Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Grieving sister or brother, if you need some tangible comfort after the loss of a loved one, why not buy a Loving Remembrance Musical Egg? Studded with rhinestones and playing Amazing Grace, it is guaranteed to bring peace to your heart with the poem enscribed on it:
If tears could build a stairway,
And memories a lane,
I'd walk right up to Heaven,
And bring you home again.
After all, there is nothing like cradling a singing egg to bring closure, and for only $34.98, it's a steal.

Also, have you ever worried about your favourite superhero's religious affiliation? Well, there's an answer! The Religion of Comic Book Characters website will let you know exactly what religion, nay, denomination Superman, Captain America or Wonder Woman are. No more will you agonise over whether your children should be reading their exploits, for you will know in whose name they fight for justice. Beware of all the lapsed Catholics.

Or if you have taken the plunge and declared yourself celibate until marriage, why not really go for gold and buy Wait Wear? If by some horrible mischance a member of the opposite sex gets so far as to see your underwear, he or she will be suddenly confronted with a firm and resounding "No Vows No Sex" or "Traffic Control: Wait for Marriage" printed boldly on the front of your undies. Chastity belts have never been so modern!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Allie's Top 5 Most Hated Sports

I've had it with sports. Especially when they require you to be coordinated on your feet or to endure beyond the point of sanity. To demonstrate my disgust, I have decided to make a list of my top 5 Most Hated Sports.

1) Rogaine. To be fair, I haven't actually ever taken part in rogaine, but I have a moral aversion to it. For one thing, as the New Zealand Rogaining Association website will tell you, it was given its name because the three Australian creators of the sport were called Rod, Gail, and Neil. Need I say more? For another, in my seventh form year at school I had a few friends who were obsessed with multisport and outdoor pursuits, and they couldn't shut up about them, and it annoyed me no end. They think rogaine is fun, so automatically I can't help feeling a lot less kindly towards the sport. It also happens to be "the sport of long-distance cross country navigation", like orienteering on a massive scale, lasting for twenty-four hours. "Rogaines are normally on foot and are usually navigated with standard 1:50,000 topomaps." Sounds like the most hellish sport ever devised by man to me.

2) Soccer. Apparently soccer players hate being called soccer players, preferring 'football' which is apparently more professional-sounding. I therefore take pleasure in calling it soccer. It takes second place because I once had to go through about a six month period where every single friend I had at school wanted to go play soccer every lunch time. Ugh. It was horrible. Ever since, I can't help shuddering whenever I think about it. I don't know why I am so bad at soccer and I don't know why I hate it so much - I can't help it. I think I must be a hand-eye sort of person, not a foot-eye, because I just cannot do anything with a soccer ball. I don't even enjoy watching it on TV.

3) Mini golf. I was going to put golf, because that is universally acknowledged to be the most boring game in the world to watch. But then I thought, even though I've never played proper golf, that I can see what the fuss is about when you're actually playing it - wandering around immaculate greens in the sun, wearing white, conversing pleasantly with your friends and sipping lemonade afterwards. But mini golf - for someone like me whose patience brain cell is about the size of a dust mite, mini golf has to be the most infuriating game in the world. There is always at least one hole that, in the end, drives you to scream manically, tear your hair out, and hurl your club at it. There is none of the class and all of the boredom.

4) Touch rugby. Now, rugby itself I can handle. I've never played it properly, but it's fun to run around grasping an oddly-shaped ball and push people over. But in touch rugby, you don't even get to be violent! Where's the fun in that? All people can do is touch you gently on the shoulder or back, so basically the entire game is spent running and running and running, but nothing happens. It's also a summer game, so all this running is done in the blazing heat. Not my idea of fun.

5) Gymnastics. I had a stint when I was six when I imagined the romance of doing ballet or gymnastics. Mum said I could join Brownies or do gymnastics, and so I chose the latter, naturally. Little did I know I had about as much natural skill for gymnastics as a mosquito does for weightlifting. The only thing I could do was walk along the beam, and there was no way I was trusting the brittle-looking trainer to catch me whenever she tried to persuade me to fly through the air. The ultimate humiliation came in the test at the end of term when all my class was put up a grade, including Amanda Poore, my classmate who seemed perfect at the time, and I stayed where I was and got only one sticker on my certificate, for walking on the beam.

