Home wasn't quite what I was expecting...
It wasn't necessarily better or worse than I thought it was going to be, just different.
As often seems to be the case though, it was a story about two misfits finding each other and discovering that they're stronger together than apart. But it is a sweet version of that story.
The animation is also fantastic... from the alien Boov characters (who are just damn adorable, especially the main guy, Oh) through to some very well detailed, if slightly stylised, humans.
The voice cast are likewise well chosen... from Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons as Oh to singer Rihanna (who also provides a number of songs for the soundtrack) as Tip, the human girl to Steve Martin as the leader of the Boov. Although it is really Parsons and Rihanna who carry the movie.
But while it's very sweet and quite funny, and the story was more interesting than I was expecting, it's not perhaps as moving as some other animated features.
yani's rating: 3 passwords out of 5
First Kai's Fire Mech (which I renamed to Aka Usagi... the Red Rabbit), then the Temple of Light with it's Golden Samurai Mech (or my rename of Kin Shenshi... Gold Warrior), and I have Emmet's Construct-o-Mech sitting on my bookshelf waiting for the Easter weekend where I can set some time aside and really get into that set.
But when we were shopping yesterday, I saw that they had the Ninjago set, Jay's ElectroMech, which I'd kind of put on my mental list when I was looking through the catalogue late last year... so I couldn't really resist.
Once it was finished, I decided that with the combination of the mechanically controlled wings and the big chunky leg joints, plus the big gold "eyes" at the top, that it just reminded me of the grasshoppers from A Bugs Life...
Hence what was the somewhat obviously Jay's ElectroMech is now Aozora Inago, or the Blue Grasshopper.
There did turn out to be some really interesting build techniques in this set though, and some pieces I hadn't seen before, like the flat plates with holes through the middle.
The "body" of the mech was interesting... especially since those two "drums" at the top end up controlling the wing/sword mechanism, but I like the "pilot" area more than Kai's mech, Jay seems to be better supported and surrounded.
And the fact that the two grey "flags" from the previous photos are folded back to lock the central piece into place is pretty cool... I had expected there to be stickers on those pieces, but it's interesting either way.
The only downside with the "wings" open position is that it's very hard to get the full spread in a vertical photograph. But it does look pretty damn cool.
Again, I would have preferred to see printed tiles instead of stickers, especially since the control panel in the cockpit is a printed piece. But at least the background colour of the sticker matches the tile colour.
The blaster mechanism is interesting, and I can see that if you were playing with the mech regularly then those two transparent yellow pieces would get lost within about the first twenty minutes. Just pressing down on the grey firing pieces propels them with a large amount of force.
Especially the A-frame pieces which just feel like random collections of bricks, and the angles of the two socket pieces makes no sense until it's all put together.
In a design sense, it does give the impression of a spring or mechanism that would unfold or be controlled by hydraulics, which is amazing given the limited brick selection that is used.
The feet are pretty standard, and give that solid base once the model is put together.
Also, Jay's mech is about a third bigger than Kai's... I kind of figured that because of the relative size of the boxes... I'm just sad that due to where I'm putting him I can't display him with the wings extended.
Sometimes there are things that the Lego designers do with a very, very small number of pieces but that are just so perfectly formed. In this case, that's Chope's ballista. I mean that bottom shield piece has such great printing (part of which is unfortunately covered by the white piece) and the brown and purple colour matches in with Chope's pants, while the main sand coloured pieces match his helmet.
A Little Chaos, Alan Rickman's second turn in the directorial chair (although his first attempt was 17 years ago) stars Rickman, Kate Winslet and Belgium actor Matthias Schoenaerts and is the story of a female landscape-gardener who is chosen to to build a garden at Versailles, for the court of King Louis XIV.
So Rickman, Winslet, period drama, France... all the boxes checked.
And both Rickman and Winslet are wonderful, particularly in their few scenes together.
Also good are supporting cast Helen McCrory, Stanley Tucci and Steven Waddington.
Rickman's directing seems solid, and the costumes and sets, while not hugely lavish and grand for the most part, are beautifully detailed.
If the movie has a flaw, it's very definitely the script. While a lot of it is good, if somewhat predictable, there are certain things that just never get explained, which is a little irritating. And there are things that seem like they're possibly going to be important subplots that just fizzle out and never go anywhere. And even though the run time is 116 minutes, it does feel a little as though parts of the movie are rushed, particularly towards the end.
