movies: i love you phillip morris

Friday, July 30, 2010

i love you phillip morris - based on a true story... no, really it isIt was very lucky happenstance that I Love You Phillip Morris was playing as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival on the Friday we were in Melbourne. Especially since it doesn't seem like it's going to be getting a general release any time soon.

And I think that's a shame, because it's a fun movie.

It's not Jim Carrey being completely over the top, but it's also not him playing it "straight" (excuse the pun) like Eternal Sunshine... but it does use his ability to play a caricature incredibly well. He plays gay, and yes occasionally stereotypically gay, but it's still believable.

And similarly with Ewan McGregor... he's all blonde and maybe playing it a little bit "sissy"... it's not quite the right term, but if the movie had a straight couple, Ewan would be playing the female character.

Having said that, that is pretty much who the character is, so Ewan is fantastic in the role, and there isn't in any way an element of mockery in either of their performances.

Sure there are a few cringe moments as Jim's character lies his way into all kinds of trouble (it's a little bit Catch Me If You Can at times actually), but there are also some genuinely touching moments, especially towards the end, and as proven by tonight's audience, it also has a lot of laughs.

There really isn't much else to say... even though this may officially be the shortest movie review I've ever written. But there isn't that much to say... it's sweet, it's funny and some distribution company should really get off their ass and give it a wider release.

yani's rating: 9 cloud wieners out of 10

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melbourne: the longest day

melbourne street art 2010This has felt like the longest day of my life... not in a bad way, but it's been a VERY long day...

It also seems to have been a day characterised by me being unsure whether or not I've remembered things...

While it actually feels like I've been up for several days at this point, I got up at 5am, changed the bedding, threw myself in the shower, got dressed and was pretty much read for Ma to arrive just before 6am... all in the dark mind you... then we got the slowest taxi driver in all of creation. Ma says he was doing the speed limit, and he might have been, but he was also hunched over the wheel, little old man style. Which is fair, because he WAS a little old man essentially.

But we made it to the airport without incident. It turned out that the reason that I couldn't do the full online check-in yesterday was that for some ungodly reason I checked the "yes I have dangerous goods" option. No idea what the hell that was about, because I didn't. Just what comes of doing these things when you're not quite awake yet I guess.

I think this is the first time ever that we've actually taken off ahead of schedule... which was a nice change. Go Qantas!

And if we'd known that they were going to give us a real, actual (more or less) breakfast, we probably wouldn't have bothered buying something at the airport. But it was okay, because we squirreled what was left over in various bags... woohoo...

I wish I knew what it was about flying that makes me feel ill... it wasn't the whole flight, I was okay for most of it, but when we were coming in to land I felt distinctly unwell... urgh. But thankfully as soon as we were off the plane I felt better.

Our driver was waiting for us down by baggage claim, and because our bags seemed to be some of the first off the plane, once we were down there our bags were right there (actually it took forever to get off the plane since we were three rows from the back and it took them ages to get the air-bridge organised... but it worked in our favour really).

I'm pretty sure that the driver we had is the same driver who took us back to the airport last time. Chatty, but not obnoxiously so. And I swear that every time we're in Melbourne we end up coming into the CBD or going back to airport a slightly different way.

Can we talk about the hotel? SWANKY! Although it would want to be, because it's only been open for a month.

But because we got to the hotel exceedingly early (four hours before official check-in time), we had to leave our bags behind and go on a wander. It wasn't too bad... a little tiring from all the walking, but in some ways a nice low stress start to our holiday... we didn't have to be anywhere at a particular time, so we were free to wander here or there or wherever we liked.

And wander we did... a little shopping, a little looking, a little street art (sadly, no Benzo yet), a little eating.

Oh, and watching all the iPhone 4 fanboys and girls lined up outside various phone stores...

I will say that yet again the people of Melbourne a) don't appear to look where they're walking, b) don't appear to care when they get in the way, and c) seem to walk very slowly. All things that I always enjoy oh so much (that would be sarcasm by the way)...

Essentially I just wanted to check out street art, which we did... and we also stopped off at Minotaur Comics (I could go a little bit nuts in there really). But Ma has no cause for complaint, our first retail stop was a bracelet for her... once of those ones with the beads... we went past a place with them on sale, went in to ask/look and very uncharacteristically Ma decided on it there and then (so that's the first item going in the Christmas box).

Mostly though there was a LOT of wandering... we wandered from the hotel down to Elizabeth Street, back to Federation Square, up to first QV and then Melbourne Central... unfortunately when we stopped for lunch at QV we went to the soup shop we went to last time... but Ma picked a size too large and I picked a flavour that was essentially a bit crap, so an unsatisfying lunch was had by all.

Eventually it was time to head back to the hotel (after a brief stop at JB HiFi to check out their Queer DVD section)... and we had to wait around while they checked whether the rooms were ready... interestingly this is the first time they haven't put our rooms next to each other... or even on the same floor... I'm on the top floor (woohoo) and Ma is 11 floors down (I'm pretty sure this is also the tallest hotel we've ever stayed in).

