movies: divergent

divergent - one choice can transform you
It seems like there's one sure way to get a movie made these days...write a three book series for young adults, specifically aimed at young women, and if possible, set it in some sort of dystopian future... and throw a female everyman character in there, and a somewhat brooding love interest, and there you are.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Divergent!

It's not as derivative as I was possibly expecting it to be... and to be honest I did find the world that the characters inhabit to be an interesting one. Although I'll be honest, I got confused about which Factions were which after the first five minutes of the movie and couldn't remember which one of the folks in blue belonged to.

Which is a little embarrassing since the faction in question is Erudite, which values intelligence, and is also the one that I got in two different online quizzes.

And at 139 minutes, the movie does feel a little bit long. More so in the last third, where I just wanted it to get moving along to the end.

The cast is mostly faces I didn't recognise (or who I didn't realise had been in things I'd seen until afterwards), although Kate Winslet is brilliant as the movie's villain (which would be a spoiler, if not for the fact that it's clear she just has to be up to no good from the first moment you meet her).

But I spent the majority of the movie just wishing that they would just cut Shailene Woodley's hair. I will say that I didn't especially like Woodley's Tris all that much. There wasn't anything specific that she did or didn't do, she just seemed far too generic somehow (and Woodley is no Jennifer Lawrence).

Somehow Theo James felt like he'd gotten lost and wandered in from one of those CW Network shows with a brooding young man who falls for the heroine, and there's always a lot of popular music in the soundtrack. Not that he's ever been in one of those shows, he just has that look.

And while Ma commented after the movie was over that James was all attractive and brooding, personally I much preferred Jai Courtney with his futuristic piercings and neck tattoo, even though he pretty much plays a douche for the whole movie.

So while I'm not sure I'm especially bothered about dipping back into the world for the next three movies (because it wouldn't be a modern adaptation of a book trilogy if you didn't split the last book into two movies), but it was an interesting visit.

yani's rating: 2 aptitude tests out of 5

lego: chima legend beast wolf

lego chima legend beast wolf - finished modellego chima legend beast wolf - box design
Last Tuesday, since there wasn't a lot I could do with my broken laptop, I decided to put together the Lego Chima Legend Beast Wolf set I got for Easter.

And I was perhaps feeling a little lazy, because I couldn't be bothered changing the lens on my camera, so the whole thing was captured (from the other side of the room) using the telephoto lens.

lego chima legend beast wolf - what's in the boxlego chima legend beast wolf - worris or worriz... who knows
The box contents were about the same as those for the Eagle set... two bags, a set of sticks and an instruction book.

I actually managed to put Worris (or Worriz, I've seen it spelled both ways on the Lego website) together while he was still inside the polybag, although his "Derimous sword" had to wait until I opened the bags.

lego chima legend beast wolf - lego wolf knollinglego chima legend beast wolf - building the wolf body
I started out by knolling out the pieces... well, not strictly according to the rules, but I did lay out all the pieces by type and colour before I started putting the model together.

The body reminded me of the simple blocky sheep designs I used to make when I was a kid... although made with more interesting pieces, especially the tail, which is the softer rubber rather than hard plastic.

lego chima legend beast wolf - wolf hind legslego chima legend beast wolf - is that a wolf or a t-rex?
As with the Eagle, I kind of wish the stickers were printed pieces... I understand that it's cheaper to just make the stickers, but printed pieces just look better. I was a little disappointed that unlike the Eagle where the stickers going on white pieces had clear backgrounds, the ones on the Wolf don't.

I did love that once I put the back legs on, there was something of a T-Rex about the design... combine that with Eagle's head and claws and it could have made for an interesting mash-up.

lego chima legend beast wolf - front legs with shoulder armourlego chima legend beast wolf - four legs, no paws
I really like the Wolf's front legs, especially the sticker design which has something of a wolf's head along with armour segments.

And it stood up nicely even without it's feet.

lego chima legend beast wolf - four on the floorlego chima legend beast wolf - one headless wolf
I'm not sure if the tri-tooth bricks were specially made for the Chima line, but they do look pretty impressive as Wolf claws, and the fact that both the shoulder and ankle joints are mobile mean that you can pose him in any number of positions.

lego chima legend beast wolf - getting his wolf legend on
The finished head is an interesting bit of building, what with the ears that move back and forward and the mouth that opens, as well as the printed eye/forehead plate.

