An uncategorisable movie?

A while back I heard about a new Korean movie called Parasite, which was described as a horror movie, and was extremely well received and getting excellent reviews. I like horror movies, so this sounded good, and I made a mental note to check it out if I got the opportunity.

It arrived on Netflix a while back, and I had a look at the information page. Which described it as a comedy, and a story about a family who scam their way into living in the home of a wealthy family. This didn’t sound like a horror movie at all! So I ignored it for a bit.

But recently some other things pushed the film back into my consciousness, including a passing mention somewhere that described it as a thriller. Now my curiosity was up. I Googled “Parasite movie” and tried to avoid anything that would spoil too much of the plot. One of the top suggested searches was “Is Parasite a horror movie?” I clicked that, and some of the summarised hits on the search page were even more curious. It seems that some people do describe Parasite as a horror movie, while others don’t, and there is some confusion among people asking as to whether it is a horror movie or not.

Well, this was all intriguing enough that I decided to start watching the movie last night. I got a bit over half way through before it got too late, and plan to watch the second half tonight. So far…. well, it’s entertaining enough and in fact I would describe it as a comedy more than anything else. There’s certainly no horror or even thriller aspect at all yet. Now I am wondering if there’s some bizarre twist in the second half that will come out of left field that turns the whole movie so far into some sort of psychological horror.

I’m avoiding any spoilers now, but I’ll be watching the second half right after writing this, so I’ll soon know what the story is. I just find it really bizarre how all over the place are the attempts at genre classification for this film.

In other news, today was, again, cold and rainy. There was a break in the rain after lunch and I took Scully for a walk, but luckily took an umbrella because the heavens opened again while we were out. I now have two pairs of shoes and socks that are so wet that I don’t want to put them on again. And they’re taking forever to dry because of the humidity.

My wife was out for most of the day at a felt-making class. She came home with a felt scarf with interesting patterns all over it. I used the time to work on some more Darths & Droids, trying to get ahead on the writing.

And then had three more ethics classes this evening, on the topic of “The Countryside”. I was asking the kids about the differences between life in the countryside, compared to the city. Usual answers were things about less shops, less people, less pollution, more nature, etc. Tonight one kid was from Korea and he said in the city, after school you have to go to Math Camp, or if you’re an adult you have to go to your second or third job. But in the countryside there won’t be any after-school tutoring, and you might just have one job as a farmer!

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A relaxing Monday off

With none of my usual Monday ethics classes, I had a relaxing day off. It was still very cold outside, and I just took Scully on a quick walk at lunchtime. I picked up a bunch of packing boxes from the post office to have handy for mailing off boxes of Magic: the Gathering cards tomorrow, when my eBay auctions finish. it started raining on the way back, and we had to rush so that my large bag full of cardboard boxes didn’t get too soggy. Fortunately we made it okay.

I worked on uploading Irregular Webcomic! strips and writing annotations for them. I did another stage of the Lego D&D set, but haven’t taken photos of it yet. I’ll share those tomorrow.

I do have photos of this weird fungus I spotted while out walking the other day though:

Anemone stinkhorn

It’s an anemone stinkhorn, apparently a common fungus in eastern Australia. The brown slimy stuff is the fungal spores, ready for spreading. The fungus emits a rotting smell to attract flies, which brush on the spores and distribute them.

Anemone stinkhorn

Apparently a spider thought it was a good hiding place to catch flies.

When my wife got home from work today we walked up to the shops. She wanted to get some snacks for Scully, and I took the opportunity to take our empty container to the bulk food store to fill it up with rye flour for sourdough. Speaking of which, I baked a loaf today, and also made pizza dough for dinner, topped with pesto, pumpkin, walnuts, and blobs of ricotta cheese.

A while back I put The Flash (the 2023 movie) on my Netflix to-watch list when it came out, thinking it might be okay. But I didn’t bother starting it because I feared it might be one of those bad superhero films. But yesterday I checked some (non-spoilery) reviews and found it was generally well received, so I started watching it last night. And yeah, really enjoying it so far. I’ll finish it off tonight.