And the rooms actually look pretty much like the image they have on their website. Not precisely, but close enough:

website shot top, my shot bottom... its hard to get as much of the hotel room in shot when you don't have a fish-eye lens handyEssentially the only thing missing (from both mine and Ma's room) is the divider. I also have a great view (Ma unfortunately has a lovely view of a crane... but the buildings beyond the crane are quite nice) which doesn't photograph as nicely as it looks. It also reinforces that I like staying in the more apartment style hotel rooms... rather than just a bed and maybe a fridge, I've got a couch and essentially a full kitchen (dishwasher, kettle, toaster, microwave), plus a stereo system that has an iPod dock and a shower you could fit a rugby team in if you were so inclined... woohoo.

But mostly I like this hotel because it's all new and swanky...

Oh, and they give you real coathangers too, which is nice (I'm easily pleased).

After we'd both unpacked and visted each others rooms we headed back out for more of a wander, took a look at Chinatown (little disappointing), got lost amongst the laneways (although we did find somewhere for breakfast tomorrow, provided we can find it again), found Matt Irwin's photography gallery (he's the photographer we "discovered" last time), stopped off at Haigh's (supporting the Adelaide brands) and also discovered somewhere to have dinner.

So once we finished our wander, we came back to the hotel, changed and headed out to dinner... and keeping up the tradition, we found a little Indian place, Jaisalmer Palace, which was empty which isn't always a good sign, but it did mean we got served fairly quickly... and the food was actually quite nice, good Rogan Josh (always the standard for how good an Indian place is), a nice veggie curry and decent naan (the other way you know the place is good). Even if the waitress did keep saying "Thank you" every five seconds.

Then we were off to Greater Union to see the Melbourne International Film Festival showing of I Love You Phillip Morris... and I saw John Safran in the audience and the guy directly in front of us ate fresh peas straight out of the pod, which was very peculiar, even for a film festival.

And that was it... then it was back to the hotel to unwind, write up our adventures and half watch 60 Minute Makeover (seriously Claire, were you going to a wedding or something... what the hell is up with that hair)...

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random melbournian hotness

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It seemed appropriate to find a Random Hotness for today that was Melbourne-related...

And what could be better than something by the decidedly NSFW Bentley Race who takes a lot of his photos on the roof of his Melbourne CBD apartment block...

So here's a double dose of the very sexiful blonde surfer boy, Eligh Rainer...

eligh rainer by bentley race eligh rainer by bentley race
eligh rainer by bentley race eligh rainer by bentley race

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that packing feeling

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

that packing feelingMy big purple suitcase is staring at me from across the living room... okay, it's not really, because it doesn't have any eyes... but I am reaching that "must organise suitcase and panic about things I have no control over" portion of the pre-holiday preparations.

We're definitely packing this holiday from top to bottom though...

Friday is reasonably clear, although we're going to the Melbourne International Film Festival at night...

Saturday is going to be pretty packed... Tim Burton in the morning then Stephen Fry in the afternoon, which doesn't sound like a lot, but I think it's going to be a long and tiring day.

Sunday may be worse... the Art Centre Market, then the St Kilda Market, then back to the CBD for another MIFF show...

Then Monday we'll essentially be getting up, sorting ourselves out and coming home...

Which is why I decided to take Tuesday off... this is definitely going to be a holiday I need a holiday from.

And as previously mentioned, I'm doing that "panic about things I have no control over" thing I tend to do at some point before most holidays... the car hire place hasn't called me back yet to confirm the booking, I haven't booked the taxi... and well, I always tend to "panic" before stuff.

I don't know that it's what you would call full scale panic, it's more a mild sense of dread...

So tomorrow I have to call the car hire place, book the taxi, tidy the apartment, pack my suitcase and if possible have an early night... oh, and I have to do the internet check-in thing first thing in the morning...

*runs around in ever decreasing circles*

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movies: inception

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

the dream is realThree things I came away from Inception thinking...

Firstly...in the following order, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cillian Murphy... yum!

Secondly... if you're going to make your story revolve around an emotional core, make sure we can actually connect with it and give a damn... because you didn't, and I didn't...

Thirdly... I don't know what I expected, but I think it was more than what was actually delivered.

And it's not that I didn't "get it"... the movie is a fricken onion... it has layers definitely, but unless I completely missed the point of everything, there wasn't anything that happened that was especially hard to follow, it seemed somewhat linear really... this leads to that which leads to that which leads to the other thing which leads to the other other thing which may all... well, that gets a little esoterically spoilery, so...

One thing that did bug me were the ideas that didn't go anywhere... there are at least two I can think of off the top of my head that are specifically mentioned and shown, but they're just left seemingly abandoned on the shore. Or maybe not... maybe I didn't get that bit.

But it's certainly not something that I feel like I need to see again to confirm any theories or gain a deeper understanding of... I feel like I got out of it whatever was "get-able"...

It's a little hard to discuss the movie though without getting more spoiler heavy than I usually like to get, but I will say that I wasn't particularly surprised by any of it... nothing came as a great shock or big reveal, and the one "great revelation" was something I saw coming a mile away. But I will admit that I'm never sure whether that stuff is supposed to be obvious or not.