Anything else? Well, I know that it's not very fashionable to be anti-sports or anti-physical exercise, so I want to point out that I do enjoy some sports very much - examples: tennis, volleyball, walking, swimming. All this built-up frustration just came to a head, when today I saw a personalised license plate saying "ROGAIN" and felt like hitting the driver over the head with a hub cap. [Obviously, I do not condone violence against rogaine-lovers in any shape or form. I just want to spread the hate.]

don't study history

These photos are from a family gathering at my sister's house last weekend. I am particularly proud of the last one because it seems like the sort of photo a journalist would put in a magazine with a caption underneath saying, 'Greg A--------, eminent agricultural reproduction scientist and wannabe Shakespearian tragedy actor, relaxes in his home neath a canopy of grapes.' (Okay, so the only part of that that is true is the scientist part.)

As a budding (or withering) historian, I am aware I should be trying to put a good word in for studying history. And yes, I do love studying history although quite often it's a pain in the neck trying to be unbiased and scholarly. All the same, if you ever admire someone and look up to them as a role model - don't do a history course on them at university. It's allright if you do it at school, because schools, in my experience, though worthy institutions, tend to teach popular history. But if you take a course at university, you have to look at differing views. And suddenly all these things are pointed out to you that you never would have heard otherwise.

I am currently doing a course on Gandhi. He has never been exactly a hero of mine but I've always had a vague, comfortable notion that he was an amazing, visionary man who should be lauded on high. Now, after only three to four weeks of classes on him, I would consider him as very often manipulative and naive. The lecturer hasn't told us anything of the sort, and this has all come from the reading I have to do in order to pass the course, but all the same, without doing a university course on him, I would have been left happily delusional.

I used to admire Martin Luther very much... and then heard some bad things about him. I used to admire Martin Luther King very much... and the same thing happened. It's not that I don't admire aspects of them still, and there are aspects of Gandhi that I still admire very much - but it's a little depressing discovering things you dislike about people that are looked up to as icons. I suppose none of us can expect perfection of people, but I think most of us wish there was some human who didn't ever disappoint. It might make us feel a little better about our own states of morality.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

things about my university that you probably don't need to know

Like a crazy person, I signed myself up for summer school at the university I attend, Canterbury University. This is because I will miss one semester at uni this year and have to catch up papers in time to do Honours in 2008. This basically means I have been wallowing in university stuff since February last year, and will have no substantial break until July this year. A wise decision? I'm unsure. But since I have been so immersed in university lately (and basically nothing else interesting is happening), I thought I would write a blog entry on Things About My University.

Firstly, I really like (most of) the lecturers at my university. If you will cast your eyes above and below, you will see Michael Palin, Bono and Adam Clayton. No, they are not my lecturers. However, in first year I had the good fortune to have Prof Geoff Rice (above) for Medieval European history. He is now the HOD of History, a great lecturer, and a Michael Palin lookalike. It is very scary. He even laughs the same way, and has similar mannerisms. I chose this photo of Michael Palin because it looked like something Prof Rice might do. Perhaps the photo doesn't quite have the same kick as seeing the man in person, but I assure you, the likeness is striking.
Likewise, I am convinced that my lecturer in second year for History of the English Language, Tony Deverson, has a genetic link somewhere to Adam Clayton, the bassist of U2. I apologise for the size of the photo, but it was all I could find. Again, in real life the likeness is quite striking. (Yes, this is how I spend precious lecture time; agonising over who it is my lecturers look like.)

Secondly, my university has lots of cafés. This is mostly a good thing but not great for my bank account. However, I allow myself to buy a coffee or something to the same value every day I'm at uni, and my FAVOURITE café is Café 101, in the Commerce building. They are just the best café ever. They make fantastic food that is healthy and not too expensive, they make the best caramel slices I've ever tasted, their coffee is great, and I have a friend who works there and sometimes sneaks me a discount. I have also found a way to cheat the system. You get 20 or 30 cents off your hot drink if you bring your own mug. So, I bought a thermos-type mug that is about double or almost triple the size of the ordinary cardboard cup they give you. So in the end I pay less than normal and get a drink that is triple the size, because they fill it right up!!

Thirdly, my university has nice grounds. A river runs through them, there's lots of big trees and grassy bits where you can lie in the sun or make daisy chains when you should be studying. In spring, there are ducklings wandering round, and cherry tree blossoms. On the other hand, most of the buildings were built in about the sixties when the university shifted from the city centre, and they are ugly, square and concrete.

Fourthly, the people who run the university seem to be all about the money, and they are chopping jobs off the Arts department. Not so nice as the rest. Because the uni gets a lot of international students coming to departments like Commerce, they spend the money on sensible degrees like that, and try to make the Arts continually lower their budget, even though Arts is the biggest department in the university and has a great reputation. I'm not going to rant about this for too long but I think it's stupid. Apparently it's happening all over New Zealand at the moment.

