Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Don't believe what you see on the teeve

Back in my academic days I would have the same conversation over and over again with successive waves of (mostly female) students. You know, the one that goes like this:

THEM: I'm not a feminist, but ...

ME: How would you define a feminist? What would you say a feminist is?

THEM: Feminists are hairy-legged lesbians in overalls who go to demonstrations and are shrill and scream a lot and hate men. If I was a feminist I would never get a boyfriend and nobody would ever want to marry me.

[Mass gestures of curl-patting, nose-powdering and swishing of short silken skirts.]

ME: And you know this how?

THEM: We see it on TV!

ME: Okay; what sex would you say the person holding the camera was? The director? The writer? The producer? The station company CEO? The owner of the station?

THEM: Oh. Um.

With that in mind, read the post I've linked to down there. It's not so much 'about' Hillary Clinton as it is about the way she has been represented in the US meeja.

I don't even know if I'm barracking for Clinton. Most people are telling me not to. Yes I know what she said about Iraq and alas yes I also know what she's now said about Iran. Yes I know she tells lies (just like every other politician on the planet, but still). Yes yes yes I know.


Anyway. Read this. And do watch the clip.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

'Hey, knucklehead'

Searching online here and there for this and that, as you do when you've got more pressing commitments and are an old hand at avoidance behaviour, I just stumbled on a wonderfully prescient five-year-old post by Ken Parish, now of Club Troppo, thus:

It seems the gloves are off in the war to decide who replaces Simon the Unlikeable as federal Labor leader. Genteel Labor foreign affairs spokesperson Kevin Rudd (who I thought was very impressive on the Nine Network's Sunday program a couple of days ago) appears to have leaked to Janet Albrechtsen (of all people) an email sent to him by the distinctly un-genteel Mark Latham, in which Latham addressed Rudd as "Hey, knucklehead". I can see this getting very entertaining.

Date of post: February 18, 2003.

Isn't history fabulous?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Love and death: some stories just run and run

Did anyone watching Doc Martin tonight find the storyline vaguely familiar?

I think Dominic Minghella and/or the writers were doing homage to the story of Guinevere and Lancelot as told in the musical version where Lancelot brings Sir Lionel back from the dead after the Queen has set him up.

I mean, hero and heroine are kneeling either side of a dying, nay, dead body. Stitched-up but devoted hero magically brings body back to life. Heroine is mesmerised by his power and virtue and falls hopelessly in love on the spot. Hero reciprocates.

And in Cornwall, too.


It occurs to me belatedly that the previous LOLcat post could have been interpreted as autobiographical. But no. At my age we are too experienced cunning battered wise to put ourselves in situations where we might get stood up.

Actually I've never been stood up by a bloke. Disappointed, and worse, many many times, but no actual lonely waiting under lamp-posts. I just posted it because I loved the photo, and the caption.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More whining about anachronisms in historical fiction

I could swear, if not quite on a stack of Bibles then certainly on my own personally-annotated, heavily-yellowed, silverfish-filigreed and stinking-of-mothballs copy of The Making of the English Working Class, that the phrase 'health and safety problem', as per its contemporary usage, had no currency in the blue-collar workplace in Brisbane in 1939.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Literary criticism corner: is barfing the new black?

I've read or partly read 13 novels in the last two weeks and at least one character vomits, at least once, in every single one of them.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Blog revival

Because I have multiple crippling deadlines, I have chosen this evening to continue the attempted revivification of t'other blogs with a post on the new UWA Chair in Australian Literature, here.

Still can't blog, still too much work

... so here is a bit of Monday Mogblogging instead.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Move over, Dorothy Parker

As the result of a series of random discoveries and coincidental conversations, I have been tracking down the great American essayist and critic Elizabeth Hardwick online to find out more about her. Hardwick and her husband, the American poet Robert Lowell, co-founded the New York Review of Books in the spring of 1963, the first issue roughed out on their dining-room table. (I got a peculiar thrill from reading this; I used to do exactly the same thing with Australian Book Review, every fourth weekend from April 1987 to December 1988, and when I read this about Hardwick and Lowell I felt a flash of minnow-like, retroactive empathy with these fabled whales of New York.)

Hardwick died late last year, at the age of 91, and as she moved towards this venerable stopping place, someone asked her in an interview how she felt about growing older. She replied “Its only value is that it spares you the opposite: not growing older."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Swings and roundabouts

One minute I'm singing the praises of the solitary life, and the next minute my friend D's kid writes this in his Facebook status update --

[Anonymous Son-of-D] is installing software to replicate a COM port via USB to trick a DOS program into working in Vista

-- and I am re-plunged in gloom.

I mean, if I'd ever got round to having one, chances are s/he too would have been able to say that kind of thing, and all that that implies for personalised helpdesk service finely tuned by filial obligation.

And if, like D, I'd had four ...

Oh well.

Can't blog, too much work

Which is like so, so much better than not enough work. But.

However, because I agree with it so very violently and would extend this Loud Denunciation to everyone who chats while there is something happening up the front at a mic or on a stage, I shall now quote the relevant passage from today's post by the wise Amanda from Flop Eared Mule:

I hate chatters at gigs. Were you people raised by wolves? Wolves who hate music? Michael Gudinski, are these people your employees? Because I really think we could get unions onside for a WorkChoices-style exemption allowing such clowns to be sacked on the spot. The "You don't get to work for a record company unless you STFU at intimate acoustic gigs" Fairness (to the rest of us) Test. I'm going to start the Facebook group right now.

I'm there.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Facebook: what know they of North America who only North America know?

There's a game you can play on Facebook, an application called Scramble, which involves random letters, like Scrabble tiles, on a 4X4 grid. You're given three minutes to find as many words as possible, moving up, down, backwards, forwards or diagonally from letter to letter.

Points scored increase exponentially with word length, so you get one point for a 3-letter word, 2 for 4 letters, 4 for 5 and so on. This being a culture very very big on empowerfulification, not unlike the Victorian Education Department in the 1980s, Scramble boosts your self-esteem every three minutes by flashing you up messages like this: CONGRATULATIONS! YOU GOT 139TH PLACE!

At the end of each game the screen also flashes up a list of all the possible words for that board, with green ticks next to all the ones you scored. If you've scored a word that nobody else online playing that particular game along with you found (and sometimes there are 400 people playing a single game), you get a blue star.

I am pretty ordinary at this game. I've been reading and writing the alphabet's 26 beautiful letters strictly from left to right for anything from two to sixteen hours a day, every day, since some time in the 1950s. Following letters in all directions to make a word does not sit well with me.

But I do score the occasional blue star. And I've noticed that when I get blue stars, I almost always get them in a very particular category of word, and it's nothing you'd think was obvious.

I often, for example, score words in Biblical forms and you'd think that might rack me up a few blue stars. While hath and wert are a doddle for anybody, you'd kind of expect you might score a blue star occasionally for sayeth and doeth and cometh and goeth and other such constructions that trippeth not off the tongue. But no. The overwhelming majority of Facebookers are young North Americans and they know their Bible pretty good.

But here are some words they're obviously not all that familiar with, because I've scored blue stars for all of them: NORI, SARI, GADO, OBI, HAIKU, VINDALOO.

You have to wonder.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

So there

You are The Empress

Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.

The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents,
beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home
decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.

The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger, withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.