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A potato-ey lunch treat

My Monday morning was full of ethics classes. I squeezed in an early lunch of a falafel wrap because I was getting hungry after an early breakfast. Then after my last class finished at 1pm I took Scully for a walk and we went past the fish & chip shop, and I felt like a bit of a treat. So I went in and ordered just three potato scallops – New South Wales terminology for slices of potato, battered and deep fried. Delicious and hot and oily and salty, just what I felt like to spoil myself.

We’re getting some nice days at the moment. Sunny, not too cold. If winter is more of this, I’ll be happy.

Last night I started watching World War Z, which I’ve never seen before. It really kicks off with a bang! I’m half way through and will finish it off tonight.

Tomorrow I visit Loreto at Kiribilli again to mentor my Year 9 students. The teacher has collected some questions from them and sent them to me. Very interesting! Two of them are asking specific questions about details of the atomic theory stuff I was going over two weeks ago, and the third asked a question about observing objects at cosmological distances. I’ve been thinking about how to approach discussing these and think I have a good plan for tomorrow.

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My wife did the most interesting thing today. I stayed a home and made some comics, while she went to an all-day course for beginners in felting – making things out of wool felt. She came home with a simple sheet which could be used as a table placemat, and also a very cool felt bowl. The bowl is shaped like a rough sphere about the size of a rockmelon, with an opening large enough to put a hand in. She said I could use it for putting things in during Dungeons & Dragons games. Like lollies or maybe game tokens. Or slips of paper with rumours on them – yeah, that’s a cool idea.

Scully was again off her food today and wanting to go outside several times to eat grass. This is the third time in three weeks. I was wondering if it might be the peanut butter we’ve been giving to her as a treat on Fridays – but she’s always had that and has never been sick from it before. My wife thinks it might be psychosomatic, caused by her going away to do these courses on Sundays and not being at home. Which might possibly have some truth to it, because Scully wolfed down her neglected breakfast once my wife arrived back home.

The weather continues to be nice, not too hot, and pleasantly cool in the evening and mornings. I went for another 5k run this morning, but deliberately took it easy after my exertion and fast time yesterday.

For dinner I made vegetable fajitas. It’s tough predicting exactly how much vegetables to chop and cook. Sometimes we end up with not quite enough and sometimes there’s cooked vegetables left over after we’ve finished off all the tortillas. Today we had a generous serving. I used onions, garlic, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms. Sometimes I use zucchini in place of one of the other vegetables. And I just make a simple “Mexican” spice mix using individual herbs and spices: dried oregano, sweet paprika, chilli, cumin, cloves, and cinnamon. And a bit of lemon juice at the end. I found this mix somewhere online ages ago and it works pretty well. Just fry it all up and serve in a bowl with implements for people to fill their own tortillas.

Last night I started watching Oppenheimer on Netflix. I got 2 hours into it, but had to go to sleep, so I have the final hour to watch tonight. I’m enjoying it, but it takes a lot of concentration to follow the frequent flashback/forward time jumps as the story unfolds. The really cool thing is that being a physicist I recognise the names of all the scientist characters.

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More thinking about cooking

It was hot again today. This autumn heatwave didn’t let up, but it’s predicted to break tonight, with some rain and a cool change, and tomorrow should be a much more tolerable 24°C. But when I took Scully for a walk this morning there was a distinct smell of smoke in the air. Authorities were doing controlled burns of bushland around Sydney to reduce fuel load and the overnight wind direction brought it into the heart of the city. I closed up the windows soon after opening as I noticed the smell permeating the house.

My ethics topic on Cooking continues to be entertaining. Kids love talking about food, so it’s a good one. One question I ask is: Is cooking an important skill that everyone should learn?

One girl answered:

Yes, because if you become a refugee, and you see a dead deer by the side of the road, then if you don’t know how to cook you’ll either die by starvation or die by parasites. I’d choose the first one, myself.

