Thursday, November 27, 2008

filling the nights

I am currently working nights - 11pm to 4am - and so I sleep from about 5am to 1pm every day, even when I'm not working, so that I don't exhaust myself completely. (It is currently 4:57 am in New Zealand.) This leaves a lot of space to be filled between around 9pm and 5am, hence, a lot of DVDs are being watched, and I have been compiling some utterly useless lists regarding male actors:

The actors that are not bad looking, even smoking hot, but undateable in real life simply because they have played some pretty convincing villains in their time

Cillian Murphy. After his creepy performance in Batman Begins (and I am sure he makes a wonderful villain in many other movies), he's just too villainous.

Andy Garcia. It's that mob look he's got going. Sizzling eyes but in a villainous sort of way.

Mads Mikkelson, of Casino Royale. This picture says a thousand words.
Mark Dymond, who played Captain Frederick Tilney in a recent version of Northanger Abbey. This photo doesn't quite capture the twisted smirk this actor pulled off when playing his womanising character. Actually, it's so convincing that even though he's drop dead gorgeous and plausibly successful with women in the movie that he becomes completely undateable.

David Anders, who played villain Julian Sark in the TV series Alias. (Isn't Sark a fantastic name for a villain?)

The actors who are just too beautiful to be dateable

Daniel Brühl, of movies like Goodbye Lenin, Ladies in Lavender, or Joyeux Noël. Good actor - too pretty.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers, of Bend it Like Beckham and the recent The Tudors TV series. I mean, seriously. Look at that photo. Is that ridiculous or is that ridiculous?

Jesse Metcalfe, of Desperate Housewives. Cute, but a little too perfectly so. This goes for a whole genre of Jesse Metcalfe-type actors.
Henry Cavill, of The Count of Monte Cristo, I Capture the Castle, et cetera. What an amazing bone structure, eyes, wistful look, everything - unfortunately, he would be a great statue, but doesn't seem dateable.

The actors that are just about right (and sometimes I can't explain why
James McAvoy. In a weird British way. It seems like everyone is drooling over him these days and it just seems so irrational because he looks nothing like a sex symbol should. He's got Something.
Humphrey Bogart. There are other classic film actors like Cary Grant or Christopher Plummer who make much more sense to have a crush on (and don't get me wrong, I think they're rather attractive) but Bogart, like James McAvoy, just has that Something that leaps off the screen at you and makes absolutely no sense.
Alan Rickman. Now, I don't understand the girls who have a crush on Snape. But Alan Rickman in every other role oozes Something.
Toby Stephens. I've always thought he was pretty great but his recent role as Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre blew me away. I'm not saying it was a perfect adaptation of the book, but on the screen Toby Stephens captured something of the attractiveness yet physical unattractiveness of Rochester that is so tangible in the book. He's a bit prettier than a Rochester really should be, but after a while I started believing him, that he was ugly, even though at the very same time I was falling in lurve.
Finally, and obviously, and probably uncontroversially - Daniel Craig. PHWOAR. Phwoar, phwoar, phwoar. Words are obviously failing me. What is it about him? Can anyone enlighten me? Before I saw Casino Royale, I was surprised that he was chosen as Bond because his face is almost ugly. Then I saw the movie, and all confusion dissolved. It is the only movie I have seen in years in which my jaw was literally dropping at how yummy he is. I am going to see Quantum of Solace tomorrow night and I can't wait!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I am a sucker for food. I have, in the past, decided many times to go on many different diets, which have not lasted longer than 24 hours - at the most. Most people have more stamina than that but food is just too good. At the moment I am trying to avoid eating too many carbs but it's not a diet as such, just a guideline that is broken without guilt.

I could never be an athlete of any skill because of my disastrous love for food, but it's not because I don't have the discipline. It's because I love food, and I hate the idea of food as fuel and nothing more. There is something very distasteful about loading up religiously with carbohydrates or protein or isotonics or whatever it is that sportspeople are supposed to eat. Eating the same thing every day, or at least the same type of thing, would be ghastly.