Fifthly, there is a great book shop at uni. Obviously it has all the textbooks and so on, but it also has heaps of great fiction with some of the more obscure stuff you wouldn't find at a mainstream store, and non-fiction too. The Humour section is cool, and there is a great selection of Tintin merchandise, randomly enough. There's also lots of choice of stationary. When you are a student, it is great to be able to spend heaps of time pondering which red pens to buy, end up being unable to decide and getting them all, and being out of pocket by no more than $2.

That's about all I can think of right now!

Saturday, January 13, 2007


This is a horse called Ziggy. If I had a horse I would call it Penelope and if I had a dog I would call it Horatio. I suppose I'd have to check the gender first. The best thing about animals is you don't have to worry how they'll be teased at school or anything. If you called your dog John and your cat Anne, to be safe, you'd come across a bit boring. [Disclaimer: if either of your pets are called John and/or Anne, accept my unreserved apologies.]

I found it a bit unnerving a while back when I stayed with a friend who had a lovely big German Shepherd. When I got there, she started shouting, "Down, Allie!" Yup. Turns out the dog was called Allie too. It took a while to get used to that. Oh well, at least it wasn't a chihuahua or something.

Because I like naming things and I'm not particularly eager to have children yet, perhaps I should get a pet. Or better yet, pets. I do like the idea of a nice cuddly warm tabby cat, or a well behaved dog I could take walking and scare bad men away with. Unfortunately, every single pet I've had that was mainly my property to look after has died before their time. It makes me feel a little unloved. Waffles the rabbit and G-nu the guinea pig died when I was about 11, and although G-nu's death was natural, Waffles's was probably my fault for letting him get an infection. I still feel very bad about that. Dwiana the gecko became my sole charge when my elder sister got sick of her, and I fed her the wrong leaves, and she died. In my last year of school I decided to buy fish, and I saved up for ages and got a little aquarium and all the gear and two little goldfish which I named Flotsam and Jetsam. Flotsam died from unknown causes, and then Jetsam died when he/she got a fungus and his/her tail fell off, about three weeks after I bought them. All this leads me to conclude that I am not an animal person.

Friday, January 12, 2007

the dish

Some more photos from Christmas.

Who has heard of the Jetlag Travel Guides? I'm not exactly sure how global they are - if you have never heard of them, they are parodies of the Lonely Planet-style travel book, written by three Australian guys, about made-up countries. I have the Molvania and San Sombrero guides - here is an example of the type of thing:

Despite being one of the smallest countries in Europe, the Republic of Molvania has much to offer the discerning tourist. Panoramic scenery, magnificent neoclassical architecture and centuries of devotion to fine culture are, admittedly, all in short supply. ... Molvania, the world's number one producer of beetroot and the birthplace of whooping cough, is a country steeped in history and everywhere here the past is beautifully preserved, such as in towns like Gyorik where you'll find one of the oldest nuclear reactors still operating in the world.

You can't go on reading for large periods of time or it all just becomes too much but in my opinion they are works of genius. :) So...

...when I saw the movie pictured above today (The Dish, of 2000), I was delighted to hear it was written by the same three men!

Great movie, too. It's about the satellite dish in a small Australian town that somehow, in 1969, ends up being the main dish that is used for the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, which, of course, carried Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldwin. This dish was the one and only medium through which the whole world saw the moon landing on TV. Very funny in many ways but it was also at times quite moving - all in all, a fantastic film. It really made me feel how big a deal the moon landing was, and it was nice seeing Australian people in something that was such a huge thing (although I made several snarky comments about Australians in my last post, Kiwis and Aussies actually get on pretty well when we're not competing - we're quite like each other).

Anyway, it got me thinking... Although there is something undeniably cool about sending rockets into space, I've often felt in the past that maybe all this money spent on NASA and such projects is a waste of humanity's resources and could be better spent elsewhere - like on the abject poverty of the Third World, for one thing. Part of me still feels that way.

