Friday, December 21, 2007

christmas is coming

Yes, it is only days away from Christmas Day, and no, I haven't finished my Christmas shopping, but to get into the Christmas spirit I'd like to write a post about flat Christmas, which happened a few days ago, a celebration of Christmas for the inhabitants of my flat, and Andrew. On Saturday, to be exact. We had stockings, made by Ang (beautifully made) and filled by each other with various stocking like fillers, such as chocolate money and parachute men. There was Christmas dinner and presents from all. It was a little hard to finish Christmas dinner (roast chicken and vegetables) after all the chocolate but it was delicious enough that we succeeded. Oh, and I got a new hat! Like my old one that was tragically lost, but also different. And a bag! And earrings and chocolate and lollies.
I think by far the highlight of the day for me was the bubble blowing. We got champagne bubbles in our stockings, and proceeded to spend much of the afternoon blowing bubbles off the balcony at passers by. Which got some great reactions, particularly from the undercover policeman who sounded his siren (briefly) at us in a show of Christmas (or bubble-blowing) spirit. We were all leaning off the balcony wearing hats and blowing bubble, so I suppose we looked fairly Christmassy. Twas a great way to spend the afternoon.
And then to Carols in Vic Park for Carols and fireworks and candles, all fun things, and home again to light up a Christmas pudding.
And now to wait for the real Christmas (and finish the Christmas shopping).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

i am here to kill your monster

In amongst the various events that make up my life I went and watched Beowulf the other day, with a bunch of Old English people. There was surprisingly little laughter during the movie. I was very disappointed with it as it just wasn't as bad as I'd hoped it would be. That's what I want out of a Beowulf movie, cringing and laughter and wonderment at what happened to the plot. Ok, this movie did take great liberties with plot and characters and most things I suppose (Heorot looked very 12th C. for instance) but sometimes you have to accept that in a movie and appreciate it for itself. That makes it sound better than it is, and let me say that the character of Beowulf drew the most laughs, as well as the strange amount of nudity. But there were eerie moments and battles that commanded some amount of respect. I wish I saw it in 3d, it was clearly made for it, but I don't think I could have handled Imax for some bits.
One of the things I most appreciated about the movie was the willingness to show the supernatural. Grendel is a troll monster, there is a dragon. And the supernatural is done well, if in a way that confuses the student of Old English. I quite enjoyed this film on balance. But one of the things I didn't like was the unwillingness to be heroic. They do show Beowulf as a hero, but at other times they undermine his heroism, and Hrothgar does not come off looking very good at all. It comes down to something Beowulf says to Wealtheow near the end of the movie (to paraphrase) "I want you to remember me not as a hero but as a flawed man". That seems to be a tendency in fiction at the moment, flawed humans rather than heroes. Which makes me sad, because I like heroes! What makes this more difficult is that I'm aware that this statement oversimplifies the issue. Tragic heroes have been flawed for centuries, and Beowulf is indeed tragic (although how flawed he is is a matter of heated debate among English scholars). Nevertheless there appears to me, in general, to be a shift in emphasis from the heroism to the flaws. A shift towards realism in characters? Or a pessismism about human nature? Meh, these questions are too big, all I really want to do is mourn the lack of heroes around. I can't be alone. Superheroes are very popular at the moment too.
To move away from that vexing question, another interesting feature of the movie is its use of Old English. Grendel (and sometimes his mother) speak Old English, but no-one else. It is interesting to hear it spoken in a movie like that, and sometimes hard to follow (also un-subtitled) but somehow appealing for the Old English geek who can decipher what's going on (sometimes. I also feel inadequate in my Old English skills). There is a part where Grendel's mother speaks either of or to Beowulf, I can't remember, and says "Beowulf, Bee-wolf, the bear" which ALL of the Old English posse picked up on. As Amy said, it was Angelina Jolie doing philology. The thing is that this is a hotly debated topic (what isn't you ask?). There was for a while an argument, which I think was fairly widely accepted, that Beowulf was a compound meaning 'Bee-wolf', which in Old English meant bear. But lately this is being questioned (it was never that strong in the beginning) as the 'bee-wolf' connection may be there but people are baffled as to how that means bear. So if there is one fact that you get from watching the Beowulf movie, please don't let it be that 'Beowulf' in fact means 'Bear', because if you bring it up at a party to someone who knows Old English you will have to listen to a lot of "well, actually"s.
Oh, and the title of this post is a line from the movie that I think is right up there with 'just kidding'.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

election day

Yesterday was the second federal election I've ever voted in, which was pretty exciting. At the polling booth the woman who handed me my ballot asked me if this was my first election. When I said no she looked surprised and told me I looked like a baby. *sigh* I get that all the time. I voted below the line, hopefully legibly, cos I like my preferences. Although there are alot of parties which I have no idea where to preference.
Last night it was on to an election party in Balmain, with coverage from two different tv stations, radio and internet. There were sheets of paper to write up predictions and results as they came out, as well as a collection of various election posters (and food and rink, of course). There was a clear majority of Labor supporters, so the mood was particularly joyful, and much cheering could be heard. Especially at all the results for Bennelong, although last I heard there was no final result. But Maxine McKew was looking pretty chirpy. So, now we have a Labor government, which is pretty exciting. After all, it's been a long time since we had a change. Let's hope they do well!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

waking up and walking


Today I had arranged to meet someone from work at Coogee at 8:30 for a day at the beach. Sadly I went to bed rather late last night (surprising, I know) so dragging myself out of bed this morning was particularly difficult. Looking out the window revealed a sky full of clouds but devoid of rain so I set off, catching a bus through peak hour traffic, and arrived (more or less) on time, only to discover that my friend had decided not to come since the weather was bad. Not a problem, I set out to go back home. I had two options: take a bus home, which would take around 10 mins, and go back to sleep or walk home. I chose the latter. It took I guess around an hour and a half, and the walk was somewhere between 2 and 5 kilometres (I found the signposts very confusing) but it was very nice to walk home along the cliffs. I took millions of photos (just for fun) along the way. It was hard not to, because around every new corner was a new scene that was arresting or just plain beautiful that I felt I should take a photo of. The long walk was relaxing at the same time as being hard work. And half way along one of my thongs broke so I did the rest barefoot. Other adventures included stepping on a bluebottle (the stingless bit) and climbing on a climbing frame (one of those big nets). I've wanted to do more of that walk for a while, so I enjoyed my morning quite a bit. But now it's only 11:30 and I'm not sure what to do with the rest of my day. There are many things I should get done, so I'm sure something will present itself.

