Monday, March 25, 2002
Cheezit, it's the Dean!
My ol' buddy Evan turns 32 today, which temporarily makes him a year older than me. However, as he will be an instrumental participant in my wedding in October, I will refrain from calling attention to how incredibly old he must feel.
Happy birthday, old bean!
Wedding bells: well and truly ringing
Fiona and I spent most of Saturday working on wedding plans. First up we met with our two celebrants – specifically (a) the licensed official we are obliged to include to make things legal, and (b) our friend Megan who will actually conduct the ceremony), signed some official forms and notices of intent and so forth, and then talked about vows and cakes and looked at photos and such. The one thing I will say about this process is mustering some interest in someone else's wedding is a lot harder than developing enthusiasm for my own.
After lunch we went to the venue, the Hyatt (nestled at the foot of Parliament House), to talk to their events coordinator about details for the day. We screwed some of the nuts and bolts of the day down a little bit tighter, added some things to the list of expenses that we hadn't thought about before, strolled about the Presidential Suite (which we hope will be empty on the day of our wedding, so that we can have some of the official photos taken there) and generally got our heads around what still needs to be done. There's a lot still to do but the thing is that by the time the wedding gets here, we should be under virtually zero stress. The Hyatt will pretty much do all the stressing for us – all part of the service. Cool!
That's a very blue purple
My ring arrived on Friday afternoon. It's really quite striking, as I'd hoped, and it fits well – but it's the wrong damned colour. It was supposed to be purple titanium (Megan, who makes jewellery for a hobby, tells me that the colour depends on how long the heat is applied to unfired titanium, and as it's been more than a decade since high school chemistry I will have to take her word for that). Instead, it's a very attractive but entirely unpurple shade of blue. The same blue, in fact, that comes as standard with this sort of ring. I should send it back and make them do it again, but I was agonisingly divided between the purple and the blue when I was picking the damned thing out in the first place, and I really can't decide which one I like better. Also I can't decide the degree to which my decision is being influenced by my lack of will to argue with the jewellers. I'm kind of slack that way.
So this is exercise, is it? I don't care for it. No sir, not one bit.
Fiona and I have taken to walking for 45 minutes 'every' day after work in a bit for fitness (or at least, not bone-idle slobbiness). I suspect that we will get fairly bored of our neighbourhood before too long and start driving to interesting places to walk. If that makes any sense at all.
Wednesday, March 20, 2002
After a big Canberra Day long weekend of gaming (marathon sessions on Saturday and Sunday) and, I must admit, not a great deal of physical exercise, I've been feeling totally shagged out this week. I've woken up tired every day since Monday and have pretty much stayed that way. I have zero motivation to do anything at all (not only am I not getting much work done, but even the usual distractions of net surfing and thinking about roleplaying are too much trouble). Fiona's back, though, so we're bullying each other into starting our fitness-attaining walking program starting this afternoon. Which means that by tonight I should probably be even more completely stuffed.
Dad has finally broken his run of unexpectedly strong recovery from February's chemotherapy by contracting pneumonia over the weekend. Mum raced him to Atherton hospital on Sunday night with a ridiculous temperature and they whacked him on an overnight cocktail of antibiotics to bring him under control. While he was better by the following morning, he's still weak. Of course he can pretty much expect to have recurring bouts of illness for the next six or so months while his immune system reasserts itself. On the whole though, he's toughed out the procedure pretty well, as evidenced by the fact that he was released much earlier than expected and actually still has some of his hair.
I wish we could visit, but from the letter I got from him yesterday, which reads like a list of all the people he and Mum have ever met, they've got more than enough callers to drive them nuts.
More songs about cricket and sausages
One of the distractions I haven't been able to ignore this week has been the annual AusAID Director General's XI vs Social Club XI Cricket Match, of which I am a co-organiser. I hate organising things, trying to get people to commit to something and trying to coordinate with half a dozen other people to achieve what is no more than a glorified picnic with stumps. Fortunately it looks like the weather is going to be gloriously pleasant, so by this time tomorrow I will hopefully be feeling a little more enthusiastic about the whole affair.
