Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Apologies for the lack of postage here in the last few weeks - I have been flat out at work, organising a big corporate conference hoo-har do which went off fairly well last week, and I then took a well-deserved break for a few days, and visited my big sis in Christchurch. Had a brilliant time - managed to survive a few ordeals and pack lots of stuff into the 4 days, like:

- almost not getting to Christchurch at all. I had to catch a bus to Canberra city centre, then change to a bus to Sydney, and catch a train from Sydney central to the airport. Somehow I got my timing mixed up, and arrived in Canberra city with 2 minutes to spare... raced over to where the Sydney bus was departing from (lugging my Very Heavy Bag with 6 bottles of WA wine for my sister) and almost cried when they said the bus had just left. I had a brief flash of hope when they said I might catch it turning out on to the main street...and sure enough, when I raced out onto the street, it was coming around the corner, to stop at a red set of lights. I dashed breathlessly across two lanes of traffic and banged on the door, and the HEARTLESS BASTARD bus driver ignored my desperately pleading expression, and just shook his head at me. Fortunately there was another bus a couple of hours later, and I still managed to get to the airport on time, though I cut it very fine!

- the Pacific Blue flight to Christchurch. I know these guys are a 'no frills' airline, but honestly, you couldn't get any more laid back than they were - it was like being on a school bus heading to camp. The head flight attendant told a joke while we were waiting for the final passenger to board, introduced the attendants as 'Candy, Mandy and Randy' and told us that while there were a few toilets on board the plane, if we were going to do 'a twosie', he'd prefer we used the toilet down the back. The flight was rounded off by a competition between the two sides of the plane, who had to pass a roll of toilet paper to the back of the plane without breaking it. I'm sure I wasn't the only one cringing.

- driving to Arthur's pass in the Southern Alps and passing a location from LOTR on the way (Castle Hill - I think it was at the end of the first movie - where there is a fight with the orcs among the rocks and Boromir dies).

- hiking up a volcanic hill that separates Lyttleton (Christchurch's port) from Christchurch. The Bridle Path was used many years ago by settlers to get in to Christchurch - they had to climb all the way up the hill with all their belongings on their back, probably with kids in tow. I don't know how they did it - I almost had a heart attack getting to the top - God, it was so steep, and I am so unfit! (My legs are still sore). We did get a spectacular 360 degree view of Christchurch, the coastline and Lyttleton at the top of the hill, at least.

- seeing Dido in concert - was good but not fantastic - I guess her style/songs are not really suited to a big concert. And she tried to 'dancify' some of them, including my favourite 'Take My Hand' - which was just wrong.

- jetboating and doing a horseback trek in Hanmer Springs - a cute alpine town about 1.5 hours north of Christchurch.

- finding a clothing label called 'Amie' in a NZ department store!! I couldn't resist buying a few t-shirts and a pair of jeans - to be worn on big nights out when I might forget my name ;)

Big thanks to Beth for being a great host and showing me all the wonderful sights, and driving me all around the country. From the little that I saw of NZ, it is spectacularly beautiful, with the mountains and the coast never more than an hour or two's drive away. And it's all so lush and green! Kiwis are very friendly types, too - you cannot go into a store without someone having a long chat to you. It's almost enough to outweigh the ridiculous kiwi accent ;)

Stay tooned for some pics!

Friday, November 05, 2004

So tired of waking up tired...

A cute, cuddly cat sleeps on your bed every night and is an excellent foot-warmer.

Not so good
Said cat has a sleep cycle of approximately 5 hours, and wakes you up every morning at 4am wanting to go outside.

Really freaking annoying
It is raining when you let said cat outside at 4am, and approximately half an hour later, when you have just drifted back to sleep, you are rudely awakened by piteous meowing outside your window, as cat has decided he wants to be back INSIDE.

After you have dragged yourself out of your warm bed to let said cat back inside because of fear that piteous meowing may wake flatmates, you are tempted to throttle not-so-cute-and-cuddly-anymore cat, who is now burning off energy by tearing around your room, knocking bottles of perfume off your dresser and attacking your feet.

Methinks he might be sleeping outside tonight.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Jesus. I didn't seriously think that bloody George W would be re-elected - how could the US really want this moron to be running their country, and holding more power than any other individual in the world? Very depressing, and scary - both the fact that he's back in, and that the US has APPROVED him and the 'achievements' of his previous term as President.

