Tuesday, April 24, 2007

secret shames

If I were a celebrity, and I was on the cover of magazines with headlines like "Allie's Anguish" or "Allie's Secret Shame", I wonder what they would say about me? That my marriage to Colin Firth was doomed to failure? (Lies! All lies!) That "friends" said I was going to turn into a walking skeleton if I wasn't careful, because of all the media attention and stress? (I wish!) That I had a secret fetish for dwarves? (I actually have no idea where that sentence came from.) Well - Tabloid Editors - I'm going to make it easy for you. These are the things that I don't generally tell people about. I can find it in me to announce them on the internet because, to be brutally honest, I don't have to see any of my readers on a day-to-day basis!

I bought a book called Georgette Heyer's Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester, from Borders last week - for $60! (That's about... US$35-40, I'd guess?) And I'm supposed to be saving money! It is just so cool! It is about all the background to Georgette Heyer novels. It tells me that a conservatory was the perfect place for marriage proposals, what terms such as 'nabob' and 'dandy' mean and how they originated, what card games were popular, how snuff was made and where it was sold, about the hierarchies within the peerage and even within the domestic staff of a great house, what one did at Vauxhall Gardens, and so on and so forth. The author did her PhD on Georgette Heyer books! I'm telling the truth when I say that this book makes me salivate. It's the sort of book that one just cannot justify buying, and unless someone is a Georgette Heyer or Jane Austen fan, they just could not understand the thrill of reading it. I have told no one but one of my sisters. Until now.

Christina Aguilera was one of those singers that everyone else loved, when I was thirteen or fourteen, and that I swore I would always despise. I mean, for crying out loud, she thought the three most beautiful words in the English language were: "Come on over". Hmmm.
It is disturbing me no end now, however, that I am actually really enjoying the last few singles she's brought out: 'Candyman' and the other one whose name I forget. I am even thinking about buying the album. I have not told anyone until now. I just think that her latest music is so fun. I'm a bit sick of songs about cancer, or what goes through the minds of killers, or about women whose husbands are beating them. That sounds super-heartless, I know, but there is a point at which I just want to listen to funky, young music that's just happy! Such as Gwen Stefani or people like that. It's embarrassing, though.

I can't believe I'm even telling you this one. The Sims. So I don't play it as much as I used to, but if I ever do, it has the tendency to become compulsive. Computer games seem such a 12-year-old thing to do. I even lied when I bought it about four years ago, telling the cute shop assistant that it was for "a friend". I guess ever since childhood I have enjoyed creating little universes, whether they be with Playmobil, Littlest Petshop, Polly Pocket, or... The Sims. (I keep italicising it because it seems so embarrassing and dire. If I could, when you read the words you would hear menacing music.) I actually have no idea how to justify this one. Oh! the shame.

This one isn't quite so guilty, I guess, as I'm perfectly happy to tell people I'm a huge fan of Agatha Christie (who, in this photo, looks a lot like the Queen Mother - does anyone agree?). But I think most people would be a little surprised if they knew how many Christie mysteries I read. I also get hold of them, and then can't bear to put them down, so I often find myself finishing a good old satisfying Agatha Christie novel at about 3 o'clock in the morning. I read them to my ESL students for listening practice. I'm finding it extremely depressing to think that at some point in the near future I will have read every single Christie novel there is. I have a whole shelf in my bookcase of them... and I've been reading them for less than a year. Eek! I'm telling you, I would do a PhD on Agatha Christie if someone would fund it *endearing smile to any readers out there who may be slightly eccentric and rich* and if I could avoid telling other students who do PhDs on Real Literature.

So those are my guilty secrets. What are yours? (Come on, I told you mine...)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

answers from the cosmos

I have decided to repeat today a meme which I did last year, tagged by Patty of Green Tea Obsession, simply because it was rather fun, in the manner of fortune cookies or those paper things you used to fold and write things on as a kid to tell your future, and I'm interested to see what results I'll get this time!