I did the week’s grocery shopping online as I usually do, for pickup tomorrow morning. I added everything on the shopping list, and looked through the regular items to see if I needed to add any of those. When I was done, the total was barely over $30, which was really unusual, because usually it’s closer to $100. It must have just been a weird confluence of not running out of things that need replenishing this week. But when I tried to check out I discovered that the minimum online order for a pick-up (also for home delivery, incidentally) is $50. So I had to go back and choose things to add to bring the total up to that much! I added a few things that we don’t specifically need this week, but probably will next week, such as dried cranberries (which go in our home made muesli) and sesame seeds… and then I decided to add some things to make a dessert: cream, mascarpone, and chocolate biscuits.

Last night I started watching The Cabin in the Woods on Netflix. I’m halfway through and will finish watching it tonight after my last ethics class. I was expecting a standard sort of horror movie, but it’s clear that there is something very different going on in this film, though I’m still somewhat baffled as to what exactly. I’m eagerly looking forward to the second half. It feels like this is some sort of deconstruction of horror movie tropes and—I’m not sure if this will still apply after I finish it, but—I feel like it’s a significant film that anyone who thinks they know the horror genre must watch. Sort of like Scream (an absolute classic), only in a very, very different way. Anyway, I may give my final impressions after I finish it. (I’m avoiding spoilers, but I’ll have finished watching it by the time I read any comments on this post, so feel free to comment.)

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An intense game of Root

Yesterday was board games night at a friend’s place. We started with a game of Codenames, which my team lost when my partner and I guessed the assassin word. Always a terrible way to lose.

Then we split into a game of 4 people playing Root, and 3 people who played some Jump Drive and possibly other things. I was in the Root game, playing the Eyrie. The game progressed steadily until we were all about 15 points, halfway to the wining score of 30. Then the Woodland Alliance player suddenly made a big series of gains in one turn, putting him within striking distance of victory. Then the Vagabond player did the same, also scoring over 10 points in his very next turn, setting up potential victory next turn too. And then the Marquisate player played a Dominance card, removing his point score and setting an alternate win condition of controlling two clearings in opposite corners of the board. And then he moved 8 cat warriors into one clearing and 10 into the clearing in the opposite corner!!! This would easily win him the game at the start of his next turn, and it would be basically impossible for the rest of us to stop him.

I took my turn, meekly doing pretty much nothing, as I didn’t have the potential to do anything dramatic on this turn. And then the Woodland Alliance scored the final few points to hit 30 and win. Basically, just a turn ahead of the Vagabond, who could have won next turn, and the Marquisate, who would have won right after that. So all three of my opponents had victory in sight within a turn of each other, while I was stuck languishing in very obvious last place.

Just look at all the cats in the two corners of the board!

Root end game

Also yesterday I walked past the construction site that is a few blocks from our place, where a slew of apartments are replacing the old houses that were there. It’s making progress, although still in the digging and moving earth around phase.

Construction progress

This morning I went for a 5k run, but I noticed as I ran that I had a bit of a pain in my side. I completed the 5k, then had my shower and also cleaned the bathroom and shower while doing that. Then sat down for a while, and a few hours later my side had tensed up terribly. It’s a muscle strain, and quite painful I’ve been putting an icepack on it to reduce inflammation but I suspect it’ll take a few days to calm down. Which means probably no running tomorrow.

For dinner tonight my wife and I took Scully for a long walk over to the Flat Rock Brew Cafe, which is a really nice place for a late afternoon drink and meal. It has shady outdoor seating. I had a dark ale and a pulled pork burger, which was really good.

Back home this evening we watched the Australian movie The Dry. Excellent film – highly recommended for anyone who likes mystery/crime investigation. I won’t say any more – just see it.

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Patatas bravas

I tried making something new for dinner tonight: patatas bravas!

