Wednesday, December 27, 2006

On Travel...

First off, I was not in this: 7 in Head On Collision despite being in that region of highway at the operative time. ReptonInfinity and I got to the queue of stalled cars, watched three police cars, two fire engines and a pair of ambulances go by and decided to take the alternate route, which was to go back to Waikanae and head off into the wilds of New Zealand mountains on the Akatarawa Rd. This is extremely narrow and twisty and long, and on the course of the drive Repton came to tell me the story of his one time in detention as a worked example of why taking the route that is longer may be more time consuming but also more interesting. From the timestamp on this article, however, (only quarter of an hour before we got home) in which they still hadn't cleared a lane for traffic, I think we made the right choice. Actually, it wasn't too bad a drive, we were early adopters of the alternate route so proceeded as Mother Ducks to a very long queue of cars.

My best wishes to the people in the car crash and their families. As flippant as my above post is, I know that this is a very difficult time for you.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I'm Back

Hi all,

This is just to say that I've arrived safely. There's not much to say about the flights home apart from: they were long. At Bangkok, I could have seized the opportunity to see a strange, exciting and vibrant city, but instead concluded that I was fed up with crowds and hung around the airport for 14 hours. The people who did go said that they had a really interesting time, although they were rather confused when the taxi driver led them up a narrow stair, past a large number of men staring at them, and presented them with a tailor who said he could make fitted clothes for them and deliver them to the airport before they flew out.

I'm a new fan of homeopathic jetlag pills. I'm feeling astonishingly good, compared to other long haul flights of my experience, a little bit spacy right now, but not as bad as a cold, and I could work or sit an exam if I had to. ReptonInfinity came to the airport to meet me off the plane, and showed a gentlemanly enthusiasm for helping me stay awake yesterday evening, as well as taking me out for a long walk in the sun this morning. Have I mentioned lately what a lovely guy John is?

Monday, December 18, 2006

By the Way...

I should have mentioned this before, but Mark, one of our lecturers has been posting photos in his blog, if anyone is interested. I have photos, but I won't be putting them up until I get home.

Reporting In, Again

Hi all,

I've been offline for the last four or five days (I forget exactly), so this is just to say that I'm still alive and all. We've been doing large amounts on the Pelopponessos, combined with study for the course test, which had us all thoroughly terrified. On Friday, the evening before, we were so worried that we started writing summary sheets on the sites we'd presented and taping them to our doors, sort of like a modern day Wall of Eponymous Heroes. When Mark and Diana (the lecturers) got back from dinner, they realised what we were doing, said "Look at our babies!" and wrote up short sheets of their own. Yesterday evening immediately after the test, it took me an hour and a half to stop bouncing, I was so happy it was over. Alasdair and I even found somewhere to throw a frisbee around (actually quite hard over here), in the central court of the hotel we were staying at. The name of the hotel is Amallia, but you need to have some passing knowledge of the Bronze Age in the Aegean to know why the fact that it has a central court is funny.

The worst travel day was when we drove from Sparta to Pylos to Bassae to Olympia, all in one day, over terrible terrible roads. There were not a few places on the route where the road had four or five switchbacks, just to get up the hill. The front of the bus was rather more full than usual, as everyone with a tendency to carsickness got chummy with Mark and Diana who had the front seats. Olympia was wonderful, although the lovely, beautiful, clean, exquisite air was bone dry and it hurt to breathe, so I was fairly glum and uncommunicative that day, which is a shame. (Stupid asthma.) There I saw what is now my absolute favourite statue, the one of Hermes holding the baby Dionysos which is totally more fantastic in real life than in pictures, because you can pick out the details, and the three-dimensionality, and the lovely curve of Hermes' back. Just lovely. Delphi was also truly wonderful. There and Olympia were the ancient world's two favourite places to buy splosh pressents for, so there is a significant amount of Really Cool things to look at there.

Anyway, my love to all, I'll be back on the late afternoon of the 20th. Take care.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Still Alive...

