Monthly Archives: July, 2007

Sleeping Beauty

My friend Kate (read her short stories here) told me about this production of Sleeping Beauty at the Malthouse: “it’s got Renee Geyer in it! It’ll be great!” We went along on Tuesday.

It wasn’t at all what I was expecting. It was all music, no dialogue – and all of it was pop songs (some of which, to my shame, I didn’t recognise). Things like “Little Ray of Sunshine,” “Oh Happy Day,” and “Dreamer.” And “All the boys in town,” by the Divinyls, which I heard on the radio a couple of days later and had to turn off… because I am still a bit too traumatised by the performance to be able to hear that song, in particular, without having flashbacks. Because Beauty (played by Alison Bell, brilliant) sang it as a lament, almost (which is entirely appropriate to the words), and it was so sad.

So the performance starts with a mum and dad wanting a daughter… getting one… doting on her and her getting annoyed at the attention.* Then… something happens, and she either goes back in time or to another world. Weird things happen there. Like Geyer singing a song that is either Eminem or 50 Cent, which was perhaps the weirdest thing of a weird night. That, and the anime section in the middle. I don’t know whether it was anime produced for the performance or not – I would guess not, that it was sections from at least one if not multiple pre-existing films, spliced together for this.

The set was sparse, and they used light to brilliant effect. The performances were all magnificent. And the music was great – apparently one of the people involved was from Boom Crash Opera which, you know, just makes it all good from my point of view. It was a breath-taking performance… and I am still not sure what happened at the end.

*This is my interpretation of it. I am perfectly willing to admit that there are aspects that I simply didn’t get, so my putting it together may be faulty.

UK beer… and food

I have been promising myself since, oh, February that I would blog more about my UK trip. I’ve mentioned very little so far… in fact, it feels a little surreal…. Anyway, I thought I’d do a short quirky one: the beer we drank! Since we drank a fair bit – and before you start making quips about being alcoholic, much of the beer there is lower in the alcohol than the beer here in Aus, so it doesn’t compare! Since we stayed mostly in smaller towns, we tried very hard to drink local beers; I went for those with unusual names, as you will see… and I decided that just the beer was really quite boring, so I’ve added in the best food we et too.

Sheffield: Tetley’s for J; Carling for me; an ambrosial Samian dessert wine. Christmas dinner with J’s relatives was totally unforgettable. The turkey!!
Windemere: Boddingtons (and a brilliant Chilean sauv blanc at a Mexican place). Tapas – brilliant. And a nice steak and Guinness pie at the pub.
Dumfries: Deuchars Pale Ale; Stowford Cider (not a fan); Timothy Taylor’s Landlord. Alex discovers that fish and chips and beans means baked beans. Not a lesson to forget. Also smoked haddock and spring onion cakes – very tasty.
York: Copper Dragon. Poached salmon and asparagus; J had venison and cranberry stew! Great Italian.
Llanberis: Bass Ale; Unicorn Best Bitter. A truly heroic Indian banquet at “Spice of Llanberis”.
Abergavenny: Reverend James; Brains’ Smooth; Rhenmeny
Crosley Heath (weirdest place we stayed!!): Henry’s IPA; Doombar Bitter
Oxford: Harp and Caffreys – both not cask, very sad; some Cypriot version of ouzo that tasted like it was mixed with metaxa… whoosh! and something random at The Eagle and Child, famous for bring frequented by Tolkien, Lewis, and other literary types. Magnificent Lebanese; brilliant tapas again.
Cambridge: Abbot’s Ale; mulled wine (from a machine! J will never, ever forgive me for making him order it for me…). Dinner at King’s College, thanks very much Bridget! Tapas, again, and noodles at Dojo’s.
Canterbury: some Kentish beer; Archers’ A Good Tern (truly!). Manoli’s Taverna – stupendous Greek food (apparently, in a building that used to be a stable, at which Ben Jonson apparently stopped!).
London: boring beers I didn’t bother to record. Take-away Indian for a colossal price.