The Rules: Go to your music player of choice & put it on shuffle. The song which pops up when you press play is the answer to that question!

1. How does the world see me? Miss Sarajevo - U2
Is that a compliment... or not?

2. Will I have a happy life? If I Could - Jack Johnson
Hmm... another answer that doesn't sound so great.

3. What do my friends think of me? Sounding Brass - Flanders and Swann
:) I guess I need to stop bragging.

4. Do I have a secret admirer? Sunday Bloody Sunday - U2
This is one of the answers that I'm just not too sure if the cosmos heard me properly. Maybe it thought I said, 'do I have a secret shame' or something.

5. How can I make myself happy? Faithful - Brooke Fraser
That makes sense.

6. What should I do with my life? A Thing Called Love - Johnny Cash
Awww... that's nice.

7. Will I ever have children? Surely he hath borne our griefs - from Handel's Messiah
Hahaha! I laughed so hard at this.

8. What is some good advice for me? Stoppin' the Love - KT Tunstall
Hey! Hang on a minute! I thought the cosmos told me two answers ago that I had to spend my life starting the love!

9. What do I think my current theme song is? So Much 2 Say - Take 6
Hmm. I think the cosmos is getting a bit rusty. Actually I haven't had much to say at all over the last few days, evidenced by my lack of blogging except for tags that I've done before!

10. What does everyone else think my current theme song is? Better - Regina Spektor
Sure hope so.

11. What song will play at my funeral? Vertigo - U2
This seems to be decidedly inappropriate for a funeral... but who am I to question the wisdom of the cosmos?

12. How will I be remembered? Smile - Lily Allen
That's rather nice.

13. What type of men do I like? Kiss from a Rose - Seal
We-ell. I hope that doesn't mean I'm going to fall in love with a pretty, SNAGish boy.

14. What is my day going to be like? Entertaining Angels - Newsboys
Suits me just fine.

Well, there you have it. I tag anyone who wants to do it who has access to a music player that you can shuffle.

This was going to be a ranting post (I'm on holiday, technically, but I have to write two essays by the thirtieth that I am having huge trouble motivating myself for, so whenever I'm awake I'm either doing homework, or feeling bad because I'm not doing homework. And my conscience, or perhaps those angels I'm entertaining, is pressuring me to do something I really don't want to do but know I have to. And the zip on my favourite pair of jeans, which I paid $20 to have repaired three weeks ago, has broken again). But then I realised that I have absolutely no right to rant about anything at the moment, given all the good things in my life. (Just noticed that somehow I managed to do it anyway. Ignore it, please.) Things I am thankful for right now:
- not being shot by a crazed gunman
- the chance to study and get a degree, which probably puts me in about the most privileged 1% in the world
- close family and friends
- music
- the chance to travel

Monday, April 16, 2007

brooke fraser

Me and Sarah.Brooke Fraser playing. I apologise for the picture quality; my camera sucks when I'm not allowed to use a flash indoors.

Last night I took my friend Sarah out for dinner and to the Brooke Fraser concert as a twenty-first birthday present. You may remember Brooke Fraser from two blog posts ago, in which I gave her four stars for her latest album. I think, having seen her live, I could safely take it up to four and a half stars, just because: she is so cool!! One example of why - Brooke has a passion for punctuation. It's not often someone introduces a song saying, "I love punctuation. And I particularly love this song because I got to use punctuation in the title - 'Love comma where is your fire question mark'." She also has the most amazing voice; it was just as faultless and rich live as it is on the CD. The music and the lights and the stage set and everything were perfectly done. All in all it was a fantastic concert; we left it on such a high, and my friend told me it was the best birthday present ever, so that was nice!

Sadly enough, I had bought some cool new clothes to wear to it, but realised, when I put them on, that it is still not cold enough to wear merino wool. Isn't that sad? Not on a par with human poverty and natural disasters, obviously, but in a mildly disgruntling way. (Is disgruntling a word?)

