Monthly Archives: May, 2007

Red jumper

So today really felt like winter – which does officially start tomorrow, so I guess that’s fair enough. So, in an effort to at least look a bit cheery, I wore my lovely bright red jumper to school. It’s very nice and warm… and I haven’t worn it (naturally enough) since we got home from the UK. It still has little bits of fluff on it from wearing it underneath my puffy jacket when we were over there.

All of this, also naturally enough, made me think about our trip. It feels like such a long time ago – only January! – and sometimes I still can’t believe we actually went. When I am over the next couple of weeks (report writing, NatCon (woohoo!), more report writing…) I really will blog more about The Trip. For now, just let me sketch Christmas, which is something we’ve had occasion to talk about a bit recently.

So we must have got up at sunrise – like about 8.30 or so (actually I’m sure it was earlier than that, but you get the picture), and I think we had toast or such like. We were staying with J’s cousins, and once their daughter and her boyfriend had arrived we opened presents. They were so generous to us – we got genuine Sheffield silver spoons, and chocolate enough that basically lasted the next four weeks, and I got a really nice pashmina. Anyway, all of this brought us to late morning, at which point we all piled into two cars and went to the cousin’s brother’s place. There, there was the other side of the family (J’s cousins, who are brothers, married sisters…) – we drank champers, darling, and ate nibblies. For an hour or two. Then it was back into the car and back to where we were staying. This bit I remember exceptionall well, because it was probably a 15 or 20 min trip during which I was balancing an entire turkey, in a foil tray, in my hands. It was at least 5kg, and because there were thre large adults in the back seat, it didn’t actually fit on my knees. So I balanced it with my arms underneath, hands on the sides, trying to watch the corners so as not to spill juices everywhere (I lost it once, and poured some on Matt – the cousin’s son (who is our age… the cousin mentioned earlier is actually J’s dad’s cousin… confused yet?) – who kindly forgave me). When we finally got back, and the turkey was taken out of my arms, I cramped. And my arms continued to ache for the next 48 hours or so.

We finally sat down to eat a real meal at about 3.30 or so. There was turkey, and ham, and lots of salads, and vegies, and sauces… and French red wine… it was incredible. We had bonbons – nice ones. After sitting a little, we had dessert – there was Christmas pud, but also a chocolate cake, because it was someone’s birthday, and it was brilliant. Complementing that was one of the nicest dessert wines I have ever tastes: from Samos. Bet you can’t buy it here.

And then, because that’s not enough for one day, we played charades (pronounced sharaaaads…). Competitively.

It was one of the most amazing days ever. Certainly one of the most memorable Christmas days I’ve ever had – it was just so different. And that was our third day.

Flat packed boats

Apparently, Carthage had them! And apparently, that was eventually bad, because when the Romans caught one they took it apart, found the numbered planks, and were therefore able to copy them and make something like 200 ships in 45 days. That sounds a bit ridiculous to me, but hey….

I found this out in an old doco on Carthage – I think I taped it last year or the year before, and only just got around to watching it last night. It was quite interesting – I actually learnt something new, like that Hannibal’s father actually set up Carthage #2 in Spain, and that people in Carthage #1 weren’t entirely happy with what he did. The doco started with the founding of Carthage, basically, talking about them using the Mediterranean as their own little pond. It very quickly gets to talking about the First Punic War, of course. This section was interesting, but it also leaned towards Rome – as these things always do – with sentences like Rome becoming a naval power “at last“: as if it was (gasp) inevitable that that would happen.

The bit I was disappointed about was the section on the Second Punic War, and Hannibal. There was, to my mind, too little on the man and very little even on the war itself! I did like the bit on Cato, though; a vicious little self-important declaimer is generally entertaining, especially at a two-millenium remove.

Most disappointingly, though, was the fact that I missed the end of the doco! It stopped right after talking about Carthage rebuilding, against the Roman treaty… so I didn’t get to diss them for including the ol’ salting the earth story.

Sad me. But it was a good doco.

