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 After one of the worst working weeks of my life, and I was so proud of myself for keeping it together until the very end, but alas, pride goes before a fall and I found myself unequal to some truly spectacular sit.

So I went and saw Artic Monkeys, because they’re a fave. It was a perfect concert. Absolutely perfect. The lights, the lively performance, the note perfect songs. Flawless. I even got up ad danced for Are You Mine, and never have I understood the phrase going through the motions like I do now. I’m so burnt out I just couldn’t enjoy myself. Appreciate that I was watching something special, yes, but feel it, no. They have destroyed me. I would have been sad, but I can’t feel that, either.

So, seeing favourite band live reduced to just another chore. If I could be upset, I would be.

Also, accidentally locked cat in laundry. Again.

So I saw Christopher Robin, because I wanted to see some Ewan (help me Obi Wan, etc.,). Basically, Pooh is here for your horrible boss issues, and I am down with that. Would that I could have Eeyore (my sprit animal) stare down a lazy, witless monster on my behalf. So, yes, got the message, alas, too late.

Finally saw Ladies in Black, too. It was sweet, with definite They’re A weird Mob riffs. Nothing earth shattering, just a gentle tale of golden hued life in the 50s. It did remind me of being taken under the wing of sophisticated Eastern European sophisticates. They must have oved that, finding some gormless skip and finally her head full of books, wine and salami. Still, I look back on those days fondly, and I miss being put onto Bulgakov with a sort of sly shiftiness, like it was a secret thing.

Also watched the latest version of Vanity Fair, at least until I broke the headphones. Everyone is so pretty in this version, but I don’t mind it. It’s an interesting take over the last version I saw, which heightened the venal and grotesque (really, in Vanity Fair?).

So I’m sitting here in a room, looking out over a urbanised scene that could be anywhere, and there’s even a Nandos menu close to hand. Very exotic.

At least the chap I was meeting looked like Shane Jacobson kitted out as Steve Irwin, with the most ridiculous cod accent. I appreciated the theatre of it.

Ok, that’s it for now. Too tired to care, but hey, there’s always Nandos.

 

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You can tell I’m having a challenging time at work when the book in my bag is an Agatha Christie.

Nothing against Dame Agatha, of course. She is exactly what I need when I’m tired and shoved on an overcrowded bus, unfussy and just distracting enough to help me escape the misery of my commute, but not too demanding of attention I simply don’t have to give.

By the way, any privileged prat who says it’s about the journey, not the destination, has never had a two hour commute by failing public transport, or, indeed, flown from Sydney to London in Economy. Screw your mindfulness, it’s all about escapism for me.

Ahem. Sorry. It’s been a few months of even more chaos than usual. Thank goodness I had a clip of Taron singing a duet with Elton to give me hope in the wee dark hours as I worked (yes, worked, in the wee dark hours) on urgent updates. Well, that and a nice hot pot of tea (Dalek tea cosy still going strong).

I did mention I have a Dalek tea cosy, right? Well, I do. On my desk, at work. I’m at the ‘don’t care anymore’ point of my career (such as it is) and at least it unpeeled a few Who fans from the wall.

Anyway, I’m reading Pale Horse, it’s from 1961, so I presume the ghastly young people today she’s dumping on are Boomers (cue muted chuckling from this old Gen Xer). This could be fun.

I was hoping to re-read Ivanhoe, but I couldn’t find any copies on any shelf. Poor Sir Walter. Once he had statues, now he’s not to be found on any shelf in Sydney. Sigh. To add insult to injury, he was referenced several times on my social media feeds. Yeah, well, he’s going to have to coast a little further on reputation only as I can’t get my grubby mitts on any of his output (I’m oddly in the mood for something luridly romantic, in the old sense of the word). Pity, I loved Waverley, and would dearly love to see how Waverley crosses paths with the Outlander books, because I swear they must have showed up at some of the same parties.

Theatre? I went and saw Mary Stuart at the STC. It was, as advertised, rather good. I’m becoming quite the fan of Kate Mulvaney’s writing, she doesn’t waste a word and she has an actor’s sense of making dialogue since and dance and fight. A cast of TV favourites (as well as theatre stalwarts) were nimble with the text, and the stage design, serving as court and prison (METAPHOR ALERT!) was clever and evocative, ditto the mostly off stage sound effects.

It’s nice to see a return to sets and some attempt at theatre magic, because I’m always impressed in a bit of mechanics, a bit of sound and light and some sleight of hand to conjure far away places on a wooden stage. (If I’m going to be paying $$ I can’t afford I want some actual bang for my buck).

A two hour play can never do more than touch upon gender, politics, religion, statehood, sisterhood, conspiracy, popularity, justice and revenge, but I felt Kate’s script really hit hard on all those points, before bouncing off to the next vignette. I liked it. And Himself didn’t snore (no higher praise).

Before the play we’d engorged ourselves on pancakes at Pancakes at the Rocks (our new Hickson Rd dining venue), but I was stress eating, and it was a rather marvellous nostalgic treat.

TV is streaming only, and mostly shrug or I haven’t had time yet, but I did all but punch my way to some time to watch the Umbrella Academy (there has to be some tin foil lining to being shoved over by a rude man in a blue shirt and badly spraining my ankle, yet again, when I was so proud of slogging from one end of the city to the other only days before).

I liked it, I really did. It had Tom Hopper, perfectly cast as a brick wall, Robert Sheehan, perfectly cast as a flake (and for once there was no such thing as over the top and too much for Klaus), and Ellen Page perfectly cast as a drudge with a grudge.

I’ve read articles describing it’s debt to Chris Claremont, and absolutely, but I also like The Avengers (Steed and Peel) style sense of whimsy. Anyone calling the Umbrella Academy too silly clearly doesn’t spent wet Saturdays watching Peter Cushing launch cybernauts across the home counties (and I pity them).

I doubt anyone else will enjoy it quite as much as I did. It was just such a welcome relief from grinding reality, as I’m having a bit of a rough trot right now, the substance of which can be basically summed up by Split Enz - Nobody Takes Me Seriously.

Also, Klaus. I adored Klaus. Luther and Diego were sweetly messed up and sad, but the train wreck of Klaus, oh my (and you wonder why I’m single).

Yes, had quite a bit of fun watching Umbrella Academy. Just the bit with the ice cream truck rolling over the hill tinkling Ride of the Valkyries was both engagingly silly and contextually perfect, and it’s moments like that which made me love it so. Basically, there’s a Buffy-ness to it that is both endearing and familiar. Perfect comfort TV viewing.

I’ve also been watching Chris Pine throw himself about in I Am The Night. To be honest, it leaves me cold. I can see what they were trying for, but it’s just not striking that match for me. It’s trying too hard, from the set direction to Pine’s lunging burnout. I dunno, Chris. First you mumble through Outlaw King and now you keep crashing into the scenery.

Now Robert Sheehan I have disliked intensely, but the last two projects I’ve seen him in have been note perfect and effortless. I am revising my opinion of Mr Sheehan. Poor old Chris. If it looks like you’re working too hard you’re not doing it right, old boy.

Music? Ha, no. I missed one of my very favourite bands this week. Something has to give, and it’s always stuff I want to do. Always.

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Oy. This is what I get for smiling, just the once, or maybe twice. My Grandmother, who occupied the higher reaches of pessimism, always held that a moment of happiness, or even just a fleeting sense of okay, had to be paid for, and with interest.

I kind of feel like she was right. As much as I’ve ducked and weaved, tucked and rolled, dealing with impossible workloads and deadlines, enduring arrogant scientists, so sharp-tongued they make the German rocket scientists in the Fleming novel I’m reading right now seem positively fluffy by comparison, the usual household merde (me, always paying for everything and working all weekend while others spend their days gliding from book launch to gallery opening), not to mention the heat and lack of sleep.

Not to say there haven’t been some wobbles (mainly forgetting very obvious things I know better than to forget), but mostly, I’ve kept it all rolling along. This week, though, it’s been shovelling it on hard and fast. There was a funeral, for the only person in that family who was ever the tiniest bit decent to me. So that was a strain. Also, it was so far to travel there and back again on such a hot day (I did get a few lifts so I didn’t have to uber across the public transport black holes, so I musn’t have been too badly behaved, either that or they were desperate to get rid).

So I was tired, the next day. So very tired (and so busy I had to remind my Manager that there may not be free wifi at the funeral to logon to the network with, although it turns out, yes, there was). So I had many pots of tea and coffee. Many. Then discovered the loos on the floor are closed for demolition until at least April (I didn’t get the memo). So I have to walk up and down floors to a loo I can use, which isn’t too bad, I need the exercise, but my sprained ankle is not happy (it’s given out twice and nearly made me fall down the fire stairs).

We’re talking straws and the load bearing capacity of camels, here.

So I haven’t been up to much, except sneaking off to see the NT Live screening of Antony and Cleopatra with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo in the leads (I was clutching a beer at the bar when I was told about the funeral, it was an odd day).

It was pretty good, though, unlike most critics, I rather liked the Bell’s adaptation with A &C as fading/feuding 90s celebrity power couple. There was some referencing of Beyonce and Wallis Simpson in the costuming, and this version did make some reference to middle eastern fields of battle (all off stage at the Bell by virtue of being a touring production). The set design was rather magnificent, not so much opulent as a stunningly clever use of all the mechanics of the Olivier stage, backstage gears and cogs grinding away to transport us one minute at Cleo’s palace with a wading pool to next minute on the flagship of Pompey’s fleet. I was impressed.

The acting was, as you might expect, of a high calibre, certainly far less wooden than the RSC version I saw screened, but it’s difficult to really get into it, I find, because they’re none of them very likeable people. Flawed, yes, old Bill gets to the heart of that (and how interesting, if Antony hadn’t let his trousers do the thinking, what might have become of the consolidation of power of the future Augustus, if Antony had been any kind of a real threat or obstacle – I often wonder if Antony was encouraged to wallow himself into ruin) but not really fun to be with. I always watch it from a distance, rather than becoming emotionally involved. Or, maybe I just haven’t seen the right production yet, and so far all the Egyptian queens have been too queen bee to bear.

Fisayo Akinade, playing Eros, is one to watch. He milked his fall into the wading pool for all it was worth, the shameless scene stealer (and anyone who can steal away from Rafe Fiennes is worth noting).

That’s about it. Woefully behind in my viewing, though I did finally catch up on Venom (which I had to miss in theatres due to work). Tom Hardy is so cute in that. I wasn’t expecting so much Tom cuteness in a filum about Venom. It reminded me of his younger TV days, and I found myself missing that Tom, and so pleased to have him back in this. Yeah, I kind of enjoyed that, far more than I ever dared to hope. And big raspberry to the fanboys, I was happy to have more Tom and less CGI. So very, very happy. I adore him. I think it’s safe to say, after all these years of faithful viewerage, I adore him.

Speaking of Fleming novels earlier, I’ve been reading slowly (on the rare occasion I can get on a bus and get a seat, and the lights are working) Moonraker. It’s an odd little story, but oddly topical at times. At least we can still say Bond villains are so out there and unrealistic:

All the signs pointed to paranoia. Delusions of grandeur and, behind that, of persecution. The contempt in his face. The bullying voice. The expression of secret triumph with which he had met defeat after a moment of bitter collapse. The triumph of the maniac who knows that whatever the facts may say he is right. Whoever may try to thwart him he can overcome. For him there is no defeat because of his secret power. He knows how to make gold. He can fly like a bird. He is almighty—the man in the padded cell who is God.
(Fleming, Ian 1955, Moonraker)

Yep, totally out there.

I’d bought a stack of Le Carre, Greene and Fleming when going through a mid-20th century spy phase, and I’m still chugging through them. Cracking reads. In between my usual detective novels (Rebus, Cadfael, Phryne, Wimsey) and the odd Victorian gasper still waiting around from my gothic phase.

Tsundoku (n.), the condition of acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one's home without reading them.

Yes, my room looks like one of those dusty old second-hand book dealerships one still finds in the forgotten corners, all teetering stacks of yellowing books and rolled up posters. Oh well.

Abibliophobia (n.), the fear of running out of reading material.

I didn’t get to do anything special for the lunar new year, but I did happen to trot to the shops at lunch in time to catch a very acrobatic lion dance. In fact, it was the best lion dance I’ve ever seen. Not just all the acrobatics and leaping from one pole to another, or throwing flowers to the crowd, but just the way the whole head was worked to make the lion the most coquettish lion I’ve ever seen. Excellent puppetry. Finished up with a big burst of gold glitter. I was impressed.

Also, I keep seeing large pigs about the place, though nobody ever looks and goes yep, that’s a giant plastic pig, right enough. They’d rather look at me like I’ve had a sudden marble deficit. I have photos!

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I heard sirens today as I was walking down the hill, but it was just a drill. It reminded me of xmas eve when I rounded the corner to find two big fire trucks parked in the street where I work, but no, false alarm. I was really hoping Santa had read my letter.

Ah, it’s not so bad. Well it is, from an everything that’s wrong with the world point of view, but then a colleague slips me a biscuit when I’m frothing over impossible deadlines, and that’s not so bad.

I just wish it meant something. Seeing a decade’s worth of duty and dedication, not to mention hard work and sacrifice, go, well, belly up, it’s kind of… dispiriting.

It’s probably why I finally put my foot down and demanded a day’s leave I was entirely entitled to. That and I’m tired, like stupid tired. Heat and exciting times are not an ideal combination.

I did have one adventure. Normally I’m quiet on sorry my ancestors didn’t die on the beach in chains like they should have day, but not this year. It’s has been a wish of mine, since I was a child, to ride on a ferry in the ferry race, and not just watch it from a distance (and I don’t even do that anymore). This year, I saw the Sydney Festival were selling tickets on one of the ferries. There are usually four, but this year there were just two others that were sponsored, one by a property group of no great reputation (and the sleazy guy with gold chains who staggered off the boat with his rent-a-date well after it had docked has done nothing to change my opinion) the other a tech start-up I’ve never heard off, who were incredibly rude, pushy and boastful, in an imported frat-boy way.

We were in the blue ferry. We were told to wear blue and almost everyone did, albeit in varying shades and hues (but we looked great in the long-distance photo published in the paper). It was all very exciting. Ok, the queuing up for well over half an hour wasn’t great, and the scramble to grab a seat, well, I’m used to that (I got pushed out of my favourite ferry seat but where I ended up was fine enough and ironically close to the surprise (as in I wasn’t expecting it) open bar.

