Monday, January 31, 2005

Universal truth of house selling

You will live with countless deficiencies in your home until immediately before you come to sell it, at which time it becomes a
whirlwind of DIY home repair & renovation.

And so it is that in the last week, the house has been washed down (it needs painting actually, but that ain't gonna happen on this watch), a leadlight window was repaired (kind of - what's the attraction of leadlights anyway? Sure, they look classy, but in a couple of years, when the lead oxidises, it's going to bulge out or in, those little coloured panes will start popping out & a Wellington Southerly is going to rip the whole lot out so it flaps like a... flappy thing. They can be fixed by removing the whole lot & replacing all the lead between them which costs hundreds of dollars & works until the lead starts oxidising again in a few years), window catches were re-affixed to their windows, leaking window eaves were siliconed, and a dodgy bit of plaster ceiling was replaced & painted, rotting shower linings were replaced with gee-that-looks-nice tiles.

We lived with all that for 5 years, and it took less than a week to
fix it all. It helped in that it seems real estate agents can get
tradesmen to turn up to do the bits that need professionals - I was astonished.

I think I might have got mildly sunstroked, washing down the house
yesterday too.

Look out for the property press headline that says a "Kelburn house sold for 3 times it's Quotable Value", and the subsequent non headline that says "Unknown Wellington Blogger retires to stuff around while his wife brings home the bacon. Oh wait... that's how it is now except for the retirement bit.

Actually, we have plans. We'd like to develop Sunny O a bit - put up a couple of cottages prehaps, one for us (and we'll sell or rent out the existing house) and one to rent as a homestay, or for family & friends overflow at party times.

We also (this is the "Royal We" but I like the idea) have a cunning
plan whereby we buy some do-er uppers, the sort of property that is advertised as "DIY dream", do 'em up & flick 'em on for loads more than they cost us. I CAN retire then.

After a couple of forays into the field we've decided we aren't really the landlord types. One place we couldn't keep tenanted, the other place (the one we're selling), we decided we didn't like keeping maintained. Also, what's with interest rates going up all the time? Whose bright idea is that? We've spent the last few years maintaining 3 houses... it gets a bit much.

Also... heard in the weekend that old friends are so used to us never turning up places... they've stopped discussing it, or us. How bad is that? We'll have to invite them to our cottage-warming party if they remember who we are by then.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Legislating for Consideration

Must be getting old & grumpy... I'd support this. Along with banning school children fromt he city during the holidays. And people waiting for buses who swarm out in front of people actually trying to get somewhere when a bus (probably not the one they're waiting for anyway) hoves into view.

Anyway... Graham Reid from Public Adress lifts the lid on upcoming legislation....

Public Address | Random Play

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Make me an offer I can't refuse...

Buy this house

Vern Rants the Oscar nominations

Then fuck you, jack: The Life and Art of vern

And my predictions, based on little more than what I've read about these movies...

Won't it be cool when Clint Eastwood wins Best Actor? Who'd have thought (besides me). That's why Jamie Foxx is nominated in both the Best Actor (Ray) and Best Supporting Actor (Collateral) this year, even though, as Vern says above, he's the lead actor in both. Eastwood will get Best Actor because Million Dollar Baby is actually better than The Aviator (er... so I've heard), and probably deserves Best Picture & Director. But the Aviator will win Best Picture & Best Director because Scorsese should have won it for Raging Bull in 1980 (Ordinary People won - say what??!!). Besides, Eastwood's won Best Picture and Best Director in the past (Unforgiven, 1992 - he might have won again last year for Mystic River, except for that pesky Return of the King thing). Foxx should win Best Actor, but because they will figure they owe Eastwood a gong, he'll have to settle for Best Supporting Actor. Hey, he's young though. He'll win his big one when they make Ray 2. Phew... Make sense?

It is possible the Aviator will win really big. Maybe even a clean sweep. Since they did that for Johnny Foreigner Peter Jackson, they may well figure it's time to honour an American Director of standing in similar fashion. The irony is that Scorsese's been off his game for ages & the leading American auteur of our time is indisputably our man Clint.

Anyways... other predictions:

Best Actress - Catalina Sandino Moreno should win it for Maria Full of Grace. Annette Bening probably will win it, she might be First Lady one day. And anyway, Hillary Swank's already got one.

Best Supporting Actor - Foxx without a doubt. Unless... I'm completely wrong in my Best Actor prediction & he gets that, in which case Hawkeye Pearce will win for the Aviator.

Best Supporting Actress - probably the least deserving this year will be Cate Blanchett. But she might well win it. The others I would say would put in equally worthy performances. Virginia Madsen might take it for Sideways, which I've heard is terrific, since the Academy will figure Natalie Portman's still young & there's a chance she'll get it for her next Queen Amidala performance.

I'm a bit sad that Before Sunset didn't fare better. Just a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, and as Vern asks, what exactly was it adapted from?

PS: Good luck to Andrew Adamson and Taika Waititi who have both been nominated. Adamson for Shrek 2 of course, and Waititi for his short film 2 Cars, One Night, which is highly recommended by Damian Christie

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Wellington Harbour, surely?

