Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The Adversaries

The Killers. Indie rock. Hot Fuss, Sam's Town and Day and Age.

Duffy. Soul/pop/I don't even know what to label it. Rockferry.

The Fight

Allie's attendance at their concerts.

The Killers - Westpac Arena, Christchurch, March 31. $100.

Duffy - Christchurch Town Hall, April 2. $119.90.

The Problem

I'm a poor student and can only afford to go to one of the concerts, which are oh-so-annoyingly placed two days apart. I'm very tempted to go to both, because it's not like fantastic acts like this come to Christchurch all that often, but I don't think I can justify spending over $200 in one week on concerts.

For Duffy:

I actually like Duffy better than the Killers - everything she sings I like, whereas some of the Killers' songs do not interest me whatsoever.

For the Killers:

Although I like Duffy overall better than the Killers, there are some Killers songs which kick arse. And I suspect their concert would be more of a spectacle, more fun in the mosh pit.

Who is going down??? You decide.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

from the arbiter of trends, to you

I think I could have a career writing for women's magazines...

What's Hot
1. McDonalds strawberry milkshakes. I don't know and I don't care how bad they are for me - they're cheap and goood, and it's hot outside, and I like studying in busy, noisy places that don't mind me buying one drink and sitting there for an hour.
2. The possibility of researching abroad in cool archives like this.
3. The new U2 single!!!! Yippee! For a while there I had thought I was losing my U2 obsession and suddenly I love 'em again.
4. Moving into a flat for the first time. Acquiring a life of my own.
5. Going camping!! Next week, in two of the coolest (or should I say hottest?) spots in New Zealand, with one of my best friends. Cheap holidays are great!
6. The Buskers' Festival. The centre of Christchurch is more bustling and fun at the moment than at any other time of the year.

And What's Not
1. Weather that is unbearably hot (and yes, I have noticed that I'm designating "hot" weather as "not hot")
2. The reality setting in that people don't want to give me free money to go research abroad unless I can justify it. And by justifying it, that means doing something politically correct or financially rewarding.
3. Moving out of home for the first time. Leaving my parent all on his own and feeling guilty.
4. Writing a research proposal. Not fun.
5. White-tail spiders finding ways to enter the house.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

a selection of good reads

Just because I felt like it, I am here listing a few of my favourite books. These aren't necessarily in my group of absolute favourites (although a couple are) and you will have heard of or read most of them already, probably. But here is what I like about a random selection of good books.

The Tricksters, by Margaret Mahy
Now, this is a claim made by someone who isn't actually fully informed yet - but I think this novel is the best novel ever written by a New Zealander (let's qualify that by saying, of what I've read). I fully accept that not everyone would agree with me, but there it is. It is also, probably, among my top ten or twenty books ever.
Set at the beach during a New Zealand summer, starring a family that has been visited by three mysterious men, this is a book ostensibly written for teenagers which could rival most adults' novels in terms of skill. Mahy's writing style is just beautiful, and her plot imaginative, magical, intriguing; her characters so full-bodied it feels like you could reach out and touch them.

A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
A lot of people love this book, I know. And I no less. It's so clever. I love Burgess' creativity with his language, Nadsat, and for some horrible reason I love his main character (hero? anti-hero?) who shouldn't be loved, and I love the questions this raises.

Almost Heaven: Travels through the Backwoods of America, by Martin Fletcher
This is a book by a British journalist who travelled around the USA stopping in any tiny, insignificant place he came across and coming across the most interesting people and things. For someone from a country half a world away, it makes for bizarre and fascinating reading, but it's not a mean "let's-mock-America-in-all-its-weirdness" kind of book. It's simply fascinating.

Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray
This is probably my favourite classic novel, after Jane Austen's, and after Jane Eyre, or maybe equal with Jane Eyre. It's long - but it kept me engrossed easily. Thackeray's characters are interesting and flawed, he is an incredibly funny narrator, and there isn't an easy ending. His whole point is interesting:
This, dear friends and companions, is my amiable object – to walk with you through the Fair, to examine the shops and shows there; and that we should all come home after the flare, and the noise, and the gaiety, and be perfectly miserable in private.
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, by Bertolt Brecht
One of the few plays I would actually read for enjoyment, and a play that I really, really want to see. In fact, have any of you seen it? What was it like?
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
When I think "Russian literature", I think "huge". This, happily, is small. It's also a book that is a simply written, under-dramatic account of one day in the gulag for one insignificant man. Everything in it feels grey. There was nothing in it that stood out or begged attention, but for some reason I couldn't put it down. In fact, I finished it two minutes before we ate dinner, and after reading it, boiled potatoes tasted like the food of angels. It's that impacting a book.

The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis
An absolutely amazing book that must have taken quite some dedication to write. It's also one of those books that must be a book. No movie will ever manage to do justice to it; even an audiobook would fall short. Perhaps it's a mark of how true it rings that the demon Screwtape and the junior demon Wormwood can only be brought to life in our own minds, where we have heard them already.
Finally, The First World War, by Gerard J. De Groot
This was a set text for an undergraduate history paper I took in 2006, and one of the few history books I have ever read that was a pleasure to read. It seems wrong to say that, given that I am a history student, but I guess I could say this was an influential book for me, teaching me that history can be as alive as any novel if its scribe is any good.
I quote: As the Archduke passed by in his car, the first young assassin failed to get his revolver out of his pocket in time to get a clear shot. The second was spooked by the close proximity of a policeman, who would obviously have disapproved. The third lost his nerve when he saw the Duchess Sophie, sitting next to the Archduke. The fourth decided he was not cut out for the life of a terrorist and went home. The fifth threw his bomb, but missed. The sixth conspirator, Gavrilo Princip, heard the bomb, decided that the plot had succeeded, and sat down feeling smugly satisfied. He then saw the Archduke's car speed by and rued the passing of his heroic moment.
De Groot, as well as being a good writer, is very scholarly - it's not simply a popular picture book - and his conclusions are very interesting.

tripods are fantastic

I love having a tripod! I can finally take cool night-time shots. This was a fifteen-second exposure featuring a full moon and the Port Hills, from a road near my house. It was rather windy, hence the blurry grass.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


We have just had a 35 degree day. My goodness it's hot. (Translation for you fahrenheiters: that's 95 degrees.)

Right. Here is my attempt at copying Sara, who copied Stacy, who copied Beck.

2008, shown by the first sentence of the first blog post of every month. Like Sara, who changed that to the last sentence, I am going to bend the rules, and take my pick of either the first OR the last, depending on which I like the best.

2008 on Allie's blog:
There's this pizza chain in New Zealand called Hell. Of course, in this dreamworld there's no such thing as money! Everything I've written above is something I will try to keep in focus for the rest of my life. I'm a big fan of Georgette Heyer, especially her Regency novels. It really is difficult to pick out of the long list of books she wrote. That's not so bad when you're cuddled up in bed with several layers of bedding and an electric blanket! See the Northern Lights. Because I do this periodically. Why don't people learn from history? So, there has to be something you will enjoy! I'll be impressed if you've read all this. I would just find it too depressing.


why oh why?

I have just decided to do a Masters degree. Eek!

It was always on the cards, but I didn't really make up my mind until this last week, and I was pretty blasé about it, considering it the safe option that logically followed my Honours year and wouldn't require much more pressure.

Have suddenly realised I am incredibly unintelligent when it comes to predicting my future. I am freaking out. When it comes down to it and I actually have to put some work into finding a topic, I realise that suddenly I am studying at an academic level at which originality is crucial, and all the topics I had in mind have been done already. I realise that I am plunging into a world where I will not be having weekly meetings with my supervisor, like last year, nor his constant guidance; where the entire Department of History staff are going to hear my proposal and grill me on it, in a few short weeks from now; where famous historians are going to read the end product (if, indeed, I finish) and tell me what's wrong with it. *long, drawn-out scream*

Why am I doing this to myself? What possesses people to take on postgraduate study? I have a horrible fear that suddenly everyone will realise that everything I've done so far that has turned out to be halfway good has been a complete fluke.