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Fri, 09 Dec 2011

Artists and analysing their music - 10:23
Mikal wondered if others had noticed how depressing the song Brick by Ben Folds Five is. Although I like Ben Folds Five, I can not say I had noticed this due to listening to the lyrics as a) I didn't really listen to the words so much, and b) I heard about the basis of this song to some extent before I gave the lyrics any thought. So I can say I know the lyrics are depressing, not that I had noticed.

I have not researched this to check my memory is correct, however Ben Folds has talked about this in interviews in the past. If my memory of these interviews is correct, the song was to some extent based on a harrowing experience he had when he was around 18-20. He and his partner at the time went through the process of having an abortion and all the emotions and the shit that happened around the event weighed heavily on him, this song is an outcome of the experiences surrounding that event.

However Ben Folds is to a large extent not alone among musical artists saying, on the whole, over analysing lyrics in his work is not what he intends or expects, many artists seem astounded by the amount of analysis that goes into lyrics they write, often according to them written simply for the rhyme, or to work with the song and containing no deeper meaning. The fans doing the analysis may of course argue the subconcious has other ideas, who knows.

[/leisure/music] link

British "Whose Line Is It Anyway" - 10:23
As most people should know British comedy tends to be the best around, a show I was hooked on when living in the UK for all of 1993 is Whose Line Is It Anyway, airing from 1988 to 1998. I taped around 13 episodes from Foxtel my my mum's house a few years ago (they have Foxtel, on which it was airing). There was a US version of the show, with some of the same comedians appearing and hosted by Drew Carey, however the US version of the show sucked.

Anyway the show is an theatre sports style improvisation show with comedians acting out various provided (often by the audience) situations on the spot. I have to say this is one of the funniest shows I have ever seen, probably helped by the fact it has some of my favourite comedians as regulars, Paul Merton and Stephen Fry.

I have been watching the tape I have of the show a bit last night and tonight and I have been laughing almost constantly. This truly is brilliantly entertaining, highly recommended. For more information there are some sites with more of it and of course something Wikipedia.

[/leisure/screen] link

Dreaming - 10:23
So I may not really be in the target market of tv broadcasters, after all I tend not to watch much tv. In this specific case, the Olympics coverage, I tend not to care for any of the summer Olympics. While the summer Olympics were on in Sydney in 2000, I was living in the Sydney and deliberately did not go to any events. I even went skiing at Perisher for a week of the Olympics to get away from the city.

However there was one thing at the Sydney Olympics that I was glued to whenever I was near a tv, the same thing happened for the Utah/Salt Lake City winter Olympics and then even for the Athens Olympics I did actually watch one thing on tv. So far I have not seen more than a minute or two of Olympics coverage on screen, when I have seen it on at a cafe or similar I have tuned in for a few seconds. So what is missing from the Olympics coverage this time?

Roy and HG with The Dream of course. This show added to the fun and humour of the Sydney Olympics. It increased the value of the Utah winter Olympics (I actually enjoy watching a fair amount of the winter Olympics) and it made the non stop coverage around the country of Athens more bearable. Maybe it is because Channel 7 spent so much money to get the rights for the Olympics they feel they can not make fun of the event. Maybe it is as is suggested in the article about the lack of the Dream, no studio audience due to Chinese security and crowd restrictions and the bad timezone issues make it unworkable for channel 7.

It is interesting to note there is a lot of criticism going around that this is the worst Olympics coverage in recent memory and most articles discussing this seem to note people are calling for the Dream to come back rather than the Yum Cha thing on each morning.

Fortunately though tv rights are taken there is nothing stopping Roy and HG commenting on the Olympics on the radio, which they are doing with aplomb on Triple J every afternoon. At least there is still some Australian piss taking going on, even if it is not live from Beijing. So I guess what I am saying, in my opinion at least, the lack of this show on the Olympics coverage means there is no reason to turn a tv on this month. I spoke to a few people at work and I hear a number of people with little interest in the Olympics have a similar view.

[/leisure/screen] link

What to do in Denver^WCairns when you're dead^Won holiday? - 10:23
On Saturday I am flying up to Cairns for a little over a week on holiday. While there I am competing in two mountain bike races the Herberton 8 Hour race in a team of 3 and the RRR Classic (details of both races can be found on the Cairns Mountain Bike Club website) on consecutive Sundays. I will be staying with friends, however apart from that I really have no idea what to do in Cairns for a week.

Dave and Julie were there recently and went on a Kayak trip, which was probably fun. This is the part of Australia where glass bottom boats are rather common, heck the Kayak/Canoe you really want up there is one of these transparent canoes I saw on BoingBoing the other day. Apart from the fact my arms may drop off 3 hours into any attempt to Kayak somewhere I have no planned something like that. Is a reef trip a good idea I wonder?

I will probably ride up to Port Douglas one day, maybe look for nice swimming rivers/holes/etc on the way up and down to stop off at. I will probably look for a bit more mountain biking while there or maybe a walk or some trail running. But I really have no idea what to do apart from read books on the beach (which could not be all bad I guess).

Anyone have suggestions?

[/leisure/holiday] link

Woohoo for Radio National - 10:23
So I recalled Mikal mentioning Radio National Podcasts a while back, this interests me, in the past I have lamented the lack of AM support in radio tuner cards for the exact reason that it would rock to be able to record Radio National shows and play them on a mobile device when ever you wanted to listen to them.

I googled the other day and found the Radio National podcast page, they do indeed have a pretty good selection of shows available for download. I rang Crash to ask if he had been doing any of this podcasting radio national thing, he rides to work every day, a rather nice ~ 23 KM commute, listening to an mp3 player or a radio. Crash had indeed been engaging in this podcasting thing, downloading any new casts night at 3am. I asked what application he used to do this, a Gooey application would be kind of silly to use for this so I hoped there was a basic CLI application for the task.