Today we went to Epidauros (or Epidavros if you speak Modern vs Ancient Greek). This should be on everyone's must-see lists for Greece. The Theatre has the best acoustics I've ever heard in my life. One of the girls on this trip, Alissa, has a very beautiful singing voice, and was bullied into singing for us as we headed out into the far reaches of the audience seating. No change in volume, and just lovely sound quality. Also the two people presenting the site performed a short extract from the Aristophanes play Wealth, with cross dressing, a fake and very long penis, and lots of jokes about members of the audience. The other main site there is the Sanctuary to Aesclepius, which has a very different feel. Walking in, surrounded by pine trees, in a slightly damp morning, we could almost have been in NZ, although the sheep over the fence had long ears and tails, and there were bells on the minder dogs. I walked around in there by myself after we'd been let loose to wander about, and it's a very calming, tranquil place. There's a guy called Henry Miller who talked about hearing the heart of the world beating, in the great calm and stillness. I so totally get what he meant.

Take care all.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christ, O Thou Pelican

I just saw a Pelican!!! It was so cute and pink and fluffy and, and, and...

I'm currently in Sitia, which is quite small, about 9,000 people but has a nice waterfront. Not much to say apart from that this morning in Aghios Nicholaos (ie St Nicholas) was a public holiday to celebrate the Feast of St Nicholas. The other Steffany and I walked up to the town cathedral to see if we were in time for the procession (we weren't) but the people clustered outside were so friendly (they gave us bread tied with purple ribbons, even) that we asked if we could go inside, and lit candles for the people back at home. It was lovely inside, and I'm very glad I went.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Back in the land of Nod

Well, back in the land of cheap internet access. Against my expectation Kolimbari did in fact have some terminals available for hire, just quite expensive ones. Ah Freshness Cafe... you made a lot of money out of us. (We went there for food quite frequently as well.)

The trip is going well, particularly as we had a couple of days off in the last week in which I slept much and am feeling considerably happier about life, the universe and everything. Yesterday we went olive picking, which actually consists of hitting a tree with a big stick.

I am gutted that I couldn't make the finale Mordavia game. Ah, well, people can tell me all about it at the After Larp.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Going Off Line

Hi all,

Tomorrow the lot of us CLAS320/420ers are shifting to Kolibari for six days. It's on the western tip of Crete, and is quite small, so I doubt there'll be internet access. So this is to say to those who've been checking for regular updates that I'm just fine, and have not been hit by a tidal wave, or a rogue riot, or kidnapped by a wandering drunken centaur, or worse, a libidinous Greek deity.

This morning we wandered around a Minoan cemetery. The site presenter, Steffany, who is a goth, made a point of climbing into one of the Mycenean stone paved graves and did a zombie impersonation. Diana, our chief lecturer, says that we have an unnatural and disturbingly recurring interest in zombies and cannibalism.

Take care,


(See you on the flip side.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Not much to say ...

... except we've moved to Heraklion (on the tickets) or Iraklion (on the street signs). This place is so much nicer than Athens, you wouldn't believe it. The air tastes so good. I can walk around at night without rousting out someone to walk with me. (Not actually that difficult, the women in the group developed an unspoken agreement that we didn't have to go out by ourselves, because we found the solid clusters of young men standing around staring at us, combined with the almost compete lack of local women on the streets after five somewhat unnerving.) It's nice to go for a walk by myself again.

Today we went to Knossos, which was much coolness, particularly as one of the archaologists working on the site came out and gave us a very in depth tour of it.

I am feeling very homesick.

Take care all.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Rains Have Come

Yesterday night, a good solid soaking into dry ground. This wasn't a complete surprise to the locals, the weather had been overcast all day, and spitting a little, and it's the time of year when they expect rains. According to one of the books I read for my site presentation, the growing season for grain here is autumn and winter, when there's enough water to keep it alive, which is appropriate, as I gave my site presentation yesterday (on Eleusis, the site of a cult to Demeter, Goddess of Agriculture). It went pretty well, with one hasty rearrangement of material when we thought it might rain earlier in the day that turned out to be a false alarm, and I was feeling a little spaced out at the time due to the beginnings of a cold. I thought of John often, and fondly, becauce a random handkerchief he'd lent me some time ago had turned out to be in my jacket pocket just when I really really needed it. The site itself was fantastic, although I didn't have nearly enough time to look at it properly because we had to get on the bus for the next site. Who cares about stupid old graveyards, anyway. One of the things I almost missed was walking down a pathway along the excavations of one of the old retaining walls and realising the sheer amount of earth that was brought on to the site, so that they could have a bigger temple on severely sloping ground, because it was the sacred spot associated with Demeter.

Today is our last day in Athens, we fly to Crete at midday, and I'm finding it very relaxing not having a 9am (or 8am or 7.30am) morning call for once.

Take care all.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I'm Still Alive

(But don't have much time to post.)