The Wolf is actually the only one of the Legend Beasts who looks better in reality than on the box... and while he's not quite as iconic and statuesque as the Eagle, he was a fun build.

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autumnal square forking

fork on the road - return to the squarefork on the road - timbers, band with beards
At the end of November 2012, the first Fork on the Road was held in Victoria Square... and it was very enjoyable, even if it pretty much ended up with me being in a food coma for the remainder of the afternoon.

Not long after they broke ground on the Victoria Square renovations, so, fifteen Fork's later, this is the first Fork to return to the Square.

fork on the road - town square bluefork on the road - forking boys
Rather than trying to find somewhere to park, I decided to take a stroll in, past the oval and up to the square.

This Fork was being held in conjunction with Tasting Australia 2014 which had taken up the majority of the north half of Victoria Square, leaving Fork to spread out on either side of the closed off Grote/Wakefield Street thoroughfare.

fork on the road - build your own dinofork on the road - curb your appetite
It was definitely a case of needing more shade and more seating though... it would have been okay if the sides of Victoria Square with all the shade and seating were open, but they were part of the Tasting Australia area and wasn't that easy to get to.

I'm also always intrigued by where the lines form, and when... although both Sneaky Pickle and Chimichurri Grill seemed fairly busy.

fork on the road - papa guyfork on the road - papa dog and onion rings
I started off with a Fruit Tingle juice from Juice Quest (formerly known as Juicy Juice) just to hydrate after the walk, then did a circuit to see who was in attendance.

Then I needed to decide what my first course was going to be... and given that I literally can't remember the last time that I visited Papa's Gourmet Hotdogs... so it was a pretty easy choice. They did only have three options for Fork as opposed to the usual "pick your sausage, pick your toppings, pick your sauce", but the American Beef dog was definitely worth it.

And those onion rings... HOLY MARY... they were fantastic.

fork on the road - amazon ricefork on the road - la chiva smile
The other thing that I love about Fork on the Road is the opportunity to try things you might not otherwise feel brave enough to try. Such was the case with La Chiva's Amazon Rice... Amazon style rice tossed with fresh green peas, corn, capsicum and coconut then finished off on the grill with their chocolate and chilli sauce and oven roasted chicken. And it tasted AMAZING!

Plus what never fails to make me smile about La Chiva is the way they call everyone Señor and Señorita... plus the big smile that the guy in the Pick Up window gives everyone when it calls out their name.

fork on the road - handcrafted signfork on the road - lemon sorbet
There were actually a number of dessert options, but I was wandering around wishing that one of the ice cream/gelati places were on-site, when I happened across the Barossa Valley Ice Cream stall.

I was definitely spoiled for choice with Belgian Chocolate, Balsamic Roasted Strawberry, Salty Caramel and Irish Coffee Ice Cream as well as Lemon, Blood Orange and Blackberry Sorbet flavours. I needed something refreshing though, so I went with my regular favourite, lemon. Very nice although, you know, it's lemon, so there isn't really much of a way to fuck it up.

My final stop, as is tradition, was to Four Seeds for some brownie action before calling it quits.

I did actually stop by the barricades near where I'd originally come in, just to fiddle around with my phone briefly... and while I was there this (I'm guessing) young Vietnamese couple came over and stood essentially right next to me. And the girl was having hysterics... we're talking full on toddler tantrum, complete with foot stamping, tears, faux forced childish dramatic breathing when she wasn't actually crying. I would have sworn she was about 2 from her behaviour, but she had to be at least 20.

Given that they were talking in Vietnamese I have no idea what the hell the problem was, but given how much she was carrying on, if it was anything less than somebody dying or him cheating on her, it was far too fucking dramatic for a Sunday afternoon. I was literally torn between saying something to her, since she was standing essentially within arms reach, and just walking away...

Finally walking away won out, but it was touch and go for a little while there.

And then I walked home, via Adelaide Oval and the growing crowd of football fans.

But all in all it was a good return to Victoria Square for Fork on the Road, and hopefully it won't be too much longer before it comes back as the main attraction and gets to take over the whole Square.

