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December 12, 2014

Week 22: And The Results Are In

Saturday (06/12/2014):
Drove James and Tiereney to their new residence.
Pinewood.
TNG.

Sunday:
TNG.

Monday:
TNG.

Tuesday:
Lecture (02). G.
Streams.
Lab (02). G.
Drove to draft. 0-2-drop. Clearly out of practise, must do better.

Wednesday:
Lecture (02). G.
TNG.
Lab (02). G. Handed in assignment.
TNG.

Thursday:
Lecture (02). G.
Streams.
Lab (02). G.
TNG.
Free ice cream!
Watched Star Trek with Ryan, Taka, and Pedro.

Friday:
Streams.
Pinewood
Streams.


December 05, 2014

Week 21: Trouble In Terios Town

Saturday (29/11/2014):
Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Pinewood.

Sunday:
Star Trek: TNG.

Monday:
Risk with Cameron, Meg and James. Cameron won.
TNG (the exciting life I lead).

Tuesday:
Lecture (02). Much of a muchness.
Streams.
Lab (02), more of the same.
TNG.

Wednesday:
Lecture (02). Deja vu.
TNG.
Lab (02). G.
TNG.

Thursday:
Lecture (02). Financial fun-times.
Streams.
Lab (02). G. Handed in Assignment.
Picked up my car! Realised that the locks were bust from someone trying to steal it the night before!
Pinewood (in my car!).

Friday:
Took the car in to have the locks evaluated (in my car!).
Drove Jonathan and Cameron to their new house (in my car!).
Drove Jonathan to the station, stopping to pick up a Victorian Client ID for registration on the way (in my car!).
Streams.
Lasagne with James and Tiereney. Delicious.



November 28, 2014

Week 20: Time To Learn Again

Saturday (22/11/2014):
Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Pinewood.

Sunday:
Star Trek: TNG.

Monday:
TNG.
Food Safety Seminar.

Tuesday:
Summer Semester begins. Lecture (2002), retreading old ground.
Trip to Spotlight with Mel and Ed to pick up materials.
Food Safety Practical.
Lab (02), more of the same.
Responsible Service of Alcohol Seminar.

Wednesday:
Lecture (02). Still familiar.
TNG.
Lab (02). Assignment handed in.
TNG.

Thursday:
Lecture (02). New material, for a change.
Streams.
Lab (02). G.
TNG.

Friday:
Risk with Meg and Cameron. I won.
Put a deposit down on a car.
Streams.


November 21, 2014

Week 19: Hopping On The Desert Bus

Saturday (15/11/2014):
Desert Bus.

Sunday:
Desert Bus.
Toast Supper.
Desert Bus.

Monday:
FIT2014 exam. Absolutely fine.
Desert Bus.
Firefly: The Game with Meg and Cameron. Close game, but I won.
Desert Bus.

Tuesday:
Desert Bus.
Draft, 3-0.
Desert Bus.

Wednesday:
Desert Bus.
FIT2070 exam. Completely workable.
Desert Bus.
Toast supper.
Desert Bus.

Thursday:
Desert Bus.

Friday:
FIT2079 exam. A good way to finish.
Desert Bus.
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Fine. Just... fine.
Desert Bus finale.


November 16, 2014

Week 18: We Are Now Ready To Begin The Test Proper

Saturday (08/11/2014):
Sleep reset attempt 2.
Garage sales with Natasha and Jonathan. Picked up some books and some ball-pit balls.

Sunday:
Streams, a little light revision, then finale of DW. Meh.
Toast Supper.

Monday:
FIT2004 exam. Not bad at all.

Tuesday:
Draft, 3-1. Sealed league results, 4th, so won packs.

Wednesday:
Toast supper.
Seafarers with Matt, Matt, Kermit, Josh and Leo. Matt C gave me the win.

Thursday:
Beach with Natasha and Issy. Paddled in rolled-up jeans and a waistcoat - never felt more British.

Friday:
Simcity.
Dinner for Bec's birthday at Groove train with Cameron, Meg, Issy, Morgan, Natasha, Mikayla, Jonathan, Lauralee and Jack.
Picked up the new Firefly: The Game expansion from EB games.
Ripple cake, also by Bec. Delicious.


November 07, 2014

Week 17: Sleep Part II – The Sleepening

Saturday (01/11/2014):
Lie-in, then Pinewood.

Sunday:
Lie-in, then a meh DW.
Toast Supper.

Monday:
Lie-in.
Streams and Farscape.

Tuesday:
Attempt a sleep schedule reset, so no sleep.
Draft, 1-1-1. Sealed league, 5-0. So tired.

Wednesday:
Lie-in. Sleep reset - failed.
Toast supper.
Avengers!

Thursday:
Lie-in.
Made cheesy garlic bread.
Watched Incredibles.

Friday:
Lie-in.
Finished Farscape.
Watched streams.


