Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Movies, Volunteer Work, Mythical Creatures, and Camp Orange

1. Looked up Pitch Black on IMDb because Tim was watching it.

It has a lot of Australian actors in it, and it's filmed in Australia; yet it's an American movie.

2. Learned that there was a sequel to Pitch Black.  It's called The Chronicles of Riddick.  The name sounds sort of familiar to me.  I might have heard of it.  I had no idea, though, that it was related to Pitch Black.  

3. Saw that The Chronicles of Riddick wasn't filmed in Australia.  It was filmed in Canada.  

4. Decided to look at the IMDb pages of some of the Aussie Pitch Black actors—see what they're up to. 

Radha Mitchell is going to be in a movie called Big Sur.  It's based on Jack Kerouac's writing. I don't think I've ever read any of his stuff.  I probably should one day.

Josh Lucas in in Big Sur.  He's also in that dog movie every Australian seems to love.  

5. Saw that Radha Mitchell is also going to be in a sequel to Silent Hill

6. Saw that Claudia Black is in an upcoming science fiction animated film with Tim Curry.  It's called Strange Frame: Love and Sax.  

7. Saw that Les Chantery is in the Sleeping Beauty movie.  

8. Saw that Firass Dirani has a part in a new movie called Killer Elite.  It's coming out in a week or so.

9. Decided to look at some of the actors I've written about in the biography posts and see if they're going to be in any interesting upcoming things.

10. Saw that Barry Humphries is going to be in The Hobbit.  

Evangeline Lily from Lost is in it too.

As for other Australians in the movie...there's Hugo Weaving.  He was in the other Lord of the Rings movies as well.

11.  Saw that Judy Davis is going to be in a Woody Allen movie; The Bop Decameron.   One of the stars of that is Jesse Eisenberg.  He's one of my favorite American celebrities right now.

12. Saw that Nicole Kidman is going to be in a horror movie with some fellow Aussie actors. It's called Stoker.  

Mia Wasikowska and Jacki Weaver are both in it. There might be other Australians in the cast, but I don't recognize their names.

13. Saw that Isla Fisher is going to star with Kirsten Dunst in a comedy called Bachelorette.

Well, that's it for now.

Jack wants me to watch him get his wand on Pottermore.  Then I need to go to bed.

14. Mystified because Jack got a friend request on Pottermore.  It's from someone in Australia. I feel like we should know them, but I can't figure out how anyone would have found Jack on there.

It's probably just a coincidence that they're from Australia.  They probably just sent him a random friend request.  Even so, though, I can't figure out how they even found his name randomly.  He just started the game. Is it that easy to find new players?  

15. Saw that the mysterious Aussie wizard sent Jack this friend request on September 7—five days before he even got into Pottermore.

How did they find Jack?

The only thing I can think of is that people can maybe find accounts if they have your email address.   We know of two families in Australia who have Jack's email address.  It could be them.  Maybe?

But I didn't see any area on Pottermore where you could search for friends with email addresses.

16. Went to bed and had some dreams.   Many of them were confusing in the fact that the story taking place was part of a movie. Yet instead of watching it on a screen, I was right there in the middle of the action.  Usually, I was just an observer, but them sometimes I took part in it.

In the following dream I was there, but not really interacting.  It was kind of like I was an invisible ghost.

Three little girls are about to perform for a talent show.  Their turn is next and they're very nervous.   I think about how I used to be so nervous like that, but lately I haven't been. I think back to a party where we took turns singing. When my turn was coming up, I wasn't overly nervous.

The girls go up on stage to sing. I am most impressed with the voice of the girl in the middle.

They sing a song that mentions Mayan culture. For some reason that makes me think of Maori culture.  I question whether we should go to New Zealand.  Then I decide, no, we shouldn't.  All signs point to us needing to go to Australia.

17. Figured the singing part came from last night. I started getting embarrassed about my singing videos on YouTube and deleted a bunch of them. I might delete all of them.   I hesitated because the two left are embedded in blog posts. Then again, it won't be the end of the world if people click on it and learn the video has been removed.

18. Figured the New Zealand bit probably comes from reading about The Hobbit stuff before bed.

19. Started to read article about Scientology.  I think the main point is that Scientology is exploiting workers, and they're making lots of money.  That's not too different from many other companies.   But with Scientology it might be a bit worse because they're preying on people's spiritual vulnerabilities.  

No, never mind. It's probably not the worst.  Other companies prey on people's health fears and vulnerabilities. That's bad too.

Oh yeah.  And there're also the companies that prey on our body image and beauty insecurities.   

