five in the evening

Had no mood to blog the last few days and have been using pre-prepared efforts. I have found it useful to write multiple posts when I’m in the mood, which covers me for when I’m not in the mood. And this one is just another list of interesting things:

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My car rego is due for renewal in a few weeks. I got a bit of a shock when the renewal cost turned out to be around $150 or so higher than anticipated. I bought my little pug new in 2001, a black Peugeot 206 and I remain very fond of it. The duco on the roof has all but gone, it has a few dents, the aircon doesn’t work but engine-wise it’s still excellent and is fun to drive. It’s the first car and only car I ever bought new.

I ran a few comparisons through the green slip calculator and sure enough there’s a steady increase in price the older the car gets. The actual figure is about $80 comparing the same model of a 2001 car ($683) with a 2006 car ($603) according to the current system. I went back and checked what I paid last year and indeed, it was only $544 ie there seems to be a new approach this year and my rego has jumped $140 compared to 2015.

I am currently mulling over whether to carry on and renew my current vehicle or look seriously at purchasing something a little more recent. I have long lusted after a red turbo charged fiat Abarth but have a sneaking suspicion that it might be a little too much of a hoon machine for me these days. Alternatively, spending a lot less and buying a secondhand car not dissimilar to my own is not unattractive. In fact I’ve come across a 2007 peugeot 207 which is in significantly better condition than my 206, has working aircon and is red. On the other hand (is this my third or fourth hand), I drive my own car a lot less than I used to as my partner also has a car. Having grown up in Sydney’s west, the idea of not having my own car sits awkwardly in my head. So much baggage :-)

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it’s all in the cask

Following on from my earlier post on flavour profiles, one of the things that I’ve begun to recognise is the way that different casks affect the flavour of the whisky. Particularly if the whisky has been put in barrels that have been used previously for other types of drinks including bourbon, sherry and port. David Stewart, the malt master at Balvenie, developed a procedure for 2 cask maturation whereby whiskies are moved to a new cask in their final months of maturation. A current favourite of mine is Balvenie’s DoubleWood 17 year old which is initially aged in American oak barrels and finished in European oak sherry barrels.

When I was in Tasmania I sampled a few whiskies from Overeem including their 43% sherry cask and their 43% port cask. I love the sherry cask version but not really into the port version. I’ve just had a look at Highland Park’s website and was amused to discover that they prefer sherry casks too :-) I recently sampled and bought a bottle of Benriach’s Pedro Ximinez sherry cask whisky. My palate seems to be following a very clear pattern here :) I’ve just come across a top 10 sherry based whiskies to try, of which I think the Yamazaki is the only one I’ve tried and it too was yum.

With that said, I need to avoid limiting factors too. There are other barrel options that seem to work well for me. When I was in NZ last year I got to try “The 1987“, 1987 being the year the whisky was put into the barrel. I’m unclear which barrel it was stored in but the notes refer to both american oak and ex-bourbon barrels. It may well have started in American oak and been finished in the ex-bourbon…or vice versa :) Either way, it was a soft, smooth dram that was utterly delish.

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a hacker trilogy

Unsurprisingly I’m into SF movies, and tech oriented stuff generally. I’ve long had an interest in hacking, have read many a book on the subject, watched films and occasionally dabbled though never broken into anything. The worst I got was writing password traps at uni to catch the unwary. There was a great book many years ago, that I devoured at uni and keep a print version on the shelf: Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. A book full of anecdotes of the early days of computers and the early hackers, people who created new code and established the frontiers of computing.

I’ve long had an idea in my head of what I like to call a cinematic hacker trilogy; three films that portray hacking and engage with its history. There’s been lots of films around hacking and some are good and some not so good but three seem to have stood out in my head:

I love all three though I think the third is my favourite for capturing the sense of history, spicing it with the thrill of the game and a decent soundtrack. I’ve just rewatched WarGames and it holds up well though the acting and dialogue are clearly artifacts of the 80s. However the basic idea of stealing passwords written down remains true enough today, the weakest link is always people. Sneakers features Robert Redford and Ben Kingsley and is very smooth with a hacking group working semi legit but built by an old school hacker. There are other movies in the genre, good and bad, but this trio sits best in my head.