In other news, I've run out of book. Any suggestions for something new to read? I have a few marriage books, but I would like a novel for my relaxing time as well. I love novels with an immoderate passion. Yes.
Oh, and my results came out on Tuesday and I got first class honours. Yay! What a relief. I celebrated with many a glass of champagne.

Friday, November 09, 2007

intolerable

If there is one writers trick that I hate, it is the incomplete ending. No, that is not the right word, ambiguous endings are fine, endings that do not end or wrap things up I can tolerate, even though they make my heart bleed. At least they can have a sense of rightness and make up a good book. I am talking about the endings that call into question the rest of the story, that play with subjectivity. Those of you who have read 'Life of Pi' will know what I mean. It's a low down dirty trick and I don't appreciate it. And come on, we're reading fiction, it is subjective, but more than that it is untrue. Have the decency to decide what ending you are going to write, for goodness sake. The 'this is a fictionalised account of fictional events' line is a little ludicrous. The worst excesses of post-modernism, and too clever for its own good. I love alot of post-modern fiction, don't get me wrong, but not if it plays this trick on me. No. I like narrative, but I will put up with alot of subversion of narrative conventions. Different viewpoints, fractured time, telling a story backwards, everything. These can be enjoyable to the novel reader. But I do not appreciate being told that I've been lied to at the end of a book. It's unbearable. People who do this should be shot. No mercy.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

remember, remember, the fifth of november

I finished my last exam ever on Monday! What a feeling... I finished it early but stayed to the end, just to get the "pens down" (or rather, "finish your sentence") moment for the last time. 'Twas an odd experience. Not all that exciting somehow, like it was hard to convince myself that THIS was the end. Partly I guess because it already felt like I was finished, after the thesis, and the essays, and everything. So many small endings. Now I am officially on holidays, although it doesn't really feel like it, since I've been working every day and trying to actually get wedding stuff done.
But Monday was good. After the exam I headed to Manning bar with Sam, where we ate chips, I drank coke and we did the crossword. All in good uni tradition. Ok, I had one beer. But only one. Drinking beer then heading off to look at reception venues with a bag still loaded down with uni stuff is fun. Makes you reflect on life, y'know? The afternoon was pretty hectic, although it did involve some awesome burritos, and Andrew and I went to an Old English Reading Group end of exams party around 2 hours late. It was great though. An interesting bunch of people, ex- and current Old and Middle English professors (or teachers of various sorts) as well as students and hangers on. Somehow Andrew managed to get into a conversion which ended with everyone telling us that he and the groomsmen should wear top hats at the wedding, or that he should wear a purple suit, or something... There was a token American telling everyone how great the new Bruce Springsteen album is. The people were friendly and just a little bit eccentric, in short it was how I always imagined parties should be, and I feel a better person for having gone. Oh, and there were sparklers, in honour of Guy Fawkes day. I (kind of) locked myself in the bathroom, but it turned out alright, as a friendly passer-by helped me get out. And that was the end of that day, and the start of the holidays proper, or, the Rest of My Life, or, The Real World. I prefer the first option.

Friday, October 19, 2007

great moments in fandom

As I write this I am sitting at the IT desk at UTS, and there is a huge crowd of Harry Potter fans collected in the foyer area outside. They've been singing songs, but now are all lining up for a group photo. And why? Because a web-based podcast (Mugglecast, for those interested) just had a live show in one of the rooms here. Basically, these are fans of a show run by and for fans of a book. Several degrees of fandom. The presenter (for those unintiated, a podcast is like an online radio show, designed to be played on ipods. Or something like that. You can also podcast lectures, etc.) came to Australia all the way from the US for this event, all paid for apparently, this thing makes good money from advertising. This guy is all of 19 years old, and he is currently surrounded by a huge crowd of teenage girls wanting his autograph, to talk to him, etc. Crazy, but impressive. He wielded a microphone pretty well though, from the sound of it, despite technical difficulties.
I'm pretty much in favour of all this, people making communities, having fun. Because being a fan is fun sometime, although I'm not going to go around asking people to sign my underwear (as is apparently happening over there. Not so sure though... Largely this is a wholesome event, with an 8 year old girl running around in an excellent Hogwarts uniform costume. And balloons).

O.k., so most of that was actually written the next day, i.e. today. And I think that this would be a good time to reflect on other events of the week.
Say, Monday night, Cat Empire concert at the Metro.
I have to admit, I turned into something of a fangirl myself this night, and may have spent some time considering Felix to be the coolest man alive. Anyway, a top gig. I went with Sylvia, Chris and a friend of Chris', and we ran into a bunch of people from church, which was nice. Also nice was the fact that we were in about the second row back from the stage (standing that is, so exact position tended to fluctuate). I was so annoyed that I forgot my camera... But I digress. Support act were this funk/jazz/soul band called The Bamboos, they were fun, good music, they all wore suits and the trumpeter and saxophone players all moved back and forth in time, which was something of a highlight. Good music, good vibe, good fun. But nothing compared to the Cat Empire themselves. This has something to do with the fans, it's usually the problem with support acts. And though the crowd were clearly enjoying The Bamboos, they just went crazy for Cat Empire. There was dancing and jumping and singing. The music was mostly stuff from the new album, the band seemed to be having fun. Always fun watching the antics of the trumpeters/back-up singers. Lots of solos, some dancing around on stage, some covers, a few oldies thrown in which people went wild for. I spent alot of time jumping around with a big grin on my face, which is worrying as there was a video camera around, but whatever. In summary, as I said, a great gig, turned everyone into crazy fans.