So, snacks, champagne and blue flag in hand, off we set, at a somewhat leisurely pace, for a measured course around Shark Island and back under the bridge, pursued by a flotilla of leisure craft. We waved, we jeered at the other ferries, we cheered on our skipper. Alas, we came last. I was this old when I learnt the race is entirely staged, but the occasional bursts of speed were thrilling, and the harbour was churned white with boats going everywhere.

After the race we bobbed along, up the Lane Cover River where lunch was served, an enormous box of snacks (chicken sandwich, art, brownie, California roll (my brownie had seaweed notes) a salad and a fruit salad. The beer was some big brand attempt at hipster beer that tasted like VB mixed with Passiona, so I stuck to water after that. Probably wise, as it was dashed hot in the sun. The cruise kept going, back around Cockatoo Island, under the Gladesville Bridge and up the Parramatta River before returning back to the harbour for some Navy shenanigans in the harbour and then back to the wharf.

It was such a lovely long cruise, and we were having so much fun we checked the destination boards and sure enough there was a ferry leaving back to Parramatta so it was all out all change and off we sailed, sorry, chugged, again, back under the Gladesville Bridge, past all the monstrous high-rises and execrable mega mansion until we turned a bend and the houses were suddenly the ones of childhood (one lone holdout pocket).

The mangrove swamps closed in, the ferry slowed and suddenly we’re going up river in a jungle film, all shrieking birds (ibis and cormorants, mainly) and strange, large plops into the river (Eels? Carp?). We drifted under the old gasworks bridge, that was just a pipeline when I clambered over it as a kid, tottering above shark-infested waters. Slowly old logs were joined with water bottles bobbing on the brown water and I knew we were coming into town. Past hidden industrial sites, then back to high-rises and finally the wharf. It’s been ages since I’ve caught the ferry (and rarely all the way up the river, for whatever reason, high tide, low tide, rain, sunshine) but there’s a café there now. It doesn’t serve snack food (huh?) but we had drinks and chips (a mistake) and then a not too long walk (but in the beating sun it went for miles) back to the bus stop with no shade.

But, basically, a grand day out.

Meanwhile, tv. Haven’t been watching much because the heatwave has been knocking out wifi, electricity, motivation and time because I’m spending 12 hours in the air-conditioned office. I did finally crack and watch the Roswell reboot though. I did ask why, and so soon, but the McCarthyist aliens under the bed (in the bed) themes they jumped up and down on in the first episode were so much more right now rather than then. So that’s why now answered.

And Roswell 1.0 was not good. At all. The acting was awful and the plots, if one could grace them with that title, were worse than pulp. So there wasn’t much precious to wring one’s hands over. I kind of like the aged-up angst puppies, and I do hope, as much as they twisted themselves in Celtic knots to incorporate the original series, from now on, let’s not, ‘kay?

So, as much as I’m against all this fixing what ain’t broke, Roswell hardly falls into that category.

Mainly, I just giggled over the whole Michael is gay now, sorry, Michael is canonically gay now thing. No problem with that. And if they want to remake shows and write certain characters as gay now, I have a list (unfurls, list unspools to floor, unrolls, keeps unrolling, vanishes from sight, still unrolling).

It is confusing for a girl, though. Not Michael, he’s fine. It’s the whole ‘you’re watching it wrong’ or ‘you can’t do that on television’. Roswell and Legends are going for broke, all praise, but then there’s that film I know I was watching wrong. I saw the trailer for the dvd the other day and I am still watching it wrong (to quote Siegfried from KAOS, we don’t do that here!). It was way more intense than anything on CW, but no, not even as subtext.

I was quivering like I’d just watched a Bodleian vid on print-making, though. So much wrong watching.

By the way, if you’re not on library and/or museum Twitter, you are not living your best life. I would have been lost in January is not for the MERL’s solicited duck pics meme.

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Some big bangs of late. Yesterday there was the surprise thunderstorm. I was surprised because I’d been watching the large pale moon, still up in the early blush of dawn from the office kitchen window, fetching my first pot of tea for the day.

So I was startled when, only about two-thirds of the way through my tea (back at my desk), there was a mighty crack and rumble. Then another. I get up and go to the window (I have no windows where I sit, I’m not a window person) and it’s as dark as anything.

The weather just cannot stop being weird.

Happily, it was neither as hot or stormy as threatened last weekend, because it was Symphony under the Stars, in my local park. Top orchestra, for free, and only a bus ride away, so basically I just had to pay for snacks (it was a bit of a Parramatta picnic, as I saw I wasn’t the only one who had pretty much just grabbed a bag of chips and a bag of grapes from Woolies on the way).

Snapped up my near usual spot, this time free of hyperactive kids, though the increasingly drunk and loud twat three blankets behind us started to grate after a while.  

And it was marvellous. As always.

Yes, it was an unashamedly populist programme, but it’s a free concert for plebs, and it’s meant to be more of an outreach, you know this stuff, you’ve got this, type vibe rather than sternly and forbiddingly improving (so the beard strokers can just stay in their Eastern suburbs enclaves).

Ok, so maybe it errs a bit too much on the side of patronising (as my hometown is now populated by university educated white collar poor, as in teachers, IT drones, university staff, government officers, legal clerks, etc.) but it’s meant to be fun. I’m always happy to put a name to a piece I know from a film or an ad or a Loony Tunes cartoon (so much of my classical education, in fact, all of it, oh dear). So, Peer Gynt by Edvard Grieg, got it.

They also played some straight-out film soundtracks, including pieces from The Mission and Harry Potter, but it was the three pieces from Star Wars that really delighted. The absolute joy that rippled through the crowd when the Cantina notes sounded out, the thrill of the Imperial March and the unadulterated squee of the theme music – and I mean un-adulted, as in hearing it made me a kid again, forgetting everything that came after.

They also played some old classics, including the William Tell Overture (Gioachino Rossini), and it was a delight to watch the entire string section sawing up and down in unison as we romped over the oh so familiar notes. And then, of course, the big one, the now traditional (because there will be a riot if they don’t) 1812 Overture. With cannons on stage, going off. And fireworks. Boom boom boom (I posted some upside down because it was dark and I was too excited video at Twitter).  

Tuesday I actually had one of my days off (I’ve missed the last six or so) and went up to Lithgow. Himself promised old-timey buildings, and this it did have. But like many towns where the main industry has gone, it was all social services and charity shops. There was a very nice rose garden in the park, though, and it was crammed with war memorials. It sort of felt like (and I dare say it was) as though all the young men had walked away 100 years ago and had never come back.

I got to walk my new boots through puddles. And I found a couple of crumbling Ellis Peters books. That’s about it for highlights. Unfortunately, Himself’s idea of a day out is to march from one end of town to the other very quickly in the hot sun (and I’m breaking in new boots) and get back on the next train. Barely time to pick up a drink at a shop on the way and no time to get near the head of the queue for the one cubicle in the ladies (he was fine).

For someone (me) whose idea of a day out is sitting in a café somewhere with a book, the whole no breakfast, no morning tea, no brunch, no lunch, forced march thing was a bit of strain, I must say.

So, having half my day off still to hand, I slump in the couch (it’s decades past its use-by date so slump in, not on, is the correct usage) I figure, well, I’ll catch up on some tv then. Nope. Interwebs and cable all goes out. Well, thank goodness I bought that emergency Ellis Peters book, then.

I suppose I finally got my cup of tea and a book, but man, I had many miles to get it.

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I’ve no idea what possessed me to wear such a breezy sundress today. Sure, the cherry print is cute, but breezy is the operative word here, as I work near streets that are such wind tunnels I no longer own an umbrella (attempting to use one in the rain is cruel and expensive folly).

Ah well, everyone on the bus copped an eyeful of the old nana knickers as the bus took off with its usual bunny hopping lurch and I tumbled over, this time with no modesty preserving leggings underneath. There were audible groans. Oh dear.

Why am I doing this to myself? Well you may ask. I promised colleagues, and myself, never bare arms or legs unless it goes above 40C. Thus and so, it’s predicted to crack 41 or 42 (depending on your source) and I just about died the other day in my usual dowdies, so sundress, I thought.

Hmm, perhaps not, but too late to do anything about it now (the joy of Sydney – I can’t buy anything my size until I hit the suburbs – the fatty-proof fence).

I have had one adventure this week worth chattering about. Money is a bit tight right now (entirely my fault) but I just had to indulge in one Sydney Festival treat, and I think I chose well. Well, it was cheap-ish (by comparison) and close to the domicile (crikey) but mainly it just looked intriguing, as it was supposed to be a homage to a jazz age Shanghai night club.

So, off to see the entirely fabulous Shanghai MiMi at Riverside I went. And it was everything I’d hoped it would be. Red lanterns, red beaded curtains, shimmering sequined torch singers, acrobats and jugglers and Simon (the choreographer/singer/acrobat wrangler) as the loose-limbed lizardy MC, like some scat cat from an old cartoon. It was magnificent. I posted a couple of pics on Twitter but mainly I was too into the oooh, ah, eep of it all. (Himself also posted some better pics on Instagram).

Meanwhile, at work:

Pilkunnussija (Finnish)

Literally: a comma fucker. A person who corrects trivial and meaningless things

@presentcorrect

I think that just about covers it. The joy of being in a politically sensitive area during two fast approaching election cycles. At least I resent the 14-hour days slightly less since it’s my only source of air conditioning. Heat stress and sleep deprivation are taking their toll on someone who never previously suffered fools or had a 3 second delay anyway, shall we say. This will not end well, I’ll wager.

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Nothing says happy birthday like a needle in the arm. That probably should be rephrased. I was having necessary blood tests since my vaccination history is a box of lies. So much fun (and yes, my mother still manages to ruin my birthday from beyond the grave – that’s some impressive spite).

But it wasn’t that bad. Ok, it was melting hot, then insane storms, then it rained in the loungeroom again (thanks, Mum) but I did, somehow, manage to have the best birthday ever.

No, it wasn’t going to see Aquaman. Nothing against Aquaman and Jason, who was quite funny when he could be, and the film was adequate, though it looked like it had been thrown together by gamers (treasure hunt, big battles). Hugely derivative, too, as in oh look, this bit is just like Raiders/LOTR/National Treasure/Pacific Rim. Fortunately, I like most of those films. Also, points for the Stingray shoutout. Null points for the extreme closeup of the Lovecraft book, thereby announcing the trench tentacles practically before the opening credits.

Also, I had two martini expressos while watching the film, because there was a 2 fer 1 deal and it was my birthday. Do not do this. All hangover and no buzz. I’m still struggling.

Nah, Aquaman was ok, but it was Mary Poppins Returns that did it for me. Even getting up for the 9.30 am session with the worst hangover in my life. It was just…practically perfect in every way. Even with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s accent lurching into Dick Van Dyke territory (homage or miscalculation, you decide), I didn’t care, because Lin is a treasure and the sheer joy that radiated from the man could light up a decent sized town.

Emily was perfectly bossy. Colin Firth was a proper boo-hiss evil banker baddie (if that’s not a tautology) and as for Dick Van Dyke showing up and dancing on the desk, well, goodness. And I damn nearly fangirl squealed when Angela Lansbury turned up (Bedknobs is still one of my favourite films). And they had the penguins back for a victory lap.

Sometimes you just have to be in the right zone for a flick, and all I wanted for my birthday was a big pink sugary Disney confection, it seems, and it did the job marvellously. Helped along by an enormous lemon lime and bitters (and a glass of bubbly) and some very sticky but delicious satay sticks.

Lunch was downstairs at Papa Rich for my long awaited nasi lemak. It was ok, but it was the pink rose syrup milky tea with jelly that really did the trick (it was the only drink I could possibly order after Mary Poppins, seriously, it needed to be bright pink).

Best birthday ever. Ok, so it was gasping hot walking home, and the thunderstorm was quite exciting (in a dive under the couch kind of way), but I did (eventually) get to see the Colin Firth double on telly (Kingsman 2 and Mama Mia 1).

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Three pages of space news in the paper. That’s more like it, 2019.

I think I’m alone now…well, not really. There are other people in today, crimping my style. I’ve been working by myself all over the break, because I always get volunteered for that, but it wasn’t too bad. I had snacks. I had air conditioning (mostly). I managed to get through everything on The List without interruption (and, better yet, I had a few days of resting on my laurels before the nitpickers returned).

So, yes, making me work all by myself over the break – not really a punishment. It was nice. And quiet. So quiet. In fact, I went the full Twilight Zone and broke my best glasses (the ones that work for reading and screen, which no one else can do). So I had to get new glasses (which don’t work for reading or screen and I hate them). So there was the whole Ha! Ha! I shall read and watch…nothing because I broke my glasses.

Doesn’t matter. Haven’t written a word of this thing in my head (even if today I just measured that the distance twixt point A and Point B is the exact maximum distance of a longbow arrow, not that it matters because it just doesn’t, but I was amused to get the exact same numbers via Google because I’m bored). Sigh. It’d be fun to use all my on the ground (and under the ground) research, just once. But, alas, I was put here to serve at the pleasure of others (never any time for myself, and what I try to steal is broken in front of me, as if I was a bad child).

Well, I have read, or tried to read some things (squinting at them with one eye screwed up). It seemed very hammer the nails in deep to ask for catalogues from all the classic, most amazing exhibitions to ever exhibit all at the same time in London in the history of history that I had to miss (illness, storm damage, jury duty, Scrooge), but it turned out to be much more gentle than I thought, emotionally (because I really wanted to go), and by reading the catalogues, at least I get some of the knowledge, if none of the visceral thrill of standing next to the object (also, the quality of images in the books is rubbish – do better or hire the Instagram photographer).

I’ve finished I Object, the British Museum exhibition on dissent, curated by Ian Hislop, and now I’m onto the Ashmolean’s Spellbound, which is a cracking read. So much glorious weirdness (I would have loved to see the witch in a bottle).

Next up, the British Library’s history making Anglo-Saxon exhibition, which has, if all the ancillary readings (reviews and blogs) are anything to go by, caused the so-called dark ages to be entirely reconsidered for its sophistication and connections with the wider world (like monks in northern England using inks from Afghanistan). Would have loved to have seen that (whimper).

