pedanther: (Default)
1. It's coming up to time for the Doctor Who season finale, and for the first time in a while I'm -- "really looking forward to it" isn't quite right, for several reasons; perhaps "firmly emotionally invested" is better. The last few season finales, I've been interested to see how things turned out but I wasn't particularly feeling a sense of jeopardy, or any doubt that the Doctor was going to save the day in the end. (And, it has to be said, in some cases the danger was too bizarre to be properly frightening.) But this time we've got the Doctor's companion Bill, who's one of my favourite characters in the series, in direct concrete peril, and I'm not at all sure the Doctor is going to be able to get her out, or that even if he does that it's going to be something they're going to be able to come back from.

2. Our production of The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Operatic Society production of The Mikado went pretty well. There were bits I would have liked to have done better (there always are), and I didn't really feel I was giving the performance I'd been aiming for until a couple of performances before we closed (I never do), but everybody on stage and in the audience had fun, and that's the important thing.

3. There is another attempt afoot to get a regular-ish improv event going here, with the first workshop being held this week. I'm not going to prognosticate about its chances, because I said the last one looked like it might survive and then it immediately collapsed. I'll just enjoy it while it lasts, however long that turns out to be.

4. At the gaming group last week, I got invited to play a game of X-Wing Miniatures, using pre-made teams based on the more recent Force Awakens ships and characters: I had Rey and Finn in the Millennium Falcon and Poe and R2-D2 in an X-Wing, while the guy who owned the set had Hux's flagship and Kylo Ren's shuttle. The encounter was a victory for the Resistance, which I attribute more to the inherent strength of the team I was given than to my own rather fumbling efforts. (In particular, I kept forgetting the movement order, with the result that nearly every turn the Falcon rear-ended some other ship because I'd incorrectly assumed it would have moved out of the way before the Falcon got there.)

5. I tried watching Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight again recently, and found it a lot less entertaining now that I know what's coming. I mean that two different ways: First, it's a movie that depends a lot on surprising twists, and is at a disadvantage when the viewer knows all the twists in advance. Second, the events of the sequel cast a shadow back over this movie, not always to its benefit. Also, for a Batman movie, there really isn't all that much Batman in it.
pedanther: (Default)
1. The Multifandom Drabble Exchange is running again this year. Admin posts are on Dreamwidth at [community profile] multifandomdrabble. The nomination period for fandoms has just started. I did it last year and enjoyed it; it's a nice low-pressure fic exchange where all you have to write is 100 words. Simple, right? (This is of course a trick question: it's often very difficult to fit everything you want to say into 100 words. But I did enjoy it.)

2. Our production of The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Operatic Society production of The Mikado opens this week. I was worried about it for a while (Four weeks, you rehearse and rehearse / Three weeks, and it couldn't be worse), but it's been really coming together over the last few rehearsals, so I think we'll survive.

3. I didn't mention that while our production was in rehearsals, the club also put on its annual season of one-act plays. There were two this year, titled "Harry's Bounty" and "Kayak", which were both excellent. (Though I did think that "Harry's Bounty" was one scene too long; the final scene doesn't say anything new, just repeat explicitly things that had been strongly implied already, and loses the strong ending the play would have had if it had finished on what is currently the second-last scene.) Both plays were built around relationships of parents and children, and the director of "Harry's Bounty" is the mother of the director of "Kayak"; they were planning at one point to advertise the season under the title "Mother and Son", but they got a lot of feedback that people were getting confused and thinking that meant there would be a stage version of the popular sitcom.

4. This year's big production by the local high school that does a big annual production was Disney's Beauty and the Beast. The actor playing Belle was also the lead in last year's Hairspray; she and the actor playing the Beast were also the duo who took top honours at the drama eisteddfod last year. They both did very well in the roles, although I felt that the actor playing the Beast did better at bringing out the Beast's hidden humanity than at portraying his surface beastliness. In this he was not being given much assistance by his costume, which tended toward the minimal for logistical reasons. The actors playing Gaston and Lefou were also very good. Seeing how the stage version was adapted from the animated film was interesting; I liked how the animated furniture was handled. The songs added for the stage version are a mixed bunch; "Home" is excellent, others are good, and I cordially detest "A Change in Me": it has a nice enough tune but rubbish lyrics that lean too heavily on vague generalities and when it does get specific they're the wrong specifics. (Wikipedia informs me that it was added to the show late and in a hurry, which perhaps explains it.)