So there you go. More random bits and pieces to follow… that’s a threat…

Playing hookey

Not with work or anything, but with my responsibilities. Instead of reading some of the anthologies waiting for me, I’ve got Ilium, by Dan Simmons, to read. It’s mine, it’s just been with someone else for an awfully long time. Long enough that I’ve bought the sequel, Olympos, and haven’t read it yet – despite the fact that my hands almost literally itch every time I see it lying there on my bookshelf – because I must re-read the first so that it’s clear in my mind.

I love this book. I love it a lot. In fact, I love almost everything by Simmons, but that’s another issue. There aren’t too many books that manage to combine the Trojan stories with lovely, breath-taking scifi (yeh, OK, there’s Simon Brown’s Troy anthology – did I mention and I did a podcast on it?! – but short stories are a different teapot of eels from a full-blown space opera epic novel). It confused me delightfully the first time I read it, and I am loving reading it again – because I already know what various things mean, but there’s a lot of detail that I’ve forgotten and it’s just wonderful.

Pity I didn’t get this at the start of the holidays… as it is, I’m going to have to play a little bit of hookey when I go back to school next week, as I’ve got too much on this weekend to be able to finish it…

Are you thinking what I’m thinking, B1?

There’s a new Boeing just been released, the 787.

Airbus released the A380s not that long ago.

Is anyone else out there thinking “it’s time to play chicken!” ?

Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan

I am watching it right now. I’d just like to say gosh they imagined the Enterprise as enormous.

And James T really does have a recognisable voice!

And… the effects look terrible, but probably brilliant for the time…

The Moneypenny Diaries

I started and finished it this morning. Apparently ‘edited’ by Kate Westbrook, Jane Moneypenny’s niece, it covers 1962: starts with Bond’s wife Tracy dying (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, I think), and ends with Bond in Japan (You Only Live Twice). Lots of stuff in between, of course, some of it about Bond – but mostly about Moneypenny, naturally enough. There’s a romance, intrigue, all the stuff you’d expect. It’s separated into months, with each month starting with a short bit from Westbrook about her search to validate the contents of the diaries.

My mum and sister told me it was great, so they loaned me their copy. I have to admit that I didn’t read it in all that much detail. I’m not really in a Cold War mood, and the writing wasn’t quite good enough to sucker me in completely. Which is why I was able to read it in a couple of hours. It was pretty good, and I would definitely recommend it to fans of Bond and the Cold War. Interestingly, it’s written with lots of footnotes, explaining exactly who various personages are in ‘real’ life. Some of them definitely are/were real, others I’m not sure about – they could be, and Westbrook has woven them into the story, or she’s just made people up conveniently. I’m actually happy with either explanation, personally.

And it’s totally up for a sequel, too, which I think I would probably read.

Odyssey

I shouldn’t have had the wine.

I have a bad habit. When circumstances conspire – bit tired, warm-to-stifling environment, not too loud and not too bright – I have a tendency to fall asleep. In public. Sitting up. *sigh* And when you add a glass of wine to the mix….

Anyway, I went to see a performance of The Odyssey at the Stork Hotel this afternoon. I only saw it advertised yesterday when I was walking in the city, thought I had missed it (like I missed their performance of The Iliad – GAH!), then found out they were doing a matinee today… very excited. But this is also where the wine comes in (average service at the Stork on a Sunday, just by the way): I didn’t hear all about Polyphemus….

The performers were excellent. Rod Mullinar was brilliant as the patriarchs – and his voice is so familiar, I will have to go and google him. Helen Morse, Jane Nolan and Humphrey Bower were also fantastic – although I am still thinking through Bower’s very Yorkshire Poseidon. They were thoroughly engaging, and easy to listen to, and didn’t go too overboard on characterisation – which actually worked very nicely.

Couple of things:
* Odysseus in the Underworld, after he pours out the libation? First zombie appearance in Western literature. That’s my theory.
* I was dreading the Telemakos bits. I can’t stand those bits (actually, I’m more of an Iliad girl, but you take what you can manage to get to). They skipped them out! Telemakos only appears on Ithaka – no jaunting off to Menelaos or Nestor! Very relieved.
* The one thing that didn’t work so well was Odysseus returning home. I thought it was a bit jerky, the events of landing on Ithaka – being found by Telemakos – and eventually getting the suitors (and Morse as the nurse was so evil in her delight at their deaths!). It didn’t flow very well at all.