And today... I have to start working on some essays. Groooaaaan.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

health professionals and my family

I went to my sister's house for dinner last night and we had a conversation over the dinner table about our family's run-ins with medical professionals. Here's a few:

1) My sister's dentist told her that her teeth would "see her out". Perhaps he meant this as a compliment, as only dentists can, but to me it conjures up visions of the person doing the autopsy looking down gravely at the corpse, shaking his head, and saying, "Well, she was bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer, but at least her teeth saw her out."

2) When the same sister gave birth to her second child, the attending doctor was a man who had gone through school with her, from ages five to eighteen. Nightmare Scenario #1 - how very awkward. At least, though, as a friend said, he wasn't an ex-boyfriend.

3) My father was operated on for a hernia by a surgeon he had taught at school, in chemistry. This is more nice than weird, in a karma-type way, as the same doctor told my mother that Dad taught him everything he had ever learnt about science.

Looking back and reading this over, I've discovered this is a very random post. But I'll push the "publish" button anyway, for lack of a better one. Has anyone else had strange/nice encounters with medical professionals?

Monday, April 09, 2007

my stereo is playing...

Up until a few months ago, I hadn't bought any CDs for ages. Instead, I had been eyeing them in shop windows longingly and covetously. I decided that I was not going to buy any until I was absolutely sure they would be good'uns, and really did not have the money to buy them even if that was the case. However... *feels guilty* Over the last few months I have bought several CDs! And I have decided to review them on here just in case anyone else was looking at them longingly too.

Gnarls Barkley's St Elsewhere - no, it's not very recent, but it was one of those albums I looked at for a long time, wondering if I should get it. The first single 'Crazy' was great, but I wasn't too sure about buying an album on the basis of that single. Finally when 'Gone Daddy Gone' came out I decided it was worth it. I was wrong. I still love those singles but every other song on the album seems like a cop-out in comparison. The only one that was musically interesting to me ('The Boogie Monster') just grossed me out - the first line being "I've got a monster in my trousers". Hmmm. That's right. Two stars from me. The singles are great but as a whole, the album doesn't satisfy and just makes me feel like they tricked me to get my money.

Lily Allen's Alright, Still. Not recent either. This is a really fun album with funny and clever lyrics, and pretty cool music. Some of it isn't that memorable but on the whole the album is very good and she has particularly good melodies. 'Alfie' is probably the best single released; it sounds like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory paired with juvenile delinquents. Very funny. It was also the single that made me decide to get the album. Another song on the album, 'Littlest Things', wasn't released, but is one of her best, in my opinion. It's a sweet and original take on the nostalgic breaking-up song. I was disappointed, though, that one of her singles wasn't on the album. It was about her granny, and it was hilarious. I'm not sure why it wasn't there - perhaps she didn't want to offend her granny or something?! It seems a bit odd and misleading to release it as a single, though, and then not include it on the album. Overall, Lily Allen has got a great accent and a nice doesn't-take-herself-too-seriously attitude - so she gets three and a half stars.