But having said all of that, it's still a sweet movie, and the performances are good.
yani's rating: 3 perennials out of 5
Although an early morning gentleman caller was just the thing to wake me up properly and shake the last of my hangover loose.
Yeah, I know, but it was a case of right time, right place, right guy.
Anyway, after he left I took a second shower and got ready for the usual shopping Saturday.
When Ma got here, we went and did a somewhat minimal shop... on my part, that was mostly because I didn't have dinner for two nights last week... one due to the gigantic afternoon tea which meant I ended up just having cereal... and the other being last night and the beer adventures where my dinner was whatever food ended up on the table.
After a quick turn around Target it was back here for the usual unpacking.
We really didn't have anything planned for today, and neither of us had anything we especially wanted to do, so after a bit of back and forth we figured we could always go to the movies. Ma was looking in the paper, I was looking on my phone, and we both went "Hmmmm" at about the same time, and Ma started reading something from the paper. I turned my phone around to show her... same movie.
So we headed into the city.
We had some time to kill before the movie, so we wandered up to the Mall and dropped into Dymocks so that I could see if they had a copy of Giraffes Can't Dance to replace the copy that Tink lost due to water damage after the fire.
They did... so that's a plus. We then wandered around upstairs and I grabbed the Terry Pratchett book that I was missing from the end of the series (I would have bought another one but I couldn't remember where I was up to in that subseries) as well as the second Veronica Mars novel.
Then we headed back to the movies.
Afterwards we called into Burger Theory for a very, very late lunch... and after reading the not exactly "food porn", but very appealing description of the falafel burger earlier in the week, we both decided to go with that. Turned out to be a very wise decision, because it was damn tasty.
So not really an exciting day, but useful.
It's only the second funeral I've ever been to, the first one in the past 23 years, and the first that wasn't for a family member.
It was for my erstwhile friend, Stu, who long-time readers of the blog may remember from my Camera Club posts. I also went to his 40th birthday party in 2007 and his housewarming in 2008. And every now and again, he'd message me during the work day and we'd go and get some lunch. Somewhere along the way we just dropped out of contact. Not for any particular reason, but we just drifted away from each other.
Which seems to be what happens to me... I'm the first to admit that I'm horrible at keeping in touch with people. Partly because it's often that "out of sight, out of mind" thing, but more so because I always feel like the other person is the one with the busy life, family, responsibilities... whereas I don't really have those things, so I'm happy to hear from you whenever, plus as a general rule, I'm good just bobbing along on my own. Maybe that makes me the horrible friend, maybe that makes me the person where you always feel that you have to make the first move and get in contact... maybe that's true, but it's just how my brain is wired.
Anyway, I got a call from Stu's wife, Mrs Stu, last Sunday telling me that he had died the previous Thursday. He wasn't sick, he wasn't in a horrific accident, he was going about a normal Thursday and was at the supermarket with one of his daughters when he just dropped dead. And the paramedics worked on him for over an hour and just couldn't get his heart started again. So a little bit of a shock.
And I told Mrs Stu that I'd be there for the funeral.
Because it was in the middle of the day, I had to duck out of work for a couple of hours, which just felt weird. But if I'm being honest, everything about the whole situation was weird.
It was also in their church (which makes it sound much grander than it actually turned out to be, it was actually a dinky little building)... while I knew that both of them were fairly religious, it never overly factored into my dealings with Stu, beyond the number of times "someone from church" factored into conversations we'd have about various things. And I don’t' want to say that the service was "hardcore religious" because I only really have one other funeral to compare it to, but there were hymns and a lot of standing up and sitting down and passages from the bible and the minister (if that's what he was, I honestly have no idea) gave this speech/sermon that made me equal parts angry, frustrated and sad... because, well, religion. But, you know what, if that provided comfort to Mrs Stu and the kids, then fine, whatever.
Because of the high religious quotient I never really felt that sad, although the few bits of stuff that was actually about Stu and not religion did affect me a little. It was also strange, although I guess that happens in every situation like this, where while I definitely recognised the person they were talking about, there were both elements of his life that I really wasn't aware of as well as there being a large chunk of the Stu that I knew that wasn't mentioned, and I'm pretty sure there weren't many people in the room who would have been aware of it. So, yeah, strange how a person's past can be so easily compartmentalised or edited or presented that differs from how you knew them.
