So, after that Wednesday's complete and utter debacle I set out for Melbourne on a dark and stormy night. Well, it was my usual getting up time, but it passes for night for everyone else. Off to the airport, selected for random screening again (and telling myself to stop scowling at that time in the morning is harder than it sounds) and up through the clouds and away from grim, dripping Sydney and onwards to sunny, wonderful Melbourne. So sunny and wonderful my first port of call as I tumbled off the tram (trams!) was Target, which, coincidentally (or not, since I knew what I was doing, for once) right in front of me. They're nice there, and didn't bat an eye as I wandered through, baggage in tow.
Chose two flouncy flowery tops and a plaid shirt (because I figured by the time I was getting on the plane to go home I'd be feeling Scottish, and yes, I was singled out for 'random' screening again).
A mere one block flounce through noodle alley and I'm at The Victoria, my hotel of choice. It's slightly less shabby as they've done up the foyer, but I had my usual room (much more of this and it's going to require a plaque) that always reminds me of an agricultural college dorm room, but it's cheap and it'll do and the location cannot be beaten. And, just to chasten my earlier asides to the Peanut Gallery as I loaded illicit telly onto my Samsung (and you ought to see the thumbnail it picked for White Collar, oh, Matty!), it had a new telly in the room, with the new digital channels. Gosh and golly. I'm so used to going down to Melbourne and there being nothing but AFL, AFL and AFL that I always buy a book, byo or make plans.
This time I'd made plans. But before that, my grand day wandering Melbourne. Well, not really a wander as everything I want is right there, and I was expecting an urgent call from the bank telling me some maniac had a hold of my card as I found Koko Black, a chocolate shop the Peanut Gallery had subtly dropped into the conversation once or eight times as I was packing, which was across the road from Haigh's, which was next door to Basement Records, which was across the road from Minotaur, which was around the corner from T2. Yikes.
So, yes, picked up the posh chocs for Himself (lest I find the door locked and bolted upon my return), then found this wonderful record store, down a flight of red lino stairs into, indeed, a basement. It smelt like a real record shop, thanks to some racks of vinyl up against the back wall, as well as a proliferation of fanzines. It looked like a real record store, too, however, when I told the guy at the counter it smelt like a proper record store he just fled. He just didn't get it (also, I obviously give out creepy mad bomber vibes).
Ah well, I enjoyed the ambiance and I flicked and flicked and ended up with nothing but dead people. Either I'm cheap, creepy or my tastes are archaic or d) all of the above. Into the paper bag (love it!) went Elvis, Frank, Fred, a cd version of the Beat Girl soundtrack because I last saw a vinyl copy being waved around on the Antiques Roadshow for 100 pounds and I've been loathe to play it on el crappy the aging stylus ever since, and a Kirsty MacColl compilation. If you ever want to understand me, just go and play A New England.
Minotaur had been disappointing on my last few trips but I wandered in anyway as it is way cooler than anything we have locally, even though I was wondering what they might offer the person who wasn't interested in animated schoolgirl porn, when I rounded a shelf to discover The Sweeney! Rawhide! Sherlock Holmes! Clearly the person stocking that section of the shop knows my Amazon wishlist, and, putting Rowdy reluctantly back on the shelf (Minotaur is an apt name as they charge like a wounded bull and the overheads would make your nose bleed, in other words Amazon would be a third of the price, postage included) but I did pick up a book on The Sweeney for Himself (I was hoping to get a glimpse but no chance) and a box set of Basil Rathbones. No proper Tarzans, though, because I have an odd yen to see some old b/w Tarzans (I remember Tarzan being on when I was serious, just back from the hospital sick and it kind of got stuck in there, and it's never been on telly since, if it was even on telly then, I was way out of it).
A couple of comics later and it was off to T2 and dammit, they had some new cups in. I picked up a particularly womany cup that reminded me of the particularly girly cups they have on Bonanza, to our eternal amusement (oh, that wicked Maverick episode got it so right).
And that was it. No more money, no more hands. How exactly I was going to get all this loot stuffed back into my tiny suitcase, well, let's just say I'm a master of the art of suitcase tetris, and I got it all back, including the tea set, in one piece.