Patatas bravas

Excuse the messy presentation. I mixed the potatoes and sauce in the bowl and didn’t tidy it up afterwards. I basically used this recipe from the BBC. It turned out pretty good! But potatoes really do take a long time to crisp up in the oven, gosh. I got a bit impatient, and could probably have left them for another 10-15 minutes.

I took Scully for a long walk this morning, since I had time and the weather was cloudy and cool.

At home I spent time writing a new class for this week’s online ethics lessons. The topic for this week is “Minor Laws”. Some example discussion points for the kids:

One important difference between serious laws and minor laws is that a lot more people break minor laws. People who commit murder are quite rare, but there are many thousands or millions of people who drive too fast, or litter.

• Why do so many people break such laws?

One thing about minor laws like these is that most of the people who break them never get caught or punished in any way. They get away with it.

• If it’s safe to cross the road when the light is red, and you’re not going to get punished for it, does that make it okay?
• Is it okay to break a law that lots of people break and never get punished for?

(some stuff about enforcement and why minor laws are poorly enforced here, which I’ve cut for brevity)

Unenforced minor laws are sometimes used as a way to punish people for something else. For example, in a city where nobody usually gets punished for jaywalking, the police could set up an operation where they monitor street corners and give jaywalking fines to people they don’t like the look of: immigrants, or homeless people, or people of certain skin colours.

• Could this be a serious problem if we start enforcing minor laws more?
• Is there any way we can ensure that the enforcement of minor laws is fair and unbiased?

This evening I had free so I went for a 5k run after my wife got home from work. It wasn’t hot, but it was very humid (97% according to the Bureau of Meteorology) and that meant a slowish time, although better than the runs I did on the weekend, which were similar humidity but hotter.

Last night I watched The Running Man (1987), which was new on Netflix here recently. I thought I might have seen it before, since I watched many of Arnie’s films in the ’80s, but I found to my delight that it was unfamiliar. I had to laugh at the fact that it was set in the dystopian future of 2017, and that 2017 apparently still had a very ’80s aesthetic, with dancing women in high-cut aerobics leotards and big hairdos, and computers that were no smaller or more advanced than what could be found in the 1980s. It wasn’t especially profound, being an Arnie action flick, but it was a lot of fun. Bonus points for featuring Mick Fleetwood as a freedom fighter. I was really not expecting that!

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Here’s a nice photo of Scully

Scully in bow tie

I took this in the park on Saturday evening, before we went to the chai place for dinner. She has a bow tie on because she had a wash and brush at the dog groomer earlier in the day, and they give the dogs a decoration before you pick them up.

Today there’s not a lot to talk about: 4 ethics classes. Making a sourdough loaf. Making pizza for dinner. It rained a bit, so I had to dodge the incoming rain on the weather radar while taking Scully for a walk after lunch.

Last night I started rewatching IT, the 2017 horror film. Because IT Chapter Two was released recently on Netflix here, and I need a refresher of the first film before I watch the second part.

Today I also started playing with Microsoft’s Bing Image Creator, which uses DALL-E 3. I’d been using the public version of DALL-E 2, but getting frustrated at its limitations, while a friend of mine keeps sharing images he’s made with Bing, which look much better. So for some reason it turns out that you can’t access DALL-E 3 directly from the creator without paying a subscription, but if you just have a Microsoft login you can access it via Bing Image Creator. I’m not sure how that works as a pricing model, but who am I to argue? Anyway, I started playing around with it, and it’s a lot better than DALL-E 2. I’m just using the image generation for fun, to do stuff like illustrate scenes from our Dungeons & Dragons games.

Here’s one, for example. You’ll notice it’s not perfect – I specified “wingless”, but the dragon in the picture has wings.

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Photoshop version upgrade wrangling

The other day I upgraded my Photoshop installation from version 24 to 25. For some reason, my Creative Cloud subscription didn’t offer me an automatic upgrade, which it usually does. It did list the new version as one that I could install, but there was no option to “update” the version over the top of my existing installation like it usually does. So I tried hitting the “install” button and let it install the new version in parallel.

