Thursday, August 31, 2006

(Early this morning at Chez Lutra:)
Me - to dawdling cubs: Come on, vivement!
Cubs: Is that German?
Me: No, it's French for 'Get a bloody move on...'

<g> We laughed.

I had a serious 'screw the rent' moment a couple of days ago. In the manga section of my local Borders I saw Megatokyo Vol 1-4; and Volume 3 of Absolute Boyfriend. <grump> I was restrained; I know that if I get myself into financial straits no one's going to bail me out. Essentials have to come first or life'll just get messy.

The school camp is at the end of this term. Up until Monday afternoon the cubs were determined they weren't going. I told them they had to tell their teachers - knowing full well that their teachers would try to talk them in to changing their minds.
Cubs are enthusiastic about the camp now. I hope it's fun for them; they did kinda sorta have fun last year, despite some teasing and bullying. <sigh>
Better make a list of stuff I'll have to buy...

I know the end of term is approaching cos my, at best, half-hearted organisation is slipping even more. Some mornings I really do have to give myself a stern talking to once the alarm's gone off. The idea of staying in bed and just letting the day slide is too tempting. :)

I don't have the same sort of problems with numbers as Joules but I do have my moments. For example, I've been very conservative with the music on my phone - deleting stuff so I can put more on... Until it dawned on me that 50000ish kb isn't 5 megs, it's 50. <shakes head> And that's just what's left on the memory card, there's almost the same amount free in the phone's memory as well. D'oh!
I've been thrashing my anime playlist recently, too. Wonderful! I've got a few tracks from Noir, including my song-of-the-moment Salva Nos. It's the 'action' theme, operatic techno sung in Latin. Marvelous stuff. There's something very poignant about 'Save us, God; Give us peace' being sung over vicious gun battles. Makes me shiver.
What else have I got? Opening theme to Excel Saga, Akira, Gravitation and X; 'Sound of Life' and 'First Donuts' from Trigun; the CCO 808 theme from the dubbed version (it's got more balls than the original); a pure percussion track, 'Tatakai no taiko' from Mononoke Hime; 'Shinma no Kodou' from Vampire Princess and 'Gessekai' from Nightwalker, both really atmospheric tracks. I did have 'Eden' (Yami no Matsui) but it conflicted somehow with the phone software. It would play the track... and then shut down. But I deleted the file and everything seems to be back to normal now. And <sobs> unfortunately 'Cloud Age Symphony' from Last Exile, and 'Gravity' from Wolf's Rain won't play! Which is distressing cos combined they're 12 minutes of teh love. Ah well, I might be able to find another copy of them someplace.
Thank you Joules, and Onna, for the various additions to my music library. <g>

Monday, August 28, 2006

I know the weather's beginning to warm up cos I'm able to spread the butter with relative ease.
<grumble> And the countdown's on. September 1st is only <counts on fingers> 3 days away. I'm expecting to see xmas decorations appearing for sale any day now...

The school library was officially opened this morning, after the weekly assembly. Fortunately I had the foresight to boot up the 'puter before the entire school trooped in cos the principal wanted to have a little 'first book borrowed' ceremony. (<g> Actually, the borrower was about the fourth person to use the system, but I didn't think there was any need to say so...)
But, the library is operational now, I even wrestled the database software into a headlock until it did what I wanted! (Gosh, that makes me sound butch [like 'hutch'] but no, really I only read the manual.)
And I definitely don't want to take credit for it all. Had lots of help from other volunteers, shifting the books over from the portable school and getting them on to the shelves. Let's face it, if that'd all been left up to me I'd still be wading through boxes! Yea, for I am a work-shy wee mousie...

The school concert wasn't as traumatic as I'd feared. We had the junior and senior school brass bands (from now on to be one combined band); the junior choir and the middle-school choir. The preps - wearing afro wigs - did a little dance to 'Blame it on the Boogie' and were naturally well-received. We were also treated to a Road Safety display from another grade - which made me giggle cos one of the songs was from a television commercial here years ago and I remembered the cheeky version my friend Jackie used to sing.
Both the cubs' grades performed plays but unfortunately the stage's sound system sucked and it was hard to hear what was going on. All the kids did very well, though, especially the lead in the Sherlock Holmes play. He would've had to have been the gayest Holmes I've ever seen, and performed so unselfconciously. <g> I foresee a future NIDA graduate...
The evening wound up earlier than expected, thank all the gods; it'd been a long, long day for the children. It was good to see that the weeks of rehearsal had been worth it though. The hall was packed - I'd be curious to know how much money the school made from the event. Not just from ticket sales but from the tea and coffee and snacks as well. That's one thing you can't accuse our Parent Committee of, being shy of making the most of a fund-raising opportunity.