And now? Back to the essays... Maybe I'll just head out and buy that Cat Empire cd though... :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

events and stories

I finished my thesis last week, and since then have been relaxing, and finding myself strangely uninspired to write a blog post. There're usually most blog posts in times of essay writing and procrastination.
So what have I been doing instead in the (almost) week since I've handed in my thesis? Well, I went straight to the pub (or Manning Bar) and spent an afternoon there with other honours students, reflecting on how good it felt to be finished. Then off to Bible study.
I had uni, I worked (3 shifts since Wednesday), read a very trashy book and started another much less trashy (Crime and Punishment, going to take me a bit longer to finish). I've read a bridal magazine, and started wedding planning. Kind of. I watched 'Beowulf and Grendel' and 'Star Knight'- two very, very bad movies. 'Beowulf and Grendel' is completely different to the poem, 'loosely based' would be the way to describe it. They introduce a completely new character, who has dubious motivation. It tries to convey some sort of message, which would never be allowed into the poem Beowulf, while not being coherently or convincingly portrayed itself. Not to mention that it confuses the Anglo-Saxons with the Scandinavians. Star Knight was just all around bad, a love story with no chemistry, a ridiculously awful script and bad dubbing. You just had to laugh. For instance, the storyline: an alien being in a kingdom in Medieval Spain falls in love with the princess of the kingdom, who also falls in love with him. He cannot speak but somehow is able to communicate with the princess. Ridiculous just about covers it.

Sunday was my 5 year high school reunion. Interesting, and very strange to see those people who I haven't seen for 5 years all in one year, married, engaged, with kids, working, doing PhDs or just studying... I don't know, just a strange experience. Ang and I got the time wrong and so were late, but still had time to see people. I had a glass of champagne on little food and regretted it, but it was fun all the same. Monday was one of the work shifts and today nothing much happened except that I had an assessment for my business course (doing it through work) that I really hadn't studied for. I'm sure it was all ok...

On another note, I've probably said this before, but isn't it fascinating to have such a wealth of stories in the world as we do. From the large scale to the small, the tragedies and trivialities that are found everywhere. There are such terrible things happening in the world, always it seems. Sometimes you have to focus on the little stories to see the hope and the good in life. Not that little stories can't be tragic.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

things to see and do in sydney

- pass by Taylor Square on Oxford St.. There is usually at least one person asleep. True story. If you pass by early enough there will probably be people still lined up to get into clubs. I'm never up that early though...
- count couples in Hyde Park.
- in October or November walk around Darling Harbour and over the bridge, with an eye out for school formals. Then drink a cocktail and ride the monorail all the way around.
- sit on the Opera House forecourt and discuss life with a couple of good friends.
- watch sunrise over the beach. Best time for this is New Years. I recommend Maroubra.
- travel into the city over the Anzac Bridge on a Friday or Saturday night. Travel times may vary, so I recommend taking some good music with you.
- have dinner in Newtown and then browse second-hand bookshops. Follow with drinks at, say Zanzibar. Then dance around the square next door.
- fall asleep in the Botanical Gardens, then wake up and explore, pretending that you've just been transported to another world.
- walk up from China Town to the QVB without walking along George St, and check out the shops you find along the way.
- eat 'brunch' at 1pm on a Saturday in a cafe on Glebe Point Road and watch people go by. Good accessories to this activity are a friend and/or a book.
- go to Glebe markets. 'nuff said.
- take the train across the harbour bridge, and back again, just for the view.
- walk around Callan park in a leisurely manner. Ok, you can do the Bay Run if you want to. Check out the old mental asylum (now the SCA) while you're there, spooky but interesting.
- watch storms gathering from the cliffs near Coogee on a summer afternoon, stay for the first fat drops of rain, then run screaming for the car.

that's enough for today, but there's plenty more to be done...

Monday, September 24, 2007

another revue reviewed

On Friday night, regardless of thesis, I actually organised to go and see the arts revue with a bunch of arts student friends of mine. Yes, arts is the best faculty, why do you ask?
We met at Newtown and had Thai, then made it to the theatre just on time after some almost-power-walking down King St. I realise that I may have wronged the science revue, I did enjoy it and found much of it very funny. That said, the Arts Revue was immensely superior. Not just because I'm biased. Sure, the data projector didn't work, and so who knows what we missed out on? But the Arts Revue was run by Arts students after all, and therefore technology malfunctions are only to be expected. But the acting was superior I think, it just had a more polished feel to it, which made the humour more evident more easily. I'm going to steal some of Caitlyn's comments on this, as they were particularly apt, plus she has inside knowledge as someone involved with the science revue. There was less of a reliance on punch-lines as the situations and the characters were well drawn and so implicitly funny in themselves. It was not a perfect revue, there were the aforementioned technical problems, and some of the skits did fall a little flat. I felt it started to lag toward the end, but then Spencer said he felt the second half was superior to the first. Reactions were somewhat mixed, but I think the general consensus was that it was a good night's entertainment. And this is my blog, so I can promulgate my opinion freely, and I say that I enjoyed it greatly. To return to Caitlyn, she remarked that the Arts Revue was more cliquey than the Science. An interesting point. It probably led to the more polished feel of the Arts acting, but also to the exclusion of many who would have liked to be involved. I didn't want to be involved, I hate acting, so this did not effect me and I heartily enjoyed it, as I think I have said before. Thumbs up from me.

