Friday, April 30, 2004

Servant of two masters

Wanna hear my story of the month?

Okay, so when the Bell Shakespeare Company comes to Canberra (and possibly any major city), they do a "meet the company" thing where the cast and director give a presentation to anyone who turns up at the theatre about the production they're doing and then they answer some questions and have a meet-and-greet in the foyer afterwards. The Bowen family turned up to this, 'cause we're all interested in theatre and stuff, and after the presentation we're standing around when one of the actors came up and had a chat. He was a little guy called Arky Michael, who's playing Brighella (the innkeeper), and was extremely friendly and charming. He asked whether we were coming to the show, to which mum and dad replied "yes" (they saw it tonight) and Cal and I responded that while we wished to see the show, we were not exactly flushed for cash. And so Arky said, essentially; "I don't know anyone in Canberra and I've got two comps for opening night, do you want them?"

What a guy! Not only did we get comps for opening night, but we also got an invite into the after-show reception with free booze (Coopers Pale as well as wine and champagne, no less) and food, and another chance to chat to the actors. All in all, an entertaining evening, and one we wouldn't have had the chance to enjoy were it not for one generous little guy. Cal and I brought him a bottle of wine to say thanks, but had to leave it with the stage manager, 'coz he didn't really hang around very long.

And the show? Hilarious. Ribald. I haven't laughed so hard with a show in ages. In fact, I genuinely had tears running down my cheeks and aching sides. The basic story is that Truffaldino - a poor servant - is hungry and desperate. So hungry is he, that he ends up taking on two masters at the same time - hence the title. Of course, one of his masters is a woman in disguise - Beatrice. She's in search of her lover who has had to flee to Venice because he killed her brother in a duel (her bro' didn't agree with their wooing). Can ye guess who his second master is? That's right, the lover - Florindo. There are, of course, many other amusing events and confusions, but the main point is that Truffaldino ends up running himself ragged trying to please both of his masters. He even - in an excellently-choreographed scene - ends up having to serve his two masters dinner at the same time. There is much vulgar and hilarious phsyical humour, as well as pop-culture gags and quick tongues. Doctore Lombardi's delivery was excellents and Pantalone's servant Smeraldina was both exceedingly cute and exceedingly funny.

Meeting the cast after was awesome, also. The young lady who plays Clarice (find a plot breakdown or something) was especially cool and interesting to talk to, as was the man who plays Doctore (and was the butcher in the trim lamb ads :) ). Basically, it was one of the best theatre experiences I have ever had.

Four things I have learned recently;

  1. Sometimes people just do amazingly cool things for no reason or reward.

  2. A mixed CD popular with the entire staff is a beautiful thing.

  3. The Skeewiff re-mix of Man Of Constant Sorrow never gets old.

  4. In B5, Byron is truly no substitute for Marcus. Not even a little bit.

"Think of my children."
"You don't have any children."
"Some day I might."
- Benny and O'Connel, The Mummy

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

A couple of reviews

Okay, so I've finally seen Shaolin Soccer and holy crap it's funny! I haven't laughed out loud at a film that much in a very long time. "So, what can I expect from Shaolin Soccer?" I hear you ask, well, quite simply it's an English feel-good sports comedy mixed with Jackie Chan physical humour and with a dash of Bollywood gratuitous dance numbers thrown in for good measure. The effects are amazing - especially given that "all of the "Bullet Time" like effects in the film were done by only two motion picture cameras and all the "still" frames were generated with a computer." (or so says the Trivia section of the IMDB). The acting is, well, kinda cheezy, but appropriately so, and the sports humour is very, very funny. The use of martial arts throughout the film is excellent, with Vicki Zhao's Tai-Chi force re-direction done amazingly well. The super-powered balls leave furrows in the pitch and the impact of those balls on the hapless goalies are painful to watch. In short, you really should find this movie and watch it.

