peteg's blog

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

An after work paddle at Gordons Bay. Pleasant evening. Nice in. A bit rough. Just a few people about.

Lisa Halliday: Asymmetry.

/noise/books | Link

Kindle. I went in cold; if I'd read Alice Gregory's review in the New York Times to completion I would have noticed the extended quotes that signal a lazy review. I've never read Philip Roth and am not fascinated by the power of established men over young ladies; perhaps for this reason I found the first section somewhat flat between zingers. Mary-Alice doesn't seem to be more than beauty and aspiration, and nothing happens beyond what you'd expect. The second was a quasi-familiar borderlands piece on an American-Iraqi's experience of being American-Iraqi (as the Americans like to say). I didn't invest enough to figure out how these two pieces fit together, or use the key from the brief third part as Gregory suggested.

For all that at times the writing is excellent.

Alexandra Alter sketches the biography behind the fiction.

Dark Star (1974)

/noise/movies | Link

On Sofus's (perhaps phoney) recommendation. An early outing for John Carpenter, whose output is mostly unknown to me. There are some genuinely funny bits but mostly it's slow and simply provides raw material for the sci fi that came later, specifically Alien and Red Dwarf. The somewhat sapient bomb is pretty amusing.

Bram Stoker's Dracula

/noise/movies | Link

Coppola. Perhaps a better outcome could have been achieved by setting all that cash on fire. Oldman tries to ham it up as Dracula but spectacularly loses in the bad acting stakes to Hopkins and Winona. Even Keanu at his most wooden does not stand out here. The story goes as you might expect: a warning to the ladies of the 19th century that any attempt to self-actualize would be treated as wantonness and punished accordingly. Risible.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

An after work soak at Gordons Bay. The swell was relatively huge and it wasn't very comfortable in. Loads of detritus and seaweed too. Nobody was there initially, then I spotted three people trying to clamber over the northern rocks westwards, and as I got out a lady and her dog got in. The dog didn't seem too impressed with the breakers. Cloudy, mild, not too humid.

Black Panther

/noise/movies | Link

With Dave, 9:15pm at the Dendy Newtown, Cinema 1, four rows from the front, $13.50 each on a tightarse Tuesday, bought online. It's a long, narrow theatre and was probably two-thirds full. I learnt that the Chrome print dialog does the "follow me" thing with the printer, whereas the Mac OS X dialog does not. We had dinner at Saray beforehand, complete with a tasty Turkish coffee.

Well, what can I say. The viewer satisfaction versus marketing effort for this Marvel outing is comparable to that for Baby Driver, which is to say hats off to the post-production creatives and corruptible reviewers. All the actors are fine — even Andy Serkis rose above my why-not-cast-Sharlto-Copley complaint — but there is nothing terribly exciting here: too much talking, too much action, too much cliche. The classic blaxploitation flicks like Shaft probably had more empowerment and certainly more social commentary. The Wakandan city is essentially Chicago by the Blue Nile (? — choose a river of your own) without the dodgy bits. The CGI left me stone cold, though the music sometimes made it seem like something. I guess it is a better than average Marvel outing.

Manohla Dargis.

Batman

/noise/movies | Link

Tim Burton's effort from 1989. It's not exactly a classic and not a misfire either. Michael Keaton certainly has his moments. Jack Nicholson enjoys himself. Kim Basinger must have been better elsewhere.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

Met up with Ben and Fritz at Gordons Bay for a snorkel at 9am. It was a bit rough so we relocated to Clovelly, which was also a bit rough. I caught a glimpse of a sizeable female groper and not much else. Afterwards was coffee at the Clovelly kiosk, and even later I had lunch with Ben in Coogee. A beaut day, not too hot, cloud increasing.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

Had lunch down at Paris Seafood, a coffee at Little Bay, and walked the freshly rennovated track amongst the saltbush along Malabar Headland National Park (prompted by an article in the Sydney Morning Herald). Some of it is quite pretty. It's roughly 2.6km from south Maroubra to the northern headland of Long Bay, according to the signage at least. There is no shelter for much of it. There's a loop track around the other side of the rifle range, which I only discovered after walking back along the cliffs.

Around 6pm I headed to Gordons Bay for a soak off the beach. Quite pleasant. The sand has moved back up the beach, so at low tide the rocks in the shallows make it a little tricky to get in. Afterwards I ate my dinner on the Coogee headland in the dying light.

Bye bye Net Origin, hello Linode.

/hacking | Link

I've hosted my vanity website with Net Origin since they started due to what was a sweetheart deal: a lifetime 50% discount or somesuch. Their recent invoice was far too high (AUD 180 a year for a dinky VPS; I used to pay AUD 6 a month) whereas Linode only wants USD 5 per month and offers several free months up front. No choice really. Hopefully they won't also delete my VPS by accident.