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laptop shopping saturday

autobot chromia
Meet Chromia...

Oh, no, wait... that's the Autobot Chromia from Transformers... she is the namesake of my new computer though.

But I'm getting a little ahead of myself...

It hasn't particularly been an easy day, but that's more been about mental and/or emotional frustration than anything else.

It all started in the usual way... although I broke my streak of heading downstairs just as Ma arrives. But it had to happen sooner or later.

I was ready to go though, so we pretty much turned around and headed out.

The supermarket portion of the morning was fairly standard... it ended up being one of those outings where it's 90% fresh produce and not all that much of anything else.

We also poked around a little at what was left in Easter goodies... in three different stores, and the only thing we found that was really a hardcore bargain was a Lindt basket with a mixture of bunnies and normal chocolates that had been the somewhat overinflated price of $35 and was marked down to $5... I have no idea what the hell I'm going to do with the little basket, which is red "leather"... but it's a cute shape.

Then we headed back here, performed the unpacking ritual, and then we headed out to look at computers.

Just as a minor update to the post last Monday about my old laptop dying, I tried every possible thing I could to get it to work properly, but I got nowhere.

Do you know what I really wish? Well, clearly not, but here it is... I really wish that you could go into anywhere that sold computers and say, yeah this, but add one of those, and take that off and give me more of that. And it was only a matter of plug and play modules... Want to swap the hard drive for a larger one? Done.

Unfortunately that's not how it works (and yes, I know that you can order bespoke computers but that's not what I mean), so it's a balancing act between what the thing costs, how much memory and storage it has, what the brand is, and even though it really shouldn't be a factor, what the thing looks like.

We headed off to Good Guys as our first port of call... which is always our first port of call for anything that comes with a power cord.

Unfortunately the very pleasant lesbian who used to be our go-to sales assistant when it came to things of a computing nature isn't there any more, mostly because she now sells vacuum cleaners somewhere else... so instead I had a brief conversation with the fairly attractive young man who was staffing the computer section before he left us to our own devices to make a decision.

A decision I wouldn't actually make for around another four hours. Okay, maybe not quite that long... but it was quite a while.

I was monumentally undecided... I kind of knew what I wanted, or at least what I wanted a new laptop to do, it just seemed that there wasn't all that much within my budget and with the specs I was looking for.

Ma had noted earlier that Harvey Norman (or Hardly Normal as it should be referred to) was having a sale, and even though I normally wouldn't buy anything from them, we figured that it might be worth a look, even if we ended up back at Good Guys anyway.

And we discovered that there's actually a Hardly Normal factory seconds shop not that far away from Good Guys... so we swung past there... they didn't have any laptops or computers of any kind to be honest, but we had a brief poke around, mostly at giant fridges for no real reason.

Then we headed into the city. Well, started too and then detoured over to Haighs factory outlet to investigate the broken Easter egg situation... because there really isn't anything better than broken Haighs Easter eggs. I can't explain it... they're just better... better even than whole Haighs Easter eggs somehow, even though whole Easter eggs become broken Easter eggs as soon as you, well, break them. But somehow there's something better about the broken ones.

Unfortunately it seems like the post Easter locusts had already been through the factory outlet, and although there were bags and bags of broken dark chocolate Easter eggs there wasn't a single bag of milk chocolate to be had in the whole place. Cue sad face.

So we headed into the city instead, found a car park in a pretty perfect spot for our purposes and headed into Hardly Normal.

And they had some interesting laptops, plus they had a deal where if you spent over $600 you got a free tablet... so it was all looking somewhat promising... but then I spoke to one of the sales staff and remembered exactly why I dislike Hardly Normal so very much. Pushy sales folk who try and convince you that what you want can't possibly be had for the amount of money you want to pay and that you'll need to spend significantly more.

Plus the free tablet was a piece of crap... not really surprising, given that it was only worth $98, but even so it was pretty ugly and not really very inspiring.

By this point in the day I was pretty much ready to go down to the food court in City Cross, find a table and bang my head against it repeatedly. I didn't... but I definitely felt like it was a better option.

We also swung through JB Hifi... who didn't really have all that much different from what I'd already seen, so we decided to head back to Good Guys.