Afterwards I didn't feel like I wanted to "intrude" into the line of people giving their condolences to Mrs Stu, so I hung back for a bit and ended up going through to the church hall. They had a couple of books of Stu's photos laid out on table, and it was both weird and good to be able to look through the prints, the majority of which were from Camera Club days which meant I'd seen them before or alternatively I was with him when took them (and in some cases, both things at the same time).
I also ran into the guy I mentioned in both the birthday and housewarming posts as "kind of attractive/what was I thinking"... and yeah, I can see both sides of that coin... weird. But we had a little conversation, mostly related to the photos.
When the crowd had thinned out and I could go and talk to Mrs Stu, it was... odd I guess. I don't mean that in a bad way necessarily, but she said, more than once, that I'd been her rock while she was giving her eulogy... and to be honest, all I'd done was happen to sit on the aisle in a place that ended up being in her kind of neutral line of sight. And somehow for some reason, that was helpful to her. Yeah, I have no idea either.
So that was my Thursday, not a typical Thursday by any stretch of the imagination.
And part of the reason that I'm very, very glad that we're going out for work drinks this afternoon (and, clearly, I've written this before we go out for drinks, because I intend to get as liquored up as is allowable on a work related drinks excursion (and taking in my general ease at going from sober to somewhat intoxicated).
It's been something of an odd week all up really... and there have been a couple of afternoons where I've just lost the will to be bothered doing much of anything at work. One was obviously after the funeral, but that was more because my head got stuck in an introspective space... not sad, but I just got stuck in my head. The other was after the afternoon tea for the March birthdays (which was green themed, because St Patricks Day)... we ALWAYS over-cater for these things... so I was very, very much in a food coma for the latter portion of the afternoon.
Much, much later...
Yep, beer is both my friend and really, really not my friend.
We went out for drinks, I drank much more than I normally do, perved on the cutest engineering student with the perkiest, hottest little ass and as usual was one of the last four people to leave. While the walk home sobered me up somewhat, but given that I'm a cheap drunk and I'd had about a third more beer than my average, I'm a little... fuzzy around the edges.
Tomorrow may be a challenge... we'll see.
I woke up this morning with a mild case of heartburn/indigestion from the taco leftovers I fashioned into a rudimentary nachos. Urgh. So it was a couple of Alka-Seltzer and then back to bed for a bit.
When I finally rolled my ass out of bed, I was running a little behind my self-imposed schedule, but I still managed to tidy the kitchen a little, have a shower and get read and out the door just as Ma arrived.
Shopping was the usual wandering around the throwing things in a basket. Then coming back here and throwing it all in the fridge/cupboards.
Our errands today were, as I mentioned, mostly of a picture nature.
We started off with a trip to Frame Connection to get the flamenco dancer I bought for Ma for Christmas framed up properly, and I had a few things I wanted to get done.
They're good people... but then anyone who can mostly keep up with Ma and I is already ahead of the curve.
The first couple of things were simple enough... a matt for the merman print I got with my calendar at Christmas, a new wire for the Alice in Wonderland boys piece... but the last one was the incredible Labyrinth 2 poster from the Sequel show at iam8bit gallery.
That's the one where I lost my mind a little bit. Partially because the exact colour of grey-green I wanted wasn't among the matt colours, but also when I did find what I thought was a great light chartreuse colour, the woman at the frame place thought I was nuts. In part she was right, while it would have worked brilliantly in the top half of the image, I don't think it would have been right for the bottom half. So in the end, I went with a slightly shiny black matt, which sounds even weirder, but the print is so super matt itself that I think it's the only thing that would really have worked.
I'm still not 110% convinced that the green wasn't the right thing... but I think this will be easier to live with in the long run.
Then we took a quick trip to IKEA for some more frames (yeah, I know, but I'm planning on reworking one of the walls in my bedroom slightly and hopefully adding a bunch more stuff... or else I did notice today that the wall in the toilet is big and mostly empty, so that could be interesting) as well as some mostly disappointing lunch.
That was followed by a quick stop at Bunnings for more Command hooks to be able to hang said art on the walls.
