A missed classic

I discovered yesterday the greatest missed cover song opportunity ever. In 2003 No Doubt released a greatest hits compilation and wanted a new song to feature on it, and decided to record a cover. They considered hundreds of songs and narrowed it down to “It’s My Life” by Talk Talk and “Don’t Change” by INXS.

They chose “It’s My Life”.

I really like No Doubt’s “It’s My Life”, but hot damn…. I want to hear them do “Don’t Change”.

Friday was games night with my friends. It should have been in-person at someone’s place, but there were a couple of illnesses and we decided to convert it to online so more of us could participate. We played a new game for me, Cat in the Box, which is a quantum trick-taking game. The deck is simply 5 copies of each card, numbered 1 through to 9. Each copy is identical and has no suit.

You play tricks as normal, except that when you play a card, you declare its suit: red, blue, yellow, or green. There’s a board where you mark when you play each card. So if you lead with a 9 and say it’s blue, you put one of your pawns on the blue 9 on the board, to show that that card has been played. Other people have to either (a) follow suit by playing a card and declaring it to be blue—making sure it’s a card that hasn’t already been played by marking an empty space on the board with their pawns—or (b) play a card and declare it to be another suit. If you don’t follow the led suit then you have to mark on your personal player card (for everyone to see) that you have no more cards of the led suit (blue in this case); then in future tricks of the current hand you are not allowed to declare any card to be blue. Red is always trumps, so you can trump another led colour by declaring you have no more of that colour and playing a card and declaring it to be red (if you legally can do so).

Note that there are 5 cards of each number, but only 4 of them can ever be played, because there are only 4 suits. Also, it’s possible for you to get into a situation where you have several cards in your hand, but are unable to play any of them. For example, you have a 3, a 5, and a 6. But you’ve declared yourself out of blue cards, and the only available 3, 5, and 6 on the board are all blue. If this happens, you can’t play a card without causing a quantum paradox, and the round ends, with you scoring zero.

On top of this, after the cards are dealt you can discard any one card (to help avoid having unplayable cards), and then you have to bid a number of tricks that you expect win before the hand begins. You get one point per trick won. If you make your bid exactly, you get bonus points equal to the size of the largest cluster of your pawns on the board, connected vertically or horizontally (not diagonally). So there’s incentive to play cards of adjacent values or suits rather than more freely.

It’s a very different trick-taking game, and requires some very different strategies. I throughly enjoyed it.

Today, Saturday, I went for a 5k run in the morning and then spent the rest of the morning doing some overdue housecleaning – a thorough vacuum cleaning and cleaning the bathroom. And then the rain came in. It’s been raining heavily all afternoon and into the evening, sometimes very heavily. There’s also some heavy thunder and lightning this evening too. We’re just a tick shy of 100 mm of rain in the past 12 hours, and will likely reach that value before the 12 hours are up, with more heavy rain throughout the night and into tomorrow.

This evening our new neighbours across the hall invited us over for pre-dinner drinks and appetisers. We made some small pizza bites to take over – bite sized blobs of pizza dough topped with either tomato paste or pesto, and then a little bit of cheese, either mozzarella or feta. We sat and shared some wine and they also provided cheese, crackers, chips, nuts, dips, carrot sticks, and some dried fruit. We had a nice discussion of various things, getting to know each other better. They’re South African, having moved here from Johannesburg (which we knew), so they had some interesting stories to tell about that and various travels they’ve done. Scully got to play with their dog Sophie.

We came home after a couple of hours, and have eaten so much that just a bit of extra snacking will do us for dinner!

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The Beatles play James Bond

A weird question has been tickling my brain for several days:

What Beatles song (unmodified) would make the best James Bond opening titles theme song?

Having now thought about it a bit, I present my list:

  1. A Hard Day’s Night – That opening guitar chord! The song has an appropriately upbeat tempo and the lyrics are actually a pretty good fit for some Bond action followed by falling into the arms of a Bond girl.
  2. Back in the U.S.S.R. – A sequel to From Russia, With Love, naturally. Jetsetting, dealing with Russkies, a thumping theme song. It’s almost perfect.
  3. Come Together – Surreal lyrics, but you can kind of make them feel like they apply to Bond if you just go with the flow – kind of like some of the real theme songs actually. Interesting instrumentation. I could see this over some old style silhouette credit sequences.
  4. Revolution (Past Masters version, not the White Album) – Bond-esque guitar riffs, thumping drums, and lyrics about destruction and changing the world. Bond fights Red China and Chairman Mao in the 1970s.
  5. I am the Walrus – Weirdness, with harsh Lennon vocals that could really make a punch in those opening credits. Bonus points if you can tie any of the lyrics to the plot of the movie.
  6. Happiness is a Warm Gun – I mean, it’s virtually like this was written for Bond. It has the feel of a modern Daniel Craig era theme song, it’s about warm guns. You just need the film to have a Mother Superior villain bent on world domination.
  7. Tomorrow Never Knows – A bit out of left field, but the different eastern instrumentation could fit a Bond film set in India. Lyrics are a decent match with just a bit of squinting. And the title is only one word different from a real Bond movie.
  8. And Your Bird Can Sing – Mostly I put this here because it’s one of my favourite Beatles songs. I think it could work.

As a bonus, you could think of the song title as the title of the Bond movie.

Today I had 5 ethics classes. Including the first older kids class on Uncertainty. Sample questions:

Have you ever had to make a decision but you didn’t have all the information you needed to decide? How did you decide what to do? Do you think uncertainty is an everyday experience, or something that we have only to deal with rarely? How should we deal with uncertain situations? How can scientists best communicate uncertainty about a result to the public? (e.g. we’re 70% sure this chemical causes cancer, weather/storm forecasts, etc.) How does this uncertainty happen in legal cases, when the laws are written down? Is it inevitable that there will be uncertainty in a system of laws and rules, even though we try to write everything down clearly? Is uncertainty important or useful in some situations? (I was thinking sports, games, movies.)

For lunch after the first two I took Scully out for fish & chips. We sat in a waterside park down by a ferry wharf, where there were some workers on a barge doing something to the wharf. I assume some sort of routine maintenance.

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End of the game design class, finally

After cancelling the past two Sunday’s in a row, I finally did the final lesson (of 6) in my current Creative Thinking and Game Design course. Unfortunately, only two of the three students could make it, which means I’ll have to do a make-up lesson with the remaining student so he can finish of the course later. Anyway, the lesson went well, we discussed more tweaks to the Ninja Grandma game, and I went over the thinking techniques they’d learnt and left them with a bunch of references and reading material for further information.

It was mostly a lazy Sunday. My wife and I wanted to just rest at home to help get over our illnesses. We’re both starting to feel better day by day. I think my fears of a recurring bacterial throat infection were unfounded. I’m just hoping at this stage we’re both well by the 17th when we fly out to Japan.

Speaking of Japan, I bought Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s new album, Hana, which was released a day or two ago. My wife and I both really like her music, and Sophie wrote this album during COVID travel restrictions, when she was supposed to travel to Japan, but had to postpone her trip. She’d never been there before, and basically wrote a whole album of songs inspired by her thoughts of what Japan would be like when she finally got there. So we’ve been listening to it this weekend to inspire our own preparation for visiting Japan.

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Churning Irregularly

I spent most of Sunday working on Irregular Webcomic! strips. In the morning I finished writing the new batch, and then after lunch I spent the afternoon photographing them all.

In between I went for a long walk with my wife and Scully. Normally we do a big walk on Sunday mornings, but she went for a morning tea with her mother and brother today, so we did the walk after lunch.

I picked some different music to listen to while working today. Normally I go for something in the rock genre, or perhaps movie soundtracks if I want something without lyrics to be less distracting. But today I went for Beethoven – the 6th and 9th symphonies. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to these, but I just felt like it today.

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Ballet Friday

I’m queuing this post up early for automatic publication because I’ll be out late tonight. For our wedding anniversary I got my wife tickets to the Australian Ballet’s production of Sylvia, which is on at the Sydney Opera House. So that’s where we’re going tonight. This is one of the more obscure and rarely performed ballets, so it should be interesting.

It’s a 12 minute train trip and 15 minute walk away from where I live, which is easier and more convenient than battling traffic by driving. Normally we’d eat dinner out somewhere near the Opera House, but our neighbours are minding Scully and they don’t get home from work until late-ish, so we can’t leave early enough to squeeze in dinner.

Otherwise, today I’ve been working on writing a new proof for 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe. Unfortunately it’s not finished yet, so it’ll have to wait until tomorrow. Oh, and processing some more photos from May’s trip to Portugal.

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