Movies I am looking forward to

Ocean’s Thirteen. woohoo!! I loved Eleven, thought Twelve was a bit average although it had a brilliant soundtrack – it let itself down – and, from the ad I just saw, it looks like Thirteen is going to go back to being smart-ass, sassy and very clever. I really hope so.

Die Hard 4.0. Oh. My. Goodness. A fourth?! Is Bruce Willis out of money? Hopefully, this will learn the lesson of Lethal Weapon 4, and be aware of the fact that its protagonist is too old for this sort of shit, and make jokes about that. But, seriously – more Die Hard?! It can only be good!!

Transformers. Hurry up already.

Shrek the Third. J hasn’t even seen the first yet. Bad; very bad. I really, really hope it’s as good as the first two… this is the sort of series that could very easily do a belly flop, though.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Looks very dark and very good. And I can’t wait for the last one to get published, so I can hurry up and read them….

Not Bridge to Terebithia. Boo hiss. Travesty of a marvellous book. More boos and hisses.

Not Nancy Drew, either. Gosh they were bad – although I loved them as a teenager (although Trixie Belden was better…). I read one at age 19 or so and just laughed myself silly. And then just recently I found out that they were syndicated – not written by the same person! (And same deal for Babysitters’ Club!). Oh the shock, the horror.

Ain’t no faffin’ around for my boy

So, on Monday, I was stuck on the Calder Fwy for an hour and a half because (it turned out) the alternator died. Fortunately, I realised something was going wrong with it, so I managed to pull off the road and not be a prime target for someone barrelling alon at 110kph.

This was after a weekend of discussion with my mother about how the poor old Subie was getting a bit old and J was looking online at car ads, teasing me that a van would be a good idea.

We bought a new (used) car on Friday. Fortunately for me, J recognised reality – that there is no way I’ll drive some monster to school – so it’s another Subaru.

See what I mean about no stuffing around?

Pirates Mk 3

I enjoyed it. I really, really did. Despite the high school kids in front of us who thought it was a good idea to send texts in the middle of a film… texting I don’t mind, but the bright screen in the corner of my eye really bugged me.

It’s very different from the first. While the first was a jolly romp aimed at kids, with some funny lines and so on thrown in for their parents, this one is aimed much more at adults, I think. It’s still a jolly romp, but there’s not going to be that many 12 year olds who will be entirely happy at sitting through 3 hours, I would have thought. And Jack Sparrow in Davy Jones’ locker was pretty wacky even for me; I think someone in their early teens would probably just be bored by it.

All that said, it is still a jolly romp. Geoffrey Rush is magnificent – Barbossa just keeps getting more interesting (and we find out his first name!). Orlanda Bloom – well, Will gets more complex and devious, and a bit more angsty (and I don’t usually much like PrettyBoys, but gosh he’s pretty). Keira Knightley continued to mostly annoy me, but Elizabeth did have some interesting lines – and nicely choreographed fight scenes, too. Yun Fat-Chow was brilliant as Sao Feng; a bit stereotyped as Bad Chinese Dude, but then I guess many of the other characters are ‘typed, too. Finally, finally, after all the promises and rumours, Keith Richards does indeed make an appearance – complete with guitar – and very cool he is too. And Johnny Depp… well, mostly he was brilliant, as you’d expect. Sadly, though, there were times where I was just a little bored by him. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m just used to Jack Sparrow now, so it’s not new and outrageous, or if they really have toned him down a bit. Of course, he was still entertaining and fun, but I felt it lacked a little something. Maybe I can put it down to the exigencies of having been in DJ’s Locker.

As for the plot… sometimes it really annoys me when stories have that “Ta da! Something we never mentioned nor even hinted at before is now going to be crucial!” moment. And Pirates 3 has that. (Don’t worry, I don’t intend to spoil it… I haven’t seen any ads for the movie, so I have no idea what’s been revealed or hinted at there.) But I do understand that sometimes a big revelation is the easiest way to add drama and interest etc to a story, so people take that option. I quite liked the bizarro thing they added to the movie – not sure it entirely fit, but it was entertaining. And the conclusion… well. Completely unexpected, which in itself was completely unexpected.

Go see it. It’s good.

Stargate Atlantis

Oh. My. Goodness.