(And, oh bother, I miscalculated. It's three weeks 'til the end of term, not two. <pout> Eh well, they'll be here before I'm ready for them anyway.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I'm feeling justifiably smug. I managed to find the cub a costume coat, scarf and waistcoat for $7. I love op shops.
I also got another couple of fistfuls of attractive cutlery for next to nothing and I paid $7 for a dictionary that's the size of the combined Melbourne phone books. I'm a happy woman...
It's a neat dictionary, too. Circa 1968, Webster's (which is American, I think, but it spells colour, honour and centre correctly, with notes on the American spelling) and illustrated in colour. <g> There's hours of browsing amusement here.

Next week is the final Bollywood Dancing class for the term and our teacher suggested that we might like to dress-up for the occasion. Hee, I won't be going so far as a sari but I do have a set of ankle bells. There should be another class next term and I'll be signing up for that as well, I've really enjoyed this. Plus I continue to be pleased with how quickly I pick up the steps. :) That decade or more of dance in my youth obviously hasn't been wasted.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Look! ↑ ↑ ↑ I can do arrows!
No no no, I jest, that's not what I'm excited about.
Joules has coaxed the blog template into accepting a link to my Flickr account! Neat, eh? <g> Thanks, Joules!

I admit that being lazy and procrastinative [eh?] can sometimes get me into difficulties. I'm not sure, though, if the latest aggravation is entirely my fault.
The cubs' school is having a Concert [and there were groans there was much rejoicing]. The Concert is this Thursday night but I've known about it for weeks. I discover today that one of the cubs doesn't have a costume...
Being lazy and procrastiwotsit I tend to take a laissez faire attitude to school. I rely on written notification - or failing that, a quick word from a teacher - to let me know if there's anything I should/need to see to. If I don't get a note then I assume there isn't a problem. I understand that teachers are busy and shouldn't be expected to micro-manage everything but still, I had no idea about the cub's costume. The other cub had his costume provided so I assumed...
Anyway, tomorrow after Bollywood Dancing I'll be trawling 'round the op-shops looking for a codger coat and hat/scarf. <sigh> I could really be doing without this last minute franticness.

And I suppose needing to go costume hunting tomorrow is another reason I can't accept a free ticket to a (matinee) dress rehearsal of Camelot. I was offered one today and it was very tempting but I had to decline. Not only was it very short notice but it would've meant reorganising a doctor's appointment after school plus running the risk of not getting back from the city in time to pick the cubs up from After Care if the thing ran overtime. <sigh> Too much like hard work, alas. Eh, I'll placate the fluffy bunny by dragging out the DVD and having a good sniffle.

Had a surprise visit from Soulsis on the weekend! And she came bearing really cool gifts! A pair of scissors with goldfish pics on the blades; a crab/lobster apron with matching serviettes (hee); a copy of a Bumper Book of Fun!! thing I put together years ago as a joke; and a 1983 issue of National Geographic that has an article about an artist using eclectic trash in his work. (Inspired? Oh yes.) <g> Now I have a reason to hang on to the crap I find...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

ASIMO. <hissss>. And the cubs won't bloody stop talking about it, even after their father advised them that I really, really don't like robots. They were quite put out when I said that come the day - as they prophesised - humanoid 'bots were freely available to the masses, I'd be off up to the mountains as far away from 'civilisation' as I could.
"But what about us?" they asked, eyes wide (cos, remember, they're planning on living with me forever and ever).
"You can visit just don't bring your robots."
<g> Their faces were a picture - I think that was the first time they'd ever contemplated a life away from me...

