photo saturday: biennal squares

2018 adelaide biennial of australian art - lindy lee, the life of stars, 20182018 adelaide biennial of australian art - claire healy and sean cordeiro, we hunt mammoth, 2015
Today's post is brought to you by the letter H, the number 9 and the 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian art.

Also, could the weather be more appropriate for the month we're in please? I'm totally over this hot then cold then hot then cold then hot again thing it's doing currently.

Speaking of weather and time of year, I made my first soup of the 2018 season this week... Beef and barley (and vegetables)... not bad for the first one, although I never quite get beef soup so that it feels like the beef soup you get in cans. I think it has something to do with the thickness of the broth to be honest.

2018 adelaide biennial of australian art - roy ananda, thin walls between dimensions, 20182018 adelaide biennial of australian art - louise hearman, untitled
The usual DnDness happened this week... well, I say usual, I ran a game on Monday because it was the easiest way to extricate myself and a number of other people from a table that would have annoyed me.

Wednesday, my new Wednesday friend reappeared for the second time... I do enjoy adventuring with her character, so that was nice. Also, it's so weird how nervous you can get when you're essentially playing in a fantasy horror movie. And when you're a squishy wizard but are also the tank because you have all the hitpoints compared with the others.

Then Thursday, one of the other Thursday boys ran... and that was also a very stressful game. I think possibly because he ran us as a very strong party and I'm not sure if we were or not. But it was also "old home week" for my original character, who ran into a character from the first adventure he ever played and another from possibly the third adventure he ever played. So that was nice.

2018 adelaide biennial of australian art - timothy horn, gorgonia 12 (strange love), 20162018 adelaide biennial of australian art - kristian burford, cell, 2018
The rest of the week was... not a lot of anything really.

Question... can something be a slow start and also be filled with abject panic? Is that a thing? Because that was essentially my morning. I only woke up at 8am... to find that Ma had messaged me 40 minutes previously to say she was on her way, which meant that she messaged me about two minutes after I got up to say she'd arrived.

Cue the dashing around and panicking portion of the morning. Followed by my brain being a little bit broken and fuzzy for the rest of the day. The morning was filled with the usual shopping stuff... I'm making pea and ham soup this week and my freezer is currently packed with frozen peas, so that's a thing.

2018 adelaide biennial of australian art - ghostpatrol/david booth2018 adelaide biennial of australian art - pip and pop, darkness will disappear, magic light gonna take you for a ride
We decided to head into the city... mostly to run a couple of errands, but also to go and check out the aforementioned Adelaide Biennial of Australian art, which I'd seen someone post about the other week on Instagram.

It was a good choice... and a weirdly large number of the pieces actually resonated with me. Like the deconstructed blue Honda... and the huge framework map that I discovered was full of the names of DnD monsters, and some pieces by Ghostpatrol (aka David Booth)... and I also discovered what artists need to do to actually get me to sit still and watch a whole rotation of a video installation. Put naked people in it, obviously. And run it across four walls with four sets of naked people. But truthfully, I really liked the piece by Amos Gebhardt called Evanescence, not just because there were naked people, but because they were interesting and diverse naked people doing interesting movement related things.

So, yeah, a fun day was had. Even if my legs were knackered by the end.

Current Mood:

movies: ready player one

ready player one: an adventure too big for the real world
Ready Player One is definitely a movie built for the DVD pause button.

There's so much visual information, so many little Easter eggs, and references and pop culture nuggets that you could go through it frame by frame and still miss half of them.

And I'm pretty sure that no matter what your particular brand of nerdery is, you'll find at least a couple of references to it. I mean I saw at least three Dungeons and Dragons references.

As a movie, if feels like the 80's and 90's pop culture movies it's referencing... not in the sense of being dated, but more in the way those movies felt.

Which isn't really surprising, since Steven Spielberg is the director. And the guy who wrote the book, Ernest Cline, was one of the writers.

And clearly Cline is a big nerd for (mostly) 80's pop culture.

I'm not 100% sure what I expected from the movie, since I'm now mostly in the habit of avoiding almost all the trailers and other promo material beforehand (they only screw it up and show or tell you too much you didn't need to know going in), but it felt right.

Plot-wise it ticks all the boxes that you would expect from this kind of movie... it's not groundbreaking, but it is solid... and given that it's a movie that references a lot of other movies, it's not really a surprise that it's pretty much going by the movie playbook. And it does have a few moments when I'd kind of like to know more about how the world ended up in this particular configuration (which just makes me interested to read the book).

Tye Sheridan takes on the dual roles of Wade and his avatar Parzival (which I'm guessing is all him, hidden in a mocap suit) and is a very likeable lead. All the main cast, in fact, in both their virtual and real guises do quite well, although it does make me feel slightly old to see Ben Mendelsohn as the corporate bad guy because I've grown up seeing him in all kinds of things.

Visually it's a gorgeous movie... and it actually gets a pass on occasionally looking overtly computer generated, because that's what it's supposed to look like. Some of the big action scenes are a little frantic, occasionally because they're trying to cram so much background visual detail in there whenever they can, but it still holds together.

And definitely one that needs a rewatch.

yani's rating: 4 Orbs of Osuvox out of 5

photo saturday: white shells

opera shinetriple shell

shell ribssydney sparkle
There's always that one week in March or April where you start off wearing shorts and possibly using the air-con, and finish it in trackpants, socks and a hoodie. It's definitely this week. And the temperature drop on Friday also came along with a massive amount of rain to really reinforce the point.

It's also completely thrown my body for a loop... I'm not sure if I'm actually getting sick, or if it just feels like it... or if it's for some completely other reason... but as always, I'm not a fan of the feeling.

On the plus side it means that the coming week is 100% soup weather, so that fills up my Sunday evening, but makes the rest of the week a little easier.

This week's DnD was... better. Better in the sense that I managed to use my superpower of organising unorganised people to actually get what I wanted for all three days. Well, as much as I could with the limited resources I had access to at the time. But it was still good, I got to play with people I like and I didn't have to run a game.

And I got to spend about three hours extra with one of my boys, just talking about... well DnD mostly, but I honestly have no damn clue what the hell we talked about, but that we did a lot of it.

The rest of the week was fairly nondescript. Friday, as I said, was mostly about the rain... and tidying up the apartment... but mostly rain.

Today was... average.

We did the usual supermarket thing, and I bought more than enough stuff to make soup with. It's always the first couple of soup attempts that result in me making about 900 gallons of the stuff, because I've forgotten exactly how much stuff I actually need. But we'll give it a go, see what happens... if all else fails it'll basically be stew.

Given the weather, today was definitely an inside day... so we went to Marion, with the plan to wander aimlessly and then go to the movies.

We pretty much achieved these two goals.

The wandering was not exactly our usual circuit, since we started in a different spot, but we still essentially did the full loop, stopping off in all our usual spots. And Big W was selling off the last of their Easter crap for low, low prices, so I got myself an Avengers mug with Easter egg for $1. Turns out that the mug is TINY, relatively speaking, but it's still cute.

Then it was off to the movies... followed, like last time, with lunch at Nando's.

And then it was back here before Ma headed off home.

So, yeah... not a thrilling week overall, but not bad.

Current Mood:

assassins creed origins

assassins creed origins
When the last game in the series came out, I said that one of the next possible locations I was looking forward to was Ancient Egypt, and with Assassins Creed Origins, I got my wish.

Just as a side note, I'm going to be using a lot more images in this review than I normally do, and all of the image are ones I've taking using the rather addictive in-game camera mode. Which isn't always perfect, but does occasionally produce some stunning images.

And, as always, there will be some partial spoilers, but I'll try to avoid anything truly major. But proceed at your own risk.

As with all Assassins Creed games, it revolves around the protagonist, in this case Bayek, the last of the medjay (a kind of "elite paramilitary police force" according to Wikipedia, but more like a kind of sherrif in the world of the game).

assassins creed origins - bayek in the bathhouse
Bayek is lovely.

He's also probably the closest we've been to Ezio in terms of characterisation... with a little more angst and seriousness, but still a very likeable protagonist. Like all AC heroes, he starts off with very little in the way of skills and gear but it ramps up fairly quickly, provided you do a few non-story missions early on.

I also loved the weapon choices, which I'll talk about a little later, but it's possibly handled in the best way so far in the series. I'm slightly torn about the outfits in this game though, since none of them provide any kind of boost to your stats, so you could play most of the game with Bayek in a towel if you liked (and I'm sure that there were at least a few people who probably did exactly that), or just keep him in his starting gear throughout the game (which is what I did).

And plus, as per the above image, he's not hard to look at... at least once the early scruffy haircut and beard gives way to the shaved head and clean shaven look.

But while I enjoyed Bayek, the game did have some issues around character. Specifically the character of Bayek's wife, Aya.

assassins creed origins - the best actual image i could get of aya
Most of the time it feels like Aya is given to you as some kind of unearned punishment.

When she first shows up, you discover she's already murdered two of the characters that Bayek has been searching for. And then doesn't give you the opportunity to play as her in those assassinations. So within minutes of meeting her she's already taken game play away from the player.

Secondly, the next two or three times she shows up, it's in pure ship-to-ship combat sequences. Now, I enjoyed AC Black Flag quite a bit...  but I feel like the developers took the wrong lessons from it's success. We didn't need more ship combat. Possibly ever again... we had none in the last two games and they were just fine. Especially since those sections could have been Aya's assassinations instead.

