Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Glory is mine!

I've made it past the halfway point on KoC! I'm now ranked 123,200 out of 250,000+. Yay me!

In other news, the US handed over control of Iraq to the provisional government a couple of days early. Many observers (and maybe even pundits) have stated that this is probably because they wanted to avoid a terrorist extravaganza on the scheduled day. Many of them have also said it in a very "and that makes them cowards" tone of voice. Personally, I don't think it makes them cowards just because they want to avoid lots of people being killed. Of course, that doesn't mean that the terrorists won't find something else to blow up on thursday, but the point is now they're blowing up actual Iraqi stuff, rather than US-governed stuff.

And in Mexico, thousands took to the street dressed in white to protest the high rate of violent crime and kidnapping. Some of them even said that the army should be deployed in the streets to help combat the corrupt police force. Now, I don't know how many of you know the history that many Mexicans - especially those of a "march in the streets to protest things" mentality - have had with the army going into the streets, but some of them asking for the army is pretty damn interesting. At least, that's what I think...

Anyway, I'm about to be late for Peter Pan rehearsals, so I'll hafta give ye 8 things I learned recently and two quotes next time...

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Oh. My. God.

Time for a post high in redundancy. So, the Shaolin Monks, huh? Holy crap, they're good! To be honest, it seemed like a couple of them took a while to warm up, but once everyone was firing on all cylinders it was phenomenal. Highlights? The two 12 year old kids doing flips higher than their heads and balancing on their staffs. The guy using his stomach for a chopping board (with cleaver flashing and cabbage flying). Iron bars smashing over heads (I have a big chunk), and really just a whole bunch of kung fu-y action. Under the banner of a loose narrative (a student asking his seifu what the point of the kung fu was - I think. it was in Chinese), they showed us acrobatic feats and feats of strength, different forms of the kung fu (animal forms and a very funny interlude of drunken boxing) and weapons forms.

One major difference to many of the other martial arts displays I've seen is the sensation of power behind the monks' technique. Many films (and demonstrations) that show martial arts are fast, many are tricky and many are complicated, but not many have a feeling of power behind the technique. The monks, on the other hand, apart from being able to do frankly scary things with their bodies, show an alarming level of power behind their technique. I'm not sure if I'm making myself clear, but if yer a martial artist I think you know what I mean.

Oh, and some episodes of Transformers: Enegeron are playing in the background and, apart from the fact that the animation is an annoying mix of smooth and really shit, I really can't help but think that when they talk about the omnicons, there's this little, racist, voice saying sotto voce "like the Mexicans" or "the Indians" or some other minority. The omnicons, according to one of the Autobots, search the universe for energon, busying their lives with simple tasks and hard work ("Like the Mexicans"). One Autobot was jealous of how they seem to know their low lot in life ("Like the Mexicans") and seem happy with that knowledge (all together now...). It might just be the voice-over actors or the translation, but there really is an aggravating patronising undertone of "they're less than us, but they don't mind". And Ironhide as a young blowhard might sound like an incrdibly clever, self-referential characterisation, but it really does get old quick.

Four things I've learned recently;

  1. I might be a little too sensitive about issues that aren't really mine.

  2. I need more than five hours sleep to function for 8 hours at work.

  3. The dialogue writers for Energon must phone it in a lot of the time.

  4. "Powerlinking" sounds just way the hell too sexual. This is a kids' show, for God's sake!

"He's a nut-bag! Just because the fucker's got a library card, doesn't make him Yoda."
- Det. David Mills, Se7en

Friday, June 25, 2004

Why would you?

Please will someone tell me why, because I honestly just don't get it. Why would you join an MMORPG (for example) with a bigotted name. While the fifteen million permutations of Tolkien-esque and Dragon-Lance-ian characters are amusing, and warrant attention, who could honestly resist the urge to attack "attackmeandyouaregay"? I mean, Jodie (my KoC Captain) is gay, so of course she's going to attack you. What about "Killerofhomos"? "chinksmustdie"?[1] Do these people just want to see how many times their antagonistic avatars get snotted? Are they genuinely bigotted, and see no harm in their names? Is it some post-modern, self-referential thing? Do the game makers themselves put them in to attract attacks? Do they have friends who are playing and who have these nicknames and so there is no offence intended? I really want to know.

