31 May 2009
30 May 2009
Yesterday I decided to walk home from Canterbury station as a bit of a public transport optimisation experiment. The 428 goes to Canterbury station quite quickly from places I like to hang out, and from there it isn't too far from my house. I wondered if it would be quicker than walking to somewhere that a train or 413 went from. The experiment worked out pretty well. From Newtown, it's probably a 30 minute bus trip and then a 15 minute walk.
But more important than all that, on the walk home I found this great cat. I gave it quite a good pat and neck scratch for a while. It was quite an old granny sort of cat. Skinny and with lots of stark white hairs. The best bit about her (apart from her friendliness) was her fluffy chin, just like an old granny.
After a bit of patting, another cat walked over who was much tougher. But not so tough that he didn't want a bit of a pat himself. So I patted them both there for a while, thinking to myself that I should probably get back to the house because I was late. I was just about to set off when I noticed another cat behind the fence that looked like a bulldog. It had a very stout nose and mouth and jaw. It made the tough cat actually look like quite the dandy. This cat actually was tough enough to resist any urges it might have had to come over for a pat.
But then, I realised the whole house was full of cats. They were all over. Maybe 20 or 30 of them. It was a really winner house. And all the cats were different. But they seemed to be getting on OK, and most of them just lolled about. I didn't have time to stop and pat them all, so I said goodbye to my two little chums and wandered off. I was walking past the next house, when I noticed a funny lump of fluff caught on the fence. I peered over at it for a tad. Then I realised that actually, this also, was a cat. There were some eyes just visible inside the lump. They weren't the sort of eyes really begging for a pat, so I didn't give it one. It was very tempting though.
I watched Flightplan with some of my house chaps last night. While I was watching it, I pretty much liked it. At the end, I even said "Well that was pretty good." Except, that as I reflected more I decided that was a big lie. It wasn't pretty good. It was actually pretty dumb. Jodie Foster, obviously, is totally infallible. But everything around her was pretty silly. Not Sean Bean. I do like Sean Bean... especially is name. Everything else though. I didn't like the bad fellow at all. He was too bad. And his plan was too silly and needed too much explaining. The CG was bad. The Arab terrorist herring was bad.
Watching people explore a big plane was pretty cool. Even if it was an imaginary plane. I really like planes and watching the film reminded me of the day Tom and I got to explore the Boeing 747 in Longreach. Apart from Jodie, that is pretty much the best thing about the film. If you haven't been to the Qantas museum in Longreach, you'll just have to enjoy Jodie.
28 May 2009
This will be the fastest blog post I've made in ages because it's on our spanking new Optus Cable connection. Happy days.
23 May 2009
21 May 2009
I think this article on the "crisis" of housing oversupply is an excellent example of a number of things rather wrong with capitalist economics. It suggests that somehow too many houses have been built. That is now causing problems because housing prices have dropped (which makes house owners sad) and there are too many empty houses scattered about (which also makes the house owners sad). There is another problem with all the construction workers who were building those house. They no longer have jobs because nobody is building new houses anymore.
The ingenious solution to this problem, is to pay all those construction workers to knock down all the houses they have just built. This is presented as a solution that, at face value, sounds absurd but in practice is a solves the problem wonderfully. I certainly agree that it sounds absurd at face value. But I would go further than that. I would say that the idea is absurd in every respect. The solution also suggests a wondrous contentedness with the original problem. The core problem was that the time horizon relevant to decision-making in our economy was about six months. The decisions made were totally stupid and invested money in all the wrong things and almost none of the right things. The solution is not to waste a lot bunch of additional effort undoing all that work. Our economy is now facing a whole lot of real problems far more substantial than wealthy people having to cope with lower asset prices that were fictional anyway.
We don't have a problem finding work for people. If we need to keep people busy so they don't get sad (which we do), we can keep building solar power stations. Or fix up our existing houses to make them better. Knocking down houses can only "create value" if you're a perverted individual who has managed to link his own happiness to the House Price Index. Some people might get excited at the idea that knocking something down can make prices go up, but I doubt it's most people. Prices are not the issue. Despite all their magic, they didn't get us anywhere good when we thought they were working. They're certainly not going to save us now we've realised they were wrong the whole time. And fucking around with the real world purely to give us some sense of financial planet stability is not what we need.
People just like this fellow were and are in charge our of economy and society. What the hell are we doing?
Them: My boyfriend drove me to my cubby house and then over to visit my mother. Then he took me to see Cindy-Anne, my D-O-G. My Cindy-Anne was very happy to see me.
Me: She sounds like a faithful dog. Is Cindy-Anne very old?
Them: Oh.......... she's a very small animal. I don't like her much.
I can't live here anymore. It's not what you call a cubby house routine. It's just not a cubby house routine.
