Monday, October 30, 2006

Weekend of Horror

In a good way. Saturday saw a very fun trip to Palmerston North to visit family, and do gaming. We played Mall of Horror, Jenga, Decade (with a faux Victorian theme) and a nWoD horror scenario, probably called The Hanging Tree. All were fantastic fun, though hayfever or something similar caused my eyes to sting like crazy for the last couple of hours.

Sunday was much more relaxed, and included watching some Lost season 3 (pretty cool so far), and generally chilling out. We managed to get out for a brief walk in between extreme weather changes.


And now - the working week. Prizegiving is looming, and with it vast amounts of work. At least once it's over, the workload lightens considerably as senior students go on exam leave. Oh yeah, and there are reports to write too. Blah.

Enough with the incredibly exciting details of my life - on to the random anecdote*!

This morning, as I was driving to school, I saw three youths dressed in ninja costumes. They were breaking into a local bank, which happened to have the Great Diamond of Ankh-Ul in the vault (you've probably seen this in the society papers). I pulled over and got out of the car, and was about to accost the youths when a man with the head of a bull and the legs of a lion flew down from out of the clouds (he had giant eagle wings) and started busking outside the bank using a particularly irritating form of modern interpretive dance which he called 'the shoehammer'.

He completely blocked my view, and by the time he'd raised the $3.50 he needed for a coffee and left, the thieves had disappeared. I wanted to give a statement to the police, but my emergency signal in my watch went off, and I had to leave. A student was dropping litter into the air-vent for the school's mecha-deployment system, and needed to be given a detention.

In the end, I was late to staff briefing and missed out on the complimentary body armour that had been donated to the school by NATO. Pshhh.

*Anecdote possibly contains less-than-true elements.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Methinks sir, you assume too much.

I had a really interesting experience yesterday - one that was quite eye-opening. I distributed a few Astro City graphic novels during a study class, so that kids who weren't doing anything else could at least be reading something good. The prospect of getting to read comics was quite appealing to several of the students (aged 15 to 16ish).

After about 10 minutes, one girl put her hand up and said something like:

"I don't get it. How are you supposed to read this?"

My reply was, at first, not as helpful as it could have been:

"You look at the pictures, read the words, look at the pictures, read the words."

I thought she was complaining about the baffling content of the graphic novel - which would have been fair enough. It wasn't a 'gateway' or 'entry level' comic. She also has a habit of complaining about any reading at all, so I was not predisposed to view the enquiry/complaint as being particularly genuine.

Then I noticed her apparent frustration with my answer, and I realised what level her question was at.

"You start at the top left, and you read across the page. Like you would a book. Across from left to right, then down the page. Across then down."

"But, how do you know who's even talking?"

"See these speech bubbles? They have spiky bits coming off them to show what direction the words are coming from. See this one? It's coming from this guy here."

She didn't make it past page 4, but at least she now knows how to approach the task of reading a comic. I guess it's just one more skill that I don't remember having to learn, so was suprised when I had to teach it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Busy!

Only one minute to post today. Saw student movie yesterday at Lighthouse cinema - it was very cool. The kids did an awesome job, and there was a red carpet, and we convinced a couple of students to do interviews (ie. students were interviewing other students E channel style), which we will put onto the DVD.

Ahh, the bell rings! My toughest class of the day must now commence...

Friday, October 20, 2006

4 Minute Post

OK, bell will be going in about 5 minutes, so taking the time it takes to actually publish a post into account, I figure I've got maybe 4 minutes to get this written. Better not waste any time with extraneous or irrelevent details. Nope, cut to the chase and get to the point, that's the way to do it.

No digressions, no beating about the bush (where does that phrase come from? Is it a hunting thing? Where you beat bushes to get ducks to fly out so you can shoot them, and beating around the bush is not producing results quick enough?). No dillying nor dallying, though what dillying entails I dread to think. No lollygagging (choking on sweets?), no shirking or slacking or simply procrastinating.

Straight to the point.

I like Darkplace. It's a good, good show. My shiny new DVD of Darkplace arrived yesterday, and it was sure hard to tear myself away from Debbie and Darkplace and Heroes episode 3 (which was also good) to go to roleplaying.

My only consolation is that I got to watch Heroes last night (quite late, but what the hell), and that the weekend looming is a long one.

There, that wasn't so hard. And there's now... 10 seconds to spare. And... publish!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The days, they fly by...

Ugh. Slow week at work. Need weekend. Very tired.