While the plot may not have really impressed me overall, the cast did... not only because it was stocked with The Hotness... but because they did an exceptionally good job. Sadly though, Leo has spent too many movies being all intense and emotive because he now appears to have the Grand Canyon permanently situated between his eyebrows. And if I'm being honest, it was the combination of him and Marion Cotillard which left me a little cold, but again, I think that was more about the plot and the script than it was about either of their performances.

Possibly the person who impressed me the most was Ellen Page, even though when I think about it now, she didn't really seem to have a lot to "do", but there was just something about her... although whether it's because she's the lone female in this essentially "sausagefest" movie or not I don't know.

Also in the negative column is the "Bourne camerawork"... it's mostly noticeable during the action scenes, but both Ma and I commented on having a slight headache when it was all over, which I think was more about the shaky camera than any part of the plot.

The effects are beautifully done (there's a whole "freefall" sequence that I'm still unsure about how they pulled it off), although there aren't anywhere near as much of this whole "universe bending" Matrix-style stuff as the trailers make it out to have.

The movie is also something of a slow burn... with a 148 minute run time it only really feels like it's ramping up in the last half hour or so.

And it is enjoyable, especially as the scenarios play out and things begin to ramp up, I was definitely engaged and with the characters all the way, even if I wasn't particularly engaged with their emotional motivation... but somehow it just suffered from me going into it with high expectations... I just expected more...

yani's rating: 8 weighted talismans out of 10

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unconscious mutterings 391

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's days like today I wish I wore a tie to work... if only to prevent certain work colleagues from noticing certain "marks" on my neck...

Unconscious Mutterings...

  1. Inception :: Tuesday
  2. Anticipation :: Rocky Horror Picture Show
  3. Space :: Man
  4. Earn :: Wage
  5. .com :: Boom
  6. Hello! :: Is it me you're looking for?
  7. Equivalent :: Not the same
  8. Swore :: Loudly
  9. Actions :: Speak louder than words
  10. Expletive! :: Deleted!
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saturday with hair, art, shoes and eggnog

Saturday, July 24, 2010

busy, busy mouseI've been a very, very busy mouse today... in fact we were on the go from 8 until nearly 5... and I was up at around 6:30... so a very big day indeed!

There's been hair colour... and artwork... and sneakers... and eggnog... and Christmas carols... (oh my!)

First up on the cards, after the "this was my week" round-up Ma and I tend to do in the car on the way to the supermarket, was, unsurprisingly, Supermarket Safari.

And like the last few weeks I really only needed the fresh stuff... I have a cupboard full of various tins and jars and packets, which I'm not really using. On the plus side, it speeds up the shopping.

I am a little irritated with myself that I forgot to pick up an iTunes card at Target since they're on special at the moment (2 x $20 for $30)... so I'll either have to do that during the week or maybe make a special trip tomorrow.

dual haircutAnyway, after the usual shopping and unpacking and whatnot, we headed into town for our back-to-back haircuts. Ma's regular haircutting homosexual is throttling back his hours, so I suggested that she come and see Tink with me, since I've been threatening to drag her along for a while now.

And since I had my hair coloured as well as cut it all worked out nicely, Ma got to have a wander for about an hour while Tink dealt with me, then while my hair colour was "cooking", she cut Ma's hair.

With my hair we went back to short... different to previous short (although leaning somewhat more towards the spiky although I think it should be adaptable), but still short... so short in fact that I'm currently suffering from acute "short haired back of head coldness" (thank all the appropriate deities for scarves). We also throttled back on the colour again, still dark, but a step lighter than last time.

Tink did a decent job with Ma's hair too... but like with all haircuts, it's not so much the way it looks right after it's been cut, it's how it wears when you have to style it yourself.

And speaking of hair... there were a number of people in town with hair of unnatural hue or styling on their way to AVCon... we really need to go and take a look at that next year and see all the weirdos cosplayers and whatever else it is they have.

waterhouse natural history art prize 2010After our haircuts we heading off to the Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize exhibition at the Museum...

I'm not sure whether it's just because this is our fourth time going to the exhibition, and we're getting used to the quality of the works, but I think there have been better years.

But this year there were some clear favourites... and interestingly, both of the ones I really liked featured cephalopods... The one I picked for the People's Choice prize, Dave Clarke's Nautilus (at the top of the image on the right) and Silvio Apponyi's Squid (which isn't in the image), both of whom are South Australian. However, the piece that Ma picked, Sushi or Not Sushi (at the bottom of the image) is also by Silvio, a fact I only just realised!

I very much found myself being drawn to the monochromatic works this year... lino prints, the middle piece in the image (Parallel Universes)... that kind of thing... although I do love me some copper...

asics gel-1150Next up was lunch (a perfectly adequate steak sandwich) and a bit of a wander up and down the Mall (complete with a stop off at Smiggle and Haighs... which, of course, are at opposite ends of the Mall) we headed off to Athlete's Foot so I could purchase new sneakers for my daily walk...