I just knew that cruising the Foundphotos site one
day I'd come across someone I knew.

Well not quite, but someone reading this might know them. This IS
Wellington Harbour, isn't it?

Interviewing Etiquette

I've done my fair share of interviewing prospective candidates for
jobs. Sometimes it's a tough call. Other times, you know 5 minutes in
that the candidate speaks in waffle & gibberish, has none of the
skill, experience or competencies necessary to do the job & is totally
devoid of charisma, and the entire panel is thinking "How can we get
you out of here quickly?"

I suppose it would be disrespectful to mount a large gong in the
interview room & when the interview reaches the point beyond which
anymore is just too painful to endure, signal the end with a
reverberating "GOOOOONNNNNGGGGG!!!"

Would it?

The Flag thing...

I signed the petition to hold a referendum for a new flag at lunchtime.

The usual reasons, it looks too much like the Ocker flag, the Union Flag is an anachronism, it's really boring, etc.

Problem is, I suspect should the referendum go ahead, and the nation collectively calls for a new symbol, I'll have little say in which design replaces the current, and will probably hate it!! Never overestimate the taste of the referendum participating public. Or don't expect to agree with it anyway. Besides, I wonder who gets to choose? has some proposed designs, some by well known artists which IMO are hideous. However, there is one design, from the school flags design competition that I could live with. Maybe even salute now & then.

Way to go Matthew Kershaw, year 10 student at havelock North High School!!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

It came from beneath the er... beach...

Some time ago, on one of our walks along the beach to Waitohu Stream with Wilma the Wonder Lab, a local told us about a car that had got stuck in the sand a few years back, and while the driver went to find someone who could tow him out, it sank completely from view.

I have to admit, I was skeptical. A local legend, I decided (the term urban is a stretch). We've been around the area for 7 years now & we had neither heard of this, nor seen it at the time, nor since. Then... during our recent 3 week sojourn to Sunny O, on another walk with Wilma the Wonder Lab... we came across this:

The two days later, after the big rainstorm that flooded parts of the Kapiti Coast (the 3rd one hundred year weather event since 2003 according to the newspaper) and closed off State Highway 1, the Waitohu Stream was the Mighty Waitohu River pushing tonnes of debris & trees out to sea (and the sea was pushing it all back onto the beach - little known fact (possibly): apparently Tom Hanks built his Castaway raft out of Otaki driftwood, possibly pushed out to sea & back onto the beach by the Mighty Waitohu River)... and where was I? Oh yeah... the car had disappeared again! Sunk back into the depths, or so I imagined. Then another local saw me looking confused & told me a tractor had turned up the day before, several years after the driver went looking for one, and towed it out for good.

Anyway, I'm always moaning that nothing interesting washes up on Otaki beach, Vancouver Island gets Nike shoes apparently, and Florida gets Lego. Otaki gets what appears to be mulch and dead sheep (Wilma likes the latter). So there you go. Still hoping I'll find a Viking helmet actually.

PS: Someone who knows better than me tells me it is a Subaru. And Jeremy Clarkson was not on hand to confirm whether it started first time.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

... and MacBeth

I can understand how I forgot this one... an absurdly young Ian McKellern & Dame Judy Dench (so that resident 12 year old squealed in surprise "Gandalf & M!!" God bless popular culture IMO.

Cripes it was boring though. No set, the worthy actors (including John Woodbine as Banquo, and Bob Peck as someone not very important) just swam in & out of blackness.

Very worthy. Very tedious. Someone should make a revisionist version which includes a car chase & lesbian sex scene.

The bells, the bells....

The next post about SunnyO goings on will be along soon. It's just waiting for me to do something with the dozens of photos which are yet to be downloaded. I'll try & remember...

It will be about how the weather, and the shifting sands revealed a long buried, ancient artifact, the subject of half remembered myth by the locals. (A toyota, if I'm not mistaken).

Meanwhile, here's some more of the Wit & Wisdom of the Lovely T. AKA Mrs Llew, my better arf etc.

A couple of years ago, unbeknownst to me, she decided what we needed was to upgrade from the archaic reliance on celluloid & 1 hour photo processing, and get a digital camera.

Normally I'd be roped in at this stage, to reseach, consult & advise. And possibly pay. But this was to be a surprise. And anyway, she'd done all the research necessary (article in an inflight magazine, natch).

So armed with her new found knowledge & expertise, and a couple of questions for clarification, she marched into a reputable photographic store & announced she was looking for a decent, reliable, robust, pretty much totally automatic digital camera.

"Certainly madam" said the man at the counter "do you have anything in mind?"
"Well" said the confident & knowledgable T "I've done some reading, and I know that there are several types, some models come with 2 Pixiebells, and some come with 3. So... what exactly are these pixiebells and how many do I need?"

The shopkeeper solemnly, but helpfully corrected her:

"Megapixels madam."
"Right... whatever." said T.