Yesterday we went to the Island of Aigina, which fits, I think, most people's image of what Greece is like: hot sun, blue mellow sea, white houses and narrow streets. It was incredibly laidback, and there was a lot of fish, and many people selling pistachio nuts. The Best Bit was clambering around in a neolithic village on the Hill of the Colonna (Hill of the Column) which I enjoyed greatly until someone said "Hey, we might see snakes!" (We didn't.)

Today we see more museums. Take care all.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

There was a riot yesterday.

This is not as bad as it sounds.

Every year on November 17 there is a big protest march in memory of a bunch of students who were killed protesting the Junta way back in the 70s (?) (I can't remember the exact date.) It also tends to be protesting whatever it is that America has done lately to piss people off, in this case the Iraq War, as America was the main supporter of the Junta government. The early part of the march is quite civilised, and by evening the hooligan element descends into open battle. The gent holding down the desk at the hotel told Hamish that a certain part of it is simply young Greek men wanting to go out and cause a ruckus, and this is a legitimate excuse to do so.

We were careful, however. Yesterday was spent in the British School which has nice thick walls, although, unfortunately, the reason for this is because its right next to the American School in the Embassy district where all the trouble happens. Walking there, there were a few less people than usual, coming home at about 3 the streets were dead. That's right, the day of the riot is the one day of the year you can walk along the big 8 lane boulevards when they're empty of traffic. I think we went home through the eye of the storm, if it had been noisier we would have gone along back roads and that, but the opportunity to be in the middle of Athens when its quiet is too rare to be missed. There were police everywhere, in the quiet parts where I was mostly lounging around in clumps of about 10 chatting, snacking or fiddling with their cellphones. It wasn't all quiet though, we watched the news on TV that night, and the area around the American Embassy (and up north in Thessaloniki) was a huge roiling mass of people hitting each other with 2x4s that had started out as the poles for their flags. There was tear gas, and the huge black police buses we'd seen earlier probably came into good use. I'll just repeat however that I stayed well away from the trouble areas and was absolutely fine.

In other news, today we're going out to three sites on the Attic peninsula, Brauron, Thorikos (?) and Sounion. I'm really looking forward to this, partly because we've spent the last three days in libraries and museums and I could do with the exercise, partly because the air will be a lot clearer and the smog and asthma is really getting me down.

Anyway, take care all,


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Just a quick one.

Thanks for the heads up about the hacking, guys. The internet cafe I was in kicked me automatically kicked me off the system before I could log out properly, I'll be more careful about that now.

Today I'm up and wandering around at 7 in the morning, due to having woken up at 3 and there being a limit to how much time I can spend dozing and eating breakfast. Athens is quite nice this early, actually. The air is very crisp and clear and there's hardly any traffic.

Yesterday was the promised library, which answers the question about where to go in the event of a zombie attack. It has very high solid walls and quite strict security requirements (apparently because they're attached to the American School which has had bomb threats). The library itself is one of those old fashioned libraries that you hear about in Oxford and that, creaky ladders heading into the high shelves, big tables and subdued lighting. It wasn't a huge help to me for research, as most of the books that weren't available in NZ or precursors of the ones I'd read were in Greek, although I did read a fascinating text on mushroom cults and the hallucinogenic properties of ergot.

Take care all.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Reporting In

Hi all,

I have made it to Greece all safe and sound, although we spent 30 odd hours in transit and we were all feeling trashed by the time we got to the hotel yesterday morning. Driving in to Athens was awesome - it's a white city with the hills covered with greygreen olive trees. Right up close the buildings show up more as slightly grey or slightly brown, and the district we're in is fairly seedy with very narrow streets. This is a city of tenement buildings, usually 4 to 6 stories, and also of dogs, randomly mooching around or curled up on the middle of the footpath catching a nap. Nobody has gardens as such, but there are trees, sometimes citrus, planted on a lot of the streets, and potted bushes on balconies are very common. Marble is a very common building material here. It's not as ubiquitous as concrete, but they'll use it for doorstops and balconies and other commonplace objects that we wouldn't because, well, it's marble. Yesterday was our jetlag day and we mostly spent it walking around Athens and having impromptu room parties trying to stay awake until 7 o'clock. This morning, however, we went up to the Acropolis and it was absolutely amazingly cool. The weather is quite warm without being excessively hot. It's autumn, though, and we stand out from all the locals who are wandering around in thick jerseys and heavy coats. Everything you've heard about smog here is true, the air is a visible haze and yesterday I had a scarybad asthma attack having tried to walk up a hill at the same pace as our group leader who always hurries everywhere. From now on I intend to be unstaunch and amble and suspect I will find life a lot easier. It's also a city full of cigarette smoke, everywhere you go there is an undertone smell of petrol and nicotine, such as the internet cafe where I am which is also full of young Greek men playing first person shoot'em ups. We've been doing lots of walking this past two days, but tomorrow we get to hang out at a nice quiet library and do research, which will be good for our feet.

