Thursday, March 31, 2005

Chillin'

There's a certain point in every Windows user's life - sometimes several times per day actually - when substantial physical harm is wished upon Bill Gates. I bet he's having a good old laugh up there at our expense, with his billions of dollars, most likely using his own special version of Windows, before they add in all the bugs and annoyances, the Bill Gates edition that never freezes, never crashes and always does what it's told. Pehaps I should forget about my computer, move to LA and become a movie producer or something.

Sometimes you don't appreciate the quality of a movie until they bring out a bad sequel. I hadn't been to the video store in quite a while, so while chkdsk was scanning my Windows installation, I thought I might take a drive down for a browse. I'd recently seen Be Cool and was somewhat disappointed, so when I noticed the Get Shorty dvd on the recent release shelves, I had to get it to see if I could establish what it is that

It's hard to say exactly, but I'm pretty sure that perceived authenticity has something to do with it. Be Cool came across as being rather contrived and manufactured, similar to much of today's pop music. With Get Shorty, that artificial, almost phony quality is missing, leaving a witty, satirical and entertaining film.


"I don't think the producer has to know much"

Monday, March 28, 2005

Early Hours

Arrived back from the weekend camping trip just this afternoon and am still feeling a little tired and worn out even after a lazy evening in front of the television, watching The Hours and other things. A nasty cold caught on the first night out and only just clearing up now, seems to have put a damper on the whole experience. I put in the effort regardless, determined on having a good time, though at times it appears as though there's always something there to trip you up along the walking path.

For a brief period this morning, with the sun coming up over the lake and shining through the trees onto our tent, for some reason I awoke a few minutes before my alarm. The early hours of the morning, before anyone else is awake, provides a certain solitude, even when surrounded by the sleeping. Standing alone at the top of the hill, watching dense fog float and engulf the distant trees and the morning mist sliding over the clear lake, glistening in the sun, gives that unmistakable sense of significance, bearing sole witness to the morning's reality while others remain happily dreaming. A single sunrise, a solitary moment, stored away in the soul.


The lonely sun over the Crestbrook lake

Friday, March 25, 2005

Moon on the Rise

Well apart from the foolishness of the Easter pun I'm about to make, today has been a pretty good Friday. Having planned to leave for our camping trip early this morning, of course we didn't get on the road until around lunch time, after packing and picking up Frankie and Simon and everything.

The drive to Chantal's parents' place went by surprisingly quick and because most of the day had already passed away and the sun was soon to set, we decided just to pitch our tents in the backyard in preparation for the real thing tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it, though the facilities here are awfully convenient.

Until the sun had completely fallen behind the hills to the west, we played a little game of cricket, watching the full moon rise slowly into the eastern sky.


Full moon over Maclagan

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Giving and Taking Chance

Supreme effort often goes into the process of making life's little decisions, weighing up the multitude of advantages and disadvantages perceived in the mind, considering all the possible actions and allocating each a value based on the projected outcome. I've often wondered what would happen if each of the many little choices we seem to experience from day to day were to be determined at random, to live life by the roll of the dice or the flip of a coin.

Perhaps you can remember back to a situation where you've had a decision to make and were presented with a few options, like choosing between two movies in a video store or deciding which of your favourite restaurants to take her out to for dinner, "tossing up" between the two as it were and actually flipping a coin in an effort to circumvent your decisional duty. How many times have you been discretely pleased when a certain result came up in the cards that you perhaps had a slight preference for, using that coin toss to affirm your good judgement? And how many times have you thrown up that coin again, blaming some kind of interference or making it best two out of three when the result was not what you were hoping for, what in your mind had already been determined, if only by the smallest of margins?

We studied this a little in my Philosophy of Mind class at uni a while ago, about free will and all that. Are any of our choices really up to us at all, or are they just an automatic processes determined by previous experiences and the mechanics of the mind? Our lecturer seemed to have chosen to believe that free will is a mere illusion - something I'm still undecided on. I tried to think of a particular choice in which previous experience would have little to no bearing on the decision, pulled out a twenty cent piece from my pocket and asked him to choose heads or tails. Tails was his timely response and I asked him why he had chosen tails over heads. 'I don't know' was his reply.