But at the same time, it's suddenly struck me that the role of art is like the role of science in this way - one could argue that writing novels and performing music and painting pictures and such is a disgusting waste of money. Books use up forests all over the world, they produce no tangible results ie food, shelter or clothing, the money people spend on movies or music could probably feed the whole African continent (okay, so that's a massive guess but the point is, I think, clear), etc etc... but something in me rebels at this kind of thinking. It's the same way I feel when people scoff at the BA I'm studying for instead of "useful" degrees like Engineering or Medicine. I have to admit that space exploration probably does have a few more tangible benefits for humanity than art does - but at the same time, there is something about human progress that thrills us. And there is something in us that doesn't want to give up pointless things like books for the sake of humanity. I don't think this is coming out very clearly. I just wonder if sometimes we shoot down human progress for its own sake a little too much. I personally often voice my opinions about what a waste of time and money sport can be.

To sum up my whole post in one sentence: Despite knowing all the reasons why we shouldn't bother with certain types of progress, there is something about humans making it to a next step, where no one has been before, that always excites us. I don't think this is a bad thing. (Okay, so it was two sentences.)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

for your education

Right, so - I have had quite enough of this absence of knowledge of Kiwi icons one comes across on the net. Therefore, I have decided to educate you.
Above, you will see probably the prettiest photo in this blog post - pavlova. This is a legendary Kiwi dessert of a pile of meringue topped with cream and fruit. It's not simple to make but is well worth the effort - easily my favourite dessert, when I'm in a mood for sugar. The classic pavlova should have a ring of kiwifruit around it; at least, that's what always turns up at church shared lunches and the like, but I couldn't find a photo of that. [NB: Australians think they created it but they didn't! It was US! Not them!]
Above, we have the Swanndri. The Swanndri was created sometime back when some clever farmer got sick of rain combined with woolly jersey, and created the brand we know today as Swanndri - waterproof wool. This is a southern institution and any Kiwi will recognise the shtunning tartan design and has probably owned at least one in the course of their lives - that is, unless they're a JAFA (another term you need to know, which stands for Just Another F#$%ing Aucklander, as they are invariably referred to by most southerners).

Above, we have the jandal. Not the sandal, not the flip-flop, not the thong - JANDAL. We wear these basically constantly in summer, in fact, I am currently wearing jandals. Obviously, you all probably have them too, but I am convinced that our terminology is the only correct usage. I have about six pairs of jandals and they are my favourite type of shoes ever. At the moment my favourite pair are pink, but my ugly grey ones have served me for years and I will always be faithful to them too.

Marmite. I suppose I should mention Vegemite too, but my personal preference is Marmite. There is quite a feud between Marmite-eaters and Vegemite-eaters and passionate reasons for eating either - rather like the Montagues and Capulets, although it hasn't quite come to suicides yet. Marmite is a spread for toast made from yeast extract. It looks rather like tar and has an unforgettable taste. I have it every morning on my toast and it is the best spread ever. [Australians also try to steal this off us. Bastards.]
L&P. This stands for Lemon and Paeroa, and is a Kiwi-invented soft drink. It is almost a legend in New Zealand now, partly because of clever marketing and partly because it is actually very, very nice. There are also some very funny ads featuring L&P and stubbies, aka very short shorts on males, another Kiwi institution I didn't think it would be polite to feature. Yes, this huge statue of L&P stands, in a town called Paeroa in the north. Kiwis have an unfortunate habit of erecting massive statues to odd things.
Watties Tomato Sauce! As the jingle goes, "You'll always be a Kiwi, you'll always be a Kiwi, you'll always be a Kiwi if you love our Watties sauce!" That could almost be our national anthem because Watties tomato sauce features in every home, on almost any meal (within reason), at any barbecue (in fact you couldn't have a barbecue without it). I have a nephew who, from age three to five, refused to eat anything if it didn't have Watties tomato sauce on it. From Watties has come another Kiwi institution - sausage wrapped in a slice of bread with tomato sauce and onions, the classic $1 fundraiser outside shops on Saturday mornings for school trips or community projects.

Lastly, I think it crucial for all truly multiethnic and diversity-loving people to have a few Maori phrases up their sleeves. Besides being, obviously, the language of the future, you can say cool things in it and no one will have a clue what you mean, outside New Zealand (and quite possibly within, too). I took most of these phrases from a handy little book called Instant Maori.

Does my bum look big in this? = Kei te nui te ahua o taku nono i roto i tenei?

Surf's up dude. = Hei tino pai te ti karekare e ho.

Tomato sauce please. = Homai te hinuki tomato e ho.

Some of my best friends are Pakeha (non-Maori). = Ko etahi o aku tino hau he pakeha.