All round, though, this was fantastic. Not too long, lighting was effective, music was a surprise (not the music itself, when it started – the fact that there was music at all) but also effective, and the performers… marvellous.

Doctor Who

The writers of The Shakespeare Code (ha! I say again: ha!) must just have had so much fun writing this episode. You get to include lots of nutty references to Shakespeare; a few other famous lines that Shakespeare isn’t allowed to steal; and you get a nice reference to Harry Potter as well! Very nice, very clever! And you set up a confrontation between the good Doctor and Good Queen Beth; I really hope they come through with that. I love her costume; it would be a shame to waste it on a 30 second spot.

And they definitely hinted at Shakespeare being bi. Ha! and again – ha!!

BBC History May 2007

Yeh, bit slack with reading these mags at the moment… I got stuck on an article about Charles II and the restoration, and then it occurred to me that I didn’t have to finish reading it – novel, eh?

The two articles about the mutiny/insurrection/pick your favourite word in India, against the Brits, were fascinating. Saul David and William Dalrymple give different perspectives on it (literally: one Brit, one Indian). Given I knew zip about the issues and results of the conflict, these articles were intriguing for me. The question about motivations, and whether it was religious or political or how those things worked together in somewhere like India, with Hindus and Muslims and Christians, was absorbing. And I am not willing to draw any modern parallels.

I’ve heard the word Oxyrhynchos (sharp nose) with reference to papyri before, but never really knew what was going on there. Now I know, thanks to Peter Parsons! I love things like this: piles of rubbish being preserved for millenia, and then being just the ticket for archaeologists – a great big mound of treasure, basically. Yay for the preserving sands!

It’s the 300th birthday of the union between England and Scotland this year, and apparently there’s a bit of grumbling and muttering, in Scotland especially, about what a bad deal they got. Not so, according to Eric J Evans, who reckons the Scots got a very good deal indeed – especially economically, if not politically.

There’s a new book coming out about Stalin as a young man – who’s not interested in analysing the youth of a nutter, to see what caused him to be like that, to reassure ourselves that something went wrong so he wasn’t just a normal man who did dreadful things? Anyway, according to Simon Sebag Montefiore, he developed a taste for violence early on, but also was into seducing women and writing poetry… which may be connected to one another…. I don’t think I’ll read the book, but it’s an interesting idea, and I think I’m glad someone has done it.

Diarmid MacCulloch’s article on Christians and Muslims today, and whether this is some inevitable (argh! anathema word!) clash of faiths or a result of the last 200 years of history, is fascinating – because I don’t know a lot of it, and he makes a compelling case. As a Christian myself, I think that there is (inevitably!) tension between the faiths because of their differences, but this doesn’t necessarily translate onto the world stage… I’m not convinced Bush makes his decisions as a Christian and nothing else, and I am also not sure about the various Islamic states – because I just don’t know enough about them. Anyway, very interesting stuff.

Finally, let me just mention the short article on ERII’s coronation. Interesting stuff about the behind-scenes events, and the stress over whether or not to broadcast it.

Not the best issue of BBC History, for my tastes, but still quite good.

I lied

Dear Reader, I am sorry, but I lied.

It wasn’t pannacotta, it was a sweet flan – I was mistaken. I do still indeed intend to try pannacotta, but this is what I was intending to make. There were some Issues… let’s just say that when I thought the muffin tray was going to fit in the big tray I had, so it could act as a water bath, I was mistaken. I discovered this when I had already put mixture into the muffin tray, but nonetheless – we progressed.

They were tasty, despite the fact that I cheated and used vanilla extract (fake, even, I think) rather than vanilla bean. I made a bit of a dark chocolate ganache with the rest of the cream I had, and some dark choc melts… it was very tasty. Just ask J!