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Sunday, June 27, 2010

goodbye, Gilmore Girls

May contain spoilers.

Last year, my flatmate bought all seven seasons of Gilmore Girls - which I had never seen before - and we started watching them together - a few episodes here and there, only when we were both around, and not busy. It took us till tonight to finish them off.

I feel a little emotional about finishing the series because it's just such excellent TV, and it's got me through the most difficult moments of the last nine months and of the MA. Gilmore Girls makes everything happier. I love Lorelai and Rory. I love Kirk, I love Michel, I love Paris, I love Richard and Emily, I love Luke, I love Luke and Lorelai (and I am so happy they got back together at the end of the series, because end of the series means happily ever after) ... and I could just go on and on.

I won't lie - there were moments I hated, like when Lorelai and Rory weren't speaking for a while, or when Lorelai and Luke broke up for the first time - but nevertheless I watched glued to the screen and thank goodness! the universe realigned eventually.

Goodbye, Gilmore Girls. I will watch you again, but I will know what happens and it won't be the same. Nevertheless, you will remain a delight.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

academic masochism?

I've been rewriting a couple of chapters of my thesis. It's basically the most painful thing ever; I feel like I am living in a bubble of hot scalding pain.

All the same, I re-read my latest draft of the first of them today, with its more incisive analysis and wicked conclusion, and feel like it was all worth it. Hooray for some kind of pay-off!

Now... to work on finishing the second...


Monday, June 21, 2010

my father and his brush with the law

My dad is a decent law-abiding citizen who loves his grandchildren. In fact, he spends a sizable portion of his time thinking of fun, creative things to send to the grandkids that live in other cities/countries. He writes little books with cartoon illustrations which are seriously funny; sends them clippings from papers that he thinks they will like; they send him things in return. One of my nephews recently sent him a drawing of himself fighting 'the bad guys' with his friends from school. "Is that all you got?" the speech bubbles read. "Bring it on!"

My oldest niece recently turned thirteen, and in preparation for this, Dad decided to do something clever and suspenseful that she would enjoy. He cut out four letters of the alphabet - T E E N - and packaged each letter into a different envelope, sending them out at different dates so they would arrive progressively leading up to her special day. He typed out her name and address and stuck it onto the front - let's call her Miss Namey Name Nameson, 111 Name Street, Name City - and left no clue of the sender on the back, only writing 'Mr T', 'Mr E', 'Mr E' and 'Mr N' so he can tell which envelope has the next letter in it. "Ha ha ha!" he chortled, showing them to me before he sent them.

Name City, a few days later. My sister - let's call her Worried Mum - is shown what she had received in the mail by a confused Namey. Worried Mum's eyes widen. "Namey, you show me if you get something like that again!"

Another letter comes. And another. Worried Mum spends half an hour pulling apart the paper to see if she can find any clues as to who it is. Then she calls New Zealand Post. "Is there any way we can find out where it comes from by the postmark?"

Finally, Worried Mum, so worried by the creepy man who knows her daughter's full name and address and is sending her enigmatic messages, calls the police. It concerns them, so much so that they come round and Namey has to give a statement. "Can you think of anyone who might be stalking you?"

The last letter arrives. Worried Mum catches sight of one word written on the back of the envelope - that's Dad's writing!

All is cleared up, with much hilarity among the family. The final touch remains: Namey gets a call from Victim Support, to whom she has to explain that it was her grandfather all along.

Friday, June 18, 2010

princesses and dragons and dusters

This Tuesday, Niece-Aged-3 and Niece-Aged-2 and I spent about an hour at the playground at the Botanical Gardens in the late afternoon. Running running running around the castle-style wall. Being princesses or friendly dragons.

Niece-Aged-3 ran out one door, eyes shining. "We're cleaning and dusting and getting ready to be married!!" she cried.

Let me assure you: this child has a modern woman for a mother. She has a modern man for a father. As her Tuesday childcare provider, I do not try and fashion her into the perfect 1950s housewife. She just says hilarious things.

A few weeks ago, she told me this story. [She doesn't have a clue who Hannah Montana is but obviously heard the name somewhere.]

Hannah Montana was playing on the road with her friends, and a car came along and squashed her. She shouldn't have been playing on the road. But her friends came, and they took her to Jesus. Jesus touched her, and she wasn't squashed anymore! She was all round and oozy. And everyone lived happily ever after.

Monday, June 14, 2010

my current project

I am knitting a blanket. Because it's coooooooooooooold. Last night we walked to church at 6.30pm and the paths were already frozen over. I slept in four layers of clothes, with three blankets on my bed, and was still cold when I woke up.

Luckily in about a month's time, I will have another blanket made of multi-coloured squares to keep me warm!!

I will probably need about forty squares; I have knitted about nine already, and my fingers are getting faster and furiouser. It is such a fantastic way to chill out because you can just sit down, go "blaaaah", let your mind wander, and give your restlessness an outlet through your fingers, or you can knit in front of the TV and feel virtuous/productive, et cetera.

Friday, June 11, 2010

in our own hands

Last year, when I was working in the British Library, going through many many old newspapers, I wandered down to one of their display galleries of written treasures during my lunch break. It was chock-full of amazing, significant and beautiful works of the written word from history - especially British history but also documents from all over the world. As I came to the final displays, I saw Handel's Messiah, original scribbled Beatles lyrics, Charlotte Bronte, and ...

Jane Austen. Her writing desk, with the original Persuasion and some of her juvenilia, in her own hand.

I just about burst into tears. There's something about seeing something in someone's own hand. It gives them reality in a way that seeing a painting or photo of them will never give. It proves they existed. It excites me. And of course the fact that it was Jane Austen made it even more moving.