5. I'm finally filling a gap in my fannish experience and reading The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, the final collection of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. It's not as easy to come by as the earlier books, because it's still covered by copyright so there isn't the same plenitude of cheap editions, and its reputation suggested that it wasn't particularly worth much effort in seeking out, so up until recently I'd only read a few of the stories that were reprinted in anthologies. (In fact I think "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire", which was in a horror-themed anthology I read as a child, may have been the first actual Holmes story I ever read.) The stories aren't ACD's best work, and some of them give a distinct air of having been dashed off without much effort, but there are some good moments in there. (And some terrible ones: "The Adventure of the Creeping Man", which has a solution based on what I presume was cutting-edge scientific theory at the time, really hasn't aged well.) Of the ones I've got through so far, I think my favourite is "The Problem of Thor Bridge", which has some proper detectoring, some nice character work (including a character who is of a familiar type but turns out to be more complicated than he might have been in an earlier ACD story), and a solution I didn't already know and didn't find too easy to guess.
pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
David McGillivray, Walter Zerlin Jnr. The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Operatic Society's Production of The Mikado
Terry Pratchett. Carpe Jugulum (e)

In progress
Terry Pratchett. The Fifth Elephant (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books in progress
Pauline Scudamore. Spike

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Josephine Tey. A Shilling for Candles
pedanther: (Default)
1. I've been listening a lot lately to the podcast Film Reroll, which has the premise that each episode a group of people play a one-off roleplaying campaign based on a famous movie, just to see how far off course the plot can go when it depends on dice rolls and player imagination instead of having an author handing out plot points and making sure things pan out in the way they intend. Pretty far off course, it turns out; apart from the obvious consequences like people muffing their dice rolls really badly and everybody dying, one of my favourite examples so far is an episode where one of the players ended up sitting on the sidelines for the whole thing, because the plot took a direction early on that completely bypassed the character they'd been planning to play.

Another example is the campaign I've just finished listening to, The Wizard of Oz. It follows the movie fairly faithfully up until the protagonists meet the Wizard (though a bit more smoothly in some places, as the players get some good dice rolls in when facing the obstacles the Wicked Witch puts in their path) -- and then the players have to decide how best to tackle the job of stealing the Wicked Witch's broom for the Wizard, at which point the plot jumps dramatically off the rails, and the campaign ends up turning into a four-episode, eight-hour epic fantasy quest with cut-throat politics and dragons. Bits of it are amazingly poetic and surprisingly moving, and it's the one so far where I really felt at the end like I had been immersed in a story and not just been listening to a group of friends joking around. (Not that there's anything wrong with listening to a group of friends joking around; that describes most of the podcasts I listen to regularly.)

2. Our run of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee has ended, as usual just when I felt I was really beginning to get the hang of it. (If I ever get to the end of a show and think, that's okay, there wasn't anything left to do here, that's when I'll really be sad.)

Next up is another production with a very long title, The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Operatic Society production of The Mikado. It's this year's big production by the director who's done Oliver! and Chicago and suchlike in previous years, and I was actually quite looking forward to having nothing to do with it for a change, but then I was invited to come on board as assistant director and gets some hands-on experience in the running of a big production, and I didn't feel I could say no.

3. I got to go to exactly one meeting of the gaming group between the end of rehearsals for Spelling Bee and the beginning of rehearsals for Mikado, but I got to do the things I'd wanted to do, so that was good. As I mentioned last time, I had two games I wanted to play, and I got to play both.