My old ones finally gave up the ghost this week, they've been on the way out for a while now, but I finally wore the soles all the way through... and they were taking on water for a couple of days there.

After trying on a couple of pairs and finding that they didn't have my size in a couple of pairs that I would have liked to try on, I decided on the Asics Gel-1150's (very springy in the steppage)... now they're supposed to be the same model as the ones in the photo, but mine are red, not yellow (which is kind of a shame, because the yellow ones are kinda cool and would match my iPhone cover *grin*), and have red in a couple of different places.

Essentially they're very "look at me Kimmy, look at me, look at me"... and I will definitely have to only wear them for the walking...

I will (once again) lament the fact that they never seem to have the attractive looking shoes in either my size or the right width or whatever... and they all look like they've all been designed by hyperactive 10 year olds... but they'll do the job.

Then we headed back to the car and took off for our final destination...

format xmas in julyThe Format Christmas in July Market! Jingle bells and all that...

We got there just in time for the carol singing... oh lordy, the carol singing... shall we just say "occasionally off key but enthusiastic". We retreated from the singing downstairs to look at the few stalls they had...

The first stall was staffed by the same guy I bought the dragonfly brooch from at the Zine Fair in March, and he had more colourful wire stuff (oooh... wire elephant!) as well as some really great "imagined cityscapes", which I couldn't resist, especially after he knocked $5 off the price (bargain!), so I bought one. Because you gotta support local artists!

The next stall was occupied by the girl who ran the Radical Crafternoon from April (all my Format chickens coming home to roost really!), and I bought another cross stitch kit and some lime curd (mmmm curd)... I did have to stop myself from wanting to buy something from just about every stall we looked at though... I think buying the artwork right off the bat helped.

After we'd done the rounds downstairs we went upstairs to listen to the end of the carol singing... and I got some eggnog... which was pretty much lethal. I don't know what kinda booze was in there... or how much (I'm guessing "a lot")... but I know that I couldn't finish it... whooo-nelly!

But it was a fun end to the afternoon... even if I do feel like I need another Saturday to recover from the Saturday I just had...

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photo friday: aquarium silhouettes

Friday, July 23, 2010

aquarium silhouettesThis time next week I'll be enjoying my spanky new hotel room in Melbourne... or possibly enjoying one of the films in the Melbourne International Film Festival, I'm not sure yet.

What I do know is that the stars seem to be continuously aligning for this holiday... which makes me more than a little bit nervous about what the Universe will require in payment for all this good fortune. Hopefully whatever it is it can wait until we get home again.

Although given that my week went from mundane to insane with one email yesterday, perhaps I'm paying in advance.

And I spent today catching up after yesterday... but although I was busy all day, I only felt like I
did the same thing all day. That and get harassed and teased by Sugarmonkey and H-San... big meanies...

But there's no rest for the wicked... tomorrow looks like it's going to be a full day... from haircuts to art to sneakers to Christmas in July...

*deep breath*

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random lautner hotness

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Today's Random Hotness is proof that only one decent thing has come out of the whole Twilimp phenomenon... and that thing is the hotness of Taylor Lautner... especially when you mix Taylor and the GQ Fall 2010 Preview!

And given that he looks that good and he's fully dressed, it just proves that he's too hot for his own good...

taylor lautner in gq taylor lautner in gq
taylor lautner in gq taylor lautner in gq

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pink's soup

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

pink's vegetarian soup recipeI made soup tonight, chicken & veg soup with noodles... which is not the soup in this post, but it did make me remember that I never got around to posting the recipe for soup that Pink posted on Twitter...

And it's very, very tasty!

Pink's Vegetable Soup

2 medium brown onions, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 ribs of celery, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
Olive oil
4 tomatoes, diced
2 bay leaves
6 cups vegetable stock
1/3 cup brown rice
1 tin kidney beans, drained
1 cup fresh green beans, chopped

Sauté garlic, onions, carrots and celery in the olive oil for 10 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and bay leaf then cover with vegetable stock and add brown rice. Bring to the boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for 50 minutes.

Add kidney beans and fresh green beans then simmer for 10 minutes or until beans are tender.

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unconscious mutterings 390

Monday, July 19, 2010

This morning there was fog... I quite like fog... possibly because we don't get it very often and it always seems a bit magical, or a bit like I'm in a movie... with the lights filtering through fog and trees and everything looking that little bit unreal.

And now we appear to have rain again...

Unconscious Mutterings...

  1. Deals :: Shopping
  2. Alive :: Staying
  3. Smooth :: Body
  4. Materials :: Art
  5. Arrest :: House
  6. Locker :: Room
  7. Evidence :: CSI
  8. Operation :: Hospital
  9. Opal :: Desert
  10. Investigation :: Federal Bureau of
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fifth blogiversary

Sunday, July 18, 2010

yaniblog's fifth blogiversaryCan you believe that it has been 1826 days (that's exactly five years) since I started this blog?

In some ways it feels like I've been doing it for a lot, lot longer... but by the same token, 5 years already? Really?