What else have I seen recently? Well I can tell ye that Kill Bill Volume 2 is just as good, if not better than the first. Of course, if you didn't like the first instalment, then you're probably not going to like Volume 2, but I did and I REALLY did. The body count isn't as high, but the violence - when it does happen - is a bit more brutal. In fact, if a human eyeball being trod on by a bare foot is not your cup of tea, it might be an idea to check out 50 First Dates or something. Tarantino's dialogue is back, with Darryl Hannah's rundown of the biology of the Black Mamba snake especially amusing. Also great is Gordon Liu's cameo as the 1000 year old martial arts master Pai Mei - watch for the beard stroking. While painful in parts (and I mean producing of pain, rather than uncomfortable or embarassing to watch), Volume 2 also features a standout performance by David Carradine as Bill. His gentle delivery and calm demeanour are much scarier than any amount of evil ranting and moustache twirling could ever be.

I would have to say that a) I enjoyed volume 2 more than I enjoyed volume 1, but b) I think volume 1 was a smoother film. I also know that c) I can't wait for the DVDs to come out!

One big issue I have with KBvol2 is actually only a peripheral issue, and that is the fact that the review in Saturday's Canberra Times contained no less than four genuine and major spoilers. There is no excuse for this kind of crap, seriously. I actually got a little mad when I read it, and I think I may even write a letter.

Another couple of quick reviews. I finally saw Ned Kelly and I'm very glad I didn't spend the money going to see it at the movies. They managed to make a tension-less film out of a genuinely exciting story. Weird, huh?

Four things I've learned recently;

  1. It's probably not wise to get a stand-in for your job who's better than you are.

  2. A dodgy Japanese sci-fi film can actually be better than a big-budget Australian bushranger film.

  3. Multi-tasking is the secret to efficient barrista-hood.

  4. "Recently" can be a relative term for the purposes of padding out a regular section in a blog.

"Yes, but, why is the rum gone!?"
- Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates Of The Carribean

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Species 2

Is shit.
Pure and simple.
I'm aware many of you already knew this, but I just thought I'd share it with those that didn't.
I mean, it's supposed to be a serious film and yet there's a character with a scar down his face and a white eye. What's up with that!?

House boat Pt. 2

Okay, so where was I? I think I was up to saying how Nick, Owen and I swam out to a couple of rope swings, both of which were unusable, in water so cold that for the first couple of minutes - until the body got used to it or numbness set in - it was actually hard to breathe. We then swam around and around a bit, were joined by Carmen and Liv and stealthy swam around to the front of the boat to scare whoever was there (Who happened to be Kath). The stealthy bit was great fun, as it involved being under the deck and pulling ourselves along, all very Navy SEALs. I spoiled the surprise by grabbing the anchor chain to pull myself up, although Kath assures me that if we had scared here she would've killed us. And I believe her.

Much fun was also had one night playing Articulate, a boardgame similar to Taboo in which you have to describe a word without actually saying it, and the more you get in the time allowed the further you move around the board. Sean was getting right into, and managed to be on the winning team 5 out of 6 times, so yay him. It really is an awesome game, made even more fun by the players' varying levels of inebriation, although when you play six games in a row, the cards to start getting repeated. For next trip I shall have to find some more.

It was decided that dinner on Sunday should be extra special, and so we tied up the boat early and headed to "Jamiesons on the Peir", which is on the Canberra side of the Bateman's Bay bridge and it was amazing. The service was excellent, with our waitress greeting us with standard, very professional politeness and - after reading what kind of group we were within about ten seconds - becoming much more familiar and joking. Also, when Owen was slowly swaying backwards and forwards in front of Matt, another waitress joined in and started swaying as well. Okay, so when read it doesn't sound too funny, but really it was. The food was exceptional, with Nick and I sharing a freakin' massive seafood platter that was theoretically intended for two, but was definitely enough for two and a bit (the "a bit" being the various people that glommed kilpatric oysters and bits of crab and lobster leg) and everyone else's food (even the vegetarians) was equally tasty. Add to that a desert selection plate or two and a couple of rounds of strawberry shots (a cold strawberry soup with a dash of Grand Manier underneath) and five bottles of Mad Fish (an extremely quaffable Western Australian white) and you have an excellent meal.