Brooke Fraser's Albertine is a more recent buy. She is a New Zealander who has done pretty well here and in Australia, but I'm not too sure what her prospects are in the States at the moment. She's a Christian singer and makes it pretty obvious, but at the same time its more implicit than overt, so she's done very well on the mainstream charts here and is fondly referred to as Brookie most of the time. It's the sort of album that could be characterised as easy listening, which doesn't often go down too well with me, but I really love this one. She's also got a beautiful voice. Whenever I have gotten overly stressed in the last few weeks, I've listened to the second single 'Shadowfeet' before I go to bed, and it has helped my sleeping no end. 'Albertine' stands out in the album; it was written about an orphan she met in Rwanda whose mother died for her during the genocide. As well as being about an amazing subject, it's also great music. 'C. S. Lewis Song' is another great one. I was sure to like it as it's dedicated to someone who I admire so much but again, I don't think I'm being too biased in saying it's a fantastic song. Overall, it's a great album, and I'm very satisfied with my purchase, but at the same time some of the lyrics tend to be a little laboured and there isn't a huge amount of variation in style. Four stars from me. I'm shouting my friend tickets for her 21st birthday to Brooke's concert in Christchurch on April 15, and I can't wait.
Regina Spektor's Begin to Hope. I bought this today! I had only heard the first single, 'Fidelity', which is just wicked, but I had intended to wait until I heard more. However, I listened to some in the CD shop, and made a spur of the moment decision to get it. I am so happy I did. I have only listened to it once through, but every song is unbelievably good. I can't believe how varied this album is. It's like she's influenced by jazz, rock, the blues, Russian piano music by composers like Rachmaninov (of whom I strongly approve) and more and more. Some songs she's like this sweet innocent little girl, and others, completely different. She doesn't just sing them, either - she interprets them. Every one of the songs stood out to me, but if I had to choose some of the best, I would point to 'Fidelity' (obviously - until they play it too many times on the radio), 'Samson', 'Apres Moi', 'That Time' and '20 Years of Snow'. This is the best album I've bought in years. I think anyone would enjoy it. Five stars.

More albums I'm lusting after at the moment: The Killers' Sam's Town and Silverchair's new release, Young Modern. If anyone has got either of these, or any other albums they just feel they have to recommend to the whole world, please let me know!

Quick change of topic: my dad has just planted a brand of spinach called 'Perpetual' in our garden. Does anyone else think Perpetual Spinach is a very funny name, and sounds like a horrible land in an Enid Blyton or Roald Dahl book? The Land of Perpetual Spinach, where all naughty children go.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

rugby is overrated

I picked up yesterday's newspaper this morning and spent about three minutes groaning in agony at the latest act of stupidity of sportsmen. So - the Rugby World Cup is going to be hosted by New Zealand in 2011. Rugby is apparently our national game - I have to admit it is a lot more interesting to watch than cricket, at the very least, and has lots of buff specimens of men running round in hot black uniforms - but the obsessive lengths some go to regarding rugby makes me want to tear my hair out. Who really cares that much?! Not me, at least.

So when the Press's front page article talked about the new rugby laws created for the World Cup, I just wanted to give the politicians a kick up the backside. New Zealand now has an official Rugby World Cup Minister in Cabinet. Oh yeah, we're a real serious country of high importance in the global community. There are now laws banning streaking and pitch invasion. If you streak at a World Cup match, you could go to prison for three months or pay up to $5000. What is the world coming to?! It's not like rugby is that interesting all on its own! The government is also considering changing our Daylight Saving changeover dates, which usually coincide with the World Cup, because poor little foreigners might get confused.

Ugh. 2011 is not looking at all promising.

[By the way, this is a picture of my father by the Bealey River.]

Saturday, April 07, 2007

keas and rain

A few weeks ago Dad put a notice in our church newsletter that he wanted to do a daytrip to Arthur's Pass (about two and a half hours away, in the mountains) on Easter Saturday and anyone who wanted to come too was very welcome. Obviously, today was the day, and Dad and I went, along with about twelve other people from our church. It was rainy and cold in the mountains, but it was worse in Christchurch, so we decided to go anyway - and it was worth it! I love Arthur's Pass. I have spent so many weekends and holidays there - I've probably been about once a year at least, all my life, but it never gets boring.

One of the cool things we did was drive up to the view over the ominously-named Death's Corner where the road winds down Otira Gorge to the West Coast. There were about four keas there when we got there. Keas are the coolest birds. They are mountain parrots, the biggest in the world, and super-cheeky. You don't want to leave your car unattended for too long when keas are around or they will pull all the insulating rubber out of the windows, etc etc, with their wicked beaks. They are totally unfazed by humans, and as you can see, have the most beautiful underwings. At one point we were absolutely splitting our sides as a kea landed on a car that was pulling out of the carpark, about to drive down the Viaduct, and soared off on top of it. When the driver realised what was going on thirty seconds later, the car screeched to a halt, and they jumped out, trying to scare it away, but it just sat there looking completely bored. Yeah, you had to be there, I suppose. But it was hilarious.