Still, if those names weren't out there, the sea of 240,000+ potential victims (or 130,000+, really, 'cause I try not to attack those below me on the ladder) would be harder to wade through. Maybe these names exist purely to give us a target, a chance to feel genuinely righteous while smiting a truly imaginary enemy, 'cause in all honesty, the sense of joy you get when you take 90,000 completely unreal gold pieces from a person who exists in your mind as a small-minded red-neck in denim bib overalls and with a wad of chewing tobacco in their mouth[2], it gives you a very real sensation of doing something good. Weird, huh? And more than a little sad, mayhap.

Four things I've learned recently;
See if you can pick the theme...

  1. Even a small scratch on your eye hurts.

  2. Your mucus membranes are somehow connected from your eye to your nose and the back of your throat.

  3. Anti-bacterial eyedrops taste very bitter.

  4. Once you open the door for footnotes, they can get out of hand.

"I let him go."
- John Matrix, Commando

[1] Names have been altered slightly, but their sentiment remains.
[2] Apologies for the stereotyping, as I know some very nice people with denim bib overalls who chew tobacco.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Keeping my oar in...

Not much interesting today. Worked at the theatre, bumping in the Shaolin Warriors and it wasnae too hard at all. 4hours worth of work in a 7hour call didn't suck too much. :) I'm going to be bumping them out on Saturday night, so maybe I'll get to lurk somewhere and watch the show! Oh, and if any of your friends look at the footage of the monks hitting themselves with iron bars, breaking slabs of sandstone on each other and scoff haughtily, saying things like "those are never real iron bars" and "that's not sandstone", well they are and it is. Take my word for it, and the word of the forklift it took to get the aforementioned slabs of stone (each weighing about 57kg) out of the truck.

Should be a good show.

Also, looks like I'm getting the hang of KoC. While my army is quite modest (only 21) I've got an attack strength of 7331 (and counting) and I'm ranked 146,216th of 242,274. Not quite halfway yet, but having fun. I've got flaming arrows for seiges and a stockade for defence. Next step, Rabid Pitbulls. :)

Four things I've learned recently;

  1. Nestle Mud Truffle is very tasty chocolate.

  2. Byron (on B5, not my friend called Byron) is as wet as a haddock and thick to boot.

  3. 2 seasons was not enough Sports Night.

  4. Some teachers like it when their students fail. Really, really like it.

"Nah, man. The head-shot's the only true stopper."
- Derek, Bad Taste

Monday, June 21, 2004

I'm back

From a fun weekend at the UC Jervis Bay research station. Went away on a post-grad retreat and finished the initial edit of my first creative draft. Also had a whale of a time with other post-grads sharing meals, playing shoot the moon, Articulate and hangman.

These post-grad retreats are actually a fantastic idea. We're able to get away from distractions and just sit down and write! Then we all meet up at the end of the day (just before dinner) and read some of what we've written to the group, with time after for feedback - but only positive feedback, 'cause all the critical stuff can happen later. It's all very touchy-feely and amazingly productive. While I was only editing this time (and so actually reduced the size of my document from 27000 to 25000 words), the last trip I wrote something like 7000 words in 3 days, so they're pretty damn good.

As well as giving us all a chance to write like demons for a few days, they also build a great sense of community in the post-grads. Y'see, almost 2/3rds of Postgraduate students don't complete. A lot of that has to do with brain blow out that can stem from feeling isolated, and that your research doesn't matter or is too obvious/simple/frivolous. I'm writing about zombies, fer crying out loud. But these retreats give lots of positive feedback and through sharing meals and socialising at night, we build up a community and companionship with each other. Sounds like a bunch of tree-huggin' hippy crap, I know, but it really is awesome. Plus, I get to cook for a crowd and ye'all know how much I hate that. :)

Of course, there's no net there, so I had to leave my Kings Of Chaos alone for a while. I come back and several people have snotted me while I've been away. Very bad for me, and soon to be very bad for them! Muhahahahaha!!

At least, as soon as I've got my strength back... :)

Four things I've learned recently;

  1. Pea and ham soup really is as easy as whacking it in a pot and simmering for a few hours.

  2. Jodie's knife craft is far superior to mine (could be 'cause she used to work as a caterer).

  3. 6 eggs to a pint of milk with added vanilla and nutmeg to taste makes a great bread and butter pudding batter.

  4. Don't watch even a little bit of Dog Soldiers if you're sleeping in a thin-walled cabin in the bush.

"Something's wrong with you."
- Marlin, Finding Nemo

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Fun stuff

I've been a busy little bee today. I've become a Captain in Jodie's army, and I've formed my own Nation State. Come visit the Armed Republic of Monotreme, where tourism and Uranium mining make us rich, and where the police seem to have a problem with their high mortality rate (but just you wait until I get the death penalty as an issue!).