The odd thing is that the moment I sat down at the computer to start the blog is indelibly burned into my memory... I have no idea what the hell I was doing 5 minutes before, or 5 minutes after, but I remember the moment (possibly it has come up in my memory every 365 days for the past five years).

This last 7 months have been different from the previous 4 years and 5 months though. And that's totally due to the seductive yet demanding little bluebird that has infiltrated my life... Twitter.

Things that I might have stored up and turned into a post now just get thrown out 140 characters at a time, so between Twitter, Google Reader and my own blog sometimes it's the latter that suffers. Actually, my own blog is always the loser in those situations... or I end up not doing other things to make blogging time.

It's the modern dilemma really... far too much information to deal with given the amount of hours in the day... information overload.

I've been thinking about this in light of the blog for a while now... having published something every single day (sometimes more than once a day) since about October 2005 (I thought there was a post where I specifically mentioned it, but buggered if I can find it now), I know that I regularly struggle to find things to say on Sundays, Wednesdays and every other Tuesday. And there have been a couple of instances of late where I haven't even realised I didn't post something until 11pm... or just pulled something substandard out of my ass (not literally obviously... it's not that kind of blog).

Bad blogging yani... bad...

I also know that sometimes it has felt much more like an obligation than a pleasure.

And no, this isn't me taking the long way around to say that I'm shutting down the blog, I just think I'm not going to post every day unless I particularly have something worth saying or showing. Essentially I think it's just going to mean that Sundays, Wednesdays and every other Tuesday will probably tend towards the vacant.

Hopefully it also means that the stuff I do end up posting will be better... but we all know that that's not especially likely don't we...

I will just briefly add that I'm continually thankful for this blog... it allows me to vent when I'm cranky and share my joy... it acts as my memory and my art gallery... but mostly I'm thankful for the people who come here and leave their own thoughts... especially those that I now consider friends.

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just another saturday

Saturday, July 17, 2010

grey hoodiePffft... a bit of a wasted day really... well, not totally... but it could have been better.

Because the plumber was coming at 10am we didn't waste any time and headed off to do the supermarket thing. But I still had a ton of stuff left over from this week, and we didn't need to go across the road for our Iced Coffee fix, so it was a short trip...

But that meant that we got back to my place at around 8:45... which has to be some kind of record... but also meant we had to kill an hour and a quarter waiting for the plumber.

And as is the way of tradesmen everywhere... 10am came... 10:15 came... then suddenly I heard the "click click click" of someone trying to light the pilot light...

Sure Mr Plumber Man... just go right ahead and relight the water heater before you come and talk to me... which really does prove that I don't need to be home for them to relight it... it's just the checking it worked part I need to be involved in.

I am currently suffering from random paranoia that it has stayed lit all day... but I may go and have a shower shortly, just because...

As I predicted, it only took him about two minutes to fix it, but at least I made people aware of the problem... although part of me wants to take to the thing with a sledgehammer so they have to replace it.

Anyway, once he was gone we headed down to Arndale for general "looking at things"... which then turned into "buying clothes", or more specifically for me, buying more Bonds hoodies and another pair of Bonds trackpants.

Then we headed down to West Lakes, again for general "looking at things"... all I ended up getting from there was a little chicken mini-roast thing to have tomorrow (as well as some kipfler potatoes and tomatoes on the vine)... and after getting some lunch we headed back here...

In general, a very m'eh kind of day really...

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go hit the shower...

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photo friday: blue diver

Friday, July 16, 2010

benzo diverIt's been a funny old day... funny old week really...

  • H-San decided for some reason this morning after I asked him how he was that he wasn't going to talk... I have no idea what the hell that was about... but he kept it up until about 11am...
  • It seems that often when I call the Land Agent about getting a plumber out, they always claim that "he was just out there this morning"... which doesn't help anyone really... but they're supposed to be sending the Plumber's Assistant out tomorrow... which is helpful...
  • I'm always incredibly suspicious when guys I consider to be incredibly hot start a conversation with me on gay "dating" sites... I never expect the conversations to last long... and even when they do last, I never expect anything to come of them... or I expect the dude to turn out to be defective... sad really, or perhaps it's just the voice of experience...
  • Rather unexpectedly got a bit teary on the way to work yesterday while listening to Pogo's Toy Story remix... I think it was just associated stress from my water heater dramas amongst other things coupled with the memory of Toy Story 3... but it was very strange...
  • I wrote out my packing list for Melbourne last night... it doesn't seem to matter how long we go away for, my list of things to pack seems to get longer each time...
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random shower hotness

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Can you guess from this week's Random Hotness what's occupying my mind far too much at the moment?

it doesn't feel like a luxury until you can't have one it doesn't feel like a luxury until you can't have one

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stuff ups with jetty

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

jetty road red jettySeriously... I'm tired of my life... okay, maybe not my life... maybe just my apartment.