Friday, April 06, 2007

my numerous and complex needs

Stacy has tagged me with this great meme - all you have to do is type your name + 'needs' into google, and suddenly all your priorities become clear! Fun fun fun.

- Allie needs to walk through a greenhouse full of fragrant flowers.

- Allie needs a lot of personal attention to make her feel more secure, so that she won't feel she has to bully the other cats to establish her place in the household.
That's right. Purrrrrrr.

- What a surprise when the frog shows up again, just when Allie needs it.
I will keep that in mind in the future.

- Allie needs to be slapped so bad, and I'm just the gal to do it.
Uh-oh... I must think fast - who have I offended?

- Wackie-Allie needs to check herself into a mental institution she sounds like she would stalk a man to make a baby.
You know it.

- allie needs to feel the vibrations.
.... I'm not quite sure what to make of this.

- Playing with ghosts can be dangerous, so Allie needs all her detective skills.
That's right! I'm a real detective, in the manner of Father Brown, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple!

- Allie needs help getting her pants off.
No comment.

It was surprising to find ones that were actually true:

- allie NEEDS that caffene!!!
- allie needs a haircut

Complementary needs:

- allie needs a boyfriend
- allie needs to be wit ME. ... allie can be with me if she wants to.
I daresay, but it would be helpful to know who you are!

Last but not least and probably the most apt:

- Lord knows Allie needs her Jesus. On that note, happy Easter, everyone. [I love being a day ahead of all of you!]

I tag JenKneeBee and Layling :)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

exclusive exclusive

LEstes65 (of Tourette's Mom) has been so kind as to write me a fantastic selection of interview questions (if you want to see her own interview, look here)! So here goes:

1. Here's a two parter: Which character in 'A Room With A View' represents you most and which one represents the way you wish you were?
Wow. That is a fantastic question. The second part is the more obvious to me - Lucy Honeychurch, of course. She's just cool and gorgeous and she plays the piano incredibly well. I want to be the sort of piano player that provokes comments like the Reverend Mr Eager's, that he wished I lived as I played! It wouldn't hurt to live in a beautiful sprawling house in the English countryside, either, or to have a fun brother and an enchanted lake.
As for the first part, I have the cast list from 'A Room With A View' in front of me. I've been scanning it in hopes of finding someone more like myself, but I very much fear that the closest I can come to finding such a character is - Charlotte Bartlett. *throws head into pillow and cries*

2. If this were a perfect world and you had limitless money, resources and time - what kind of music would you make and with what instrument? Another difficult question! I think I would start off on the piano. I would practice Eastern European music and then I would learn the violin. Yes, I know I was slightly cruel to the violin three blog posts ago but I have to admit it's a pretty good instrument. Then I would go somewhere like Hungary and get involved in some dimly-lit music scene that involves fast music, beer, and great chords. Then I would go to Ireland and learn how to fiddle the Irish way, and drink Guinness. I would return to New Zealand and teach children to play folk music. (I don't actually like beer but from all accounts European beer is something different, and anyway, I can't imagine playing folk music without drinking beer!) Edit: I would also go to the Hague and learn how to play the recorder as beautifully as it can be done. I would learn how to do real piano jazz.