Then in the late game, you're forced into Aya again, and made to fight the main boss of the game. As Aya, who has no additional weapon choices, none of the additional skills you've spent the whole game working to acquire, and it's a fairly brutal final fight.

Why do you hate me Ubisoft Montreal? What did I ever do to you?

That final fight, amongst other things, made me put the controller down for quite a while before I went back. I'd had the snot beaten out of me a number of times and wasn't eager to go back to it. Of course once I did, I figured out the rhythm of the fight almost immediately, but still, it was a slog rather than a victory moment.

Also the entire end section of the game is about Aya... Aya and her relationships with contemporary historical figures, including Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. Anyone who knows their ACII lore should know what that means about Aya (which I won't spoil here, but to be honest, I worked it out completely on my own while playing the game).

Even the last shot of the game is of Aya, not Bayek (or at least the last memorable shot).

So why wasn't Aya the main character? She could have been. I think they could have easily meshed the two characters storylines into one and had it turn out the same.

They could also have very easily gone down the AC Syndicate route, and had two playable main characters. I'm guessing that the game was already too far down the development rabbithole for them to change to that model at the stage where Syndicate came out, plus they probably didn't want to be accused of just rehashing the previous game. They could also have just given you access to all of Bayek's abilities when you were playing as Aya, which would have been infinitely better.

None of which is to say I disliked Aya... I really liked her, she's a great character, it just felt like the game was punishing me every time I had to play as her. Which is bad game design.

assassins creed origins - combat
Let's talk about combat.

Even though this was a completely different system from any AC game thus far (under the hood), the combat felt like AC Unity to me. Perhaps that was because, like Unity, I spent the whole game wielding a spear... but at the same time, like in Syndicate, I was also the master of the ranged stealth kill thanks to Bayek's predator bow (ranged headshots for the win). It was much the same as the way I played Evie to be honest... sitting high atop spots, sniping out various guards until I could just walk through a totally empty fort or stronghold.

It's just the best way to do things... I mean why stealth through the middle of a group of enemies when you can just wait far out of their reach and take them all out one by one.

The AI enemies felt a little smarter in this game, but honestly, not by a great deal. They at least reacted to and tried to track Bayek down if he killed someone at range when there was a guard nearby, but they also don't seem to care a whole lot if they don't see the kill, although they do pick the bodies up and move them to a different location.

One thing that did bug me at the beginning was the fact that you have no way of doing the "beserker poison" at range. If can only be done via melee stealth, which meant that I never did it at all in the game. But the sleep poison made a welcome return, which I didn't often use, but I like having it around anyway.

The other thing that felt very AC was the crafting of your gear. It was mostly an AC3 and Black Flag mechanic, find animals and other resources in the world to allow you to upgrade stuff. In this case it's defence, combat strength, ranged ability, quiver and pouches. And it never felt like a total grind the way it occasionally did in previous games.

What I really liked was the way they handled the weapons themselves. Its always a real pain finding the weapon that does exactly what you want it to do, but then levelling up past that weapon and having to trade to something else is always much less fun. Thankfully Origins gets rid of that by having upgradable weapons. So I think I used a total of three different spears through the whole game, since I was able to keep them tracking with my level.

And the weapons seem to be randomised, so you never know what exactly you're going to get... which annoyingly meant that I saw a lot more high level swords through the game than spears.

For me, the best weapons are some combination of "Bleeding on Hit" (10-40% chance to make target bleed), "On Fire" (chance to set enemies on fire) and "Health on Kill" (recovers 15% health after each kill). What I never really used was the Adrenaline system which is supposed to do a massive hit... but I usually forgot about it, plus the L3 + R3 button presses were hard to get right when I did, so I just swung away like a maniac instead.

They also definitely got the skill tree right this time around... it's divided into Hunter, Warrior and Seer (or range, melee and other skills) and you can definitely pick up a lot more skills this time around. In fact I ran out of individual skills I wanted about halfway through the game, but thankfully you can spend points on the three tree title options to give you a 1% better ability in that area, and given you can take that option multiple times, it's not a bad way to spend extra points.

assassins creed origins - pyramid sitting
The world of Origins is definitely what I'd call a "guided open world"... once you're actually let loose from the starting area into the whole map anyway. Sure you can go straight from there to the area designed for Level 40 characters, but you won't even be able to see the enemy levels, they just show a skull icon indicating that this is a Very Bad Idea.

The story itself mostly moves you through the areas, but as always, I wandered away from the story fairly early on to start trying to gain some levels and gear so everything just gets a little easier.