Crash was able to point out this rather cool shell script, Bashpodder, to download all new/updated feeds from a list of feed URL's. Mikal, sfr and Rusty will I am sure be glad to see a very useful application, written in shell still rather than some other language, that it works reliably and the newer release even shrank from 76 lines of shell to 44 lines (now including more comments too).

I added all the RN feeds I wanted into the file one per line, ran the script and a few minutes later I had 800 MB of cool Radio National content in mp3 format ready for listening anywhere and anywhen. Now if only we could convince the government to fund the ABC and Radio National better so they can keep up the fantastic work well on into the future.

[/leisure] link

Thu, 02 Jun 2011

A surprising lapse in recognition - 15:15
I was surprised and entertained by this happening last week, I had a massive failure of recognition while watching a movie. I guess it stems from a similar problem I had with an Ani concert here in early 2009. Ani had not toured Australia for a really long time previously and I had stopped regularly checking her tour schedule (almost giving up hope that she would tour). When at Christmas 2008 my sister presented me with tickets to go see an Ani concert I was both grateful and amazed, somehow my favourite artist had snuck in an Australian tour I had failed to notice coming up.

So to point out why I had such a complete failure in recognition at the movies the other night I should provide some history. Since 1992 or so (when Lethal Weapon 3 was released, then the following year with In the Line of Fire and various following movies) I have been a huge Rene Russo fan. However I knew she had not acted in a movie since 2005 so was not really expecting to see her in any movie coming out in 2011. Thus sitting watching the Kenneth Brannagh does super heroes movie Thor last week I kept staring at the Queen. Thinking wow she is gorgeous, completely eclipsing Natalie Portman in the movie even playing a somewhat small role. However I kept trying to work out who it was, thinking it looks like Rene but assuming there was no chance it was her. Thus when the credits rolled and I saw I really had failed in recognition I was impressed and happy to see her back on screen.

There is an entertaining 3 part interview (part 1 here) on Jimmy Kimmel Live (a US talk show) talking about Thor, working with Brannagh, never watching her own movies and other stuff. (Fuck It Fuck It Fuck It, way to go Hopkins)

[/leisure/screen] link

Wed, 06 Apr 2011

Found in the oven - 11:14

Cupcakes and Bread (fullsize)
I was worried last week I may need to buy bread, I had not done that since early December. My wrist was sore enough from paddling that kneading bread dough seemed to make it worse. In the end I just made bread anyway and thus have still not bought any since December.

Last night I managed to pull the loaf of bread and 24 apple cupcakes pictured out of the oven, all of which is yummy and vegan friendly. I had already tucked into the bread by the time I took that photo.

[/leisure/food] link

Fri, 25 Feb 2011

The Waifs live - 11:59
I was able to go out and see The Waifs live show at the Canberra Theatre last night. They still play together really well, play off each others strengths well and seem to be enjoying their time on stage a lot which was great to see. The Audience of course really got into the few classic songs they played. The new album content was interesting, I think I will need to buy it and have a listen for a while to see if it grows on me (being released on March 4).

Vicki performed an awesome version of Sun, Dirt, Water with just her and the upright bass player on stage. Josh took the lead in some of the new material with a kind of gospel bent. Throughout the gig I thought Donna's voice often seemed to be overpowering the rest but it did not sound that strong during her songs. Still an excellent night of live music, such a shame we do not get to see them more often in Australia now (like we used to when they were at the national every year or other similar appearances). They celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Waifs next year which is pretty impressive just to think about.

[/leisure/music] link

Mon, 31 Jan 2011

Going to the theatre during lca in Brisbane, keeping up the tradition - 16:11
Keeping a Brisbane tradition (I have now done this twice, so obviously a tradition at lca in Brisbane) of theatre while at lca. I went and saw I love you, you're perfect, now change at the Brisbane arts theatre with Matt and Amanda. I saw the Maria Callas based show Master Class in 2002 with Martijn after missing it in Canberra

The show was largely very good, however I thought the first half was much stronger and more entertaining than the post intermission stuff. Also the US American bent and style was a little too much, it seemed it would have been easy to modify it in a few places to make it Australian and retain the humour and subject matter of the play accurately.

Still an immensely fun musical. Interesting to see the theatre has performed the Terry Pratchett adaption play Maskerade previously and in October/November this year will perform Monstrous Regiment which could be worth the visit to see.

[/leisure/theatre] link

Thu, 27 Jan 2011

Brisbane cafes, start here maybe? - 18:25
So with a bit of free time between the end of the sessions today and the beginning of the conference dinner I decided to go looking for a cafe for a good coffee and maybe some other food. My criteria was vegetarian friendly, and I started looking around the west end as I had heard there was a good scene there.

Due to that I am now having a Monteith's Crushed Pear cider, soy mocha and vegan raspberry cheese cake at The Forest Cafe on Boundary Rd. The food and coffee I am trying is pretty good, I should try their other food some time later in the trip if I can, maybe Saturday sometime.

Tomorrow morning I will have breakfast out (to keep up with my normal Friday morning tradition), with MRD, Mikal and Crash here in the west end somewhere before heading in to QUT.

[/leisure/food] link

Fri, 17 Dec 2010

Bread - 15:56

Ready to bake (fullsize)

Baked (fullsize)

Cooling (fullsize)
So it has been a few years since i made bread, previously I tried it for a while just to see what varieties I could make and what it was like. Recently I was in the mood to do it some more. Going from scratch using the flour, yeast, water, salt and I also use a bit of sugar and oil.