20. Continued to read the article.  Scientology is being accused, by some members, of using slave labor.  Now Australia is asking that they give back-pay to some of these people.

Scientology officials argue that these workers were volunteer workers.  The Fair Work government people think these people were wrongly labeled as volunteers. They think the people were workers who were not getting paid enough.

How do you distinguish between volunteers and employees?  

21. Saw that the Scientology Church is making excessive amounts of money.  One church has assets of over 49 million. 11.5 million of that came from religious training and spiritual counseling. So you'd think with all that money, they'd be able to hire workers rather than depend on volunteers.

22. Thought more about volunteers vs. employees....and also interns.

I think volunteering is doing work for free because you WANT to do it.

When I was a teenager I volunteered for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and I volunteered for the Cystic Fibrosis camp.   I wanted to do it.  It was very important to me. I wouldn't have wanted to be paid.

When I started considering that I might want to be a teacher, I volunteered at a private school and a public school so I could get an idea of whether or not I'd want that career.   For the most part, I was thankful for the opportunity. I vaguely remember being angry at some point because the private school teachers were bitchy about something. They acted annoyed with me—maybe because I couldn't come in one day?  That bothered me because I was thinking, hey, I'm not even getting paid for this.

I do feel somewhat exploited for the student teaching stuff.  On one hand, I think it's nice that I got on the job training.  I should be thankful for that.  On the other hand, it annoys me that I had to pay huge amounts of money to go to graduate school.  Then they farmed me out as free labor to NYC schools.

To be fair though,  the graduate program didn't require that you do student teaching.  You could get a paying job, and that would count too.   I'm horrible at interviewing, though; and I seem to have a habit of repelling people who are looking out to hire someone.  I got a job offer, accepted it, and then the next day I was fired...before I even started the job.  I think the woman hired me out of desperation, but then realized she wasn't so desperate. I gave myself up to free labor.  We could call it student teaching, volunteer work, an internship, or slave labor.  I did that for a year; then the next year I finally found a paying job.

23. Decided slave labor should probably be reserved for people who are forced to work, and can't leave.  If I really hated the student teaching, I could have withdrawn from the graduate school.

I guess my question about the Scientology issue would be whether or not they were forced to work.   What if they tried to leave?  Were they threatened?  I've heard rumors of Scientology bullying people into staying with them.  

So, if people felt they had no choice but to keep working, I would say it's like slave labor.   If they did the work because they thought the church was the right path and they wanted to participate, that's a different story. I would have less sympathy for them if they simply decided they no longer agreed with the church, regretted the work they put into it, and now want back-pay.  

24. Saw from Trish's blog post that Sydney's Wildlife World is back open again; except now it's called Wild Life Sydney.

Instead of dividing the animals by type (insect, reptile, bird, mammal, etc), they now have the animals divided by areas of Australia.   Trish says there are eight areas.

Well, I hope to see it someday.

25. Thought about Red Nomad Oz's post on cliche outback photos.   I like her lines here. What is it about the great Australian Outback's magical aura that inspires – actually, compels - visitors to attempt to capture its essence?

Why are we so addicted to taking photos?  We even do it when there's already thousands (maybe millions) of photos out there of the exact same thing.

I don't often get excited about famous places, but I was thrilled to see the Opera House. We took several photos.  Why?  What did I hope to accomplish with that?   Why not just buy a postcard?    Why not take only one photo?

Was I hoping to take a photo that surpassed all others?

No. I'm not a great photographer, and I don't remember that being my goal.

It was more what Red Nomad Oz says. It was like I was trying to capture the essence of the Opera House.

I think most of us take photos of what we love.  Why do we do it excessively? I don't know.  

You can look at someone's photo albums and get an idea of what's important to them. The, man who has copious photos of his new wife, is likely madly in love.  The same goes for the people who take tons of pictures of their new puppy, and the parents who can't stop taking pictures of their children.

If you find a man who has more photos of his car than his wife? Well, that can give you a clue on where his priorities are.   

26.  Talked to the electrician at our house.   He has an adorable accent.   One minute he sounds very Texan, than the next minute he sounds British.   It's like he switches back and forth—sometimes between Paragraphs or sentences; and sometimes between words.  His brain is probably confused.    I do it too, and I KNOW my brain is confused.

The other day I started getting upset, worrying that I don't truly have my own voice and accent.   What if my voice is simply an accumulation of other voices and accents I've heard recently and throughout my years?

Well, I doubt it's true.  I probably do have my own voice.   And even if I don't, it's not that much of a horror.      