Thanks to the wind yesterday, my hot water got knocked out... and I didn't think there was any point to relighting it before I went to the movies, or even after I got back, since it was still windy... so I figured I'd leave it until this morning and try it then. And that would have been fine, I chose to sleep in and had all this time... but left it to the last minute and it started to bucket down with rain as soon as I put my shoes on to go outside. And since I had very little time I ended up washing my hair in the sink and didn't have a shower. Which essentially is just gross.

It's the easiest way in all of the world to make me revert to a primitive state of being... deny me access to hot water. I don't cope well.

Then I got to work and the Twitter app on my iPhone stopped working, and both the mail servers and internet were down. Denying me access to the internet on top of hot water is just cruel and unusual punishment.

I do find myself wondering about karma in these situations... maybe all my muttering and sighing and teeth grinding at the general stupidity of humanity comes back to roost and result in all this crap. But then that's a whole repeating cycle...

And once things start to go awry, they just seem to snowball and everything feels like it's screwed up...

That just points to the Universe having a cruel and unusual sense of humour though...

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movies: predators

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

fear is rebornIt's time for one of those My Movie Past Confession moments...

While I saw (and enjoyed) the original Predator movie, I don't know that I've ever actually seen the second one all the way through... but I also quite enjoyed Alien vs Predator... but I haven't seen the second one of those either...

Predators, which I went to see solo, harkens back to the first one in a lot of ways... but without the somewhat pointless "commando mission" bit at the beginning, if only because it's set in a jungle and people are being picked off one at a time.

But as always with a sequel (which is what this is being billed as rather than a reboot... and there is a somewhat tenuous link to the original), they have to up the stakes... in this case with more Predators and a diverse (both ethnically and in background) group of "prey".

For the most part though, it was a "by the numbers" plot... the humans are all archetypes/stereotypes so they don't require a hell of a lot of backstory (in most cases none at all beyond what they were doing before the beginning of the movie) or development, and you knew who was going to make it to the final confrontation, although I will admit that there were some surprises at the climax of the movie, especially the very end... but for the most part, it just delivers what it promises on the box...

The human cast is about as good as you'd expect, although I was pleasantly surprised by Adrien Brody and Topher Grace, the former for his "action hero" chops, and the latter for what he did with the limited character he was given.

However the movie does sag somewhat in the middle... there's a whole section where I could have taken several bathroom breaks (and had to take one, in fact, because I'd bought a large drink) where there's not much happening, and the exposition that is given is a little hard to hear and I'm sure I missed a couple of the relevant details... something about big ones and little ones and time immemorial.

Actually the dialogue throughout was somewhat hard to hear at times, but I'm not sure if that was me, or the movie or just the sound system at the cinema.

All in all though, a serviceable action movie with a few moments of suspense but no real scares.

yani's rating: 7 triangular targeting lasers out of 10

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unconscious mutterings 389

Monday, July 12, 2010

Today's forecast called for general randomness with boredom developing later in the afternoon...

Unconscious Mutterings...

  1. Dickens :: What The
  2. Collection :: DVD
  3. Weekends :: Are not long enough!
  4. Travel :: I'd like to do more of it, given the money
  5. District :: 6... which is like District 9 but with real people
  6. Vampires :: should never ever ever sparkle in sunlight
  7. Peep show :: Dirty old men
  8. Crochet :: Hook
  9. Lion :: King
  10. Fetch :: Doggy
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why this season of doctor who sucked so hard

Sunday, July 11, 2010

yes, season five of doctor who... you sucked so badThere are spoilers... you have been warned.

In 2005 Rose absorbed the Heart of the TARDIS, The Doctor kissed her, Captain Jack died and then didn't and I may have gotten all misty eyed.

In 2006 the Cybermen and the Daleks crossed the Void, Rose was lost in a parallel dimension, The Doctor nearly told Rose he loved her and I bawled.

In 2007 The Master unleashed the Toclafane, The Doctor felt the full weight of 900 years, Martha walked the Earth and I shed a tear or two.

In 2008 Davros returned, Rose crossed the Void, The Doctor duplicated, Donna was forced to forget and I wept and cheered in equal measure.

In 2009 The Master was everyone everywhere, Wilfred got himself stuck, The Doctor heard four knocks, said goodbye to all his companions and I did The Ugly Cry.

In 2010 the Universe ceased to exist, Amy got married, The Doctor violated his own rules and I didn't especially care.

*insert loud and resounding raspberry here*

Sadly, the 2010 season of Doctor Who has been the weakest of NuWho (as I so charmingly saw it referred to in various places online). The stories have been without the passion we've come to know and love, the characters have been watered down echoes of seasons past and it just feels like we've seen it all before, but better.

And I choose to lay the majority of the blame for this squarely at the feet of two people... the character of Amy Pond and the new executive producer/head writer Stephen Moffat.

Sure, Matt Smith is still finding his feet, and the direction they've chosen to take the character perhaps doesn't help... he's too busy telling people to shush (although if I had to travel around with Amy and Raury, I'd be telling them to shut up a lot too) and that warmth seems to be missing.