Food should be a celebration. Why should food be any less dignified a celebration of life than great art, literature, or music? We are not animals; we don't eat simply what our instincts tell us to eat; we can be creative and adventurous in our food choices. This doesn't mean we are eating irresponsibly, it means we are gleaning maximum enjoyment out of daily routine.

I remember, when my mother was dying, feeling incredibly sorry for her when her diet was restricted. Of course I hated what was happening but that was one of the major things that stood out for me. Mum's digestive functions were breaking down, and if she ate anything that wasn't processed and easily digestible, it could have hastened her death dramatically. So all she could eat were thin soup-like mixtures.

I'm sure it's horrible to die however it is that it happens, but it seemed so tragic to me to know that you were dying, and not be able to eat whatever you wanted. Like being on Death Row and being denied your final meal.

Anyway - for a long time my favourite foods have not been the most healthy choices, but for the first time in my life I find myself picking out healthy food over less healthy food. For a very long time, salad was only nice as a side dish, or if it had meat in it. Now I love it! Instead of going for the guilty pleasures of fish and chips when I get fast food, nothing can beat sushi or Subway now. Instead of eating junk food as snacks, I'm going for fruit - maybe because the season is bringing us nectarines, kiwifruit, peaches, strawberries, and soon apricots, feijoas, plums, and other berries. MMmm! Nothing can beat them. It feels good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I have been browsing through widgets available online (witness the right hand side of this webpage, and the very bottom) and I found a few which amused me or which were in some way tempting:

The ultimate web translator with flags
This attractive little translator which I did not decide to use claims to be the ultimate in translation, with 30+ languages, including, amazingly, English, American, Canadian, and Australian! Where's New Zealandese? I want New Zealandese!

The Love Clock
How nice: "the eternal theme of Him and Her comes to life with Love Clock". I'm not exactly sure what that means, but you get to have an elegant timepiece on your webpage which is embraced by a man and a woman with blue hair.

The Grammar Girl Quiz
This is actually kind of cool - a quick quiz on grammar you can offer blog readers. It's a promotional for a book that has just come out so I didn't really want to offer free advertising, but otherwise it's right up my alley.

Liquid Clock
"Every second of our life is precious. The sixty seconds form a very precious minute. The sixty minutes form even more preciuos hour. The 24 hours form the invaluable day. Let's try to remember that preciousness and let our days be unique and happy!"
Well, I'm not sure that by putting this clock on my blog I'm going to achieve that.

Decorate Your Christmas Tree
Since my father is The Grinch and will not get a Christmas tree this year, this could be just what I wanted! A Christmas tree, with a Christmas countdown, and decorations for you, my blog readers, to embellish it. Yeah - it's a little corny - but I gave in and now my blog is seasonally decorated. See the very bottom of the page to help decorate.

Reverse Clock
"We used to believe that no one could turn time back. Now it's possible with Reverse Clock. Its hands move backwards but show exact time!"
My my, how extremely useful!

High There!
This handy little widget means that whenever I blog about weed, I can be featured on some stupid website. I can see this coming in handy.

It's hit the fan
A game of skill - guess what you throw at a fan!!

Amazon Wishlist
"With this widget, not only will people buy you things, but you can get paid when they do!"
Whoopee! I bet you all can't wait to begin!

ABAJournal Daily News
"Up to the minute stories" from the official legal news source of the American Bar Association. Snore.

The 4 Candles
Love, peace, faith and hope. Beautifully displayed in eternal candle form on your blog, for all the internet to see.

Tricks of the Trade
Rules to live by, callgirl style. Classy.

Well, I think that's enough. There are many more to find, however, on!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Several things that are too small for one post:

1. I am the proud owner of this t-shirt from cafépress!
Thank you, Stacy, for alerting me to that wonderful website.

2. Recently I have been reading the dictionary. I am nerdy, yes, but this is such a cool dictionary! I invested in a dictionary which is about the size of one of those big old family Bibles. Besides thousands of words, it has word history, editorial notes by experts (eg Richard Dawkins on evolution), usage notes, et cetera. These are some of my favourite words so far:

dybbuk (n.) /'dibek/ In Jewish folklore, an evil spirit that inhabits the body of a living person.

finagle (v.) /fi'naygl/ 1. to manage to obtain something using trickery or persistence. 2. to trick somebody into doing what one wants.

zeugma (n.) /'zyoohgma/ The use of a word to modify or govern two or more words, used in such a manner that it applies to each in a different sense. e.g. She opened the door and her heart to him.

3. I have been enjoying a blog called Pilgrim's Progress. This is the product of a family of two parents, eight kids and a grandad from New Zealand who are travelling the world on a budget for a year - they started in October 2008 and will be back in September 2009. Destinations are, broadly, South East Asia, Mongolia, the UK, Europe... with other places as possibilities to tack onto the end of it. They were recently in Penang, Malaysia, where they hung out for a day with my brother and his family, who passed on the URL to me. Read this blog if you like being amazed and envious.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I am disillusioned with New Zealand politics

After the result of the US elections yesterday, the upcoming New Zealand election on Saturday just seems so unexciting.

As a columnist in the local newspaper, Rosemary McLeod, wrote in The Press today:

"I'll be voting without passion on Saturday. ... What would it take to make me think highly of politics? Some real idealism would be a start. I'd like to hear from politicians who looked to principle before pragmatism; who believed in something they could put a name to other than self interest, power for power's sake, waffly generalities that could mean anything, demonising other sections of society, or scaremongering. ... they wouldn't focus on punishing vile wrongdoers at the expense of elevating the unfortunate. They wouldn't talk about family as if they had a monopoly on the subject, or as if family could only mean one thing, or indulge in doom-saying and breast-beating about the state of the planet as if it was dead already. They'd believe so strongly in equality of opportunity and access to help for everyone that they'd make it happen. Idealism is great. ...
We are a weird little country, and getting weirder. Our politics are not uplifting. We know everyone, the bullies and the swots, the prefects and the ratbags who smoke dak in the toilets. And this time next week there'll be a bunch of new entrants. Maybe there'll be a future leader among them. Maybe the country will become a better place for their arrival. Maybe a lot of things, but mostly, I reckon, maybe not."

Having just come home from the central city, where I came across several parties doing their thing in Cathedral Square, including John Key, leader of the National Party, leader of the Opposition, who is probably going to become Prime Minister on Saturday - I CONCUR.

Labour Party supporters, wearing red t-shirts, trying to shout down the National supporters. They soon become very, very tiresome. I say to one of them - "you know, I hate National too, but you're actually making me hate National less." She looks a bit embarrassed and promises they won't shout when John Key speaks - a promise that is not kept.

John Key arrives, an hour late. He walks straight to the media, and starts shouting into the microphone about how America has voted in change, and New Zealand will vote for change too on Saturday. It's rather ironic considering Key has much more in common with McCain than Obama. He insults Labour, thanks his supporters - a crowd of business suits - and then it's all over.
Uh-uh, John. I didn't wait in the rain for an hour to hear you tell me you are going to win and that's all there is to it. I wanted to be persuaded, to be convinced, and you didn't deliver.

The two major parties of New Zealand are disappointing. I will vote on Saturday, but as Rosemary McLeod wrote, I'm not voting with any enthusiasm. I will be disappointed if the wrong people win, but I won't feel like it's the end of the world.

Surprisingly, as I stand listening to the Green Party - the party of environmental concern, legalisation of marijuana, and social engineering of whom I am usually very suspicious - I am nothing but impressed. Their leaders are there, available. They point out errors in the political practice of other parties, but without malice. They hand the microphone around the crowd, and answer any questions that are put to them, respectfully and sensibly. Above all, they are dignified, idealistic, articulate and passionate. Although I don't agree with everything they stand for, they have made me wonder if perhaps I would rather have people in power, or influencing power in a coalition government, who care more passionately about the future and people of this country than in scoring points off the other parties.

