Sunday, 21 May 2006

Eurovision 2006

This isn't a full-on review because I should be asleep, not typing, right now. But following are some notes about the night that I took while watching it (after pulling my laptop out during a particularly boring song - you'll see which). I won't comment about the winner because I don't want to spoil it for any Aussies who will watch it later tonight (their time).


six4one, because there were six of them, who all fit a perfect stereotype of a group member. Totally not controversial in any way imaginable = boring
Moldova The chick spent more time changing her outfit than singing. It was BAD.
Israel A questionably middle eastern black man sang half in Hebrew and half in English. Unfortunately we didn’t have the subtitles turned on at this point, so we're not totally sure what the song was about - peace or something, I think.
Latvia Sang a capella, which was a cool idea, but done rather poorly. I loved their costumes - off-white suits and white shirts in all different styles. They made some robot thing which had no relation to the song. Terry Wogan classic comment of the night: "They'll probably come last"
Norway Tall, blonde girls who actually had normal sized bodies. The song was OK, a "chick ballad" (Graeme's words) completely in English. Good voices - as in actual talent. I didn't think that was allowed.
Spain Las Ketchup sang Bloody Mary - Bloody Awful is more accurate.
Malta Back-up singer (who was hidden away on the side of the stage, presumably so you wouldn't see him) provided the only decent vocals of the performance.
Germany Aussie girl sings country surrounded by neon cactuses. So bad it was good. Loved that they had their website address on their mike stands
Denmark A girl accompanied by her sisters, apparently, and a dude who danced cool. Good, boppy song about a guy who could twist.
Russia Mullet man needed to take some singing lessons. He was easily outshone by the ballerinas.
FYR Macedonia Terrible. Trying to be Jessica Simpson from Dukes of Hazzard, only sluttier and less talented.
Romania Dude who sang good but had very poor English translations
Bosnia & Herzegovina Forgettable - so much so it was the point when I picked up my computer to do something else. They predicted it would do well though, even though we couldn't see why.
Lithuania Football chant sang by a line of guys in suits, one of whom only moved at all to perform a crazy, crazy dance "We are the winners of Eurovision" "vote for the winners" "VOTE!" Hilarious. The first song that made us consider voting, so I guess their ploy might work.
United Kingdom 'Daz' raps, badly, about not listening to teachers - I think that’s the message anyway, because he obviously didn't listen to his teachers when they were trying to teach him grammar, musicianship or life lessons.
Greece Nothing amazing - the crowd were into it, but it was in Athens after all. Stuck in the 80s.
Finland Demons of the apocalypse (or arockalypse, as they called it) sing a heavy rock number which really stood out from the pop. They looked awesome - full LotR orc-inspired makeup and everything, including wings that grew out of the lead singers back.
Ukraine Trying to be Shakira. Her Cossack dancers jumping rope was the coolest part.
France At least she sang the whole song in French - the first entry to sing the whole thing in their native language. A nice slow song of little consequence.
Croatia Continued in the tradition of France by being in the native language - also tried to sound like a folk song, but the lyrics were about high heels and an ex-boyfriend and didn't make sense.
Ireland Actually a nice song - too normal and mainstream for Eurovision.
Sweden The train of her dress was like one of those parachutes you play with as a kid… until it was pulled away to reveal a gold jumpsuit thing. Typical Swedish up-beat positive outlook number. I think she idolises Abba.
Turkey Old and crusty trying to be 17, complete with stomach flab in tight outfit. "I'm your superstar" "My brilliance will bedazzle you". The coolest thing they did was use their arms (the singer and her 4 British dancers) to form a star when viewed from above.
Armenia Ricky Martin without the looks, sex appeal or vocal talent. OK, he was better than some of the others, and performed by the right person, the song would be a hit, but you simply shouldn't try and do what you can't.

Stupid Heart shape with a Greek flag voting hourglass was obviously poorly designed and executed - the thing tipped over for crying out loud. Wouldn't you test something like that before putting it live in front of millions of people?

The hosts were 'amazing' - just ask them. They must've said it 100 times during the night. Terry Wogan picked up on it too and started to comment every time they said it. Funny.
(and they actually weren't amazing, just in case you didn't catch the sarcasm over the www)

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Friday, 19 May 2006

What if... started digging a hole in Penrith Library and went all the way through the planet's core to the oposite side of the globe. Where would you end up?

A while ago, when we visited the Greenwich Prime Meridian Line, I asked Graeme where you would end up if you dug a hole all the way through Earth, starting at Penrith. We agreed somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, probably in the middle of nowhere. This was pretty much right, but to prove the point, Graeme sent me this link to the site of a guy who has used google maps to answer this exact question...

OK, so it doesn't look that impressive at this level, but trust me, its cool. I KNOW I dug the hole from Penrith Library because I zoomed right in on it. As you can see from the picture below, I took this screenshot at the second level of zoom, rather than right in so you can see other things around the library.

It wasn't too hard really - I worked out roughly where Sydney would be, went west, hit the river and followed it til I found the Lakes and from there you can examine all of Penrith. Go play with it if you have some time. I'm off to find the opposite side of the world to where I'm sitting right now.