In previous AC games, the distinction between story missions and non story missions felt very cut and dried... the line is a little more blurry in Origins. It's still fairly obvious, but there are a lot of "bonus missions" in this game that seem to have been given much the same weight as story content, but less rigidly arranged than they were in Syndicate. And a lot of the missions you pick up are multi-part quests, so it's easy enough to either work all the way through something or just pick and choose whatever might be nearby your location at any moment.

As far as the quests go, they're mostly standard AC fare... go here, speak with this person, assassinate that person, steal this object, follow a crazy man around the map until he finds the person he's been talking about the whole time who turns out to be a camel. That kind of thing.

I did do essentially every single possible thing though... with the exception of the war elephants (big, high level, non-story related boss fights), the god battles (even bigger and higher level than the elephants) and the battle arena and hippodrome (because it was just irritating but fortunately not compulsory). I mean the map was basically cleared once I was done.

The "modern day" sections are back much more like some of the earlier Desmond sequences, with an interesting new protagonist, Layla Hassan, a "researcher at Abstergo's Historical Research Division". Most of her backstory is told through text items on her in-game laptop, and even though a lot of it ties in with the very lackluster liveaction movie, Layla is a character I look forward to running into again in future games.

There are also the usual enemy encampments of varying levels, treasures to discover and, given that this is Classical Antiquity Egypt (as opposed to actual Ancient Egypt), tombs to explore. The tombs are the real puzzle set pieces, although they're not quite as arduous as some of the puzzle locations from earlier games, they're also the places with the most AC lore dumps. In addition there are also animal lairs which are basically small enemy encampments of animals.

assassins creed origins - senu
Speaking of animals...

Senu the Bonelli's eagle is Bayek's constant companions throughout as well as the game's replacement for the Eagle Vision of previous versions. Instead you get the actual vision of an eagle.

I like the mechanic, you can fly halfway across the map if you really want to to scope things out, but pinpointing entire enemy encampments from the air is really where Senu comes into her own. There were times I missed the Eagle Vision ping to show up enemies, but that still exists, it just shows gear and coins you can take instead. And if you leave Bayek standing idle for too long, Senu swoops down and perches on his arm, which is sweet.

The other animal based ability I like is the ability to set a waypoint and have your camel (or horse, but really, it's Egypt, why aren't you using a camel) run there on it's own... which is fantastic, especially for places you haven't already fast travelled to yet. Or if you need to get up from the couch and get a drink while nothing is going on.

There's also an ability in the skill tree that lets you tame any wild animal you come across... which is fun, for about five minutes. I mean if you're a melee focus character it might have advantages, but it never kept my attention, plus I think it stops working if you hit a cut scene, which is unfortunate.

Also, you can pet the myriad of cats that are running all over Egypt... because why wouldn't you want to do that!

assassins creed origins - dawn/dusk over the pyramids
Origins really is a beautiful game. The weather isn't quite as dynamic as say London or Paris (as in there's no rain, unsurprisingly), but watching a sandstorm roll in across the desert and reduce everything to a golden haze is amazing. And the deserts are full of weird mirages if you stand still long enough.

In fact the lighting in general is gorgeous across the game.

And as you can tell from these screen shots, they really have put a lot of work into making the desert, pyramids, mountains and river valley feel alive and unique. Depending on if you're in the more urban areas, out in the mountains or down along the coast, NPC dialogue and looks are completely different (a little like London).

To be honest I think I expected a much more desert focused game, but it does a great job of dividing the map up. It's a really large map... the biggest of any of the AC games from what I understand. It definitely feels it. And while you can find a spot with a lot of people (nowhere near the London or Paris crowds though), you can also find spots with nobody at all, which feels about right for this map.

They also kept the ability to hold your breath and swim underwater from earlier games, which leads to some really pretty moments as you explore underwater ruins (provided you take out all of the crocodiles in the area first).

assassins creed origins - the hidden ones
When I was finished the main game, I decided to pick up the first of the two DLCs for the game, The Hidden Ones.

As far as the lore of the start of the Brotherhood of Assassins is concerned, this is much more about that than the main game was (although it was interesting in the main game to discover exactly where the assassin's symbol comes from).

Because this takes place a few years after the end of the main game (like both the Syndicate and Unity DLC that I've previously played), Bayek finally gets a prototype of the assassin's outfit we know and love from all the other games. And Aya returns, in a much more dominant outfit (although she looks amazing).

There are also moments in both games where you find characters that seem like they'll be the founding members of the brotherhood, but the DLC is a little more explicit about it.

The DLC shifts the location to the much smaller Sinai Peninsula (which makes sense) and also provides the opportunity for a much more vertical game, with a lot of rocky terrain and climbing.

As far as the story goes, it's not hugely different from the main game (I think they're saving that for the other DLC, The Curse of the Pharaohs, which is much more mythological and fantastical), the interesting part for me was aforementioned start of the brotherhood.

assassins creed origins - morning view
I very much enjoyed my time in Egypt with Bayek, and it'll be interesting to see how they develop the storyline going forward... I still want a feudal Japan version, as well as a 1920's New York game though... but we'll see.

