peteg's blog

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

Mid-afternoon snorkel off the southern rocks of Gordons Bay. A change blew through a few days back and the temperatures have settled into the more autumnal low to mid 20s. Visibility was poor. It's quite nice in, but the onshore breeze was a bit nippy when out and wet. The tide was up. The beach was almost entirely deserted; some people were hanging around the scuba ramp across the bay. Read a bit more of Francine Prose's Bigfoot Dreams on the northern Coogee headland, but the clouds occluded any chance of a drying sun.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

The change had passed and the temperatures are briefly on the rise again; then the clouds blew over promising rain. I snuck in a paddle at an almost-deserted Little Bay after a very early oldskool laksa lunch at UNSW as the tradies finished their work on the flat. No waves to speak of. The the tide a bit out. Pleasant in. Had a nice circuitous ride up to the ASX afterwards.

Red Sparrow

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I can sort-of see why Jennifer Lawrence signed up for this: it was probably pitched as a sequel to both Black Swan and Hunger Games (the latter and this directed by Francis Lawrence); something certainly worth getting your kit off for, and don't sweat the accent. Really it's a paint-by-the-numbers Cold War 2.0 effort that goes exactly as you'd expect, inexorably, with a side of graphically awful torture porn. Joel Edgerton and Jeremy Irons are both squandered. I guess the short worked its magic on me.

Manohla Dargis somehow found it "preposterously entertaining". I reckon they should have done the whole thing as a montage.

Francine Prose: The Glorious Ones.

/noise/books | Link

Kindle. A very early (1974) dry run for her mature work Mister Monkey based on the classic and cliched Italian commedia dell'arte theatre form circa C17th. Some of the members of the itinerant troupe of actors were apparently historical personages, and certainly all are stereotypes (no! archetypes). Each gets a chapter to say their piece; at the time Prose had yet to master them all. It's fun for what it is. Kirkus Reviews has the salients but otherwise the internet has not gone ape over it.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

It's been a while since I've had lunch at Paris Seafood, and I was disappointed to find that they are closing up in June due to their lease not being renewed (sob). I tried the BBQ Prawns and was pleasantly surprised; so much so that I managed to finish my salad for perhaps the first time ever. I went for a brief paddle at Frenchman's Beach. It was the roughest I've ever seen it with a stiff on-shore wind; not a day to relax at the beach with sand flying everywhere. It remains quite hot.

The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions

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It's been a while, and once you start on the first one you've got to go all the way. The first remains a classic, and the second two remain classic cash-ins. A Hugo Weaving jag from The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

I left work a bit early to sneak in a late-afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay. The weather remains unbelievably hot for this late in the season. Today it was cleaner along the shoreline, and loads of people had the same idea as me. Three dogs on the sand.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

Had last night's pizza for lunch on the northern Coogee headland, and finished Leslie Valiant's book on PAC learning at long last. Afterwards I joined a cast of seeming thousands at Gordons Bay for a brief paddle off the beach. There was some kind of video shoot on the sand; the way the girl emoted it was clearly an envy-inducing commercial endeavour. Super hot day for this time of year, a bit cool, lots of detritus near the shore, clean further out.

Early Man

/noise/movies | Link

$10 at The Ritz, 4:30pm (second and final session on this opening day), four rows from the front of Theatre 4. Had a coffee at Isabella's Spot beforehand. About four people total in the audience. Amazon Prime Instant Video produced, and the BFI et al. I haven't been to the cinema in an age.

This is Aardman Animations's latest. I had (and still have) fond memories of their classic Wallace and Gromit efforts, and even their previous more broadly commercial stuff like Chicken Run. Their stop-motion technique is better than ever, with some amazing effects, but the story is a tired one of the genesis of football, which apparently happened after lunch somewhere near Manchester a long time ago. There are some funny bits and solid sight gags. The characters are forgettable.

A. O. Scott.

Leslie Valiant: Probably Approximately Correct: Nature's Algorithms for Learning and Prospering in a Complex World.

/noise/books | Link

Kindle. Valiant's theoretical basis for machine learning is far more plausible than the logical accounts of the 1960s (the learning-in-the-limit model of Gold and Blum) and here he posits it as one of the missing links in Darwin's account of evolution amongst many other things. I took extensive notes as I went but lack the time to write them up; now I wonder where I can find the debate this book must have caused since its publication in 2013. It seems unlikely that his neologism ecorithms has stuck.

Edward Frenkel reviewed it for the New York Times. Marcus Feldman points out some of Valiant's blind spots. Ernest Davis is also skeptical: he observes the lack of a story about theoretical terms (which Davis calls "higher order constructs") and that PAC does not exhaust all forms of learning.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

Brief post-lunch swim at Little Bay. Overcast and not as hot as it has been, but still very pleasant in. The ride down was very placid, as was the ride back via the Maroubra Junction shops.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

Not really making the most of this amazing mid-Autumn weather, only making it to the beach every three or more days. Today was a carbon copy of the last several; warm to hot, some wind, clear, no chance of rain. Read a bit more of Leslie Valiant's book on PAC learning on the northern Coogee headland, starting around 4pm, then had a quick paddle at Gordons Bay off the beach, which was initially a bit filthy. Some guy was trying to fish off the southern rocks. Very pleasant in.

Team America

/noise/movies | Link

Last seen about nine years ago. The Bush era strikes back? Things are almost the same, except that Kim Jong Il has passed.