Now isn't that the most useful blog post in a while?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

movies movies movies

I have just been to see Casino Royale with my friend Sarah and NEED to express the feelings of my pounding bosom. Daniel Craig is PERFECT as Bond and that is the best Bond movie I have ever seen. Granted, I haven't seen many fully through but that is because they've always been on television and I've watched small amounts, snorted and groaned, and switched over to something else. In this film there were a total of ONLY TWO really cheesy and irredeemable lines, which were as follows (paraphrased):

Bond girl (accountant): "I'm the money."
Bond: "Yeah, every penny of it."
Bond: "You've got me there."
Bond girl: "You can have me any way you like."

Other than that, it was gripping. Even the massively long game of poker was great. I had no idea what was going on plot-wise, but for once I can't complain about that at all because it simply didn't matter. I did think the scene of naked torturing was a bit too much; Sarah and I chose that moment to start laughing without being able to stop, and it was agony trying to hold it in when it's undoubtedly meant to be the tensest, most serious part of the film. So we're immature. The rest of the time was spent trying not to whistle because Daniel Craig is basically the pinnacle of manhood. He runs like a Spartan and has eyes like a sprite. (That's my corny line for today.) FIVE STARS from me. *****

I thought I would make this a movies blog altogether because for the first time in a while, I got out some DVDs this week that I've been meaning to see for ages. First up: Possession. I loved the book, and if you ever mean to read the book, don't watch the movie first, because the book is gripping when you don't know what's going to happen. But if you've read the book or hate reading, this movie is great. I have to admit I didn't like the idea of an American Roland Michell, but Aaron Eckhart is so cool in anything I've ever seen him in (insert plug here for Thank You For Smoking) that I retract that statement

willingly. Gwyneth Paltrow was obviously created to play Maud Bailey, and Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle were superb as Ash and LaMotte. The movie flowed really well which was surprising when based on such a long, complex novel, so I give it an overall FOUR STARS. ****

I also got out Jane Eyre, directed by Franco Zeffirelli. I was always disappointed by the BBC TV series and so was delighted to discover a movie version. It started off amazingly well. Anna Paquin was actually perfect as the young Jane, and everything went along just as I imagined it. William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsbourg as Rochester and Jane were also very impressive. Elle Macpherson played Blanche Ingram which would have worked okay if they hadn't made her appearance look so cutesy. It doesn't work on a tall, willowy, majestic thing like her, and I don't think Blanche Ingram was supposed to look cutesy anyway. But she served her purpose okay. I was impressed with the little girl who played Adele Varens; she was sweet and she added a few new depths to the story that I hadn't considered before. But then, suddenly, when Jane ran away - it went downhill. It's like they got to the middle of the story and suddenly realised they'd run out of time, and about the whole end half of the story took place in about fifteen to twenty minutes. St John Rivers and one sister made an appearance but were really only token whereas in the book they play such a huge part. So when it was finished I was very disappointed that it had started out so well yet ended in such a rush. THREE STARS. *** Or maybe TWO AND A HALF. ** [+ half an asterisk]

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I am a machine

Just for you, Stacy!! At the Church of the Holy Innocents. This wasn't the nicest piece of stained glass in the church but it wasn't the easiest light for taking photos.
One of the rather rainy days we encountered.
My nephew Sam wandering through the grounds at the church, on Boxing Day.

I have just powered through one 1300 word essay - in two hours! Congratulate me. Of course I still haven't proofread it and so on but it feels quite encouragaing. Especially as I have two more to do before the 9th. This essay was on "the notion of the littoral" (yes, it's spelt that way) which is apparently something to do with the foreshore or beach and is often used in imagery by New Zealand writers. It's a bit worrying that I still don't know exactly what it means but I'm not too fussed. I'm just glad to have finished!

One of the poems I wrote on I really liked. I thought I would share it. But you have to read it aloud. Okay, so I will let you mouth it under your breath if others are around. Here it is:

Wild Iron, by Allen Curnow

Sea go dark, dark with wind,
Feet go heavy, heavy with sand,
Thoughts go wild, wild with the sound
Of iron on the old shed swinging, clanging:
Go dark, go heavy, go wild, go round,
- Dark with the wind,
- Heavy with the sand,
Wild with the iron that tears at the nail
And the foundering shriek of the gale.

It's been nice doing this course because I've never really read much New Zealand literature before except for children's authors like Margaret Mahy or Sherryl Jordan or Maurice Gee. Some of it wasn't really me, but a lot of it was great. A nice surprise.