The thing is, this guy wrote a book called Jennifer Governemnt. He then set up a cross-promotional thing whereby people can set up their own country and establish its laws, currency, motto and stuff. You get issues every now and then that show the game how you govern and what attitudes you have. It's all text-based and simple and just kinda cool.

Fear the might of Smuffy!!

I've finally caved and joined an MMPORG (that's Massively Multi-Player Online Role-paying Game). Of course, caved might be too strong a word, implying as it does a deep personal struggle against the forces of temptation. Actually, Jodie just asked "Have you heard of Kings Of Chaos? Do you want to join my army?". So, really, not a caving. Maybe a 'slight rocky outcropping'. But I digress.

The game is based around a text-based, simple system that apparently a bunch of kids in America came up with over summer break. Don't believe me? Check out the KoC history.

So Jodie sent me a link, I clicked it and chose the name Smuffy as one that would strike fear into the hearts of mine enemies. I'd seen the link on one of my web comics (I think Barry over at InkTank has an army), but never really went for it. Now I have, and will serve my master faithfully in nutting her enemies and stuff. I think. I actually have litte-to-no idea of what to do. What I do know is that I can get an army by other people clicking on my link, signing up and joining my army. As I said, it's text based, it's free and it's not the kind of game you need to be constantly logged onto to get anywhere. That's what Jodie says, anyway, and she's ranked 164,397th of 220,707 players, so she knows of what she speaks. :)

I'm off to train now, and also meet up with my Masters supervisory panel as a unit for the first time ever. What fun awaits me today!! :)

Four things I learned recently;

  1. Carmen doesn't like parsley sauce any more than I do.

  2. Eating a good breakfast really does make as much of a difference as they all say it does.

  3. Even if you're pretty sure you know what a present is going to be, when you get it, it's still cool.

  4. There are in fact 2 ovens in the communal kitchen at the UC Jervis Bay Research Centre.

" "
- Grandma, Les Tripllettes De Belleville

Monday, June 14, 2004

The Triplets Of Belleville

Was awesome! Very cool, very slick use of the Futurama-esque CG cel animation. The almost total lack of dialogue was not a problem at all to understanding and the fishing scene had me giggling from start to finish.

The basic story is that a kid who can't seem to find joy in anything is living with his Gran (who has one leg shorter than the other and so one of those shoes with a big sole). One day she finds out he likes bikes and gets him a tricycle (him being but a child). Fast-forward... well, about fifty years as the 'time goes by' sequence would suggest (from prop-planes to 747s) but the kid only ages about 10 years and the gran not at all. He enters the Tour De France and is kidnapped. Gran follows the kidnappers to Belleville (read "New York"/Americ) and finds the once-famous triplets of Belleville to help her get the kid back.

There's your nutshell.

The style of animation is similar to those old 50s cartoons everyone seems to be watching in modern movies. People's bodies are disproportionate and some of the imagary is just plain creepy. The producers have also shied away from Pixar and Disney's bright, primary pallet and so the majority of the film is in shades of brown and black, with what little colour there is muted.

Basically, the whole thing seems to be something of an 'how long can we keep this up' excercise, and if you ask me they succeeded. I even stayed for the obligatory "after the credits" bit, and it was worth it. :)

An often hilarious, occasionally creepy and in parts just plain wrong film; four and a half overwieght dogs (there should've been more fishing).

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Prisoner Of Azkaban

Well met,

So, I went to see the latest Harry Potter film, and I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it. It seems that Alfonso Cuaron - if not a much better director than Chris Columbus - is at least able to extract better performances from his stars. I swear that at one point Daniel Radcliffe was this close to actually acting. Of course, we don't watch a Harry Potter movie to be stunned by the latest RADA graduates, and so what of the visual effects and cameos from established actors? Well, the FX are simply brilliant. The CGI used to produce Buckbeack (an hippogriff, for those that don't already know. A mythical beast with the head, wings and forequearters of a giant eagle and the legs of a horse) are amazing. Each feather ruffles in the wind and there is a strong sense of a physical presence, even in the long shots. Also, the CG human figures are much better than we have seen in the past. The Dementors - both effects and actual presence-wise - are seat-dampeningly alarming, with only a passing resemblence to the Naz-Ghul from Lord Of The Rings.

David Thewlis was excellent as Lupin (although I still maintain that Anthony Stewart Head would've been better, but I think that's just me) and Gary Oldman was suitably manic as Sirius Black. Worth special mention is Michael Gambon's Dumbledore. His performance was in no way an attempt to duplicate the late Richard Harris's version of the character and was all-the-better for it.