Teaching poetry at the moment, and enjoying writing bad poetry as examples. Also enjoying sharing some good poetry with students. If'n I remember, I will post one of the poems we looked at for y'all to read. It's called 'Film Put In Backwards', and is by Gunter something or other. He has an umlaut over the u in his name, but I don't know how to type umlauts.

There is a package in the mail, and I am very much looking forward to its arrival. It contains Darkplace, Fry and Laurie season 2 and 3, and the third Illuminatus Trilogy book (a reprint from a couple of years ago). Awesome.

Lastly, in this most exciting of posts, I've been reading a lot of Astro City in the last couple of days, courtesy of my school library. I'm most of the way through 'Family Album' (I think that's what it's called), and have 'Local Heroes' on my desk to follow up. Noice.

Now I go to do more work. Kinda.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Fortune's Knave

The dangerous cougar jumped off the rock
Great plumes of smoke came out of its ears
Courtyard animals ran away in fear
Smouldered in a fire the coals screamed

In agony they burned
The cougar ate the burning coals
Heat and fury radiated from the cougar's jaws

Of many moons the mighty monster dreamed
Day dawned red as the cougar died

Monday, October 16, 2006

A History of Pants

Ahh, weekends. Such fun. You really do appreciate your days off when you have to be at work 5 days a week. This weekend past was a good deal of fun, and was fairly relaxing too.

Friday night started with some delicious Thai food, an amusing performance from Jon (pitching his film idea to us, then talking about his fantasy character's 'issue' being that he wants to get into a prestige class in d20, or that he's torn between wearing armour or being sneaky), and one of the worst films I've seen in a long time, A History of Violence. The premise is simple - a regular guy is working in a diner when some psycho criminals try to rob it. He kills them. He turns out to be a badass with a secret past.

It's not an original premise, but the clever twist here was, instead of making the film with the muscles from Brussels or Dolph Lundgren or some other muscle-bound extra-killer, they got an 'artsy' director to make an emotional drama version of an action film. Badly. There was about 25 minutes worth of story in this film, and the rest was boring, unengaging nonsense. Seriously, this film would have been better with Jean Claude Van Damme in it.

Saturday we played Travel Settlers (so tiny!), went to a lovely party, and saw family. Very nice.

Did I mention that you should never watch a History of Violence?

We had a pretty quiet Sunday, though I did buy some new boots. I insisted on going for a walk around the block in them, and scared Debbie with my acute and optimistic attention to random details around us. I also managed to do a 360 degree jump for the first time in my life (having been talking about kicking things with my new boots, I decided to test their jumping-bounciness). Jumping an spinning around is not a difficult thing, but for some reason I could never manage to turn more than 180 degrees when I was younger. Yesterday I managed the complete spin. It must be the new boots :)

Lastly, A History of Violence is a bad, bad movie, and you should never watch it under any circumstances. If you have to watch it, be sure to get Jon round to dub over all the little girl's lines with Gimli quotes from LotR. It makes some scenes watchable ;)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Kapiti Roleplaying Weekend 2

Well, I had an awesome weekend of gaming. What a way to end the holidays! It very nearly took the sting out of term starting up again. Today has been a blur of work stuff, so I'm super glad to be home again and able to reflect on the weekend past.

Debbie and I got started early with a game on Friday afternoon, which was champion. We'd tidied the house earlier in the week, so apart from some last minute recycling and picking up firewood, we were able to chillax and enjoy a game of Princes' Kingdom with Hix and Conan. It was just as good as I had hoped it would be. The premise is that you play young princes and princesses, sent out by your father the King to travel the islands of the Kingdom, learning about the Kingdom, yourselves, and how the King's laws operate. We encountered an island filled with mistrust and prejudice, with the indigenous peoples suffering at the hands of their colonizers. We'd established a tone of British colonialism during character generation (the way you describe your characters helps set the details of the kingdom). It was fantastic - confrontational and intense and emotional. We managed to resolve the problems on the island by showing that the King loved all his subjects, and by installing an outsider to rule impartially. There were some powerful scenes, and I totally loved the game.

In the evening we watched Darkplace and played the board game Cleopatra (and the society of architects?) with Luke and Sam. It was very nice indeed :)

On Saturday I ran We Have the Technology, my very silly game chef game. The first scene was a fantastic parody of 80s cold war hysteria, set inside the missile silo 'Mount Doom'. It was hilarious, and filled with moments of genius. As more people arrived and were assimilated, the game got more and more out of hand, until an injury occured and we decided to call it quits. I did get to see Fraser as a monkey chasing Malcolm around the house trying to steal his muffin, Conan and John as 50s gang leaders having a dance-off, and Jarratt as an agnry father jumping in to the last 5 minutes of the game and scaring the pants of Norman (who then ran out and attempted to blind someone to prove himself to Jarratt's character). I'm pretty sure there was some genius somewhere in the madness.