Normally when updating, the new version imports all of my settings and customisations – and for Photoshop there are a lot of these, including things like graphic styles, palette colours, macro actions, keyboard shortcut assignments, new document defaults, tool defaults and styles, and so on. But the new version didn’t have any of these, and I had to spend some time copying them all across from the older version.

When I was finally happy, I tried making a new Darths & Droids comic using the new version. It mostly worked okay, until I got to adding a drop shadow to some of the comic panels. The way I do this is: (a) select the panel layer, (b) hit the custom drop shadow style that I have defined on the styles palette. Done. But even though I’d imported my custom style palette into the new version, the drop shadow style was defined differently! The shading angle and sizes were different! It took me some time to actually notice this – the difference was fairly subtle, but I definitely noticed something was wrong. It took some time to figure out exactly what was wrong, as I had to open comics in the old Photoshop version and examine the style details and compare the numbers, to find they didn’t match.

So even though I imported the styles across version, the details of the styles were different! This was a pain. I had to redefine the drop shadow style from scratch in the new version. And then… well, there must be some larger bug with the styles, because it worked for the document I had open, but when I started a new document and applied the same style that I’d just defined, it produced the wrong result! I don’t see how this could happen, unless the styles are actually buggy. I’m now hoping they’ll fix them in the next point release, because until they do I’m going to basically have to define all the drop shadow panels manually, rather than use a one-click style.


In other events today… well, I didn’t do all that much else. Drove my wife and Scully to a lunch that she’d organised with some of her friends. I had some lunch nearby by myself and drove back home, while my wife walked Scully home from there. We played a couple of games of Kingdomino this afternoon, winning one game each. I suggested best of three, but she had other things to do by that time. And this evening three more ethics classes.

Last night I watched Renfield on Netflix. I saw this movie advertised when it was released a few weeks ago, but avoided it because it looked a bit cheesy. But last night I felt like something lighter and watched it, and I’m glad I did. It’s a sort of genre-defying Dracula/gangster/rom-com. Nicolas Cage was excellent as Dracula – a real scenery chewing performance that was hilarious and fun. Honestly, the only thing I can think that would improve this movie is if the young-Hugh-Grant-wannabe lead was actually somehow played by a young Hugh Grant.

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Fass Bent

I just watched Alien: Covenant for the first time, since it appeared on Netflix while I was away overseas. I generally like the Alien movies – the first two were masterpieces of course, in very different yet consistent ways. The rest I’ve enjoyed in different ways, though I thought Prometheus wasn’t that great, and then I never saw Covenent at the cinemas. Having watched it now, I think it was an improvement over Prometheus, but felt like a straightforward story, with none of the real tension or horror of the first two films..

But I had a rather strange reaction to one aspect Covenant:

Spoilers hidden, click to reveal

I thought the two androids, David and Walter, looked vaguely similar to each other, but I totally did not realise they were both played by Michael Fassbender, and were intended to look identical. Which kind of spoiled the twist ending, when David pretended to be Walter, as I didn’t even realise they were meant to look similar enough for that to happen. Like, I thought David was played by Fassbender, but Walter was being played by some other actor who just happened to look a bit like him.

Today I was busy with more ethics classes. I had 5 classes, having added an extra class on Mondays to cater to a parent who wanted to try something for a bit as a 1-on-1 class for her son, to try to develop his critical thinking skills. He turned out to be very bright and articulate and I’m not really sure why his mother thinks he needs to work on those skills! But we had a great discussion about the American and French Revolutions and revolutions in general, digging deep into motivations and circumstances behind them and the role that human nature and our prejudices and emotions play in such events.

In the hour break I had for lunch in between, I took Scully for a bit of a walk. It was a nice day today, though a touch warm and very humid, though no threat of rain. That’s saving itself up for the next two days.

My jet lag is almost gone, but I’m still waking up a little earlier than I’d like. Another day or two should set things right now.

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