sheep on Lake George
Unseemly and disturbing Canberra street art
Lake Burley Griffin, Library
Trees, outside NMA
Let's start with Friday, where I came home to find the street darkened, neighbours running from house to house and AP on the porch holding a candle in a lantern like some creature from a Dickens novel. Oh joy. So that was no net, no tea, no Stargate and no Tony Head on telly. Well, the power did come on to catch the last bit, but then I was cold and grumpy, as you would be, with a blackout on a cold Autumn night after a long hard week. And no dinner. Grump.
Worse, I grumped off to sit in the dark, as there was nothing to do, and the family left me there in the dark. I think the power was back on for an hour before I found out. Charming. I was not best pleased. Ended up watching Waking The Dead on UKTV and actually quite enjoying it for once.
Saturday I was up a 4am, showered, packed, hopped on the net and then packed again and was still running around like a blue arsed fly when my travelling companion (TC) arrived, early, OMG. TC turned their shiny newish (brand new second hand Subaru, a charming deep maroon) car south and off we set, banging down the highway to Canberra.
Stopped off at Berrima. Dear Berrima, the town that time forgot, bypassed by both railway and new highway. It used to be on the old road down south so it was a cherished childhood stop off (the old picnic settings are still there!) but now it makes do as one of those quaint country towns that plys you with cream teas, homemade jams, baskets and other such tweeness. But I have a very soft spot for Berrima, so I forgive it. And the cafe we ended up in was still selling 70s style pre-Maccas burgers, beetroot and all, so I was in heaven, as I'd been craving one for the last month or three.
The undoubted highlight though was the historic courthouse, an imposing Georgian affair, that boasted a multitude of wax dummies in historical costume. "We can't go past that," decides TC, and I am instantly relieved that my co-traveller is on the very same page as me as to what to see and do. And what fun! I love a local little museum, run by keen and well meaning volunteers, with the hand written signs and the gift shops selling soaps and boiled sweeties. And the badly dressed dummies in fright wigs - I laughed so hard I nearly had to fetch mop and bucket. Worth the price of admission, without a doubt.
Onto Canberra, via an arid Lake George, and just three blockies before we could get into our hotel, which is about average for non ACT folk. And what a huge suite it was, and ought to have been, for the price we were paying (my preferred hotels were claiming fullness). Made the mistake of flicking on telly and chuckling over Rebel Without A Cause. Out loud. Actual sniggering. I just didn't remember it being that gay, but then, I've only ever seen tv versions and since I know a great many other films (and tv) has been cut by homophobic tv stations unwilling to allow two guys alone in a room unchaperoned, I've probably not seen it properly before. Certainly I didn't remember the scene that was giving me the twitters. Then again, it's been yonks since I've seen it and maybe I'm just watching it differently. And wrong. That goes without saying.
Wandered around the mall, which still features a merry-go-round, if you're at all interested (I was once there with keiko_kirin who thought I was completely barmy because I was looking for a merry-go-round because I knew my bank was nearby. Her complete astonishment that I was not nuts and actually quite right re landmarks causes me grief still). Anyways, stopped off for a Starbucks and popped into the next door vid shop because, although being told there were no copies of French Connection in Sydney, I wasn't in Sydney and so I thought I might just...ah, there it was, and on special, too. Bewdy.
Raced up to Black Mountain to catch the sunset, which was spectacular, but ruined by the reflections of the kiosk in the plastic windows, somewhat. My, but Canberra be small. Kind of like Chatswood in the middle of nowhere. Was also bemused that the tower was absolutely swarming with the sort of folks we're now supposed to be alert and alarmed about, but I couldn't give a toss. Bought the requisite tacky souveniers, then back down the hill and onto dinner.
Meant to go to Manuka, but several wrong turns ended us up in Kingston, which would do nicely (and later seemed the right choice because TC ran into her next door neighbours in the bottle shop getting in the byo). Picked a Portuguese restaurant that served thick wedges of beef. Perfect.
Made it back to the hotel after another minor alarming adventure, taking a wrong turn (or three) and ending up in dark suburbs and then, worse, trees, before we had to do a u-ey and head back towards lights. Minor detour, ahem. We only panicked because, well, we didn't want to end up in the middle of nowhere with just half a tank of petrol and a cheap bottle of plonk. Europeans just don't understand how easily terrorised we are by the idea of getting lost, because lost means dead far more often here than there. Anyway, twas only the wine that made us panic, just a bit, I'm sure, as we ended up in utter darkness. How happy we were to see city lights again.