I then got to help Debbie run Evil Genius Summer Camp, which may in fact have a snazzier name than that. It was a really fun game with awesome players, and is just such a great concept for a game. It was all very very cool. One highlight was the nerdy evil genius players managing to get the Hydra to eat its own team members in the dastardly game of field hockey.

Dinner, and then Decade, run by Donna. You play out a series of scenes at a New Year's Ev eparty (you're supposed to play it 10 times, a decade of parties with the same charcters). The game has a theatre-sports feel to it, and was really, really good. We discussed setting for a while, and were split between superhero and normal characters. We went for normal in the end, but there were quite a few odd characters in there. During the first part of the game, you play out a normal party. You can give other characters traits by making statements about them, such as "Hey Matt, are you still homeless? How are you handling your terrets' syndrome?" and "How are you coping out of prison? You've been arrested, what, 5 times?" and "Have you burned any more houses down lately?"

We had sham marriages, mob connections, B grade movie stars, homeless writers, bestiality, arson, smuggling. All the things you'd expect at a new year's eve party.

We returned to Luke and Sam's for some Rapidough and Compatability, before retiring for the night (with a few guests taking advantage of our pull-out sofas). Sunday was gloriously sunny, so we went to the park and played with a flying disc (including a kind of bullrush game) before heading to Luke and Sam's for one last RPG. Debbie and I both played in Wuthering Heights the RPG, run by Jenni. It was a mad-cap adventure of impropriety and darkness, played on the deck in the bright sunshine. It was enormously fun, and goodness the sun was nice.

Debbie and I returned home to get a little bit of work done at around 4pm. We watched the first 2 episodes of Heroes, which looks to be a fantastic show. Then, sadly, it was time for the end of the holidays.

Only 9 weeks to go until the real holidays begin!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Seen: Yours Truly at Bats

Debbie and I saw 'Yours Truly' at Bats theatre yesterday. It's a play about Jack the Ripper by NZ playwright Albert Belz.

Short Review: It was very, very cool. You should see it.

Longer Comments: The script was really interesting. It contained a lot of very funny comedy, as well as some nasty horror, and some artfulness that bordered on the pretentious (to my taste) at the start, but had thoroughly won me over by the end of the play.

The performances were all strong, with the most outstanding being the actor playing Sir William Gull. He gave a very funny, blackly scary performance that I really enjoyed. The cast was small, and all the actors were great, but pretty much from his first monologue (in the form of a medical lecture) the character of Gull and the actor had me hooked.

The sound design of the show was very impressive. Lots of use of background sound effects and I want to say interstitials, but I'm not sure I know what that means. Bits between scenes. I particularly loved the dripping water and distant screaming sounds that were used in the asylum scenes - very creepy, and hugely atmospheric. I do have some hearing damage from my wayward youth, so I have a sensitivity to loud noise. There were a couple of moments where the sound was at a volume that caused me some pain, but thankfully this was only about 30 seconds in a 2 and a half hour play.

Costumes? Good. Set? Minimal, and effective. Direction? Um, must have been good. I liked the show. Lighting? Very dim, with heavy use of a smoke machine to make the whole performance space foggy.

Humour and horror mixed adroitly, with some artfulness and passion. Definitely a show worth seeing.

Note: It's not a mystery. It's kind of similar to From Hell, but with more of a romantic tragicomedy element thrown in. Act one is largely upbeat and romantic, while act two is largely horrific with moments of comedy mixed in.

Tickets were $20 each ($14 for concession or groups of 8+)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Popular Picture

Well, the Moviefest awards have been and gone. We got 3rd in the country for the amateur category, which is pretty cool. There were some good films in the screenings, and some very happy winners on the night, which was cool.

Debbie has blogged (in a restrained manner) about the judges' comments. There were 3 judges, and one was nice but boring (and critical of training institutions for film), one was upbeat and inspirational but talked for about 20 minutes longer than he needed to, and one was a bitter little man who totally missed the mark. Debbie covered the salient points elsewhere. Suffice to say, the award ceremony ended up being quite painful to sit through.

One amusing comment made by the MC Jo was that there was one photo in the Moviefest photo competition that was getting a lot of hits - 300, which is many more than any other photo. It's this pic.

There's a similar photo of Lee (not Lee in the same outfit, Lee in his own superhero outfit), but it has only a third of the hits. Go figure.