It took a few loaves to get the hang of it, and also reading up on the process once more rather than my first attempt from memory and failing on a few key aspects. Now however I find the process fairly quick and easy. Total time to bake a loaf of yummy fresh home made bread is around 15 minutes. This is spread over a large period of time. I mix the ingredients and knead it a bit. Leave it to rise over night. Punch it down before I head out for exercise in the morning and place it in the loaf tin to let it go through the proving/second rise. When I return home to get ready to work I can pop it in the oven and have fresh bread hot out of the oven 30 minutes later.

I had been baking it on a flat tray and due to the shape of the bowl the rise happened in was making cobb loaves, however I decided I wanted a bread tin, so yesterday went to the Essential Ingredient in Kingston and they had the rather nice, heavy good quality tin pictured here. This worked a treat for the loaf I made overnight last night. Now I just have to remember to ensure I have bread flour, yeast, water, salt, sugar and oil at home and I no longer have to get over to Bakers Delight all the time for bread.

[/leisure/food] link

Wed, 03 Mar 2010

Some comments on a book - 14:53
Back in December I ordered a copy of a book I wanted to read, the shop I ordered it from (local) never managed to get it from the distributors, why I have no idea. Eventually I got sick of waiting and on Friday wandered in to the Co Op Bookshop on campus and bought a copy they had on the shelf. The book is Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, I finished reading it last night.

In the past I have avoided really talking much about my dietary choices. I choose to remain a Vegan as I am convinced it reduces the environmental footprint of my diet as much as possible. In the book he uses figures suggesting it is less than 1/7th the environmental footprint of omnivorous diets. I try to put to the back of my mind (as Foer describes it learned forgetfulness) how animals are treated in the modern world to provide the increasing meat craving the world seems to have. Reading the book is a stark reminder of how disgusting and horrible factory farming is, not just for the animals but also for the environment anywhere near factory farms.

In the hope that the book was somewhat US centric and maybe the Australian food industry was not so bad yet I spent around 2 minutes googling and reading and rather quickly learnt that pigs, poultry and to a large extent other meat animals in Australia are factory farmed to a similar extent. Another glaring point he makes is that the increase in waistlines and meat consumption widens the global poverty gap more every year, or more obviously the starving from the obese all around the world.

Foer points out again and again how we have a picture in our heads of farming and animal agriculture where the farmer knows all their stock by sight and farms according to traditional images of farming, this simply is not the case anymore around the world, less than 1% of consumed animal product in the western comes from non factory farming environments (and other parts of the world are trying to play catch up). I do not have the book with me at work just now as I write this so can not refer to it just now but it is definitely a reminder to me that I should be happy with my own dietary choices.

[/leisure/food] link

Tue, 24 Nov 2009

Kate Miller-Heidke live in Canberra last week - 11:29
What with my love of female folk singers, and especially of Missy Higgins piano work and what my sister refers to as my predictable enjoyment of female pop sort of music I guess it comes as no surprise I am a huge fan of Kate Miller-Heidke. She started an Australian tour recently and one of the gigs was in Canberra. Last Tuesday night at the Hellenic club I managed to catch the gig with my sister and her partner. The support act was Washington, I enjoyed their music and thought it a fitting support act for this gig. The song How to Tame Lions was very good, and I agree with the lead singer if everyone at a gig had one of the face masks on it would be even cooler. Thought neither Jane or I listen to radio much currently we both recognised a few other songs sung by the group.

The main act was of course Kate Miller-Heidke and her band, they came on and got going on some really good renditions of her songs, she also tended to talk a fair bit between songs and had some good amusing stories and anecdotes. Such as telling about the recent US tour, where they played the Facebook song on college radio stations a lot. However due to the fact they are publicly funded you can not swear, so they had to be rid of the obvious swearing "fucking fucking kidding me" etc, however the next when she sings "narcissistic arsehole", at one station they had a list of banned words, and said you can not say "ass" (American spelling and pronunciation) so she asked can we say "arse" (Australian spelling and drawled out) and he said it is not on the list so sure go ahead.

As much as I love the music some of the lyrics have been hitting a bit close to home for me, even though it has been almost a year the whole facebook song reminds me I am still trying not to remember a lot of last year so as not to be depressed, and of course the line in "Space they cannot touch", "I just hope I am good enough to keep you" still preys on my mind a lot as I wasn't. Still so long as I do not dwell on such thoughts I had a good time there and was definitely impressed by the live performance. They work hard to choreograph their performance on stage with movements and dancing and have a lot of energy. When the amps were playing up for a while Kate and Keir played 4 songs with just an acoustic guitar and singing which was a great recovery for the equipment problems.

[/leisure/music] link

Easy Chocolate Cakes - 11:21

Vegan Chocolate Cakes with Soy Cream Cheese Chocolate Icing (fullsize)
Last night I whipped up two vegan chocolate cakes, and because I had some vegan cream cheese left from Friday I made chocolate cream cheese icing for them. These are incredibly easy to make and have a very basic recipe. I used something very similar to this Vegan Chocolate Cake recipe though made the icing with Cream Cheese, Nuttelex, Icing Powder and Vanilla.

Anyone rocking up to the evening at Tilleys tonight will be able to sample these.

[/leisure/food] link

Thu, 12 Nov 2009

Yummy vegan lasagna, Lentil and Leek - 22:33

Lentil and Leek Lasagna (fullsize)
I was in the Oxfam shop a little while ago and while there noticed an Oxfam Vegetarian Cookbook. It looked interesting and I like buying Oxfam stuff so I bought a copy. Home sick today I was having a read through it and liked the look of the Lentil and Leek lasagna pictured above.

It is indeed a delightful dish, I enjoyed my dinner tonight. I did not use cheese (I instead spread some sesame seeds and olive oil on top of the white sauce. For the white sauce I used soy milk, whole meal flour and nuttelex rather than milk and butter). I highly recommend this lasagna.

