Monthly Archives: February, 2008

Ah, voyeurism

I missed all of the “Who do you think you are?” episodes on SBS – UK and Aussie – and I was a bit sad about that, because although it’s not entirely my thing I do like a bit of this sort of personal history. Fortunately, my darling mother (she of the apricots) taped those of Bill Oddie and Nigella Lawson. I’ve just now got around to watching them, having had the video waiting for me for weeks. Bill Oddie’s was quite sad – his mother in a “sanitorium,” or asylum, for much of his childhood; he has very few memories of her, and basically no good ones. It was quite interesting hearing his reasons for researching his past.

Nigella comes from a tradition of caterers, which I think is hilarious. I didn’t know she was Jewish, so that was fascinating too: her great grandparents came, respectively, from now west Germany and Amsterdam. The history of Jewish migration and experience is one I know little about, and I wonder just how well researched it is; I would guess fairly well. It gives quite a different view on early modern history in Europe (and, I am sure, on medieval too) from what you get if you simply focus on the Christian European experience.

too much Stargate? Never!

I am lucky enough at the moment to have little bit of what I choose to call play money. My natural Scrooge tendencies are too painful to go into here, but suffice to say that splurging – even on thins that I really want and will get a lot of joy out of – is something I struggle with. So I thought long and hard, and eventually decided it would be worth it: I bought the 59 DVD box of Stargate: SG-1. This is a crazy extravagance; I know someone with them already – although theirs are pirated, and of course I don’t have easy access to them. Plus, this comes in a lovely big box, complete with tacky raised circle (aka stargate) on the front.

Anyway, it arrived on Thursday. We watched the entire first season on the weekend – my love didn’t get into show until about season 2 or 3 when we watched it the first time (oh, did I mention that I’ve already seen the whole lot?), so he enjoyed watching that; I also discovered that first time through I missed a disc – three or four episodes, including the wonderful Antarctic episode. We’re now into the second season, and we’re trying to limit ourselves to only two… or so… episodes a night. Hard, though…

Couple of things of note:
* Samantha is cringingly nerdy in the first couple of episodes. I am so glad they sophisticated her.
* Teal’c is fairly painful in these first few seasons; his facial expressions are just ridiculous. And not always convincing.
* Michael Shanks. Daniel Jackson. *sigh* Wonderful!
* Richard Dean Anderson. Jack O’Neill. As above!

I said something to my love as we watched an episode – something about enjoying the interaction between Jack and Samantha – and he turned to me, in ridicule, and asked whether I had bought 59 DVDs just for the sake of a few, frustratingly brief, interactions between the two.

Well, duh.

The Fisher King

So I’ve been listening to some BBC podcasts recently – the “In Our Time” series. I really enjoy them – the interplay between the three interlocutors, the broad range of topics they cover within the topic itself: it’s all glorious. What I do often find drives me nuts, though, is Melvyn Bragge himself. He so often seems to think he knows everything about the topic after his preliminary reading – I’m happy to admit that he probably spends a number of hours in doing so, but still, he’s talking to people who have spent large amount of their professional lives, at least, thinking about the stuff! He particularly annoyed me in this episode, but I’ll get to that.

I had a most exciting moment in listening to this episode, which has never happened before: I knew one of the people! Well, ‘knew’ in the loosest possible sense; I’ve read most of one of his books, when I was researching for an essay on Robin Hood; and I heard him speak once on the figure of Merlin – Stephen Knight. An Aussie, who teaches in Wales on Arthur-y type things, among other topics. Anyway, it was a very cool moment for me.

So, the episode itself: focussing on the Fisher King, which I think is very cool in and of itself, that you can talk for 40-odd minutes on a fairly obscure literary figure/convention. Awesome. They looked at when the Fisher King first appears – in connection with Arthurian stuff; what his figure represents, pagan and Christian; and what he came to mean, in the 19th and 20th centuries (and they did indeed mention, if only briefly, the movie – which I was waiting for!), in Eliot (I might have to re-read The Waste Land… scary thought) and others.

All up, it was a great deal of fun to read, as I pounded along the path….

You can even, as they say in the business, listen again!

Productive and critical

Watching four Roman DVDs, for school, and I think I’m going to send all four back. Three are a series – republic, empire, ‘building and empire’; the other is a stand-alone. The stand-alone was definitely for younger kids, which would be fine – since this is for yr7 kids – but the background music was appalling. The others… well, I think they’re just a bit boring. I’m sure I can find docos with more interesting narration, and less bad music. They also feel a bit dated, although I think they’re actually fairly recent; they’re just leaving me cold.

On the plus side, though, since they’re all 30-45 min long – being average, I’ve been skipping through the chapters a bit; has made it a lot faster than I expected! I’ve got a couple of French and Russian Rev (eek! They’ve just shown a clip of a picture from a brothel – one of the awfully explicit ones; really not sure if I can show this to my 7s!) DVDs to preview, too, and a couple of other Roman and ancient Greek ones – hopefully they’ll be better than these.