Was his decision free will? Was it purely random? When you are one hundred percent certain of the odds and returns, choices become easier, as they can be precisely calculated, and when split down the centre, you can be sure whichever choice will be adequate. Decisions in life however are often infinitely more complex. Experience and disappointment frequently advises against taking chances, with relationships, with fashion, with friends, with money, with specific career choices, with different directions in life, though sometimes intuition and emotion can lead to actions against all ordinary rationality. It's certainly not often that someone will disregard their previous assumptions and actually give you a chance; it might be one in a million, but when that chance arrives on your doorstep, you'd be a fool not to take it.


Adelaide Street, Brisbane

Monday, March 21, 2005

From Above

After work, sitting reading at the bench under the tree on the hilltop, a mysterious object fell from the heavens onto the ground beside me. It was small, flat, light brown in colour and looked rather like a half eaten dog biscuit; in fact that's what it was, most likely not a blessed gift from above, but rather dropped by a bird from the trees above.

Soon after, a lone magpie came strutting over; its movements reminding me a bit of Jurassic Park, the theory that dinosaurs turned into birds and that's where they all went, and my childhood fascination with prehistoric times. The black and white bird seemed not too bothered by my presence and casually proceeded to peck at the biscuit on the ground, holding it down with one leg while picking off little crumbs with its pointy beak one by one.

Tonight we met up with a few friends for dinner and coffee, such convenience and ease. To think that just a couple of hundred millennia ago we would have been picking various berries or running around after big, hairy animals for our supper.


The feeding magpie

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Way of the Future...

The unlit path stretching ahead, the long and winding road; survival and prosperity often depends upon knowing its twists and turns, the successful prediction of what's coming around the bend. An aviation corporation decides to purchase forty-eight new jet aircraft to accommodate an expected rise in international flights. As a result, an eager stock holder decides to invest the rest of his life savings after hearing of the deal, predicting considerable returns. Scenarios of the future are played out in the mind and almost within an instant, actions leading to those most favourable are planned out, subconsciously much of the time, without a second thought. At the same time, actions leading to unfavourable scenarios are duly suppressed.

Howard Hughes the billionaire industrialist, film-maker and aeronautical engineer, portrayed in the Martin Scorsese picture The Aviator was, amongst other things, known for his erratic behaviour and excessive-compulsiveness attributed to various phobias, namely uncleanliness and germs. The film ascribes his intense fear of these invisible disease carriers, his hypochondria, to experiences from his childhood and things said by his mother while washing him with that black soap in a tin. He is unable to finish a meal touched by Jude Law's character Errol Flynn; he refuses to close a certain large business deal until a small spot of white is removed from the jacket of one of the businessmen - Data sure is getting on in years. All these are acts born out of that unconscious feeling that he is "not safe". I'd hate to see how I would be if I listened to everything my mother told me when I was a kid.

Last night the short-term future scenario of going to the movies had won the favour of my intentions and so I went through the series of actions that would actuate this objective. In short, I wanted to go see The Aviator, so I did. Personally I really enjoyed it - more interesting than Million Dollar Baby - though that's not to say it was without its faults, with some characters lacking depth and lacking serious emotional impact, I can see why it missed out on the Oscar. Although probably Leonardo DiCaprio's best performance to date and he obviously put in a lot of effort, I still wonder if someone else couldn't have perhaps played the part a little better.

Afterwards, walking back to the car, I was discussing the possibility of movies being shot with a few different actors for the lead roles, a few takes with one, then swapping them around. Audiences might then be persuaded to purchase a ticket for each version, to see how their favourite stars tackle the same role and put their own unique spin on it. It could even be up to the cinemagoers which one should become the official version. The way of the future? I'm not sure it would work.