I'm not sure if I could say the same for the History course I started yesterday. It's on Gandhi and that stuff is all interesting - but on the very first lecture yesterday, our lecturer managed to slip in what she thinks of modern day Christianity, as if we were interested to know. It made me very annoyed because it had absolutely no relevance to what we were talking about. Argh! I've learnt to handle that stuff from English lecturers, even when it's not on topic, because that's what they do, but up until now History lecturers have always been unbiased or at least backed up what they were saying, which makes me think she isn't very professional. It's also annoying that you are essentially a captive audience with no way of defending yourself. Oh well. I've got over that now...


One of my photos has been published in our city newspaper! Yay! See last post back, of Finlay and the Big Tree. They had a competition to send in holiday photos, so I did. I am now in a draw to win $150. Money always alleviates annoyance. Although funnily enough my Dad says I shouldn't have sent that one in because people weren't actually meant to clamber around on it and we could get in trouble with the Department of Conservation! But I really doubt it. They have more important things to do with their time than stopping four-year-olds from having fun.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

me according to music

Finlay clambering round what is enigmatically named "Big Tree" - a thousand year old kahikatea you can visit on the equally original "Big Tree Walk".
My sister Felicity and nephew Alex, with the bouncy balls Alex made himself from my Christmas present to him.
Alex with the huhu grubs they found in the forest and threatened to feed us surreptitiously.

So, on JenKneeBee's blog I came across this post, which challenges you to answer a quiz solely with music lyrics - and how could I resist?
1) Are you male or female?
She's the dollars
She's my protection
Yeah she's the promise
In the year of election
Oh sister, I can't let you go
Like a preacher stealing hearts
At a travelling show
- Desire, U2
2) Who are you?
I want to trip inside your head
Spend the day there...
To hear the things you haven't said
And see what you might see
I want to hear you when you call
Do you feel anything at all?
I want to see your thoughts take shape
And walk right out
- Miracle Drug, U2
3) Describe your neighbourhood:
I look at my environment
And wonder where the fire went
What happened to everything we used to be
- The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill
4) How do you look?
Welcome to real life
welcome to real life
I've come to realise it's no game
No one is the same
There's so much more to life
Than meets the eye
- Real Life, Evermore
5) What is love?
One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come here to justify
One man to overthrow
In the name of love!
What more in the name of love?...
One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach
One man betrayed with a kiss
- Pride (In the Name of Love), U2
6) If you could say one thing to the person you love, what would it be?
You're the only one who
Holds my hair back when I'm drunk and get sick
You're the only one who
Knows exactly what I mean
- You're the Only One, Maria Mena
I was born a child of grace
Nothing else about the place
Everything was ugly but your beautiful face
And it left me no illusion
I saw you in the curve of the moon
In the shadow cast across my room
You heard me in my tune
When I just heard confusion
- All Because of You, U2
7) What's your secret?
I've been a fool - more than once, more than twice
I'm gonna move to a new town where the people are nice
I hope I never, I hope I never have to sigh again
I hope I never, I hope I never have to cry again
I still want to beam and smile
Happiness is back in style
- I Hope I Never, Split Enz
8) Are you strong?
My breath smells of a thousand fags
And when I'm drunk I dance like me Dad
I've started to dress a bit like him
Early morning when I wake up
I look like Kiss but without the makeup
And that's a good line to take it to the bridge
And you know and you know
Cos my life's a mess
And I'm trying to grow so before
I'm old I'll confess
You think that I'm strong
You're wrong, you're wrong
- Strong, Robbie Williams
9) Where do you wish you were right now?
In a world full of bitter pain and bitter doubt
I was trying so hard to fit in, until I found out
I don't belong here, I don't belong here
I will carry a cross and a song where I don't belong.
- Beautiful Letdown, Switchfoot
10) What do you think about your friends?
I may not always love you
But long as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I'll make you so sure about it
God only knows what I'd be without you
- God Only Knows, the Beach Boys
11) Any words of advice?
Wear sunscreen.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now. ...
Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's. ...
Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly. ...
Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. ...
But trust me on the sunscreen.
- Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen, Mary Schmidt
12) What do you wish you were doing right now?
Like a bird
Through prison bars
I'm escaping
And behind me on the long highway
Lies all that I've forsaken
Cool river, flow
I am bound for wherever you go
I'm gonna bathe in the river
Gonna hold my head up in the river
Not gonna worry any more
Gonna reach that golden shore...
Mighty river, hear that rushin' sound
Cool clear water, lay my burden down
- Bathe in the River, Mt Roskill Preservation Society feat. Hollie Smith
13) What do you think about drugs?
Sweet the sin
Bitter the taste in my mouth
I see seven towers
But I only see one way out
You've got to cry without weeping
Talk without speaking
Scream without raising your voice
You know I took the poison
From the poison stream
Then I floated out of here...
She will
Suffer the needle chill
She's running to stand
- Running to Stand Still, U2
14) If you could say one thing to your enemy, what would it be?
Hate is a strong word
But I really really really don't like you
- Hate (I Really Don't Like You), the Plain White T's
15) What do you do on Friday nights?
I went out walking
Through streets paved with gold
Lifted some stones
Saw the skin and bones
Of a city without a soul
I went out walking
Under an atomic sky
Where the ground won't turn
And the rain it burns
Like the tears when I said goodbye
Yeah I went with nothing
Nothing but the thought of you
I went wandering
- The Wanderer, Johnny Cash and U2
16) What would you do if you won a million dollars?
But while we're waiting we could try saving the world
Or are we storing that up for a rainy day?
I'm anticipating the time when it'll be my turn
It could be fun to try
I think that I'll save the world as a fun afternoon activity
- Saving the World, Brooke Fraser
17) How do you feel right now?
The earth is in a blaze
The world is in a maze
The way of life today
Is strange and odd. Oh Lord
What happened across the sea
May come to you and me
Oh, come let us go back to God
- Come, Let Us Go Back To God, Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers
18) Are you for World Peace?
Lay down
Lay down your guns
All your daughters of Zion
All your Abraham's sons...
Here's my heart and you can break it
I need some release, release, release
We need love and peace
- Love and Peace or Else, U2
19) Where were you born?
Aotearoa, rugged individual
Glisten like a pearl, at the bottom of the world
The tyranny of distance didn't stop the cavalier
So why should it stop me, I'll conquer and stay free
- Six Months in a Leaky Boat, Split Enz
20) Any closing words?
Take these shoes
Click clacking down this dead end street
Take these shoes
And make them fit
Take this shirt
Polyester white trash made in nowhere
Take this shirt
And make it clean, clean
Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing
Yahweh, Yahweh,
Always pain before a child is born
Yahweh, Yahweh
Still I'm waiting for the dawn
- Yahweh, U2
Phew, that just about does it! I'm not going to tag anyone because it does take time, but if you're as sad as me, go ahead! It's very fun.