17 May 2009
I've been a fan of the Resident Evil films. I think I watched the first two at the cinema, but I've sort of forgotten about them more recently. So I hadn't seen the last two. But Extinction is sweet. Everything you really ask for in a zombie movie and a road warrior movie. And Milla Jovovich is actually super cool. Perhaps there is something interesting in watching a woman have to invent her action hero character from scratch, rather than watch some man emulate the thousand action heros from whom he's inherited the job.
I liked the look of Extinction a lot. I liked a lot of the understated realism. I liked the old zombies. I liked the new zombies. I liked the bad guy. The sets were great. The script was totally fine, which is a spectacular effort for the genre.
I can't understand my obsession with zombie movies. There is no other genre that motivates my film watching so much and I don't feel like I've ever seen a bad zombie movie (which is clearly absurd). I will try to get Apocalypse this week for sure.
I watched Cloverfield in bed late last night. I thought it was a wonderful film. Great build up. Great format. Great execution. A lot of the stuff they usually chuck into disaster films is a bit of a waste of time. I felt like this film distilled the important components of the genre into a good, short film that didn't feel too short.
It was nice to see someone spend a shitload of money making a low-budget style film. I thought it worked pretty well. You normally shoot home-movie style and avoid showing the viewer what is really happening in order to save money. But this film didn't spare much cost. There was lots of great destruction and good army stuff. Those few bits were my favourite. I love it when the US army fights monsters, and here you felt really close to it. Kind of like you had a back-stage pass to the invasion.
Even so, probably only people who like other disaster movies will like this one. It's not like it actually did anything original or amazingly interesting. It was mostly just simple and good.
14 May 2009
13 May 2009
Them: [sitting on a chair with legs stuck out] See these shoes here? These shoes are just right for the steps at Sydenham station. You know the steps there. These shoes got me safely down them onto the platform without any troubles. They got me safely down the steps. And I made it safely up the steps without them falling off. I walked home without them falling off. Where else could you find shoes like these? You could search for days and days and days for shoes like these. They really are so good for the steps at Sydenham station.
10 May 2009
Them: I'm going to stay at her house on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And I'm going to have four potato scallops and a small bottle of icy cold lemonade.
Me: That will be lovely. Are you going to have four scallops every day, or spread them out and have one each day?
Them: I am going to have one scallop. And when that one is gone I am going to have another one. And when that one is gone I'm going to have another one. And when that one is gone I'm going to have one more. Like that see. Then I'm going to have the last bit of lemonade at the bottom of the bottle to wash it down.
We are condemned not to death. We are condemned not the be executed. We're just a boyfriend and girlfriend living our lives and hanging out together having fun. We don't want to make any trouble. We don't hang out at Lewisham station or Stanmore station. Or in Leichhardt. No. We are condemned not to death. No.
Jem and I popped over to mum's house for lunch. It was something of a miracle to get the middle of the day off and we had a nice time. We spent most of it fussing around trying to get everything brewed and cooked and organised and to swap all the things that separated families need to swap.
Jem and I cooked a risotto and it was a good one. It had a lot of mushrooms and garlic which are the two main ingredients in risotto of course. We also added rice just to balance it all out nicely.
I fixed some things on mum's computer. We set up her new iPod Nano. I got all my old paperworks that I'd hidden from myself underneath mum's house. If I'm not going to protest the government's silly economic ejaculations then I need to do my tax for the last few years. I don't like tax. Sometimes I wish the government would just take all my income and post me enough vegetables and coffee grounds to live on each week. I'll bet in Cuba they don't spend much time filling out income tax forms. And they have lots of good, fresh vegetables there.
I finally got to watch Rendition. I was initially interested when it came out, and then heard more about it and figured it was probably another half-arsedly liberal film that tries to redeem the majority (generally the American people) by blaming some group (generally the US government or corporations).
But it wasn't that film at all. It was brilliant and maybe perfect. It was thoughtful, coherent and beautifully structured. The characters and script were excellent. It was wonderfully shot. There were some great lines and great insights. The case for rendition was forcefully and reasonably put forward, and it's compelling. But the case against it is also compelling.
At times, some of the US government figures seemed to exude a little too much evil, but then if they were put in a room with their real life counterparts they could scarcely compete. The likes of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld give you every sneer and twitch of the evil caricatures you get in bad films. So for a good character actor, it's a tough call as to how you play them.
I get so cross at the US. Perhaps one day I will get used to the horror of everything it does and stop being surprised and appalled at the stuff I hear and read. I have a lot of trouble fitting the US into any consistent view of the world. It has so much money and time invested in horror and it is so good at it, and yet mostly it presents as that creative, energetic and raffish nation. It's not that the US or the people there are any meaner than people are in most other countries, it is more that they liking going to other countries and being mean there. So they look much more horrible, but I think without really being more so at heart.