But I blame Amy Pond because the Companion is always the other half of the Doctor Who experience. The Companion is our eyes and ears, our entry into the world of The Doctor (especially a new Doctor) and when she doesn't work, I find it hard to engage with that particular season.

Until now Martha was the weakest of The Doctor's season-long companions. Martha was in love with The Doctor from the second episode... that was something I just could never get on board with so soon after the loss of Rose.

But now there's Amy Pond. Amy Pond would shag The Doctor (or even snog him on her wedding day... which is just classy!), but isn't in love with him. Amy Pond treats her fiancé somewhat like Rose treated Mickey, but Amy doesn't act like she cares about him that much in the first place. Amy Pond is as dull as the water in the Leadworth duck pond... and about as shallow.

At no point during this season did I really engage with Amy Pond. In the first episode of the season she was fun and feisty and interesting, if a little scattered, and showed a degree of promise as a character... but what little promise there was has either been squandered or just left to fizzle away. She had a very brief hero moment in the second episode, The Beast Below, but Moffat's need to underline the particular point they were trying to make (which I would imagine most of the audience would have gotten without the underlining) somewhat screwed that up. Since then she's just become more and more unworthy as a Companion.

Amy has had no Dalek moment, no Rise of the Cybermen moment, no Human Nature moment, no Silence in the Library moment and certainly no Left Turn moment. Yes, she had that quite good "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" moment in the finale... but it wasn't enough.

Her character hasn't even had a worthwhile arc (she was unsure about marrying Raury for about half of the season, then decided that she loved him, was separated from him for the next two episodes and then had him completely wiped from her memory) and as far as I'm concerned she isn't adding anything to Matt Smith's Doctor.

Amy, not to put too fine a point on it, is dull and unengaging.

That's where the blame falls at the feet of executive producer/head writer Stephen Moffat.

From 1989 to 1993 Stephen Moffat wrote what is possible the BEST female character in all of "young adult television". He wrote Lynda Day for a show called Press Gang. To be fair, he wrote amazing dialogue for all of the characters in that show... it was witty and acerbic and topical and complicated and amazing and touching and instantly quotable.

So why the hell is Amy Pond so dull? Seriously, I would love it if someone could answer that for me. Is it Karen Gillan? Is it bad writing? Is it a complete and total lack of new directions to take the Companion in? Is it this seeming need to have the Companion be integral to the season long plot in some way?

It was very much brought home to me how dull and uninteresting Amy was when Meera Syal guest starred in the "Hungry Earth/Cold Blood" two parter. Her interactions with The Doctor made me wish for "what might have been" with a better Companion.

Or could it be that the chemistry between Amy and The Doctor is hampered by the fact that they chose to dress the 28 year old eleventh incarnation of The Doctor like he was a 70 year old professor of classical literature? And by they, I mean costume designer, Ray Holman and, one assumes, Stephen Moffat. When a character's normal everyday street clothes look better for the character than the character's clothes... there's a problem.

But I guess my biggest complaint about this season is that the stories have been particularly lacklustre and below par. I have a feeling that that may well be because Russell T. Davies left the series and seemingly took all of the subtlety and heart with him... considering that he wrote 31 out of the 60 episodes while he was on board, and potentially provided some shaping of other episodes (also known as The Joss Whedon Effect), there is definitely a marked decrease in the quality of this season's episodes.

I've also read a degree of stuff online from people who dislike RTD because he puts "character before story"... well, you know what I say to that, other than to blow a resounding raspberry... I would much rather watch teevee where I connect with the characters and their emotions resonate with me and involve me (also known as The Lost Finale Effect) than I would watch something that merely checks all the story boxes and leaves the characters essentially going through the motions in service of the plot. Sure... great teevee has both, but you know what, I believe there have been episodes of NuWho that do both just fine...

Of my favourite NuWho episodes, The Girl in the Fireplace, Doomsday, Blink and Turn Left, two were written by Davies and the other two were written by Moffat... and oddly enough two are very "Doctor Lite" episodes... but I believe that they all have great story and great emotion. In fact, two of them made me cry...

This season hasn't produced a single standout episode... okay, the very end of Vincent and the Doctor did make me tear up, but that was completely down to guest star Tony Curran and guest writer Richard Curtis... the actual "sci-fi" element of the plot (the invisible alien critter that only Vincent can see) was mostly a waste of time (find critter, identify critter, discover critter is lost, alone and blind, kill critter anyway) and wasn't engaging on either of the levels I mentioned earlier.

It's doubly disappointing because the season started on such a high note... The Eleventh Hour was an exceptionally good episode... but sadly the season, like Amy Pond and Stephen Moffat, hasn't lived up to it's promise.

And the reopening of the Pandorica to reveal Amy Pond in this last episode... I felt completely and totally cheated... not to mention disappointed.

I was particularly annoyed by the lazy writing of the majority of the finale. One line that I particularly remember an earlier version of The Doctor saying is that he was unable to revisit earlier points in his own timeline... and yet, thanks to River Song's little wrist doodad (which looks highly similar to the one Jack Harkness has), there he is, flipping all over his own timestream and being the reason that he can escape, and that Amelia finds the clue in her letter box, and Raury puts the sonic screwdriver in Amy's top pocket, etc etc etc...