And for the record, they had a Canon Ixus on sale, with if memory serves, 2 pixiebells, and it's been great.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Holiday irritations

You're reading a book. Say, Bill Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything. Visitors arrive for a few days, and you put the book aside (reluctantly) in order to socially interact with family, friends & assorted hangers on. One of your guests picks up the book & has a look. Not just a quick browse mind you, but sits reading it for hours at a time. Irritating?? You bet.

The next day, having retrieved the book & finished it. And having started a new book... you generously say to your guest, "I've finished the Bryson book if you want to read it now." To which he replies "No thanks, I had a good scan of it yesterday & I've got the gist - it's a good book, I couldn't find anything in it that I disagreed with."

Fair enough. In a grit your teeth sort of way.

But later that day, the same guest picks up your new book & spends 3 hours "scanning" that one too.

I didn't ask if he found anything he disagreed with.

And... Phone Booth

Dunno how I forgot that one. Pretty neat. Only 80 minutes long, so you can actually watch it in a couple of ad breaks between TV shows.

Colin Farrell is a philandering husband (of the awesome Radha Mitchell), trying to set up a date with the equally awesome, but borderline jailbait Katie Holmes. He's calling from a phone booth so his wife won't check the call logs on his mobile.

The phone rings after he's been rebuffed by Ms Holmes & has hung up & he foolishly answers it... it's the voice of Keifer Sutherland calling from the 24 set telling him if he leaves the phone booth, calls for help, or pretty much communicates his dilemma in anyway or form, he'll be shot.

There follows an extended seige scene where the police aren't sure who is the perpetrator & who is the victim, but are itching to kill someone for the murder of a bystander.

Worth a look.

Monday, January 17, 2005

What I did in my summer holidays: Part 1.

So it's back to work. And not coincidentally, my first real internet access since Christmas Eve. Did log in briefly during our 3 week sojourn to warmer climes & check a few favourite blogs (see links), but really, dialup is painful. Just having to listen to M's moaning about the speed of MSN while trying to keep up with her pals from out of town was enough to put me off.

Anyway... apparently, it is de rigeur for bloggers to mention what they read or watched over the festive break. So why not:


Bill Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything. Fascinating stuff! And remarkably prescient, since I was just past the chilling bit about tsunamis by Boxing day... Spent the rest of the time worrying about what he had to say about meteors....

Nigel Cox's Tarzan Presley. I was drawn to this because of the reported legal action by the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and publisher fergus barrowman's comment that if only 3000 copies are printed, then it will become a collectors' piece. I think I got the last copy on sale in the country. And it is brilliant. Imagine tarzan was brought up by a colony of gorillas in the wild jungles of the Wairarapa. Imagine he was discovered in his late teens by pretty blond scientist Janer Porter, and taken to California, and then Tenessee. Imagine Tarzan is "discovered" by Sam Phillips, managed by Colonel Tom Parker and adopted by Vernon & Gladys Presley, whose son Elvis died in a trucking accident a little while ago... A must for fans of either Tarzan, or Elvis, or both. I will be looking up the Memphis Mafia on the web shortly, to see how many of them from the book really exist.


The extended Return of the King. Phwoar!

Life as a House. Damn me if we didn't all collectively sniffle at the end of this one about a terminally ill Kevin Kline reconnecting with his wayward teenage son (played by Anakin Skywalker).

Waiting for Guffman. Christopher Guest faux documentary (in the style of his Spinal tap, Best in Show, and Mighty Wind - with pretty much the same casts). OK, but was handicapped in that T really wanted a chick flick for Christmas, not this mildly amusing curiousity. Sigh. Note to self...

The Tracker. Gripping tale from the Ocker frontier about an aboriginal tracker (the awesome David Gulpilil from Rabbit Proof Fence) leading a mixed bag posse through the Outback in pursuit of an alleged killer. I worried this might be a bit art house for the crew, but afterwards even 12 year old M announced "That was a good one!"

Mean Girls. Er... Lindsay Lohan learns about life in an American high school... in my defence, this wasn't my choice.

The Last Samurai. Better than I expected by far. Ken Watanabe steals the show. Nice scenery...

The Sixth Sense. Fascinating th see this for a second time... M announced it is now her favourite movie & can she have it on DVD please.

Van Helsing. M's previous favourite movie. And since I'd heard it was utter crap I was pleasantly surprised to find it is merely mediocre. And anyway... it has Kate Beckinsale in it.

oh and of course... Shrek 2.

DVDs & taped movies still in the bag to see:

King Kong. The original, accept no substitutes

Blue. Krystof Keislowski's masterpiece. Won in a competition shortly before Xmas.

Unfaithful. Diane Lane naked, or so I am told.

Starship Troopers. This will have to wait until T is out I suspect. Extreme shooting is more frowned upon than watching porn. Or so I imagine. Actually, that's based on my experience of trying to watch the director's cut of Hard Boiled, we only got 10 minutes & 3 major shoot-outs into it before I was asked to turn it off & put a chick flick on.

Books in the bag still to read:

Changing Careers: How to make a successful career change, by Paul Goodhead. A hint if I'm not mistaken...

Happy New Year by the way.