At least reading the books (or trying too, sans glasses I can actually read with) made my punishment/exile/stranding slightly less of a chore. At least I had some quiet and I had my books (now you know why breaking my only working pair of glasses was such a cherry on top fuckery from the universe).  

Not that the universe was quite finished garnishing my miserable time: wasn’t allowed to work remotely via network so I had to do the 80km round trip on a cut-down timetable and a dislocated ankle – finally popped back in but still not happy. And I had one of the worst periods ever. Thank goodness unmentionables are no longer taxed as luxuries because I was going through them like they were Pringles (not to mention having to peel off my clothes when I got home, so soaked in my own blood was I). And, as a final gesture, during one of the worst heatwaves ever, someone left a rotting bag of prawn heads at the bus stop. Ta fucking da.

Yes, I am feeling a touch more sinned against than sinning. I did see Lear, did I mention that last post? With the ever wonderful Sir Ian McKellen. Nothing else because of storms/work. Sigh.

So, watching stuff? Not much, except sitting, or rather sweating through Man With The Golden Gun and Trek ‘09 because they were on telly, it was too hot to sleep and I knew them off by heart (so it didn’t matter that it was all blurry). I have watched a couple of things by squinting at my phone, mainly catching up on all the TV I’ve missed because I work 20-hour (underpaid) days (still not caught up, but man, I tried).

Doctor Who. Well, it took me about three seconds before Jodie was The Doctor and that was that. I’ve been enjoying Whovians, and I’m glad we’re on the same page about it all being about Graham. If you want an arc, it’s his emotional journey, rather than a big bad, and I, for one, am totally fine with that (ditto Ryan and Yaz but we’re all there for Graham).

I loved the historicals, real, proper historicals. I loved that the worst villain was usually the evil in men’s hearts (that’s proper classic Who, that) and I loved Chekhov’s microwave (that’s a plot device, not a celebrity cameo, though Elvis’s mobile phone was another macguffin). The Punjab one actually made me cry and King Alan Cumming needs to come back for some future Xmas panto episode. Special mention for Rosa and the giant spiders one.

Finally catching up on the last (last) two seasons of Daredevil, because Matt Murdock, self-pitying king of pain, is where I’m at. Ditto Supernatural and Dean Winchester. (One day we’ll all get that beach holiday we deserve, but for now there’s duty, sacrifice and the forces of evil to fight).

Did catch up on Outlaw King, in case you’re wondering where all the Pine squee has gone. I’m not sure whether to be relieved or appalled that my noble ancestors/clansmen/kin were stripped of their historical roles and reduced to waving shields and swords in the background. Let’s just say my clan still holds grudges that date before the Bruce, so I’m not likely to ‘get over it’ any time soon, ye ken?

And that’s without me rolling my eyes at a Yank actor trying to ride a horse, wield a sword or master an accent with any degree of affinity. Makes me respect Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas in The Vikings so much more. Yeah, Gem went on a Tony Curtis kick, and I was totally there for that (Some Like It Hot and Son of Ali Baba also got a run, including my old favourite ‘rip his shirt off as a form of first aid’, so beloved of film and tv directors of yore).

Speaking of my clansmen taken in vain, Outlander I do forgive. My, but the tv series spins gold out of straw, every single episode (so much better than the books). I am loving series 4 so very much. It, too, has made me cry, either from a character’s emotional truth, or just seeing some favourite scenery in the background. And wee Sam isn’t bad scenery, either. Never really took to him before, but he’s surely working the magic now. Ahem.

Somehow, I’m actually getting, or finding, tv where the characters (and their journey) matter, and it’s not all about defusing six bombs and defeating two alien incursions before teatime. Maybe with streaming I’m just getting better access to better shows. Mind you, I did wallow in repeats of Stargate: Atlantis, just because I’d not really seen those episodes before (I gave up) and Dr McKay is my spirit animal, always whining about impossible deadlines.

Also been catching up on the back catalogue of the actor du jour, who has been making me laugh and cry, often in the same film (so you know he isn’t American). He also likes to slide into genres I like, so if he could show up as a late Victorian detective sometime soonish, I’d be ever so grateful (preferably not a cartoon one).

Did I mention how much I enjoyed the Alienist? I’m surprised Netflix only gave it a 98% match, because, seriously. The ticking of many boxes ensued, including Luke Evans managing to be entirely seedy and genuinely heart broken – at the same time (take that, American actors, and he can sing and dance, so there).

Sorry, am I still seething about American actors making a complete hash of British roles? Speak to me never of The Eagle.

At least I finally, finally have a John Constantine I can love and adore, thanks to Matt Ryan (another Welshman, tis the season, it seems) and the entirely loopy but my damn favourite show and I don’t care what you think Legends of Tomorrow. I need that show like oxygen. It is crazy stupid but it cares about its odd little family and who’d have thought John (of all people) would be the centre of a time paradox rending love story that that hit Groundhog Day, Charlies Angels, the A Team and Fraggle Rock along the way. Total lunacy but I love it, and the characters all have heart, bless. I love them, and I haven’t even mentioned Beebo yet. Ok, I won’t, but damn, somehow they make it work.

By the way, I should point out that I’m entirely not of that school of thought that thinks only Actors who are X should play X. So very far from it. I’m only being harsh on American actors because I’ve sat through some truly dire sub-Brando stuff lately (see Richard Harris on Brando here).

American actors simply do not exhibit the depth of training and experience (working in all fields, all locations, across genres and cultural exposure) that other actors have, including the fact that most kids can do an American accent before they start school, but Americans never see (or want to see, it seems) other cultures. It just seems unfair that such a culturally closed society is calling all the shots.

Most non-American actors are all-rounders (and are astonished when Americans are astonished that they can do fight scenes and sing like an angel, as well as speak with a different accent) and modest with it, precious few divas amongst them (even Nicole hit the KFC at Chatswood). Just look at Matthew Rhys (another Welshman!). He can do The Wine Show and The Americans and he’s a druid. No, really, he is.

I’ll make an exemption for Michael Shannon, who was just exceptional in Little Drummer Girl. Anyone who can make me take my eyes of Alexander Skarsgård (doing his very best wounded soldier) is a force to be reckoned with, and I hold Florence Pugh in that regard as well (would have liked to have seen more Flo in Outlaw King).

So yes, that was my Le Carre fix for the moment (been viewing a lot of spies lately). I loved the whole late-70s aesthetics of it, all the concrete brutalism, the plastic furnishings and the clothes, good grief. It oftentimes made me think they’d used old episodes of The Professionals as reference points (and sometimes, catching up on my Le Carre, I’ll read something so CI5 it’ll make me go hmmm).

Right now I’m slowly chewing my way through a new Rebus book while I’m on the bus (because right now I can get on the bus and get a seat, things that normally never happen). I’ve also been working my way through the Cormoran Strike books, and really enjoying them (the first and last best, though). Had a huge thing with Hornblower and the Aubrey/Maturin books, picked up some Greene (reading Our Man in Havana and the Tailor of Panama as a pair was a bit of a mistake though), revisited some Sutcliffe, Christie, Adams, Stevenson and Peters.

Haven’t been anywhere interesting, but I did the Sculpture By The Sea coastal walk before work one day, and that’s always fun (one of these days I will not be recovering from a broken ankle/being hit by a car/pneumonia). Did the Sydney Open day where buildings are open to the public, highlight this time was the supreme court, with the Francis Greenway designed spiral helix staircase that was jaw dropping in its beauty. We finished up at the MLC Centre and had dinner at the very 70s Summit (now the O Bar) for $$$, but it was a big birthday and the food, view and service were all worth it (almost, because, yikes $$$).

Also made it out to the cherry blossom festival, which inspired the purchase of a cherry tree. The small orchard is coming along, and the orangerie (well, citrusy as we’ve got oranges, lemons, limes and cumquats going on there) coughed up enough for three jars of marmalade (and I’ve finally learnt how to make marmalade). Ok, world’s smallest oranges, but the lime made it my best batch yet.

Meanwhile the parrots keep coming around. I’m on parrot twitter now so I know where they go when they’re not mooching off my balcony. And, to much avian consternation, I seem to be a destination for two cats. Sooty is a blackish little sociopath. Blue is, well, an idiot. Part Persian and part Siamese and none of the good parts. He sees Sooty slinking and mooching for treats so he just rams the back of my legs like a drunk footballer, looks up with his ugly Victorian baby doll face and makes that horrible yowl. It’s completely ghastly and I fall for it every time because I feel sorry for those of us who are life’s rejects.

Sooty has seen the parrots rattle the door for treats so he’ll tap at it, too. Blue tried it and got his paw stuck, so I spent Xmas freeing the cat from the door. The poor idiot animal. He is exactly like the dumb sidekick in every cartoon I’d ever watched as a child, and then some.

Not forgetting Macbeth, my possum and roomie (I reduced someone to tears describing me trying to primly read my book while wild and angry possum sex is bringing down the plaster from the crawl space in the wall beside me). I remember happy snuffle grunts when I’d put out overripe blackberries before, so I bought the creature a box for Xmas, just because. But did the possum like blackberries as much as I imagined it did? I’d barely opened the packet a crack when the world’s fattest possum (mine, natch) leaps down out of the tree in a flurry of leaves and squeaking. Yep, that possum has a thing for blackberries (and mangoes, and peaches, and kale, and strawberries…).

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I will no longer find myself in the same room as George Miller, because the universe will no longer find that funny. It’s been a strange year.

Best theatre? Has to be the Hayes production of Calamity Jane at the Belvoir. I nearly didn’t get to see it because I had to swap tickets, but it all worked out on the night, including bonus Schmitz as one of the audience on stage. There was singing, and drinking, and moments when it went hilariously off the rails, but that just made it completely brilliant. It was just rousing good fun. And man, I’ve needed that.

Saw Toby Schmitz on-stage at the Belvoir in Dance of Death. It was mighty fine, if somewhat circular as the two creatures seemed to just fight and pick and destroy out of boredom, but isn’t everyone like that these days.

Best film? Oh dear. The one I walked away from most happy was the year’s worst film, according to the rest of the world. Yes, the script sucked, with huge gaping plot holes, precious little character development (I suspect I’d get more in the traditional mummers play) and it was a historical drama made by someone who hated history – which perhaps explains why they struggled and failed to find any meaningful motivation for any of the thin plot threads and characters, when a simple glance at Wikipedia would have provided ample resources for corruption, conspiracy and social unrest in the period investigated. This was one time they really could have legit referenced the templars. Ah well. What can I say? I’m a sucker for favourite actors in a favourite trope. My own little fandom. It’s a real fixer-upper.

Tim Minchin seemed a touch restrained in said filum, but then the last time I saw him was at that train-wreck of a talk/argument/manifesto with Ben Quilty at the art gallery, where there was much red wine being sloshed about, and it didn’t look like they were on their first glass, but that was highly entertaining – and even managed to be thought provoking as they did make valid points about the state of arts and arts funding, and the class system pertaining to same, especially regarding access and support. In vino veritas. If only I could have seen a little of that fire and ‘fr the people’ ethos in the film.

I also saw Tim Minchin at Tropfest, which is now screened near home, and that is also fun. Films weren’t as good as the year before, but it’s nice to do the yartz with a smaller commute.

Hugo Weaving also popped up a few times this year. Saw him in a brutally on-point Arturo Ui at the STC, which, being a little closer to politics that I want to or should be (sometimes, like Game of Thrones, dragons happen) I found more seat squirming than an enjoyable night at the theatre, but it was all the more effective for it. He reminded me very much of the same character, in some ways, in Mortal Engines, though more restrained and less based on, shall we say, the headlines.

I was lucky enough to a win a ticket to a fan screening of Mortal Engines (which was a much needed treat) and Hugo Weaving was there, and Perter Jackson and co, for the question and answer session after the show, and Hugo spoke more about his craft than he ever does at the STC q and as, which I try to go to. Film was pretty good, too. It certainly created a world I’d like to explore more (even though the characters I found most interesting, ahem, probably won’t be returning for any sequels).

I also won a weekend in Potts Point and tickets to a Taste of Honey at the Belvoir and free drinks voucher. All curtesy the Belvoir and such a treat. The hotel was an old 20s art deco block of flats, sparsely furnished with the short of shower you end up telling stories about, but it was so close to cafes and the shops. We dined well, found a lovely café for dinner. The next morning I had brekkie in a faux euro café and went to the markets. Then we walked to the theatre, stopping for Vietnamese tapas on the way. I had a big envelope with programmes, tickets and drinks vouchers waiting for me. It was special. And the play featured my beloved Josh McConville as a louche rake, so that was fun. It was all very 50s working class northern British, like all those black and white films Gem screens.

It was really quite fun to spend a weekend in the bijou inner city, just to pretend I’m living the life, and a nice respite from all the demolition and building at home. When they knocked down old Mrs Coleman’s old 30s Californian bungalow, built solidly for US officers in WWII, as was that whole street, which is why it’s always been oddly main street, USA, in look and feel, it went down with such a mighty world-ending thump the house didn’t just shake but it shifted on its stumps.

I’m sure the laundry door having to be replaced (well, it got stuck so it had to be fixed but it wasn’t worth saving so $2000 for a new door and install) and maybe even the gutters falling off in one of the lesser storms ($5000) had nothing to do with it. In any case, with all that and having a bad cough for four months, I gave up my holidays (and dropped out of my language course and my new thick coat is still wrapped in plastic). Sigh.

I did have one small escape. I did a tour of some art galleries down south, travelling by train to Adelaide and taking in Impressionists from the Musée d'Orsay, plus a rousing screening of Lady Windemere’s Fan. Back on the train to Bendigo to see the Marimekko exhibition. It was my second trip to Bendigo this year, I’d been the first time to see the Edith Head costumes exhibition, once I figured I could get there via planes, trains and buses. The Edith Head exhibition was the best. Cary Grant’s suit from To Catch a Thief! So much cool stuff. Loved Bendigo, too. Took me a day to warm to it, it reminded me of my home town in the before times. Stayed in this grand, gothic old pile of a Victorian gold rush hotel. Rode on the heritage tram. Visited a joss house from the gold rush era and the world’s oldest and longest imperial dragon, kept for parades, housed in its very own house – an actual dragon stable!