Before we left the Mall we did stop off at the toasted cheese popup van, Combeeze, for the aforementioned toasted cheese. And it's pretty much exactly what it says right there on the box... or van... or combi or whatever. Tasty though, and a steal at $2 ($3 if you want ham and cheese).

Then it was off to Good Guys... again.

And somehow one of the laptops looked a lot better, spec-wise at least when we got back than it had before.

Which is pretty much where we came in... with my new laptop.

chromia aka hp pavilion 15-n212tx
It's a HP Pavilion 15-n212TX (which seems like so much gobbledigook, but that's the model), with 750GB hard drive (which pretty much translates out to about 680GB or so of storage once all the operating system and what not is taken into account) and 8MB of RAM.

I also got a copy of Photoshop Elements... Photoshop was just too damn expensive, and hopefully I should be able to do 95% of what I used to do on my old copy of Photoshop on that... I just have to figure out the differences and how to make Elements do what I need it to do.

And that was pretty much all we did all day... look at laptops, then we came back here.

Setting up the laptop was incredibly easy, although they always ask the "What would you like to name this computer" was too early... fortunately I had a link to a list of Transformer names on my iPhone... and since every other electronic device I've ever owned (after the previous laptop) was named after a Transformer, why break the proverbial habit of a lifetime.

And I had a very pleasant surprise when I unboxed the laptop, because it looked about 100 times better than it did in the store. Granted that was partially because I never got a look at the back of it which was all silver and pretty... but the inside, which kind of looked a little too much like random black plastic looked a lot better. So whether I just wasn't paying enough attention or what I don't know.  But it was a pleasant surprise.

The silver back is pretty much why I went with Chromia for the name... plus it turned out to be one of the very few female Autobots, so that makes an interesting change.

It's going to take me a couple of days to completely get used to the keyboard. I'm already better with it than I was at the beginning of this post, although I apologise in advance for any typos over the next few days.

Now I just need to install all the appropriate software, make sure I've rescued all possible files from the old computer and remember what all my passwords and logins are for every website I've ever visited on the old computer. Plus tidying up the way I store things on this computer since I did end up with more than a few random folders on the old one.

But at least things can get back to normal now.

At least once I pack up the three computers I currently have scattered around the place.

Current Mood:

very dying laptop

dead laptop
My laptop is essentially dead... or at the very least so close to dying that it makes no nevermind.

I'm currently typing this using Safe Mode... I've been using Safe Mode for two days now.

After the trauma I suffered back in October I've been treating the laptop slightly more gingerly. I mean it's had some issues because the hard drive was filling up (mostly due to my photos), but on Sunday I'd booted it up first thing in the morning, same as always... and then left it to it's own devices while I took some photos of the Lego Easter Bunny.

Halfway through I happened to look at the screen and saw that it had somehow turned into a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD)... not the permanent one, but it was enough to freak me out. Then it tried the "can't find the hard drive" trick it pulled back in October... but I wasn't having any of that, so I just unplugged it and plugged it back in again and it found the drive just fine.

However now when it's booted up normally it seems to be okay for a little while, but as soon as I open a program or a window (or it may just be after it's been turned out for a while, I'm not completely sure) it completely freezes up.

But it works almost perfectly in Safe Mode... you know, other than the whole "ability to watch any video or open Photoshop" thing.

Fortunately Safe Mode meant that I could get in and dump all the photos and stuff that I'd accumulated in the last six months onto the external hard drive I bought during the October panic.

Which means that I'm going to be forced to go shopping for a new laptop... which is problematic for a number of reasons, not least of which is the cost, but also the fact that I loathe Windows 8.

Plus I don't completely know what I actually want... I know I want:
  • something with the largest hard drive possible, since that's usually where I run into trouble with all my devices
  • it should be able to run games, but it's not a rig specifically for that purpose
  • a big screen is good, although I know that on laptops they only get so big and I'm okay with that
  • it needs Photoshop (although I think I'm going to have to settle for Photoshop Elements due to the costs)
  • Speed and memory are good, if only due to the requirements of using Photoshop and doing a lot of photo editing
  • I'd prefer not to have Windows 8, but I know that's an unlikely proposition in the current environment
The only thing I haven't tried is to do a System Restore, but I can't see that doing a lot of good, since I didn't actually install anything new or even update anything as far as I can remember... it seems to be a randomly occurring fault.