Then I had some time to kill so first I had my tarot read. I just saw a sign in a shop, wandered in, oh, look, one slot left, so I figured why not? And it was fun. I know they're reading me, and not the cards, but, man, she was wicked accurate, pinpointing my hopes, dreams and worries with a precision even I lack, so I was really impressed. She really got to the nut of several very nutty matters and gave some very good advice, some of which I've already put into action. Basically, work sucks but if I invest in my hobbies and excursions more, it'll be just irritating background noise to my real life. Yes. I think I want to make that happen. She also said keep up with the fic, before I even sat down, and I swear my notebook wasn't peeking out of my bag, so, like I said, for someone cold reading me, she was damn bloody good.
Then it was a hot chocolate and a quick peruse of the Samsung (new toy!) to see where the nearest cinema was and session times, and, yes, there was Thor, ready to go if I legged it (or caught a tram, did I mention how much I love trams?).
I wouldn't say I loved Thor but I bloody well enjoyed it, even though I was whimpering and telling myself that it was okay, I'd last seen the boys on stage, it was going to be like NT live, insufferable snob that I am, but once the film started I was with it. Ah, can it be, that slip of a lad who skipped onto the stage in Othello, now a scowling movie villain? In a very, very silly hat I might add (but not as silly as those of the royal wedding, where those two looked like pantomine step-sisters). I always knew he'd have made a better Iago.
So yes, Thor, very silly but also lots of fun, so well done Ken and crew. And you should have seen me splutter over The Guardian review. The guy should stick to Ken Loach films as he just didn't get Thor, The Avengers or Norse mythology, harumph. And I don't see what all the sniping about the actor being Australian has to do with anything aside from the obvious. Who else are you gonna get for a bar brawling braggart? I mean, really.
So, onto the Egyptians and their pantheon. Went to see the Tut exhibition that I eschewed in New York because I wanted to do New Yorky stuff, which is all fair and good, but the catalogue (which I refused to buy) did remind me somewhat sharply that over 80% of the exhibition never made it to these shores, but what are you gonna do.
Anyway, I deliberately chose the latest viewing they had to avoid brats, but wouldn't you know it, some freaks brought along their tired and bored brats who whined loudly the whole way through and I tell ya, I was seriously eyeing off one of the ceremonial spears and wondering whether it'd be worth the trouble for the satisfaction of breaking the glass and piking the little bastard. Somehow I restrained myself, but it was really touch and go there for a while.
I was in a bad mood because the timed tickets meant herding us through a series of pens, pen after pen, and yes, we all started making sheep noises. It really was quite horrid and demeaning and it took all the shine off the baubles, which was a pretty impressive feat, as the baubles were shiny.
So yeah, there were only a few pieces to admire, but they were prettty admirable, some I'd seen in books, so that was a treat, as I always enjoy seeing something in front of me that I'd only ever known via a book, and they were in such good nick, some of them, I swear I was looking at a replica, though the labels were disingenuous to that regard (and I hate labels that lie - if I want to see a cheap prop I'll go to Hollywood, thank you very much). What did strike me was how the spindly legged tables reminded me more of Georgian furniture than the more obvious art deco I might have been expecting. Nope, weirdly, it looked all very Georgian to me.
Like I said, there was some really nice stuff there, too nice, in fact. I've discovered I must be a bit of a snob and I like my artefacts a bit dirty, like a free range egg, to give it that air of authenticity, even if the dirt is fake. What can I say, the baubles were too shiny, too as new, even though that was the whole point of the discovery, I just couldn't get my head around it. It was also weird to see things much bigger or smaller than I'd imagined, having only seen them in books. Don't you just get disappointed when you finally see something for real, and it's teeny weeny, like the Mona Lisa? Model shown not actual size. Sigh.
So yes, some amazing stuff, really artistic, even if a lot of it seemed hastily second hand, like the high priest went down to Akbar's crazy bargain prices emporium, filled up a shopping trolley and knocked off for the afternoon, funerary arrangements ticked off. It just didn't grab me, the way I thought it would. A bit of a disapointmnt that, as I used to devour books on the find as a kid so much I had no real need to read the caption cards. Which as just as well as it was so crowded I could barely get near anything to see up close, the whole point of the exercise, and often times had to walk on by or settle for the back of the exhibition case if I wanted to see any of the detail at all.
