mockturle06: (Lewis)

So, Melbourne. It was just a week away, me trying to cheer myself up, a consolation prize to myself, because I can’t afford overseas holidays any more.

Also, tiny bit inconvenient, with the family situation and all. You know, that line in Hamlet, ‘When sorrows come, they come not single spies. But in battalions’, I always thought it was over-egging the plot a touch by having misery upon misery, but as my family has taken a turn for the gothic, it really does go like that, I’ve discovered.

Anyway, much like my anglophile trip to NYC (saw James Corden and Andrew Garfield on stage, and an exhibition on Mary Shelley, and I went to the cloisters to see the Lewis chessmen, etc.) I decided to do a faux-euro trip to Melbourne, seeing European art in galleries and sitting in French, Italian and Greek cafes. Catching trams. Stuff I can’t do here.  It sounds stupid and pathetic, and it is, but my Italian colleague gave my valiant attempt the thumbs up for trying, so there’s that.

So I went and saw the Van Gogh exhibition at the NGV. I wanted to see some VVG in Europe, so this would have to do. Maybe that’s why I was disappointed. I mean, I know they usually only send us the stuff they don’t care if it drops into the Indian Ocean, and quite right, too, (irreplaceable plant specimens from France destroyed in Australian quarantine blunder) but this was stuff they didn’t care if it fell down a volcano. Early juvenilia sketches and depressing scenes from when he was locked up in the loony bin. Exciting if you were a scholar, but it really wasn’t…there wasn’t anything to show you why people make a fuss about the man. So I was angry, because it’s crap shows like this that made me take a lifetime to understand why Vincent is considered a big deal. Because these muddy sketches in no way demonstrate it.

Also, it was far too crowded to properly look or consider, as each painting was surrounded by a deep scrum of tourists. Which was also annoying as I’ve had rooms full of Van Gogh to myself overseas (and I have the photos to prove it). Why should I have to pay a mighty fee to be jostled like I’m on my peak-hour bus, all to see a work nowhere near as luminous as the ones I’ve had all to myself to admire overseas?

Ah, well, if it was the bliss of solitary contemplation of great art I was after, I was right in my choice of the Hellenic Museum. The ticket price was off-putting to the same noisy tourists, so I had a room of ancient masterpieces all to myself to swoon over. And swoon I did. It was just a tiny room, with only a handful of statues, cups and the odd bit of bling to consider, but I prefer that, just one piece, one on one, to look, to study, to contemplate. To imagine if this was something the artist laboured over in tears, or something he knocked off before lunch? Ah, there was a lovely old pot I saw once at the Ian Potter museum that had clearly been started before lunch, but finished afterwards, because the careful lines became noticeably wobbly and skewed after a bit. So, that was me, chillin’ with Aphrodite, Paris and Hercules. Loved that.

And I loved the Love exhibition at the NGV. This one was free, uncrowded and full of treasures and delights from the NGV’s Europhile collection. The only time I grew cranky here was my outrage on the part of Aphrodite, whose statue was broken apart and stuck back together with plaster by so-called Edwardian gentlemen to better emulate their fashionable ideas of beauty. Yep, being a goddess wasn’t good enough. So they hacked her to bits and glued her back together like rough-handling Pygmalions. Because blokes.

The other one was my favourite print of Regency era dancers, arms upright and curved, no sharp-angled elbows akimbo like you see so often in period bonnet-pieces. I used to be (still am, a bit) an extreme nerd for that period and it annoys me when they don’t get the details right when it’s so easy to just look at the print and there it is, you can see how they danced, no need to guess.

Yes, you might have noticed that I don’t like huge liberties taken with history. Mainly because it’s just lazy and sloppy, but also because it’s unfair (as I don’t have access to see the real deal, be it costumes, mode or location), and it’s also bloody dangerous (to put misinformation out there).

Especially when folks take most of their history from the screen these days. Not just dangerous, but rude and insulting, too. Like, because America erases Australian forces from every single war film, despite having served alongside American troops for a hundred years, I get ignorant comments from so-called friends like ‘oh, were you guys in WWII?’ and if we hadn’t been on the freeway right then I’d have told her to pull over so I could get out. Harumph.