Hollywood Types

Friday, March 18, 2005

Pixel Resurrection

It was late-night shopping Thursday finally, that certain forces and various interconnecting lines of illogical reasoning began to bond together in the mind, joining forces to eventually overcome the few weakening oppositional arguments that had prevented me from purchasing a new Nintendo DS ever since the Australian release not too long ago.

That unmistakable pleasure you get from opening something newly bought, upon further inspection, turned to the irksome realisation that something wasn't right. The Metroid Prime: Hunters demo fired up and immediately amongst the blackness of the starting screens, I noticed two tiny dots, one bright red in the middle of the upper screen, one bright blue at the top of lower screen - the dreaded "dead pixels" that can sometimes plague TFT screens on the very rarest of cases - one in a million or something. It seems I was lucky enough to have one of these annoying little dots on each screen. What are the chances?

The next morning before band practice, I took the system back to Big W and although I had to wait around for about fifteen minutes while they looked for another one out back, I was thankful that I was able to do a simple exchange and didn't have to send it away to Nintendo or anything like that.

So now that all ninety-eight thousand, three hundred and four pixels of my new toy are in good working order, I'm very pleased with it. Finished the Metroid demo and am now playing Advance Wars, which I borrowed from Jerry - after returning the dvds I had from before.


NDS

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Wednesday Night Lights

It was a timely, nostalgic return to the Wednesday nights of old. Ok, so maybe it hadn't been that long and maybe it wasn't so nostalgic, just the first thing that came out.

Hadn't been in for a few months anyway, free pool at Her Majesty's until eight, then up to the new bowling place called Strike where we were going to bowl a few games, but because Lyn was feeling a bit crook, we waited around at the pool tables for Jerry to take her home and then come back again.

At first we thought we'd found a defective pool table, the neon lights that were glowing on the other tables were blown and each time we put in a dollar, all the balls would come rolling out, along with our money in the coin return. It was only later that we found out that all the tables were actually free as well.

Sometimes we play in darkness, clutching to what we have, never venturing into the light, for fear of what we might pay.


Strike lanes playing Monkey Magic

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Weeping Guitars

"I look from the wings at the play you are staging, while my guitar gently weeps. As I'm sitting here doing nothing but aging, still my guitar gently weeps." --The Beatles, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Acoustic Version

George Harrison's acoustic recording from the anthology albums, subtle and hauntingly sombre, strikingly different to the version that ended up on The Beatles (White Album). I like them both though. I've been attempting to learn this one for a while now - so that it sounds at least half-decent anyway - though nowadays there seems so little time to spend slowly strumming away somewhere peaceful. No excuse really, I know.

Just another day, watching from the wings at the curious play of life being staged all around. Went out for lunch today on the way to pick up the new PA system and digital camera for work, sitting down to read The Origin of Species next to a table of Telstra workers, sharing stories that I couldn't help overhearing, about the troubles of their workmates and the company and various telecommunications adventures. Each seemed so captivated by the others' exciting tales, like it was all that mattered in the world.

While buying oil for the car this afternoon after work, a shelf stocker at Big W, evidently after finding yet another empty product packaging, remarked rather loudly that people mustn't be able to afford to buy things any more, they have to steal them right out of the packaging. I bought a new pair of socks while I was there also. All day long I'd been bothered by my big toe poking through a gaping hole in my old pair. Holeproof was the brand of these new ones - well, we'll see.

Was playing a little guitar earlier, but thought I should stop as there were some trying to fall asleep. Curbing your solemn song with respect to others; seems always to be the case. Perhaps just a little more with the volume turned down a touch lower. So now sitting here doing nothing but aging, shedding the seconds, silent tears of the weeping guitar.


Catching beatles in the grass

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Borrowing Dr. Jones

The other day I noticed amongst my small dvd collection that Interview With The Vampire was sitting there, still unwatched from when I borrowed it from Jerry quite some time ago - probably a few months at least. I remember sincerely wanting to watch it again at the time, having not seen it since back when I used to have it on video, but somehow it seemed always skipped over in favour of some other movie I'd seen less often. That night, for some reason, I was only able to watch half of it, though I planned to finish the rest very soon so that I could give it back with many apologies for the delay.