Norah Head.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

mrak and Ang are back in Australia for a bit, so I rode up to Norah Head to spend the afternoon with them (and their multitudinous friends). I took the Old Pacific Highway and stopped off at Pie in the Sky at Cowan for a pie and a sausage roll (both in bags, separate bags), and also a coffee (in a proper cup). It's a biker hangout for sure. Traffic was particularly horrible from Gordon to Hornsby, and then not too bad. A long ride in any case.

I met up with mrak at their cabin (and not the shack-enhanced caravan with the same number) at the Tourist Park and went for a swim with him at Soldiers Beach. The surf was reasonably powerful. After poking our heads into the "no wet clothes" establishment above the surf club we headed back to the Rockpool, which was far tamer. The cafe there was closed when we got there (circa 4pm). I was surprised that mrak got cold, given the Michigan winters he's been enduring.

I headed back to the city around 8pm. I grabbed some dinner at a Chinese in The Entrance, which was an entrancing old-school cinema (The Majestic) that I would have gone to if I had more time. Afterwards I headed along the southern edge of the lake to the F3; the traffic was placid and the wind not too strong. I got home around 10:30pm, in time to buy the necessaries for tomorrow's breakfast.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

Figuring I wouldn't have time in the evening I snuck down to Coogee in the morning before work for a paddle in the flat surf. Not many people. Afterwards I found my favoured parking spot under the Cahill Expressway was packed for the first time ever. I managed to get away by 6pm and headed for another soak at Gordons Bay in the late evening. The swell was sizeable, with some significant waves at the beach, which was still not very clean. I grabbed some dinner at the Indian on Coogee Bay Road after. The village was chockers.

Lady Bird

/noise/movies | Link

Met up with Dave for some Fat Fish in Annandale; he'd been up to Port Mac for some tango and revving up for yet another move. I was super spaced out and thought I'd parked out the back of the Hyatt when in fact I'd left the yet-nameless CB400 near Erskine St, in the massive double row of bikes somewhat close to Wynyard. That cost me 20 minutes but gained me some exercise.

Afterwards we headed to Palace Cinemas Norton St to see if Dave's magical $8 ticket card still worked, which it did. Cinema 3, four rows from the front. Saoirse Ronan was quite fun, and overall it's a better than the average coming-of-age flick. I wish I hadn't seen the short though as the funniest bits are in that. It somewhat aims for Todd Solondz territory but veers away from serious discomfort. The ending is about as aimless as it must be.

Inglourious Basterds

/noise/movies | Link

Third time around apparently, into the wee hours of Thursday morning after a trying Wednesday. Now #97 in the IMDB top-250. Tarantino tries hard to beat David Lynch at the filmclip thing by having Mélanie Laurent put on her makeup over David Bowie's Putting out fire with gasoline; yeah, we get it.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

A late afternoon snorkel off the scuba ramp at Gordons Bay. Three dogs on the ramp itself and loads of human traffic on a very busy super hot summery humid day. Visibility was not great. Some kids thought it a lark to chase the big blue groper in fairly shallow water. Just the one sizeable mottled stingray.

Too much hardware.

/hacking | Link

I've been contemplating how one connects to 3G or 4G internet. Previously I've used an Optus dongle which was sufficiently catholic amongst the various resellers of that network. Well, the days of dongles are pretty much dead: the old 3G-ish Huawei E1762 was apparently locked to the Optus network, though I didn't have a SIM to verify that. I shelled out $32 for a Telstra-locked one that refused to acknowledge a reseller's SIM; moreover unlocking it seemed painful and probably expensive.

The solution, of course, is a super-cheap Android phone. Michael Ginsburg pointed me to a ZTE Zip 4G that I acquired from Officeworks in Carlton (south of St George) for an entirely reasonable $39. Moreover his preferred unlocker did the business in about six-and-a-half hours (for $5) and the almost-free Belong SIM I bought a while back worked first try.

Allowing that this was my first encounter with Android, things didn't go too badly. The only really annoying thing was that the USB tether settings do no stick (i.e., there is no equivalent to iOS's "Trust this computer"), and it seems I need to root the device to fix that. Also, once I finally got hostapd somewhat set up on the Beaglebone Black, it seems to like to aggressively drop TCP connections (even live ones!). This might be the network though.

The whole thing has been a massive timesoak, as (cheap) hardware always is.