But enough about that. Back to love, and this exhibition covered it, from the sublime and the pious to the darn silly, filthy, dirty and dangerous, from Pamela (ah, to think I’ll never see the full set of Pamelas) to the cards pointing out the lewd imagery within symbols to cads and trollops and sweet pics of people and their pets. Love in all its forms and guises, good and bad, love gone bad and outright misogyny and yet also innocence and sacrifice. Fashions, flirting and faith. 

It was a small and eclectic collection and I loved it. Again, because it was small and uncrowded I had time to pause and consider, admire and appreciate.

Pausing even more (I’m old, and my knees are gone) in a café crawl across Melbourne, but they have so many, and they’re so nice, and kitted out to an almost but not quite Euro-Disney way, like super concentrated Euro café vibes, but that’s exactly what I wanted and needed. Unfortunately, one is paying for the vibe, because the food was awful, but, as I reminded myself, that was authentic, too (I did break down and go the nasi lemak at the Malaysian café round the corner, on my last day).  Still, I got to curl into various corners with my increasingly battered Rebus book, and order a coffee or three.

Trawling around Fitzroy was a bust. I thought it was because I was doing it sober and in daylight, but the problem was I was doing it years too late. All the cool ugly-beanie people have been priced out (they’re even being shifted/shafted out of Reservoir, so I hear now) and it was all ladies-who-lunch.

Who alas spoiled what had been shaping up to be a good time in a heartfelt parody of a French café, with their reeking perfume and painted faces and they went on and on like the real housewives of Melbourne over whose husband was cheating and/or beating. It was so horrifying it made me happy to be ugly and alone and forget my shameful tears earlier in the week. Good lesson. 

Theatre was ripe, but I’d seen most of the shows already in Sydney, so I saw The Book of Mormon, because it’s supposed to be a big deal. I didn’t mind it. I was just there mainly because I love Melbourne’s old theatres, though I loved it slightly less when the queue for the loo stretched out into the road (male-designed architecture vs women’s anatomy and fashion – discuss).

I had a wildly overpriced cocktail and spotted friends of my happy-clappy rellos sitting in the row in front of me – mutually busted, but oddly I get on better with them than the rellos so it wasn’t as awkward a meeting as it might have been.

That wasn’t the night I ended up in Little Bourke Street, though. Meant to, but decided on a burger and a night in front of the box watching Jude Law instead. Because Jude (and as I was missing him live on stage, watching the SBS screening of Young Pope would have to suffice).

Between Young Pope and Book of Mormon there was a lot of faith-based viewing going on, but there’s no escaping it these days, even if I take it no more seriously than a statue of Hercules. Besides, both kind of offered insights into the psychology of believers, scary and unsound as it appears to me. Sorry, I’m a rational humanist and will be until the day I die.

But anyway, yes, Little Bourke Street, in the rain, with all the neon dragons flickering in the puddles and bike couriers flashing up and down. Yep, totally a Blade Runner vibe there, damn shame I didn’t have my camera on me. The gongbao chicken was pretty great, too, though I had to settle for Tsing Tao to wash it down with.

Ah yes, my great White Rabbit crawl across Melbourne. I just cannot get dark ale in Sydney. They sell me these funky pale ales that always taste like possum pee. I lurve White Rabbit. They had it at Jackson and Young, in Chloe’s bar, where the famous/infamous painting of Chloe resides. It’s a landmark. It’s a lovely pub, too. Shabby genteel.

I also popped into the Melbourne Museum to see the WWI: Love & Sorrow exhibition. This was so distressing, and I was still fuming over Patty Jenkins’ comments about no-one knowing about WWI.  She meant Americans, though, as Mechad explained at the con, they don’t do remembrances there (he’d seen an ANZAC day service and was still affected). We do two a year, once on ANZAC day (25 April) when we wear rosemary for remembrance, lest we forget, and once on Armistice Day (11 November) when we wear poppies. We will remember them.

So I get there and there’s a packet of tiny souvenir playing cards like my Great Uncle had. I just reeled on from that, past the photos, drawings and casts of men without limbs and faces missing, past the letter from a child to her daddy, and the telegram that arrived instead, past the story of the soldier who came home, drank and beat his wife, then drowned himself. Past the wife who sent baby shoes to her husband from their newborn son, only to have them returned, unopened. Past the mother who waited two years to find out what happened to her son who was MIA, and when finally told he’d been blown to bits, drowned herself in the dam on the family farm. Past the mower that belonged to a blind soldier, who tended his garden by way of guide lines.

We remember them. I don’t know what the Americans do. Make cute adventure films sans ANZACs, I should guess.

So then I rambled about through the anatomy wing, where there were cases upon cases of 18th and 19th century bone saws, which is why most people (unless you make American movies) know that’s where the slang term ‘sawbones’ comes from.

Also hit the dinosaurs (just casts, but they’re always visually so cool) and the geology section (I’m from a family of geologists so I still know my igneous from my metamorphic). Zipped through the ocean and wilderness sections, because it was too much like work (my brain started pulling up work files, so no).

Café trawl was ok, I found a few nooks to hide in, and most made an effort with atmosphere. Weirdly, almost entirely staffed by French waiters, to add to the authenticity of the experience. I don’t know what France is doing for waiters. Maybe they’re all Australian? I never did get back to the café that had the absinthe, though, damn.

The con was more fun than I was expecting. Caught the 57 tram out to the showgrounds every day, past delightful but soon to be demolished heritage buildings, and Jude Law glaring at me from various posters, just to remind me I didn’t go see him in London. It wasn’t at all as bad as the set up in Sydney or that awful one at the Gold Coast, so I zipped from building to building, using and abusing the priority pass I’d bought (just because I thought I’d be way more concussed than I was) so I didn’t have to queue quite so much. There was still queueing though.

Ok, highlights: Me, making Tom Hopper nearly cry by questioning Billy’s actions in the last couple of seasons of Black Sails. Billy’s been hurt and betrayed by those he trusted most, poor wee orphan, and I ought to know that. Consider myself told. Pretty young Mr Hopper also seemed confused why his costumes never included sleeves. I didn’t burst his bubble on that one.

Natalie Dormer revealed herself to be a hardcore history nerd and passionate advocate for Anne Boleyn (all those uncharacteristic talky bits in the Tudors were her idea). So I kind of love her now.

Mehcad Brooks was a total sweetie, talking to all his fans at eye-level, and being very gentle with the tweenie Supergirl fans. It sounds creepy but it was really just him being a really nice guy. Cory Michael Smith from Gotham just about ran off with my passport, because he wouldn’t, couldn’t believe it. And the pic I got with Lee Majors was as awful as always, but the squee going on there could power my laptop for several hours (childhood hero). Besides, he’s pretty much the last of the TV cowboys (Big Valley) and, you know, living history. I honestly didn’t mind him letting a little light onto the magic of my childhood shows. As always, the never meet your heroes edict applied to Buffy more than any other show I’ve ever been a fan of (besides Trek in its many incarnations) but there always has to be one.

Oh and the swishy dress with the huge petticoats I bought on a whim was worth it for the smile it evoked from young Mr Mitchell. Well, that and he was desperate for a signing. That, too, but, oh, such a smile. I shall remember that smile.

That was Melbourne: food, coffee, history and squee.

My pics: https://www.instagram.com/mockturtle06/

My links: https://plus.google.com/u/0/113197665355692280218/posts

mockturle06: (Chris)

‘The earth had been pulverised, blown and blasted out of all semblance of what it once was. Not a blade of grass, not a tree or bush showed the slightest sign of life. The area was a jumble of tremendous craters and shell-holes... piles of swollen bodies of horses and mules... a wrecked tank here and there... filthy, putrid lakes and mires...screaming, blasting shells were falling about us. We ran, we gasped our way through this hell.’Private Bert Bishop, 55th battalion

This week, aside from seeing photos of what I missed re that Jude Law play I couldn’t get to see, the lesson appears to be those that don’t know history are doomed to make American-made films about it and then make me watch them. Yikes.