A quick thought on roleplaying
I've been turning over in my head what I want to do with my new email campaign and it still hasn't gelled yet. The frustrating thing is that I can feel my brain getting unfocused, slack and distracted whenever I try to sit down and just do some solid preparatory work. It's like studying for exams. In fact, it's so chillingly like studying for exams that I'm worried I don't even want to start a campaign, and in fact, that's what the problem is. I don't want to start a game, I want to be in the middle of it, juggling balls and pushing events along and generally moving from plate to plate and making sure everything keeps spinning (to mix a selection of metaphors).
One hopes that this laziness, too, will pass. Looks like I have some work to do this weekend.
Friday, March 15, 2002
Another video night tonight
Since Fiona's been off to Hobart, I've decided to make a concerted effort to watch a whole bunch of videos that I doubt she'd be interested in. On Wednesday night it was American Psycho, which is far funnier than I would have expected (and hey, who doesn't want to put an axe through Jared Leto's head once in while?). Christian Bale's performance comes pretty close to self-parody at times but otherwise it's quite a neat little film. It has an odd narrative trick that's one part coincidence and one part flat-out deux ex machina – things just seem to go killer Patrick Bateman's way in spite of his ludicrous excesses - but strangely it just doesn't seem out of place. I haven't read the book, but I suspect that it goes into more detail as to just how he manages to get away with alla them murders he done. One for fans of late 80's rock ballads.
Last night's movie was The Pledge, another Sean Penn-directed psychological 'thriller' starring Jack Nicholson. Its pacing could be outrun by a glacier but the horribly inexorable conclusion makes the wait incredibly worthwhile. I was completely on edge waiting for the situation to resolve itself one way but the ending that I got was at the same time both a relief from the suspense and even more unpleasant. I recommend it highly, though you couldn't call it a party movie (there are some pretty graphic depictions of child murder, for one thing).
Tonight I may go for Soderbergh's Traffic, or perhaps something from the Supernatural/Trashy aisle.
Of course, it ain't necessarily all loungin' about, y'know
This resolve to blob in front of the telly may actually face stiff competition from the list I just made up of things I really ought to be doing instead. Various commitments include (in no particular order) the Spit album cover (coming to a store near you possibly two years after it was recorded), my contribution to the Knights Below web site, a 'news' article for Dungeonworld, development work on my planned play-by-email roleplaying game and preparations for John's D&D game on Sunday. For my conscience's sake, I hope I can muster the enthusiasm to tackle at least a couple of the things on the list while I don't have more important things to do.
But the video, that damned video! It's calling my name. "Watch stupid shit", it's saying, in its enticingly buzzy tones. "Drink booze, eat crap and play some dumbarse movies you've seen a dozen times already."
Thursday, March 14, 2002
This should come as no surprise
This is yet another blog that I would have posted yesterday, were it not for the fact that yet again, the mere act of pressing the Publish button on Blogger's otherwise functional Lexifab page caused it to immediately and irretrievably collapse. I have become so inured to this habit of Blogger's that I have actually developed methodical backup procedures in expectation of a systems meltdown. Thank you, Blogger, once again!
My knee hurts
Played the second grading match in the indoor cricket competion last night. Was comprehensively flogged by a team of what looked like A- or B-grade players. It's been a couple of years since I watched indoor games regularly, so my eye for quality has slipped a bit, but they were definitely two or maybe three grades above where we were playing. 249 to 78, I think was the final score, and our fourth pair put on fifty, so you can imagine how well the rest of us performed. To be fair, we were breaking in two guys who were completely new to indoor, and another two who haven't played in years. All the same, I'll be kind of glad when the grading is over and we get to face teams that bowl as many wides as we do.
As I type this, Fiona's getting a cab to the airport and heading off to Tasmania for two days of user testing at the Hobart ACCC office. Because it's the Canberra Day long weekend, she's staying on until Monday to visit Francis and Meagan, who've themselves only just got back after visiting us. Turns out that they've fallen on their feet accommodation-wise – their new place is fully furnished (including a widescreen TV, I'm told) and they want for nothing. No idea about details, but I expect to be fully briefed on Monday night.