Made it back in time to catch Simm on tv, playing that young and murderous piece of gaolbait in Cracker. He does psychos so well, does John. It's a worry. Such a pretty young thing. TC noted that the shape of his face has changed since he got his teeth fixed. Yeah, she's a fan, to notice that. We had fun, though she was covering her eyes through much of the violence. Wimp.
Sunday. Thanks to TC's excellent research skills, we decided to have brekkie at the Australian National Museum, a monstrosity of modern architecture with small and heavily sanitised and entirely pc exhibitions of our history and culture, such as it is. But it did have a cafe overlooking the lake, which sounded just the shot. "I hope it's just eggs and beans and not patridge brains in truffle oil," worries TC as we pull up.
We're greeted by the maitre'd who scowls at us that we don't have a booking, but manages to find a table in the furthest corner of the empty resturant. Cloth napkins and, yes, truffle oil on the menu. Oh dear. We order pancakes and a side order of toast, both imaging that we're paying $20 for the privilege of admiring one tiny, thin pikelet artfully arranged on an enormous white plate, but no, we're presented with an enormous stack of thick pancakes each, with real maple syrup. The poor toast never gets a look in.
Popped into the immigration exhibition, which featured a great many melodramatic Victorian paintings of poor folks, poverty, highland clearances, the potato famine, factories, slums and folks bidding tearful farewells to home and family. The notes about the enormous exodus from the UK under the reign of Victoria reminds me that it wasn't the grand and glorious time it was often described as. And Victorian paintings are always being sneered at for being OTT, and they are, but I was still sucker punched and wrenched near to tears by some of the paintings, an emotional response entirely lacking when viewing more modern works. I guess I just like a narrative and ladled on metaphor in my art.
I also noted that a great many of the pictures were loaned by Scottish, northern and midlands galleries in the UK, from whence the exodus came. Real social history stuff, this. There was also the mighty The Last Of England, a very popular painting which I was lucky to see outside the UK. Having recently topped a BBC poll, I doubt it will ever leave the UK again so I was glad of my chance to see it.
Then I dragged TC downstairs because there was an exhibition of items from the northwest Canadian tribes, the bulk of it on loan from the Canadian consulate (thanks!), and I just love that stuff. Did them lot at uni, and, to my great smugness, could still match mask to tribe without resort to reading the cards. The transformation masks were something special. Could have done without the too weird hippie who tried to strike up a conversation, but I was pleased to see my favourite dieties/totems/motifs again.
Then it was round and round and round, this being Canberra, afterall, and round again to the NGA to catch the Constable exhibition. Our luck holds as this pinched looking woman thrust two tickets at us. Apparently she'd bought them for visiting friends who cared not to go, so we were the recipients of her misfortune. She wouldn't take cash, and they worked, to our astonishment. Thanks, whoever you were. I quite like Constable when I'm in the mood, and I was really into him when I had my tenth floor window with a view of the entire Cumberland Plains and rolling clouds. Everyday was a Constable-esque view from my desk. Man, I miss that.
He loved his weather, did Constable. As if to punish me for my previous catty remarks about almanac writing, an entire wall of paintings were described by Constable as north east breezes, and the like. So I take it back. She's writing fic after Constable (though I'm with Russell T Davies as far as I don't give a jot for pin point accuracy, so long as it looks and feels right). Anyhoo, loved Constable's trees and his wee dogs, though I had quite enough of that lock and the ploughman that he did over and over and over. One view of a house we swear we saw in The Forsythe Saga, which amused, and I had to laugh at Constable's paintings taken on a summer holiday to Brighton Beach, all boiling charcoal skies and heaving seas. The poor lamb. (I latter read that his wife was dying at the time, and felt wretched for mocking his horrible holiday weather). But still, the man has a way of making clouds show deep emotion. Respect.
Funnily enough, after all those ploughmen, the NGA cafe offered up a ploughman's lunch. Perfect.
Next we saw the Crescent Moon exhibition, with a great many pieces from our neighbours to the north, and what lovely and weird pieces they were. I was particularly in love with a curvy kris, a cloth with creepy lobster women all over it, the books, a wicked tea pot and a pair of very spangly shorts. There was also a wall carving of Adam and Eve, with Adam copping a feel, which I found amusing, just because such things would be frowned on in its country of origin these days. I also loved the carved wall art from Indonesia that incorporated some amazing old Dutch tiles. Such a perfect example of mix and match cultures (Indonesia used to be a Dutch colony, well before Oz was settled, in case you weren't aware).
It was a huge exhibition, with lots of lovely pieces. I was surprised, expecting only one or two rooms. My eyes delighted but my feet protested. But that was us, done. Home all the way up the highway and back in time for Phil in Vanity Fair.
A grand day out indeed.