First there’s this interview with Patty Jenkins this week, of all weeks, where she’s talking about the Wonder Woman film: ‘I thought the First World War was especially exciting. Most of our society doesn’t know anything about WWI, which was such an interesting war.’

Only if you’re a cloth-eared American, dear. Yesterday, thousands of people attended pre-dawn services at memorials across Australia, New Zealand and the world, honouring the fallen and injured in all wars, but especially the 102nd anniversary of the ill-fated Gallipoli landings.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the march in Sydney yesterday: ‘An estimated 100,000 people lined the heavily-barricaded streets from near Wynyard to Hyde Park to honour the 120,000 Australians and New Zealanders who have lost their lives in wars in the past 120 years.’

Americans might not know or care, but it’s a big deal here. The Australian War Memorial states that 'from a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 men enlisted, of which over 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner.'

In human terms, no-one in Australia was untouched by grief in the aftermath. In cultural terms, precious few Australians are entirely unaware of WWI.

The sadly late, forever great John Clarke summed it up in an episode of The Games, when asked by an insensitive type why Gallipoli was a thing, pointing out it was a massive military failure. ‘I know,’ says John Clarke, quietly but bluntly. ‘That’s why I have no great-uncles.’

And that sums it up. That’s why I was there yesterday morning, for the great-uncles and for all the other cousins and branches of the family that were struck from existence in Ypres and Passchendaele and all the other muddy pits of horror.

It’s never not moving or meaningful, these memorials. I choke up every time. Me. But it’s our thing, and why should I expect the Americans to know, care or understand? Or take it seriously or show any sensitivity?

Maybe if Americans, in general, paid just a little more attention to history (and other cultures) they might a) make better movies and b) stop electing Nazis (well, they did elect he-who-shall-not-be-named as their representative, so, you know, ceding of the high ground there, chaps).

Meanwhile, from the near weekly ‘what fresh fuckery is this’ Chris Pine files, I read that he’s going to be playing Robert the Bruce now.

What and the fuck now? Were there no Scottish actors available? And it’s for Netflix, so I’m sure it’ll be all perfectly fine (rolls eyes and imagines biscuit tin lid brought to life). I do hope that it turns out okay, as the Scots are such a gentle and forgiving race. I mean, you’ve seen Trainspotting 2, right?

I wonder where they’ll film it. Please not the ancestral lands, they’ve suffered enough.

Ah well, I guess I’ll just have to sit tight and bite down hard the way I do when Outlander diddles with my clansmen (and the ’45). How bad could it be? I’m sure such an important part of Scottish history and culture will be treated with sense and sensitivity (she says, thinking only of The Goodies).

Ack. Why can’t he be a nice boy and do a Broadway play and read bedtime stories like Chris Evans? But no. Why must I absolutely adore the train-wreck that is Chris Pine, and not someone sensible and caring like Chris Evans? It’s always the bad boys, isn’t it (let me tell you about my great-x-n grandmother who was transported for the love of a bad boy).

Not that young Christopher is a bad boy as such. He’s just gleefully erratic. One never knows what he’ll do next these days. Like play a Scottish king (what, he couldn’t be bothered with a run at Macbeth?). Ah well, it’ll be interesting, at least, to see what he does. Always that. Because I do adore him, the little dear. Bold choice, darling. Very bold.

Meanwhile Tom Hardy is entirely unsurprising in being surprising. Even if the story isn’t true, and I dearly hope it is true, no-one on the entire planet, not one, spoke up and said they wouldn’t believe a tale about Tom Hardy collaring a bike thief. It’s just the kind of hijinks Tom Hardy gets up to (when he’s not reading children’s bedtime stories). It’s the sort of crazy thing we expect from Tom Hardy. And we love him for it.