Busy and yet…
I have an awful lot of work to do – I think – but I really can't commit myself to doing it, for some reason. I hope I have one of those superachieving days quite soon, otherwise I'm going to get really behind. I think that it doesn't help that this week I've given up drinking coffee and tea. I resolved to quit in preparation for a "can't eat anything with any kind of sugar or any articial stimulants" diet which Fiona and I will supposedly start when she gets back. It's a vile diet. I won't be allowed to eat practically everything. I can see me consuming absolutely nothing but rice crackers and hummous for the entire period.
I have an after-hours work obligation tonight: dinner with the post support officers. AusAID gets a horde of the staff employed at its various Posts into Australia all at the same time to do a four-week training binge. They have the occasional social function while they're here. Tonight I'm joining them for a dinner to celebrate the end of the training (understandable, given that the training in question is a two weeks intensive monitoring and evaluation program, which most of them do on a daily basis). Bernard, the Philippines guy who I'm nominally looking after, has been in the program for six years and knows everything about all the projects that I'm floundering about trying to understand. I'm going to have my work cut out trying to hide my ignorance if he wants to talk about work.
After dinner, I plan to go see a late screening of From Hell. That probably won't be the scariest part of the evening.
I hear on the grape vine that Lindor may have lined herself up a job. In beautiful, tree-and-café-filled Kingston. At a surprisingly generous rate of remuneration. Well, hell, good luck with that, Lindor.
Nice story ChrisT. We'll probably steal some ideas from that - we've been doing the same whenever anyone tells us about their wedding. Unfortunately the relatives are a bit thin on the ground, but we are making the best of a scant resource. We just found out that the friend who we're roping in to act as celebrant has a mum who makes wedding cakes. That should save a bit of time, eh?
Monday, March 11, 2002
Fiona and I went to the wedding of her high school best friend Kate on Saturday. It was out at Cuppacumbalong, a gardens, gallery and devonshire tea sort of place out past Tuggeranong. In fact it was one of the places that we were considering for our wedding, but we canned it because there didn't seem to be anywhere for the guests to stand if it started raining. Fortunately the weather was good for Kate and Tony's do.
It was a pretty long day, considering the complimentary bus picked us up at about a quarter past three and we got home about 2 am (we were the first and last stops on the respective trips). But the wedding was great, in spite of the fact that we knew virtually nobody there. The photo sessions went on longer than expected, which means we'll probably have to revisit the schedule we worked out for our day to make sure there's enough time to do everything. S'funny – lazy people must get married all the time, but I'm stuffed if I can work out how they manage it. It seems like a lot of hard work.
Had to get up early (well, given the late homecoming) to make it to after-wedding-breakfast the next day. Despite the fact that the breakfast was at the motel where most of the guests were staying, 25 minutes away from our place, we still managed to be just about the first ones there. Gah. I could have done with another twenty minutes' sleep.
After eating like pigs for a couple of hours (it was a buffet, what are you going to do?) we stopped in and picked up some videos for a lazy afternoon. Watched Enemy at the Gates (quite good for a big budget war flick, despite the disconcerting accents) and Nurse Betty. The latter was a very strange little film that veers between crime thriller and sweet psychological drama by way of an incredibly disgusting murder sequence. It had a very European feel to it for an American film (an independent, I presume?). I recommend it, but I'm not quite sure how to present a convincing case for its virtues. Well, neither Renee Zellweger or Chris Rock irritated the shit out of me like they usually do, so that's a start. Oh, and Crispin Glover – he of Hollywood's most bizarre nose-and-chin combination – is in it, so you know it can't be that bad.
We also spent part of the afternoon trying to get down a first draft of wedding vows. It's surprisingly difficult to write material for speaking out loud that comes across as sincere rather than pretentious, overblown or just plain arcane. Still, we're happy with the three words we've got so far.
Oh, and while Fiona was on the phone I watched the classic Avengers episode A Touch of Brimstone. It would appear that the "classic" tag has been attached to this episode solely for the fact that Diana Rigg got dressed up in a sort of B&D corset-bikini-negligee outfit in it. Otherwise it was unbelievably shite, even by mid-sixties British drama's standards, with Brian Clemens' script in particular quite laughable. Watch it just for a hilarious scene in which some television commentary is drawn out to a ridiculous extent to create "suspense".