27. Lost some respect for Kevin Rudd when I read an article about his travel expenses.   

It says that between August 2010 and June 2011, he spent more than a million dollars on traveling.     The article says there were 14 trips and each trip cost an average of $80,000.

That is so damn insane.

We spent a month in Australia and it cost us under $10,000.

The problem is Kevin Rudd is flying first class and getting expensive hotel rooms.

I sort of can't blame Rudd for the first class flights.  If I had the money and power, I'd want to take those too.  Although I would have great respect for a MP who flew coach.

As for hotel rooms, I don't think it's necessary to get a fancy room or suite each time. 

The article talks about a twenty day trip in which Rudd spent a total of $13,353 on hotel rooms.  That averages out to $667 a night. We try to stay places for under $200 a night, and we can often find places that are fairly decent.  I'd say for a government leader, $200-400 a night should be sufficient.

There's also mention of Rudd staying in a place for $2696 a night. That's crazy.    

I understand that there're perks to certain jobs. I'm all for rich people getting their luxury, but maybe they can tone it down a bit?  Or maybe mix it up a bit. If you're going to stay in a lavish suite one weekend, why not spend the next few nights at a holiday park?

28. Read article about prescription drugs in Australia. They're getting more expensive.

Out of pocket costs were $19 per person in 1991. In 2007, it was $62 per person. I'm guessing that's per person a year? I'm not sure.

It's a big jump.

Australia is still better than America.  Here it's $487 per person.  

In Australia, some drugs aren't covered by the government subsidies.  In that case, the cost per person jumps up to $134.

29. Went to Tallygarunga.

Today I'm going to read a story thread called Work, Blam You! 

Blam? I'm not sure I've heard that before.  I feel out of touch.  Is it Aussie slang? Teen/young adult slang?

30. Did a bunch of googling and looked around at Urban Dictionary.   I get the idea that blam is more of a teen/young adult thing than an Australian thing.

31. Looked at the story thread. It takes place in Peer Tutoring Centre which is in Kookynie Hall.

Not all tutoring takes place there. Riley Lightfoot met up with his tutor in the Spencer common room.

The blam story thread involves Reade Ainsworth and another Flinders student named Lachlan Card.

Since Lachlan is in year 2 and Reade is in year 5, I'm going to guess that Reade is the one doing the tutoring.  I could be wrong though.  Age doesn't always correlate with intelligence.

32. Started to read the story.

It's September 14, and late in the afternoon.

Reade is having trouble doing spell work. Since he can't speak, it makes things a bit more difficult for him.

I wonder how speech effects magic.  How does it help the magic happen?  Is it the actual sound of the voice that's important; or the feelings and intent behind the voice?

33. Saw that I was wrong all together. Lachlan isn't there to tutor Reade, and Reade isn't there to tutor Lachlan.   They just showed up at the tutoring centre. I guess it's more of a study centre? Or maybe students go there with hopes they'll find help.

I think I once read a story thread that takes place here. I can't remember if there was an arranged meeting or not.

34. Saw that Reade offered Lachlan some help.  That's nice that he's willing to help someone else while he's struggling with his own thing.  In those circumstances, though, it sometimes helps both people.   If someone is feeling down on themselves for struggling, it may make them feel better to know they're competent enough, at another subject, to teach someone else.

35. Started to read the biography of Lachlan Card.  He's very new—like two days old.  But I don't know if his role-player is new.  

Lachlan's face claim is Craig Roberts. Lord Wiki says Craig Roberts is a Welsh actor.

I think Anthony Hopkins is Welsh.

Yep. Lord Wiki confirms that.

Timothy Dalton and Rhys Ifans are Welsh too. 

36. Saw that Craig Roberts is in the new Jane Eyre movie.

Did that come out yet?  

I'm guessing he doesn't have a huge part.  He's young and I don't remember children having a huge part in the story.

37. Noticed that Mia Wasikowska plays Jane Eyre. She's Australian.

38. Decided to watch Jane Eyre trailer. 

It looks pretty good.

I don't think I saw Craig Roberts. But I turned away here and there to do some cutting and pasting.   I may have missed him.

I'm going to watch another video with him in it.  It's an interview regarding a movie called Submarine.

39. Went back to reading about Lachlan.

He's 13.

He's a Flinders student.

He's a werewolf.


40.  Asked Tim about "Blam".  He said it's an old school comic book type thing. So, that's probably the origins of that.

41. Got idea that Lachlan's role-player is Australian or British...or something like that.   She gives measurements in centimetres and says colours instead of colors.

42. Learned that Lachlan has no sense of fashion.    

I like people who lack fashion sense.  Overly fashionable people make me nervous.