Henry Winkler! On Atlantis! Playing some sort of Tommy Lee Jones Under Siege mercenary character.

Totally cool.

Stargate Atlantis

Having finished SG-1, we decided that we’d give Atlantis a go – having ‘met’ the cast in one or two of the SG episodes, and because we needed our fix. We’ve got so used to having TV shows to watch on DVD – SG, West Wing, Firefly… and J isn’t a fan of FarScape, so we thought: why not? And weve just signed on for Bigpond movies, so we made this our first request. The first four disks turned up within a few days, and voila – away we go.

I like Major Sheppard; he is going to be very entertaining. Certainly in the tradition of Jack O’Neill, but different enough that it’s not annoying. Rodney is definitely going to get on my nerves, and I’ve just realised who Dr Weir reminds me of: Janeway. And that is not a good association, as far as I am concerned. I was wondering early on whether they’d get their very own pet alien, as with SG1, and at the moment it looks like that will be Teyla – although I think IMDB says she’s only in a few episodes. Which is good, because I’m getting a bit sick of her shoulders-back-boobs-out posing.

So far, Atlantis is great – after three episodes. It’s also different enough, so far, from SG1 that it doesn’t just feel like a rehash of the same old stuff. It’s a lot more alien, which makes sense since the whole place is alien. I’m looking forward to watching the rest of it.


I have, in the past, mentioned how uncomfortable I am about being the over-enthusiastic fan. Nonetheless, having just finished Stargate SG-1 season 10…

The last season was mostly brilliant. The 200th episode was hilarious: a revisit to Wormhole Xtreme!, which makes a lot of sense – the team being asked for their input into a telemovie. This enitre episode was an homage to the rest of the show, as well as a few others. There’s a comment about how weird it is to make a movie from a show that only lasted a few episodes, and T’ealc says there was a lot of interest on DVD… hello, Firefly! But my absolutely favouritest reference, which nearly made me cry with laughter, was Vala trying to convince the producer to create a new show – basically FarScape. Claudia Black was her own character, but Michael Shanks was Crichton and and Ben Browder was Stark. And the producer makes a quip about how he’s never heard of anything like it… Marvellous.

See what I mean about being a fan?

Anyway, the last episode was pretty cool, too, And my theory is that they knew the show was canned (so sad!!) when they were filming the last one, at least – the very last line is something of a reassurance to fans, I think, that there will be more Stargate, eventually.

I do hope so.

Fishy update

It has indeed been a long time since I posted about my aquatic darlings. The fact that there actually have been some changes in the last month makes that even worse… not that they’ve been huge changes, but still – this blog was begun with the intention of writing about fish and what happened to them, given the dearth (at the time, at least) of info for beginning fish-keepers… anyway, enough of that!

So, a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to put a few more fish in. I bought a herd of neons, because they were on special. They went into the quarantine tank, which I had finally cleaned up and started the tank in again. Sadly, they didn’t last very long – only a few days. The point was for them to break the tank in, without the time of fishless cycling… turns out they were remarkably fragile little neons, and they didn’t like that idea. So, I am fishless cycling.

I also bought three cloaches, I have been wary of getting them, what with getting too attached and then them dying too easily. (Might seem weird to buy fish at the same time as preparing the quarantine tank, but really, cloaches are better off going into a mature tank anyway, rather than a new one). These three have been fantastic! One – I presume it’s always the same one – spends most of his time under the rock, as our previous cloaches have, but the other two are generally out and about and being all cloachy: shimmying around the tank, nosing around, and basically being all adorable and cute. I love my cloaches.

Dr Zhivago

I am watching this tonight, in bits and pieces, trying to find appropriate bits to show the kiddies tomorrow – preferably the parts about the Civil War, and the privations suffered under War Communism and the Bolsheviks. I would quite like to watch the whole thing – I think the only time I have was about a decade ago, and I remember liking it then… but it’s just so long! I simply can’t watch the whole thing tonight, and the thought of watching a 3-hour movie just seems too difficult these days.

Omar was quite devilishly handsome in his day. I’ve just got to the part where Zhivago is about to meet Lara… terribly exciting. Truly, it is a grand narrative.