It's interesting to look at the exit polls from the US election - I guess they show pretty much what you would expect - that a large majority of:
- white people
- males
- people who earn more than $50,000
- Protestants and Catholics
- gun owners
- people who served in the military
voted for George W. And unsurprisingly, 88% of African-Americans, and 77% of gays/lesbians/bisexuals voted for Kerry.

Some other interesting stats from the exit polls:
- 60% of the voters in big cities voted for Kerry, vs 59% of the rural voters backing Bush
- 41% of those polled have a gun owner in their household
- 54% think America is safer from terrorism than it was 4 years ago
- and 55% think that Iraq war is part of the war against terrorism (huh??!? how??!)

There are some interesting views here on why Howard and Bush both increased their popular vote. This one rings particularly true to me:

Modern Western society is about individualism and individual gain, anything that challenges our ability to do that must be crushed. Stemming from this drive is a lack of compassion and willingness to compromise for those values are now considered weak. Given the recent decline in generally accepted morals and ethics people branch out to find them again, and the far right provides the most obvious answers that suit our quest for personal gain.

Bush and Howard embody those quests and they provide the quick, cheap, and easy solutions but accomodating the simplistic answers of the far right and neo-conservative thinking.

We will learn the cost sooner of later, and our children will pick up this mess...

Paul Twomey

Monday, November 01, 2004

Saturday Night at the Movies... (and Friday night, and Sunday night)

The Canberra International Film Festival started this weekend at Electric Shadows (the only 'alternative' cinema in Canberra). I've already watched 3 movies there - hey, there's not much to do in Canberra on a weekend ;) I love watching foreign films, mostly for the same reason that I really want to travel more, and enjoy reading other blogs - it's an opportunity to peer into a different world, and to get a taste of a life completely different to my little ol' boring one.

So, the movies I saw, in brief:

Ae Fond Kiss (Scotland)

I thought this one was cute, but nothing special - it kind of meandered around without any real purpose. It was a Romeo and Juliet-type story - set in Glasgow, a Pakistani boy falls in love with an Irish Catholic teacher. Boy is set to have an arranged marriage to his cousin, and knows his family won't be happy that he is involved with a non-Paki. Relationship problems ensue, between boy + family and boy + girl. Girl can't understand why boy won't stand up to his family.

I didn't really understand why boy wouldn't stand up to his family, either. Maybe because I can't imagine letting my family dictate the nationality or religion of the person I want to be with. But then again, I can't imagine losing my family because of my decision of who to date.

I never really got fully involved in the movie - the characters didn't seem to have much depth, and the relationship between Roisin and Casim was never really developed or explored. There were a few light and funny moments, though - overall, it was an easy movie to watch. I'd give it 3/5.

Garden State (USA)

I love it when I catch myself grinning goofily during a movie. I did that quite a lot while watching Garden State. It was written and directed by the lead actor - Zach Braff, who you may know better as J.D. from Scrubs. And he was just awesome in it! He played an emotionally numb mid-twenties small time actor, living in LA. He gets a phone call from his father, who he hasn't seen in years, telling him that his mother has died, and returns to his hometown for the funeral, bumping into guys he used to hang out with, and meeting a quirky and vivacious girl (Natalie Portman) who brings him to life.

Gorgeous, quirky and moving. Gets 4.5/5.

The Bottom of the Sea (Argentina)

This one is supposed to be a thriller, and starts off well, but loses its way about half way through. It's about Ezequiel (who is very handsome in a dark, brooding way), who has a beautiful girlfriend, Ana, who he is completely obsessed with - he can think of nothing but her, every minute of the day. He comes home one day and finds that she has slept with another man, and decides to follow her lover. He does this for a good portion of the film before eventual confrontation.

The Bottom of the Sea was a bit slow-paced, and I wasn't very satisfied with the ending. You can't help but sympathise with poor Ezequiel, though - my heart went out to him. And you can't help but hate Ana's new lover, who is the antithesis of Ezequiel.

3.5/5 for this one.

Tonight, I'm off to see 20:30:40. I think I may be all cultured-out by the end of the week...