Monday I went to see a talk by Neil Gaiman at the Town Hall and it was so much better than I'd hoped for. It was more of an interview with Wil Anderson, and it was absolutely hysterical. He talked about his love for the new Doctor Who, the horror of having his work trashed by Hollywood, the horror of imaging his parents, and now his kids, reading the pr0ny stuff he has written, his problems with getting into the country, and how Good Omens came to be. He also read a short story which I loved. Then he did a book signing. Bonus! We squeeded over Doctor Who.
A grand night out. Caught a taxi home, too, because it was wet and cold and I had 50 mins to wait for a bus. That's my tipping point, apparently. I'd been bemused by my lack of concern that I'd forgotten to set the tape for Supernatural (not that it would have worked with the erratic power supply), but managed to get in to see most of it anyway, the taxi trip neatly slicing two or more hours off my trip home and Ten being tardy with its schedule as always.
I try to like Supernatural, and I want to see the dvds to make sure it's not a whole 'nother show elsewhere, because there were some mighty ad breaks and perhaps my grizzles about lack of plot, characterisation, arc, mythology, etc are dealt with in the cut bits. I love the boys, I do, well, Dean more than Sam, but, as much as I'd recoil in horror if it turned into the morass of soap and mythology that Buffy and The X Files did, I think that, by now, the show should be building up some sort of mythology, some sort of inner logic and character arc.
This constant hitting of the reset button at the end of every episode makes the characters look shallow and stupid. Well, not stupid, but somewhat counter-intuitive. I still don't have an idea of what makes them tick, at least on a more nuanced level, aside from the parental issues. Nor do they appear to learn from week to week, which makes them less evolved than sim characters, which ain't a good thing. I don't want the show to bog itself down in detail, but a little more attention to character would be very much appreciated. Dare I say it, I want something a little more sophisticated than just a spooky A-Team.
Last night. Did not get home until nerarly nine, due to evil overlords and wet, howling, brass monkey weather that kept all the bus drivers tucked up in bed, delicate little petals that they are. Certainly three out of the four buses I waited for never showed, and my buses don't run regular, so it was a long, cold, miserable wait (had I known the promised buses as writ in the timetable weren't going to show, I'd have waited in Maccas or caught a taxi, but no, I hung on there, in the rain, repeating my mantra of "any minute now").
I did, however, treat myself to the aforemention Doctor Who disk with all the extras, and devoured it until just past midnight. I loved The Girl in The Fireplace. The white knight bit at the end was super cheese, and not entirely convincing, but other than that, I just loved it. What a sad little romance (I even almost forgive them the mind meld), what absolutely scary monsters, what frabulous sets and costumes, and as for the scene where the Doc wanders in looking somewhat dishevelled and singing "I could of danced all night", well, it was to die for.
There was a great discussion over on the LOM board over what should be pure cheese but actually really works on the show, and it was kind of like that with DW. The horse was a bit too far for me, but the idea that the Doc falls in love could have been the worst out and out Mary Sue ever, but, for me, it worked, and Madame de Pompadour managed to rise above her Mary Suedom to become just the sort of gal the Doc would fall for, and some nice pouting from Rose, btw. The heartbreak at the end really sold it for me, plus the singing, the dancing, the hints at more deep dark secrets and the Doc just being daft and smitten.
I was also bemused because all the sets and costumes kept reminding me of old Russell Mulchaey videos (or old Sandman books). Don't know why but it all really did. Well, he did a lot of grand ballrooms, doll houses, big frocks and white horses, so I guess it's just the same sort of imagery.
Some great lines, too, and the commentary was a hoot. Loved it. Just loved it. It had its flwas, but overall, Grade A Who and everything I could ever ask for.
Btw, from Wiki: It is rumored she carries a "Doctor Who" doll in her handbag.
That's cute and creepy at the same time, that is. I'm going to The Master place, right here, right now.
Fic wise, sadly no much action, though I was reading an article about Roger Rogerson the other day, which sould worry most of you (Cf Blue Murder).
TC was talking about LOM, though, having just watched episode 7 again. She thought poor Sam looked really tired and at the end of his tether. I thought Annie should have kept Sam twisting on a hook for at least 24 hours before she gave in to his pleading and forgave him, because he really was being a prick (as I was saying over on the Railway Arms, Sam is as ruthless as his Evil Dad at times). Then we wandered on to episode six, and I was remarking that, according to reports from those who have their dvds (grrr), ep 6 was the last written and filmed. I bet it was done short notice, hence the much less polished feel, because they had to can an episiode because they ran out of budget. I mean, it is a bottle episode, afterall. I don't mind it. I like it just fine. It's episode 8 I can't stand, brilliant lines, slashiness and angst notwithstanding. I just found the ending a little, well, a bit of a cop out.
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