October 31, 2014

Week 16: Sleep

Saturday (25/10/2014):
Lie-in, then Pinewood.
Sticks and Stones with Jonathan, James, Meg, Natasha, Emily, Rachel and Katie. Good show, with a great performance by Heather.
Data Vis. Project.

Sunday:
Lie-in, then a fine DW.
Settlers with Kermit, George and Josh. Kermit won.
Data Vis. Project.

Monday:
Lie-in.
Animé taster session with Kermit and Chris, hosted by George.
Data Vis. Project.

Tuesday:
Lie-in.
Draft, 2-1. Sealed league, 3-0. Aww yeah.

Wednesday:
Lie-in.

Thursday:
Lie-in.

Friday:
Lie-in.
Craftanoon carving pumpkins. Good fun.
Watched The Nightmare Before Christmas with Issy, Em, Cameron, Mikayla, Meg and Jonathan. Good film.


October 25, 2014

Week 15: Presenting…

Saturday (18/10/2014):
Lie-in, then Pinewood and some work.

Sunday:
Lie-in, then a good DW.
Final Sunday Supper. G.
Settlers with Kermit, George, Tim, Leo and Matt. Matt won.

Monday:
Lc (04). G.
Lc (70). G.
Lb (70). G.
Shite Movie Mondays: Rubber! Actually very decent for a bad movie.

Tuesday:
Lc (14). G.
Lb (14). G.
Tt/Lb (04). G.
Draft. 1-2, terrible deck. Still alright.

Wednesday:
Lc (04). G.
Nap. G.
Lc (70). G.
Worked on AP report.
Sir John's Bar for Mikayla's birthday with friends. Good fun.

Thursday:
Lc (14). G.
Worked on AP report, then AP presentation.
Pathfinder run by James. Good fun.

Friday:
Presentation for AP.
Worked on Data Vis. Presentation.
Lc/Lb (79). G. Gave presentation, then toured the CAVE 2. Amazing tech.
Hung out with Ed and Melissa for a while.


October 17, 2014

Week 14: My Game Now

Saturday (11/10/2014):
Lie-in, then Pinewood and some work.

Sunday:
Lie-in, then a good DW.
Sunday Supper. G.
Working on Data Vis. Project until the wee hours.

Monday:
Lc (04). G.
Lc (70). G.
Lb (70). G.
Shite Movie Mondays: R.O.T.O.R.. Robocop is spinning in his grave.

Tuesday:
Lc (14). G.
Lb (14). G.
Tt/Lb (04). G.
More Data Vis. Project.
Draft. 4-man pod, 3-0 and joined sealed league. Good day.

Wednesday:
Lc (04). G.
Signed up for Summer Semester and next Semester.
Nap. G.
Lc (70). G.
Study groups. DVP.

Thursday:
Lc (14). G.
Chadstone visit. Forgot wallet.
Chadstone visit. Got more Settlers.
Ran Pathfinder for the first time. Killed a character, so all good. Cameron, James and James joining the fun.

Friday:
Lc/Lb (79). G.
Streams.



October 10, 2014

Week 13: Once More, With Feeling

Saturday (04/10/2014):
Lie-in, then Raramen again for Morgan's birthday, with Cameron, Em, Melissa, Megan, James, +2 (Morgan's friends). V. good. V. filling.

Sunday:
Lie-in, then a sucky DW.
The triumphant return of Sunday Supper. G.
Settlers with Heather/Leo, George/Kermit and Tim. Good fun, but the dice were against me (as were the other players). Tim expended the least energy driving me into the ground, so won.

Monday:
Lc (04). G.
Lc (70). G.
Lb (70). G.
Shite Movie Mondays: The Ice Cream Man. A 99 with a flake will never be the same.

Tuesday:
Lc (14). G.
Lb (14). G.
Tt/Lb (04). G.
Draft with James, Scott and Ed. 2-0 and split the finals, so another good week. Just going to call the record positive from now on.
Commander with same. Good fun all round.

Wednesday:
Lc (04). G.
Nap. G.
Lc (70). G.
Study groups. Assignment work.

Thursday:
Lc (14). G.
Nap. G.
Deakin Hall dine-in + Society elections. Congrats to Meg, Kermit and Leo, for Pres., VP and Publicity respectively.
Stupid brain wouldn't let me sleep until AP work done, until 8am.

Friday:
Lc/Lb (79). G.
Streams.


October 05, 2014

Week 12: Having A Break

Saturday (27/09/2014):
Lie-in, Pinewood and work.

Sunday:
Lie-in, another good Doctor Who.
No Sunday supper. Boo.

Monday:
Pathfinder - The Quest for Perfection Part I. Party fought yetis, I healed a lot.
Pathfinder - The Quest for Perfection Part II. Party fought bandits, I healed a lot.
Free Nandos for my birthday week. Score!

Tuesday:
AP Meeting. At a point where it can be shown to end-users for feedback.
Pathfinder - The Quest for Perfection Part III. Party saved a village, by fighting more bandits. I healed a lot.
First Khans draft. 2-1, liking the format. 5f6.