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filmfest 2016 round-up

Filmfest is over for another year, this year I managed 27 films over 11 days, my partner 28 and Ms15 a massive 15 in her first festival. I think that’s about 10 less than when I had a sub but it feels just as exhausting, not to mention running between venues. Trying to escape the Dendy Quays to see anything else at night involves a horribly crowded passage through the Vivid crowds and I would seriously consider avoiding the venue in future years. We started with one 30 film flexipass, then bought a second, then a 10 movie flexipass to finish off. Once again it was fun going though the programme in advance, not to mention having to choose between films either due to overlaps or sellouts. On one of the saturdays I had 5 competing films to choose from! No regrets.

All up of the 27 films, there were a couple of duds, the occasional surprise and plenty of good cinema. Here’s a rough list of the ones I enjoyed, in order of screening:


Not a bad list of interesting things.

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sff 2016 day 11

Day 11 and final day, rounding out with 3 movies, dinner and still home by 9. The day started with a pair of gangsta flicks: Psycho Raman from India and Suburra from Italy. The first was about a cop and a vicious serial killer circling each other and the hunter and hunted swaps back and forth. The killer is violent and will casually kill with a tyre iron while the cop also has no problem killing and is drug addicted with violent tendencies himself. There wasn’t a lot to like in this film and its cycle of violence and little difference in behaviour the “good” guy and the “bad” guy.

Suburra was much, much better though you could argue that it’s the same sort of violence dressed up in a slicker package. Lushly shot in Rome with intrigue spread across multiple levels of society including the mafia, politicians, drug addicts and the vatican. The audience was aware of the bigger picture and weavings beyond that of the characters involved. The overarching theme was a long term project coming to an accelerated conclusion, with other local parts triggering larger events, all playing off each other. This was violent and intelligent, playing in the corridors of power and corruption.

Final film of the day, and filmfest for me, was the new one from Pedro Almodóvar, Julieta. As is often the case with Almodóvar’s films, women dominate throughout with various perspectives coming into play. Swapping back and forth in time, the movie traces the life of a woman and her daughter who ceased contact at 18. Almodóvar’s handling of the story is deft without being overindulgent. Also present is an intertwining of multiple stories but not overly so with the story kept tight. Both the younger and older versions of the women are well played with a sense of depth and engagement. At the same time, the movie feels fresh and takes you along for the ride.

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sff 2016 day 10

Yay, it’s the weekend and I managed an extra hour’s sleep, a couple more would have been nice. Oh well, second last day of filmfest so the sleep in can wait til next weekend. A big day with 4 films some good, some not so good. First cab off the ranks was a fabulous movie from Adelaide, Girl Asleep. The basic tale is a 14 year old girl trying to fit into a new school, set in the 70s not to mention her parents insisting on throwing a 15th birthday party. This film comfortably, casually, easily mixed real and fantastical scenes together in a way that flowed. At the same time, it had depth in its dealing with adolescence and social mores. This was an engaging, fun, surreal and generally fab flick.

I was really dreading the second movie of the day, Oyster Factory, an observational documentary set in an oyster factory in Japan. “observational documentary” running for 2 and a half hours late in the festival was enough to strike fear in my weary body. It probably fits well into the “cinéma vérité” approach to film making. Filmerd over 3 weeks with no preparation this wasn’t bad, though it could’ve done with some cutting…yet there was no part I didn’t enjoy. I did feel a little awkward at times in that sense of middle class white privilege watching a film about workers at the lower end, and their primary jobs of shucking oysters. At the same time, it’s an important film about the decline in oyster farming in that part of Japan, going from 20 businesses to 6, and the difficulty in finding staff to the extent of importing labour from China. It ended up having a political element of sorts, along with the insight into the day to day.

Unfortunately the 3rd film of the day, Thithi, from India. Set in a small village, and starting with the death of an elderly man at the age of 101. The story is about the money troubles of his grandson, and bits of love with the great grandson. It’s mostly a comedy and the audience had a strong Indian presence who seemed to be getting a lot more out of it than I did. I didn’t mind it, though drifted off a little, and overall wasn’t particularly fussed. However it was clear from the opening scenes that the audience, who understood the language, were laughing loudly at things I was only vaguely amused by.

Following the movie, we made a mad dash out at the start of the credits, to get from Dendy Quays to the State Theatre. We just made it to Circular Quay station to get a train to St James and were in our seats at the State Theatre 15 minutes after leaving the previous cinema, just in time for the next film. That was the tightest film-to-film dash I think I’ve ever done. And that film was the Irish, Sing Street, full of the better music of the 80s. Once again a film dealing with teenagers growing up and trying to find a space. This one is about music and building a band to impress a girl. the music is fab including Duran Duran and The Cure. While a simple tale, it had a good groove and avoided being painful. Fun, easy with excellent musical taste.


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