Last night at our Bible study we read the last chapter of 1 Corinthians, in which Paul wrote, "I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand." This excited me.

Today, I went and got out my two shoeboxes full of snail mail which I've kept from the last decade or so, and read through them. That excited me.

And I wonder, in this digital age, when we have so many more opportunities for spreading the written word than ever before, are we nevertheless losing something? J. K. Rowling likes to write in her own hand, I know, and just imagine how valuable those papers will be one day. But she's an oddity among authors. I think it will be a sad day when the original copy of all our great works of the written word will be ... a print-out.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Someone donated us a big bag of cooking apples. What was I to do but make apple crumble? Time for procrastibaking!!

I've never actually made it before and I kind of made up my own version of it.

About 500 grams of apples, peeled and sliced. 40 grams of sugar, a couple of tablespoons of water. Cooked on low in a saucepan for about ten minutes.

Then tossed into a baking dish and covered with a crumble of my own devising, containing roughly 70g rolled oats, 50g brown sugar, a few tablespoons of flour, some slivered almonds, and about 60g melted butter.
Then into the oven for about 25 minutes at 200 degrees celsius.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

go shortie, it's your birthday

New Zealand has its very own soap which has been on air for 18 years now - Shortland Street. It's the sort of show that hooks you if you get into it, but you just know you Must Not, because it's so ridiculously bad. (Having said that, I do kind of approve of the fact that there is SOMETHING reliable for New Zealand actors to get a job in. And I feel a kind of affection for the embarrassment that is Shortland Street.)

Recently one of the women's mags, New Idea, ran a feature on Shortland Street and its eighteen years of weddings, babies, and end-of-year cliffhangers. I thought this was absolutely and accidentally hilarious and wanted to share some with you.

Mihi walked in on her (then married) mother Te Hana kissing Geoff. Nick declared his love for Waverley and asked her to come to the UK with him. And Barb’s Christmas party turned to tragedy when Marshall’s illegal drug lab exploded. In another storyline, could Chris save Rachel from Jack, the disappointed suitor who had kidnapped her?
Another storyline? Did I miss the way the first three sentences melded together into tight, seamless plot?

The 2009 marriage of Gerald and Morgan was a surprise in more than one way. Not only was Gerald asexual and Morgan pregnant with triplets for another couple, the unlikely duo got married at the wedding rehearsal with only Chris and Libby as witnesses.
Such a shame the marriage didn't last.

A cliffhanger in every sense, 2000’s finale saw evil Eamon begging for his life as he dangled from a cliff. Would his rape victim Kate pull him up?
I really really hope they always referred to Evil Eamon as Evil Eamon.

After six months of murder and mayhem, Ferndale’s serial killer was finally revealed as likeable nurse Joey. Would Tania be going the same way as Claire, Meg, Jay, Beth and Brenda after Joey cornered her with an IV line?
.... to strangle her with???

The staff decided to take their Christmas party to the beach. Tania continued to struggle with self-doubt and her mistrust of Mark, while a volleyball game between Craig and TK turned personal as they battled for Sarah’s affections.
Some choose swords, some choose duelling pistols... Craig and TK choose a volleyball.

Alison Raynor and Chris Warner planned to marry in 1993. On the eve of the big day Darryl Nielson drugged Chris and locked him in a barn. A devastated Alison left the country.
In a BARN?!

Judy Brownlee found love with Max Henley. They were blissfully happy until they found out Max had a brain tumour. They married at his hospital bed, and Max died moments later.
Literally, moments.

When mad Jack Hewitt was dumped by Rachel McKenna, he kidnapped her and forced her to wear a wedding dress – taking part in a mock ceremony. Chris Warner arrived in the nick of time, and Jack threw himself in front of a car.
I could write a ballad about this and warble it loudly beside a billabong while playing a banjo.

The 2010 marriage of Sophie McKay and Kieran Mitchell was controversial in more ways than one. Not only was the bride only 18, but Kieran had killed Morgan and was framing Rachel McKenna.
We've got Evil Eamon and Mad Jack Hewitt - how about Cunning Kieran?

Waverley Wilson and bad boy Fergus Kearney were an unlikely couple, but they made it to the altar in 2001. Before they could exchange vows the police busted in – and Fergus fled!
I love it how the police can be depended on to bust in at the most inappropriate moments.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

call for editors


Come one, come all, to our latest issue of Halfway Down the Stairs, which is, as we all know, the best literary e-zine ever. This was our first attempt at doing an issue with only three months to prepare, and I think we chose to do this at a really good time, since we have another issue packed full of material, even though we were open for submissions over a much shorter period. Our next issue will be "Beginnings and Ends", in September 2010, and we welcome your submissions.

This issue was a sad one for us, because it was our senior poetry editor Francesca Leung's final issue. Francesca has been on the HDtS staff right from the start and we are all very good friends by now, so it's very, very sad to see her go.

Because of Francesca's departure we are now looking for two new poetry editors. If you like writing poetry or think you would be a good selector of poetry for the e-zine, check out the information included in my editor's note in this issue.

But back to this issue, "The Outsider": Of the fiction selections, I would recommend especially "Man of the World", by Barry Jay Kaplan, and "This Trio, Fatal and Valuable", by Teri Carter. I also really loved "Contract for a Slice of Uruguay", by Jack Frey, but it's the sort of story you will either love or hate.

I am not a poet, and distrust my own poetic inclinations, but I loved "Real Gods", by Jari Thymian, and "Origami", by Chloe N. Clark.