Ingenious is an abstract pattern-based competitive game with a tricky scoring mechanic where each player is scored on several different criteria and only the lowest score counts, so if you get too focussed on building up on one score and neglect the others you can easily find yourself in real trouble. I started playing the app version last year and was sufficiently impressed by it to buy the physical game in the hope of finding people to play it with me. As it happened I found two, which made things interesting because the app version only does two-player games and so I'd never played a three-player game before. It turns out that, like many other games, it's rather more complicated and more difficult to get on top of with two opponents than with only one. I ended up not coming last, and considered myself well satisfied with my performance. The other two players seemed to enjoy themselves too, so I expect I'll take it along again another time.

Forbidden Island, which my brother gave me for Christmas, is a collaborative game in which the players are exploring an island for centuries-old lost treasures while dealing with the inconvenient fact that the island is rapidly sinking. (If memory serves, the manual claims that this is the result of an ancient booby trap set by the owners of the lost treasures, who apparently really didn't want them to be found again.) Mechanically, it's kind of like a more family friendly (less complicated, less worldwide catastrophe depicting) version of the collaborative game Pandemic, which is not a coincidence as they're both designed by Matt Leacock.

4. Recently the emergency jump start box in the car ran low on juice, which it announced by beeping loudly and regularly and loudly, which inspired me to drive directly home and look for the charge cable instead of stopping on the way to do the shopping as I'd intended. This prompted three observations:

First, that it was probably designed deliberately to make a loud and irritating noise clearly audible throughout the car specifically to make it impossible for its owner to contemplate putting off the job of recharging it, because it's not a good idea to put off charging a piece equipment you might need in an emergency. In which case, congratulations to the designer, it worked.

Secondly, while driving home I had cause to ponder the subjective nature of time, because the beeps didn't always seem regularly spaced; sometimes they seemed closer together, and other times further apart. The most convincing mechanism I've seen proposed for the subjective experience of time changing speed is that it's a function of memory; the same amount of information is coming in at the same rate all the time, but when nothing much is happening we don't bother to remember most of it, and then it seems like time has gone by really quickly, but when things get exciting more detail gets stored and then it seems in retrospect that the experience was stretched out more.

Thirdly, if I hadn't been able to find the charge cable when I got home, I'd have been stuck with a loudly beeping box that I had no way to shut up, and that would not have been fun. Here's where I benefited from some of the work I've been doing sorting my clutter into boxes. It took a few attempts to guess which box I would have sorted the charge cable into (gadgets and accessories? extension cords? stuff I'm going to put away as soon as I figure where it goes?) but it was still probably faster and less stressful than if I'd had nothing more to go on than "it's in this huge pile of clutter somewhere, probably".

5. We had the state election last weekend. Overall, it was a landslide victory for the Labor Party, which has been in opposition for the last eight years, and a crushing defeat for the Liberal-National coalition government. (Obligatory Aus politics footnote: The Liberal Party's name refers to their economic stance; they're conservative on social issues.) In my local electorate, the contest was much closer, to the point that we still, a week later, don't know exactly who the winner is. Normally by this point in a vote count it's clear who won and the rest of the ballot counting is just to find out by how much, but in this case it's split almost evenly between the three major party candidates, which never happens. In this case, the Labor candidate has the lift that his entire party's getting but is a newcomer to politics running against two well-known local identities with long track records in public service. The Libs' candidate may even have got a boost from his own party's misbehaviour, or rather from his response to it; a couple of times during the election campaign he got caught wrongfooted when his party announced policies that would have a signficant local effect without warning him first, and he wasn't shy about saying what he thought about that.

(In other news, the populist party that was expected to be a protest vote magnet did much worse in the election than expected, possibly because they were frankly and very visibly incompetent, with several of their candidates being kicked out of the party during the election campaign for doing things that a proper recruitment process ought to have caught ahead of time. It's all very well going "vote for us because you can't trust those professional politicians and we're not professionals", but being so utterly unprofessional inevitably invites people to wonder how you can be trusted to the run the place if you can't even hold the party together long enough to get over the finish line.)


pedanther: (Default)

September 2017



RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 19th, 2017 11:38 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios