....and sometimes watches.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Things I Did on My Holidays Part 1

Christmas is A Hoot! What can I say.
They came, we ate, we drank, we slept.
Then the cool bit - my darling children visit their Dad (bless his cotton socks) for a couple of days and I can go to Sydney to shop.

Stuff I Do When I Don't Have To Do Laundry (In no particular order)

1. World of Warcraft
This comes under the heading of 'FuschiaWatches'. Watch my character fall off the jetty AGAIN
into the deep water 'cause the whole right/left mouse button thing is beyond me. Watch for my partner Chardo disappear over the hill to the next adventure while I am still trying to loot a body. Watch me try to cast 'heal' only to Watch us all die 'cause I was casting 'wrath' instead (well, they should make fighting spells RED icons, its only confusing!) But I am a bear now so that is kind of cool. It is a pretty game and I can see why it is so playable for 37 days straight.
But the fighting spells should be red.

2. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Coz and I saw this because the cinema was airconditioned. And it was on in 5 minutes. And we had heard it was good. And it was not 'Cheaper by the Dozen 2'.
It is a hoot. You - all of you but no children - should go an see it cause it is soooo very wrong and yet funny and so very very wrong and yet sooo very funny. Robert 'he's-so-sute-when-not-in-rehab' Downey Jnr and Val Kilmer take on Hollywood and bad guys and a dog and car chases and pretty girls and electrocution and all that cool raymond-chandler noirish patter with a cool narration and snappy dialogue and much general cleverness.
My newly reawakened feeling for Robert are nw being
tested but its still almost Christmas, so I will be kind and wait.

3. Kinokuniya
It appears that many of you don't know this shop. It God has put me on this earth for a reason (apart from letting you know that your shirt REALLY doesn't match those jeans) it is to bring news of good bookshops to the masses. (my purpose also apparently involves Hello Kitty, but I have to find out the tax implications of non-profit-startup-religions before I can reveal my plans there).
This my friends, is not a good bookshop. It is THE bookshop. All other bookshops bow before it, they go there thinking they are so smart because they actually stock a couple of Austens and a Waugh biography in the bargain bin, but step through the doors and all pretensions are quickly stripped away before the bibliotechnical greatness that is this store. Yes, you are just a franchise, now go away and let me browse in peace.
Or as Coz and I did - with much noise and merriment.
I bought a couple of magazines - that I can't show you as my scanner is not working and this kitty cataloguue - there was actually a choice of issues - my god I am in heaven. There are many japanese books and magazines but mostly english and just every topic - all the dover books etc, and as we discovered halve the price of those other stores.
And as we we leaving 2 buddhist monks where up to $388 at the register, so I think you should all go there.

Black Books
This was a christmas gift but I watched it when I got home from sydney yesterday. It still comes under the heading on 'no children' so I can put it here. Ahhh, just me and Mr Strongbow. And the
christmas chocolate I hid so there would be post-christmas chocolate.
This british tv series (of which I now have the WHOLE series) involves dysfunctional characters AND a book shop. For anyone who has ever had the slightest amount of retail/customer contact will also find it very wonderful. It is full of such clever dialogue and such cringeworthy situations. I watched 4 episodes in a row and felt a much better person afterwards.

4. Avalon
I went to the video store when I got home and borrowed lots of MA rated movies 'cause I generally am unable to. After the sillyness of BlackBooks, I thought I would watch this as it promised VR wargames and a futuristic setting.
What is delivers is an ABSOLUTELY gorgeous look and visual effects and the lamest story line in the world. Play it at a party with the sound down (it had subtitles anyway) 'cause it does look great but really has a silly plot. I would like the words 'PACE and JEOPARDY' tattoed into the foreheads of the makers, please.
And anyway, I thought the big VR game looked abit dull- and you couldn't be an elf.
5. Anazapta
Mmmmm, this was actaully kind of cool and I think that the look of the time was quite accurate. No posh Keira Knightleys just coming back from the posh french finishing school in time to be captured by clean King Arthur here. Or the amazingly unspotted Tristan and Isolde.
The title is abit silly but the story certainly rollicks along in this tale of icky people who come to icky ends and revenge and something that could be mistaken (quite easily) for love and there is much gore and spookiness along the way. A good video night in story - but not for the little'es.

6. Party
Now, I don't do many of these anymore, what with my advanced years and the trouble my walker makes on polished floor boards, but the lovely Zoe was in town and it was great to meet her. My memories of the night after the wonderful dinner are a bit blurry, I think it was all that shopping in the extreme Sydney heat that has clouded my memories.
But I seem to recall we played cribbage and 'the minister's cat' and discussed eloquently and sanely the current sorry state of the UN and there may have been some quiet background music and much patient tolerance of the variations of musical taste the makes the world such an interesting place to be in. There may also have been some sedate dancing of the type usually found in a fred astaire movie.
Now, these are my memories - so I am sure you are as confused as I by the photo's I found on my camera - perhaps it was stolen while I was in the Elegant Gothic Lolita shop just off George STr. There are many other photos - most to blurry to accurately ID the cast members. So I shall save those. For another dayt.

What a wonderful time to be alive

Friday, December 23, 2005

Surely you’re joking Mr Feynman

Richard P. Feynman Unwin Hyman Ltd 1986 PB 350pp

“When I was about eleven or twelve I set up a lab in my house.”

This wonderful book consists of a series of anecdotes either gathered especially or adapted from speeches or publications. They are very candid and funny and interesting and I have to say this man blows my mind.