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Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Amazing Grace (2006, i think)

We went to a film preview tonight. And I don't mean a "the movie's not officially released until tomorrow but we got permission to show it today" type preview.

When we went to see MI3 last week, a guy approached us and asked if we'd like to see a free movie that hadn't been released yet. After confirming a few things with us (in the right age bracket, seen one or more of a list of similarish films, interested from the blurb, etc) he gave us a bit of paper with a number to call and confirm we would come. I rang the number, the guy asked for our genders and ages and gave me a confirmation number. We were told to be there by 6.30 and I'm glad we arrived at about 6.20 because we were close-ish to the front of the queue and got to pick decent seats in the PACKED cinema.

The film was called Amazing Grace and was great. There were no proper titles or credits and they warned us it might be a bit rough around the edges, but it really didn't affect our enjoyment at all. It is the story of William Wilberforce, the English MP who led the charge in the abolishment of the slave trade. It centres around parliament and all the stuff they have to go through to get the bill passed by a bunch of old jerks, I mean Lords, who have financial interests in the slave trade.

I just went and read some stuff from other people who've seen previews and they complained that it didn't show enough about the actual slaves and what they experienced, but I totally disagree. True, they showed very little of actual 'slaves', but they manage to powerfully convey the horrible conditions and circumstances the slaves were put through. And I liked that, even though the final outcome is somewhat obvious, you don't feel as though they're just heading for the prewritten conclusion and trying to give you a history lesson.

The acting was great - some very famous names in the cast list (including Dumbledore and Horatio Hornblower, I mean, Michael Gambon and Ioan Gruffudd) - and the settings and cinematography beautiful. So when it finally comes out, I recommend seeing it. Oh, and the title obviously comes from the song by John Newton, who features as a character almost as much as his song does.

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Job hunting sucks. I didn't get that job. Apparently the class I taught was great and the observers had very positive feedback about it, but I didn't get the job because I didn't promote myself well enough in the interview. The most frustrating thing is it showed me how great working at a good, high achieving, Christian school could be. So now I don't know what to do...

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Friday, 12 May 2006

Blue Man Group

We went and saw the Blue Man Group show last night and it was awesome. You know who the Blue Man Group is, right? They're a group of guys who wear dark clothes and paint their hands and heads blue. They've appeared in ads and stuff all over the world.

Their show is a one and a half hour spectacular. There's music, lights, audience interaction and participation, general craziness. It's performance art in a way, especially when they pour paint on their drums and make a mess while carrying a cool beat. The first four rows of the audience have to wear plastic ponchos to protect their clothes. Its so great yet so hard to describe. If you get the chance to see them, take it. We got our tickets half price, but it totally would have been worth the full £40. And thats a LOT of money to us Australians.

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Job Hunting

So I am looking for a job at the moment. The school year here runs September to July and a lot of schools are already hiring for September. This afternoon I got a call to go for an interview on Monday at a school that, from what I've seen so far, I would love to work at. That's good, right? Great, even. Problem is, an interview isn't just turning up and talking to a bunch of people. I assume I will have to do that, but I also have to teach a lesson. To a group of students I have never met, in an environment I am unfamiliar with, in a country in which I have never even entered a classroom before, in front of people who have the power to decide whether or not I get the job. I could definitely handle all of the first three if I didn't have to worry about that last thing. See, I HATE teaching in front of other teachers. My best lessons at my first student teacher position were when my useless supervising teacher was out of the room. During my second block, my supervising teacher went home sick one day and I was 'supervised' by a Maths teacher who just sat and marked work while I taught. That lesson rocked.

The fact is, I am not your run-of-the-mill teacher. I don't do things the way many other teachers do, which most students react positively to, but some other teachers don't (cf my first supervising teacher). Also, in my area, design/technology, there are many specialisations, and I am always afraid that I will say or do something wrong, or just different to how the other teacher would do it and they'll judge me for it. I know quite a lot about the different specialisations. I have a much broader knowledge than many other young teachers I have met. But you can't know everything, especially when you've only been doing this for like, a year...

So I have 3 days to prepare a one-hour lesson. I got an email with the details and all of its content is stuff I have done before with students in some form or another. I guess I just plan it how I would if it were my class and if they don't like it then too bad. I like to think I can have this attitude, and I will try my best to do so, but it will be hard. Because I do care what other people think. And if I get the job, I have to see these kids again, so I don't want to make a fool of myself.

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Thursday, 11 May 2006

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

So, over the last week, we have managed to see both MI1 and MI2 on tv. This, of course, was the perfect excuse to go and see the third movie, especially for Graeme. I must say, even though Tom Cruise totally creeps me out, it was a good movie. Probably the best of the three.
The first one was all about the double cross and the points throughout the movie when you just go "huh? what just happened?". Also, as of last weekend when we watched it, it is VERY dated. The second movie, in typical John Woo style, is all about the big explosions and action. This third installment is a nice balance of the two. I refuse to credit this to Tom Cruise - I personally give all credit to JJ Abrams who took over when the project was failing and turned it into something.
I was going to give a brief breakdown of the plot, but can't be bothered - afterall, thats what imdb is for. I thought Philip Seymour Hoffman was great as the emotionless, scary bad guy and liked the new mission team. If only it wasn't Tom Cruise...

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