And we finished off with a non picture related task... picking up our Easter supplies from Haighs. I'm very glad we didn't leave it for another week, because it was chaotic enough as it was... next week is going to be bedlam. So that really only took as long as it did because of the crowd.
When we got back here, I popped the Danny Elfman poster I grabbed off the wall at breakfast last weekend into one, and the Le Gateau Chocolat poster I snagged on my way back from picking up some lunch, and gave the latter to Ma in exchange for her red frame that I'm going to put the Briefs tea towel into once I work out the best way to put it together.
Well, if you're me it involves two days of sleep deprivation (ten hours in two days), a minor bout of mental trauma (completely unrelated to Fringe), a confession in an area I didn't want to make a confession, sex with a stranger that included a massage that, while lovely, has left my back a little unsettled... and a work week where I wasn't the least bit productive.
But on the up side I posted more stuff to the blog than usual.
I also took myself to breakfast last Sunday, like I do most every year (last year not included due travel plans)... and as usual treated myself to a big fat breakfast, coffee and and orange juice while I worked on my review for the Danny Elfman show.
Then on Sunday night as I was on my way to my last Fringe show I noticed the boys from Bromance just inside the entrance to the Royal Croquet Club, and once I realised it was them, I had to stop and tell them how amazing their show was and how it had affected me... and got three hugs... well, technically two bro hugs (that peculiar hug which involves having the almost arm wrestling hand hold between the two bodies as you hug) and one regular hug. But given the topic and theme of the show, I did find that slightly amusing.
And really, that's about it for this week.
I bought the Batman set for myself, but the Couch set was from Ma for my birthday, and because that was only a week after we bought them, I waited to put them together until I had both sets.
I mean the robot skeleton is a bit average, although the pieces used for the arms and legs were interesting. And although it's hard to see, Batman's grappling gun is a serious bit of construction, all based around one of the regular gun models. I also noticed that the other gun was actually featured in the last minifig series as the Alien Trooper gun.
The minifig I was the most excited about though was Spaceman Benny, mostly because he's my favourite character from the movie. What's nice about all of the couch set minfigs is that they have double sided faces with one side the happy faces seen in the photo, the other sad or confused faces.
Oh and I get the waffle (kind of), but that's the deal with the sausage?
I do love her, never more so than when she loses her cool at the end of the movie and turns into the red, fiery Angry Kitty. And having these two variations, the Super Angry Kitty and the Confused Kitty (who also comes with Sad Kitty face... see the extra image at the end of the post) was nice, especially the sitting Kitty.
But I will say that the neck joints are a little flimsy. Yeah, I realise it's just held in place with a single stud, but even the act of turning her head is enough to either push the larger head bricks off the round brick that serves as her neck.
She is adorable though (and her horn was also used by the last minifig series, unsurprisingly for the unicorn girl's horn).
I will admit that while the Micro Manager has some nice playability features, it does make it harder to just display, and I'm thinking I could do with some transparent bricks to get it up off the ground (I ended up holding it up in the air while I took the shot at the top of the post, and although I couldn't show the whole thing, it did work out pretty well). The cube construction and the arms are pretty cool though.
After building the double decker couch though, I fully understand why Vitruvius told Emmet that his "idea is just the worst". There really are a number of strange things about the build and I don't know how long it would last actually being played with.
Firstly, the ladders on the side don't actually connect to anything at the top, and they actually flare out slightly which just looks wrong to me aesthetically. And because the whole thing is constructed with hinges, and the only place where the top and bottom parts are connected are at the back, it just feels a little wonky. If the ladders had clipped into something at the top it would have just felt more stable.
I also wasn't aware that the ghost costume actually glowed, which is pretty damn cool.
It really is so adorable, and comes with a cute little hatch in the back to store his hard hat.
But it was definitely a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
So if people now ask me... "How would do I get the most out of Fringe", here's what I'd say.
Get out of The Garden
Actually I could be more specific... go and see something that isn't a well known TV/radio comedian doing stand up (except if it happens to be Adam Hills, I make an exception for Adam Hills). But mostly this means realising that the Fringe exists in other places than just The Garden. Check out Gluttony or Holden Street Theatre or The Rhino Room, or just that shop/bar/cafe/empty building/laneway/rooftop/shipping crate that has been transformed into a venue for the month of Fringe.