It all became extremely Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure... and while it might be acceptable for lesser shows (or the movies) involving time travel, I expected more of Doctor Who.

I was impressed with some of the moments at the end though... especially with the quick scene that never actually made any sense in the Flesh and Stone episode, and weaving it into this one. I wish there had been more of those moments, a reworking of scenes we were already aware of or just writing things in that seemed odd within the context of the episode but that could have been revisited.

And yes, as already mentioned, the scene at the wedding at the end was possibly amongst the best in the whole season...

"Raggedy Man, I remember you, and you are late for my wedding!"

But as I mentioned in my review of The Eleventh Hour, the story arc for this whole season has been handled rather ham-fistedly. While I don't have a problem with the arc being introduced in the first episode, the continual need for them to underline it each episode seemed inelegant compared with previous seasons where it's only on a second viewing that you start to join all of the dots and realise that the plot line for the finale has been being laid in all the time (the disappearing planets of Season 4, or Harold Saxon of Season 3).

It was also predictable... what's the one thing that would be important to The Doctor that could explode and create tears throughout the fabric of space and time... and then fix the damage that it caused... well DUR!

And the "a particle of every part of the Universe is inside the Pandoria" coupled with "Amy Pond can remember everybody into existence" ideas just weren't strong enough. What would have been better was if Amy wasn't at all surprised by the fact she had parents... it would have made her remembering The Raggedy Doctor much stronger I think.

I also don't think that this "Silence" plot is an interesting enough story to warrant it being stretched out to next season... but that's exactly what's going to happen *sigh*.

What this season has also done is bring back a number of elements from past seasons and hasn't treated them particularly well.

Firstly, The Weeping Angels. When they showed up in Blink they were a brilliant creation... they had presence, they had menace, it was honestly an edge of your seat episode. Maybe it was because it was a "Doctor/Companion lite" episode and all bets were off, the characters were all new and anybody could be taken by the Angels.

But bringing them back, especially at the same time as you revisit River Song (more on her in a moment) seemed unnecessarily greedy... and for me, it diminished their power (and River's). You knew they weren't going to get the Doctor or Amy (because in NuWho a Companion lasts a whole season so whatever happens to them before the finale is inconsequential) and the Soldier Monks weren't interesting enough to get worked up about.

Next, the quasi mysterious River Song. I put the caveat on that because when she first showed up in the "Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead" double header, she was mysterious... she was tantalising and new and was something of a step ahead of the Tenth Doctor. But unfortunately because Alex Kingston isn't getting any younger and since every other time we meet her from here on out is going to take place in her past but The Doctor's present and future (if that makes sense), they seemed to have shoehorned her into the Weeping Angel double header, which honestly, could have been filled in by any random guest star of the week and didn't require her character in the slightest.

I have no problem with her inclusion in the two part finale, especially since her character seemed a lot more like the feisty woman we met in originally... in fact, she was fantastic in her scene with the Dalek.

But now that I've mentioned Daleks...

I get that Daleks are a fan favourite, really, I do... but four of the six season finales (counting The End of Time Part One and Two as a season finale) have featured The Doctor somehow wiping out "all Daleks in existence" or variations on a theme thereof.

And there are six other episodes that seem to be there only to explain why, in this particular instance, these few remaining Daleks were somehow exempt from the aforementioned Dalek genocide. Either totally finish them off once and for all, or stop claiming that whatever you end up doing somehow will do anything more than defeat this particular crop of Daleks on screen.

Personally, I'd be all in favour of really ending them for good, because I think that episode could have power... but I know that it will never happen.

For this new Doctor however they decided that the Daleks also needed a makeover, so now we have Daleks in a range of fashion colours. Two or three colours I understand (take the Star Trek model... red for commanders, yellow for soldiers, blue for science), but five seems excessive. And it's not even like the Daleks haven't been available in varied pallet (personally I like the gold and white ones)... these new ones just look like they've gotten, well, fat... like Teletubbies...

So where to from here?

The first step would to be ditch Amy Pond. She's no Rose Tyler, so I believe she only deserves one season's worth of time in the big (old, borrowed, new) blue box... especially now that she and Raury are officially married (and, side note... does Raury even HAVE a surname?)... while it may be a first to have not only a married Companion, but a married couple as Companions... given that it's this particular married couple... I'll pass.

Maybe they should bring back Lady Christina de Souza from Planet of the Dead... maybe it's time for a male companion, is Captain Jack Harkness free?

Secondly, fire whoever came up with the tweed/bow tie idea for Matt Smith and get him into a better, more flattering outfit. I know The Doctor tends to stick to one signature outfit per incarnation... but does he absolutely have to?

Thirdly, hire a new head writer... Moffat can still be executive producer and a writer, but just not the head writer. Or just make him put the same amount of effort that he put into the last part of the finale into every single episode.

All that being said... even at it's suckiest, Doctor Who is still better than about 90% of stuff on teevee... it's just that I expected more...

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