At the conclusion of the revue we were joined by Andrew, and Winnie, Charlie and Shanaka left us (not because of Andrew, but because we were all indecisive as to what to do next). We ended up outside Ice and Slice, where we heard that Mike Whitney (of 'Who Dares Wins' and 'Sydney Weekender' fame (apparently he was also a cricketer. Who knew?)) was singing with a cover band in the Marlborough. Word on the street you know. Well, such an assertion had to be investigated, so we trooped over to the Marly and confirmed that, yes, indeed he was. I have photos if you don't believe me. They played soft rock, a bit of Maroon 5, then 'Semi-charmed Life', some 'Hey Jealousy' and other such classics. This was also the site of the official Arts Revue after-party, so we went and checked that out for about, ooh, two minutes. Ran into someone we knew, chatted (over loud dance music) then retreated back to Mike Whitney, covers, and the couple shouting the 'Sydney Weekender' theme music over and over. Random fun. Spencer then left us, and Bec, Sam, Andrew and I repaired to a gelato shop for some much needed gelato before making our separate ways home.
A very pleasant start to the weekend.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

avast! and more uni-related fun

Today be Interrrrrnational Talk Like a Pirate Day once more. Today I be dressed in a semi-piratical fashion. Arrr.
There are not many people dressed as pirates today at uni, although two pirates (one dressed very like Captain Jack Sparrow) chased each other all through Manning, which was fun to watch.
In other news, it is Union Election (or is it SRC?) time, and someone has painted 'Trogdor for Prez' on the graffiti tunnel, along with a drawing of Trogdor saying 'Burninate'. Hehehe.
So you wanted to hear the rest of my weekend adventures? Very well, but I shall be brief. On Saturday I slept in (adventurously!) and in the afternoon my little sister came over and we all went out to watch the Science Revue. The Science Revue this year had all the charmingly amateurish qualities that you might expect, and that were present at the zine fair, but somehow seemed shorter on charm. Maybe it was the lack of comic timing or maybe it was because as much as science students pay out arts students they can never be as cool. Or perhaps the evolution beats religion! theme. Or the fact that one of the leads looked so familiar but I just couldn't place him. It was still enjoyable though, and there were some very funny moments and skits and so on. I'm going to the Arts Revue this week, will have to see how it compares...
Then we ate large amounts of dinner at Ice and Slice, including spaghetti gelato for dessert, which was very exciting.
Sunday held more sleeping in and beach time, which was fun. It's been a while since I went to the beach. Sylvia went to work, Andrew came over and Andrew, Merry and I went to the beach. Merry lay on the beach 'studying' and Andrew and I went swimming! In the sea! Truly, winter is over. Actually, readers, you may have noted that this was the seconf time we went swimming in the sea on the weekend, but beachy day-time is a different thing and much more reminiscent of summer. We also got to build sand-castles.
And that was pretty much the weekend finished.
So until next time, drink up me hearties yo ho!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

random university adventures

It has been a weekend full of random uni adventures, which has made me savour my last little while of being an arts student.
On Friday was the much hyped (by me) twilight markets and zine fair. I finished my thesis draft late on Friday afternoon, then wandered lonely as a cloud while running into random people that I know, including Theo (now doing a PhD in Italian, the envy of us honours students) and Brianna, a friend from primary school. I then caught up with Angi and we drank coke and beer in Manning Bar in a celebratory fashion. We lingered over our drinks and chatted to avoid getting to the zine fair on time. When we wandered over the 'twilight' was mostly gone and the 'dark' was very noticeable. But it was charming because of the fairy lights and other lighting around the place which lent a kind of glow to the area, as well as the stage lights set up on the bank building forecourt. A place that seemed meant to be a stage. We wandered some more, around the stalls, checking out the merchandise and running into friends of Angi and then Bec who arrived to meet us. We got free things and sausage sizzle and zines and badges. Zines, for those who don't know what they are, are short magazines filled with whatever you want. I got a comic, a photography zine, a fridge-magnet-poetry zine and a things-to-do-in-Sydney zine. All made by students. While this was going on there was music from the stage, starting with drums which were energetic and set the mood for a while and then got progressively more irritating to the eardrums. The last band was 'Cloud Control', which had my friend Heidi in it so I waited for that. Sadly people had started to pack up by then so there weren't as many around, although Andrew did arrive then after work. But the band was good, we all really enjoyed them, there were people dressed in newspaper skirts dancing (not with the band, spectators) and yeah it was nice. Good music. Check them out people. Also I saw my friend Vidette (also from primary school) and it turns out she's managing the band now. Small world.
An enjoyable evening was had by all, and it all felt very arts-student like, with poetry zines and created stuff, people in wacky clothing, and amateurish production values (the sound wasn't great, there was feedback and that sort of thing). So by the end we wanted to keep the night going. We couldn't decide what to do, so Bec went home, and Andrew and Angi and I went grocery shopping (the most fun you can have on a Friday night!) before heading back home. We decided that midnight swimming was the way to go. Now an advantage to midnight swimming is that our house is very near an ocean pool with good night lighting. A downside to midnight swimming is that it is very cold. You have to steel yourself to step into the water, and then steel yourself further to keep going. The view is wonderful though, black water vanishing into black sky with the stars so low they almost touch the ocean. We managed to walk around in the water (about chest deep) for a while, you get used to it so the temperature is ok but it's hard not to feel cold, and then we ran for our towels and for our warm house and showers. Andrew went home and everybody went to sleep, tired but happy after a long day of adventure.
More adventures Saturday, but this post looks long already, so maybe they can wait for another day...