Moving right along.
Pirates of the Caribbean 2. (Did I really need to include a link?)
I was prepared to enjoy this movie and so was just a little bit disappointed. It's not that it was worse than the first but like other blockbuster sequels there seemed to be a reliance on references and in-jokes from the first, and a lot of these seemed gratingly contrived. (Except for one, which had me cackling). Plus, while there were some cracking new characters, and some gratifying character growth for the old ones, Captain Jack was just more of the same. It really felt like Depp was simply rehashing what'd worked previously.
It was a very long movie, as well, with not a lot of substance. It's not a good sign when I keep checking my watch instead of becoming immersed in the world.
There were plenty of good bits, however. The CGI was t'riffic - I'll never trust an octopus again - and the hint of angsty plot there at the end made me prick up my ears.
I'm glad I saw it at the cinema but I have no desire to see it again. I'll probably get the DVD when it's released, though that'll probably be more for completeness sake than anything else.

One DVD (and soundtrack) I will be actively hunting down, however, is Triplettes de Belleville.
Wow, just... wow.
The story is so simple you don't need subtitles for the (sparse) dialogue to follow what's going on, but even so it's hard to describe. It's quirky, but not light, and definitely sinister in places. The animation is astonishing but the 'wow'ness of it sneaks up on you. It's a - I dunno - fairly loose style, I spose you could say? The little bit of CGI incorporated stands out but not in a bad way. People and places are caricatures - this is in no way trying to replicate reality - but there is a wonderful subtlety of expression. Especially on the dog. My gods, that's a dog. <g>
According to the blurb on the back cover, Triplettes was up against Nemo in the 2003 Academy Awards. The fish won, and I can see why, even though Triplettes is a much better movie. Technically, Nemo was a marvel with an easily digested, brain-candy plot. Triplettes is thought-provoking and emotionally engaging in a way that goes right to your soul.
... Or you'll hate it. <g> Either way, it's an experience.

Hah! I've signed up for the The Lupin/Snape Lurve Community Snupin Santa. Already started my super sekrit assignment but I'll actually have to do some research if I want to do it justice. <g>

The cubs' school is putting on a concert next week.
Help me... heeelp meeee...
It probably won't be that bad, really...

And just in case I'm being too subtle about my feelings for my camera/phone (I take waaaay more pics than make calls) - I've recently updated my Flickr account.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

You've gotta love a camera that'll let you take a dozen photos before getting out of bed. (Camera was to hand cos I use my mobile as an alarm clock. The question is, if I had a separate camera would I take that to bed with me as well? Sadly perhaps, the answer is probably yes. <g>)

Cubs and I went to Penny's for dinner last night. Virtuously, we walked there, too, it only took half an hour. Nice afternoon for it, sunny without being hot and mostly downhill.
Even though the cubs viewed 2/3's of the food with suspicion they did at least try a taste instead of refusing outright. Wasn't too embarrassing as I'd warned Penny they'd do this.
What did we have to eat? A hearty cabbage, bacon and tomato soup; a potato, salami and egg bake; and apple and blueberry crumble for dessert. Mmmmm...
Heh, we had three hyper sprogs last night, and that was without the benefit of sugar. Just the normal high-pitched, frenetic energy of children being creative and having fun together. :) It helps that there's really cool toys at Penny and Sarah's, like a trampoline, and digicam/video. There was an entire saga unfolding - and being filmed - in the lounge room; something about a mad scientist, his assistant and the cat who tries to stop him...
There were protests all 'round when I declared it was time to leave but the cubs went to bed without a fuss when we got home. <g>
Thanks for inviting us, Penny, and thanks for the lift home. I really didn't fancy catching the bus that late.

When I got home last night I found the big black spider (that normally lives on the kitchen window) trapped in the sink. What was she doing out of her web? As far as I know from observation this species don't move at all. So anyway I gingerly helped her out of the sink, (twitching all the while cos she really is big and fast), and nudged her towards the window. I figure I'll give her a day or so and if she hasn't moved back into her web I'll take it down. Absolutely brilliant for keeping European wasps under control but it's not very pretty.

Our weather seems to be warming up slowly <grumble> but it was so cold in the kitchen the other morning that the jelly I'd made the cubs for dessert had started to set without being refrigerated. :)
Can't say I'll miss the cold but I'm not looking forward to the heat. But, some of the trees are starting to blossom or come into leaf and the port wine magnolia down the road has flower buds. Now that lovely smell is something I'm definitely looking forward to.