Current Mood:

photo saturday: bridges and walkers

bridge walkernew bridge

old bridgeshadow walker
You know when you look at something and think, yeah, that can't be right... but it says it right there, I'll just go with that. That was me last Sunday when I was sure (after having looked it up online) that the shops were open at Burnside, even though it was Easter Sunday. Thankfully the shops are only a couple of minutes away from my place, but the problem was that I didn't have anything easy for lunch.

Easter, overall, was m'eh. Not least of all because of the lack of lunch, but I just didn't to anything on either Sunday or Monday.

I mean I filled in time, but nothing particularly useful.

Because of the nothingness of Monday, there was no DnD... I mean there was DnD, I just didn't go. So that just left Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday was good because there was a new person who I enjoyed playing with, and annoying because the party also consisted of someone who is basically Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, but not in an adorable way.
“I might have known,” said Eeyore. “After all, one can’t complain. I have my friends. Somebody spoke to me only yesterday. And was it last week or the week before that Rabbit bumped into me and said ‘Bother!’. The Social Round. Always something going on.”
Anyway... Thursday I just ran for my three boys. Who, to continue the Pooh analogy are basically all Tigger... if he was three people who all gave each other shit and one of them had more of a potty mouth. But they've been collected under the heading of "things that are mine" (I tried to find the Anita Blake quote about that, but I don't have the books any more and even though I was certain I'd blogged about it at one point, I can't find the reference anywhere), so I'm somewhat protective of them.

Yeah, that whole thought process kind of ran away from me.

Thursday was also Haircut Day... not much to report there. It was a toner day, not a bleach day, so overall a shorter process. And Tink and I did the usual chatter.

Friday was Chiro Day... because weirdly those two things have managed to sync up to be in the same week after being nowhere near each other for the longest time.

Today was... actually also pretty m'eh. I mean we did stuff, stuff got done. But not thrilling.

We started with the usual supermarketry... and when I mentioned to Ma that all the Easter stuff at Haighs was not on sale, she suggested we stop in there after the supermarket. Which is absolutely not on the way home, but not that far out of the way.

And that's how I ended up with four bags of broken Easter egg. What? The broken Easter egg is the best Haighs thing. Well, maybe second best.

After all the required stuff was done we decided to head into the city to track down some things Ma wanted. Some of which we managed, others not so much.

But we did a bunch of walking, then called it quits and came back here. Not the worst Saturday ever, but all told, kind of m'eh.

Current Mood:

movies: early man

early man: yeah, it's a little epic
I've always been quite fond of the work of the Aardman animation studio... from The Pirates! Band of Misfits to Chicken Run to the later Wallace and Grommit cartoons, and Early Man continues in that vein.

I'm not sure that it's their best effort though.

Maybe that's partly because this is the first time time Nick Park has been solo in the director's chair, maybe it's because it's mostly a movie about soccer. I don't know.

Don't get me wrong, it's a fun movie, and very much in the Aardman oeuvre... it just didn't wow me.

I do wonder how well it will go over in America to be honest... even compared to the Wallace and Grommit movies, this feels the most English of all their features for some reason.

Standing in as the Jurassic versions of Wallace and Grommit we have Dug and Hobnog, a boy and his boar (sabretoothed pig?), part of a tribe of, well, idiots to be honest. And their simple life is interrupted by the coming of the Bronze Age, in the form of a whole civilisation who uses bronze for everything, worship soccer and seem to be quite a bit French, before French was invented.

Eddie Redmayne voices Dug, while Parks provides the pig noises for Hobnob... and Tom Hiddleston is Lord Nooth, ruler of the city. But there's also a queen, who rules over... I'm not sure... everything else?

A number of English comedians lend their voices to Dug's tribe and Maisie Williams appears in the role that's usually the lover interest but isn't in this movie for some reason. And her character, Goona, looks like a very early ancestor of Lady Tottington from the Wallace and Grommit wererabbit movie.

There are fun moments, the story isn't bad and on the whole it looks great. On a few occasions it did seem more obvious than usual that characters were against a greenscreen rather than being in the environment, which is understandable when they're crowd scenes, but was still a little jarring.

So, yeah... good, not great.

yani's rating: 3 stone footballs out of 5

photo saturday: below the surface

metal seadragonssingle shell

triple shellsmetal diver
This week has been all turned around.

Monday was a day full of cleaning before the rental inspection on Tuesday. I'm really not sure why it is that cleaning the bathroom and mopping/cleaning the floors takes so fucking long. I mean I know that part of it is because I really hate doing it, so I'm not exactly rushing, and because I have to move some of the furniture around in order to mop properly, so then I have to wait for bits to dry before I can do other bits... but still... it takes for-fucking-ever.

By the time I was done I was pretty much fried, I'd managed to kill my mop (mostly because of shoddy construction) and possibly knacker my vacuum cleaner (because it was full and I got a bottle lid caught in the intake part... so it overheated, and since I had my headphones on I couldn't hear it complaining... hopefully it's okay, I should check on it at some point). That was the point at which I should have said "fuck DnD for tonight", but I didn't...

And I just wasn't feeling it. It may have been okay, but everything just felt more unorganised than usual, everything was annoying me, and the choices for modules weren't where my head was, so I ended up turning around and leaving.

It was probably a good plan, I just came home and vegetated.

Tuesday I got out of the apartment around 9 after making sure everything was ship-shape and ready to be inspected. I ended up spending the morning at the library in town working on a project, then went to the movies.

And I still don't know what I need to do to get an "excellent" rating on my inspections... but whatever, I don't really care, it's over for another few months.

Wednesday was the usual DnD session... well, not really because I ended up running a game, which I hadn't planned on, but it was a module I've run a bunch of times.

Thursday I had a guy coming to check on the smoke detectors, supposedly between 9am and 11am. So I went for my walk, stopped off at the supermarket, etc, first thing... hoping it would be over and done with by the time I got back. No, you guessed it, he showed up at 11:15am.

Granted he was only here for about 5 minutes, but still, it's the principle of the thing.

Thursday night was also DnD... but the usual Thursday group were all busy being not at DnD, so I played with... I don't want to say "randoms" because I'm played with and/or run for all of them... but randoms in a Thursday sense. It was actually a good adventure, partly because they were mostly better behaved.

Friday, being Good Friday, I basically just did a massive amount of nothing.

Today wasn't terribly exciting... and a lot of it felt like trying to avoid the nine thousand people who always go out to shop when the stores have been shut for a single day.

The supermarket portion of the day was pretty much what it was... I didn't really buy all that much, so we'll see how well that works out later in the week.

After shopping, we once again didn't really have any plans, so we decided to head down to Marion and go to the movies. The usual wandering was somewhat hampered by the aforementioned nine thousand people, plus the fact we were mostly just killing time until the movie.

Afterwards we grabbed some food and then called it a day...

Also, and this is mostly a note to future me, a conversation was had this week. A conversation that will in all likelihood amount to absolutely nothing, but if in the very unlikely event it amounts to enough of something at some point, I want to remember that it started at this point.

Okay, enough of that... that's it for this week.

Current Mood:

movies: call me by your name

call me by your name - is it better to speak or die?
It's been a while since I've been as blown away by a movie as I was by Call Me By Your Name.

Everything about this movie is just beautiful and perfect. It's not big or flashy... if anything, it's an incredibly sensual and languid movie, taking it's time with it's 132 minute run time.

It also avoided a lot of the tropes I'm used to from this kind of story... and I don't think it qualifies as spoilers if I say that there's no great manufactured conflict and resolution, there's no exposure/outing, there's no villain. These are people, not plot points.

Between them director Luca Guadagnino, writer James Ivory (he of Merchant Ivory fame, and adapting the novel by André Aciman) and cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom have constructed a film that all feels incredibly real, and grounded, and amazing.

Armie Hammer as Oliver and Timothée Chalamet as Elio both do amazing work as the leads, but it's Chalamet who absolutely blew my mind. In every scene you can see the character feeling something, but it jealousy, passion, sadness, contempt, fear... he puts it all on his face and in the way he moves.

The camera is absolutely in love with him as well, between the cinematography and the lighting and the (often lack of) costuming, there is definitely a focus on his body in ways that there aren't with Hammer as the object of his affection/obsession. I wasn't sure if I was just imagining it until a scene about half way through where there's a discussion of ancient statues and Elio's father says that they're "daring you to desire them"... which is what I think the movie is doing with Chalamet as Elio.

Or that's just me.

Hammer has been fantastic in everything I've seen him in and he continues to be here, although much more of an enigmatic character since the story and camera is most often focused on Elio.

I also have to give a giant shout out to Michael Stuhlbarg (most recently seen in The Shape of Water as the scientist) in the role of Elio's father. There's an amazing speech that he gives at the end of the movie that just totally wrecked me, not just for the words, but also for what it means in the 1983 world of the movie.

What I'm also incredibly glad about is that I now have the novel sitting on my bedside table, waiting for me to start it, so I can immerse myself back into the world of Call Me By Your Name.

yani's rating: 5 peaches out of 5

photo saturday: trees and feathers

pelican bluemorning light

river treespelican fluff
Today was nice and simple... which is exactly what we needed after Fringe.