Friday, August 24, 2007

federal highway

Ghost trees in the headlights
just beyond
the known circle of light.
The road's a discovery
at night
even this old familiar road
fades into the vast
and fathomless dark.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

jottings in revue season

I had a thought, on the bus this morning, and I thought I would write a blog post about it, but as is so often the way I've forgotten what it was. If it comes back to me I'll let you know.

It has struck me, from the posters arund uni, that it is revue season. Some of the revues this year: R.A.S.H. (med), The Devil Drinks Lager (Engineering, typical engineers and beer), Shred (not sure, law?) etc. Might go to one if thesis permits.

Other things that are good at the moment, but that I get to experience more than revues, are cherry danishes. These are good in any season. I recommend those from a cafe on Liverpool St., at World Square. I eat them whenever I get the chance. Also playing scrabble on facebook. Is good, but that doesn't work so often on uni computers.

I am trying to write 500 words of thesis a day, which happens most days actually. I have written 450 today, but fell down a little over the weekend so should keep going once I get home. At the English Honours seminar on Friday people ended up siting around talking about remedies for procratination, or ways of making procrastination work for you. These included:
- cork-lined walls (used by Proust? Or was it James Joyce? Some writer)
- being hungover
- pretending not to be working when you actually are, so as to fool yourself
- working in front of the t.v.
So there you go, hope you find them helpful.

Another thought: I wonder if I snore when I doze off on the bus? Very much hope not.
I remember what I was going to write about: coffee and how much I love it. Maybe that can wait for another day.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

what else but harry potter

I know I didn't write a poston Monday, but that's just because I was at work and didn't have internet access. I may change my blog-updating day this semester, will just have to see what my roster is like at work. Work, what a depressing thought. And I should be doing uni work right now of course, but just found out that I don't have the information on my USB that I thought I had, so am finding it hard to motivate myserlf to do anything else. Maybe I should do some reading for my Utopian Dreamings course instead, that has to be done too, right? Stupid thesis *grumbles*

In other reading related news, the latest Harry Potter book is out! Doubtless you all know this, due perhaps to the enormous amount of hype and publicity, or the fact that I've had the release date posted up on my sidebar for a while, or whatever reason. Nonetheless, an exciting event that cannot go by without being remarked upon. I read it over the weekend, finished it on Sunday afternoon. I was keen to read it fairly early because there are spoilers around, and careless people who might discuss it in public, and people who might try to spoil it for those around them deliberately and I like to read my books without them being spoiled in advance. Didn't entirely succeed this year, but enjoyed reading it nonetheless. Good book I thought, took my a while to get into it but then was hard to put down and easy to keep reading. The ending was ok, I think she did what she had to do. And will not talk about it anymore because it's such a big thing for some and it can be hard not to give spoilers... Although I suppose by now all die hard fans have finished it already.

All in all it was a good weekend, I went out to dinner with various people, I got to dance and read alot of Harry Potter, catch up with people, go to church... Yeah, a fun time basically. And I saw Merry, Sylvia and I took her out to dinner on Friday night and she stayed over until Saturday. We got her a copy of Harry Potter too, despite her avowed hatred of it. I went out to dinner in Newtown both nights and am always surprised at the number of shops open late into the evening- where else do you find bookshops that are open until 10:30 or so on a Saturday night? There's probably somewhere, but I don't know where.

Anyway, I think I have to go now because I've spent too much time on the internet and I can feel my writing skills deteriorate... See I was tempted to write "skillz" for a moment there, not healthy...

Monday, July 16, 2007

it was the best of times, it was the worst of times

I just finished reading 'Suite Francaise', which was very sad. In fact, the appendix was the saddest part of the book. It is unfinished, but there is a sense of completion at the end of he book as it stands (two sections were finished). Strange how even when there are so many stories from WWII still manage to be so poignant. Maybe all war stories, but there seem to be most from WWII and they are perhaps the most sad. Maybe it is all the different facets of the war that can be covered. Concentration camps, the blitz, people fleeing concentration camps, the soldiers, the people waiting for soldiers at home, the perspectives of people from so many different countries. 'Suite Francaise' managed to capture the sense of the largeness of war, and the scope of people caught up in it, particularly well. It focused on 'ordinary people' in France at the time of the French defeat and occupation. It was written at that time as well, which gives it a different perspective, most books have knowledge of the eventual German defeat, in this one it is France who appears to have lost. There is a comic, detached and almost satirical tone to it, along with a sense of tragedy. People's faults and good qualities are all dwelt on, a sense of love flowing through underneath, the humour of everyday life and the contrast to the upheavals of war. It reminded me of 'Les Miserables' in some ways, and brought to mind that WH Auden poem, 'Death's Echo', for some reason (maybe because it is another recent acquisition, who knows?):
The desires of the heart are as crooked as corkscrews
Not to be born is the best for man
The second best is a formal order
The dance's pattern, dance while you can.
Dance, dance, for the figure is easy
The tune is simple and will not stop
Dance till the stars fall down from the rafters
Dance, dance, dance till you drop.
(quoted partially and from memory).
WH Auden has a tendency to be gloomy.

So, just arrived in Canberra from Jindabyne yesterday. A good week of skiing, with snow so much better than last year. It was best on the first day and got progressively worse all week, so we felt we probably went at the best time. On the first day I fell over onto my face, hit my head on my sunglasses and cut my forehead as well as grazing it. Everyone was looking at me, there was blood, it was very dramatic but not very serious at all. We went to both Perisher and Thredbo: I've never been to Thredbo before, and skiied all over. I took a day off for my thesis, but skiied the rest of the week. We were all very sore by the end; note to self, exercise more before next skiing trip. Andrew is going to go off and ski for another week, I don't know how he does it.
We stayed in a house in Jindayne which was very very cold, and heated by a wood stove. Always fun. We also watched 'The Quick and the Undead', a zombie movie which is viing for the coveted position of 'worst movie I have ever seen'. 'Twas quite funny though. Seriously, the acting, script, plot, cinematography and probably costuming were all severely lacking in the quality department. Don't watch it. Also came to the realization that all my family are better skiiers than me. Very depressing. Goes without saying that Andrew is a better skiier than me, he spends an awful lot of time waiting for me to get down slopes, and then zooms off again.
What else... My sister was in a race with school, we watched the flare run on our last day at Thredbo, very pretty, drank lots of hot chocolate although I managed to spill a whole cup all over the table and my boots etc (it had a whole heap of cream on top and two marshmallows! A sad loss...).
Thesis progressing slowly...