Basically, the houseboat trip was an awesome way to spend a relaxed, mildly-drunken Easter weekend. Next time, though, we need to get two groups together and pratcice some piracy! :) Also, we get props from the people that own the houseboat company 'cause we didn't get stuck on a sandbar. :)

And continuing the theme of awesomeness, I had my second WIP seminar and passed it! Yay me!! :)
Plus, Carmen is back from Fiji!!!! :)

Four things I learned recently;

  1. Cava isn't a cross between homebrew and moonshine, as I thought it was, but a herbal drink that actually has all kindsa medical uses. And gets you a little stoned. :)

  2. Pizza rice crackers don't taste very nice.

  3. A great wake-up drink is a a strong (in coffee and chocolate) mocha with three marhsmallows in it.

  4. The blackcurrant Absolut you get duty free is in a 1 litre bottle, not 750ml. It's huge!

"Those of you lucky enough to have your lives take them with you. However, leave the limbs you've lost. They belong to me now."
- The Bride, Kill Bill

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

House boat Pt. 1

The Easter houseboat? Oh, it was okay. No, really, it was pretty cool.
Who am I kidding? It was FUCKIN' AWESOME! In a really mellow and relaxed way. :)

We drove to the Bay on friday and apart from getting stuck for an hour behind a white minibus that felt a 100Km/h speed limit meant you had to travel between 60 and 80 km/h, the trip wasnae too bad. We all stopped at Braidwood and had fresh pies from the bakery (mine was curry... mmm...) and then headed straight to the Bay.

Arrived at the place and loaded the five cases of beer, two cases of wine and, um, some food and stuff, onto the boat and then got the rundown from Rob, the owner of Clyde River Houseboats. All the info was as you would expect; this is really easy to drive, try not to go on the land, don't drop cigarettes into the fuel tank. I can tell you that the boat weighs about 15 tonnes (that was worth mention quite a few times, apparently) and it's best not to get your fingers between the mooring line and the mooring point (as the 15 tonnes of boat would squish it).

The boat itself has 10 berths (two double cabins, two cabins with bunks and a fold-out double bed), gas cooking and fridge, a BBQ on deck and a running shower. We also hired fishing tackle and I strongly recommend you do so as well. Of course, despite all our fishing and catching only two legal fishies were caught (by Sean and Nick), but given that we even threw those back, the aim I guess was mainly to dangle a line and sit around, rather than obtain food. I do not having nearly enough patience to fish effectively (I only caught one fishy, and that a tiddler - the kind of fish minnows and tadpoles would bully), but I am quite the hook-remover, though, dealing with fish that had been caught through jaws, gills, the middle of their heads and in one instance their left eyeball.

The food was simple and cooked mostly by us, with one exception that'll have to wait until the next post. Sean proved the ace bacon-maker in the morning, and I managed to add a smokey flavour to the chili made on Saturday night by the simple expedient of burning some of it to the bottom of the pot. I do have to say that the kitchen was much better decked-out than I thought, though I would recommend that if you have a decent set of chef's knives you bring them with you.

And that's the end of part one, now if you'll excuse me I have to go reduce a 5000 word article to 3000 words and at the same time insert two major concepts and some examples of my creative writing into it. Yay, me.

Now if I can just get the ground to stop bobbing up and down...

Four things I have learned recently,

  1. I have it in me to be a salty sea dog.

  2. Sometimes I need to keep my gastronomic opinions to myself.

  3. A dipped toe does not a suitable water temperature gauge make.

  4. Fishing is both incredibly boring and addictive.A dichotomy that led to my staying up until 2am on Sunday morning.

"I'm wearing a small, yellow, foil pirate hat on my ear and I'm being the sensible one."
- Me, following an attempt to take out the dinghy in pitch-black water by two very drunk crewmates.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Hullo again,

Wassup, dawgs? Or something. Had a moderately full weekend, what with work and my bro's housewarming (which was, coincidentally, Eliane's housewarming, but only because they live in the same house). Saturday's shift was a doddle well and truly. Some of the easiest money I've ever made. Though not the easiest, that honour goes to the Ballet I worked on as a mech last year. Something like six cues for a two hour show and getting paid for a four hour call. Oh the fun and money. And there I go, digressing.

Sunday saw me working again, but it was a little more exciting. Well... for about an hour between 1100-1200 when we went from having three occupied tables inside (out of 21) to having about two empty tables, and they were dirty. Of course, the rush didnae last too long, so that wasnae too bad. Of course, being halfway through moving in the furniture from outside before I was told it could wait until after they polish the floors was a little annoying, but only a little.