Just started watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade tonight - the only one I've got on dvd - when Chantal mentioned that she'd only just seen that one a little while ago. I kind of felt like watching The Temple of Doom anyway, which is actually my personal favourite of the trilogy, so I was considering a trip to the video store, but then remembered that the Indiana Jones box set was a part of Jerry's extensive dvd library. Even though I don't really like to do a "double borrow" from people, I called him up anyway. Turns out his sister had just been over to borrow some dvds as well and he was feeling a bit like a "drive through dvd rental store". I felt a little guilty as I was driving away from his place just down the road. I'll try to make sure for a prompt return.

I'm not sure exactly why I prefer Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom over the other two. It does have a rather different style to the first and third instalments I guess, less following the clues to hidden archaeological treasure and all that, but there seems to be something else that makes this film stand out in my head as slightly more enjoyable than the others. Even so, I've read on some other sites that many consider The Temple of Doom to be the weakest of three. What is it that lets one particular movie stand out inside the mind as somehow superior to others? Is it culturally related, based on past experiences? How is it that opinions change over time? The hundred years war of the mind, good versus evil, interchangeable terms really, advocated by the victor. Which one is your favourite?


Indi

Friday, March 11, 2005

Finding the Rainbow

Yesterday I was back at home helping out with the old computer, when I decided to take a look around the old backyard where I spent so many days of my childhood. I noticed a few cheerful rainbow lorikeets chirping away in the large tree we have growing in the backyard.

A memory came to me from the days when that tree was once a home for my childhood pursuits, climbing right up to the very top branches and looking out over the canopy. I remember one rainy day, seeing a distant rainbow as I gazed over towards the park, thinking about all those silly stories you hear about what lies at the end.

The literal pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is merely a children’s fairytale, but I think it demonstrates the human ability to dream that something special is out there far in the distance, waiting for anyone willing to pursue it.


Rainbow lorikeet

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Hitchin' A Ride

I must confess that I can really appreciate a decent romantic comedy when one comes around, just to kick back, forget about things for a little while and have a good chuckle. It's also been said that laughter really is the best medicine, so perhaps seeing Hitch tonight will help counteract a few bad habits and indiscretions. One can only hope.

It seems everywhere there are people looking for love, that special someone to share moments of their lives with. For something that is so universal, that everyone is after, it almost seems rather strange that so many find that love is not always so easily found. This is where Alex 'Hitch' Hitchens comes in, the dating consultant, with his set rules of dating, lending a helping hand to guys that seem to be having more than a little trouble winning the heart of the girl of their dreams. But when it comes to finding love in his own relationships, things don't seem to go according to plan.

No major Hollywood movie these days would be complete without its fair share of product placement, hitching a ride on a direct train to the consumer subconscious. I noticed that Google was featured quite a few times in Hitch, both visually and in a few places, through the dialogue. I'm not too sure, but there seemed to also be frequent references to searching in the film, searching for background information, searching for people, searching for true love. All part of Google's master plan? Perhaps I'm reading too much into it.


The cure for the common man

Sleepy Hollow Dragons

Sometimes in the mornings just arriving at work, sometimes in the afternoons leaving for home and sometimes at lunchtimes while I'm walking up to eat at the bench under the big tree on the hill, I will see a certain shy little bearded dragon quietly basking in the sunlight of the day, who will most of the time go scurrying back to his tree trunk hollow as soon as I come into view.

He appears to be still quite young, smallish in size compared to some others I've seen, day after day, seeming quite contented with his home under the small Jacaranda tree outside the office building, busying himself with all those things most important to the average lizard.

I wonder what the world must be like to this small sleepy dragon, why he finds solace in his tree trunk hollow, never venturing too far out for fear of the unfamiliar.