Take a chance on something new
This has always been my Fringe mantra (as well as being a variation of the tagline for this year) and kind of follows along from the first rule. It got me through the door on improv comedy, it allowed me to be blindfolded and led around North Terrace, it got me the opportunity to discover so many amazing things. Although after five years it's a little harder to be surprised when returning again and again to see amazing acts that surprised me the first time I saw them. But take a chance, you never know. Sometimes they suck, but more often than not I've been really pleased.
If you loved it, tell them
You might see a show that made you cry or expanded your mind or made you make a major life change or just made you laugh your ass off, so if you get the opportunity, even if it's a week later, a month later or the following Fringe, tell the performers. I've done this three times this Fringe, and a few times before and it's always worthwhile. And if you happen to run into them in a pub or one of the many Fringe bars, maybe ask if you can shout them a beverage.
Fringe performers should live and breathe social media during the festival and many of them do (and the ones who don't, or don't have an up-to-date web presence perpetually baffle me). If the show was great, tweet it, status it, write a little review... just tell people, both online and offline. And Talk Fringe is a great tool for that too.
Go and see a circus act
If you've never seen one before, then take a chance. You don't have to love it, but if you do, see rules 3 and 4. If you have seen one before, go and see somebody new... Or ask one of the performers you do love who they love.
Ask people what they loved
This is similar to part of rule 5 and the flip side of rule 4, but ask people you know about what they've seen... everyone probably knows at least one person who goes to a bunch of stuff during Fringe. For everyone I know, I'm pretty much that person, so I get this from a lot of people because of the sheer number of shows I've seen (I'm thinking about having little score charts made up that I can hand out to people). But this even extends to people you don't know... if you happen to strike up a conversation in line for something, ask them if they've seen anything amazing.
Be a person
This is a general life rule, but in this context it means show respect for the performers and other Fringe goers. Show up on time, don't be obnoxious in the line (which includes having loud personal conversations, the rest of us don't care, especially when you've been drinking), and find a seat as quickly as is practical. And it definitely means don't talk all the way through a show (learn how to whisper if you absolutely have to talk). It also means put your damn phone away for at least 90% of the show unless it's an actual life and death emergency.
Now, on to this year's Fringe specifically.
It's been a very emotional Fringe this year in a lot of ways, I've laughed my ass off (so much so that I actually ended up with sore ribs at one point), I've cried or been close to tears on more than one occasion.
But I've also had an incredibly good time.
Once again Gluttony ended up as the prime destination, but I began and ended the Fringe in the Royal Croquet Club which is turning into a really good venue, especially since they used both sides of Victoria Square this year.
There were also a number of returning artists that merited a second (or sometimes third or fourth) visit... Sound and Fury, Gravity and Other Myths, Le Gateau Chocolat, Trash Test Dummies and Paul Dabek. We also had The Long Pigs cancel their show, and Inconceivable had the performance we booked cancelled so that it didn't clash with Clipsal's main day of racing.
And I know I say this just about every year, but it's probably more true this year than it's ever been before. The differences between essentially the first half of the shows on the list is so slight as to be not worth mentioning... and it was really, really difficult to work out where to slot things in towards the end of the Fringe... things that were genuinely great only ended up so far down the list because I couldn't bare to move other things.
Of the remaining shows, only the last two on the list were in some way disappointing. Although both of them had redeeming features, they just didn't live up to my expectations.
Bromance is also one of the most beautiful circus shows I've ever had the privilege to see, and the first one that has ever brought me to the brink of tears."
While this was the first show that I saw in the 2015 Fringe, it was also the one that I continually mentioned to people as my major highlight. And it's the only circus based show that I've had such an intense emotional reaction to.
"It's circus but it's not, it's music but it's not, it's five very unique performers bringing their very diverse skills together to make something greater than the sum of it's parts."
This is so incredibly unique, both in concept and execution, that I can only hope we see much, much more from this quintet at future Fringe's, or that it inspires a whole new way to think about circus.
- Boris and Sergey's Vaudevillian Adventure
"Without giving too much away, there's puppet acrobatics, cross dressing, explosions, flashbacks, poker, audience participation and a finale that was both moving but also flat out incredible."
This is definitely one I will be recommending to people next year, and I will be eager eagerly searching future Fringe guides to see what other things the puppet duo get up to.