[/leisure/food] link

Fri, 16 Oct 2009

A new discovery, ninja music - 13:25
Last night I was reading AFP's second recent on the issue of artists making money in the Internet enabled world, something she refers to as Virtual Crowdsurfing, all that makes a lot of sense to me, however I happened to note her mentioning doing an online performance with a musician named Matthew Ebel.

Out of interest I followed the links and then looked up youtube to learn about him. One of the first youtube videos I stumbled upon was Everybody Needs a Ninja, which is awesome beyond words. Go watch it now, anyway I listened to some other stuff on youtube, however mostly on the strength of the Ninja song alone I bought copies (mp3 download and two physical copies, all from cdbaby) of his album Goodbye Planet Earth. Listening to it on rotation in my ipod today and it really is pretty awesome. Creative amusing lyrics, good piano and other instruments/effects. I had a bit of a listen to the samples of his older albums, however they are a bit more main stream and less amusing/clever seeming, though still good I was not in the mood to buy them.

[/leisure/music] link

Wed, 30 Sep 2009

Disappointed to learn that purple Vitasoy is not vegan - 16:33
I was somewhat pissed off at Vitasoy/national foods last week when I learned that the calci plus (purple container) Vitasoy is not vegan friendly. Some time in mid 2008 they changed the packaging slightly saying it had vitamin D added. I paid no attention to this, however some vegans are far more alert to this sort of thing than I am.

Last week I was looking for some information about the new Vitasoy cafe milk that is appearing in many cafes, I happened to come across some discussion on vegan forums about the calci plus not being vegan friendly. The vitamin D they began adding to the product some time last year is from a lanolin derived source (sheep/wool production industry), the forums referred to it as a D3 additive, suggesting Vitasoy if they felt the need to add vitamin D could put the effort into finding D2 based vitamin D which is not from the animal industry. Response from Vitasoy when they were contacted about this is that many of their other products remain Vegan friendly and they are investigating a reliable source of D2 for this milk.

Apart from them changing the packaging but not noticeably making it clear in any other way I am somewhat annoyed at a soy milk product with vitamin D added making it non Vegan. Anyone needing some vitamin D should go outside from time to time and get a bit of sun for crying out loud. I am unfortunately somewhat addicted to Vitasoy by choice and as they have stopped producing Vitasoy heart (yummiest soy milk around) I had since then been drinking calci plus. On my most recent shopping trip however I went to buying the green carton Vitasoy (fibre), I guess it would be better to try a few non Vitasoy products and see if there is one the behaves nicely (does not clump up) tastes better than So Good and costs less than Bonsoy.

I like the term a friend I was telling this to came up with, if they feel the product needs vitamin D as people consuming it do not have enough Vitamin D it should be called "Cave Dweller Vitasoy".

[/leisure/food] link

Sun, 30 Aug 2009

Kate and Ruth at the Folkus - 23:29

Kate and Ruth(fullsize)
On Friday night after getting home from another day doing World Champs work at Mt Stromlo I had the rather enjoyable opportunity to see Kate and Ruth playing live at The Folkus Room. They do not often play in Canberra outside the folk festival and they really are a wonderful pair of performers. My housemate Matt who is also a fan of their work came along with me and we got to enjoy a spectacular evening of music.

Early on they played Cindy Cindy which was wonderful. Kate played a cover of the Joni Mitchell song A Case of You which was really amazing, what an evening. I thought it was a little disappointing how few people were there as they are popular in Canberra. Though an amusing aspect of this is that most of the people in the audience were close friends of theirs and both there mothers were (eventually) at the gig and they had played in groups with some of the audience members.

I have been taking photos while working out at Stromlo on the worlds, however have not had much time in front of a computer recently so have not had time to upload them and comment on them. It will happen at some point soon.

[/leisure/music] link

Fri, 21 Aug 2009

The final product of yesterday's baking - 12:24

Vegan Tiramisu cupcakes, finished product(fullsize)
The photo on the left is of the 24 finished tiramisu cupcakes mentioned yesterday. They were a hit. Yummm.

[/leisure/food] link

Thu, 20 Aug 2009

Ahh cupcakes - 12:26

Vegan Golden Cupcakes pre Tiramisu (fullsize)
Will anyone ever tire of a cupcake? I doubt it. Here are 24 fresh (baked this morning after I got home from swimming before going to work) vegan golden cupcakes (from the VCTOTW book), this is the plain cupcake recipe, however tonight I will be making them into vegan Tiramisu cupcakes. Last time they were spectacular so I expect similar results this time, and I was able to get the dark chocolate coated coffee beans at the ANU Food Co-Op yesterday too so they may even be better.

This is of course pre preparation with the Kahlua at the ready for when I get home to do the vegan vanilla cream cheese icing and Kahlua/coffee mix. I am going over to a friend's birthday dinner tonight and offered to bring a vegan friendly dessert.

[/leisure/food] link

Wed, 12 Aug 2009

Dessert! - 15:37

Fresh Warm Chai Latte Cupcakes (fullsize)
Last night D, G and I went over to M and A's place for dinner. A asked me to do dessert. Before that request I had been considering making Vegan Sausage Rolls, with the Dessert request I decided on the rather wonderful Chai Latte Cupcakes from The Post Punk Kitchen. Pictured to the left are 22 cupcakes fresh from the oven last night. Everyone liked them so only one or two remain now. Yum.

[/leisure/food] link

Tue, 19 May 2009

The reboot worked - 13:18
I mentioned a while back after seeing some movies that I was keen to see another one to see if the reboot of the universe worked. I saw the new Star Trek last night and what can I say, on the whole it rocked. The characters really came across as we would expect them to.