The Dragon

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Carol Vesseys of the World

The most beautiful girl in school, adored by all. You're careful - though averting your amorous gaze proves rather difficult - not to stare too long, lest it somehow distracts from her exquisite perfection. Feeling much too inadequate to put together even half a sentence in her presence, much less working up the courage to ask her out, you watch from the sidelines, with silent wonder, as the school days roll by, until eventually you find that all those days have long passed away and all that's left is a deep regret for opportunities not taken.

I remember being really excited - perhaps a little too excited - after seeing one of Channel 10's promotional spots that they're always doing at the beginning of each year, showing the upcoming season line-up, when some shots of the television series Ed flicked past, in and amongst a few various other run-of-the-mill shows. Ever since I saw that very first episode, I knew I’d found something special and so I watched from the sidelines each week. I loved the interesting and complex characters, the clever, interlocking storylines, and the way the show combines humorous and emotional elements, not quite comedy, not quite drama, but amazingly both at the same time.

Weeks went by however without any sign of Ed Stevens' melodramatic attempts at winning the heart of his high school crush, Carol Vessey, back in little old Stuckeyville, until finally the network decided to put on a few reruns in the middle of the day. But then, for some reason, they cut the show off half way through the season, replacing it with NYPD Blue - as if we didn't have enough police shows on tv. I had to tape the episodes that they did show and it was great to see them again, but I must say I've just about lost all confidence in Channel 10 right now.

I sometimes wonder what happens to all the Carol Vesseys of the world out there, if they're happy in their lives, happy about themselves. It's sometimes easy to imagine them now as they once appeared to be: perfect in every way, living the dream life. Yet sometimes it's those who seem to have it all, who carry with them the deepest insecurities and sorrows.


Carol

Friday, March 04, 2005

At The End of the Day (Endings and New Beginnings)

"Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago." --Herman Melville, Moby Dick

The day, edging towards its inevitable close, stands but a memory, looking out to the horizons of the future from its unmoving perch; a tired, old former sea captain, gazing out at distant waters from the rocky shores. The meandering thoughts that pass through the mind as sleep slowly takes hold, form personal epilogues of the day duly spent.

Just reading a little here and there, during lunch breaks and sometimes just before bed, I finally came to the end of Moby-Dick, a book I started slowly sailing my way through last August, around about the same time I began writing this weblog. Last night I also finished Half-Life 2, which took a relatively short amount of time, and although its a great game, the graphics, action and gameplay are amazing, I never seem to feel the same emotion from the narrative of computer games that seems almost always present by the end of a good movie or book. I wonder if this is an area that will be explored as games move forward and evolve.

It seems life is full of beginnings, middles and endings; the pattern is everywhere you look, in the written words of a book, in the sounds of a rock 'n' roll album, in the symbols splashed on the silver screen, in the levels of a game, in the hours of a day, in birth, life and death. The introduction, middle and conclusion of a published book already exist as a whole, bound together on the page, yet must be experienced in a linear fashion as we read each word through the passage of time. Such is life, at the end of the day.


Breaching Moby-Dick

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

One in a Million, Baby

Just on the off chance that there was something decent on, I pressed the half-broken power button on the tv last night to catch Chris Rock presenting his opening bit for the 77th Academy Awards. In years past, I think I've always at least known it was on, with the ever increasing add break reminders leading up to the event and all. Shows just how much my television viewing has declined in days of late I guess.

The faces on the stage, the faces in the crowd, recognisable and familiar over those never gazed upon. Depp, Blanchett, Scorsese, Kaufman, certain set configurations of light and shadow on the screen give rise to certain set connections of firing neurones in the brain, constructs of people we've never even met - and most probably never will - living in the minds of millions.

Four of the five films nominated for best picture have been just recently released over here, coinciding of course, with the Oscars. So it seems their little ploy has succeeded. Tonight, in an unusually crowded movie theatre, we went to see Million Dollar Baby, winner of best motion picture of the year. I enjoyed it quite a bit, though because I've only seen one of the other nominated films so far, I can't be too certain I would rate it above all the others. One in a million? We'll have to wait and see.


Million Dollar Baby