Wednesday:
Lie-in, work, Farscape.

Thursday:
Scienceworks with Issy, Bec, Mikayla, Cameron and Em (plus siblings). No Science museum, but suitable entertaining.
Birthday meal at Raramen with Morgan, Meg, Issy, Bec, Cameron, Em, Mikayla, Mel, Ed, Lucina, James and Tim. Excellent time was had by me, and hopefully by all.
Settlers with Mel/Ed, James and Leo. I won.

Friday:
Lie-in, work, Farscape.




September 26, 2014

Week 11: Having A Ball

Saturday (20/09/2014):
Midnight Prerelease at Next Level Games - 3:1.
5AM Prerelease at Next Level Games - 3:1.
Home and sleep.
Pinewood and work.

Sunday:
Prerelease at Next Level Games with Ed and friends - 4:0 - clearly Ed is a good luck charm.
Another good Doctor Who.
Sunday supper. G.

Monday:
Lc (04). G.
Lc (70). G.
Lb (70). G.
Shite Movie Mondays: Howard the Duck. Marvel, how far you have come.

Tuesday:
Lc (14). G.
Lb (14). G.
Tt/Lb (04). G.
Evening of TV and AP.

Wednesday:
Lc (04). G.
Farscape. G.
Lc (70). G.
Study groups. Assignment work.

Thursday:
Lc (14). G.
Nap. G.
Ball preparation in Morgan's room with Bec, James, Issy, Mikayla, Megan (on speakerphone), Em and Morgan, of course. Morgan's efforts in braiding my hair very definitely appreciated.
Deakin Hall photo, then off to the ball.
Excellent three course meal, followed by some chatting.
Played cards with Natasha, Megan and Will (and eventually Jonathan).

Friday:
Lc/Lb (79). Cancelled (so G?).
AP and streams.



September 19, 2014

Week 10: Double Digits

Saturday (13/09/2014):
Lie-in, Pinewood and work. So much work. Work until 7am work.

Sunday:
Finally, the first new Doctor Who worth mentioning. Actually enjoyed it.
Meeting about RA/Orientation Team, led ably by Bec.
Sunday supper. G.

Monday:
Lc (04). G.
Lc (70). G.
Lb (70). G.
Shite Movie Mondays: Terror in Beverley Hills. Sylvester Stallone's (inadequate) brother stars in a film exactly as good as its lead.
More AP.

Tuesday:
Lc (14). G.
Lb (14). G.
Tt/Lb (04). G. Handed in assignment 3, for 100%, so keeping the average up.
Magic Draft - good deck, bad luck. Still had fun. 4f5.
AP.

Wednesday:
Lc (04). G.
Nap. G.
Lc (70). G.
AP meeting. A wild specification (or 6) appears. Joy.
Study groups. Assignment work.

Thursday:
Lc (14). G.
Watched Farscape - dated, but definitely enjoyable.
Pathfinder. Who knew being an undertaker was so much work, but all good in the end. Level up!

Friday:
Lc/Lb (79). G.
More Farscape, then off to the Khans midnight prerelease.


September 12, 2014

Week 9: Wait, What? Two Months Already?

Saturday (06/09/2014):
Lie-in, Pinewood and work.

Sunday:
Work, then Sunday supper. G.

Monday:
Lc (04). G.
Lc (70). G.
Lb (70). G.
Shite Movie Mondays: Beaks: The Movie. The Birds, it is not.
Advanced project, attempting to get the server running.

Tuesday:
Lc (14). G.
Lb (14). G. Finally got first assignment mark back - 77.5% is good enough.
Tt/Lb (04). G.
Magic Draft, this time bringing James along. 2-1 for me, 0-3 for him, but he had fun. 4f4.
Worked on my advanced project - server up and running.

Wednesday:
Lc (04). G.
Advanced project meeting - all is well.
Nap. G.
Lc (70). G.
Study groups. More assignment work.

Thursday:
Lc (14). G.
Nap time. G.
Pathfinder. James commandeered a fighter, and was promptly eviscerated. The rest of the party live on.

Friday:
Lc/Lb (79). G.
Data entry for AP. XCom to relax.



September 05, 2014

Week 8: Assignments? What Assignments?

Saturday (30/08/2014):
Up late, then off to Pinewood for shopping.
Some work was done.

Sunday:
Pathfinder run by James - highly enjoyable. Ran around some caves and killed a minotaur.
Did some assignment work.
Sunday supper. G.

Monday:
Lc (04). G.
Lc (70). G.
Lb (70). G.
Shite Movie Mondays: Mac and Me. Hilarious, and not good, but definitely watchable.

Tuesday:
Lc (14). G.
Lb (14). G.
Tt/Lb (04). G. Assignment handed in - 95%.
Bus then train to Dandenong. Magic Draft, 2-0, split, so ahead of the game. Three for three.
Worked on my advanced project.

