Friday, 31 October 2008

New eatery in Oakleigh

At Oakleigh Station, right near the bus bays, there's a triangular shop space. When I first started commuting through Oakleigh, it was occupied by a low-grade fish and chippery. Then for a long while (a year or two, and sing that to whatever tune you like) it was empty, with the windows boarded up as though construction were going on. Well... Today, it opened. There's now an eatery on that spot, and a much better one than previously. Unfortunately service was a little slow this morning, with the result that I lost my bus, but hopefully that will change once the staff get into the swing of things. If their service, quality, and value for money (and you probably want me to mention cleanliness in that set, too) improve from here, I'll have no hesitation in recommending them.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

My hands are still stinging!

Having seen the cast list for this show, I came along with somewhat high expectations; and I can hardly say I was disappointed. Apart from a few points where lines were stumbled over, or the orchestra got slightly desynchronized with the cast, the show held together well.

The staging was, as could be expected, very traditional. There were a few points where things worked out un-ideally, such as Ida's fall into the river (there were not enough ladies' dresses to stop us from seeing her fall) and the double chorus in the second act finale (could hardly see the women at all, and I think they may have had trouble seeing the conductor), everything looked well-rehearsed and smoothly carried out. The Woman Of the wisest Wit quintet, especially, was superb, as was Hildebrand's song at the beginning, giving out instructions to his courtiers.

Hildebrand (Barry Fry) was in good form all through the show. Entering to fanfare, he commands the stage and draws your attention. A very powerful character, and this is never less obvious than in the second act finale, where he faces off with the princess and makes it clear that he really WILL kill her brothers.

Ida (Rachel Sztanski) handles that scene superbly as well; just as she handled every other scene. "Minerva" - striking those notes perfectly without a cue - the Broken Toy quartet - brilliant - and Cyril's drinking/kissing song was marked by excellent business between Ida, Hilarion, Melissa, and others. Her sad scene in the third act was also beautifully rendered.

After the drowning scene, she came back on stage looking very much as though she'd had a ducking (although still with dry costume of course), and the overcoat added to her costume made much of some of her gestures - she looked at times like the Sorceror's Apprentice, casting and commanding, just as she commanded the stage and the chorus without any trouble.

The forceful princess carried such weight and dignity that it's clear why she cannot "pocket her pride" - there is not a pocket in the world big enough for it!

Lady Blanche (Lucy Nicholson) had her aria, "Come Mighty Must", reinstated. Sung the way she did, it's well worth keeping. In her duet with Melissa, their voices did not truly harmonize as I'd hoped, through no fault of theirs; I'm not sure what was wrong, but perhaps it's just that I was sitting so close to the stage that one dominated whenever the other faced away from me. The singing was impeccable, and most pleasant on the ears in spite of this. And Blanche's acting, particularly during the second act finale, definitely added to the scene.

Hilarion caught my ear right from the beginning. His opening solo sounded excellent, and he held the strength of the part all through the show. His companion Cyril, alas, is not the best person to take on this sort of mission, and I'd hesitate to take him anywhere after that disgusting drunken scene! David Campbell pulled off the part well, although he is a rather less than convincing drunk. With Florian (Geoff Carison) they nicely completed the trios and harmonized well.

Melissa! A fairly small part, but superbly executed. Her change of mood from bold to pleading to bold again in "Death to the Invader" was funny, the moreso because her emotions were so very real. Rebekah Chapman was notable time and again for her acting, never dropping out of character, always that bit funny and always involved. Lady Psyche (Amy Buchanan), too, made much of her role, and Sacharissa (Bec Muratore) stood out in every scene she was in, taking part in the action whatever was happening.

King Gama (Andy Payne) had a strange twitch to his hand, the cause of which I wondered at. Is it anything to do with the hump on his shoulder, perhaps? A field of unbounded curiosity, on which I could blog for hours! His sons, too, Arac (Andrew Ferguson), Guron (Michael James) and Scynthius (Robert Moroni), took their parts well in hand. Their programme photos looked hopelessly unlike anything that could be Gama's sons, but as soon as they appeared in beards, with suitable expressions on their faces, all doubt was at once removed.

The choruses had their weak and strong members, as could always be expected. Their involvement with the show was good, particularly the men in the first act and the ladies in the second; there was plenty of interaction between leads and chorus at all times. Goldfishing was rare, with most or all of the chorus singing out in every scene.

After the curtain calls, the entire company segued into "Then jump for joy", which seemed to take Melissa by surprise a little. Not that it hurt anything - she carried on anyway, as a good performer should.

All in all, a very good show. My hands are still stinging from the applause. Well done, all!

Thursday, 16 October 2008 and spam

I'll not honor them with a link, but there is a site called I was suspicious of them from the start, so when the site asked me to provide an email address before I would be allowed to access a certain document, I created one specifically for the purpose. Do not ever give this site your real address; it's one of those sites that sells your email address to spammers.

The content isn't even all that good. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's useless. Avoid.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Has the Large Hadron Collider destroyed the world yet?

I'm sure most people are aware of the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva. It's the largest particle collider in the world (until an even larger one is built), and has been predicted to do all sorts of things... not least of which is to drop the entire planet into a black hole. Many people are worried about whether or not such a thing is possible. The question is, should it happen, would you be told? After all, you might not have the radio or TV on at the right moment, to catch that vital news bulletin. Google may and may not have a chance to put a Google Doodle up. Your subscription to "End Of The World Weekly" might be delayed. How will you get immediate information?

Fortunately, there is an answer. A man named Michael Kania has published a web site which uses Javascript to determine the state of the world.

View that page, and view it often. Be the very first to know when the world disappears!

Friday, 3 October 2008

RosMud version 1.5.6

* The format used to show the timestamp of the line under the mouse is now configurable. You can now show the date, for instance.

* Aspell plugin can now do multiple words (it picks the first suggestion for each misspelled word). Of small value only. Very slow - does a separate web lookup for each word given.

* Added support for a NewPlugs.ini to simplify upgrades - plugins listed there will be installed on first startup. The installer will create this file if it is needed. The net effect is that new standard plugins will be automatically activated.

* RM will now recognize a special line of text that can be put into a help file or similar, and use that to note whether or not there's a new version of RosMud available. As of Oct 2008, this line is being put into Rosuav's ooc information - type "ooc rosuav" to see if there's a newer version than you currently have.

RosMud version 1.5.5

I failed to post this one at the appropriate time, unfortunately. Posting it now so the version history is maintained, but it was released on September 2nd.

* Closing a subwindow also now responds to confirm on close if there is a connection

* A very obscure and probably never seen bug in the TinyURL plugin was fixed.

* New plugin: Aspell. Calls on GNU Aspell to offer spelling suggestions. By popular demand!

* New plugin: REAlias. Regular Expression aliasing.

* Fixed that problem with ==> prompts followed by color codes not being recognized.