Then it was off to Melbourne. Did the hipster café thing, the euro café thing, did the shopping thing. Did Vikings at the Melbourne Museum (they said the old Norse gods are gone when I had a Thor keyring dangling from my bag) and Alice in Wonderland (trippy) at ACMI but the best of the best was MOMA at the NGV. Hopper, Liechtenstein, Warhol, Kahlo, Dali, too many to mention without grabbing the hefty catalogue. It was just candy after candy after candy in room, after room after room. They even brought out Drowning Girl, my old-time favourite (and the fourth city I’ve seen her in). Squee.  

But wait, there’s more. I also managed to fit in a comic con while I was there, and I’d treated myself to an expensive ticket (thinking I’d be kind to myself with guaranteed seats and entry) and I ended up getting a big hug from KJ Appa when I mentioned a job I’d been working on – he approved. Ok, it was worth working all weekend for no pay, almost, for that hug. At least, life was a bit better that weekend, really enjoyed myself.

Did two other cons this year, had two favourite actors parrot their best lines back at me, which was cheesy and what I’d paid for, but I was pleased. Yep, I finally met Cary Elwes. Big tick there. He’s a sweetheart.

I also did a run down to Canberra to see the Rome exhibition (brilliant), the Heath Ledger exhibition (Heath! Forever!), tikis, Captain Cook, a fantastic survey of 1968 from the NLA collection (everything from revolutionaries to space travel to Skippy to Star Trek), Cartier jewels (which was a lot more macabre than I dared to hope) and art deco, pop art and Australian impressionists at the NGA.

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People keep asking how my weekend was. I stumble, because I suspect ‘shitting myself into a new dress size’ isn’t the required or correct answer. Nor is it accurate, which goes to show just how unfair life is. And the kicker? The only thing I can keep down is French champagne.  Great, but I can’t afford French champagne.

Why was I having French champagne to begin with? Well, it was the morning after the royal wedding (who knew it would be subversive? The only one I’ve ever watched, but I was up all night being untidy and unwell, and so) and I’d booked tickets to the 10am session of Deadpool 2, and gold class, baby, because I thought I’d earned it. Well, not actually earned it as in those MFs haven’t paid me a cent of overtime, but metaphorically speaking. I needed a treat. They even throw in a breakfast menu, but I was all queasy. But at the last minute I decided on a champagne breakfast, and this, me with my very fine glass of very fine bubby, kicking back and sipping liquid gold as body parts flew past on screen. Best Sunday Ever.

So that’s how I learnt after being violently ill for weeks now the only thing that doesn’t bother me is French champagne. Which is another tick in the column for the universe being one twisted MF.

And don’t judge me for going to see Deadpool. The last films I saw were filmed productions of Macbeth (RSC, with Eccleston) and Cat On a Hot Tin Roof (Old Vic), both of which make Deadpool look like the Disney film it is in comparison. Ok, so the film I saw before those was the Avengers. Ah, what a time to be alive if you’re a Josh Brolin fan – and yes, you can judge me for that (I had a major thing for the boy back in his Young Riders days and I’ve never quite gotten over it, clearly, despite my best efforts).

Even seeing The Avengers was a major effort, it was one of those weekends I had to work all weekend, and, as is now tradition (tradition, I tell you), I decided I’d go and catch me some Captain America when it was all done. Well, it wasn’t quite done. Here I will regale you with the slightly humorous story of why I didn’t log on Sunday night, even though I knew there must be (and there were) more urgent emails of stuff to be done.

By 3pm on Sunday I’d had enough of waiting around for the stuff (that came in after 5pm) so I found a seat still available in Gold Class for the Avengers 16:30 session, as it is now tradition to go see Captain America after working on a Sunday, and off I went. Jogged up to the cinema and asked for a G&T from the youth behind the counter.

Blank look.

Me: A gin and tonic.

Blank look.

Me: A. GIN. AND. TONIC.

Blank look.

Me, gives up, pays in a hurry, running late and I’d ordered a snack as well (because shut up in empty office all day. Peckish).

So, fillum starts, all pretty, pretty boys, and everyone else in the cinema gets their orders but me. I sigh and shrug (I’ve already missed writers festival talks I wanted to see so whatever by this stage, right?)

Then this tray wobbles towards me. A whole tray of drinks. Three gin and tonics.

Well, it would have been a shame to let them go to waste, and by that stage, you know, necessary for my emotional well-being.

So that’s why I didn’t get back online when I got home that Sunday night (even though I knew I still had work to do).

I did it first thing Monday, before 7am, because I am a legend – grin.

I like to think of it as one of the three things my grandmother gave me. One, a blue knitted beanie, which I loved – and wore, back in the days when the windows used to frost in winter, I’ve not seen that since I was a child. Two, a Scottish children’s book, this ensuring that I read and my UK leaning tastes in reading material, even now. Three, my ability to consume numerous G&Ts without too much incapacitation (I totally could have logged on if I really wanted to) and never a hangover.

So what did I think of these cultural pursuits? Well, Deadpool 2 I did find hilariously funny, I think I got most of the jokes and cameos, and the ultra-violence, that once used to bother me so much, this time, I was like, yeah, bring it on (life has been kicking me hard lately and I’m not sure I can pull my socks up any more without snapping something). Leave Hawkeye alone, though. I don’t know why I ended up Team Hawkeye, but I did, so hmph.

Avengers: Infinity War was more like the penultimate episode of a specifically Whedonesque show wrapping up against the Big Bad, which, essentially, it is, in every way. I read a New Yorker review that described Benedict Cumberbatch, with his cape collar and snark as getting his Agnes Moorehead on, and, well, that’s pretty much it, for me. Thor was pretty and actually had more of a character arc here than in three movies, and Hemsworth actually emoted enough for me to feel for the big, gorgeous, muscly…I’m back. Could have done with a bit more Cap and Bucky (the greatest love story ever committed to screen, imo) so shrug. I’m just going to have to settle for the minor squee of Cap appearing so heroically at Waverly Station (which is a bit of a hole, at the best of times).

Macbeth was pretty good. The countdown clock was a cool idea. It starts when Duncan is murdered (no one was Scots so we never, ever get the proper pronunciation of murrrderrred) and ends when Macbeth ends. Does it say something that the MacBeths are the happiest, most together married couple in Shakespeare’s canon? At least until they start keeping secrets. Eccleston was, eerily, evoking of the Doctor far more than other roles (sometimes he vanishes into the part, other times not, this was one of those). It was pretty good, but pretty bloodless.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was, weirdly, far more violent, and bloody, if words could wound, and these certainly cut and bled. I still don’t think Sienna can act, but Jack was a revelation (very much so, hello full frontal) and Colm Meany totally (and necessarily) redeemed himself for DS9. I really liked it, and it’s not of the past at all, especially for where it’s set (if anything, it sounded far too progressive).

I saw both those plays on the same weekend. Good grief, imagine if they were combined, what a dinner party that would be.

This of course led up to feverishly imaging the Real Housewives of Shakespeare: ‘Lady Macbeth is planning a dinner party and you won’t guess who shows up, and keep an eye out for what Regan does next.’ You know, that sort of thing.

Well, did I mention I’m having a hard time of it? It took me over a week to get a working new phone from Optus, including many hours on hold, being passed about, online and 2 store visits. Excuse me, is this a phone shop? Seriously, Monty Python levels of customer service here. You’d think I’d bought the bloody thing from Arthur Daley with all the lies and actual run arounds I was subjected to.

At the same time as this (and all my other calamities and insane deadlines and being unwell) my much longed-for holiday, the first planned and booked holiday (not time off as sick leave) I’ve had in four years after being retrenched and hit by the 4WD, and it was damn nearly cancelled for jury duty. After three increasingly desperate letters I managed to be excused, finally, as I’d already booked my travel. Did not need that, and now I’m over two weeks behind in holiday prep. Dammit.

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Today’s word: Verschlimmbesserung

That pretty much sums up the work side of things. (Well, there were arch Game of Thrones references which I mentioned to a colleague who started wheezing and crying with the on-pointness of my observations, but best not to elaborate here).

Today was nearly bring your cat to work day. He’s not my damn cat, he just hangs around, in a what ho, spinster kind of way, though usually my existence is barely acknowledged or suffered when he’s in a mood, which is most of the time. But it seems once again one of his community owners has gone off on holidays, and scraping by on only four or five dinners a day, the cat has resorted to being demonstrative.

By demonstrative I mean getting under foot when I’m going down the back steps with a basket of washing, recycling or in the dark. Winding himself around me, cheers to my allergies, and, unheard of, leaping up into my arms this morning as I hurried up the path, and then, after being firmly set back down, scampering after me to the bus stop (or wherever I was dashing to, which surely had much food, as I was in a hurry and having so much fun being tripped up).

As my dash to the bus usually involves a chicken run across six lanes of speeding semi-trailer traffic, I could not go that way so I had to run back down the pitch-dark laneway (an old dunny lane) because I know no cat will follow me into the lane – they don’t like it, and neither do I but needs must.  It worked, as I shook off my dark pursuer in the dark lane, and just made the bus, but only because of a red traffic light, me wearing a light grey top and it being one of two regular drivers on I’m greeting terms with, who saw me and flapped open the door so I could get on at the lights as a favour. Phew.

Checked for cat as we flew past but hopefully he’d found other amusements. Here’s hoping. I felt guilty about not investigating the clatter-bang the other night when I didn’t hear the possum scrabble back pre-dawn but he must have been doing the walk of shame because he was his usually grumpy thumpy self when he woke up next evening (as much as I hate that possum, especially when he objects to me singing Ramones songs while I wash up, or the ceiling shaking hijinks when he brings, ahem, a date home, I would miss him, and his drunken stumbling when the mangos are ripe, or his grumbling and scratching when he gets up, like an old man).

So that’s the wildlife report. Garden? Ah, well. Between the heat and the neighbours – shrug. Next door actually decided to saw off branches of the pink hibiscus while in full flower. And persons unknown (one of the building crews?) has been using the still bare corner where the veggie garden used to be as an outdoor toilet. Still, my wee cumquat I’d planted there is just loving that. Marmalade, anyone?

Ok, so arts? Saturday was very cosmopolitan. Went into local town for a screening of NT Live’s Julius Caesar, and it was brilliant. Man, I wish I’d been a groundling for that. They had the audience on the floor as the mob, and it worked so well, and they all followed their cues to cheer or jeer, to hold up posters and wave streamers. Much like the Globe, I think Shakespeare really works when the actors are performing to an audience right there in front of them, not the back rows, it brings it alive, as they must give those speeches and hold that crowd, the crowd right in front of them, and carry them with them. Which they did. Somewhat obvious casting of Ben Whishaw as the Oxbridge intellectual Brutus with his tweed, scarf, reading glasses and books, against the man of the masses Mark Antony, played by David Morrissey. Well, let’s not shy away from class, or obvious political relevancy. That worked, too. All in all, because it was cut down and performed in such a heightened atmosphere, it cracked along. An excellent bit of theatre.

Afterwards there was a festival of live music in streets, parks and venues. I listened to a few songs before settling in one café for songs and a strawberry milkshake. My town does café culture now. Sometimes. On special occasions.

I also saw Bell Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra at the Opera House, and that was also in modern dress, and crackling with a fire I’ve never seen in other productions. A rare combination of cast and a simple set of modern lounge furniture, and a sheer curtain screen to project the dates and places, which helped keep track. But mainly it was the actors playing the story as a celeb couple in meltdown, an old school 70s and 80s kind of Mick Jagger vibe, and it so worked. That’s me done. Finally, I get it, and I never need see another production because it worked so damn well. Because it was right, the politics are just something that happen in the background to this super celebrity couple. That’s the way to play it.

TV? Mainly streaming stuff I’m loathe to admit to. I will say how much a delight the entire series of Legends of Tomorrow was, from start to finish, it just kept hitting it, for me, at least. The lesser child of the Arrow-verse, I think maybe the lack of expectation helped, as the show has grown into its own damn thing, and I love it dearly. The whole Beebo arc was just, well, classic, and they’ve thrown my most beloved John Constantine into the mix, and Kid Flash. What is not to love and adore? For me, at least. It made me happy when nothing else would or could. For that, I love it.

Legends is silly, but it has heart, and characters I actually care about, unlike everything else I’ve inflicted upon myself of late. I think American writers struggle to differentiate between flawed and complete arsehole, and sadly every other show made in the world must follow. Perhaps they should only cast actors who are clever enough to find that one speck of gold in a badly written role, and nurture it, like a tiny ember, but sadly, that seems rare. Even my favourite Brit boys seem ground down by US scripts these days.

I mean, I know it’s dark days, but take a note from history. Less angst. More Beebo.

 

mockturle06: merlin in a hat (Default)
You’d think having a pack of aunts with the same birthday would be a convenience. Well, not if you forget the aunts and the birthdays. Bertie Wooster never had days like these.

Well, maybe he did. I await the advent of the silver cow creamer.

Yep, that’s the status right now: aspiring to Bertie Wooster’s level of competence. Sigh.

[Sidenote: Himself was once profiled by The Guardian for what the fashionable gentleman is wearing about town, just in case you think I’m over-egging the ‘my life is a Wooster book’ thing a little too far.]

I did, however, find a lovely local florist called Jane, and so, in-between urgent work jobs, I was emailing Jane in Caithness, pretty much bargaining down to whatever she had in the shop was fine, just stick a ribbon on it and deliver it now please. And yes, I knew all about the weather they’d been having (thus no tulips from Amsterdam, if you were wondering).

Work? Gah. Today I’m dressed like a wanker, with my ridiculous spotty coat, but I figured that the art of believing I could do this was:

1. Have a rich mummy and daddy and go to the right school.

Um, no, totally, totally, absolutely failed that. Poverty is why I have problems (talk wrong, act wrong, lead poisoning from roadways, worse from factories, abuse, more abuse, scars visible and not, a fair bit of PTSD, you know, the works).

2. Dress like a wanker.

This I can manage. Or, at least, try. Because it’s not that I’m good at my job, not even close, but I’m no better or worse than others, except I don’t talk right or dress right. And I’m told this. To my face. All the time. I am of the lower orders.