Wednesday:
Lc (04). G.
Advanced project meeting - all is well.
Nap. G.
Lc (70). G.
Study groups. More assignment work.
Handed in 70 assignment.

Thursday:
Lc (14). G.
Nap time. G.
Pathfinder. Pregen times with a cleric, fighing a (fake) dragon and a (real) kobold gang.

Friday:
Lc/Lb (79). G.
Assignment help from the ever wonderful Goonan.
Handed in 14 assignment.
Relaxing evening.


August 29, 2014

Week 7: Bouncing to Level 2

Saturday (23/08/2014):
Up late, then off to Pinewood for shopping.
Some work was done.

Sunday:
Up late, did some assignment work.
Sunday supper. G.

Monday:
Lc (04). G.
Lc (70). G.
Lb (70). G.
Trivia Night! On smallest team (with Ellen, Ryan, Darcie and Ed), but not last!
Settlers with James, Tim and Kermit. Played under the table. Not good rolls. James won.

Tuesday:
Lc (14). G.
Lb (14). G.
Tt/Lb (04). G.
Bus then train to Dandenong. Magic Draft, 2-1, so broke even again. Two for two on good evenings.

Wednesday:
James mysteriously blinded, so led him to lectures.
Lc (04). G.
Nap. G.
Lc (70). G.
Study groups. More assignment work.

Thursday:
Lc (14). G.
Nap time. G.
Around the World activity night - good fun with Bec and Issy.
Pathfinder. Stormed a ship and freed some slaves, then levelled up!

Friday:
Lc/Lb (79). G.
Bounce! With third floor. Trampolined for an hour, had a good time.
Played Minecraft and Magic with James.


August 22, 2014

Week 6: All the Games

Saturday (16/08/2014):
Played badminton with Tasvi. Good fun, good match.
LAN Party! Played some Mario Kart, some Kerbal Space Program. Good fun.

Sunday:
Up late, did some assignment work.
Sunday supper. Good as always.
Several games of Werewolf. Good fun, for the most part.

Monday:
Lc (04). G.
Meeting for Advanced Project (44). Discussed the boundaries of the project. Should be good.
Lc (70). G.
Lb (70). G.
Shite Movie Mondays: Things. Absolutely God-Awful.

Tuesday:
Lc (14). G.
Lb (14). G.
Tt/Lb (04). Assignment handed in - 98%.
Bus then train to Dandenong. Magic Draft, came 3rd, so broke even. Good evening.

Wednesday:
Lc (04). G.
Nap. G.
Lc (70). G.
Study groups. More assignment work.

Thursday:
Lc (14). G.
Lunch at JP's with Jonathan, v. nice Chicken and Mushroom on ciabatta.
Nap time. G.
Dungeons and Dragons Pathfinder, playing my Ranger.
Fell down stairs and got covered in spiders. Joy.

Friday:
Lc/Lb (79). G.
Handed in assignment (14). See how it goes.


August 15, 2014

Week 5: Of Rangers and Rabies (and Guardians again)

Saturday (09/08/2014):
Lazy day. Up late, didn't do much.
Went to Pinewood for weekly shop.
Got back, got unlucky, got killed.
Stayed up and coded for next week's tutorials.

Sunday:
Up late again. Did more work.
Floor meetings. Outing tabled.
Sunday supper. Good as always.
Settlers (w/CaK) with James, Kermit and Owen (and briefly Leo). James won (finally). Good game.

Monday:
Lc (04). G.
Lc (70). G.
Lb (70). G.
Magic with James, then Shite Movie Mondays: The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Still filth.

Tuesday:
Lc (14). G.
Lb (14). G.
Tt/Lb (04). G.
Deakin dine-in. Free food! Not bad.

Wednesday:
Lc (04). G.
Nap. G.
Lc (70). G.
Got assigned Advanced Project. Antibiotics Data Bank, sounds interesting.
Study groups. Work got done (because no-one else was there, for the most part).

Thursday:
Lc (14). G.
Enrolled in Advanced Project (44).
Puppies and cupcakes. Good fun.
Relaxation time.
Dungeons and Dragons Pathfinder, playing my Ranger.
Killed one guy, got bitten by a dog, got rabies. Probably fine.
Got a spare monitor off Jonathan. Life is pretty sweet.

Friday:
Up early to do some work for lecture.
Lc/Lb (79). G.
Guardians of the Galaxy (again) with Kristy, Matt and Lucina. Still amazing!
Pinewood visit, to round off the week.


August 08, 2014

Week 4: A Game of Spoons

Saturday (02/08/2014):
Lazy day. Up late, didn't do much.
Another walk to Pinewood, to get everything I forgot the first time.
Stopped at Phantom India (Curries'R'us) for a bite. Oddly enough, not great, but not terrible.

Sunday:
Maximum laziness. Another day on the internet.
Sunday supper. Scrum time again, still good. Signed up for Assassins after.
Settlers (w/CaK) with Tim, Leo and James. Three win streak. Still fun.
Received my target from Jonathan.