A few of my friends (and the odd review or two) have criticised the film for assuming too much prior knowledge, but this is the third film in a definite series, after all. The first and second gave us a potted history of out hero (pun... maybe intended...), so by the time we've hit the third, if ye don't know what's going on, maybe you should be watching The Day After Tomorrow or something. I also felt - again, disagreeing with my friends - that this was the smoothest of the three films. With the first two often resembling the standard Hollywood formula of "set piece leads to exposition dialogue leads to revelation leads to set piece - repeat", the flow of Prisoner felt, to me at least, much stronger. Plus, the whomping willow smacks some birds out of the air, and the clouds of feathers are just funny. :)

For those that want to know, the new addition to my main Blog bits was found here. I'm not sure whose link I clicked on to get here, but so long as we don't go "Elmo" I'm happy. :)

I'm off to see Les Tripllets De Belleville, so I'll keep ye posted on that one...

Four things I learned today;

  1. Finding something to convert RM to WM or MPG is tricky. Some that say they do, don't.

  2. The Olsen twins have graduated High School.

  3. Our fridge is really old. And it doesn't work anymore.

  4. The flesh of the toucan is bluish in colour.

"Does my hair really look like that from the back?"
- Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and the Prisoner Of Azkaban

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Good news and great news...

Good news? Finishing a draft of your creative thesis that's 27000 words long.
Great news? Thinking you have to submit at the end of November when you have until february 2005.

Yup, seems the Masters unit is based on the chronological year, rather than the scholastic one. So, given that I started in february of 2003, it means I've got til february 2005 to submit. Yay me.

Watched the first part of Angels In America last night. While I thought it was a clever, well-made and -acted example of television, I can't say it was exactly enjoyable viewing. I don't know why, precisely, but I just feel something was missing. A bit like Oz, I was engaged intellectually in the series (and I'm not sure if I'll watch the rest), but I wasn't engaged... emotionally? I'm not sure if I'm making myself clear, but I hope you all get the point.

So now I'm watching The Usual Suspects and wondering what to have for dinner.

Four things I learned today;

  1. Baby wasps taste like scrambled egg.(Not through personal experience)

  2. You can buy a car battery at Big W.

  3. Carmen's Lelo's paella really is quite sepcial.

  4. I really do have a lot of muppet figures.

"Oh, I just think I'm gonna barf... Well, that passed. Now I'm hungry again."
- Marge Gunderson, Fargo

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


My first draft of the creative aspect of my masters is done! It has a beginning, a middle and an end and is about 27000 words long!!! YAY ME!!

I'm feeling really good about it, and some of it is just down-right creepy. If I say so meself. I got to play with all kinds of styles and formats, including a screenplay, some plain narrative, a few newspaper articles and some memos and reports. Of course, the different genres mean that some of the fragments have their own page, so it's about 135 pages long, making it officially the biggest thing I've ever written. In fact, given that the closest I've come to this word count in one piece is about 12000, it's officially two of the biggest things I've ever written. :)

So now I can relax a little bit. A very little bit. I need to knock up maybe one or two more things, and then I can knuckle down and polish the piece til it glows. And then there's the theoretical side, with about 5000 words left to go and ideas for about twie that. In all, I think I'm goin' pretty good.

And so now I'm enjoying a day of Sopranos and the internet. I'll probably have some lunch soon and ... I think you get the idea. :)

Oh, I bought Timesplitters 2 2nd hand t'other week and damn is it a great game. And really fucking annoying. Health packs appear to be non-existent (and I'm playing on normal difficulty) and there's only one save point each level and it's right in the fucking middle. Also, mission-essential objectives keep popping up mid-game so you can sometimes fail the level before you know what you have to do. FUCKERS!

That said, the graphics are amazing, the level design impressive and the multi-player is great. You can be a monkey!! : ) And there's a hyper-speed power-up, so you can also become... SUPER-FAST MONKEY!!! Respect and fear the Super-fast monkey! And you can even make yer own levels, which on a console games is pretty frickin' impressive. :)

In fact, I think I'll go and give it a whirl right now...

Four things I learned recently;

  1. Even under two doonas and a sheet, you can still tell when it's too cold to get out of bed.

  2. Having a clear image in your head of what a scene will look like when you write a script is a great feeling.

  3. The writing in the The Sopranos, like Shakespeare, has you adopting its speech patterns if you watch too much of it.

  4. This week I can afford to buy comics, and it's a good feeling.

"Hell, I like you. You can come home and fuck my sister."
- Drill Sergeant, Full Metal Jacket