- A Simple Space
"Circus rarely gets much better than this, so any time you get the chance, make sure you go and see them."
Having seen them develop over the last few years into this world-class acrobatic troupe, they just go from strength to strength (no pun intended) and this year felt like a very polished piece of physical theatre.
- Le Gateau Chocolat - Icons
"The show may be inspired by Le Gateau's Icons, but it proves that this glorious Chocolat diva is an icon himself. And as I've said after both of the other shows, that brief hour we get to spend with him is never, ever enough."
This was a brilliant return from everybody's favourite diva and one that definitely moved me.
- Briefs: The Second Coming
"It's guys, but it's burlesque. It's feathers and frocks and sequins and glitter, but it's hard male bodies, hairy chests, beards and strength. It's light and fluffy, but it's raunchy and occasionally incredibly crass and filthy."
Briefs has heart and balls in equal measure, not to mention some great asses.
- Sound and Fury's Hamlet and Juliet
"One of the things I really love about Sound and Fury is that they go out of their way to make a connection with the audience... whether that's chatting with people before the show, making everything feel really informal once you go inside the venue, or just the fact that they always seem to be willing to go that extra mile to get a laugh."
There's always a permanent spot on my Fringe list reserved for whatever Sound and Fury return with, and even with a local temporary replacement they were still as great as ever.
- Death Comes at the End
"The cast was all brilliant, and I'm just sad that this was the last night, because I cannot recommend this highly enough."
There's just something about the general insanity of improv comedy with really sharp performers that just works for me, and this cast had it in spades.
- Trash Test Dummies
"If I had to chose one word for Trash Test, it's energy... high energy specifically (but that's two words)."
Speaking of insanity... the Dummies are the best kind of crazy, and as I keep telling everyone, they also have one of the best uses of music in any Fringe show I've seen.
- Paul Dabek - Mischief!
"But it's honestly not about the magic itself, while some of the tricks are brilliant (like the card trick... even if it is a union requirement), it's honestly Dabek himself and his cheeky personality and quick wit that really makes the show what it is."
Dabek was the other half of the pair, along with Sound and Fury, that had me laughing until I literally hurt my ribs.
- A Butterfly Effect
"As a result the whole thing felt incredibly natural and almost totally unscripted. Which I guess is how improv theatre should feel."
Having seen other reviews for this show, I now know that what I saw was a totally unique story from top to bottom and I've even gladder that I got the opportunity to see it.
- Great Detectives of Old Time Radio Live
"Preachrs Podcast OnStage chose the perfect venue for Great Detectives of Old Time Radio LIVE... like the three radio plays (Dragnet, Candy Matson and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar) that made up the show, the Capri Theatre was built in the 1940's, so it just felt right."
This was decidedly good fun, and like Death Comes At The End above, this has given me a new name to watch out for in future years, Eden Trebilco.
"It wasn't always the most polished of productions, but it was clearly done with great affection for the original material and that definitely counts for a lot."
This was a very smart idea and they managed to pull it off really well given the limitations of the venue.
"I do enjoy a show where they turn the usual "no flash photography" announcement on it's head by following it up with "these bodies are too nice to hide away" (or something similar) and then having everyone take out their phones and the performers pose."
Without being rude, I feel like these guys could learn a lot about putting together a show and an experience from the top three circus acts on my list, but they were very talented.
- The Naked Magicians
"I'll be honest, it took a fair while for me to warm up to both them and the show in general once I realised that we weren't in for a night of full frontal male nudity. But they're sweet and they're funny and, the nudity thing aside, they're good at what they do. And I did get into the swing of the show by about the half way mark."
I still maintain that there's an issue with having the word "naked" in your show title and then only being naked for a small portion of that show... having said that, they are excellent magicians and showmen.
- A Midsummer Knight's dream... What?!
"Which isn't to say that it's a bad story, it's just not what I was expecting and it's also... well, the best phrase I can really think of to describe it is a little bit awkward. And it was made a little worse because there were only about ten people in the audience."
I can't fault the energy of the performer, but like the previous show, this just wasn't what I thought it was going to be, and didn't really work for me.
So if you'll excuse me, I'll just go and lament the fact that Fringe is over and that we have to wait another eleven months for it all to start again.