American Beauty

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I saw this a long time ago, probably around about when it came out, and forgot most of it. Rated #64 on the IMDB top-250. Spacey got an Oscar for it, but quite often he seems to slip into a robotic mode. The idea of blackmailing the company you work for must have been in the air in 1999. Annette Bening is good too. Otherwise I still don't feel there's a lot to see here.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

A late-afternoon snorkel off the scuba ramp at Gordons Bay. Visibility was quite good away from the shore. Large wrasse, heaps of garfish, some schools of huge ludderick, a single stingray, a large but not blue groper. A small group of scuba divers went in after me. Some people around. Beautiful day, clear, warm, bright.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

Daylight savings is done, the days are getting short, so I hurried back from the city and got to Gordons Bay around 5pm for a brief paddle. The water near the beach was filthy. Some breakers. Some people more sensibly got in off the rocks. Beaut in once past the filth.

Kick Ass 2

/noise/movies | Link

Pretty dire on a second viewing, being stuck uncomfortably between the pseudo reality of the first movie and the unreality of high school and coming-of-age. Perhaps director Jeff Wadlow didn't know how to make something of what he inherited.

Sydney Theatre Company: The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht (translated by Tom Wright).

/noise/theatre | Link

Stalls B Reserve, seat N32 (the plate reads "Gretel Killeen, Zeke and Eppie"; just a little far) at the Roslyn Packer Theatre, $99 + $7.50 = $106.50, booked 31/03/2018. I eyed this one off for while, mostly due to the price, then figured that I might as well and that sufficient sapience was most likely on Easter Monday: any given work night can turn out any which way presently, which is why I haven't been to the theatre in an age. Just quietly the production seems to be funded by UBS.

I rode the still-nameless CB400 up from Eastgardens after some decent progress with Gianpaolo on some second-order logic. I knew parking wouldn't be a problem as I ride past the theatre most days on the way to work. The place was packed — somehow there was a stray empty seat next to me — and most patrons seemed to use mobility aids. People climbed good-humouredly over each other to reach their seats. The actors and cinematographers warmed up on stage with the curtain up. I found the percussive music quite irritating, but that only lasted until the show started.

The main draw was Bertolt Brecht, who I somehow retain fond memories of despite Puntila / Matti, and a barrel chested Hugo Weaving in the lead. A bonus was Ursula Yovich, last seen by me in Diving for Pearls at the Griffin Theatre, where she was perfectly cast; this time not so much, as she is nowhere cold enough to convince as gangster muscle. Extensive use is made of a super high-resolution screen at the back of the stage, with cameras following the action like some vintage Version 1.0 show. I found it a bit excessive and often did not know where to direct my gaze, which is not the same thing as being unsettled.

I found the whole thing a bit drawn out with a few unconvincing segments; but when it worked it was sublime. The first scene, at a circular dinner table in Chinese restaurant, was quite effective but went only how it needed to. Midway in Ui hilariously learns how to strut and orate from a director (brillaintly played toe-to-toe by Mitchell Butel), and great use is made of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar which I'll now have to go see. Also the off-stage shaving/dressing scene made very effective use of the space and cameras. Conversely the courtroom scenes don't work so well: at times they reach for Tarantino levels of blood on the floor, and I kept hoping they'd make a total mess of things like in the production of Upton's The Jungle I saw or just about every Titus Andronicus ever, but they simply don't. We do get a rainy, somewhat brutal and very effective funeral scene however.

The piece itself is heavily referential, being about Hitler's rise, and of course Kip Williams has to add his own schtick: we get a snatch of Howard's winning "we will decide who comes to this country," a somewhat jarring You're the Voice excerpt, and the cameras recreated one of Agent Smith's more famous scenes. Overall there is a bit too much talking and not quite enough action.

After the famous "the bitch that bore him is in heat again" closeout, the actors cleaned up and returned for a Q&A with the audience, just like the good old Theatre Y days. Some of the questions were completely daft. Briefly: this thing is set in a filmic, imagined Chicago that Brecht never directly experienced, and hops genres like a kangaroo. Kip Williams is so young. The dialogue was affected but delivered in the style of realism; the space to get very arch was not taken, except by Hugo. Thematically it's about the manufacturing of power, which is shown throughout. It attempts to expose the artifice of the staged space. It involved loads of prep over several years. There was a concern that Trump makes the piece too obvious to perform at this time.

Afterwards I had a late dinner at Dae Jang Kun: a bimbimbab at a Korean BBQ on a tip from Dave. Chinatown was quite lively for a school night.

Cast: Mitchell Butel, Peter Carroll, Tony Cogin, Ivan Donato, Anita Hegh, Brent Hill, Colin Moody, Monica Sayers, Hugo Weaving, Charles Wu, Ursula Yovich. It has great reviews, e.g. at Audrey Journal and by Rozanna Lilley at the Daily Review.

/noise/beach/2017-2018 | Link

Had some lunch at Blue Pacific Grille in Cronulla (their grilled squid was good but not as good as I remembered; the bar did get set rather high in Hồ Chí Minh City) on the way to the Royal National Park. The traffic was rather placid in the early afternoon on this Easter Sunday, but that just went to show that everyone was already at Wattamolla. The road down to the beach was closed — "we close the road for 2-3 hours and then reopen it for 2-3 minutes" said the bloke manning the barrier — but my timing was good and I didn't have to wait long. The beach itself was not at all crowded despite the overflowing carparks. Very pleasant in, and quite a bit cleaner than the city beaches. I read a bit more Peter Handke on the sand. The ride there and back was quite pleasant. I just wish I knew how to get past the bottlenecks on the Grand Parade.

L.A. Confidential

/noise/movies | Link

It's been a while. Still #106 in the IMDB top-250.