Monday:
Let the bodies hit the floor. First blood to Leo two hours in. Rest of the day spent in fear.
Lc (04). G.
Table tennis with James for an hour or so. Safety in numbers.
Lc (70). G.
First tutorial (70). Was interesting, but fairly simple.
Hid in my room. Got hungry, so went for Nandos with James.
Shite Movie Mondays: The Roller Blade Seven. Boy was it ever. Still, too many witnesses for any shenanigans.

Tuesday:
Taste for blood. First victim falls to my spoon!
Lc (14). G.
First lab (14). Prolog - simple enough, but not immediately apparent how useful it can be.
Tt/Lb (04). Apparently I need to remember maths. Ugh. Python coding still fine though.
Nap in my room.
Watch stream with James (now deceased).

Wednesday:
Lc (04). G.
Nap. G.
Lc (70). G.
Trek to Caulfield for a meeting about a possible advanced project. Sounds interesting.
Study groups. Played Magic with James. He's getting into it.

Thursday:
Lc (14). G.
Meeting about a different advanced project. Sounds like a second preference.
Nap. G.
Head into Melbourne (-ish) to get a Concession Myki. Success!
Played Magic with James. Hooked.

Friday:
Lc/Lb (79). Entertaining (G).
Guardians of the Galaxy. As good as I hoped. Good lord was it ever.
Walked back with James, Cameron, Isobel, Megan, Andrés and Morgan. Good talks. Some rants.


August 01, 2014

Week 3: It Begins…

Saturday (26/07/2014):
Hours in Common Room with laptop, playing Minecraft. Start as you mean to go on.
Domino's for dinner with James and Kermit. Not as good as the UK, but not as bad as I'd been led to believe.

Sunday:
More Minecraft. Couldn't... stop... playing!
Sunday supper! Done in waves, so not quite so frantic.

Monday:
First lecture at Monash (04). Was... a lecture. No complaints.
Second lecture at Monash (70). Also fine.
Squash with Ed, James and Chris. Chris knows how to play Squash. Chris won.
Decided to join the squash club.
Back in time for Shite Movie Mondays: this week, Sand Sharks! Was indeed shite, but fun.

Tuesday:
Third lecture (14). Third module. Third success. Got the longest palindrome of the lecture.
Conspiracy draft! Good fun, got closer to completing the Cube.
Minecraft with Owen, Tim (R) and Matt. Never actually managed to connect, but hey.

Wednesday:
Lecture (04). Good.
Info session on possible extra projects. Sent a couple of emails, some looked fun.
Lecture (70). Good.
Played Magic. Was fun.
Study group. No studying was done.
Settlers (with Cities and Knights) with Melissa, Owen and Tim (R). I won. Owen and Tim now hooked.

Thursday:
Lc (14). G.
Nap. Good.
Hung out in common room, then Deakin Dine In. Free food is good food.
Settlers (w/CaK) with Melissa, Owen and Tim (R). I won again. Still fun.

Friday:
Lie-in. Awoke feeling rested.
Final lecture of the week (79), in final module. All four modules seem interesting.
Hung out in common room, playing table tennis with George. 12 games later, 8-4 to me.
Took bus to Pinewood, to pick up groceries.
Relaxation in room. All in all, good week.


March 07, 2009

memories of the tempest.

I always seem to end up on the same side of the stage in the Courtyard Theatre.  For productions of Hamlet, Love's Labours Lost & The Tempest in the past six months, I have been placed in the same place give or take five seats.  Figure in that these are the only times that I have sat in the stalls in this space, and one starts to think that Aisle 7 is becoming 'Tom's Aisle'.  I like it from there: you don't have a front-on view (so you get a slightly less expensive ticket) but you feel in extremely close proximity to the play.

I thought that the Baxter Theatre Centre production of The Tempest, which I saw this evening, is excellent and really rather beautiful by the by.  The wedding celebration/performance - conjured by Prospero for his newly married daughter, Miranda, and Ferdinand, the Prince she has met just hours previous - was a thing of wonder that combined dancing, singing and puppets of giant, dancing figures.  At first, every time a new element was brought to the party, Ferdinand, perched on a tree stump next to his new wife, looked shocked and genuinely afraid (Miranda, on the other hand, is used to her father's antics, and was delighted but not unsettled).  The production is full of moments of imaginative and inventive beauty such as this, which struck me, like Ferdinand, as pure magic.

Anthony Sher is a conflicted Prospero of ugliness and tenderness.  When he recounts to Miranda the story of how they arrived on the arid island, Sher paced in angled lines through centre-stage.  He was hunched and frequently swivelling, to embody a twisted sense of built-up aggression at his enemies, and guilt at not having told Miranda before.  He was restless, and just a little bit vulnerable. I found his caring attitude towards Miranda really quite touching.  I was also sorry to have missed the detail of Sher's delivery of the key soliloquy in which he ponders how to treat his captured enemies.  I was admiring the wonderful lighting effect, which created something like a wall of light around Sher and then immediately doubled up as a figurative prison for the Royal party.