3. Jane Austen is writing a book with you as her heroine. Which member of U2 does she fix you up with and why? Best question EVER!! Well, to start with, I would have a huge crush on the Edge. I would stand in absurd awe of his musical talent, and he wouldn't notice me at all. Meanwhile, Adam Clayton would stand on the sidelines, slowly but steadily falling in love with me, and suffering great pangs of heartache that I loved one so unworthy as the Edge. Then I would fall over a cliff, and the Edge wouldn't notice because he was too busy working out the chords for a new riff, but Adam would plunge over to save me, awaking my passion for him, and all would live happily ever after. (This heartwarming story doesn't mention Bono, because he would be in Africa, nor Larry, because he's too pretty and sullen.)

4. If humans were spotted, stripped, blotched, etc., like cats and dogs can be - what would your pattern be? Definitely stripped. That's much more stylish. I don't want to be a blotchy human. Stripes, however, are slimming. :)

5. What is your guilty pleasure? And I mean real guilty - don't wimp out here. I'm sorry to say that I don't actually have a majorly guilty pleasure, ie, I smoke cocaine and take steroids before athletics competitions and have my own sweatshop. But I have lots of naughty little pleasures that make me feel, overall, quite guilty most of the time, such as:
- I like to complain. And get attention. As you've probably all noticed (see two blog posts ago).
- I like chocolate a little too much. And lollies. And cake. And anything else with sugar or fat in it.
- I love spending money. A day will feel slightly weird if I haven't spent anything. I think my whole childhood was spent dreaming about the glorious future in which I would have more than twenty cents a week to spend, and now I'm compensating for those dreams.
- I fantasise about things that will happen to me in the future. It is especially enjoyable to think of my own death and how sorry everyone will be, or to imagine getting incurable diseases. I also like to think up witty rejoinders to statements that no one has ever said to me, nor will ever say to me.
- I like to wallow. In misery, tiredness, etc. It's a bit boring to be perfectly happy and relaxed.
- I'm very, very irritable when at my most honest. My dad will attest to this.
- People think I'm very calm, but I'm actually a seething mass of resentment.

So there you have it. My first interview. Thanks, LEstes65!

Monday, April 02, 2007

U2 Top 20 - April 2007

You probably will not remember, or have seen this, but last April, I made a list on here of my top twenty U2 songs at the time [see here]. It's time to do it again! I'm interested to see how it has changed.

1) Running to Standstill - I've always loved this but it hops up to first position after seeing it on the Sydney ZooTV DVD... it was... wow!
2) Kite
3) Original of the Species
4) Desire
5) Love is Blindness - this choice is also affected by the ZooTV DVD.
6) Bad
7) Discotheque
8) One - number one last year is now number eight... I think I've listened to it too often! But I still love it!
9) All I Want is You
10) Walk On
11) The Saints are Coming (with Green Day) - this was the best rock song released last year, in my opinion!
12) One Tree Hill
13) Yahweh
14) In A Little While
15) Window in the Skies
16) Grace
17) Miss Sarajevo - I saw this live, and Bono sang the Pavarotti part - surprisingly well!
18) Angel of Harlem - I never used to like this, but it was one of the coolest songs at the concert I went to. Completely transformed my opinion of it.
19) All Because of You
20) Numb

I had to chop fourteen songs off my list to narrow it down to twenty, so I will give special mention to seven of them: Gone. The Hands that Built America. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me. Where the Streets Have No Name. Exit. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own. Pride (In the Name of Love).

Top 10 Live Songs:
1) The Saints Are Coming - from my own experience at the Auckland concert in November 2006.
2) Where the Streets Have No Name - from experience and from every DVD I've ever watched.
3) Love is Blindness - ZooTV DVD
4) Running to Standstill - ZooTV DVD
5) One - Slane Castle DVD, own experience
6) All I Want is You - Slane Castle DVD
7) The Fly - own experience, Boston DVD
8) Angel of Harlem - own experience
9) Kite - own experience, Boston DVD
10) Wake Up Dead Man - Slane Castle DVD

Phew, I wouldn't recommend doing this. It's like chopping limbs off your baby, or words off your essay (which, by the way, I have succeeded in doing - 900 words are gone without leaving anything crucial out! Hooray!).