Bones was my favourite TOS character and in the new movie, Bones is awesome and cool and completely and utterly what I would expect him to be like. I was entertained to see Chris Pine even got the slouch in the captains chair looking like TOS Kirk, Scotty was great and even though it bought the characters together in a different way it all seemed to fall out well. I tend to agree with many comments suggesting the Uhura/Spock thing was a bit weird, but it did not detract from the rest of the movie too much.

I saw the movie with a friend who was not particularly keen on seeing it, but thought it was potentially going to be good, she was blown away with how much fun it was and how good the movie was. Definitely worth seeing I think.

[/leisure/screen] link

Thu, 23 Apr 2009

How many problems are ignored - 12:29
So I just opened a tub of soy life soy yoghurt and found a large chunk of mold inside the sealed container, the tub is still well inside the used by date. However it would require so much effort to return it to place of purchase or send it in to the company that either produces (in this case) or imports it that I have chucked it in the bin and ignored the issue.

I do wonder how many people tend to do this, unless you get a repeat failure from some brand a few times it is far easier to simply go on with life and not spend the time making a customer complaint with such a small value item. It is only as the value of a failed item increases or the ease of making the complaint decreases that you would make the effort. Of course everyone will have a different graph of where these things go and the area under which you would make the effort.

[/leisure/food] link

Sat, 18 Apr 2009

Some Sydney food - 19:17
As it was Jane's birthday recently I thought I would find the first weekend I could and head up to Sydney to hang out with her for a weekend. As Jane is a big fan of breakfast out and as I liked the chance to find some more Vegan friendly eating while up here we have eaten out for breakfast and lunch today.

First off we headed to a place in Newtown called Macro Cafe, the coffee was alright, although it was not a Vegetarian place they did have scrambled tofu for breakfast. Jane had a mushroom dish which had goat cheese and some other stuff, according to her it was remarkably not good for the ingredients. My scrambled tofu was alright but something was off about the spice or way it was served and it was not as good as I come to expect in many Melbourne Cafes.

Lunch on the other hand was had in Glebe at Iku Wholefood on Glebe Point road, a chain of stores around Sydney (10 all up), they are a Vegan cafe, with a whole variety of interesting and yummy mains and desserts ("cheesecake" made vegan with tofu and other yummy ingredients for example). I had a rather yummy tofu pocket and a pasta based fritata. Jane had a bean and rice dish with two different flavoured pinto bean dishes, the sweet potato and arame was really good and the pinto bean tomato casserole was also enjoyable. Yummmmmmm.

I wonder what we will do for breakfast tomorrow...

[/leisure/food] link

Mon, 30 Mar 2009

Recent movies - 15:06
I have seen two movies in the last week or so, first was Watchmen a week or so ago and then last night Duplicity. I liked them both quite a lot. Watchmen had some patently silly scenes and some things that did not quite work, however on the whole I liked the effect of the movie. Even at 2h40m in length it felt a little bit rushed trying to tell it all, however it does make me stop and think about a lot of the stuff they wanted to push through, the style of the film was interesting too, I think they did the 1985 and the historical montages well and also brought through the characters well. Strangely being a comics geek I have never gotten around to reading Watchmen.

Duplicity was also good, I have a habit of spoiling movies and have to work hard to stop myself spoiling this one. I think it is let down a bit in that it is a little bit hard to care about any of the characters, however the twists are fun and the premise is entertaining and carried out well. Next on the movie agenda I think I will in fact make the effort to go and see the new Star Trek movie, I did not bother seeing the last one, however I look forward to seeing if this reboot of the universe works somehow or not.

[/leisure/screen] link

Fri, 20 Mar 2009

My geek credentials in question - 17:38
I have been rereading some of my Terry Pratchet Discworld books the last few weeks and I realised I have not read some of those I am likely to enjoy. Vimes and watch books tend to be my favourite and yet I do not have Thud! or Night Watch and have not read them. Others I expect I would like that I do not have are Making Money (I liked Going Postal so expect I will enjoy this), Thief of Time and Interesting Times and the two alternate format books Faust Eric and The Last Hero.

I own two of the witch books but have never yet been able to read more than the first few pages without getting bored and putting them down, so I doubt I have any interest in those I do not have. Anyway thinking I should attempt to rectify this lack of ownership involving some good Pratchett books I headed out to Canty's second hand book shop in Fyshwick today to see if they had any of those I do not have to buy. Alas it seems their Pratchett stocks were low as only two of the YA books were there and nothing else. I guess it is probably time to trawl through some of the other second hand book shops in Canberra, if only I can find the time.

I wonder if my geek credentials should be called into question for not having them all?

[/leisure/books] link

Wed, 25 Feb 2009

Stardust comparison - 10:56
I have often said how I am a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, when the Stardust movie was released I went to see it and loved it, however I had never read the book. I bought the book just before Christmas (not the illustrated one) and this week finally got around to reading it. Last night I read until I finished and was up too late to get up at 5:30am to head out for the road ride.

It is interesting to see how much the stories diverge in places and yet how they tell the same story well and also how good they both are. The stories are different and the movie definitely has a slightly more Hollywood sort of end. The book, though short, provides a lot of detail that can back up the movie well, it also deals with conflicts differently. I also think it makes more sense at the end how Tristran and Yvaine travel together (although the movie does not explicitly say that did not happen, so again it is just an extra detail that may not have made sense squeezing it into the movie.

The flying ship is not quite such a large part of the book, however I think that is partly because they had Robert Deniro in the movie and wanted to do a lot more with him. Anyway I love both the book and the movie and recommend them both highly as good entertainment.

[/leisure/books] link

Mon, 02 Feb 2009

Ani Difranco back in Canberra, what a great gig - 22:22
I knew she had not toured Australia, and especially to Canberra for a while, however I just checked back through my email and I discovered it has indeed been 5 years since Ani was last here. I saw her in the Canberra Theatre back on February 28th 2004.