To be honest, I had more fun at Reading where they just had a couple of shelves full of bits and bobs but I had them all to myself and I could peer to my heart's content. Also, the Reading ones were of rougher quality, and so they seemed more real, more used, more a part of someone's life, or death, than Tut's too perfect and second hand treasure trove. Give me the treasured if humble relics of a beloved ordinary human being (as opposed to living god) any day.
The whole Tut thing was just too Hollywood for my tastes, but then, I suppose the whole thing was, really, from the brush with monotheism (and my, hasn't that social experiment turned out a treat, she says, sarcastically) to the whole curse thing. Far too stagey for my tastes, the lot of it. Ah, well.
Afterwards, staggering off the tram (my feet were throbbing from all that enforced shuffling) the only place still open was a too trendy but mostly deserted tapas bar (more of a Sydney thing, it seems) and the only thing they still had going was a bean salad. Himself rolled his eyes when I related this sorry tale because he is at least cognisant of my life long aversion to string beans. Nevertheless needs must, so I soldiered on, with a very indifferent rose, and toddled across the road to the hotel.
The other meals I had in Melbourne were truly fine, from the crispy skin chicken and tomato rice with the house chardy at a noodle shop on Lonsdale, which was an indulgence, but they beckoned me in and my fave was on the menu and I've not indulged for nearly two years so I figured why not? Alas, there was a lot of why not? down in Melbourne, as my shirt buttons will attest to, which is a shame because I was so pleased that an old shirt was fitting so well last Wed. Sigh. I should have walked back from the park instead of catching a tram (and why are the parks so much further out than I remember? I must be getting old), but I was running on time, and had no wish to be late, at that point.
My favourite place to dine while in Melbourne is Gordon's, a little laneway cafe that is never as crowded as its neighbours but the staff are nice and the food is more than satisfactory as far as I'm concerned. I enjoyed a very lovely house white with a thai chicken salad, which wasn't very thai but didn't stint on the chicken, either (unlike the 'beef' salad at the gallery). They did me fine with some fruit toast and tea the next morning, too.
So, home time, alas. Virgin Blue happily told us that'd we'd have free telly for the trip so we could all watch the royal wedding. Well, all except muggins in 11F whose telly went kaput just as the bride drove up to the door. Not that I should care, but everyone else was watching it and I guess it was history in the making and the silly hats provided a great deal of amusement and while the avowed republica across the aisle offered me his seat, I just couldn't take it, being of republican stock as I am. It was just the missing out part that got to me, and they've done studies, it bites.
Home in time for the late repeat of Chuck and a cup of tea.
Then? Doctor Who, again, for the few who hadn't already been fored to grab it due to the dreadful spoilers online, and it seemed funnier this time around. Yes, still disjointed, but it had laugh out loud moments and teary moments, mostly from the wonderful River (and I have completely reapprised my forner opinion of Ms Kingston), from her setting the Tardis to rights to her dread of the day the Doctor won't know her.
I also loved the line about 'You're making that face where you think I'm hot because I'm clever', 'This is my normal face', 'I know'.
Too funny, and sadly just the sort of flirty banter we never get in White Collar, which is too bad, but there you go. Too silly, too. Bad enough they had to play the kidnapped diplomat's son trope but a ruby making machine? Really? That way lies naughty men in silvery space suits and giant ants roaming the Welsh countryside, I'm warning you now (and Torchwood were really asleep on the job re the giant ants, weren't they). Not even sweaty, singleted Matty excused that scene, well, not entirely.
And the Lando ep? Still not convinced, possibly due to the crap acting (and, sadly, not just the guest stars), though it was nice to see Neal and Peter on the same page, sorta, kinda, for a bit, and also Neal being a bit of a bad boy (black is his colour) but as for the possible thoughts (could be that straightness, might lead to greatness) stirring at Neal's soul? Not really buying it. It's that problem I mentioned before, about Neal keeping everything locked down.
