Saturday, May 24, 2008

a little piece of Trish arrives in Christchurch

Yesterday a little package arrived in the mail for me with an exciting Amazon label on it... Hooray! Trish's book! I started reading He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not on Friday night and then today I stayed in bed until 11:30am to finish it off. :) I haven't done that for so long and it is such a good feeling. Anyway, in honour of Trish's arrival in Christchurch, New Zealand, I decided to take her out for a little sightseeing, despite the miserable early winter weather. Luckily by the time I got into town it had stopped raining, and a friendly passerby took this photo...

... I did not explain why I wanted my photo taken with a book. Think of it as the hook by which that passerby will hunt down Trish's book for themselves.
Then Trish and I went to the Arts Centre. You may remember some weeks ago I did a "My Town" blog post on the Arts Centre; well, it was time to show Trish one of my favourite spots.
We went to the markets, and I even sampled some fudge for Trish at the Fudge Cottage and considered buying a greenstone necklace.
Then we took a quick look in the museum, and I showed Trish the scary fake cave of my youthful days.
Next stop was the Art Gallery. We had an iced coffee in Alchemy café, and then had a look around the gallery and in the gift shop.
Our favourite was the Colin McCahon exhibition.
We walked down Worcester Boulevard, waving to the people on the tram...
...and ended up in Cathedral Square.
We paid $1 to climb the Cathedral Tower, up a claustrophobically small spiral staircase, but I did it for Trish's sake...
...and we listened for free to the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra rehearse Mozart's Symphony No. 35 inside the Cathedral for tomorrow's concert.

Then it was time to leave. Luckily for Trish and I, we narrowly avoided a parking fine.

Review to follow!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I've been tagged by the scintillating Stacy (I'm going through an alliteration phase, by the way).

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and post a comment to the person who tagged you once you’ve posted your three sentences.

It took me a while to carry out my tag because every time I went to the computer lab I forgot to carry a book with me - but my friend K. and I have been using this meme as an excuse to procrastinate, going through all our books, because obviously what page 123 says has deep spiritual meaning for us.

From The Princess Bride, by William Goldman:

But Inigo was not surprised for long. Again his feet shifted; he moved his body a different way. Perspiration was pouring down his thin frame now and the great blade was blinding.

Hmm. Apparently I am soon to fight a duel.

Let's try again. From Feminist Theory: A Critique of Ideology (gaahhh!):

The same scientist who allowed herself to become "part of the system", whose investigations were guided by a "feeling for the organism", developed a paradigm that diverged as radically from the dominant paradigm of her field as did her methodological style.

And yes, that's only one sentence but I think that's quite enough for today. Far be it from me to attempt interpreting that.

And again... The God That Failed, a book I am reading for my research with essays by six ex-Communists.

Many young writers had joined the club because of their hope of publishing in Left Front, and when the Communist Party sent word through the fraction that the magazine should be dissolved, the writers rejected the decision, an act which was interpreted as hostility toward Party authority.
I pleaded with the Party members for a more liberal program for the club. Feeling waxed violent and bitter.

Okay... I'm young, I'm a writer, I often feel violent and bitter... is someone trying to shut down Halfway Down the Stairs??

Friday, May 16, 2008

this is my official consent form

Please slap me in the face if:

a) I become one of those girls who, because she has a crush on a guy, goes along with everything he says ["that's right, we should start hanging or garrotting or impaling murderers"; "mmm, yes, cocaine isn't really addictive"] or doesn't stick up for her friends because it's him that's attacking them.

b) I ever consider working for Studylink, that evil bourgeois oppressor of the hard-working student.

c) I ever start skipping over the news of cyclones in Myanmar and earthquakes in China for the article about what Prince William's gone and done now. Easy to do. Necessary constantly to fight.

d) I start thinking that drinking so much you become comatose is funny.

e) I ever consider being a diplomat again. These last few weeks have been quite enough to convince me that I am anything but diplomatic. And also that politics, especially international diplomatic politics, bores me intensely.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Attractive Male "Qualities"

I put qualities in quotation marks because in this blog post I am about to be incredibly shallow and list my top five things that are attractive about men on an obvious, non-psychological, non-meaningful surface level. :)

1) Voice. This is number one because basically no matter what someone looks like, they will be attractive fullstop if they have an attractive voice. (This is for me, at least.) Although I probably wouldn't insist on a great voice in a guy if it was the only thing wanting, there's something about a deep voice, or a British or Irish accent, or a charismatic voice, or a persuasive voice that makes me want to go "Ooh, please, please, can I have your babies??" ... only silently!
2) Eyes. Boring choice because this would be near the top of basically everyone's list. I always feel very sorry for those actors who always have to play the bad guys because even if they're dashingly handsome and attractively dangerous, they usually have scary slash nasty eyes and I'm not sure they'd be able to find a nice girl.
3) Smile. Again, probably a boring choice. I'd rather they weren't always grinning - it would make me feel so colourless and depressed. But if they occasionally let out a smile that transforms their face, it makes me intrigued. And, as everyone knows, people with nice smiles are ALWAYS trustworthy. (They really shouldn't let me travel.)