weighing up

The best things about New Year

1) Making lists. It is about the only time of year where tradition encourages you to make a list, of resolutions. I suppose, in the past, I've made lists of birthday presents I wanted, but that's seen as slightly selfish, whereas making New Year resolutions is meritorious, and yet nobody expects you to keep them all! Everyone's a winner.
2) Opening new calendars. Okay, so at the moment my only proper calendar is a "South Canterbury Finance" calendar that my father got for free - BUT! I also have the Far Side Off-the-Wall calendar with a cartoon for every ... single ... day! Whoopee! I just love sneaking peeks through calendars to see what pictures are coming up. And it's so exciting tearing a page off my Far Side calendar every day to see what cartoon is up next.
3) New toys to play with that weren't around last year. In my case, a thermometer for use in cooking fudge, as requested. Can't wait to try it out! New books - Don Quixote, Katherine Mansfield's short stories, and a study book on the Beatitudes my dad gave me. Money to spend on CDs, from which I have restrained myself for months.
The worst things about New Year
1) It's ages until the next holidays. I'm guessing Easter is in April this year... that's not too far off. But you don't exactly have huge meals and fun-filled days of present-giving and leisure. No one even buys me Easter eggs anymore. (All the same, hot cross buns are sold from about March on, and I love hot cross buns.)
2) Not too far from now, you have to go back to work. For me, the first semester at university doesn't start until the end of February, but I'm in summer school, which starts tomorrow, and I have to go back to tutoring soon. I like tutoring, and I don't mind uni - but summer holidays are better.
3) For the last two weeks, most people have eaten far too much. Suddenly, this has to change. This probably doesn't need to be elaborated on, as almost everyone knows what I'm on about.
Next issue: resolutions. This will take some thought.

Monday, January 01, 2007

in recovery mode

Family portraits from the holiday, in a mask Alex was given for Christmas.

Well, I am back from my holiday at the Peel Forest Eco Lodge! It feels like I have been away from civilisation for yonks. I had a wonderful time, although by the end it was wearing thin a bit, what with the weather turning yuck and my health turning yuck, but it really was great.

