Thursday, December 30, 2010

Losing the Ashes

To provide some context: while I watch tennis when it's on, will occasionally check the internet to see how Tottenham Hotspur are doing in the English Premier League, and keep an eye on how Saint Kilda are doing in the AFL, cricket – test cricket in particular – is the only sport I really follow, in the sense that I spend a lot of time not only watching it, but also reading about it and talking about it with other people.

I've played cricket1, so I've got a good understanding of how it all works – and, given just how esoteric the minutiae of the game is2, this is quite significant. I remember most of the terms for field positions, batting strokes and bowling techniques and, having spent a decent part of most of the last thirty or so summers watching the coverage on television, I've observed the ups and downs of the Australian team.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Movie review: Love and Other Drugs

I'm not usually a fan of romantic comedies, but this was one I'd decided I wanted to see – mostly because of my aforementioned fondness for Anne Hathaway.

Oh, and I'm going to talk about the plot – so consider this a spoiler alert.

Not really a romantic comedy

Now, I alluded to it being a romantic comedy and, based on the preview I'd seen, that's what I thought it was going to be. But, as TV Tropes tells us, trailers often lie; while it's being marketed as a romantic comedy, there's a more serious aspect to it.

A formula that doesn't quite work

What I'd interpreted from the preview was that the two lead characters were rival drug reps who started a casual relationship which then turned serious for the guy but not the girl – something along the lines of (500) Days of Summer.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy belated birthday, blog

Yesterday (December 25) was my blog's second birthday – which is just a little scary; it certainly doesn't feel like I've been putting my thoughts out there on teh interwebs for that long.

But I'm still enjoying it, and have no plans to stop anytime soon – quite the opposite, actually; I'm really hoping I can increase the frequency of my posts.

Of course, what I'd love is to see an increase in the number of pageviews, and more comments from people – so, if you do have something to say in response to something I've written, please feel free to say so; and if you think other people might enjoy reading it, use the buttons down below to share on Facebook and Twitter.

Anyway, I've got a couple of new posts in the pipeline and will – all things going to plan - have them up in the next few days.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Les Misérables (the book)

On my last trip to the library1 I found myself in the 'classics' section where I spotted a paperback copy of Les Misérables. I'd gone through the previous haul of books fairly quickly, at least in part to make up for the book-drought imposed during my rehearsal period for Suddenly At Home (as described here) and it occurred to me that I should borrow it, if for no other reason than I had the time.

Despite its literary significance — it's one of those books that always shows up on 'best of', 'most significant' and 'must read before you die under the wheels of a runaway stagecoach' lists — I'd never read it before. In fact, I don't think I'd even seen a copy of it before; while I'm sure a few people I know must own it, I've never noticed it in anyone's bookshelves.

I knew some of the story — between the number of references in pop culture, and having seen a brilliant production of the musical by Adelaide's Gilbert & Sullivan Society a few years back — but, considering the book is nearly 1200 pages long, with 130 or so more pages of notes2, there's obviously a lot more to it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thinking about Inking

So, recently I've been contemplating getting a tattoo.

Wait, what?

I'm serious — a tattoo. No, not the midget from Fantasy Island, or the thing in Edinburgh where people come from around the world to share their inexplicable fondness for marching in formation while inflicting playing (chiefly) bagpipe music1.

Yeah, I admit it's not exactly something I ever expected to be contemplating, given that I'm kind of past what I assume is the average age of a person who gets their first tattoo.

1Incidentally, some friends of mine from Adelaide went with a local pipe band a few years back and one of them ended up featuring quite prominently in the footage they shot.

Not an about—face, per se

It's not like I went to bed being against tattoos and woke up to find myself wanting one; I had thought about before, albeit quite a few years ago. But, despite it being something I was completely okay with – in principle – I never reached the point where I'd made up my mind about exactly what it was I wanted permanently etched into my skin.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Movie review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)

My trend of doing movie reviews appears to continue; this week's review is of the first part of the final chapter of the Harry Potter series.

If you don't already know...

Then you've been living in a cave, or are an alien spy who hasn't done the research.

The last in the series of seven books in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows covers the last battle between the young wizard Harry Potter, and his mortal enemy, the dark wizard Voldemort, who killed Harry's parents when he was a baby and who's been trying to kill him ever since.

At this point in the story, Harry and his two best friends, Ron and Hermione, have abandoned their final year studies at Hogwart's — the school for witchcraft and wizardry — in order to seek out and destroy the Horcruxes, the vessels Voldemort has used to house the pieces of his fragmented soul1, while attempting to avoid capture by their enemies, who've all-but taken over the wizarding world.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Movie review: Winter's Bone

I saw Winter's Bone last week, and it's definitely a film worth writing about.

The plot

Set in a tiny town in the mountainous region of Missouri known as the Ozarks, it's the story of Ree Dolly, who's 17 and, since her father – who has the dubious honour of being the community's most talented meth cooker - disappeared a few months back and her mother is almost completely incapacitated by depression, is the one looking after herself and her two younger siblings.

When the local sheriff arrives to warn Ree that her father's court date is due and that, because he used the value of their house to cover his bail bond, if he doesn't show they'll lose the house. So she sets out to find him – a decision that takes her into the complex, dangerous world of the area's criminal element.

However, it's not a plot-heavy film – but, like any good film that's not explicitly story-driven, it more than makes up for it in other ways.

Visually stunning

A lot of the screen time is devoted to shots of the countryside, and it's a captivating mix of stark natural beauty and the detritus left by people the wrong side of the poverty line. Ramshackle houses and junked cars are framed by high mountains and thick dense forests. As you might guess from how it sounds, it's by no means pretty – but there's a poignant beauty to it nonetheless.