43.  Had issues with this statement.  

Lachlan is rather quiet considering his age group, not lacking confidence, though, as some might assume from this.

I'm not sure if any age group is dominated by loud people. There's a lot of quiet and shy people in the world. I don't think they're often going to be loud at age 13 and then quiet at 25.

Well, they might.  And I'm less quiet and shy in my thirties than I was in my childhood and teen years.   But I don't think these changes are about age.  I think they're about experiences.

My guess is each age group is a mixture of loud and quiet people.  

44. Wondered about this line.  Some might think that coming from such a quiet and sheltered country town that his views might be narrow minded, misled or prejudiced. On the contrary, a lack exposure to mainstream culture has led to him being quite open and accepting to new ideas, people and things.  

At first I was going to disagree with it.  I was going to say I don't doubt someone from a small town could be open-minded.  But I couldn't see how a lack of exposure to mainstream culture would increase open-mindedness.

Then I re-thought my position. The mainstream media can encourage openness, but it could also introduce us to prejudices.

A child who never watches TV may never learn about the struggles of black people in America. But they also might not be introduced to anti-black prejudices. They might be totally ignorant about the whole thing.

I think this innocence though would be rare. The child in the small town may not be exposed to stereotypes and prejudices via the mainstream media, but they might learn it from their parents, classmates, neighbours, etc.

45. Started to read Lachlan's history.

He's Muggle-born.

His father worked on a farm, and his mother was a nurse.

Lachlan's first sign of magic was at the age of eight.  He was being bullied and made the bully's hair turn curly.  Lachlan himself has curly hair.  I wondered if the bully was teasing him over that. That would be a cool trick—someone teases you about something, and then you give them that trait as well.

46. Saw that although Lachlan's parents were Muggles, the magical world wasn't new to them.   Lachlan's aunt was a witch.  When Lachlan got invited to Lake Dumbleyung Witching and Wizarding School, his parents got in touch with his aunt.

47. Learned that Lachlan's werewolf infection began with an attack at a family barbecue.

Well, that might beat the drama of the barbecue in The Slap.  

48. Saw that Lachlan lacks the shame Professor Rodrigez has regarding the werewolf thing.   This goes back to the whole prejudice thing.  It says here,  His parents are supportive if a bit bewildered by it all as he is their son and they did not grow up with any related prejudices.

It makes sense to me.  If you can easily accept that your child is a wizard, why not a werewolf as well?  But if you grew up in the wizarding world, where there's negativity about werewolves, you might follow along with popular bigotry.  

49. Thought about True Blood.  There're vampires and werewolves.  Everyone knows about the vampires, and some people know about the werewolves.   Then there's also witchcraft happening.   Despite all this supernatural stuff, one character said she saw herself as an atheist when asked about life after death.  

Another character later confessed that he had sex with a fairy-like creature while walking in the woods.  The person he told this to suggested he may be mentally unstable—hallucinating.   I think it's dumb enough to immediately jump to that conclusion in our universe.  But if there's already supernatural stuff happening, is it too big of a leap of faith to consider there might be more?

It's like with Harry Potter.  I can imagine Harry being slightly surprised to learn dragons exist. That makes sense.  But I would think he was lacking intelligence and common sense if he refused to belief it, or was overly skeptical about it.

That being said. There's a difference between believing in something and being accepting of it.  

50. Thought more about Harry Potter.   There actually are skeptical wizards in the book.   Characters are skeptical about divination and the beliefs of the Lovegood family.  It make sense for those who've grown up in the magical world.  Like us, they learn what's real and not real.   To them, unicorns, mermaids, and dragons are reality not mythology. They too, though, might have their fictional animals, or at least animals who's reality is debated.  

Hermione is skeptical of Luna Lovegood's beliefs even though she hasn't grown up in the wizarding world.  Her first ten years were spent as a Muggle. Why does Hermione accept the existence of werewolves but not Crumple-Horned Snorkacks?

I think it's because she's very book smart.  In the first few months of learning she's a witch, Hermione probably caught up to all the half-blood and pure-blood wizards in terms of magical knowledge.  She'd know what's real and not real.

For less brainy Muggle-born wizards, I think there'd be more confusion over what's real and not real.  I would imagine there'd be more open-mindedness.

With True Blood, once the vampires came out of the closet; I would imagine people would start wondering about all supernatural things.  Well, if that's real...how about werewolves?  Ghosts?   Does that mean the Loch Ness Monster is real?  

If I found out our neighbors were vampires, I don't think I'd be overly surprised to learn my cousin was a werewolf.

I would hope there're no zombies. Those things scare me.

