Oct 30, 2011

At least they know who I am...

Finally a entryway worthy of my presence.
Very weird name for a lighting store though I have to say...

They know what I am...

I don't normally take pictures of stuff on or used by people. This one I just had to capture.

Now I just have to figure out where they are buy these from!

Bumpy Road... errr Escalator

So read the sign below...

Makes sense if I was anywhere near the street or a road. Thing is, this is a sign for an escalator inside a mall.

Now I know why I hate telemarketers so much!

Another of those ads that just makes you double take.

A gopher with a phone... I can only guess it is a visual metaphor for a telemarketer.

A place I do NOT want to shop

I have a nominee for creepiest mascot ever.

This one for a mall in downtown Hong Kong.

Logical Fashion

Want a bizarre clothing advertisement. Well here you go!

Vulcans selling outdoor gear.

Seriously what is up with this. Do the Chinese even watch Star Trek?

So if you start seeing hipsters in Vulcan ears we know where they got the idea.

There are those that say...

One of the most hilarious and delightful discoveries I've made in Hong Kong was a public sculpture on display in a metro train station...

A bunch of "Stig sperm" floating around the roof...

For anyone unfamiliar is who or what the Stig it, he is the mascot/test driver for the British car show Top Gear. In reality the Stig has been a number of professional car drivers whose identity has been hidden by the jumpsuit and helmet combo above. However this "character" has proven so popular the show has maintained a running mythology about him.

In every episode the Stig is introduced as Top Gear's "tamed racecar driver" and than various silly facts are stated about him introed by the line "there are those that say". Well I have a new one totally in the spirit of this list.

"There are those that say the Stig met the love of his life in the form of a Hong Kong Metro Train, and their offspring can be seen to this day at Mong Kok East station."

Mind you they to me are more like what the Stig's genetic couriers should look like.

I think they were aiming for train tadpoles or fish.

All I know is I was laughing for a good 30 minutes after seeing them!

Local Toys

So the first rule of teaching is figure out your kids are into. As I'm in a totally new culture, I'm sorta back to square 1. So today I'd thought I'd do some homework.

I picked up one of the robot model kits that are very popular with upper primary boys.

I thought putting one of these together would be pretty easy. Man I was in for surprise. This is what I got out of the box...

Two hours later I ended up with this rather handsome fellow.

I just can't get over how cool this guy is put together. It is fully posable but yet solid like an action figure. Yet he is made of many loose pieces adhered by no glue whats so ever.

Though he seems to be getting kind of mad at our prying into his business...

Oh no run!!!

Blubber 5 standing by

I couldn't resist combining two of our Hong Kong acquisitions toay. The first being my Red Army fighter helmet, and the second being our tissue whale dispenser cover. Put them together and you get blubber squadron member 5.

Normally our whale is Achoo. We picked him up about a month ago. His primary function it to dispense tissues from his blowhole. As we keep forgetting to pick up soft packaged tissues to fill him up with, Achoo has spare time to help protect our house.

Oct 29, 2011

My New Wheels (Pimp my 推车 part 0)

So I took my first official plunge into doing as the locals do. In this case I picked up the means of transport all the cool kids... errrr little old ladies are using for getting their things around.

Behold my new ride (well ride for my work stuff). This is my trolley or Tuiche 推车.

推车 are more common than cars and bikes (though not taxis). So now I am the proud owner of the most common means of transportation in Hong Kong.

Its even collapsible.
That said I think I can personalize these wheels a bit. At moment I could just blend into the crowd as just another little old lady... who is the wrong gender, different skin colour, and three times the size of all the other old ladies. I also think I can increase its functionality.

So stay tuned for my efforts to "pimp" my 推车...

My neighbor

So within 2 hours of moving to Hong Kong I discovered I had an amusing neighbor. In the mall directly under my hotel room (and a mere block and a half from my apartment) is this pudgy little guy...

Don't recognize him. Well believe it or not this reptilan impersonating Budda is supposed to be Godzilla.

Though you can't see it from this angle, he is a kid's ride. They hope inside him and for a few dollars play some sort of video game. I've never seen the game (in fact this picture was snapped during one of the ONLY times we've ever seen him unoccupied by children). Is it wrong for me to want to come by sometime late at night and try it? :P

I don't know why but they are really into this silly cartoonized version of the king of monsters...