Had Sam IV over for dinner last night, and he told me about Sockbaby. It lives over at Channel 101 and is... well... cool. And odd. Very, very, very odd. And has fighting. And some dude with a white face. Look, just watch the damn thing, okay? The link to the 2nd episode seems busted, but the first is extremely amusing and with some pretty frickin' cool fighting, especially given the - I would imagine - negative budget of the "show". Also worth a look is Codename: Embryo, an animated, post-apocalyptic bounty-hunter/zombie show. In fact, just have a poke around and see what ye can see. There're quite a few links that seem a little fussy about whether they wanna work, but I'm sure you'll find something you like.

I'm so very looking forward to the houseboat trip this weekend. Not only is going to be great to take a break from the folk fest for a year, but just sitting around with the gang, dirnking copiously and being generally relaxed is going to be excellent. Expect a big entry next tuesday, or a really short one along the lines of "my head hurts, why can't I just die and stop the pain". :)

Four things I've learned recently;

  1. Instant cappucini (that's the plural, dontchaknow) of the 'just-add-water' variety are lame.

  2. The Adventures of Barry Ween really is one of the funniest comics out there.

  3. Our new head-chef is an excellent chef who produces top-quality food.

  4. But he's kind of a dick.

"You shoot me in a dream, you better wake up and apologise."
- Mr White, Reservoir Dogs.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Trailer trash.

I've been trawling the trailer sites and found some coolness that is truly stunning.

Assuming you haven't been to the blogs of some of the other Bunnies that have already gone over this, you might be excited to find out that some of the gang what did bring us Spaced have gotten together and made a romantic zombie comedy. It's called Shaun of the Dead and if the preview is anything to go by, it is going to be a gut-buster. Featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Tim and Mike from the series) and directed by Edgar Wright (the... um... director of the series) and written by Simon and Edgar it also features Black Books' Dylan Moran - you know, the drunk, obnoxious Irish on. With no release date set for Australia (that I could find), we already have plans to head out en masse to see this, although we may have to head to England to do it. Still, given that Spaced is exactly the sort of sit-com the Bunnies would make (with its comics, cult TV and film references), I suspect that Shaun will similarly have us peeing ourselves with laughter. I know I'm building this up, but watch the trailers (ye'll have to do some clicking to get to them, the direct link didnae want to work) and tell me they don't look piss funny.

Speaking of pop-culture-y fun, check out the trailer for Shaolin Soccer. Holy crap it looks cool! What a way to park! Kung-fu sports action complete with Matrix-y bullet time and cool symbols floating in mid air. The bit where the goalie catches the kicked ball and the shockwaves ripple the net is awesome!

Also worth a look is the preview for the Rock's latest effort. Purportedly based on a true story, Walking Tall looks like more eye-candy action from the young master Johnson (I mean really, "Dwayne"?) with some snappy tag-lines. Now I know many people disagree with me, but I think Welcome To The Jungle was awesome. Sure, it was a no-brainer Indiana Jones rip-off, but it knew what it was the whole time and didn't try to be anything else. The fight scenes were truly wince-worthy and Cristopher Walken looked like he was having an absolute blast. I cannae wait for the DVD with its Sean William Scott and The Rock commentary.

Oh, I did another funny quiz today, and found out that my personality is stuck in the 90s. I think it was my liking for women in Docs and DVD players that really cemented it.

what decade does your personality live in?

quiz brought to you by lady interference, ltd

BTW, I've nearly finished with Communications Research Design. Yippee!!!

Four things I learned recently;

  1. Putting links in for every film or TV show I reference in a reference-heavy post gets old quick.

  2. Eating at 930 and then having no money to eat until about 1630 sucks...

  3. Chicken-flavoured microwave popcorn is just weird.

  4. Switching between FPSes on the XBox gets confusing.

"You're scared of mice and spiders, but oh-so-much greater is your fear that one day the two species will cross-breed to form an all-powerful race of mice-spiders who will immobilize human beings in giant webs in order to steal cheese."
- Tim, Spaced