Well and good, we don't need man tears daily, but it does mean that insights into Neal's inner life are denied to us, the audience, which means it's hard to care or take seriously any signs of deep thoughts the dear boy might be having. The easy way Neal apparently shrugs off any hint of internal turmoil makes him seem shallow, and and any problems he might have, equally shallow. I know more about the Doctor's likes and dislikes and motives and modus operandi and he's meant to be far more mysterious than Neal. I'm just saying, you can play it a little too cool and international man of mystery. Even James Bond dropped his guard, from time to time.
And also, while Matt sounds perfectly fine and wonderful when he croons in NTSC, there's something about his voice that just doesn't survive the PAL process (insert Bond quip about strangled cats here). Not Matt's fault at all but the end result is still painful. Oh well. I shouldn't say anything, but yikes. And yet I'm heard him on Youtube and he's fine. Don't know what happened there. Maybe it's just that my ears had finally popped, having been blocked since Feb and everything still sounds a bit weird.
The episode was enlived by the Diana scene. Too funny, but really, Diana, you should know by now that Neal likes it like that, so it's not really going to disaude him, being all Mrs Gale on his arse. Such a pretty arse, too.
And on an entirely unrelated topic, ahem, I was thrilled and annoyed to see young Matt astride the bike. Thrilled because, well, damn, but annoyed because for over a year now I've been resisting the urge to put Neal on a bike because it would be such a tacky rebel cliche thing to do. Ah, well. Unimaginative? Yes. Hot? Oh, yes.
What's Neal rebelling against? What have you got? And helmet hair? As if. Neal? Road rules? Please. The problem is, being that it's dear old White Collar putting Neal on a bike, you just know it's gonna be less Marlon Brando and more Annette Funicello. Sigh.
My grandfather had an Indian, but that is neither here nor there (and yes, he was dodgy, but Arthur Daley dodgy rather than Neal dodgy).
Still, they've been hitting a lot of stuff in the fic lately (rewrites, rewrites, I'll never be done with all these rewrites) from Neal's daddy issues (quelle surprise) to his jaunts around Europe. Shrug. Don't know whether to be pleased or alarmed, to be honest, that I keep hitting the same points. Too much Remington Steele as a lass, I can only assume.
Monday found me out at the branch office. A slightly more productive day, despite its inauspicious start, I was backing up my XHD as I had to take it in, networks not speaking to each other blah blah blah but the XHD also has a lot of my stuff on it now, and I fell asleep while it was ticking away so I only just managed to squeak in before the 9.30am bell, as it were (and there's just something about the branch office that sends me straight back to school, quite possibly the same bus stop, same bus, etc).
Ran around like a blue arsed fly until the windows turned black and then I decided, since I'd been invited to a life drawing group that was only two blocks and twenty minutes away and so I figured why not? The cards said I should get out more (she even got that I inherited my anti-social behaviour from my weird and creepy parents) so this was me, getting out. Picked up a sketch book and pencils from the newsagent, wolfed down some sushi (the nearby sushi train is the best I've sampled in Sydney) and trotted along.
Now it was a terrible wank because I can't manage even a stick figure to save my life, but since when does skill count for anything these days and we gathered with easels in a small room at the top of some windy stairs in an old, vaguely Georgian bank, in a little room where the lights had gone out so we had lamps and a model draped over red cushions in the soft, shadowy yellow light and it was everything I thought it could be.
Feeling like an eejit compared to everyone else who'd all been to art school, I gave up on the easel and just sat in an old office chair and scratched away at my wobbly stick figures and while I have no talent for this, it was fun, and it was a group, not a class, so it wasn't so competitive or results orientated and it was just nice and relaxing and I did enjoy myself and felt my soul breathe again and I actually slept last night. Not well, but I did sleep.
And yeah, I missed Supernatural, but it was worth it. I'll never be an artist, but the cards said I should do something creative so the poisonous vibes at work become just background noise, and, you know what? Those silly litte cards were right.
And if nothing else, I've at least had a chance to observe some artists up close and in their natural habitat, which might be of use should Neal ever tire of chasing after nazis/men in silver space suits/the Loch Ness monster and hit the easel again. Well, it's just a thought (and man, he is the least messy painter ever, not a drop or splotch on the boy - he's either very forensically aware, which I grant, or scotch guarded at birth).
Anyway, enough, this smoke and sirens is making me think an evac is on the cards. Laters.
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