Yet he is everywhere!

I would have taken more detailed photos of everything, for example the mothra larva behind, but some kids ran in and jumped on before I could finish my pictures.

Note this is probably the only version of Mothra I like! He works as a cartoon. Definately far better than Ghidorah does anyways!

Oct 28, 2011

Soundtracks: Primeval

Funny how timing can work out.

I finally got around to acquiring the fifth, possibly final, season of Primeval. Unlike the 1st and 4th seasons which entertained me, this latest season was a big disappointment overall. It is still way better than the terrible 3rd, but it just didn't deliver anything unique (apart from the amazing submarine adventure in the 2nd episode).

Of course I did the usual google and wikipedia searches for various things on the show in watching this, and discovered they "had" released the score for the series. The reason I say "had" as this score only came out a month ago!

I've never associated Primeval with particularly great music, but this being yet another year lacking in good score music (I will hopefully get around to posting some of my soundtrack musings soon) I'm desperate. So I decided to check this album out this week.

I'm very glad I did.

Primeval by Dominick Schirrer

In listening to the score removed from the show I'm realizing part of the appeal of the show for me may have been my subconscious picking up on the music. I always remember liking the music in the first season when the mystery of the time crisis was addressed, but beyond that I couldn't really say I'd noticed Primeval's music.

Often the most noticeable music in Primeval, like all modern shows, tended to be the popular song they'd try to shove down your throat. As someone who typically dislikes lyrics with music, this never appealed to me. I want my shows score to be a musical identity for the show (or movie) I'm watching. Pop music isn't that. It's just somebody mix taping over the program.

Yet in listening to the Primeval album I am amazed at how consistent the overall themes and music quality is. Primeval is one of the best TV series scores I've heard from a musical identity point of view. In listening to the majority of these tracks I can tell you it is from Primeval (even if I, still, don't know which episode). The music all works complimentary with each other, and actually builds a very enjoyable musical mythos (whether the actual episode deserved it or not later in the show is another question!).

The album collects music from the first 3 seasons (from what I can gather), and gathers the highlight moments from the show. While I didn't notice his efforts at the time (due to the disappointment in the scripts) composer Dominick Schirrer definitely tried to inject the wonder and awe back into episodes when the overall show left them out.

To convey the enigmatic qualities of the Primeval universe, Schirrer employs three components in all his effective themes and pieces. A combination of off key strings, synthesizers, and piano give Primeval its sound.

The main signature of the overall pieces is the string section always having a small but noticeable regiment of players playing out of key to accent the overall strings with an uneasy creepy edge. No matter the emotion a piece is, Schirrer will always apply these off key strings. So while not exactly being a discernible theme, the strings unify all of Primevals music. Every song has an off kilter dynamic that (removed from its episode) gives you a sense of tension. In some pieces such as "Cretaceous Sea" and "Mystery of the Anomolies" you will get chills down your spine from the application.

A echoed piano with synthesizer ambience is used for heavy emotions in the music. While not present in all tracks, any that deal with the human elements of the story will include a piano (for obvious reasons). In the most successful pieces the piano will be backed up by a synthetic ambience to give the convention some resonance. While it is a cheap trick it works. Not that most of the episodes deserve this treatment, but on album it is quite appreciable.

The Primeval theme makes the rounds in any of the pieces about the prehistoric beasts. While the title theme is incredible simple in some senses, it is comprised of about four musical "idea" layers. Throughout the music Schirrer will base tracks on one or more of these layers, and this is how he achieves a distinct recognizable "Primeval" sound in all the music. If you listen carefully to the title theme you'll hear the strings, percussion, and two different sets of synthesizer horns (long and harsh I shall call them) all stacked together. Yes I know in orchestral pieces technically all the music is made of "stacked" accumulations of players and instruments efforts. However if you listen carefully in Primeval title theme these elements are actually in a sense doing their own things, they just happen to work together in a cohesive piece.

Don't get me wrong I really like it. I just point it out as cleverly Schirrer gives himself a title theme
that is easy to integrate into any piece of music no matter its emotional tempo. All he has to do is use one or more of the four possible sets and you can hear something of the title in the music.