Monday, June 04, 2007

beowulf, grendel and anarchy

Today I got lent a copy of the 'Beowulf and Grendel' movie, which looks about as classy as you might expect, and a little less accurate. I haven't watched it yet, but the cover says a lot. For a start the back boasts a rating of 3 stars, which isn't a good sign. The description calls up memories of the Beowulf poem, the famous non-fight between Grendel and Beowulf, the themes of mercy, the memorable character of Selma the "mysterious and sensual witch". Well, ok, so what I actually remember is Beowulf ripping Grendel's arm off at the shoulder to stop him eating any more people, but then what would I know? Who knows where the Selma character sprang from... Anyway, looks like it will be fun and cause much laughter. The problem is that it's really a movie that needs to be watched with a large-ish group of people and everyone has assignments and exams at the moment. Including me truth be told. But the essays are coming along ok...

I want a bumper sticker that says I study Old English Poetry and I vote. Other bumper sticker ideas: I don't Watch the News and I vote, I'm an anarchist and I vote. hehe, anarchists. I got handed a leaflet by the Sydney Uni anarchists party today, about "a discussion on anti-capitalism and decentralised protest tactics". I'm sorry, but I don't think that anarchy is really a desirable and viable alternative to capitalism. And I feel that protesting APEC is a very bad idea given the security measures. You'd probably get locked up indefinitely for terrorism or some such charge (yes my understanding of the 'security measures' they're planning on putting in place is very vague, but then I could legitimately use the 'I don't watch the news and I vote' bumper sticker). No doubt there are problems with the agenda of such global business groups, but I think that to say they act "to further neoliberal assault on the earth and our lives" is a bit overdramatic. Oh well. Important issues no doubt, but I doubt the anarchists have the answer. I couldn't protest with them anyway, I have to go to a wedding that day :)

The library calls, and the essays yell and scream in the background. They really can't stand it when you don't pay attention to them, essays always want to be in the limelight.

Monday, May 28, 2007

pirates, wizards and plenty of sleep

Well, it's been a fairly busy weekend, but overall a fun one. Friday I went ice-skating (in the morning! i had to wake up!), for the first time in years, and managed to skate around without holding on to the edge all the time, which felt like an achievement. Did not do so well at trying to teach others to skate, but started learning to skate backwards, which was exciting. Then Friday evening I went to watch 'Tales From Earthsea', which turned out to be an odd experience. It wasn't a bad movie, although the plot had many holes in it, but I was distracted from this by trying to match the movie to the books. Obviously there were elements of Tehanu in there, but I think this was blended with The Farthest Shore, and also bits that were unique to the movie itself. I found it hard to distinguish though since it's been so long since I read those books, my memory of what goes where is vague (apart from The Tombs of Atuan, which is pretty distinctive). I'd seen Pirates of the Caribbean the day before, which was a very fun experience, the cinema was packed, the atmosphere was good, the movie was rollickingly enjoyable, is a little lacking compared to the previous two.

Saturday involved waking up in the morning once again (although not as early as Friday) to get picked up by the parents and to go to a wedding. Sylvia and I were not the only ones getting picked up, and getting to the wedding involved a two hour trip in the Saturday traffic. Weddings are generally good, I often worry that I will cry at them and thus be open to ridicule but thankfully have not done so yet. The reception was at a golf club and was very pretty, with jazz and finger food and so on. Then a frantic trip across town to get to Vivian's 21st. Ang picked me up at Broadway and I got changed there, and then we managed to get lost with the help of mis-remembering locations and mis-direction from some who will remain nameless (Alicia) . But we did arrive eventually and a good time was had by all, twas nice to catch up with people, and to see everyone dressed in purple. By the end of this day both Ang and I were about ready to fall asleep in the car home, but luckily neither one of us did and we got some precious sleep.

Sunday was an allotted study day, so instead I spent much of my time reading a very interesting book about sleep and dreams (my dreams being often of the most bizarre) and interrupting Ang to say things like "Did you know that sloths spend 20 hours of their day asleep?" (She did know that). So not much productive was done before I had to head off for church. On return from church we had some very delicious bolognese, it was very exciting indeed.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

pirates pirates pirates!

As all of you are no doubt aware, Pirates of the Caribbean 3 comes out today/has come out today. And this is a very exciting event. I am going to see it tonight, dressed as a pirate. In preparation for this I have spent the whole day in the library, dressed as a pirate. Luckily my pirate costume is not too outstandingly piratical, but I did feel that I attracted some funny looks on the way in to uni. Maybe I am just being paranoid/self-centred. But my pirate costume is fabulous :p