John Kani's face has been through a lot.  He wears experience of post-colonialism and apartheid; it is an honour to come into contact with such experience.  For me, this is what made the final spotlight on him - after Prospero's final lines which act as an apology - so powerful, it brings us into contact with experience.  It is also an ambiguous note; Kani's Caliban doesn't know how to react in the moment, and how he will react is only up for speculation.

I was also touched by Miranda's innocent joy and curiosity, also beautifully played.  Some moments to mark a lovely solo outing.  The trains from Stratford to Leamington are ridiculous - I waited 80 minutes on the platform.  I read the programme cover-to-cover, but didn't have the energy to crack on with The Golden Bowl.                


January 06, 2009

BD Live.

Writing about web page http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/05/technology/05bluray.html?ref=business

The New York Times give something of a preview to the Consumer Electronics Show, which starts on Wednesday in Vegas.  "Nearly two million square feet of convention hall will be stocked with the latest mobile phones, portable music players, digital cameras and expensive flat-screen televisions."  I don't know much about the event, but I expect it involves a lot of dudes in suits and shades telling anyone who will listen that they represent the next big thing. 

This article focuses upon the challenges facing Blu-Ray in the market.  A central difficulty is how to tell audiences that Blu-Ray is significantly better than DVD (because, well, I'm not convinced that it is).  One of their strategies is to introduce a 'BD Live' service:

Analysts say they expect companies to announce more support for a feature called BD Live (as in Blu-ray disc live), which lets people download additional material from the Internet and interact with friends in text chats that appear on the television while playing a movie.

I often find it annoying enough when I get distracted by a real thing when watching a film.  Let alone a chat box unexpectedly intruding upon the experience.   This feeds into a model of how audiences consume films as digital media that is often propagated in discourses - as one of many 'competing elements', to borrow Aylish Wood's phrase, jostling for perceptual position.  I haven't used XBox live all that much, but in my experience it is less interesting for the social opportunities it provides and more so for how it enhances collaborative gameplay.  I want to talk to people so we can figure out how to shoot these zombies up, not so they can tell me about their day - I have friends to do that with.

It could be interesting to imagine how such a BD Live feature could be used to create collaborative, real-time film criticism - like a user-initiated director's commentary, a phenemenological commentary.  This seems to be more thought and imagination experiments though, as I imagine the appeal and utility would be novel but short-lived.





January 04, 2009

the sunday suplex 04/01/08

Some Sunday links to tide you over.  Built like my ideal newspaper.

2009 Resolutions for Film Criticism - Aaron Hillis et al - Hillis has taken over GreenCine Daily, and is employing a quality over quantity approach.  This is a podcast featuring him, and three other critics from New York.  There's nothing revelatory in it but it's interesting and entertaining (although the fact that they keep talking over each other might imply one thing that is wrong with film criticism, and all human discourse).

New New World: An Exchange, A Conversation, An Epigraph - Ryland Walker Knight & Keith Uhlich - Haven't listened to the podcast yet, but the exchanges about Malick's The New World are quite wonderful.

'August: Osage County' - Michael Billington & What To Say About August: Osage County - Mark Espiner - for context to my latest entry.

PS In A Podcast - I haven't listened to it yet, but my friends Pete Smith and Paul Savage are both funny and have a new podcast

Preview: Sengoku Seventh Battle - Jordan Breen - The sport section.  Entertaining event, and Breen as always got me psyched up.  Read this, and then find the fights on YouTube.

And, things to do this week: The University Drama Society are putting on 'Elephant's Graveyard' by U.S playwright George Brant at the Arts Centre Weds to Sat.  It's a new play that hasn't been performed in Europe before, which is unusual for the drama society but makes it all the more exciting.  

There are also some short runs of interesting films at the Arts Centre this week; I hope to be able to check out Rivals by Jacques Maillot, and Choke by Clark Gregg.

And, the last couple of days, I've seen listening to The Skints self-titled e.p, 'Come All You Madmen' by The Briggs, and 'Sketches of Spain' by Miles Davis & Gil Evans.

Have a good Sunday.



This is the way the world ends.

Hot damn, 2009 has gotten off to a good start.  I would hate to spoil the play for you, so if you're planning on seeing August: Osage County don't read further; I'm immediately interested in surprises and endings.

