Monthly Archives: December, 2007

More archaeology for me!

So my nerdy excitement levels are way high at the moment, because today I found – in Ballarat of all places! – a copy of a magazine I’ve never heard of: British Archaeology. I subscribe to the American one, which comes from the American Institute for Archaeology; this one is put out by the Council for Brisitsh Archaeology. Now, it was quite expensive, but it is beautifully printed and – although short – it seems to have only about 2 full page ads in the entire 66 or so pages! Compared to the American one, and even BBC History (which I also subscribe to), this is quite amazing. Anyway – I’m very pleased, and I’m looking forward to reading it. Most of it, of course, is British – which is fun – and a cursory glance seems to indicate that it will be like the American one in terms of being reasonably good history and good archae, and being populist at the same time.

Hurrah for me.

Rise of the Silver Surfer

… was really, really crap. I liked the premise of the Surfer himself, but they really didn’t develop that very well – and even if he’s just a herald, they could have made more of that aspect. I even quite liked the idea of exploring their tension-filled relationship with their fame, but that was done quite poorly too. And except for a few moments between Reed and what’s-her-face, Alba, and some angsty moments between the whingy Human Torch and his sister, there was pretty much no real interaction between the Fantastic Four themselves. Essentially, it was SFX driven, and the plot – not to mention the dialog – really suffered as a result.

Fun to watch though, as long as your credulity is taking a long, long holiday.

Tears at Christmas

yes, I know that a lot of people talk about fights etc at Christmas, and that roll-the-eyes stereotype of people hating their relatives at Christmas but having to spend time with them. I am fortunate in having a small and fairly close family – and living 3000km away from most of the extended family for my growing up may have helped this.

Anyway, the tears were because of my mother, today – and she was 800km away. Impressive, eh?

She gave me a set of my Dad’s military medals, in miniature. For those of you with no experience in this – anyone who gets a medal gets the full-size one, and a miniature. Not sure of the original reason for this. You can get extra miniature ones, too, it turns out. So my brother and I, no longer living at home, have got a full set of Dad’s medals (for service – nothing extraordinary – in Vietnam), all attached properly on a ribbon, with a pin at the back, so we can wear them if ever we want to on ANZAC Day etc. I’m never likely to do that, but my bro might.

Dad died June 2000. It’s a really special, unexpected present.

Godzilla

So yesterday was the first real day of my holidays (weekends don’t count). I thought that a perfectly lovely way of starting my hols would be getting up late (check), pulling on the dressing gown (check; because Melbourne has decided to go back to winter for whatever daft reason), and watch Godzilla… hmm. Yes.

I saw the remake when it came out, in 1998 it turns out. I remember thinking it was hilarious. I put it down on my BigPond Movies list, and thought it would be great to share it with my love. Sigh. It was not to be, sadly. Because it really wasn’t as good as I remember. In fact, it was quite average. When I realised it was 130 min worth of average-ness – at the 50 min mark – I made a considered judgment and gave up on it. I could not do it.

And so is one of illusions destroyed. Heartbreaking.

Tickets…

to Swancon. I has them!

Cue the eye-rolls, the short laugh or muffled giggle, the slightly disbelieving frown on non-nerdy friends’ faces… but that’s ok. Because it’s going to be great. I really hope they get the academic stream up; Girlie Jones and Ben Payne are launching 2012, their print anthology that includes the like of Dirk Flinthart and Tansy Rayner Roberts, both of which make me very happy; numerous people I know will be there, and I’ll get to meet some of them for the first time… plus, it’s Perth! I’ve been there once, in 1996, for a conference, and didn’t see much but liked what I saw. And, my love is coming too! He’s going to go off gallivanting while I’m being all serious and nerdy (ha!), then we’ll have a few days over in the far reaches of the country together, since it’s school holidays at that time. Woohoo!

More than meets the eye

We didn’t go to see Transformers at the flicks. I really wanted to, but my love had heard varying reports. Personally, I trusted ‘s assessment, and agitated for going, but we somehow never got around to it. So we got it through BigPondMovies, and every half an hour or so he was then heard to exclaim “This is fantastic! Whoever didn’t like this had no sense of humour!” Duh. Imagine how much more awesome it would have been on the big screen! I’m sure there were aspects that I missed, due to not being an afficiando, but that’s ok – the plot didn’t rely on them, I did get the “more than meets the eye” reference, and I’m happy for uberfans to get some smug enjoyment that I missed – because I like doing it when I can, too.