The Square

/noise/movies | Link

Nominated for a foreign movie Oscar; winner of the Palme d'Or, but what a turkey. The fine art market, even that of Stockholm, so often self-satirises that there is not even a limit to take it to. Swedish director Ruben Östlund tries to modernize or at least hybridize the Dogme tradition with extremely long scenes that too often don't work; the feeling is less the telling awkwardness of a von Trier, a Moodysson or Ricky Gervais and more just blankless. There is the very occasional burst of Swedish comedic timing, but it's all been done before, and it's hard to see what Elizabeth Moss is doing here. The cinematography is sometimes beautiful. The poster is a still from a genuinely uncomfortable scene.

A. O. Scott.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

A somewhat ill-advised mid-evening paddle at Gordons Bay after some thunderstorms late the previous evening. Quite a bit of detritus near the beach, clearer out in the middle of the bay; definitely a time to keep one's head out of the water. Beautiful day and evening. Read a bit more of my book on the Coogee headland, keeping an eye on a large front blowing through around 7pm. It did yield more storms well after dark.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

A mid-morning soak at Coogee beach with a very minor paddle. There weren't many people there on this beautiful day. The water was very clear, with some surf: roughly what I think of as average for this beach.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

Busy in the evening so I headed down to the Clovelly carpark for a snorkel off the scuba ramp at Gordons Bay. Of course there was a lady at the end of it throwing a ball for her dog, who didn't seem that interested. I saw the big blue groper and a sizeable female or two, some very large wrasse and blackfish, and some garfish. Visibility was quite good away from the shoreline, and the water temperature is entirely comfortable now. Beautiful day, summery, with some beautiful clouds.

Stranded in Kingsford with a dead battery.

/travels/Motorcycle | Link

After work on Monday I headed to Pinocchio Sushi for dinner, afterwhich the CB400 completely died on me: the headlight came on for perhaps half a second and then there was nothing at all. The controller for the newly-fitted heated handgrips flashed at me as if to say they didn't have enough power, so I guess I should be thankful that Close Motorcycles hooked them up directly to the battery and not via the ignition as I requested.

Not thinking too clearly, I checked the fuses and ripped the battery out. Everything looked OK so I walked the bike down to the laneway next to the old Kingsford bowling club and hoofed it up the hill to Randwick. I think I read 12.7V — a little low but not dire — but because I didn't know how old it was I thought it'd be worth replacing in any case. Phil from Beaconsfield Motorcycle Supermarket priced a replacement at $160, ouch, so I got the 370 bus first thing Tuesday morning. He advised me that in addition to the fuses under the seat at the rear there is a main fuse which might have blown. He also suggested that the charging circuitry might be defective. All of that sounded plausible to me, though consulting with Dave about his recent alternator failure in Bonnie made me think that without one of those the bike wouldn't run for long.

Back in Kingsford I found the main fuse behind a side panel, and both it and the spare were intact. I swore frequently as I installed the new battery; hooking up the negative first is a beginner's mistake (I think) as I drew a fat spark just as I was finishing up with the positive. She fired up first go and there was no sign of short circuits or any other thing that may excuse the old battery. Fingers crossed I rode up to work and made it home after.

I was pretty happy with the little toolkit that Honda provides. I was less happy with how little room they leave for getting the battery into its cavity past the wires.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

As usual on a Monday, I work up super-early and decided to have a soak at Gordons Bay before heading to work in the mid morning. Very pleasant, the usual.

Look Back in Anger (1959)

/noise/movies | Link

A Richard Burton segue from 1984, and sometimes just as relentless. There's the odd quite amusing line but Burton's overbearing boorishness and the dodgy sexual politics (middle class English ladies are just hanging for some rough stuff) rob this piece of much power. It has the raw restless energy of the 1960s and all the stymied self-destructive anger of 2016, with the result a similar unsatisfying mess. O'Brien is not so far from here. Also something of a dry run for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and an attempt to beat the Americans at their own beatish, rebellious game.

Molly's Game

/noise/movies | Link

I had hoped to go to one of the $5 sessions at the Palace Cinemas with Dave, but of course those sold out well in advance. Switching to Plan B, we had dinner at Allfine Chinese Cuisine House (35A Ross St in Forest Lodge) and headed over to their Norton St premises for the 9:10pm Cinema 2 session of Molly's Game. $8 each. Dave was on foot after his relocation to Ashfield. It was a day of occasionally mildly serious rain.

This is Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut, and of course he wrote the screenplay for this adaptation as well. Jessica Chastain more-or-less reprises the blank hard driven woman leading role we saw her do in Miss Sloane. Costner plays her father with a blander hardness, successfully but uncreatively. I enjoyed Idris Elba's performance the most. The story suffers from Sorkin's need to deify his leading lady: he needed to go deeper, to complexify her, to wind back the mansplaining. Things go along OK but the climax is a let down.

Manohla Dargis. This isn't very close to His Girl Friday.