Today I was lucky enough to see Ani perform again, once more in the Canberra theatre. What a fantastic concert it was too. Her opening act was Mike Kelly from a group in Melbourne (I can not find any more information online). He had a good voice, looked some what Johnny Deppish and on was a good opening act.

I may be biased, heck I know I am, Ani is always fantastic to see live, tonight was no exception. She had her current backing band of Allison on drums, Todd on upright bass (and a miniature Piano tonight also) and Mike on percussion.

The set list was really good from my viewpoint, opening with Little Plastic Castle, also including later on two other songs from LPC (still my favourite Ani album) which were Gravel and Swan Dive. She closed the night with Both Hands which of course is the opening song on her first album (which she also used to close her last concert in Canberra back in 2004). She played a song celebrating the Barack Obama election which I had not heard but had a good vibe and showed how happy she seems to be to be rid of Shrub.

A number of songs from the latest album (Red Letter Year) worked really well, Present/Infant, Alla This, The Atom (which she stopped during without remembering the lyrics or something, which had some happy cheers and lots of support from the audience), Way Tight and Red Letter Year.

A few other songs were played, such as Names and Dates and Times from Puddle Dive, Shameless from Dilate, Evolve from Evolve, lag time and modulation (one of her two songs about forgiveness she claimed on stage, rather than her more normal song saying you fucked up to herself or someone else) from knuckle down, Swim from Educated Guess and You Had Time from Out of Range. Ani also was responding to the audience well, joking around, telling stories, interacting really well and impressing the heck out of us all. I almost wish I had done what I used to whenever she toured Australia and bought a ticket for the Sydney gig also. I just did not have the time to get up there tomorrow. This was however most excellent tonight. Also reminding me I have not spent enough time with the latest album to really get to know it as well as some of the older stuff.

One of the more amazing things about this concert was I had not been checking Ani's website every month or two like I used to, she had not toured Australia for so long I must have not kept it in mind. I had no idea she was touring until I opened my Christmas present from my sister Jane and found the concert tickets. Jane of course was worried thinking I had already purchased 18 tickets and was hell bent on being there. What a fantastic gift and most appreciated. Thanks Jane, surprising me with tickets to see my favourite artist performing here for the first time in 5 years, way to go.

[/leisure/music] link

Tue, 20 Jan 2009

Sirens Vegetarian restaurant in Hobart - 15:08
With no formal conference related stuff on last night I thought it was a good chance to try out Sirens Vegetarian restaurant in Hobart. Stewart and Davyd (also Vegans) came along and bought friends (a bunch of mysqlers and some of Davyd's friends. Also Donna and Peter joined in with Andy, Pascal and some locals in tow).

I took some photos there last night but they really do not show off the place well. It is a nice location on Victoria st down near the water, the restaurant decor is very north african feeling (morocco, egypt, or even turkish I guess). The food was really good.

We started off with a fresh baked flat bread accompanied by fresh made dips. I had an Asian inspired (with a miso soup or something) mushroom dumpling dish for main and then had a vegan Trifle for desert. Others had a roast much room with avocado tequila dish, or a pasta dish that looked good (though was not vegan) or a few other options.

They also coped well with a sudden large influx of people they probably did not expect on a Monday night, I booked for 10, we had maybe 20 all up on top of the non conference people that would have been there anyway. Anyway if you are looking for some good food in Hobart give it a try. They have no web site however are easily found via google.

[/leisure/food] link

Wed, 07 Jan 2009

Tiramisu Cupcakes - 18:29

Tiramisu Cupcakes (fullsize)
Yet another recipe from the Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World book. These Tiramisu cupcakes looked heavenly. Which Kahlua and Coffee dribbled into them and a vegan cream cheese vanilla icing and covered in chocolate shavings and cinnamon, cocoa and coffee beans they really were quite divine.

[/leisure/food] link

Wed, 24 Dec 2008

Good Bond - 23:04
My sister and I went to see the new Bond movie today, Quantum of Solace. Although the title is somewhat lame, the movie itself was in my opinion an excellent Bond movie. There was not too much of a focus on action, it was not over the top and the entire move developed the character really well I think.

The dynamics between the major players and what happened through the movie was interesting and entertaining, there was no incredibly annoying and IMO stupid card game like in the previous movie. Also the bond girl thing did not happen as it normally does which I think improved the movie.

[/leisure/screen] link

Sat, 20 Dec 2008

Marbled Cupcakes with Blueberries - 08:51

Marbled Cupcakes (fullsize)
So someone on p.l.o.a (who is also vegan) suggested it is the time of year for baking. Who am I to argue, this photo is of a batch of Marbled cupcakes with buttercream icing and blueberries on top from the Vegan cupcakes book I got the other day.

As vegetable shortening is not readily available in Australia (unless I buy some Crisco from David Jones, imported by USAFoods in Melbourne) I decided to simply use Nuttilex in the icing. The other option is mixing in some Copha (which is a coconut oil product, solid at room temperature) however it seems the icing has turned out alright, maybe a bit runny but it worked.

[/leisure/food] link

Tue, 16 Dec 2008

Yay for international book purchases. - 15:29
After reading Little Brother recently I was keen to buy a copy. I also wanted to get hold of the Last Watch book by Sergei Lukyanenko, and I had been keen on getting Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. However of those three only The Graveyard Book was available in Australia already. The Watch book did not get released in the US when it was supposed to, however I discovered it had been released in the UK. The other books were also available there. So i made an order with Amazon UK to get those three books, and while buying from there anyway I also got a copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

I was happy today to receive all of these books in the mail at work, yay some good reading, some fantastic food and hopefully some more things to keep my mind occupied at the moment. Once again showing it would be so much nicer if things were released internationally at the same time so I could have bought them locally.