For threatening monster music we get the percussion most heavily, sometimes augmented by the strings or harsher synthetic horns. The heroes tend to get the long horn and strings. My favourite use of this element breakdown is in the track "Silurian Scorpions" where we see him transform a piece from horror, and its percussion and harsh horn, to a glorious heroic piece with the long horn subverting and taking charge of the other two elements. It is quite a satisfying technique. If I played snippets it would sound very simplist, but all together the whole piece's craftsmanship is very intelligent and effective.

Primeval the album is very diverse, and covers a multitude of scene types. The key ingredient sounds are supplemented with a nice range of supporting instrumentation to give it variety. Genre tracks are particularly clever at capturing their subject matter. The medieval episode's theme "Dracorex" has a lovely sampling of choral chatting spliced into the Primeval theme elements to convey the knight of the story.

If you're a fan of the show, or TV soundtracks this is definitely worth checking out.

Oct 25, 2011

Traumador Limbo

I have become quite pleased with my Maori Mosasaur pattern. So much so I thought I'd play with it for a few minutes.

The result you get some Traumador photos that have been in limbo for almost 2 years. Not that I'm planning on really getting back to Traum (sorry to the Traum fans out there, and my tiny now neglected saurian friend). The time and commit just aren't there (especially with the new teaching job).

I might give you a shortened version of his last year in New Zealand I have 3/4 of the photos for (and it was this missing quarter that killed the blog... I had too many holes in the photos).

In any case here is one of the most exciting sets of photos from the "Hunt for the Taniwha"

All Black Mosasaur

In pseudo-celebration of the All Blacks bringing victory to New Zealand at home in the Rugby World cup I give you a more polished version of my Maori Mosasaur.

I won't lie and say I had a vested interest in NZ winning the rugby. In fact being married to an Australian I'm basically forbidden from actively cheering for the All Blacks. Fortunently I don't really care for rugby one way or another.

However given the year New Zealand has had with Christchurch I hoped they'd take it. Especially as I see the alternative being a country sized repeat of the Vancouver Caunck meltdown of the spring :(

So well done All Blacks! Hope that helps ease the pain of the past year (not that I'm implying that it will undo all the suffering and hardship).

So how is this guy looking?

I'm actually getting kind of happy with this configuration.

Any thoughts or comments?

Oct 22, 2011

Hong Kong's Bird Market

Out of the many markets here in Hong Kong, one those I've most wanted to visit was the Bird Market. I'd heard about this one long before I came here (most of the others I'm only learning about now after arriving).

It has moved locations from the incarnation I'd originally read about. I certainly approve of the new venue. This elevated garden is a lovely place to go see birds.

The entry way to the market has many lovely tiled mosaics decorating the path.

There certainly were many birds and bird keeping supplies for sale here. However the word market isn't the best descriptor for this place.

It is more like a meeting place and hangout for Hong Kong bird enthusiasts. You get the impression most of the people who make up the "market" are just here to show off their pets, visit people with a similar interest, see other people's birds, and maybe sell some of their breeding excess to fund their hobby.

There are certainly a few bird dealers that clearly only make their living from selling animals. However they are in a back alley like component of the garden, and you can easily avoid it if you want to.

I was amazed at some of the variety and yet how many mundane birds I saw here.

A few local songbirds were popular as pets, like this White Eye. They certainly gave it a feeling of the orient. There were Nightingales to really hit home my childhood memories of China and birds (sadly none of my pictures of them turned out from this visit... try for some next time).

Most of the birds however were of varieties we're used to seeing as pets. Mind in the exotic locality they definitely had a unique flare and flavour compared to their "typical" counterparts in the West.

Concluding I can't quite emphasis enough just how nice the venue is. If you're in Hong Kong and you like birds with a nice sunny day to explore the birds market is definitely worth a stop!

Maori Koru Mosasaur

Tinkering with shaders for my Tylosaur model. As he is technically supposed to be a Taniwhasaurus, I thought go all out on a Maori theme as Taniwha is the Maori word/name for monster.

Seeing the shrunk down blog version it looks quite different from the larger version I was dealing with earlier.

Was also playing with the light settings. Not the best, but they'll do.

Thoughts comments?

Oct 20, 2011


The fish carries on.

My only issue with him is the fin rays don't look as convincing at moment. Have to reduce their thickness.

I was thinking that my Tarpon would modify into a Xiphactinus quite easily, and I'm happy to learn this is to be expected. Michael Everhart definitively states Xiphactinus looked similar to a Tarpon. So go me!