I went to see Confetti last week and loved it. A British mockumentary about a wedding magazine hosting a competition to find the most original wedding of the year. The contestants chosen (from a right bunch of weirdos) are Naturists, a 'Tennis' couple, and a pair who want a Busby Berkeley style musical wedding. (The dialogue was all improvised, apparently, I'm even more impressed.) Great characters, especially the Wedding Planners. I was sceptical at first - two gay men? Hadn't that been done before - but these two were so well played, tiptoeing the ragged line between the magazine's and the couples' frequently unrealistic demands. I loved these two outrageous but still believable queers and felt like cheering when they (quietly) took a stand against the magazine to give one of the couples what they most wanted. <happy sigh> The fluffy-bunny loved that bit.
And here was something I found interesting. The Naturist couple spent a lot of their screen time nude. I blinked at first but the nudity was so unsexual by the end of the movie I wasn't really noticing it any more. Which is, I suppose, the aim of naturists. <g>
This movie is quirky UK fluff and won't lose anything on DVD compared to big screen. It's another on my list of films to buy.

Some more fanfic snerks:
Infactuated - she knew all there was to know about him?
And - 'the vaulted Marauders'. <howling> I think she meant vaunted...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

<happy dance> I got another parcel yesterday! From Joules this time containing a signed copy of Crystal Power (gorgeous!); a DVD (Blow Dry mmm... Rickman...); a cinnamon scented, grape festooned candle; another piece of the lovely salmony silk; a massage octopus (<snerk> 8 thumbs, eh?); a froggy floating pond ornament; 3 packets of strawberry angel delight! (<swoon> mine!); 16 sachets of the Turkish delight hot chocolate; a CD full of music and manga (Raditz, phwoooar! ... just looking!); and a good handful of Cadbury creme egg bars (which are mostly all gone now. <licks lips>)
Thanks, Joules, your Care packages are as appreciated (squeed over) as ever. <g>

Right, The Libertine. Fascinating movie, not pretty at all, despite the glorious costumes - it seemed to view everything through a miasma of mist, and mud and candle light. In the opening frames the Earl of Rochester (Johnny Depp) tells us bluntly that we won't like him, and he's correct, up to a point. For me it wasn't so much a case of dislike for the excesses of the 17th century poet, as pity. The movie's tagline 'He didn't resist temptation. He pursued it.' is misleading. It makes John Wilmot out to be a romantic sort of rogue, and he is not. He is a deeply unhappy man who retreats behind moral cowardice to avoid the effort - and perhaps pain - that's needed to realise his potential. It felt like a life wasted. Here was a brilliant man who could've overcome his weaknesses but chose not to, and when his life falls apart with drastic consequences all he can say is 'I warned you not to trust me'.
It was a tragic story with a tragic ending, and yet, he does rally himself for a sort of redemption at the end. It was a small gesture compared to the damage he'd brought to himself and others, but it was a glimpse of what he could have been. And that was when I started sniffling. :) I'd like to read the play now, if not some of Rochester's writings, and I want a copy of the DVD when it comes out. Not just because it's another notch in my Depp collection but because it's an intriguing piece of art in its own right. <shakes head> Who wants to fill up on cotton-candy movies when there's stuff like this around?

Speaking of cotton-candy... I couldn't resist the bishie on the cover of Absolute Boyfriend and so I bought my first ever manga. It was so cute, and so funny, I giggled all the way through. (And of course, being alert to the slashy possibilities didn't detract from the reading, either <smirk>). I liked the style of art, too, simple and clean but very expressive. Volumes 2 and 3 of the translations are available, apparently, so I'll keep my eyes peeled for those.

I've recently been keeping track of the weather, just to see how accurate the forecasts are. I only had 14 days of data to play with for July but even so the results were interesting. On average, the weather bureau underestimated both the low and high temperatures by only half a degree. I'm trying to get a full month's date for August then I'll run the figures again - but I suspect it'll be a similar result.
(Good gods, next I'll be looking into rain gauges for my garden. As long as I don't begin taking an interest in shovels I should be all right...)