[/leisure/books] link

Sun, 14 Dec 2008

Dougs again - 23:21
Every time in the last few days I have had time to think or look around it has hurt or I have been upset. Fortunately my friends have helped me out, trying to keep my mind occupied and busy. However today I ended up with a large stretch of time and ended up finally watching the new Doug Anthony All Stars dvd.

I was somewhat ecstatic a few weeks ago when I saw in an ABC shop catalogue that a new Doug Anthony All Stars dvd was available. I have mentioned here from time to time that I am a long term fan of their stuff. I still have the London video and a cd from Edinburgh, however when I moved back from Sydney in 2001 I somehow misplaced my copy of the so called New York video (Live at the National Theatre) and the Edinburgh Years movie. So I have been somewhat bereft of Dougs material to watch.

The new dvd that has been released is a collection of lots of their Big Gig material which is great to see. I remember watching the show when it was first on tv, however I do not remember the content, so to see more DAAS from then is great, I can also see a lot of their material and notice how it changed in the time between those shows and Dead & Alive or DAAS Kapital.

It would be great if more of DAAS Kapital (weird though it often was) were also available now days. I enjoyed watching the first of the two dvds tonight and am happy to say reliving my memories of all those songs and the attitude they would take trying to get a rise out of any situation and to mock and piss take any religion, famous situation or personage if they thought it could be in bad taste or just downright funny was good to keep my mind occupied for a while.

Lots of fun, thanks Tim, Rich and Paul.

[/leisure/screen] link

Thu, 27 Nov 2008

Filling the void somewhat - 19:38
For many years one of the best restaurant's in Canberra was Bernadette's at Ainslie shops. This was a true vegetarian cafe/restaurant. Not simply an imitation meat place like Au Lac or Kingsland, sure I like both of those places, however the food and dining experience is very different to that of a place like Bernadette's or in Melbourne Veggie Bar or Soul Food.

The sad thing is Bernadette's closed a few years ago leaving Canberra with greatly decreased vegetarian dining options. The good news is in the last year two new places have opened that bring back the Cafe experience (breakfasts and lunches), one of those is Satis at Watson shops and the other is My Rainbow Dreams at Dickson shops (between the post office and Hudsons) run and owned by Sri Chimnoy students. I of course am used to Sri Chimnoy from the racing side of things.

Though I like Satis, it does not stand out, maybe because they are not incredibly vegan friendly, who knows, though I like it, I do not feel the need to visit there regularly. Rainbow dreams on the other hand is really good. They always have a variety of yummy sweets (cakes, cookies, chocolates) that are vegan. They have vegan ice cream and can do smoothies and milkshakes. Their scrambled tofu is really tasty and so far every time I have had it I have enjoyed it.

On top of their standard menu they often have a yummy vegan bake of the day, they have a number of different soups and curries and pies available for take home meals. You can also read a bit about Sri Chinmoy there and buy some of the books (plus they have other interesting items to buy unrelated to Sri). Also you can buy ice cream cones from them which should appeal to more than just the Vegetarian crowd, maybe that will help hook them.

I also have had a few good talks with the people working there and am glad to hear they are enjoying doing the vegan cooking and baking, also they are interested in trying new recipes and I will probably exchange recipes with them from time to time. After all more Chai Latte Cupcakes being made anywhere would rock.

Every time I have eaten there (I have tried to get there once a fortnight for a while now) I have enjoyed the food and been greeted by friendly staff. I really would recommend it to anyone, not only vegetarians, they make an effort to show how good really healthy food can taste for anyone. I am happy to see My Rainbow Dreams successfully bringing some really good vegetarian/vegan food back to Canberra.

[/leisure/food] link

Tue, 18 Nov 2008

Dinner reading, that got extended - 10:11
For a while now I have been meaning to read the Cory Doctrow book Little Brother, it is not yet available in Australia (being released in January next year) and I was not sure enough I wanted it to get it from Amazon. Fortunately for me Cory has it available for download so you can make your mind up. I decided to open it and read a bit while I ate dinner last night.

I ended up finishing the book (fortunately a light read), I have to say it really is good, highly entertaining, realistic in that you can see how that situation could already happen in the world, and though I am a computer geek and thus aware of the technologies discussed I have to agree that it is well presented and can inform a huge number of people about what they can do with computers (and what is done by authorities) if they just sit down and read the book.

I want to buy a book that is being released on Amazon on November 25, so I am now happy to say I can add a copy of Little Brother to the order when I make it. Sure the book is apparently a Young Adult novel, however as is so often the case (Neil Gaiman's recently released The Graveyard Book for example) a so called youth aimed book may still offer many delights and interesting content to anyone who reads it.

Thanks Cory for a entertaining and informative tale.

[/leisure/books] link

Mon, 03 Nov 2008

Stonefest was fun - 15:28
As I mentioned, on Friday and Saturday I headed out to Stonefest at UC. The best acts I saw, IMO, were The Grates (wikipedia) and rather surprisingly for me (as I tend to dislike hip hop sort of stuff) TZU (wikipedia). Other good performances were Regurgitator (wikipedia) (they played a really good set of their music), Faker (wikipedia) (because their lead singer (Nathan?) is a really lively and charismatic performer) and of course what was really the headline act of the festival The Dandy Warhols (wikipedia) were good.