51. Saw that I'm finished with Australians, of the day, with the last name Andrews.

Now I have a guy with the last name Andronicus.  It sounds Greek to me—like a Greek god.

The guy's full name is John Damianos Andronicus.

He was a coffee merchant.

If the Australian dictionary of biography would include a coffee merchant, I'd also assume they'd include a legendary vodka merchant.  That makes me further question the existence of the so-called Naked Satan guy in Melbourne.

According to the Naked For Satan website, the restaurant was named after a guy named Leon Satanovitch.  He was a Russian who fled to Melbourne and served vodka.

There's no Satanovitch in the biographical dictionary. I think if he existed, he'd be there.  

52. Learned that John Damianos Andronicus was born in Greece.  So, I was right about his name.  Good!   I like being right.

53. Learned that when John was around fourteen, he followed his brothers to Australia.   I guess he left his parents behind?   That was brave of him.   It also makes me kind of sad.  I wonder if they ever joined him in Australia?  I hope he was able to visit them sometimes....well, unless he hated them for some reason.   

54. Learned that John's brother Emanuel had a chocolate business near Circular Quay.  John learned from him and then eventually had a business of his own.

The business was called Andronicus Bros.  They sold coffee, and also chocolate, olives, cheese, and other stuff.  

55. Learned that the Andronicus family eventually sold the business to Nestle.

56. Saw this page on the Nestle site.   It says, In Australia since 1910, ANDRONICUS is NestlĂ©'s premium roast and ground coffee brand.

57. Watched two Australian kids audition for a camp.  Jack watched it with me.

I didn't have to audition for camp when I was a child.

Maybe this is a special camp?

It's called Camp Orange. I have to look this up.

58. Learned from Lord Wiki that Camp Orange is definitely not a typical camp. It's a reality TV show on Nickelodeon.

It's like The Hunger Games!

59. Started to watch another Camp Orange audition with Jack.

This one surprises me a bit, because the girls say they're from New South Wales, Australia.   Isn't it expected that they be from Australia.  The show is Australian. Or are you allowed to be from other places?

I can't imagine American kids auditioning for an American show and saying, Hi I'm from Texas, America.

60. Continued to watch the girl's video.  Jack was very impressed that they have REAL horses.  When he heard them talking about it, he thought they were referring to stuffed animals.  

61. Impressed with this Camp Orange audition.  The two girls (The Tricky Monkeys)  have a great sense of humor.

The gymnastics is amazing!

I love the tic-tac-toe part; and also the cake part. 

The whole video is very clever.  I hope they win. Have the contestants been chosen already?  

62. Consulted Lord Wiki about the 2011 contestants. The Tricky Monkeys weren't one of the contestants.  

63. Tried to find contestants on YouTube, and couldn't find two of them.  I'm guessing maybe they're required to take down their audition tape?  

64. Started to look at more of Arthur Chapman's birds of Australia Flickr set

65. Watched a video of a Crimson Rosella.  I hear a bird sound, but it reminds me of an Australian Raven.  Do Crimson Rosella's sound similar?   Or is there a raven in the background?  

66. Watched another video of a Crimson Rosella.    The colors on the bird are so beautiful.

This video had no sound so I couldn't compare it to the other one.  

67. Enjoyed this video of a Masked Lapwing.   It looks like he's trying to sneak away from something.  The behavior fits well with his name, and the name fits well with the face.  

The bird kind of looks like a masked criminal trying to make his escape.

68.  Thought these ducks looked very sweet. 

69. Liked this Brown Falcon.   He's so elegant.
I also like the thing he's standing on.   Is that a tree or a piece of art?   It almost looks man-made.  

70. Liked this Wedge-tail Eagle photo.  

I feel wedge-tail Eagle's are important to Australia in some cultural way.  I forgot why though.

Is there a song about them?

71. Found lyrics to a song that mentions the Wedge-tail Eagle.   It's "Old Man Emu". I've heard the Wiggles sing it.  It was written by John Williamson.   I don't think I knew that. 

The Wedge-tail eagle part goes.....

Let me tell you of an interview with an Old Man Emu
He's got a beak and feathers and things, but the poor old fella ain't got no wings
"Aren't you jealous of the wedge-tail eagle?" - dom ba da little da da da

72. Learned from Lord Wiki that the Wedge-tailed Eagle is the largest bird of prey in Australia.

I still feel they have other cultural importance.....besides the John Williamson song.

Maybe I'm wrong.....

73. Thought these baby ducks were very cute.   

74. Learned from this website that the Wedge-tailed Eagle is the bird emblem of the Northern Territory.