Things I really liked:
The fight scenes. Woohoo!
The CGI transformations. Very nice.
The dry sense of humour.
Josh Duhamel!   =]
The incongruity of the plot. Yes, there are several bits it’s best not to think about, but when it’s done in such an entertaining way I’m generally disposed to forgiving leaps of logic. After all, we’re talking about giant alien robots…

Things I got annoyed at:
Sam, the main human; especially at the start, very painful.
The Autobots being made to seem a bit lame. Optimus Prime, in particular, sometimes came off as less than heroic.
The bits that were blatantly put in for teenage boys – like Mikaela doing the stretch to look under the hood. Pft.

For those people who thought the movie was crap: we’re talking about aliens, robot aliens, who by all accounts were the indigenous life forms on their planet. So… what is your problem with the rest of the movie?!

Oh, and for a final touch, we two really were destined to be together: turns out we both owned a toy Bumblebee as kids. How sweet!

Fly me to the moon

Space Cowboys was on last night. I love it! All four of the main actors are playing basically the characters they’ve been playing for the last 30 or 40 years, in some cases: it’s a beautiful tribute. I don’t think any of them have played astronauts before this, although I could be wrong about that, and I’ll bet they’ve all wanted to at some point, so it’s wish fulfillment on several levels.

It could easily have gone horribly wrong – turned into a pastiche that made fun of them, or turned boringly sentimental, or just seemed ridiculous. Instead, there’s a bit of sentiment – but it doesn’t get in the way of the story; they are poked fun at, which is only appropriate because they’re old codgers proposing something crazy – but they overcome it, and it’s made to seem feasible. The bits in space are hilarious: I can just imagine an exec ordering the props guys: “Buttons! and toggles! And more flashing lights, too! Doesn’t matter what they do, just add them!” I’m sure there are lots of those things on spacecraft in real life, just that I’m not convinced all of those shown in the movie correspond…

Anyway, I think the movie has the right amount of romance, understated heroism, lurking skullduggery, and funny lines to please a lot of people. I could have stood for a bit more action, but I realise that wasn’t the point of the movie. It really is very good!

Aussie Spec Fic Carnival

Ladies and gentlemen and others, here it is…

NaNoWriMo:
Andrew Macrae flunked out early, Stephen Dedman didn’t quite make it, but Martin Livings actually did it – and offered it for viewing.

Writing:
Ben Peek has posted a few episodes of Nowhere Near Savannah, this one being a favourite so far – reasons not to write science fiction.
Glenda Larke delivers her musings on staying true to your art, and being balanced; meanwhile mikandra has something of a writing crisis.
Cassiphone (aka Tansy Roberts) had a sneak peek of her latest novel, Power and Majesty, available for perusal (and made a rather wild claim to boot).
Gillian Pollack makes a very generous offer, should you be interested in experimenting for a travel scene in your next novel (no vegos allowed).
Tehani reflects on Andromeda Spaceways as it was in 2007.
Dirk Flinthart shares a his take on the story of the Ugly Duckling. Heart warming, but you can just imagine what’s coming at the end…
and another Stephen preens a little about the covers of some random books…

Publishing:
That old Punkrocker announces that Worker’s Paradise came back from the printers, and Karen Miller announces the publication of The Riven Kingdom (as well as keeping us up to date on the progress of her next); Girlie announces the impending arrival of Shiny 2.
Jennifer Fallon also gets into the shamelessly plugging friends act as well.
Seems obvious to me, but apparently “Kiss of the Lily” – which is wanting stories with romance – haven’t been getting what they want.
Margo discusses the new Datlow Del Rey antho, including herself; also comments on some reviews she’s received, as does Kaaron Warren on The Grinding House.