This week however has been all about getting ready for my rental inspection. I mean it was all stuff I could probably have crammed into a single day, but it's nice that I'm able to space it out and do a little bit each day (or not if I wasn't feeling it) in order to get ready. It also meant that I could tidy things up properly and sort some stuff out.

All I need to do now is clean the bathroom, mop the floors and then just do any last minute stuff on Monday, and we're good. Annoyingly there is also someone coming to look at the smoke detectors on Thursday... but that's hopefully only going to be a five minute thing (and if I'm really lucky, I'll be on my walk anyway).

Otherwise DnD continues to be DnD. Although note to self, don't just assume you have the right modules in your bag, actually check that shit. Also it's fun when characters just give themselves personality traits without you realising it's happening.

Like my half-elf archer is a little bit racist when it comes to goblins. I mean I don't really blame him, his first adventure was a demonic underground circus full of them, then he met a player character who was one of the most irritating goblins ever, and this week it was goblins once again (and more demonic shit). So he kind of hates goblins.

My noble dwarf wizard got to show the other side of her personality this week after being irritated and angry about everything for the last weeks worth of in game time. She does have a habit of fully flirting with men in positions of power though.

But enough of that...

Today was, as the start of this post said, nice and simple.

I was ready when Ma arrived, which was a nice change, we went and did the supermarket thing, although I didn't really buy all that much of anything, because I keep buying stuff and then never using it. Of course this week I'll want all the things and not have them.

When were were done and had come back here for the unpackery, we didn't really have a plan, but there also weren't any movies we really wanted to see, so we settled on a trip to IKEA. Before that though was a brief trip to drop some old books I no longer wanted/needed at Oxfam on Hutt Street (because they're always appreciative, and it's easier than finding somewhere that want to buy them).

IKEA was... well, IKEA... although for some reason we spent a lot more time looking in their little sample rooms... maybe because this is the first time we've been since they updated them all, but there were a lot of things I really liked about a lot of the rooms.

Mostly I wanted yet another photo frame, but we found a couple of other things along the way... nothing thrillingly exciting to be honest.

After we'd done the full wander we called it a day and Ma dropped me off here before heading off home.

I'm not gunna lie... it was nice to not have to fill in the rest of the afternoon.

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post fringe round-up 2018

It's that time of year again... no, the other time... when Fringe goes away and everything seems that little bit less bright and exciting.

We only saw 18 shows this year, originally it was 17, but then we were fortunate enough to get to see The Man In The Mail for free, so that was lucky (especially since it was a good show).

Venue-wise we were pretty much back to our usual haunts, although we did get to visit the Wine Centre, The Kings Head and Marion RSL, all of which were new for us. We were also generally very spread out this year... Gluttony being the main place that got multiple visits as always.

I managed to invoke Rule 3 at least three times this year, which I love to do whenever possible... plus I got a hug from one of my favourite circus performers and a short-lived balloon animal from another. Plus a Le Gateau Chocolat hug, which is always a bonus.

I finally remembered to start scoring my Fringe reviews out of 5 (and just like I do with the movie reviews, they all got a cute little nomenclature assigned to the score depending on the show) and tailoring my review tweets a little more, although the fact that I ended up posting most of my reviews at about 1am (regardless of what the individual posts say) was an issue.

It also became very apparent very quickly that my usual refrain of "the top X number of shows are all barely separated in quality" is pretty apt given the scores I ended up giving most of the shows... 13 of the 18 shows are either a 4 or 5 out of 5.  I've included the ratings in the round-up below.

I was kind of surprised this year that I never fully hit that "I need to go hide in a hole away from people" mood that usually hits me towards the end of Fringe, but that may be due to a) not seeing as many shows as usual or b) not having to deal with people all day every day in my regular life.

  1. The Displaced
    "This is absolutely the kind of show I could watch, leave and then turn around and go back and see again right away. And Time in Space Circus have proven that they're a force to be reckoned with." - 5/5

    This was my "mention it to everyone because it blew my mind" show for this year's Fringe. And it wasn't just because the company had matured and was so very different to the last time I saw them, this was genuinely the most amazing circus show I saw this year.

  2. Flesh and Blood
    "The show goes from hilarious to moving to thought provoking and back again at the flick of a switch and had me welling up towards the end." - 5/5

    And this was usually the second show I mentioned to people. The writing and the characters here were exceptional and I'm not surprise at all that this took out the overall Best Theatre show in the Fringe Awards and the Week 1 Theatre and Week 3 Critics Choice awards.

  3. Intoxication
    "And there's a lot of great writing and performing from Bryant, but I think that the thing that really pulls the whole thing together into a consistent whole is that sense of intimacy. Because it's hard not to really hear what someone is saying while they're looking you straight in the eye and you're looking back." 5/5

    I wasn't really expecting this show... I threw it on the list because I always like to keep something gay themed in my Fringe, but I got so much more than I bargained for.