Anyway, that is very exciting and merits a post in itself. The rest of my day has also been exciting, if less so, and slightly less than ideally productive. I feel like I have been moving along on my thesis slowly but steadily until about a week ago, at which point my working practice broke down almost completely and I spent far too much time watching Rage. Now I am working on essays.
My major distraction today came from the books on level 9, the story of which I started last blog post but left unfinished. When on Monday I went to look at them a passing fellow book-looker-at-or informed me that they were free for postgraduates only, so I became anxious, perused them thoroughly and left them alone. Today I discovered that not only are they free for all (note that well dear reader, and feel free to liberate books and save them from certain pulping, but pass by lending services on level 3 first to get them de-sensitised) but also one of the books I marked out in my perusal was recommended to me as pre-reading for an essay! I was there in a flash, and on my way ran into my friend Theo, informed him of the free books, and we continued to level 9 together. So now I am the proud owner of: A Manual of the Writings in Middle English Volume 1: Romances, Arthurian Literature and Society and Eugenio Montale: Selected Poems (translated from Italian to English). The last was recommended by Theo, and as he is currently doing a PhD on Italian poetry I guess he should know. There are alot of good-looking books there, surprisingly as they have been giving them away for 6 months, on most subjects. Alot on DH Lawrence, Thomas Hardy and Chaucer (from the English literature section) but also books on law, economics, education, and probably alot of other subjects that I wasn't bothered looking at. You might even find course text books.

During my search I found I was looking for some quite specific things, which they didn't actually have, and which led to me making up a list in my mind of Books I Want, which I thought was handy. I may go sometime and hunt them down with the aid of my trusty book vouchers. They are:
- Klaeber's edition of Beowulf
- A collection of poetry by WH Auden
- Collections of Folk and Fairy Tales (reminds me that I wanted that Annotated Brothers Grimm)
Actually I should use some of those books vouchers soon, so any book recommendations are welcome. (Thesis, what thesis?)

Monday, May 21, 2007

short shorts

I have 6 minutes left to write a blog post, since somehow I got a computer which gives half as much internet time as the rest. I would have changed, but there was such a long line I just wanted any computer I could get. After this I am heading up to level 9 of the library because apparently they are still giving free books away. Which is very exciting, though they've been doing it for a while so there may be nothing good left. That wouldn't bother me too much as I already got Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader and another book on Old English the title of which has slipped my mind, courtesy of Sam and Bec. Thanks guys!
Maybe I'll come back afterwards and write more...
I like the library, despite the long computer queues, there's a sense of accomplishment in mastering the finding of things, especially when you talk to scientific people who come into contact with Fisher so rarely that their minds boggle when they do. Hehe.
Anyhoo, sadly, that's my time for now...

Friday, May 04, 2007

for fun

Here is a link for all you bored and/or procrastinating blog readers, courtesy of my brother Jeremy. Thanks Jem, you make me laugh :)

Monday, April 23, 2007

sad, sad songs

Over the weekend I headed down to Canberra (for a whole night!) and while there I picked up a book that was lying around the house called 'Heart Songs' by Annie Proulx. It's a book of short stories about the farmers and country dwellers in a remote part of New England, America, in the (fictional?) Chopping County. The characters are all either very poor or rich, city dwelling intruders. It had alot of elements that resonated with my American Gothic class, all dark secrets and run-down houses and a pervasive past. It also made me think of country music. This was not particularly original thinking on my part, the eponymous story ('Heart Songs') was about a family of these country people ('hicks' if you will, or maybe hillbillies?) who played country music together and are infiltrated by a city dweller who is impressed by their music. All the music is very sad. And I suppose the point of the stories is that they are like country songs themselves, sad and dark but beautiful.

In the car on the way back to Sydney we were listening to a selection of songs from a British folk radio station, and since I was reading this book at the same time I started drawing connections. Folk music is also generally sad and dark. And I think it is essentially the same thing as Country music, but from a different period and place, so the style is necessarily different. But the premise, that these are songs by and for the country people, the rural poor, is similar. Of course this is not really true, at least not these days, and the authenticity of this view and of the music in this style is highly questionable. Listening to some of the folk songs, with all the syllables carefully pronounced and the grammer corrected was interesting. Listening to some of these singers you could just tell how far removed they were from the troubles they were singing about, which ruined the effect somewhat. Fair enough when singing songs set in medieval England, but all the same I felt they were somewhat sanitized. I would really like to listen to the songs in 'Heart Songs', they sounded so good, are sadly entirely fictional.

The sad thing is that with this type of folk singer and the common type of country people miss out on the wonderful things about these genres, their darkness and sadness and all the quality music that expresses it. You have to listen to good country, not the country pop of such as Keith Urban. I mean, how can you have a country singer with the surname of 'Urban'? You should stop there. I shouldn't say this, because I haven't listened to much of his music, and the 'country pop' of the Dixie Chicks is actually pretty good. But my point is that the good, authentic stuff is better and entirely different in feel. Of course, when I say authentic, the problem from before still stands, because as a general rule the people singing country songs are singers, which immediately makes them less authentic.

Well, I should stop there. My main point really was that mostly country songs are sad. Or, in the immortal words of Poison, "every cowboy sings a sad, sad song".

Monday, April 16, 2007

hot fuzz

I saw 'Hot Fuzz' on Saturday night. I had heard good things, so I was expecting it to be enjoyable, but I was wrong. It wasn't merely enjoyable, it was really really great! Now that I've spoilt that un-hyped experience for you all (all of you that are still reading my blog) I guess I should elaborate a bit. It was hilarious, all of us laughed alot. It just got more and more surreal and over the top. But also very violent in surprisingly gruesome ways. It's about a highly talented, highly urban cop who gets transferred to a small country village (village of the year in fact) and is initially rather bored and out of place, until sinister things start happening. At which point he is still out of place, as the idea of 'sinister' seems to be completely alien to the village dwellers minds. Oh, and it's by the makers of 'Shaun of the Dead', which was also pretty good. Basically my main point is that you should all go out and watch this movie, because you will most likely enjoy it, though the squeamish should be warned to look away from the screen at certain moments.