Which is why I accidentally ended up with all these massive featured in the media jobs. Such high-profile jobs are usually not for the likes of me, ever, no never (unless they go tits up and I’m roped in to ‘assist’ and/or take the blame), but prissy private school types have equated in-house jobs with housework, and thus and so. Muggins, of all people, really, of all people, muddling about hopelessly with some of the most important documents. No pressure.

Except lots of pressure. Crazy too short to do a half-decent job deadlines, ye olde tech, everyone down with the dreaded lurgy (including me), and, oh yeah, going to classes at night because I’m told I suck at my job, and I do. Which leaves only a few hours set aside per 24-hour cycle for trying to sleep.

Yep, no pressure. What could possibly go wrong? So, dress like a wanker, because those bastards breeze through life without ever having to lift a finger.

It won’t work of course, but I’m willing to try anything at this stage.

mockturle06: merlin in a hat (Default)
Saturday was a big day. A little too big. But I did it.

First stop was down to the river for the local market. Yes, we have a market now. Picked up some fresh bagels, and then I went straight to the plant guy. I’ve bought, and carried back, uphill all the way, one cumquat (which the caterpillars loved to shredded bits) one mandarin, and two lovely oranges. This time I fell over two blueberry bushes. I mean, goodbye washing, but what the hey.

Anyway, being a semi-regular now, he asked after my garden, and I repeated my oft told but never listened to tale of woe about how I’d been ill and the garden had got away from me, and then I’d hired some so-called ‘gardeners’…

Say no more, says he, and bags me up $10 worth of herbs for free as a re-starter kit. It was so kind, I was so close to tears. Of course, the ruddy possum ate them all overnight, but it’s the thought that counts. That wicked possum is a fiend for kale. At least he got his greens?

After the market it was a quick and necessary cup of tea and change and then off to the theatre, via the record shop (2 actually good CDs from the bargain bin) and the burger joint (for lunch/dinner). Somehow, I’d managed to stumble out the door and onto the bus and had arrived more than an hour earlier than I expected, so I had time to kill.

Theatre was just a screening of NT Live’s Follies, the Sondheim musical, but it was pretty good, better than I’d expected (not a real fan of Sondheim, but I’d heard good reviews). I’ve seen Imelda Staunton tap dance now, so that’s something. It was, as explained, a piece about being bitter and growing old, something I could well relate to, and a couple of the songs were actually catchy, and the costumes were magnificent.

It was nice at the theatre, too, some air conditioning and the usual suspects in the audience.

After that it was a hot dusty walk across what used to be park but is now construction site, to the many pens that made up Tropfest. They’d arranged the crescent in metal sheep pens according to price, with the cheap seats being cordoned off to the side and up the back, which coincidentally was where the shade was, so a rare win for the plebs. Not that I didn’t get absolutely roasted, despite half a bottle of sunscreen and the world’s most ridiculous sunhat.

I dragged myself into a far corner, away from the dust and close to a tap, but I also had a good view across the celebrity pen. I remember having a strong reason to bitch-slap Susan Sarandon for many years, but thanks to being hit on the head, I couldn’t remember why, only that I felt she’d done something to really deserve it. And there was my opportunity, and I let it pass me by.

Well, it was either that or turn into the Alzheimer Avenger, bitch-slapping people for reasons I can’t remember any more. Ah well, plenty of people I can and do have very good reason to bitch-slap and/or feed to a boa constrictor of late, and I haven’t forgotten why.

Although, until I was herded to the back paddock at Tropfest, I was, quite unusually for me, full of the milk of human kindness from the gift of the free herbs, and willing to stop and chat and hug old and new friends, as occasion demanded, on my travels. But the heat and dust and un-zen vibes from Tropfest soon curdled that milk. And it wasn’t just the heat, dust and blazing sun, it was the mood. The hosts were trolling everything, including films, filmmakers and guests in ways even I, shrew that I am, found on the nose.

Also, the films weren’t very good. There were a few that I found passing amusing, and the bug animated one actually laugh-out-loud funny, but nothing compared to some of the absolute gems from the year before (I guess those filmmakers had two years to hone and polish, adding the theme item as a pick-up). I liked the one that won, if only because it blocked the ones I thought would win, ones I really didn’t like because of their cynical manufactured earnestness (perhaps Ms Sarandon is more alike in my tastes than I would prefer, and her BS detector is equally acute).

Not that I stayed for the winners’ parade. I ran for a bus, which I missed, and was languishing at the stop thinking if I had a phone that wasn’t 98% dead I could be watching the wrap-up on YouTube right now. Fortunately, someone else at the stop had a working phone and was playing the live feed loud enough to hear the winner announced (they weren’t impressed but I hated the popular favourite).

I think that’s a wrap on Tropfest for me. I felt too old, it was too structured (last year it was just a picnic in a field) and the films were too precious. Shame, now that it’s finally held close by. That, too, being made to feel unwelcome metres away from the actual place of my birth (long, long, long since demolished). Or maybe I was just tired, overheated, dehydrated (same six non-functional portaloos again, so nil-by-mouth) and unimpressed.

The next day I was doing the laundry and gardening at the same time, trying to restore the garden beds and plant my trees (before they wilted beyond saving). And it was hard digging, because the clay soils had baked to a solid wodge of ceramic. Tink, went the battered old shovel as I tried to lever it in. Like trying to dig through a metre of roof tile. No wonder those orange trees were watered with my sweat, blood and tears. Still, I got it done (while Himself was out gadding about, again), in time to wobble back indoors before the sun hit its zenith, and in time to catch the latter half of The Avengers (Steed and Peel version, obviously).

The next day, after a day at work that was more like detention (though I did score a leftover meeting sandwich in the lunchroom while peckish, result) it was off to the Opera House to see the STC’s production of Top Girls. Shrill, early Thatcher era feminist tract, by that Churchill woman who flails all over the place with characters and scenes, more of a soup of ideas than structured story (yes, I’m so orthodox in my desire for some sort of narrative flow). Still, the themes (men are awful, women aren’t much better) had more cohesion than the last play I saw by her, and it had its moments, all entirely due to the wonderful actors on stage (the usual suspects, never disappointing).

Bonus lunar new year lights around Circular Quay on the walk back to the bus stop. I liked the monkeys, but the horses were my favourite.

And that’s me, all cultured out. Also, sunburnt and my knees are killing me. The rest of the week is given over to classes as I’m told I can’t write. Ah, well. Never could.

mockturle06: merlin in a hat (Default)
I’ll never stop being amused that I ended up doing the required reading after all.

When I was doing uni at night, and working full time, I didn’t have the time or energy to read books. There was my required reading list, but that was it. But I missed it, the stories, so terribly, so I started reading comics, because they were quick and easy and not overly dense in the text department, which was a real consideration as I’d be so fried I couldn’t bear to look at black text on white, it hurt too much. So, comics.

I started off with what they had in the newsagent across the road from the station: Flash, JLA, Green Arrow. Then I branched out in Marvel angst, mainly X-Men and Daredevil. Then I hit the hard stuff: Sandman, Hellblazer. The Invisibles, Preacher.

These stories introduced me to some of my favourite writers, like Neil Gaiman, who I followed back into books, once I’d finished my hell years/decades of two degrees by night.

I loved those comics, I really did, having been a mythology geek since childhood, so Wonder woman, Thor, Swamp Thing, etc, it was like coming home.

But I was always made ashamed of my flimsy four-colour reading habits, so I put them away, and, once finished with uni, began to read the texts I was always taught I should. Though they kept harking me back to the comics, like the Odyssey, Dracula, Frankenstein…I couldn’t help myself.

So I figured I was just doing the required reading I needed to get the references in the funny books.

The really funny thing, though, is, all those text books I had to read for uni? All outdated and/or discredited. And the comic books? Well, have you gone through a day lately without seeing a reference to one of my paper heroes?

In other words, I did the required reading. And I’m laughing.

Which isn’t to say I’m clever (lawks, after the last few weeks, not even remotely), but at least I get some of the in-jokes, and feel, in some small way, to be getting my own back on all those actually educated folks who went to posh schools who taught Latin and the like, who are always including big quotes of something and expecting me to know it. I mean, I gave up on one big old book because I grew tired of trying to google something every other page on a crowded bus with an old phone that only works when it feels like it, and then this stupid-as potboiler I picked up instead started doing the same (inspired, I suspect, by the very same old tome that had defeated me), and, well, very irksome, throws me right out of the story.

I mean, I don’t mind looking up stuff, used to love it, but juggling phone and book on the bus these days, just too much – and I never have time to go back, or remember what arcane bit on what page I’m supposed to be looking up.

I’d be nice if commute time wasn’t the only time I carved out for reading, because I really can’t do anything else on an overcrowded bumpity bus jolting from one pothole to another. Maybe I should go back to ready one or two comics a night. They (and cheap classic imprints) at least tend to be annotated.

Firing line

Feb. 7th, 2018 08:49 am
mockturle06: merlin in a hat (Default)
So last night the 20-plus-year-old bus was putting just about every alarming noise you’ve ever heard in Troughton and Pertwee era Doctor Who, all at once, and I’m thinking, okay, that’s probably not a good thing, that it’s sounding like a Tardis about to explode and rip a hole in the universe.

Somehow, it didn’t. it jerked to a near halt at my stop, I tumbled out, it rattled onwards. Well, yes, I’m pessimistic, I’ve already actually dodged a bullet this month. Or possibly a nail from a nail gun. Some sort of projectile anyway, fired by one of my many awful neighbours, through my study window, through the blind, and just missing my seashell collection. Lovely.

Fortunately, it was one of those days, so I was curled on the couch, clutching a hot water bottle and watching Star Trek on the telly (one of the channels was screening the original series, albeit with adulterated FX, dammit, but, still, better than nothing). In other words, he missed me (he knew I was home though, because I’d been chatting to my semi-tame parrot, and he was ranting wildly).

The other neighbour, after scaring the life out of me by thundering onto the property and banging on all the windows and doors with his huge fists (if he wanted to discuss something, I prefer a note in the letterbox), has contented himself with dumping all sorts of shit over the fence upon my attempts at an orchard.

I keep thinking, since the garden was destroyed and I have to start over, that I’d return it to an orchard (it was, once, before development), and maybe if I planted enough trees the possums would leave me a few pieces of fruit. It was said that I’d probably just get more possums, and they’re right. Bloody creatures picked my peach tree clean in two nights, having taken a bite out of all the fruit they’d left the first night so I couldn’t steal it myself – oh yes, this possum is woke.

But hey, at least I got outside and tried to do something. It was having my bag broken into on the way to Bendigo. I figured if I’d learnt to shrug and just buy new everything when I travel, I could and should do the same for the garden (hence the extra hostile neighbours, and bugger the planned redevelopment, may never happen/take years to happen and the trees only cost me the price of a beer and a sandwich and they make me happy).

Which isn’t to say my equanimity re losing three-quarters of my checked luggage wasn’t a hard-learnt lesson through a series of miserable losses, but I got to a nearly zen place.

It was raining sideways, the promised sheets of sleet after just about melting in the hot sun in Melbourne, and the walk was far more than five minutes from the train station (well, maybe for a young sporty type but I’d thoroughly rooted my knee again), and the folks down that end of town were on the scary end of inbred yokels, all very Cars That Ate Paris or Deliverance types, but I found a chain shop that was having a sale, and on a fourth look I found some hidden gems, and the shop lady stopped vacuuming and started assisting and gave me a discount on top of discounts, so it was almost, kind of, fun.

And the knee is a bit better now. It’s been really awful since being hit by the 4WD, but I contrived to trip over the handles of a carelessly thrown down bag in my room the other week, and I managed to knock it some way back into alignment, so yay. Good thing too because it went on me completely in the Immigration Museum in Melbourne of all places. I’d dopily opened my purse upside down (I’d been up since 2am travelling) and dropped all my change, bent to scoop it up and – may I never feel that again. The good folk in the foyer picked me up and my change, but oy, the humiliation. I hobbled through the galleries red of face.

They had an exhibition on British migrants from the 40s to 80s and I thought it’d hit familiar. The bit about the kids waiting to get the rare reel of tape from their UK rellies in the post, it struck me deep. Very deep. I remember that reel of tape so very well. It’s all I knew of my family, that and the odd short letter, as planes, boats and even phone calls were an unthinkable expense. It was lonely. Is lonely.

It was a cool museum though. Between it and the small museum in the Bendigo post office I know more about the Chinese in Victoria than I ever knew before, including the amount of time and effort they invested in floats, costumes and structures for parades at the turn of last century, like the Easter parade, various royal event parades, and the like. They went all out – I like it. A real commitment to keeping face in the community.

So, Bendigo? Well, I’d expected to work over the break, but was given short notice that I was going to lose all my hard-earned time-in-lieu. Too short notice to book anything, so I thought, fine, I’ll catch up on jobs. Only it’s like 47C one day, so all I’m doing is sweating into the couch and staring at the laundry basket. It was too hot to read. I mean, even using my torch because it was too hot to turn on a light, I was still too melty of brain to read.

I figured, sod that. I was looking for markets to visit locally and, weirdly, in a cosmic quirk of Google algorithm, I got back a result alerting me to the fact that the Bendigo Art Gallery was hosting an exhibition of Edith Head costumes, including costumes from Vertigo, Sunset Boulevarde, Funny Face, To Catch a Thief…tickets booked, bag packed. I was off.

It was, actually, perfect, and exactly what I wanted to do (though I didn’t know it) especially as I’d done nothing except watch Funny Face and To Catch a Thief and Holiday Inn on telly (did you know the inside cuffs of Fred Astaire’s costume from the Washington’s birthday number were the loveliest gold? Oh, I was in film freak heaven. And in Bendigo, of all places (it’s an old gold mining town). Why, there was even a costume from the film I’d watched on the wet afternoon previously on the hotel telly. Magic.

I just swooned my way through it. Swooned especially over Yul Brynner’s costume from The Buccaneer. Padding, sneered the lady beside me, catching my vapours. Me, not caring – hell, she didn’t even know Yul was in The King and I and the Magnificent Seven. 

Never mind. It was great. Oh, and I even managed my markets, too. That morning I trundled out to the markets at the showground by bus, and, oh, huge. Every shed was like an old church fete or the old Rozelle markets, and the entire carpark was a car boot sale. I was only saved by imaging the lemon-face of the Virgin check-in counter chick. I still bought a half-dozen old books, and handful of allegedly Roman coins, and a pile of old maps for Himself. Proper old school trashy market. So much fun. I meant to only stay an hour but stayed two (the bus was hourly).