Our ABC - which is my default telly channel - occasionally broadcasts some very strange things late at night. For instance, sometime last week I looked up from the 'puter to see a performance by an 'experimental orchestra'. <blink> Music, only by the vaguest definition, enhanced by the orchestra members writhing about while wearing plastic bags and shredded paper. I got the impression of something oceanic but that was only because one man appeared to be acting like a seal. The rest made no sense at all... Oh well, 'art' is only in the comprehension of the beholder, I suppose. :)

After a really good day at Puffing Billy on Saturday, Sunday was very strange. I let myself sleep in and when I eventually opened my eyes at 11 a.m. I felt very bleurgh. Headachey and hungover; very annoying considering it's been months since I had a drink. Anyway, dragged myself out of bed but only managed an hour or so of useful activity before I had to apologise to the cubs and take myself back to bed for another few hours. It was well into the evening before I began to feel better. I really don't like days like that.
(Chatting to Penny about it on Monday we concluded that I must've been channeling her vodka hangover. That, or I just let myself get horribly dehydrated.)

I took 132 photos at Puffing Billy, for a total of 25 megs, and I discovered a lot about my woodgie phone camera. It doesn't handle motion very well, and without a flash I can only rely on available light. Not much of a problem with flourescents but incandescents don't work well at all. The 2 megapixels can sometimes give a surprisingly good picture but I've had to learn to judge what probably will and won't work with the digital zoom, or with close-ups. I probably have more 'failed' shots with this camera than I would with an SLR but I'm learning the media and I love not having to cart around rolls and rolls of film. As someone known to take oodles of photos at the merest hint of something interesting, the cost saved is significant. I do fret a little, however, at the volatility of the medium. One 'puter crash and you've lost everything, without having negatives to go back to. So, I've been very good about burning everything to CD on a regular basis. Ideally I'd like to have hard copies of favoured photos too, but that can wait for the moment. Even more ideally I'd still love to have an honest to goodness darkroom, but again, that can wait... :)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Dagnabbit. As I'm only using the free Flickr account I can only have 3 photo 'sets'. Pooh, I'd been relying on setting up another one so I could sort today's Puffing Billy pics in some semblance of order instead of the 'fling'em'up'there' method I used. I could delete the lot, I spose, and start from scratch. Not sure if I can swap them around once they've been uploaded...
So, anyway, be warned that this latest batch of photos aren't in a logical sequence. <g>

Yes, the cubs and I went to Puffing Billy today! A belated birthday present for my babies. <eg> I'm so tired, though, and my eyes are stinging. We had to have an early start (out of the house by 8 a.m) to make sure we got to Belgrave in plenty of time to catch the only train scheduled to go all the way to Gembrook. Normally we just travel to Lakeside but today we went alllll the way to the end of the line. Ultimately it's less than an extra hour each way but it was so blinking cold in the windowless carriages! Fortunately there was a cosy fire waiting for us in Gembrook station, so after some hot chocolate and basking for a bit the cubs and I meandered around the tiny township for an hour or so. Let's see, Gembrook has: a motel, a pub, a fast-food place, 3 antiques/collectible/artsy shoppes, a newsagent/post office, a motoring museum (closed today), a bakery, an itty supermarket and 3 bar/cafes. Can we say 'Tourist Town'? <g> There was a very nice park, though, with a gazeebo. At first the cubs were all keen to explore the playground but the siren call of the steamie was irresistible and we spent the remaining time before the return journey poking around the station and the engine. :)
It was even colder on the way back.
We hopped off at Lakeside and dashed up to the Model Railway for a look before dashing back down to the station in time to catch the last train to Belgrave. From there it was a nicely modern (warm) train back to Box Hill to catch the bus home.
We had a great day, despite the soot in the eyes and the frozen fingers, and the cubs are already talking about their next trip. <g>

Onna told me there was a parcel on the way, and that it was heavy...
An understatement! <bouncebounce> I opened up the box and cooed over the huge wodge of charm squares material - and then I looked in the plastic bags. Holy Heck! I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say my quilt fabric stash has doubled. There's some gorgeous material in there, thanks, onna! And that's not mentioning the selection of craft books and magazines. I foresee many happy hour of inspirational browsing...

I had a few things to say about The Libertine, which I saw earlier this week, but I can't keep my eyes open. The sibilant wit will have to wait for another time. <sleepy yawn>