In other news, the queues for library computers are quite long. Spending time in the library over the holidays was bliss, as everything was half-empty, but it left me unprepared for the enormous queues today, which drove me to a convenient computer lab. Also I entered the Women's Resources Centre for (I think) the first time today. Not particularly exciting, apart from the tea and coffee facilities. I was hoping for a microwave... :(

Thursday, February 15, 2007

happy valentines day

Belatedly. If you didn't get anything, or you feel all alone, don't worry, I love you.



And I got you this (picture of a) flower.
Feel the love, the love is in the air, and all around, and so on and so forth...
I like being in love.
:)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

book list 2006

In the spirit of 'the year in review' (albeit a little late) here is my list of books I finished in 2006 for the first time. I'm just too lazy to think of an actual post, that's right... Although I've given you short reviews of most of these. So if you're stuck on what to read in 2007, maybe this will help. * for my pick of the year, the best of the best. There are a whole lot of new favourites on this list but the red star goes for the 5 star books, not just the 4 1/2 star ones. So enjoy, those of you who actually read this whole list :p

Les Miserables- Victor Hugo Epically huge, but very classic and awesome. Many digressions, but Gavroche is the best.
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell- Susanna Clark Original fantasy with flair and a sense of humour.
The Big Over Easy- Jasper Fforde
44 Scotland Street- Alexander McCall Smith Light and engaging.
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency- Alexander McCall Smith
Like Water for Chocolate- Laura Esquivel Overly melodramatic, but the recipes sound good.
Memories of my Melancholy Whores- Gabriel Garcia Marquez Beautiful writing, melancholy.
The Color of Water- James McBride
The Hospital by the River- Dr. Catherine Hamlin
The Secret Life of Bees- Sue Monk Kidd Segregation was insane. A good read in conjunction with The Color of Water, hard to believe that people could think like that. Well written.
Girl With a Pearl Earring- Tracy Chevalier Greatly over-hyped
Gifts- Ursula le Guin Ursula le Guin is a genius fantasy writer. That said, she does have better books. Still, well-written and thought provoking.
One Night- Margeret Wild Verse novel for teenagers. Odd, but in many ways typical of writing for teenageers, that is to say slightly trashy.
*The Turning- Tim Winton Have I already praised this? Because I should have. It's amazing. The writing, the stories, the characters, the way it all melds in together. A top book.
Pigeon Post- Arthur Ransome If you've read any Arthur Ransome you'll know what this is like. Fun for when you feel like reading a children's book/
The Book Thief- Marcus Zusak It amazes me that so much has been written about WWII and the holocaust, and yet there can still be such good, moving books written about it. But this shows that it's possible once again.
In the Earth Abides the Flame- Russell Kirkpatrick Book 2 of standard fantasy quest. I feel that this writer has promise, but seems to lack polish.
The Thrall's Tale- Judith Lindbergh Rather standard and dreary historical fantasy. I didn't like any of the characters by the end.
The Dean's Watch- Elizabeth Goudge Uplifting
*number9dream- David Mitchell The discovery of the year. Have been reading my way through Mitchell's other works, but this is still my favourite.
If On a Winter's Night a Traveller- Italo Calvino Well executed and engaging, disappointing for lovers of endings.
The Dancers at the End of Time- Michael Moorcock Bizarre (in a good way) book from the place where fantasy overlaps with sci-fi
Cloud Atlas- Davis Mitchell
Espresso Tales- Alexander McCall Smith Sequel to 44 Scotland Street. Too long in this world becomes irritating, but short visits are fun.
Last Orders- Graham Swift
Silver Birch and Blood Moon- ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling Collection of post-modern fairy tales that are generally pretty same-ish. Meh.
Not the End of the World- Kate Atkinson Seekers of modern fairy tales are much better advised to read this.
Oryx and Crake- Margeret Atwood Well executed post-apocalyptic sci-fi
The Bird in the Tree- Elizabeth Goudge
The Remains of the Day- Kazuo Ishiguro Melancholy through the everyday.
Murder in the Dark- Kerry Greenwood A Phryne Fisher mystery. Enjoyable, light and frothy as always.
The Secret Adversary- Agatha Christie
The Man in the Brown Suit- Agatha Christie
Wintersmith- Terry Pratchett Terry Pratchett is funny, and he also writes good fantasy. There's nothing wrong in this combination.
The Secret of Chimneys- Agatha Christie
Ghostwritten- David Mitchell Not my favourite David Mitchell, but good nonetheless.
One Good Turn- Kate Atkinson Mystery of a different cut to Agatha Christie, good on many levels.
The Seven Dials Mystery- Agatha Christie Fun, similar to the other Agatha Christie's on this list. They're all in the 1920's omnibus. I do enjoy a bit of Agatha Christie.
Heavenly Pleasures- Kate Greenwood I prefer Phryne Fisher, these are too much on the chick side of chick lit, and at times far too light on plot or drama.
To the Lighthouse- Virginia Woolf Light on plot for sure, but that doesn't matter because this is very good for reasons which I find hard to pin down. Reminds me of 'The Remains of the Day' more than anything else on this list...
Dracula- Bram Stoker Gothic horror in a thoroughly enjoyable way! Scary, but not too scary, more readable than 19th century novels often are, full of vampires and the original Dracula! Which surely counts for something.
I know You Got Soul- Jeremy Clarkson
Love Over Scotland- Alexander McCall Smith More Scotland Street
On the Jellicoe Road- Melina Marchetta Different to her last two books. I find Melina Marchetta is getting further and further away from reality... But her books are still good and very readable. I think my favourite writer of young adult fiction.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

happy new year!

I know this is very late, but happy new year all the same!
I spent my New Years Eve watching fireworks in Balmain, and then left almost straight away afterwards because I was so tired after LOTR :( What did you do with your New Years?

This is another short blog post because it's late and I'm tired once again, also I am lazy. I will try to do better in the future :) Am in Cnaberra at the moment, but off to the South Coast tomorrow. Family fun!