My bleak arrival in Bendigo had soured me a little, more than a little, so I’d stocked up on supplies at Coles, and spent the first evening in, watching old films on telly (including an ancient Chris Pine film) and drowning myself in not-as-cheap-as-it-tasted shiraz. I ate in at the hotel restaurant, because rain, sideways, and it was kind of average. Oh, but the other days, brilliant sunshine and that evening in the sun on the veranda with my Tom Collins – does the cherry floating on top of my Tom Collins count as a daily serve of fruit?

Also enjoyed the balcony views, watching the sun set with my mango lassi after an indulgent butter chicken at one of the local curry houses, and although the Chinese had spoons and forks on the table, yikes, they managed to serve the best kung pao chicken I’ve ever had – so I learnt not to be judge-y (and that I should never order kung pao chicken outside of Victoria to avoid disappointment).

The hotel was better than expected. A shabby chic heritage hotel, kind of like the Old Waverly in Edinburgh, this one from the turn of the century and, when approached in dismal weather, of frankly alarming gothic intensity, like tv cliché murder mansion (think Addams Family), but it was lovely and quaint and cosy within, with a window I could open a bit (fresh air, fresh air) and the most beautiful stained-glass windows in the halls and curved wooden banisters in the wide staircases. And the veranda, on a proper summer day, with a band and excellent bar staff. Oh yes. I liked.

When in Bendigo, I choose to stay at the Shamrock Inn. Yes, I wasn’t expecting great things from the old girl, but she’s an old gold mining hotel (think Wild West) and even Dame Nellie Melba once stayed there and complained about the post office clock (after the second day I could see her point). See, I even read the brochure.

I even managed to get the camera out, and respect to the gentleman who backed up a little in his car so I could take a better picture of the fountain (it’s sort of in the middle of a round-about). So it turned out to be quick a nice little break.

Just as well, because I’d given up everything and so much, working that overtime, as commanded, including theatre, parties, film previews and Pine. I’d planned to spend it on nothing less than Berlin, or Rome, or Paris. But then I realised I wasn’t going to be riding through Paris, in a sports car, with the warm wind in my hair, etc., and I was gutted.

So hooray for Bendigo and Hollywood, because I was really not happy.

My other minor excursions included a minor culture crawl, basically the art gallery to see the Rembrandt (one, maybe two actual Rembrandts) and Mapplethorpe exhibitions (Calvinists downstairs, naughty Catholic boy upstairs).

It was like that. The Dutch paintings were very merchant class, lots of ships and Javanese harbours and still-lifes, but I didn’t mind. I loved the map, with the very Dutch even numbered and even spaced windmills, all carefully drawn and annotated. The commentary all mocked the surburbanity of it all, all pubs and kitchens and front rooms, but it was kind of sweet, you really felt like you knew the people you were looking at – they weren’t remote, silk clad creatures.

The Mapplethorpe wasn’t quite as bold as the one I’d seen in Brooklyn, despite being advertised as such, and the dripping Catholic iconography was tedious to me (I’d rather been down the pub with those Dutch dudes) but whatever. Also unsettling that Himself ran into half a dozen people he knew in the rude room, while I’m staring at an enormous dick. Ah, well.

Because I was with Himself my envisioned stroll through the gardens was a forced march in hot weather, very unpleasant, so I was kind of ruined for the exhibition I really wanted to see, the old police photos at the Sydney Museum, you know, the ones Peaky Blinders use as a pattern book. Oh well, I have the book to look at later, and it was just reproductions on walls anyway, with the odd bit of bio or history. Funny how the alleged crims who were let go with a sort of ‘not proven’ verdict are always the ones smiling in the photos, as if they know already they’re going to get off.

After that I insisted on my hoped for feed at Tokyo Laundry. Even that, well. I got to watch Himself shovel sushi and ice cream (no sharing here) away like I don’t know what, and my cocktail was buried under what looked like somebody’s grandma’s old bowl of potpourri upended on top of it. Ew.

This on top of my birthday dinner of a tuna sandwich, because everything was closed for the holidays. At least Himself got out a nice plate for it, even bothering to give it a half-arsed dust before plating.  Sigh.

Oh well. Still giggling at one of the Dutch paintings at the start of the exhibition. There, exactly, like, really, totally, was my old boss from ages ago, but as a dour Calvinist missus, bonnet and everything. I mean, he was Dutch, so I get the genetics, but if I’d ever wanted to imagine him as a 17thC Dutch housewife, and I don’t think I ever did, I can wonder no longer.

That, to me, was the far more transgressive experience that all your Mapplethorpes put together. One is pretentious peacocking, the other was unexpectedly hilarious. Because, you know, now that I think about it, there probably was always something of a prim 17thC Dutch huisvrouw about my old boss. Smirk. Stifled giggle. Squirm.

The other thing I did was drag myself (and Himself, at the last minute), and hastily improvised picnic basket of goodies picked up at the markets that morning, to the Symphony Under the Stars, which is now held nearby in a rare tract of green space, or baking brown space, as the case might be. But this time, more experience, I picked a space some distance from the main entrance, the lone gozleme truck (and fortunately/unfortunately the half dozen portaloos with broken doors that didn’t flush that the thought would do for more than 10,000 people), so I didn’t spend the entire night being trampled and getting pissed off.

In fact, I was happily surrounded by an impossible number of Germanic types (especially that far west) and, having happily owned my sensible northern European Calvinist roots. I was delighted we all spread our blankets just so, that you could have measured them with a spirit level, with a regulation gap and our shoes all neatly set to one side. Bliss. Better yet, I could rely on others to scold the child in front of us who would not sit down or shut up well into the second program, and scold the little bastard with enough fire and lightening to actually shut the little terror up. From then on, complete bliss.

Being a free concert for plebs like me, the program was a mix of popular tunes, including my favourites Danse Macabre and Clair de Lune, and they even played Williamson’s Princess Leia’s theme (I was verklempt, I’ll not deny it). But, of course, there was the traditional big finish. I’d spent the whole evening staring down the mouth of a cannon, from bright sunshine, through sunset (it takes about 10 minutes at our latitude), the flocks of parrots replaced by flocks of bats, and the stars, parts of Orion’s belt just visible above all the new skyscrapers (yes, my old town has skyscrapers now).

Himself, who had never been before, was surprised when we romped towards the end of the 1812 overture and all the sparklers lit up all through the crowd on cue (I had none, I did say last minute) but that was just the warm up. Off went the cannons and then whoomp – fireworks! Big, brilliant fireworks, right overhead. Fantastic. I liked that.

mockturle06: (Sherlock)

I should have waited before posting yesterday, but I will post my rebuttal to myself here.

I’m still annoyed that I found Wonder Woman such a less than transformative cinema experience, as everyone else seems to be leaving the cinema reeling in a religious fervour.

Maybe I’ve seen too many WWI films? I saw my first at a very impressionable age, and after that, well, you know (The Trench, A Bear Named Winnie, Beneath Hill 60, War Horse, Anzacs, Birdsong, Gallipoli, Parade's End, Wings, Reilly, Ace of Spies, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Deadline Gallipoli, Downton Abbey, 1915 – and that’s not even counting the shows that reference it, like Peaky Blinders, Boardwalk Empire and Doctor Who). I may be over-familiar with the genre. I may have seen it done better, more emotionally involving, bleaker, more pointlessly heroic and self-sacrificing, more heartbreaking, elsewhere.

But I still find the structure difficult, too hasty an edit for my taste – perhaps too used to the return to luxurious tv series that once again take the time to indulge in long tracking shots and leisurely getting from point to point. The jump cut from location to location, now she’s on a train, a boat, a horse, on foot – it made me think there should be Angie Tribeca style credits over the top of every scene change.

I mean, come on, it was a bit ridiculous. Assuming, from dear Steve’s intel, that Themyscira is within Fokker distance just off The Dardanelles, then there’s no way, even in a superhero film, that the journey from somewhere off the coast of Turkey to right up the Thames can be covered in the space of one night, by sail. I mean, come on. Please, if you’re doing a film with supernatural elements, you’ve got to keep it real to sell it. And keeping it real means no EasyJet in 1918 (and even then…).

I’m sorry, it annoys me and throws me out of the movie. Ditto Steve’s I don’t have bucks to buy my mates beer but I can afford to buy my new honey a wardrobe? Priorities, I guess.  And, also, the whole ‘I can’t move in these clothes’ bit? Fuck that. Go watch some film of real Edwardian ladies running across roads and leaping onto trams. They were pretty damn nimble (and I assume, like women through the ages, they compensated for corsets and learnt to do everything they had to do in them).

And Dr Maru? Never did learn what her deal was, aside from job description: mad scientist. And I will harp on about the scars = evil, because, man, back in the day, there was a lot of criticism about Goldeneye being so lazy as to depict Alec’s wickedness with some dribbled wax on Sean Bean’s lovely face as a means of obvious signalling, and there were whole essays on the ye olde trope of using deformity as an outward indicator of inner unwellness, and how this was problematic from a discriminatory point of view (not every ugly person enjoys murder), but also, just really lazy and old. And this, dear reader, was in 1996. So no pass there.

But, still. Maybe I’m just old and bitter. Maybe if I’d been allowed to keep my Wonder Woman dolly as a child I wouldn’t be so twisted up now. Maybe I just wanted more WWI, less cgi smackdown.

That said, Pine was mighty fine. He did everything that was asked of him; brave, funny, flirty, chivalrous, a little bit damaged, heroic, self-sacrificing. The perfect WWI bronze, come albeit briefly, to life (almost, to my eyes, as much as immortal as Diana, in his doomed hero way, but I think you have to have grown up with Anzac Day and associated art to get that interpretation).

Maybe I’ll go see it just one more time. Just to make absolutely sure I don’t like it.

I dunno, I’m just out of step with everyone. Unlike the rest of the universe, I really loved Chris in Beyond. His Existential Crisis Kirk, really spoke to me, but maybe that’s just me.

Maybe I’m just sad, in all senses of the word. Right now my own discovery is just how seriously everyone hates me. Not just thinking it, but actual proof, in word and deed.

Aside from the ice pick vicious emails and public humiliations at work, there was the bus stop thing. Now I always make a point of holding the bus if I see someone coming, and if the bus driver doesn’t seem like the compassionate type, I’ll stand against the door so it can’t close while I fish for the pass I’ve just misplaced (the bus can’t move with the door open, it’s a thing that’s annoying if the door gets jammed).

But when I’m running for the bus? It was the day after my very miserable day so I was five minutes late because I didn’t want to get out of bed, ever, but the bus was ten minutes early. They saw me, the people at the stop, their faces turned towards me as I ran up the side of the bus. Everyone saw me, but the driver shut the doors in my face and took off. Nobody cared enough to hold the bus for two more seconds.

Then there was being actually hit by a car, on purpose, while walking home from seeing Twelfth Night. I was walking down the lane, which is a dunny lane, a nightsoil truck access lane, because my suburb didn’t get sewerage until the late 70s, and these days it’s used for parking cars and a short-cut to the shops. It is not a proper road to scream down in a hoon-mobile.

Anyways, I was walking past some parked and parking cars when this car comes roaring down, and there’s no room, so he’s supposed to wait until I clear the cars because there’s nowhere for me to go (it’s a very narrow back alley). But no, he just runs forward, slams right into me with two very loud thumps and sends me spinning into the fence and speeds off, just taillights while I peel myself off the fence palings (I did report it to the police but they couldn’t care less, I don’t matter).

So now I’ve got a really bad shoulder from where he side-swiped me. And, weirdly, my concussion headache is back (maybe because now I’m sleeping on my bad side because both sides are now bad, maybe I ought to try sleeping hanging from the ceiling).

So, yeah, aside from being in pain ever since, it’s nice to know people hate me so much they want to run me down. And leave me stranded in the dark and the rain. And get me sacked. Yeah, everything is just peachy.

Never mind the house leaking buckets (not the old leaks, these were new leaks in new places, joy) and me not keeping up with the housework because I’m really not well. Being hit by a 4WD, twice, will do that to you (age might weary her, but 4WDs certainly will).

On the plus side, I did get home in time to see Fargo and Young Pope. (But aren’t they on really late? Yes, they are, but 14 hour days with no OT pay and meeting deadlines with most of the systems down doesn’t mean a jot as far as my failings go these days).

Those boys, my boys, still manage to surprise me, move me, delight me, worry me, intrigue me and entertain me with their gurning and cavorting on screen. At least I’m loyal (well, for me, anyway). Let’s not think how long I’ve been a fan of Ewan and Jude. It’s pleasing that they’re still turning in top notch performances, and, as seems hardly surprising, they’re on tv. I’ve always preferred Ewan’s tv work; his performance in Dennis Potter’s Lipstick on Your Collar remains a highlight.  

Yup, tv is where it’s at these days, and I don’t mind a bit. Give me character and characters. Give me lush locations. Give me backstory, motivation, goals and desires. Give me a journey. Give me people to know and care about, even if they’re dicks (aren’t we all?).

And for pity’s sake, give a world I can live in (because I don’t like this one very much).

Oh, don’t go on about resilience – that’s crap. Why should I have to be resilient about being run down or being bullied at work? That’s hardly my issue. Maybe, probably, I did something to deserve it, but sometimes people are just mean.

And mindfulness? That’s for nice folks with nice lives. Trust me, you don’t want to be in the moment in my bus, overcrowded, stuck in traffic, crawling home with a screaming baby somewhere and a guy digging snot out of his nose and wiping it on his jeans sitting next to you. You don’t want to be in the moment on a 35 hour flight in economy. You don’t want to be in the moment at the Birmingham bus interchange, in February, for four hours, because you missed your connection, the toilet is 75p and you can’t fit your bag through the turnstile. You don’t want to be in the moment listening to the neighbours hammer whatever they’re hammering this time. You don’t want to be in the moment, standing the rain, not sure if it’s rainwater or blood running down your arm, barely able to see headlights from the concussion, waiting over an hour for a bus to take you home after you’ve been hit by a car. You don’t want to be in the moment sitting in the dark and rain in the middle of winter, waiting for the last bus home, outside a hospital, cold and hungry and all lone. You don’t want to be in the moment when there’s nothing to eat but stale bread. Or the pain from endometriosis is in its tenth hour and you can’t stop throwing up. Or you’re being made an example of in front of everyone. Or you’re being beaten up (or worse). Or you’re waiting for food that will never come in a restaurant. Or being stuck down in a basement with nothing but files. Or scrubbing out the bathroom. Or ironing.