So the windmills of my mind were flaming wrecks like Catherine Wheel fireworks or a bit of Acme kit after I read all that yesterday evening when I finally got online. The laptop decided to start working again. It could probably smell other laptops on me, as I made no secret of looking for a new one. My grandfather used to lean an axe against a tree to ‘encourage’ it, and I do the same with my tech. It works more than it ought in a sensible, rule-abiding universe.

I was going to see Warhol today but it’s just been/being one of those days of feverish running about and getting nowhere fast. Love those kind of days. And I have been feverish. Only really decided to go to the dawn service (one has to commit to a walk) because I was up with a fever and a cockroach landed in my face (it was after my leftover chocolate).

Yes, a cockroach. It could smell my half-eaten freckled egg and it wanted. It’s Australia. As much as my new chum colleagues might recoil in horror, a large brown cockroach in the face is nothing, nothing, especially when one foolishly leaves the sugary goodies unsecured. At least it wasn’t a huntsman spider, is all I’m saying.

My pics: https://www.instagram.com/mockturtle06/

My browser history: https://plus.google.com/u/0/113197665355692280218/posts

mockturle06: (Avengers)
Ripper Street is one of those shows that frequently feature real people, and real people who have only just passed from living memory (that is, not like the War of the Roses, which is as now as much myth as documentary and archaelogical evidence, though they've made some great and surprising strides of late). Usually, stuff like that is cute and gimmicky, like on Murdoch Mysteries, usually featuring people who've been fictionalised before, but still, where is the cut off point between real people and real lives and fiction? A hundred years? Less?

Because while the Titanic and WWI pass into myth, they were making absolutely nothing to do with reality American films about WWII, pretty much before those Yanks even got into the war, and, well, I'll spare you the usual rant about American forces claiming Australian battles as their own, ditto the Brits claiming Oz victories and the Yanks claiming Brit battles, and so on and so forth. But the point is, turning recent history into fanciful myths is nothing new. Some might even call it propaganda or merchandising.

So where do you draw the line? And are the famous and infamous fair game, while the little people are incidental to anything going on anyway (chances of them featuring that guy in the same class as Doyle, or that guy firing one of the first shots at Gettysburg, have, so far, been slim to none, even in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer).

Do people care? Do relatives care? Does the Doyle estate bother about Doyle turning up in Murdoch Mysteries? Do Winston Churchill's descendants care that he apparently greenlit Daleks for the war effort? What's tongue in cheek, and what's completely tasteless? What's too soon?
more: hey babe, take a walk on the wild side )
mockturle06: (Neal)
Oh, the alarm really hurt this morning. I knew I shouldm't have stayed up watching Hell on Wheels, but I had to. I really wanted to see it, but when it screened on FX I only saw the first few episodes of series one and the last couple of series two because in the middle there were my months without Foxtel, while it kept on screening merrily away. It took four visits of cable guys before the figured out the cable itself was at fault (and not the box, the tv, or me).

So they finally fixed it, after I'd bought a digital aerial and had settled down with that, and watching shows online, at painfully slow and stuttering non-speeds. For a while there the cable worked great, and we even had proper internet, not something that behaves like some feeble and doddering old family retainer on an ITV murder show. For a while. It playing up again now, to my dismay, and it's not like I can say, hey, it's the cable. No, I'll have to go through every painful step again, to the dearth of my few remaining slender shreds of sanity.

But never mind that, because Hell on Wheels is now screening on the ABC, for free, sans cables, sans ads, and, weirdly not British, the ABC being a bastion of British telly for my lifetime, at least. Maybe because it's filmed in Canada, which used to be a pink bit, that's good enough?

I do like it, and it's even better without ads. Free and without ads. How wonderful. Anyway, you know me, I love a western, and this is better than most, with an enigmatic anti-hero with a Tragic Past (tm) and that good old need for revenge that has powered many, many a western. We've got properly vicious injuns, hookers, ex-slaves, traumatised vets, plucky Oirishmen and Colm Meany as a particularly moustache twirling villian, if he had a moustache to twirl, that is. I fully expect to find him tying young ladies to the tracks in one of the episodes I missed.
more: does anyone know where fanny hall is? )

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