Patience had a lot of energy on stage during The Grates set, also she did some crowd surfing and seemed to be having a lot of fun. TZU had a really interesting feeling of energy and enjoyment about what they were doing. Also a rather cool sense of humour came through in their playing and lyrics I thought. Though I did not cotton on to the music played by Faker much I was amazed by the antics the lead singer got up to and it really made their set fun. The crowd was a bit rude on Friday night (no idea why, they seemed much better behaved by Saturday), so there were some unfortunate things that happened, such as some heavy object being thrown into Quan's head during the Regurgitator set, frankly I would not have blamed him for stopping and walking off stage when it happened as it seemed to knock him around pretty badly. I did see a number of other objects in the air, such as a shoe narrowly missing the Faker singer while he was up on a stage support pylon and a number of cans of drink thrown toward the bands or over the top of the stage.

However if I simply ignore the annoying incidents the festival was fun and you were able to get remarkably close to the front without being mauled much when compared to the squash that may be experienced at bigger festivals.

[/leisure/music] link

Tue, 21 Oct 2008

Another great few days of food in Melbourne - 22:26
Although we are blessed in Canberra to now also have My Rainbow Dreams at Dickson for vegetarian/vegan/ceoliac eating (along with the limited selection elsewhere in Canberra for dedicated vegetarian friendly eating). As I noted after my last trip to Melbourne they really have it good down there for a huge variety of great places to eat.

Arrival was Saturday afternoon, stayed with friends and had home cooked food, then Sunday morning brunch was had at Invita (scrambled tofu and a number of yummy cakes/muffins were eaten/sampled), dinner that night I wanted to go to Lentil As Anything again however the St Kilda restaurant had run out of food by 8pm and it was too late to get to another. Fortunately there was a Mr Natural (the pumpkin pizza and vegan pizzas were both tried, both with Vegan cheese on top also) vegetarian pizza outlet across the road. They have vegan cheese and all was well. Their pizzas were good, though not as spectacular as I had hoped.

Monday morning brunch was at Soulfood (Vegan big breakfast and a number of muffins and cakes were sampled/eaten) which was good, then dinner at Soul Mama (I had the medium, which allowed me my choice of rice and 4 of the dishes to be served with it, all I tried were very good) in St Kilda (on the waters edge in the baths complex) which was large, vegetarian, fantastic view sitting looking over Port Phillip bay and a large variety to choose from at pretty good prices. Lots of yumminess.

This morning I met up with an mtb friend for breakfast, once more at Soulfood, then had a soy chai later in the day at Invita again, then I had lunch at Vegie Bar (Mee Goreng which is hokkein noodles, tofu, mushrooms, tomato sort of sauce with some chile, veggies and a peanut sauce) before flying back to Canberra this afternoon.

Oh and I had the chance a few times over the trip to go past Lord of The Fries again and actually was able to try out the vegan nuggets, definitely yummy and highly recommended.

[/leisure/food] link

Tue, 14 Oct 2008

An excellent Mal Webb gig - 13:09
I have not been to the National Folk Festival for a rather long time now, largely because there almost always is some mtb or similar event on at Easter I tend to be somehow involved with. This may explain why I had never seen Mal Webb, or maybe he was there last time I was and I missed him. Anyway I was able to rectify my lack of knowledge about Mal Webb when I saw him at the Folkus room in Mawson on Friday night.

This man is an incredibly talented musician who also happens to be really funny and a fantastic performer, he also seems to understand use of sound and instruments better than almost any performer I can think of. The performance was a lot of fun, and seeing him use his repeat loop box, drum beats form his mouth, pygmy yodeling and a lot of sampling of sounds plus really funny lyrics was worth far more than the entry fee to see the gig of $15.

I ended up getting both the cds he had for sale at the gig, his new album "Dodgy" and his second album "3 Cheers for Peace and Quiet", I have had them both on repeat on my ipod yesterday and today. (I was working out at the 24 hour mtb race at Stromlo all weekend so could not listen to them there). Anyway I have to highly recommend all of his music, and suggest trying to catch him if he plays near you. My favourite song by far is "Your One Drop" though I am sure that will chop and change as I listen to his stuff more. Anyway you can hear that song on Mal's Myspace page. While you are there listen to Carrot, URFES and anything else you can too.

I suppose you could almost expect me to love this music, after all as they quote on his website, Ani Difranco's assessment of Mal is "You're a freak".

On a side note related to this performance, I have never been to the Folkus room before, so when we sat down I was looking around at the decorations and what do I see but a curtain with a large black and white photo of Robert Johnson on one of the curtains hung up in the venue. Earlier on Friday I had read/heard about Robert Johnson for the first time reading an article in Vanity Fair about a potential 3rd photo of him that has now been seen publicly.

[/leisure/music] link

Mon, 22 Sep 2008

Dark Knight, good - 13:26
Yesterday I finally had time to go along to see The Dark Knight (wikipedia) which I have been looking forward to for a long time, since the previous Batman movie, Batman Begins, was IMO the best super hero movie ever and really a fantastic movie to see this new one promised to be good. It was, however I still think the Batman Begins movie is significantly better.

Yes Heath Ledger's Joker was incredible, redefining the character on screen (though to learn why this is not exactly new for the character in comics, have a look at this good post about why The Joker is The Batman's arch enemy to get a good understanding of the character and how it has developed) and the humour in some of the characters (notably the superbly cast Alfred and Lucius Fox) was still evident as it was in the first movie. However though this was a great super hero movie, it did not I think bring enough of a new look into the primary characters that we did not already see in the previous film.

Maybe I feel let down a bit as some comments online I have seen since the movie was released suggested we got a fantastic look into Batman's internal battle with his psyche and his wish to break his own rules, however I just did not really see that come up in the movie that much. Sure it appeared, but not in a defining or challenging way to the audience. We also did not get to see the extension of the Batman myth by his own behaviour to the same extent as we did even in the half of the first movie we saw Batman in Batman Begins.

I should clarify this by saying I still think this was a great movie, and the second best super hero movie ever, however I think it is possible it could have been better, though I do not quite know how.

[/leisure/screen] link

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