Tuesday, March 05, 2002
In fact, by Sunday evening I couldn't sense too much else, after spending Friday evening, all of Saturday and most of Sunday morning helping Simon and Jimbo (and occasionally Greg) moved to Bonython and clean the Torrens place for inspection. As we all know, this is a ghastly and agonising process, so I need add no more than this: it still hurts. However, at least they more or less passed the inspection on Monday (except for the steamer-resistent patch on the carpet where Jimbo tells me that the beer fridge sprang a Coke leak) and have more or less finished moving out (except for the bike I'll pick up on my way to visit them tonight). And they didn't lose any cats or functional appliances, so notch this one up as a win.
Awards for supreme effort in the face of adversity go to those volunteers who (unlike me) did not have a stake in getting their bond back: Fiona, Meagan, Linda, who spent the better part of the weekend cleaning the bathroom, oven and kitchen respectively, and John, Trudi and Hamish, who tethered bits of furniture to trailers and zigzagged back and forth across town for most of Saturday. No way it would have happened in the time we had without them. Thanks, everyone!
I promise that this will be the last report on regular cricket until October or so. Come to think of it, I probably wouldn't have bothered mentioning at all if it weren't for the fact that, unlike every other game we played this season, this time we actually won. And I bowled some guy out. I mean, sure, they were bunnies, but we've been getting beaten by weak-arse teams all year. And we clobbered them! 8-for-193 vs all out for 128! Did I mentioned that I actually took a wicket? Awww, yeah.
To balance things, I should point out that my batting innings was precisely one inswinging mulligrubber in duration…
As opposed to the summery outdoor version. The team moves over to indoor cricket as of one hour from now. I'm looking to improve on my outdoor average of (tapping calculator furiously) a miserable 1.167 per innings this season. As it is in fact possible to get a negative score in indoor cricket, however, I could be looking at even worse figures.
Rob has thoughtfully reprovided the amusing little Pong movie link that I flailingly hand-waved at in the last Lexifab. Tee hee, what some people will do with dozens of hours and hundreds of thousands of years of technological evolution...
Friday, March 01, 2002
If you look closely enough and listen carefully enough…
…you will see what's wrong with the picture at this gem of a site, which I've been hunting for for weeks, and which Amanda sent this morning. Put your speakers on, there's a clue to be heard…
On a side note, Rob also sent me a link this morning. But I deleted it by accident before I could copy it here. Since I can no longer retrieve it, you'll just have to take my word that it was quite funny. Ha ha ha.
Had a severe case of the dreaded lurgie last night, which threatened to blow up into a weekend-ruining condition. Happily it had magically disappeared this morning. So that's nice, isn't it?
Gaming wishlist roundup
Even though I've been barely gaming at all over the summer (mostly my own fault, combined with regular clashes with cricket), I've still managed to accumulate a fairly impressive list of things I would love to add to my collection (ie buy, read and never actually play):
- Dragonstar - basically, it's D&D in Space. I had virtually no interest in it, until I read the following plug by a guy who runs it: It's about orcs with blaster rifles. It's about dragons who fly the galaxy in their own personal space dreadnoughts. It's meeting mysterious hooded strangers in tavern built into a doomed settlement on an airless world while a gas giant hangs in the background. It's about dwarven warriors in rune-encrusted power armor. It's about going into the forgotten sublayers of a planet-girdling megacity and finding the mind flayers who run the place from beneath. It's about mile long abandoned starships filled with zombie hordes. It's about paladins chafing under the command of drow, and wondering how much longer they can take it. It's about wizards hacking computer networks to find forbidden spells. It's about one of the main problems when good allies with evil - good will uphold its side of the bargain, but evil will not. It's about the 'sense of wonder' that drew us (most of us, anyway) to gaming in the first place.
Goddamn, but that is so cool.
- Godlike – a 'realistic' superheroes game set in World War II. Superhumans called Talents make a sudden appearance at the 1936 Olympics, and then war breaks out. Pretty grim and gritty stuff – characters may be able to lift a tank, but it’s unlikely that they can stop a bullet… It's by several of the guys behind Delta Green, which is one of the best game supplements ever written, and would fit nicely into my "games I want to own but will never play" box.
- d20 Call of Cthulhu - I don't even know why, except that I'm a John Tynes geek fanboy. Plus I'm kind of interested to see how well the d20 System can be used to make a game that doesn't focus on bashing monsters and so forth. That's just the way I am.