Well, I don't know. I'll be thinking a lot about it over the next two days. Who knows? I may completely shock myself and vote Green.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


It was only two nights - but I escaped the city! I'm back now from holiday and am about to describe it. My friend J. and I left Christchurch early-ish on Thursday morning and drove to Tekapo, where we were staying in this little cabin on the lakefront:

Lake Tekapo is home to the tiny and beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd. The lake was formed by a glacier so is a beautiful, almost turquoise colour, with mountains framing it.
The weather was good on Thursday, so we took the opportunity to go to Mount Cook National Park, leaving Tekapo almost as soon as we arrived. Mount Cook, the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere, is about an hour and a half's drive from Tekapo, and is best seen when not covered in cloud, so if possible, good weather is a big plus when visiting. On the way to Mount Cook you drive past and around Lake Pukaki, another glacier lake with even a more brilliant blue than Tekapo, and surrounded by bigger mountains and forests. This photo was taken on the day we drove to Mount Cook:
And this was taken the next day, when we drove past the lake again on our way to somewhere else. It seemed like every time we saw the lake it had changed colour slightly.
Although the weather was amazing for most of the drive, Mount Cook National Park was a bit more blustery. We went up the Hooker Valley track anyway. I love this country; it's rocky and big and dramatic. This is me at one point on it:
The swingbridge! This is always fun but I promise it is even more of an experience when the wind is strong and gusty. It hangs maybe 33 feet above the Mueller glacier river, which was crashing away below as we crossed:
Unfortunately we didn't get quite as far up the Hooker Valley as I would have liked, partly because of the worsening weather, so we didn't quite get around the corner that gives you a sudden view of Mt Cook - but it was enough to be there in the mountains in the fresh air with absolutely no control over your hairstyle.
Driving between different spots we stopped often and took lots of photos. This is the entrance to the Irishman Creek sheep station which may give Stacy a sense of déjà vu - a photo I took of this hut years ago was one of our Halfway Down the Stairs covers:
I also loved these fields... although not so much the reminder that the election is coming!
On Friday we visited the Clay Cliffs, near Omarama. The nice thing about this: it's on private property, accessed by a gravel road, so it's not quite so popular a destination as the Church of the Good Shepherd and other spots in the Mackenzie Country, and you're not always competing with busloads of tourists for photos (for, as we all know, I have a right to be taking photos but no one else does!). They're rather different from the standard diet of lakes and mountains when travelling in this area and it feels a little like you're walking into a mini-canyon:

On our way back from the Clay Cliffs, we took a turn-off to Lake Ohau. This is another spot that isn't quite so busy, tourist-wise, and I can't quite understand why, because it's beautiful. Maybe it's partly that we weren't expecting something quite so stunning, but we ended up sitting on the beach at Ohau for about an hour, enjoying the wind, the waves, the mountains. I realise that some of these lakes don't look all that different in the photos but this certainly felt different:

So those are the different places we visited. We also did a fair bit of reading or just relaxing on the Tekapo lakefront. One of the cool things about the place we stayed is the incredibly friendly wildlife. There were several families of bunnies that hung out fearlessly by our cabin, and some very fat and well-fed sparrows that would hop almost right up to you in the hope of food. We ate out... the first night at Pepe's, one of my favourite pizza/pasta restaurants, and the second at a Japanese restaurant, where I had delicious local salmon (there are salmon farms in the canals around this area). On Saturday we left pretty early, because I started my new summer job in the evening, and there was really nothing we wanted to do that would fit in before we had to leave. But I could happily and easily have spent a week there. I've started having fantasies about going and living in a tiny country house overlooking a lake with a big window and a desk, and just sitting there and writing books. Of course, in this dreamworld there's no such thing as money!