Semi-gratuitous post

… because I am utterly, utterly astonished at being nominated for the Ditmars!

I was going to mention which ones, but… I think I won’t. This is partly because it really would be gratuitous, but also for a small amount of anonymity to be retained here. I don’t imagine my students would find this – I’ve never said where my school is, and there’s nothing here to link me to my name (yet) – but still, I feel more comfortable knowing they can’t randomly google me and find this! So, I must say that since I’ve read most of the stuff nominated this year (except a couple of the novels… oops), I think it’s a strong list!

I was going to post the list here, too, but… that would come close to defeating the anonymity principle.


On a slightly more upbeat note than the last couple of posts, I bought some new fishies on the weekend.

I had been intending to get a bristlenose catfish, to help deal with a slight algae problem, but the guy said that a) they tend to basically ring-bark any plants you’ve got, and b) fish eat slowly, so any algae they might eat will probably grow back faster than et anyhow. Which was very useful, saved me money, and I will simply continue to pull the damned stuff out by hand.

What I did buy is four itty-bitty mottled angels. Three are black and white, and the fourth just white (so not really mottled then, I know, but that’s what the tank said!). Their bodies are less than an inch round, and even when you add their lovely fins they’re still small. Of course, they may grow up into holy terrors and traumatise all the other fish… but that’s a while away yet!

They’re so cute.

Planetary alignment

Yes, you guessed it, I am spending tonight watching the first Lara Croft film. Whee! It does have a brilliant opening, I must say. And some of the action sequences are marvelous. I love the bungee scene, between floor and mezzanine; giving her the bungee cord makes it at least vaguely plausible, unlike some other scenes of this type. And, you know, who doesn’t love a sexy archaeologist (talking about Alex West, aka Daniel Craig, of course – with a bad American accent)?

But seriously. A planetary alignment I can just about come at, on a fantastical level; it’s not a new idea, and there are alignments of two or three (I’m including the sun and moon here) every now and then. But a meteor that strikes at the exact moment of the alignment? Not even I’m that gullible. And I don’t think it adds to the story, either – it’s not necessary for the plot to work.

Oooh, just got to the massive Buddha getting up and angry; very cool.

And Jolie’s hair? So very fake.


I finished reading Wicked: the Life and Times of Wicked Witch of the West a couple of days ago. I probably shouldn’t have admitted that, because now Girlie and Ben will now gang up on me insisting that I write the review for ASif!, but that’s not going to be too hard (when I make the time) because it is brilliant. Brilliant as in, I think I have to pass it on to the second reviewer so I might buy myself a copy.

Anyway, watch out for the review… but since that might take a week or so, just go and buy the darn book. That’s what the review will say anyway, just in more words.

Mummies and romance

I watched The Mummy a couple of days ago, and The Mummy Returns tonight.

I’d really like to be able to say that I watch and enjoy them because of my joy at seeing archaeology and egyptology on the big screen, getting a cool rep; for the awesome FX; and for the manic action sequences.

Part of that is true – I leave it to you to figure out what’s a big fat lie from that statement. But the truth is, I like those movies for the same reason I like the original Star Wars movies.

Yes, it’s partly the action and the explosions – particularly in Star Wars. But the reality is, I watch them for one main reason: Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and their relationships with Evie/Leia.

This is my big guilty secret, that I am trying to come to grips with, and which outing myself here will hopefully help: I am a sucker for romance. It has to be surrounded by action, and explosions, and preferably lots of cool FX and a scifi bent; the heroine has to not be a wimp and the hero has to be a real hero (being a rogue helps as well) – and I love movies with no real romance, too – but, still, a bit of romance done well is not something I object to.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last decade or so building up an anti-romance persona; it hurts to tear it down! And there are certain friends to whom I will never admit this, ever. Because they will never let me live it down. Like they still tease me for getting married, after saying I never would (six years today). Kate – stop scheming right now!


The back story:
I experienced asthma as a kid, although never badly; it seemed to disappear in my teens. When I moved to Melbourne, I got wheezy in winter when I got the sniffles. Then, about 5 years ago, it came back with a vengeance: one time I didn’t think I’d make it from uni to home. That was, oh, about 300m. Maybe 500. Anyway, it was scary, and I’ve since got paranoid about carrying ventolin (my husband would say not paranoid enough).

The actual story:
Last night we were at a BBQ at a friend’s place around the corner (literally; we cross no roads to get there. So cool). We left just as the Aussies were coming on to bat in the Twenty20 match.* I jogged home – in my thongs – knowing that I would regret doing so, because a month ago that would have had me reaching for the ventolin when I got back.

No ventolin! No wheezing! Lungs acting like they ought, instead of trying to murder their owner! This is pretty small stuff, I know, but I am so excited. It must be because of the jogging I’ve done over the last few weeks – this is an unexpected, and quite wonderful, side effect.

* BORING. What and average game that was!