We were staying at this "eco lodge", where the idea is to be self-sufficient. It was solar-powered and had very odd toilets that I'm not going to go into detail on. Suffice it to say that we had to dispose of the contents ourselves every two days. You had to walk 5 minutes from where you parked the cars to the house, carrying all the stuff. Something went wrong almost every day with the many things you had to do to maintain the house. It was fun to start with but everyone got sick of it by the end. Luckily there was plenty of firewood and a lovely warm wood fire, as even when it was warm days, the nights were cold at a higher altitude than we're used to.


- The absolutely beautiful warm weather from the 24th to the 29th.
- Christmas morning, from 2am, hearing my nephews Sam and Alex, in the bunkroom next to me, get up, walk around loudly, whisper loudly "what time is it?", and walk out to the lounge where their stockings are waiting. Their father, Tony, appearing out of his bunkroom and making them go back to bed. Repeat every half hour until 6am.
- Breakfast on Christmas Day made by Felicity and Mike - a wonderful, artery-clogging Eggs Benedict. Lunch and dinner - much more food than could be eaten. A huge leg of ham plus lots of barbecued meat, courtesy of Rachel and Tony. Desserts by Dad and I.
- Playing with Sam and Alex on Christmas Day, with all their new toys, like a swingball set, rocket balloons, and DIY bouncy balls.
- On Boxing Day, exploring with Dad, Tony, Mike and Sam. Visiting the beautiful Church of the Holy Innocents on the Peel Forest station (New Zealandese for really big farm) - the homestead there has beautiful grounds and allows people to wander round parts of them. Himalayan lilies like a carpet on the forest floor, exactly how I imagine bluebells in England. Amazing stained glass in the church and fascinating cemetery. Then, on to the Rangitata River, down a four wheel drive track to where the white water rafters start off. Then, halfway to Mesopotamia, an old holiday destination of our family; as we looked towards Mesopotamia we could also see the valley where Edoras was set in Lord of the Rings, one mountain range over from Mesopotamia.
- When the next influx of relatives arrive on the 28th (my sister Viv and her husband and three children), giving them their Christmas presents. Four-year-old Finlay opening my little present of an egg that cracks open after 3 days sitting in water to reveal a toy snake, and shouting "I got a snake egg!" as if he'd just won a million dollars. Then, asking how many sleeps 3 days were. Next morning, very early, hearing a mammoth shout of "MY EGG IS CRACKED! MY EGG IS CRACKED!" as he discovered some progress. Heartwarming. :)
- Playing many games of Tantrix with my sister Felicity. Cheating shamelessly in one until we fell about laughing.
- After a huge amount of rain on the 30th, trying to cross a flooded path without getting wet. Felicity puts some sticks out to walk on. Trying to be helpful, I put another stick down while she crosses, and manage to trip her up into the water in the process. Laughing all the way back to the lodge.
- While my nephew Lewis did a performance for us, restraining a wriggling and shouting Finlay from getting in the way. When Lewis got us to count down before one particular act, Finlay shouting in between each number - "10" "FART!" "9" "POO!" "8" "BUM!"... and so on and so forth. Yes, he is a little boy. But it was hilarious. I just tried not to let him see that!
- Felicity and I writing notes to each other in phonetics. It was thrilling. She is really good at them because she's a speech and language therapist.
- On the way back to civilisation this morning, Mike and Felicity and I deciding we wanted to gorge ourselves on KFC on the way through Ashburton. There's nothing like greasy fast food for a speedy return to civilisation and flush toilets.
Lowlights (if I may be permitted to coin a new word)
- The first few nights, being WAY too hot in our sleeping bags. Dad and I went back to Christchurch for a friend's father's funeral on the 28th and replaced sleeping bags with thinner bedding. Suddenly the weather deteriorated and we were freezing.
- Last night, deciding to sleep in the main room of the lodge because I hadn't got any sleep the night before in my freezing bunkroom and was feeling sick. Settling down on the couch and feeling like I couldn't be any more comfortable or warm, right next to the fire, when - scratch scratch! That's right. Mice. I went back to my bunkroom. Couldn't sleep because of the cold. Came out to the main room again at 3am because I thought I was going to be sick, lay down with the light on. Finally Dad came out and asked why the lights were on, and I ended up sleeping in his room, which was much warmer. Still, only about three hours sleep, and remained feeling sick. I'm still not feeling great, but I had a sleep when we got home this afternoon and I'm sure I'll be better after a night's sleep.
All in all, especially during the first few days and Christmas, when the weather was still warm, I had such a wonderful time. It was exactly how a family holiday should be. But I must admit I'm glad to be home!