I would love to be so clever that physics makes sense to me. It is something that I have always been interested in and all the ongoing quantum research is just amazing. I however have this brain – self fulfilling prophecy type brain or no – that switches off when things get ‘technical’ – it’s a physical feeling like falling asleep or getting really cold - I can feel my eyes glaze over and my brain get mooshy and even tho’ I am really interested, I don’t understand anything else other than the introductory paragraph – the one in bold type – in any New Scientist magazine.

This combined with a lack of memory for detail – oh yes I can tell you what you were wearing 4 halloweens back and I never get lost driving, but give me a really cool article about anything and it’s like “ um there’s like this percentage um 25% or 50% but its like really high and that’s how many protons spin off when you do this thing – and they only thought that it would be like um this really low number maybe even zero in number – and they thought in a different direction – maybe left - , but that was based on an incorrect experiment done by someone – I think he was European – and no-one checked that data – isn’t that cool!”
You get the idea…..

So, you will understand that reading this book for me was quite an experience. One moment its picking up airhostess’s in Brazil and the next it’s something to do with tau’s and co-sines and I feeling like one of those movies when they hit g-force-mach-8-i-canna-hold-it-cap’in and all the skin on my face is flying back and my eyes have gone all bulgy and funky hyperspace stars are flying in front of my eyes.

He worked at Los Alamos, he learnt Japanese and Portuguese and the drums and how to draw and to crack safes and had many girlfriends (some great pickup tips for you boys!), and won a nobel prize and basically spent his entire life learning and learning and never accepting any limits for himself. He writes with such a deprecating sense of humour and comes across as such an approachable cool guy.

This book cost me 10c at a local op-shop and I think you should all read it! When I am was God-Empress it will be mandatory – so go get a copy and avoid the rush.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Wolf Moon

Charles deLint Firebird 1988 PB 245pp

"The music stopped."
Charles De Lint is an amazing author. He can be relied on to consistently deliver the goods.
This is a little story of a good werewolf and a bad harper. Great characters and a believable setting. An occasional misstep can be forgiven for this early work and in light of all the other epic and wonderful books.
Lent by my sister to my mum and given to me to return to my sister. But read first.
read in the light of the last several months of moving house and starting - for the first time in a looong time - full time work. I actually read nothing but my endless 'to do' lists for quite a while. the posts below were all read in the last week and a half - not quite immediate but now there are less boxes to upback, maybe the return to something more regular.
Joyeaux Noel!

From the Dust Returned

Ray Bradbury Earthlight 2001 HC 204pp

“In the attic where the rain touched the roof softly on spring days and where you could feel the mantle of snow outside, a few inches way, on December nights, A Thousand Times Great Grandmere existed.”

Ray Bradbury rocks. He has had, I will admit, his less that great moments, but overall he Rocks!

This book is very lovely. A house with a family, who may or may not be vampires. Various adventures. I can't say that heaps happens or that the characters are always very clear, but Mr Bradbury writes with such a lyrical haunting quality that you are led breathless – and oh so very willingly – through this slight book. His language never misses a beat, it is so very beautiful and fine and all of us who worship the thesaurus and struggle for the right word
must worship this effortless and poetic author.

Recommended for all of us. It can only make the world a better place.

The Quilters Apprentice

Jennifer Chiaverini 1998 Simon&Schuster HC 271pp

“Sarah leaned against the brick wall and tried to look comfortable, hoping that no one walking by would notice her or wonder why she was standing around in a suit on such a hot day.”

This women has a number of books on the shelves of my local library, there are apparently sequels to this novel.

It had a pretty cover and I was feeling in quite a soppy mood but even I felt the first stirring of concern when this – her FIRST novel – comes with a page of acknowledgements at the beginning, of the 'chicken soup for the soul' kind.

It all went down hill from there.

Sarah and her husband Matt move all of 3 hours away from their home town so Matt can take up a new job. Obviously it takes longer to get places in the US, because this means that Soppy-Sarah is now isolated and alone and looking for work in a new town. She mopes and sulks and honestly there wasn’t a page I read that I just didn’t want to slap her.

Linear I believe the plot would most kindly be described as. Linear in a Mills&Boonian kind of way. Sooky-sarah mets the crotchety mysterious old lady Matt works for who OF COURSE offers sulky-sarah a job in her wonderful old house. OF COURSE there is some kind of mystery spanning the generations OF COURSE Sarah solves it and fixes everything and gets to live in the old house with the lady who really was very nice.

I admit I cried but that had EVERYTHING to do with the thoughts of quilts and grandmothers and time that passes and doesn’t come back and NOTHING to do with this book.

Recommended for a soppy older relative whose literary taste runs to the extreme end of soppiness.

Kingdom River

Mitchell Smith 2003 Forge HC 400pp

“The ravens had come to This’ll Do.”

Despite only telling you in little writing several pages in that this is ‘Book 2 of the Snowfall Trilogy’ and DESPITE the very lame cover (is that a chick in a chainmail bikini with a cross bow I see before me?) this is a very cool book.

Set in a Earth future several hundred years after a rapid and devastating drop in temperature that left the world a cold and lonely place, North America has splintered into several – aggressive – tribes. ‘Warm-time’ culture is prized and there are much copied books, words and phrases and a knowledge of this time is seen as a mark of culture and learning.

Not being north american myself puts me at a severe disadvantage when it comes to these types of books as really, a march from Virginia to Texas means nothing to me. Is it far? Is it near? Do I care? Also not really caring about the minutiae of planning an epic battle campaign made for some skimmed pages. That said, the characterisation is very strong and the world Mr Smith has built is quite believable – even with all the weird mind powers and teeth-sharpened cannibal princesses.

Apparently the first book is set a generation before which is what probably allowed me to read this one and understand most of it.

Recommended for a lazy Sunday when you have all three books

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