, which was nice. Also, weirdly, because there was construction on the freeway, I ended up driving for what felt like quite a while at 25kph, which is very odd, considering the actual speed is 100kph.

I also reached that point in every Assassin's Creed game where I stop following the story and wander around the map, unlocking everything I haven't already and finding all the other stuff. In Origins this is much more of a task than it's been since the "collect all these feathers" days of Ezio. And, to be honest, much more interesting. I've also hit the level cap of 40... but that's going to be increased to 45 some time this month when the new DLC comes out.

Have I mentioned before that everybody in our regular Thursday DnD group gets a little bit insane when the the weather gets stupidly hot? I'm not sure if it's because the place we play has questionable air conditioning at best, or everybody was nuts when they arrive, but, yeah.

Also one of them wouldn't shut up about a non-existent dragon during an adventure featuring various kinds of giants... and I'm running for them all next week. Guess who found an adventure with an actual dragon in it? Guess who's also not telling them that there's a dragon in the adventure until we sit down at the table? Guess who's getting hit with it first? Yup... not that I want to kill anyone in that party, but if you ask for something long enough and it will appear.

Otherwise on Monday a different group finished the third part of a trilogy we've been trying to complete since the end of November, and I ran an adventure on Wednesday for some of my favourite people (and some people I'd never met before).

I was actually tempted to go in on Friday and play (since there's now games available every day of the week, but I still think three is about my limit for now), but I was a little bit... cranky after Thursday, so I didn't bother. Instead I just went in for my chiro appointment and then wandered around briefly before coming home.

Today was, kind of brief, to be honest. Or felt that way anyway.

There was the usual shopping, and I realised I probably forgot some stuff, but it wasn't anything urgent. Then we just headed into the city for a bit. Ma watched a Lego documentary on TV the other week and for some reason that (as opposed to me being obsessed for the last several years) has triggered off a desire for her to get her hands on some Lego. She'd already bought a couple of small sets, and I gave her the Beach House, which I had to disassemble to make room for Emmett's Construct-o-Mech.

But she wanted to have a look at what was available in town, so we ended up in both Toyworld and Myer and she decided on getting the London skyline which matches the Sydney one I have.

We also poked around a couple of other places and then went to the new and improved Burger Theory for lunch.

And I do mean new and improved... they've totally redecorated and the place feels very bright with a touch of the 70's, and they've stripped the menu back to just four items, three of which are now made with 80% kangaroo meat and 20% beef and the bun is now one made with potato flour so the whole thing is more sustainable. And it tastes amazing.

I also really like that since they were renaming things, they renamed the former No 1 burger to Truckburger... because that's where it all started, even if they don't have the truck any more.

It was also slightly unusual because both Dan and Rob were in the store, so I got to chat with them both and tell them how much I liked the new burger, which was nice.

And that was about it really... well except for the fact that Ma forgot her shopping when she left my place and I didn't notice it was sitting in the middle of the living room floor for some reason until she was about five minutes from home. Oops.

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movies: coco

coco - the celebration of a lifetime
Disney Pixar's latest, Coco, is beautiful... and reduced me to tears.

This isn't necessarily something new for a Pixar movie, I quietly fell apart at the end of The Good Dinosaur and Toy Story 3, and they usually get to me even on the less emotive titles. But this one got to Ma in a big bad way as well, which is more unusual.

I also appreciate that between this movie and Moana, Disney has shown a level of cultural sensitivity that, while still not perfect (although I'm not an expert on either Mexican or Polynesian culture), definitely feels like an improvement on past efforts.

At its heart it's the story of one family and its relationship to both music and each other, and while some of the story structure feels like things I've seen a number of times before (the proverbial ticking clock, the chance encounter, etc), everything is handled here with the usual Pixar deftness.

It is definitely a slow movie though. Even at it's most frantic, it's still probably the slowest of all the Pixar movies, which isn't a bad thing, and suits the ton of the movie. But I feel like it may be better for a slightly older audience (child-wise). It's also one of the only Pixar movies I can think of with the on-screen death of not just one, but two characters. There's definitely some darkness here.

But, as always, the visuals are stunning... from the bone textures on the skeleton characters to the vibrant colours of the world of the dead and the warm tones of the human world, the whole thing is a feast for the eyes.

It's also partly a musical... I mean it has songs in it, but they're diegetic songs, songs that can be heard by the characters in the movie. So, not a musical as we might think about a Disney musical. But here they also got everything, if you'll excuse the pun, pitch perfect. I'm not surprised that the team responsible for Frozen also wrote the big number in this one.

At the end of the day though, it really doesn't matter what I have to say about Coco, it's just a movie you should go and see.

yani's rating: alebrije out of 5

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