There were some moments in August: Osage County (by Tracy Letts and Steppenwolf theatre company), which I saw at the National Theatre last Friday, of collective audience response that rivalled any shared experience I can recall in a theatre or a cinema.  I'm more accustomed to such palpable communal responses in a comedy club, where most people laugh at the same time at the same thing and feel like they've shared something.  And there's a lot of shared laughter in August, there are some hilarious moments.  Yet the collective responses go beyond this: shared surprise when Ivy (Sally Murphy) and Little Charles (Ian Barford) embrace for the first time outside the front door; shared repulsion when Steve (Gary Cole), the youngest daughter Karen's confident fiance who wears shades indoors like a dot-com millionaire (although he's clearly a wannabe at best), slowly groping the neck and face of fourteen year old grand-daughter Jean (Molly Ranson); shared horror when it slowly becomes clear just how few secrets people are able to keep from the hawk eyes of matriach Violet (Deanna Dunagan - in the performance of a lifetime).  These responses testify to the pleasures of a communal audience experience; a lot of work can only elicit such extreme social reactions if someone's phone goes off.

It is an enormous work with more ideas and references than I or anyone could hope to immediately comprehend in full, many of which are specifically tied to place - the 'Plains', and more generally America.  To this extent it aligns itself with an excellent tradition and history.  Rose, who I saw the play with, said afterwards that the only thing she could think to compare it to, in terms of size, was Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.


                                                    august osage county

One of the play's big ostensible themes is power and control.  One of the play's signature moments is at the end of Act 2 when eldest daughter Barbara (Amy Morton), after a monumental (at least to an outsider) family feud over dinner, screams 'I'M RUNNING THINGS NOW' - a moment that is referenced, and turned back in on itself, later by Ivy when she says 'You did say you were running things now'.  Violet appears to have acquiesed to this hostile takeover of power, yet in the endgame we see that in her head she never relinquished control.  For Violet, knowledge is power.  Particularly secret knowledge.  Time and again she makes others aware that nothing happens in her home that she doesn't know about: she prides herself on this declared omnipotence, no matter how hard people try to operate undercover.  It is however a particular brand of knowledge; perhaps it could be described as all evidence and no comprehension, or perhaps knowledge about everything else apart from one's self.  She stores and locks knowledge away (perhaps the lock-and-key of the safety deposit box is a good metaphor for this), not thinking to share it for a common good in case it loses its exclusive sheen and can be less effectively used as a weapon of power.  The idea is that those who claim to know everything are missing out on more than they care to realise.  

This made me think about Douglas Pye's keynote presentation at 'Continuity and Innovation' at Reading University last September, in which he praised Tommy Lee Jones's characters in No Country for Old Men and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada for acknowledging the limits of their own knowledge (and juxtaposing it against a quotation about knowledge from Donald Rumsfeld).  Perhaps like Rumsfeld, Violet is a character who doesn't see the limits of her own knowledge - which builds her up for one large dramatic fall.

And the fall is astonishing.  In its final moments, the play switches key into a more dreamlike state.  As the lights gradually diminish Violet stumbles around the almost-empty house, almost crawling up the huge flight of stairs, and finds Native American housekeeper Johnna (Kimberly Guerrero) in the attic.  Violet counts those who have left, repeating 'They're all gone', whilst Johnna sings a nursery rhyme (one of the play's distinguishing dramatic devices) 'This is the way the world ends'.  It sounds corny, but I found it beautiful.  Together, the two voices put a defining exclamation mark on an enormous piece of work.  

There's more I want to say about this play, and certainly much more in it than I'm aware of.  I want to write about how second-generation cinephilia is referenced and what functions it fulfills.  I want someone to tell me about the significance of Johnna, and the history that her presence in the household recalls.  I want to find out more about the T.S Eliot references that begin the play, and glide around the house.  I've read somewhere that many people find something in this play that rings uncomfortably true for them; if there was anything, it was the attitudes of Barbara and (particularly) her husband Bill (Jeff Perry), the two professional academics.

And I can't see this production again - I'll have to work from memory, and the naked playtext.  This is the closest thing to old-time cinephilia that I have experienced; I can't just grab a DVD from the shelf and re-visit or clarify this experience.  And for me that makes it exciting, but it also makes me anxious that the memory will slip away and I'll be left thinking 'What was that play about?  I remember I liked it...' before long.    



December 31, 2008

the cordelia dream

I'm often complaining (probably a little too loudly, and ignorantly) that the world is too commercialised, too plain, too blank.  This comes up in my work, in the form of anonymous multiplex cinemas that are more like airports than somewhere special where you can expect to experience something memorable.  It's no surprise then that I loved finding and being in Wilton's Music Hall, in a back alley in East London about 10 minutes walk from Tower Hill tube.  Despite the decaying and crumbling walls, the building had been decked out comfortably; there was a cosy candle-lit cafe area, which sold so much mulled wine that the whole theatre smelt like Christmas.  The playing space itself was very spacious, almost sparse, with a stage raised very high (but not high enough to come anywhere close to using all that vertical space).  It was a little like a space you expect to find at the Edinburgh Fringe (it reminded me a little of the Main space at the Roxy Art House in Edinburgh), only - y'know - comfortable. 

wiltons door

Some disorganised thoughts about the play.

The Cordelia Dream withholds two key pieces of information from its audience, one in each of its two acts (incidentally, I hate to write spoiler alert, but if you don't want to know anything about the play then stop reading).  In neither case however did the revelation make me seriously re-consider what had occurred before.  