  4. Kaput
    "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." - 5/5

    I'm not going to lie, the fact that Ma ended up as part of the show made this even better, but Flanagan really is a master of physical comedy.

  5. Sound and Fury's Cyranose
    "Cyranose was barely controlled chaos. Again, in the best possible way." - 5/5

    Sound and Fury on the edge of a total nervous breakdown was something I didn't realise I needed in my life until this show. And even when there's only a third of the original cast present, it still shines.

  6. A Simple Space
    "They're the gold standard as far as I'm concerned, both in the way they put their shows together but also in how they interact with each other and with the audience." - 5/5

    Gravity and Other Myths are my OG circus act... they were one of the first (if not the first) we ever saw... and watching them from 2011 to now continues to be pure delight.

  7. Box and Cox
    "The three of them are wonderfully over the top and ridiculous in that Victorian farcical way but everything they do suits the material perfectly." - 4/5

    This show is quintessentially Fringe... funny, something you didn't know you wanted more of until you saw it and not quite what you expected.

  8. The Man in the Mail
    "Phillips does a small number of tricks, but does them well and with a lot of personality, including a couple that I really haven't seen other people do before, one including balancing on sticks and the other including a door." - 4/5

    This isn't the first time that a show we've been lucky enough to see for free has been excellent, but in this case it's a very sweet show and well put together.

  9. A Night At The Musicals
    "This show, as Woo and Chocolat proudly proclaim, is where "musical theatre goes to die", and if that's the case, then it's a good death." - 4/5

    Le Gateau Chocolat, my other OG Fringe star who just keeps getting better and better, even if I've seen the show before (Johnny Woo is also great, but let's be honest, I'm in if for the Chocolat). And any show you can sing along with is a good one.

  10. Attrape Moi! (Catch Me!)
    "The trampoline routine that closes the show was my absolute favourite... the way they dive from the structure down onto the trampoline and then just step back into position as though they hadn't flung themselves into space is breathtaking to watch." - 4/5

    Bouncy Canadian circus performers... do I need to say more?

  11. When There's No Strength In Men
    "Lorien excels as Rosalind/Ganymede and steals almost all of her scenes while pretending to be a man. In fact everyone seemed to be on top of their game in this section." - 4/5

    I always enjoy bite sized Shakespeare, and it would be fun to have this crew put on one of the comedies since they do those so well.

  12. That Daring Australian Girl
    "Hartstone does a fantastic job embodying Matters, not only through a very proper British accent (even more difficult because Matters was a trained elocutionist), but also through a very energetic physicality." - 4/5

    This is one of those shows were you come away both knowing more than you did when you walked in, but also wanting to dig a little deeper.

  13. 6 Quick Dick Tricks - A Dirk Darrow Investigation
    "He's here to amaze us with his keen mind and powers of deduction. Also puns... terrible, horrible, groan inducing puns. I mean they're funny... while being awful. But there are a lot of puns and dad jokes." - 4/5

    A master of misdirection and magical manipulation, but with more than his fair share of awful (possibly great) puns.

  14. By A Thread
    "It's an elegant show though, a beautiful show. From the choices of costumes and colours to a lot of the staging and a number of the tricks... it's at times ethereal and weightless. Other times it's bold and flashy." - 3/5

    I still maintain that this may be one of the prettiest and most elegant shows we saw this year... it just needed a little more heft at times.

  15. Circus'cision
    "Maybe some days or in some places there's a little more skin, and I won't lie that I was hoping for a little more, but it was still a fun show." - 3/5

    The problem with a show with a rotating cast is that you can never know what you're going to end up with... and while it was nice to see some "old friends", I think I was expecting a little more circus. But the circus I did get was great.

  16. Grimm Tales
    "Lorien excels as Rosalind/Ganymede and steals almost all of her scenes while pretending to be a man. In fact everyone seemed to be on top of their game in this section" - 3/5

    There were definitely great moments in this show, but a different venue may have helped.

  17. Heathers: The Musical (High School Edition)
    "Camryn Jordans is spectacular in the role (of Veronica), not only does she have an amazing voice that can really belt out the big musical numbers, but she has some serious acting skills and great comic timing. And she makes it hard to look anywhere else but in her direction." - 3/5

    To be honest I didn't realise this was going to be a teen cast until after I'd bought the ticket, and it was definitely uneven, but there are a couple of names and faces I'll be keeping my eye on.

  18. The Bridge
    "I feel like they have an interesting, if slightly short, story here, it just needed something more." - 2/5

    Definitely interesting... but it just didn't hit the mark for me.

And now there's nothing much to do but wait for Fringe to roll around again.

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