So yes. Give me good telly, or a good book (I’m reading a Rebus on the side, because I find it comforting and fun). Just give me a break.

mockturle06: (Chris)

I wish I was of that generation that get a ribbon just for showing up. I could use a round of applause for just being upright and breathing right now.

Nothing is ever my finest hour, but I seem to be prat-falling into mess after mess of late, and, as I’m honestly surprised, none of it is deliberate on my part (OMFG, if I could stop effing up for five consecutive seconds, I’d buy myself a chocolate).

I’m going to try and explain my latest misery as a turbid mix of my very own and limitless incompetence, and work insecurity engendering a savagery in people I’d liked and respected – though clearly the opposite did not apply. At all. In any case, I’m upset to the point of unbearable despair.

Which is the mood I lumped with me, like a heavy, awkward burden, to two Wonder Woman screenings. Not two because of Mr Pine. Two because everyone in the planet was going nuts over this film and I hated it, so I thought, that can’t be right.

So let’s blame it on the rest of my life, intruding even in the cinema, as it must (I’d bought a Gold Class ticket, because it was Wonder Woman, but, of course, my order never arrived so I ended up with a movie length drink, i.e., huge, on an empty stomach, so basically I was just angry drunk for most of it). I was crying, not in joy, but in misery. I did not like it at all. I hated it. It jumped about to the point of making no sense, more like an extended trailer than any sort of narrative, the characters were flat, bitty and trite, the lauded colour was washed-out awful and of course, the only reference to nearly 10% of the Oz population being there were the Hurley photos they ripped off, including a couple that Bean tore him a new one over, being a bit fake, oh dear).

But the rest of the world was falling over themselves in glee, so I knew something had to be wrong, and that something was me. So I went and saw it again. Cattle class this time, stone-cold sober, with some morsel of food in my belly. Ok, the screen was better. That helped. Ditto having my row to myself (because I’m an angry loner).

Like most women of a certain age, I’ve waited all my life for a Wonder Woman film. And Gal did a good job in the role, nothing she did caught me as a sour note. And Pine was fine, perfectly handsome, heroic, charming and funny, just a little bit vulnerable and exceedingly doomed, all done up in period garb. My usual catnip. He was Cary Grant, Errol Flynn, Harrison Ford and my floppy haired Merchant Ivory boys all rolled into one perfect package (oh yes, the package, points for obvious ogling scenes).

But the skip-jump plot (and suddenly they were in Belgium, and, btw, Poirot has more to say about the war in Belgium than this lot) and my Ewen (Spud!) as minor comic relief, all the other characters like bit part provincials in a Shakespeare play (only with less telling dialogue) and the moustache twirling really so obvious they were announced in the pre-show ads villains – it still seemed spectacle over substance. Ok, obviously one of those films where I’ll have to read the novelisation if I want backstory (if I could be bothered). Ok, yes, superhero film pitched at nine-year olds, don’t go expecting layers or characterisation.

But still, but still. Even as a kiddie’s movie, look, Doctor Who is a kid’s show but it still manages plots with a bit of grit and purpose and meaning ­ in case you missed the colonisation, war, Brexit, cruelty, cowardice, greed and sacrifice riffs in last week’s fantastic episode. Oh my gosh, I loved that. Victorian soldiers on Mars. Victorian soldiers recreating The defence of Rorke's Drift (1879) on Mars. With Ice Warriors. And Alpha Centauri, for that hit of pure childhood nostalgia, because who doesn’t love a giant one-eyed monster? (No, not talking about the pool scene in Wonder Woman).

So I’m going to blame my lack of engagement on my greed and hollow emptiness, I wanted more than that film could give. Still, Mr Pine was perfect, and justifiably lauded for his light touch and comic timing. And there were moments I liked, vignettes, bits here and there (which is my main problem, it seemed more a string of scenes than a journey).

Maybe I’m just jaded. I knew dear old Steve was going to be fridged big-time to give our heroine that motivational push. And I knew Ares was going to be a backroom politician, not a general, because everyone knows who the real bad guys were in WWI. And as for the poisonous villainess with the facial scars as an outward depiction of her no-goodness, can you say trope? How progressive (unless they were applying a homage to tropes older than WWI and the history of film).  And the mixed ragtag band of dodgy brothers? Well, that was astounding, too, if you’ve never seen any Kurosawa films or any of the umpteen westerns and war films that riffed on them. I’ve seen music videos with more depth and character (and originality).

Ah, well, maybe I should see it one more time. There were bits I liked (no, not just Pine’s bits). Some bits oddly reminded me of Doctor Who, the second series with Rose, and not just the end of Christmas Invasion, with the not-snow. Lookit, it’s raining Steve! Little bits of Steve (no, not that bit). Oh, don’t tell me it’s ash of Ares, he’s just taking a nap because he’s got a lot to do in the 30s onwards.

Never mind. Happiness is flipping around the channels and finding Mrs Peel clutching a stuffed crocodile under her arm. Bliss. Classy British silly, all primary colours and silly villains (but at least I understood their motivations, no matter how off-kilter), a real trippy version of Le Carre – whom I’m reading at the moment, A Small town In Germany, because I don’t have enough things with EU-centric plots in my life right now (being sarcastic here). And besides, sword-fighting young cad Anthony Valentine in one episode? Yes, please.

The Avengers make me happy.  Doctor Who, when it’s good, makes me happy. There was a Buffy marathon on a wet long weekend. That made me happy. (I know, but it’s been so long since cable have bothered with a Buffy marathon, and I’m ever so nostalgic these days).

Seeing the NT Live screening of Twelfth Night made me happy.  I mean, Tamsin Grieg as Malvolia, and honestly, why the fuss, it was just one more gender-bend in a fairly gender-fluid play. It was very funny, but, as revealed in the last act, the jokes were cruel and got out of hand, and we never do get to find out if Malvolio/Malvolia gets their revenge, and how (not there’s an idea worth taking up, never mind rehashing films from five years ago). Still, the performances were just on the right side of arch (okay, some teetered alarmingly into panto) and there’s a lot about disguise, gender, roles and identity as costumes assumed and cast off, all going on.  It’s all very transgressive and queer-baiting, with dick jokes, but also grief and loss and humiliations galore.

Maybe I identified with Malvolia too much. I seem to be set up to be torn asunder myself of late, and no doubt I have brought it upon myself, just as much as Malvolia did.

Other theatre included Mr Burns at the Belvoir. The Simpsons as post-apocalyptic passion play. That’s pretty much it. Lots of Simpsons jokes, some comments on popular culture as the new religion. I was sitting in the front row and ended up bruised from a flying recliner chair. Still, Mitchell Butel, who is fast becoming a favourite (that hasn’t been snapped up by Hollywood yet) didn’t hold back in the last act, and nor could he or should he.

I was amused. The hardest thing was squirming in the first act when they tried to remember lines from Simpsons episodes, and not yelling them out. Oh, the strain to remain silent, it almost hurt.

I also went and saw Vivid. Well, a bit of it, anyway. We went round the Opera House and through the gardens. To be honest, I usually love Vivid, but I’ve found it to be a bit meh this year. Nothing has really caught my imagination, made me stand still and pay attention. Nothing was really wonderous, magical or pretty.

Sums up my life right now. I seem to be tired of pretty lights and pretty Pine. Tired of life? Far more than is healthy. Maybe it’s just winter. Not that it’s really winter any more. It’s just damp and dark.

But I’m not happy. And pretty Pine and purple flowers will not make me stop messing up, dropping the ball, or whatever I’m doing or not doing to make my life the cesspool it is. Save Steve, send me up on that plane. I’m sure as hell not doing anything useful right now (and no one would care).
mockturle06: (Lewis)

I was interested to read that Patty Jenkins was leaning on John Singer Sargent as one of the main visual influences of the film (again, completely ignoring the photographs of Australian Frank Hurley which the film apes so convincingly – has anyone told them that those photos were composites?).

Well, I don’t mind if she’s referenced Singer Sargent as well. He’s one of my favourite artists (I last saw a work of his in the touring Scottish National Gallery exhibition). 

I do remember that time I tried to find the Singer Sargents at the Met in New York, and was finally directed to the basement, and there they were, on a rack you had to pull out so you could only see half the painting in dim light. Okay, so I’d flown all the way from Sydney, I hadn’t even checked into my hotel yet, I hadn’t eaten or slept in over 24 hours, so I lost it. Completely lost it, demanding to know, out loud, what the fuck they thought they were doing keeping a highly revered American artist in the basement when I’d flown all that way to see him in situ, as it were, instead of paying $40 for the privilege of peeking over a scrum of desperate masses like I do at home.

These days I’d get shot for a meltown like that, but by the end of my rallying cry most folks were nodding and agreeing with me. I like to think it was my small part I played in bring Singer Sargent out of the basement and back on the walls.

Certainly I can’t think of a time, except maybe the mid-20th century, when Singer Sargent wasn’t a big deal here. Patty Jenkins will hate this (in her strident airbrushing out of Oz influences) but there was never a painter more influential, especially maybe Whistler, than Singer Sargent on his contemporary Australian artists.  I’m talking Rupert Bunny, Hugh Ramsay and E Phillips Fox, just off the top of my head, but you could probably count the entire Heidelberg camp, if you wanted to, and not be wrong. I’m totally on board with the Singer Sargent style. Probably because I see so many ‘in the style of’ works on the walls of local galleries. Like I said, a big deal. Here, at least.

Anyways, enough of that. Back to the mean streets of Edinburgh, or rather, the city where I live, and the city where I work. In both locales I was lucky enough to have tickets to a talk by Ian Rankin as part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival (some wag pointed out that it’s sometime misprinted as the Sydney Writer’s Festival, as in a writer, who lives in Sydney, who is feeling a bit festive).

So I went to see Mr Rankin, author of my beloved Rebus books, and they are beloved by me now. The tipping point happened when I was retrenched, and by some luck I’d bought a whole pile second-hand from an Amnesty stall at the fete only weeks earlier. So, alone, fucking miserable, terrified by hourly thunderstorms, I sat and worked my way through several Rebus books, and it kept me together, just. So Rebus, somewhat ridiculously, is where I go when I’m flat out miserable. Small surprise I’ve been keeping company with Rebus lately, a lot.

Maybe it reminds me of the Scottish books my grandmother used to send me via brown paper parcel when I was a child. Mythical Edinburgh is my safe place, my childhood space. Even Rebus’ Edinburgh.

The City Recital Hall was the locale for the first talk. It was ok, though crowded and snobby, and the cloakroom guy was a real fascist (after letting me breeze through on Wednesday) – it wasn’t for nothing the cloakroom line was longer than the book-signing line at the end of the evening.

Mr Rankin was very funny, but the ‘host’ kept cutting across him and interrupting anecdotes, which really started to annoy me, but there was nothing to be done. I did get to hear about the Belle and Sebastian story.

Maybe I was just tired, it had been a very long and frustrating day, and I’d had to run across town to get there.

Saturday and Mr Rankin was appearing in my very own hometown, which thrilled me no end as I’d been muttering to myself about having to miss the Rebus-fest in Scotland.

It was supposed to be a perfect day, but these things never are – my favourite restaurant let me down really badly – it was bloody awful. But I did get my usual glass of flat sticky wine at Riverside, and they had political cartoons on display on the walls for my pre-show entertainments and the seats I bought were top notch front and centre.

Of course I’d left my camera behind after the hullabaloo at the recital hall on Friday, never mind that it had been the first night of Vivid as well, so of course we were allowed to take photos this time. This is my life. At least I’d remembered to bring an armful of books to be signed, though, as I lamented on Twitter, I’ll not be able to read them on the bus anymore because they’re all signed now and they’ll get rooned if I try.

This, I felt, was a much better talk. More die-hard fans, better host, better questions. I enjoyed it very much, and it’s fun to hear about the influences and circumstances behind the stories and characters. He even teased there may be a Siobhan Clarke book one day – I hope so, as Shiv is a fave (even though she hates people calling her Shiv).

So, I met Ian Rankin, favourite living author (there’s only a handful now), and got my old battered books signed on my home turf. A moment of squee, there, then.

Obligatory Chris Pine reference: well, I did waste some precious time trawling around Tumblr. He was looking very dashing and being quite funny at the various premieres and promo interviews, more funny and dashing than he’s been in a while. So I was happy. The faux Victorian/Edwardian suit he wore at the LA premiere gave me the vapours, and I liked the pinstripe, too, though I still can’t see a pinstripe suit like that without going to the G Addams place (which isn’t a bad place as far as I’m concerned but probably not what he was shooting for). In any case, I wasn’t short of Pine pics for ogling over.

I was very lazy (or completely burnt out, take your pick) but Sunday did prove to be the premium washing day, if only for when the neighbourhood cat, who usually gives no fucks, decided he did not like the large shirts blowing and flapping and twisting towards him in the wind with their empty sleeves reaching for him. The unhappy kitty pretty much commando crawled all the way to the safety of under the house. I fell about giggling, so I’m in the doghouse again.

Of course, this means the new evil neighbours must be having a go at him when I’m not there (my yard is usually a sanctuary where all the neighbourhood cats and lizards and birds, etc. come to sun themselves - sometimes it looks like a battlefield with sleeping animals strewn across it) like I know they’ve been having a go at my parrots. Harumph. So yeah, sorry, cat.

That poor much put upon cat. I do not know why he keeps trying to be my cat. One, I’m a dog person. Two, I’m allergic. Three, I’m night blind so I keep tripping over him in the dark, and four, that time I accidentally locked him in the laundry and he’s damn lucky I forgot something that day (I’ve since learnt to check for cats that aren’t mine curled up on the washer before shutting the door). Took him several months to forgive me for that one, and I can’t blame him. Didn’t stop him curling up on the patio seat though, I just got the evil eye as I went past.

Anyway, that was the weekend. Not much pop productive wise, but I got my books signed. That made me happy.