Were the country to vanish it might improve a lot of things around the world, but it is hardly practical nor fair to all the more gentle people who live there. Perhaps a more promising scenario is compulsory deportation of the whole nation to Mars. Or perhaps somewhere slightly further, so their Martian missiles can't reach Earth.
But even if you love the US and mostly think its tops, Rendition is a great film and worth watching for every single reason there is to watch films (except possibly fun).
8 May 2009
I saw Rise of the Footsoldier yesterday. It's been a good few days for films. It's about the only good thing about being sick. Drinking a lot of tea is perhaps the only other one.
The film wasn't too bad. It was a bit of a hodge podge of violence and sex scenes. The violence I found pretty interesting and it didn't pull many punches. But the sex, which I think was meant to be near the heart of the story, was a bit random and poorly directed.
The characters were kind of appalling. It seems like a bit of a tendency with gangster films to have heads of drug cartels and mob groups that appear totally imcompetent and childish. Towards the end the film focused on a trio of mobsters who were meant to be "pretty powerful in the drug scene" in London. But they were totally ridiculous. It was hard to figure out if they were gang leaders or free lance thugs for hire.
Another thing I've noticed about gangster films is the inconsistency with which they treat horror. For instance, in this film, to illustrate just how diabolical one fellow was they showed him throwing a cup of hot coffee in the face of another fellow at a soccer match. It was a nice little scene, but it could hardly be compared to most of what followed. There was a was later scene where the film's main protagonist hammers a bunch of nails through a fellow's arms and legs while he's alive. That's presented as a good-humoured coming of age type experience for the main character.
Some fairly horrific stuff happens throughout the film and most of it is presented in a jovial, aren't-gangsters-rascals type way. This has some potential moral issues perhaps, but is reasonable enough I think. What I find strange is how arbitrarily gangsters films appear to attach significance to certain behaviours. Towards the end three gangsters are killed fairly merrily while they're driving through the country. It's just a conventional shotgun-through-the-car-door sort of group assassination, but the movie treats it as some appalling watershed in the history of gangsterdom. And I feel like these movies do that all the time.
I suspect it has a bit to do with how closely certain events are modelled on documented history and how much they are urban legend. The murders at the end were documented and in the news a lot, but I think most of the other stuff in the film was second-hand stories about the main character who was also based on a real person. What is really bizarre is that the psychopath who nailed the bloke to the floor is the voice of reason and measure throughout the film. He's the one telling others to tone things down and not to overreact. This isn't totally in-your-face ridiculous, but is totally incongruous in the context of the whole film.
It was good though. Even if it felt like something of a montage of British gangster cliches more than an actual story.
There are rumours that the government is going to cut the private health insurance rebate. If that happened, it might be my favourite real policy the government has done. That's is not just a regressive policy but it's totally inefficient. Not only is it getting those without private health insurance (the poor) to pay for the health care of those with private health insurance (the rich) but I'm not sure it even saved any money.
7 May 2009
I have started taking a giant thermal mug full of tea on my morning drives. The trip usually lasts a bit over an hour and the tea is still pretty hot when I get home. It really is a very big mug of tea. A whole double teapot stuffed into one giant mug.
I have been impressed by the thermal properties of the giant thermal mug. I had to drop the van off at the mechanics in the middle of a morning trip because the van started overheating. I thought it would be a quick job, but they had to keep the van overnight. Unfortunately, I left the giant mug sitting in the van the whole time.
The following day I went to pick up the van. I climbed in and noticed the giant mug sitting there patiently. I hefted it in my hand to check the weight. Hopeful. Perhaps recklessly hopeful, but still hopeful. I realised there was still tea in it. I wondered just how good these giant thermal mugs really were. They had proved to me in the past that they had some game. Well beyond any expectations I'd held. But could they seriously keep half a cup of tea warm overnight? The thought was preposterous, but that slowed my hand none as I brought the mug to quivering lips for a timid taste.
My fragile, budding hopes were roundly smashed. The tea was totally cold. I sat there for a moment, by myself, in a cold van, on a cold and grey morning, with a cold cup of stolen promise resting in my lap.
Then I drove home and made myself a pot of tea in the four cup teapot. Some would say it was immoderate consumption as means of escape. They may be right.
6 May 2009
I am almost officially my mum. Today I wore five layers of clothing and I loved every one of them. Yesterday, I spend 30 minutes decrying to Jemma the frequent and systemic abuse of teflon surfaces by metal cooking utensils that I observe in all areas of my daily life. And I wasn't just being funny. I really, truly cannot understand the perverse friendship people seem to think exists between non-stick pans and metal.
I think my upbringing is officially complete.