4) Hair, or lack thereof. Please don't look at the above picture as an example; I just chose it because it looks funny. But I do like dark hair, and I also don't mind a bald head occasionally. I'd rather guys shaved it all off than had a bald spot or - most tragic of all - a COMBOVER. Having said all that, I wouldn't repulse a blonde guy for no better reason than he didn't have dark hair, but it wouldn't occur to me to like him for quite a long time, probably.
5) Height. Okay, so not so extreme as that. But I'm a tall girl and I hate feeling like I'm dwarfing one of the male species. On the other hand, if I'm standing next to a very tall man, I feel agreeably petite. :)

Do you have a list of your own?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

revolution simmering in the suburbs

Okay, so it's a long story, but about a week ago in New Zealand a Christian peace activist group called Anzac Ploughshares "attacked" the Waihopai spy base in Blenheim and deflated one of two huge satellite dishes, or at least, one of the covers that protect them from the weather. What followed: big hoohaa about NZ supporting US military interests; "yay for activism" versus "they're evil and delusional"; the three men making bail; protests in Blenheim at their arrest. The works. That's not so much my point.

What I wanted to write about: Among the protesters holding up signs in Blenheim was a group of women from Christchurch called the Addington Women's Revolutionary Craft Circle.


Apparently they started out as just a craft circle and got gradually more and more radical and left-leaning. Now they knit or sew or embroider Maori sovereignty flags, protest banners, and more. To be honest I find it hard to believe anyone would still think Communism is a good idea but I still think this is absolutely hilarious.

Do you ever get annoyed enough with the world that you want to become a revolutionary hockey player? a radically socialist flautist? an anarchist librarian? I can totally see myself doing this one day.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

time for some music

This is what I think of some CDs I have bought over the last few months (because I do this periodically):

The soundtrack from the movie Once. Absorbing, beautiful movie with great soundtrack, so I bought it. Not disappointing! Pretty, even beautiful music; original flavour; really well sung; passionate and thoughtful; has that musicality, the sound that doesn't rely on electronic effects and only needs an acoustic guitar or piano to sound striking; has everything. Not just good vocalists but true musicians. My favourites: "Falling Slowly", "The Hill", "When Your Mind's Made Up", and "Say It to Me Now" although basically I love them all! FIVE STARS.

Duffy's Rockferry. Felt like a risk to buy because I'd heard only one single, "Mercy" - but it was totally worth it. This Welsh chick has one of the coolest soul voices I've heard in a while, and she hasn't come to fame on the strength of a one-hit wonder. The whole album is fantastic. I especially love the songs "Warwick Avenue", "I'm Scared" and "Distant Dreamer", besides "Mercy" which will easily top the charts. FIVE STARS.

Kate Nash's Made of Bricks. I would describe her as somewhere between Lily Allen and Regina Spektor. She's got the cool British accent like Lily Allen but she's also got something deeper in her lyrics and I think her music is better too, while her music is a lot more playful than Regina Spektor's. The singles "Foundations" and "Pumpkin Soup" are great, but "Birds" and "Nicest Thing" are really, really sweet, and "We Get On" is such a fantastic story of unrequited love. I especially love the lyrics: "I don't ever dream about you and me / I don't ever make up stuff about us, that would be classed as insanity / I don't ever drive by your house to see if you're in / I don't even have an opinion on that tramp that you are still seeing..." Her singing is also storytelling if you know what I mean, and it's original and funny or bittersweet storytelling. FIVE STARS.

Jars of Clay's Redemption Songs. This has been out for a few years now, I think, but I only recently bought it. Some of them I find really annoying, like their bouncy version of "It is Well With my Soul" which really shouldn't be interpreted in that way in my opinion. However, I love their interpretations of "God be Merciful to Me", "I Need Thee Every Hour", "Nothing But the Blood" (featuring the Blind Boys of Alabama) and "On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand". An overall cool way to do some of the old hymns. FOUR STARS.
Missy Higgins' On A Clear Night. This Australian singer has done really well in Oz and is starting to do much better in New Zealand. Not sure if she's broken into the US market yet. Like the musicians in Once, she knows how to write a good song that doesn't need much fiddling with. Amazing lyrics, a unique and very expressive voice, good tunes. "Where I Stood", from this album, is on my Allie's Top 15 Songs playlist on my ipod because it's just that good. I also really like "Steer", "Angela", "Sugarcane" and "Peachy". FIVE STARS.
The soundtrack from De-Lovely. Another CD that has been out for a while. I only saw the movie recently, though, and went hunting for the soundtrack immediately. Cole Porter's music as interpreted by big names like Diana Krall, Robbie Williams, Elvis Costello, Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow, the list goes on and on and on. I think my favourite tracks off the CD are Sheryl Crow's "Begin the Beguine", Lara Fabian and Mario Frangoulis' "So in Love", Diana Krall's "Just One of Those Things" and (possibly my favourite) Natalie Cole's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye". FOUR AND A HALF STARS.

So, obviously, I am either very nice and very reluctant to do a bad review of anything I purchase, or I got lucky and bought some wonderful CDs that I listen to all the time.

[By the way, isn't it great to have so many cool women singers again? A few years ago I felt like all I was listening to were men.]