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

mockturle06: (Avengers)

Well, my ovaries have good and proper exploded. It was the full Edwardian drag what done it, which I have a decided thing for, and then, yikes, the floppy blonde hair. I was gone. Gone.

I blame it on far too much Merchant Ivory at a tender age. Yes I do (and as if it wasn’t bad enough, the Guardian decided to get all retrospective over Merchant Ivory and their floppy-haired Edwardian chaps).

But, you know, lawks. If I’m like this now with just the pre-publicity, what am I going to be like when I see the damn film. Well, the complete lack of ANZACs should keep me suitably thin-lipped and dry of eye and dry of seat. So far it looks like the only Australian referenced in the whole damn enterprise is Frank Hurley and his WWI photos.  Like really referenced, like rip-off, like they better hope they’re out of copyright.

But anyway, short story: too much drooling over the Pine and boom, my second period in two weeks, because one wasn’t enough? I thought going crone meant less, not more. I’m gonna be a hollowed out husk at the end of it.

So, aside from the full Edwardian (swoon), there were repeats of Beyond and a brief appearance in Angie Tribeca (père et fils, actually, and my second Pine Snr sighting that week – I really need to get out more).

But that wasn’t my only Chris, oh no. I cheated and saw Guardians of the Galaxy. One of those other Chrises.

Meant to go last week but I had the dreaded lurgy, but I crawled off to see it on the weekend, dosed to the gills on borrowed Codral (I haven’t had it in years, so I’m still coming down). So, maybe it’s the Codral talking, that is, critical faculties not at full strength, but I kinda loved it.

Okay, yes, another decided entry in the sad man-child with massive daddy issues genre (the bit where he played catch with his dad was cringe-inducing) but hey, if films are still being made by a generation with abandonment issues, at least it had something to say about love and friendship and bonds that are stronger than blood (especially as blood kin are always proving perilously duplicitous – see also Lucifer). I do wonder what films from the helicopter parent generation are going to be like. More stifling, less hanging the kids out to dry, I suspect.

I could be crueller, but having been ‘raised’ by biological units with less instincts than reptiles or rocks, or, as Victor Hugo so accurately put it, she was a mother only by accident of biology, I kind of get where they were coming from (alas my surrogate mum met the end I might have wished on others) re the absent and abusive parentals.

But it was funny, the soundtrack rocked, the aesthetics were on point (especially the end credits) and Baby Groot stole the movie (should the flesh and blood actors be worried)?

What I really loved was that the big space battles were not endless, mindless minutes of stuff being mashed, but happening hilariously off-screen, in the background, and/or in between bickering. You know, back to being a means to an end, part of the narrative, not an entire reel of mind-numbing first-person player, for which I care not. That was clever and funny, and, gosh darn it, fresh and funny. More, please.

Finally, a film that was more about characters than explosions. Well done. More like this please.

I’ve also had the good fortune, via an email and a $20 ticket, to see and hear Ian Rankin read from A Clockwork Orange, talk about his early influences, being very funny, and then, then I got my book signed. Squee!

If that wasn’t enough, I managed to go to the talk, get my book, line up, get my book signed, get my big work bag back, walk blocks to bus stop, get on a bus and get home only 40 minutes after Himself who left the city over three hours before me. No, no wormholes or time-travel, it’s just that after 7-8pm the roads finally clear and zoom!

I was actually very thrilled to the point of, my colleagues accused me of, blushing, as I’d intended to see a talk by Mr Rankin in the UK, but that fell through, of course, so to see him out here for the Writers’ Festival, well, wishes do come true (yep, wish for Ian Rankin granted, others, not so much, but the universe knows which would cheer me up most).

It was also a good, if brief night, because I ended up sitting next to this retired lady (never did ask her name, I’m shocking) both in the foyer and in the auditorium (and my seat bought on spec was bloody marvellous) and we were chatting and she asked me what I did and declared it ‘useful’. Ah, some much needed validation at last.

The other talks were interesting (I have whole new uses for ‘oscillating’) and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

So, there I was, drinking French wine, listening to great authors, while Himself was strap-hanging on a dangerously over-crowded bus for hours. Ooops. Needless to say, tea wasn’t that much further on from having a tin of beans lobbed at my head. Ah well, seeing Ian was the only good thing this week.

Badness was waking up to being violently unwell, during a violent thunderstorm, and reading Roger Moore had died. My Saint, my Maverick, my Persuader, my Bond. My hero. I’ve adored Roger Moore since I was a child. I snuck in the theatre to see Moonraker (I never sneak).

I was, quite simply, besotted with the man. And, to my great relief, he seemed so sweet and wickedly funny on Twitter (his quiet on Twitter had me worried, I wasn’t wrong to worry). To my further relief, most media reports have been tributes, relating fan love for the man, his good deeds and cheeky wit, and his fine turn as a knitwear model. Really, I couldn’t ask for anything else. Vale Roger, my beloved TV idol.

I’m so very, constantly on the verge of tears sad, but also still full of my love for that man. Last night they played Live and Let Die on telly. Roger Moore, immortal, forever dashing.

I think I was oddly happy, too, to discover so many I follow on social media were massive Persuaders fans (points awarded). I loved that showed. And I adored Maverick. But my favourite would have to be The Saint. I don’t know why, but that suave crime-fighting (later, in the silly 60s, giant monster ant fighting) international man of mystery really took my breath away.

Depending on what age I was at the time of viewing, it was either about the clothes and the cars, the grittier black and white episodes where he was more anti-hero with a conscience, more of a crook than a playboy with a heart of gold, or it was the wacky full colour mid-sixties episodes where the previous too cool Simon Templar became a cardigan wearing grump complaining about pop music and teenagers. And I still loved him. There’s a Saint episode for every occasion, if you want black and white noir and Soho nightclubs, go early. If you want giant ants roaming the Welsh hillsides or brainwashed teenagers, go late. I loved that show. I loved Roger.

The Persuaders, well that just seems just get camper with every viewing. I don’t know what they were thinking, but the series is thoroughly enjoyable. Seriously, some episodes feel like Roger and Tony have taken some time out from their holiday to stumble in front of a camera, but the results are joyous.

Maverick I came to late, only having seen the show when Fox Classics played it a few years back now, but I was hooked. Some of the greatest episodes ever committed to film are contained within Maverick, in my opinion. Sadly not many of them were Roger’s, but he had a few crackers, and I still want to know what he did to get a fire hose in the face in one episode because he breaks character and it’s so obviously unscripted but delightfully silly.

Bond, well, technically he was my Bond, but my Dad always preferred Connery (even if he was a lowlander), but Live and Let Die and the Man With The Golden Gun, total faves. I never did get that Saint film I wanted, but as far as I was concerned, the Bond films were near enough.

Oh man, it was such a joy to watch him last night. At least he’s not gone, gone. He’s still there, taking up shelves of my bookcases (dvds,  memorabilia). He’s there, on my playlists. Immortal. Beloved.

But it hurt. And he is gone. No more zingers on Twitter – damn, I’ll miss that. It made me love him so much more, as if that were possible.

Ah, why must you make me live in a world without heroes.

White rice

May. 17th, 2017 07:58 am
mockturle06: (Chris)

I must have looked at my calendar and thought, yay, two weeks without any engagements. I know, I’ll be sick!

At least, that’s what it feels like. I think it’s just a lurgy I picked up in Melbourne, but as I’ve not had a proper, decent make me feel entirely wretched cold for a couple of years now (that dose of flu/whooping cough/tonsillitis that damn nearly killed me several years ago gifted me with an immunity to everything, until now) so I’m taking it like a grizzling toddler/adult male.

Still, it’s been an excuse to stay close to the telly. Oh yes, Pine. But first, I did see a play last week.

STC’s Talk, at the Opera House, was very funny, oddly timely and a bit old hat (it’s been in production for years), somewhat farcical about serious matters (but so was MASH). It wasn’t quite what I thought it was going to be, more an essay on modern media in general, rather than an examination of a shock jock.

It was oddly visceral in charting the decline of the traditional media structure, and I saw it days before Mark Colvin died, but after the Sydney Morning Herald sackings. Oddly, the original number of sacked journos in the play was 50, but, as discussed in the Q&A after the show, they knocked it down to 25, which they still thought high. Turns out 115 was the number. So that was shockingly relevant.

What was quaint was shifting the blame for all this onto feckless Millennial bloggers, rather than the entirely more sinister psyops strategy we know it is now.

Reading that Guardian article reminded me of the tactics described by Fleming, yes, Fleming, in From Russia With Love, and I’m not sure whether Fleming was describing Russian psyops or inventing them, but either way, the blueprint is there. Ditto some of the early Le Carres, should you require corroboration, and if you still don’t believe this stuff can happen, go read Philby’s piece, which can be summed up as a smug ‘too easy’. Or read today’s headlines. Whichever.

But I digress. Basically, I was there to see John Waters on stage (because I still have a thing for Sergeant McKellar, for shame), and anything written by Jonathan Biggins is likely to be very witty, local and topical, and it was. Even the sets were a hoot, with the stark (and entirely accurate) contrast between the ABC and Newscorp press rooms. It was a bit slapstick, more than a bit (too much Revue creeping in), but it certainly hit the mark about the message, even if it did hammer it home with all the subtlety of a shock jock.

So that’s me, supporting the yartz, local thespians and new works. Job done and it wasn’t that painful (see, new works don’t have to be distressingly awful).

So, the Pine. Basically, the screening, at last, a week later, of a very cut down version of his SNL episode, featuring only three skits that had Mr Pine in them (and no music, no monologue, no dance off, but luckily I have friends). Um, what to say? Well, the kid can sing, and sing he did, but I was hoping for more funny, but I guess the called off at the last-minute writer’s strike might have played into that a bit? Maybe? Or did Chris just want to sing his little heart out, bless. (Had I seen the monologue I could have comments about TPTB fascination with white guys called Chris, but I didn’t, so I don’t).

Either way, what I saw wasn’t that funny, but maybe I was annoyed at knowing, from Tumblr, that I was missing out on huge, huge chunks of the show, and 6am is never my optimum viewing time (who am I kidding, I was missing the Thunderbirds) but hey, at least it was Chris on telly. Foxtel also slapped on Star Trek, Star Trek: Beyond and Finest Hours for my viewing pleasure. I was going to hit the tottering pile of dvds, but the cold was running riot by then, and I was too grumpy and wheezy for anything, really.

What I did watch, while sulking, was this woeful piece of MST3K bait called The Five Golden Dragons, a British-German coproduction from 1967 (oh yeah, baby) and set in oh so British Hong Kong, with Christopher Lee slumming it as one of the, well, it’s hardly a spoiler now, is it, bad guys. Oh, it was so awful, despite my existential misery I was screeching with laughter. Especially the tight close-up reaction shot from the really bad dragon mask. Oh my, yes. What a…gem.

This is what Chris should have done on SNL. If he wants to play a spy, play a 1967 playboy one with hokey exoticism and lashings of camp (oh, this film is so…well, you’ll see, in a subtext rapidly becoming text kinda way). (I swear I could have written funnier sketches, I can be funny, why, just yesterday I was asking why these birds were called oystercatchers, as it didn’t seem to me that oysters needed that much catching).

Anyways, since I discovered cheap chop-socky can make me smile, I decided it was time to dive into the limp noodle fest that is Iron Fist, with Daisy no less as an ineffectual simpering villain (so far at least, I’ve got four or five episodes to go). Because I always wallow in the MCU when I’m poorly. It’s tradition.

Iron Fist isn’t at all great, but it’s not as bad as the reviews said, and the whole white-washing/white saviour thing was kind of inherent/inherited in the text, so it’s unfortunate, and TPTB could have done more to address the post-colonial elephant in the room, but they didn’t, and suffered a critical panning as they probably deserved, but it could have been worse (see The Five Golden Dragons).

Actually, Iron Fist could have done with a lot more camp and really silly dragon masks. You know, play up, not play down the woeful historical baggage that drags on it like a boat anchor. That and the most underwhelming, whiny white man-baby rich bitch protagonist, but I guess that’s very now (at least he's not called Chris).

Basically, I didn’t mind it, it’ll do while I’m unwell and grumpy, but it could do with an infusion of Fu Manchu. Go completely Danger 5, go Monkey, go The Samurai. Ah, I guess I grew up with this stuff more than the American white boys making Iron Fist. Would it kill them to give me some Big Trouble in Little China? That should have been their reference. Can I at least have a mesmerist and a giant rat?

I’d ask that TPTB could, for once, not make it all about some rich white princeling with daddy issues, but again, very now. Destiny and daddy issues. Seriously, can somebody put these tropes to bed? Tuck them in with a story and some warm milk?

In other news. the shirt I’m wearing today, while vaguely a Margaret Preston-y print, is fashionably rumpled, because I so didn’t do any ironing on the weekend (see grumpy, sulking, above).

Besides, I can’t iron and hold my phone up at the same time, which the only device that will stream anything right now. My laptop crashes even on iView, and my poor tablet can’t even open up Tumblr with any success. Ah, to be stranded in the country with the 51st slowest internet speeds in the world (NYT). Yes, people in countries where the main form of transport is a goat have a better chance of viewing YouTube trailers than me. Not that I’m bitter or fed up or anything.

In case you were wondering why I still rely on cable and dvd for my viewing choices. Besides, occasionally they cough up charming surprises like The Five Golden Dragons. I should have never have sought out a classic like that on my own (because I have some shred of sanity left). But I was sick, it was on telly. Bliss. Doing it old school.

And yes, it was a dreadfully sexist, racist film but it was 1967 and a British/German production so it is what it is, I was just there for the cringing silly. And besides, like campy fat old white guys with criminal connections really rule the world…that would be silly.

But yes, I realise it’s all a bit wrong, but one can no more argue that it’s not very nice to be racist and sexist with white dudes from 1967 than one can with conservatives today. I wonder what the world would be like if sad old fat ugly nasty petty rich white dudes didn’t put everyone else down.

Ah well, it’s the world I live in. It kinda sucks. But I have (Pine enabling and Olympus de-yellowing) friends, and most folks at work aren’t dicks. So there’s that. I could do without this cold though. Who needs to feel more miserable?

Items of interest: https://plus.google.com/u/0/113197665355692280218/posts

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