As always though it couldn't have come at a worst possible time.

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easter shopping saturday with unexpected kites

blue butterfly wingswhite sail, blue sky
Can you guess what we did today?

Everything started out the same as usual... Technically I broke my record for getting downstairs just as Ma was arriving, but literally only by about two minutes.

The supermarket portion of the morning was fairly standard... completely coincidentally and not because of the public holiday, I discovered at the end of the week that I'd run out of a number of different things, or didn't have things in the cupboard that I thought I did... so we ended up with a fuller trolley than usual.

Which didn't help when we got the other new check-out boy who cannot pack a bag to save his young life. I think Ma possibly traumatised him though... since she doesn't tend to suffer bad bag packers particularly well.

yellow bird photobombsyellow bird
When we got back here there was much unpacking and filling of cupboards.

Beyond that we didn't have any plans for the day but while Ma was looking at part of the paper she happened to notice that the Adelaide International Kite Festival was on again this weekend (not really all that surprising, since I think it's usually been on over the Easter weekend, at least for the last few years).

So I dug out my Angels Play kite and grabbed my camera and we headed off down to Semaphore.

the crowd along the jettycoloured feathers
The Kite Festival is often a crapshoot... some years there's plenty of wind and the sky is full of colour, other years the kites just don't seem to want to stay in the air. Unfortunately this was much more the former than the latter. And as you can see from the photos, it was fairly grey when we first got there, although the clouds did break up somewhat later.

From a spectator perspective it also works better when the wind is going from left to right along the beach. Otherwise you just tend to see the kites from the wrong perspective.

It was also a shame because there seemed to be a whole bunch of new kites this year.

pink geisha in a line of geishapretty pink wings
I always find that the music they have blaring along the jetty is way too loud... but then my default opinion is that any public address system should be turned down by half and everyone would be better off. And then there's also the prattle of the announcements/announcer which never gets any better.

Because the wind wasn't particularly strong we seemed to spend as much time waiting for the kites to get up in the air as we did watching them while they were up.

The public side of the beach was actually doing pretty well, kite-wise... but then they're just trying to get small individual kites in the air rather than the nylon behemoths that the professionals were dealing with.

rainbow wingropework lamp post
Eventually we decided to wander up Jetty Road, maybe get some lunch and see if the wind picked up at all.

I do have to say though that Semaphore's Jetty Road isn't really all that exciting or conducive to wandering, so essentially we only checked out one store and that was more because it was there than anything else.

We'd decided to grab some fish and chips (well, in my case a burger), but when we stopped off at the fish and chip shop it turned out that the wait for food was about 40 minutes... which was definitely more to do with the crowds than the relative quality of the food.

But we decided that forty minutes was way too long to wait, plus it didn't look like the wind was going improve that much, so we decided to head along the coast until we found somewhere else to eat.

little black owlowl trio flag
We ended up down at Grange... more due to the fact it was the first place that I knew there was a fish and chip shop rather than anything else.

Although we didn't got to the same shop we've been to before... it used to be really good, but the few times we've been recently it's been kind of dodgy, fortunately there's another shop one block over, so we went there instead.

Turned out to be a decent idea. The chips were pretty good and although I keep swearing off burgers as a food idea, one of the couple of exceptions is a good chip shop burger... there's nothing fancy or pretentious about them, and are usually pretty damn tasty. And this one was no exception.

octopus redred gekko
We drove around the corner and found a bench to sit on right by the beach, which was very nice.

Once we were done with lunch I grabbed the kite out of the car and spent the required week and a half putting it together (actually it wasn't that bad, but it's been a while since I did it and was convinced that it was busted) before we headed down onto the beach.

Unfortunately there still wasn't all that much wind around, and while I got my kite up in the air for a while, it wasn't long before it was taking all my effort to keep it off the sand, so at that point I called it quits and we headed back home again.

bright wingbuddah feather
So definitely not how I was expecting to spend the day, but as Ma said on the way home, it was nice to get out in the fresh air... and it wasn't especially too hot or too cold... although it could have been windier.

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