As we enter the theatre a Man (David Hargreaves) is sat at an exquisite grand piano.  He must have spent every penny on that piano however, as he is wrapped in a cheap green sleeping bag to keep warm and his blank walls are decorated just with peeling eggboxes.  Unlike the peeling walls of Wilton's, it's safe to assume that this Man's walls were never attractive.  A much younger Woman (Michelle Gomez) enters, and the two talk like old lovers exhuming an old argument; she criticises his arrogance and picks at his sexism, whereas he acts indignant and is given to huffing and puffing around the huge inconvenience that she presents.  There is an undercurrent of violence; at one point she interrupts him, and he disproportionately screams for her to let him finish.  About half-way through the first act, it becomes clear that he is her father; the earlier discussion about the (lack of) possibility of her naming her child after him makes a little more sense.  Yet nothing major seemed to change or to shift with this revelation.

cordelia1

There's talk of a dream about Cordelia and Lear from King Lear - apparently it's why she came to see her father in the first place.  We can see his misogyny in his provocative interpretation of the play ("Cordelia wanted to be hung // Her death was necessary for her father's salvation.").  Is King Lear something they've discussed, and disagreed on, at length in the past?     

The two characters are both classical musicians.  She is commercially and critically successful, yet he is not.  He blames this on her; he talks incessantly of 'the field', a space (of reception? of exhibition? what does he think this is?) that she is occupying.  If only she would clear this field and stop producing music, the commercial and critical attention would be focused on him.  His genius would surely be appreciated.  The Man appeals to a very old-fashioned, and firmly masculine, ideal of the Artist; a tortured genius bursting with profound ideas that will change the world.  In this ideal, the artist's lack of success is always because of someone else (a competitor who steals from him; the stupidity of the art world who just don't 'get it').  The Man delivers scathing lines to his daughter, poison-coated insults that are surely unforgivable; Hargreaves (excellently) dips them in sugar with a jolly delivery but it serves to make them all the more brutal.  The Act ends with:

Man: Will you come to my funeral?

Woman: Will you come to mine?

Man: I'll be there.

Woman: With your speech prepared.

Man: With my speech prepared. 

In the interval, the man deterioates further; we re-enter the space to find him almost-naked, curled in a ball upon his piano, the post has been piling up for days and days.  A box of formal clothes arrives, and he conducts an imaginary orchestra whilst the Woman slips in behind him (in the first act she rang the bell, by the second act he just leaves the door open).  There's more of a sexual element to their discussion now; he has seemingly lost his mind and doesn't recognise her, assuming that she is a groupie of his.  She sneaks up behind him, wrapping her hands around his tie - is she trying to seduce him?  or suffocate him?  When he does recognise her as his 'dog-hearted' daughter he panics and hallucinates, before wetting himself.  All the cigars and champagne in London would fail to mask the fact that he is a senile old man. 

cordelia2

It is here that the exchanges become odder - he changes into his pyjamas, and she puts on his piss-sodden coat and tails.  He recalls the Cordelia Dream, and smothers her face in blue paint because Cordelia was also blue when Lear brought her in.  The flucuations between insanity and sober rationality in the Man's state of mind, and between fantasy and reality in the play, were a little unconvincing to me.  I'm not too familiar with King Lear, so I'm prepared to think that there may be a whole layer of meaning that I'm missing though.   

The play explains some of these odder exchanges in its second revelation: the Woman committed suicide eight days before.  She is a vision to him, perhaps a ghost.  He thinks he may be able to recall the funeral, there were definitely people looking at him.  We know that she hasn't produced any work since their last meeting - ostensibly because he demanded it of her to clear 'the field', but more likely because she (like him) wasn't able to.  Despite the field still being clear, he hasn't produced any serious work - he is obsessed with writing his opus, but lacks the commitment (or talent?  perhaps) to finish anything.  His Romantic vision of the artist seems to have failed and collapsed - perhaps it never existed in the first place.  Where does artistic creation come from?  What skills does one need to create something beautiful?     

She's come to tell him that he's about to die.  Lear and Cordelia must die at the same time - one cannot exist without the other.  As he's about to die, she gives him the gift of a beautiful piece of music.  With this final gesture the creation of beauty remains romantic and mysterious, we can just pull it out of the air with the right talent.  Or maybe the truth will reveal itself after we're dead and gone.  His death is excellently handled; he stands on a stool, and a diminishing spotlight traps his terrified face before fading to black.  It reminded me of the iris effect in old silent movies.

I liked Hargreaves' performance - I mentioned above his delivery of vicious lines as if they were jolly ribbing.  Gomez is a little too uneven - her sudden shouts are disruptive rather than disconcerting.  The direction is pretty nifty - I liked the use of space, including actors sitting on the stage legs dangling above the floor.  The post coming through the door in the interval was also a nice touch. 

See also: Michael Billington on The Cordelia Dream.