Reading:
That Ben Peek again has some interesting things to say about the Aussie military reading list.
James T Kirk School of Plot Development is elaborated by Gillian.
Matt discusses William Burroughs.
The token Kiwi has caused some stir with a variety of posts, on chronotopicality (also here) – sparking lots of comments, worth reading.
Last Short Story keeps doing their (OK, I admit, our) crazy thing, attempting to read the short specfic published in 2007.
Jonathan S reflects on re-viewing Star Wars (as well as thinking about feedback).

Also seen:
Chris Barnes gets all dressed up and fights some folks, progressing up the career ladder of Sword Fighting.
Cat Sparks posts some of her photos from World Con.
Girlie is rounding up support to help support ASiF! – a worthy cause if you like reviews, and there are even prizes! (She’s also had ideas about improving said website. Plus, Martin is offering to name characters after donaters.) Plus, some silly writing stunts.
Justine Larbalestier and partner Scott star in a podcast (there’s also a second half).
Paul continues his incredibly personal and humbling recount of his experience with cancer (that’s just one entry, of course).
Finally, there’s no show without Punch – or, in the case of the Aussie specifc scene, the Aurealis Awards, the list of which appeared a week or so ago now; it’s even scored itself a big fat sponsor. Numerous people blogged about, like those who got nominated (and while you’re there, check out Rob eating brains).

Star Trek Generations

Picard is better than Kirk

Kirk is better than Picard

I think Picard is my favourite. He’s just more… refined. Kirk makes Jon Mclean look like a choir boy. The thing that’s particularly funny about those lists (and there were quite a few that I didn’t get) is that a number of them are the same, word for word – yet on one list it’s bad and on the other, good.

So I’ve watched Star Trek Generations tonight. I don’t think I’d seen it before – although it’s possible that I saw it at my first O’Week party, back in the day (the cinema at uni was showing movies all night; I know I saw a Star Trek at maybe 1am – with the kir part of kirmish, as I recall – but don’t remember it at all; and no I wasn’t drunk, because the Melbourne Uni security team, in their wisdom, wouldn’t accept NT proof of age – only Victorian). What can I say? The effects are definitely better. I don’t like Riker much, Troi is a pain, and while Crusher is good she ain’t no Bones. Geordie (oooh, it jut occurred to me that that’s another UK slang reference, like Scotty… yes, I’m a bit slow) is ok, but no Scotty, and Data is a lesser version of Spock without the interesting reason for being all logical and cold. I think what I’m saying is that I want Picard with the original crew; that would be my ideal Star Trek!

Soren was a worthy adversary, with a very interesting reason for being a prat. It was fun seeing Kirk and Picard together (they’re in one other together, I believe?). Overall, quite a satisfying plot, I thought.

My final question, though: why is such a nice-looking planet as Viridian 3 uninhabited??

Spamalot

I went tonight. It was great, of course. I wasn’t in stitches – having shown Holy Grail to two classes in the last couple of days might have taken the edge off for me – but it was still very, very funny. The bits they’ve added in were magnificent.

Anyway, there was one part I thought I’d share with you. They blow the bunny up with the Holy Hand Grenade, and the scenery falls down to reveal the word BONES in ‘stone.’ There is much confusion, until one of the knights suggests the S might be a 5. So it might actually say B-one-5.

At this point, my stomach dropped.

Then the spotlight landed on B15.

Yup.

The Grail was “under my seat”; after they retrieved it, they decided that the brave peasant needed to be brought on stage, so they could properly say thank you. (They are so LOUD on stage!) So I got to shake their hands, had my name announced to the audience (I checked; there’s about 1700 seats at Her Majesty’s)… and then I won an Arthur for Best Peasant in Melbourne, which means I now have a little statuette of a foot… and a photo with half the cast! Yes, they brought a Polaroid out on to stage.

These sorts of things never happen to me.

I will blog properly about the show itself tomorrow, when I have calmed down a bit. For now… when Patsy retrieved the Grail and went back on stage, part of me was relieved that that might be all, and part of me was just a little disappointed – how dumb is that?? And then they got me on stage, and part of me was embarrassed and really didn’t know where to look (seriously; you can see maybe to the second row); but part of was dead impressed.

Yeh, ok, I’m going to try and sleep it off now. Although given it’s still a million degrees, sleeping might be hard.