apple tv: the trip

The Trip is an unusual concept for a film: two British comedians, playing fictionalised versions of themselves, go on a road trip together to visit some fancy British restaurants in the North of England. The original plan was that Steve Coogan would have taken his girlfriend, and so there’s much discomfort to be had in watching them interact.

If you enjoy British comedians mercilessly teasing each other, or generally like the humour of Coogan or Rob Brydon, then it’s an enjoyable watch. Worth it for the impressions (of varying quality throughout).

apple tv: Brewster’s Millions

Brewster’s Millions (1985)

It’s a risk watching a movie that you only remember from childhood. Will it have aged well, or will you be left wishing you’d left it a memory. Happily, the premise underlying this film (Richard Pryor has 30 days to spend $30 million and have no assets left, so he can inherit $300 million, but he can’t tell anyone what he’s doing or why) remains compelling.

More a comedy of situations than one-liners, it’s a fun ride, and a flash-back to the 1980’s. And don’t forget the chance to watch John Candy one more time.

Blue Chook, Hurlstone Park

blue chook, hurlstone park

Espresso Botero Coffee. 13/27-31 Crinan St, Hurlstone Park. I’ve never spent much time in this suburb, but had this place recommended to me and thought I’d check it out with the family. There’s not much to see from the street – a couple of sets of tables and small stools next door to a park and playground, but follow the ramp up to the indoor part of the cafe and you find a comfortable, homey space.

avocado smash. blue chook, hurlstone park

Avocado smash, with Cackleberry relish, $9. The food is really good. At first glimpse, the portions seem small, but there’s a great balance of flavours, and it’s a really pleasant dish.

strawberry milkshake: blue chook, hurlstone park

Milkshakes ($5) are probably the most fun thing on the menu. Served in a jar, with a straw attached via rubber band, you shake them yourself. And they taste great.

where the magic happens. blue chook, hurlstone park

Lots of attention to detail goes into the coffee: you can see the care that goes into it. Served a little hot for my taste, it’s nonetheless a great complexity. The espresso is a good one: not overwhelmed with acidity.

Worth checking out.


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funeral reflections

I found myself at a funeral this week for the mother of a friend. My attendance was more about supporting and encouraging the friend – I hadn’t actually met his mother, and so it was a different experience to most of the others I’ve attended.

Instead of the photos summoning up memories of shared experiences, it was an attempt to understand the life that had been lived. What, I was forced to reflect, would my life look like when reduced to a series of photos? What extra photos do I want to create with any years I have left? What will be included in any eulogies I may have to write in the coming years?

planning for a new year

Instead of resolutions this year I have a rough list of accomplishments that I’m trying to work towards. If I can’t get them all done, that’s fine. If I set out to do something once a month, but can only manage it 8 or 10 times, I can live with that. My main aim is to have some kind of “next action” ready to go for each of the many projects I’m hoping to make progress on.

There’s are a few interesting projects I’m thinking of, the main one that has to get done is a big essay for my M. Div. I’m hoping to turn that into an ebook as well, and put together another ebook on managing communication overload (email overload especially). There’s a podcast I’ve been hoping to put together for several years. This could be the year for it.

Data scientists replacing community managers?

I was watching an end-of-year social media trend video today, and one line stood out for me amidst the usual information.

The job of “community manager” – someone who looks after a social media community and steers the conversation, keeps the tone on track, and encourages civility in general is apparently on the decline.

In its stead will emerge the data scientists, who will analyse what is being said en masse and provide better value to the business.

Part of this feels true / inevitable, as a community manager’s role will involve more data analysis and reporting. The other aspect, though, is a step away from social. Untended communities will tend to become places where topics of discussion wander: it’s not enough to treat an online community as a source of data – someone needs to be there looking after it as a place where humans are trying to have conversations.

DVD: The Invention of Lying

The Invention of Lying is a Ricky Gervais film (starring, co-written, co-directed). It’s a thought experiment – what would our world be like if everyone told the truth all the time? And such a world is a funny one, as we’d expect (I loved the coke commercial early in the film). Gervais plays the central character here: as is foreshadowed in the opening (and in the title), his character works out how to lie. The strength of the movie is that he uses this to good-hearted ends.

Confronted by the sight of his beloved mother fearing her impending death, he invents a theistic (but not quite Christian) religion, explaining that the (invisible) talking man in the sky will give everyone a mansion when they die. It’s a good insight into the way Gervais understands the place of religion in modern culture. 

There’s some sexual content in the film (dialogue only, but I wouldn’t show the film to a younger audience) but at its heart, it’s the same kind of romantic story arc that made something like The Office Christmas Special an enjoyable watch. Consistently funny, and helpful in the insights it provides to Gervais’ thinking.