Take care everyone,


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Up, up and away...

I'm off tomorrow morning. Will update occasionally (and do that email thing) but probably not everyday.

Fingers crossed etc. (John gave me a Chthulu plushie as a going away present. It's so cute!)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Metlink, an Oddity.

First off, let me say that the Wellington regional transport database ( is a fine institution that has given me much help in finding my way about this last two years.

But sometimes, it can suggest surprising results. For instance, this evening, I wanted to know what the best bus to take into town would be in order to get to the Westpac Stadium.

This is the route it suggested:
Walk Depart: 17:28* Walk to: Kingston Shops - Quebec Street, Wellington City
Bus Depart: 17:32 Kingston Shops - Quebec Street, Wellington City Service: 7 - Kingston - Wellington
Arrive: 17:54 Wellington Station - Stop D, Wellington City
Bus Depart: 18:00 Wellington Station - Stop D, Wellington City Service: 44 - Strathmore - Wellington - Khandallah
Arrive: 18:02* Kaiwharawhara - Hutt Road (Fore St), Wellington City
Walk Depart: 18:02* Kaiwharawhara - Hutt Road (Fore St), Wellington City
Arrive: 18:04* Kaiwharawhara Station, Wellington City Rail Depart: 18:11 Kaiwharawhara Station, Wellington City Service: Hutt Valley Line (Upper Hutt - Wellington)
Arrive: 18:15 Wellington Station
Walk Arrive: 18:26* Walk to: Westpac Stadium

Yes, that's right, kiddies. It's seriously suggesting that I bus to the Wellington Station, get on another bus out to Kaiwharawhara, take the train back to the Wellington Station, and then walk to the Stadium itself, about ten minutes away.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Last Exam of the Year is Done.

Phew. Not particularly inspired, but it's done.

And may I say that I find essays on comparative literature very tiring to write, which is what I spent most of ENGL308 doing. It isn't enough to understand an individual text, you have to understand two, or five, and then work out patterns and contrasts amongst them until you think your head's going to explode. I'm beginning to miss the halcyon days of 100 level papers, which I never thought I'd say.

Hark, outside there is blue sky.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

My Eyes Are Covered With A Double Night...

Catullus #51

That man is equal to God,
or so it seems,
to me.

He even, may I say it,
exceeds divinity, for he sits
near you, again and again,
he sees you and he hears
you laughing sweetly.

All my senses have escaped,
they flee my misery, for
as soon as I have seen you, my Lesbia,
no voice is left to me.

Words numb my mouth,
creeping flames seize my weak limbs,
my ears ring with their own sound.

Oh Lesbia. My eyes are covered with a double night.

(Procrastinate? Who, me?)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Parrot Poem

Because it's after midnight and I can't sleep. And it's funny.

"Alas, the Parrot"
The Parrot, imitator bird from the Indies of the East, has died.
     Go in throngs to his funeral, birds, go in throngs;
Go, pious winged ones, beat your breasts with feathered limb,
     go, and tear your tender cheeks with rigid claw.

All you who balance your course in the liquid air,
     but you before others, friend turtledove, mourn.
He was full of the harmony of life to you
     and lasted to the long end, tenacious and faithful.

What use that faith of yours, what use that form of scattered colour,
     what use that ingenious voice of shifting sounds,
What use that you are given to please my girl?
     Unhappy glory of the birds, you surely now lie dead.

He died, that burbling ghost of the human voice,
     the Parrot, a gift given from the far edge of the world.
The seventh day came, with no hope of another and
     he shouted out his dying words: "Corinna, be well."

Ovid, Amores 2.6, abridged.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

One exam down...

...which had rather a lot of De Bello Gallico in it, and a lot of stuff about Dido and Aeneas. We didn't just have to translate out of the Aenead, but the sight passage from Ovid was a pretend letter from Dido to Aeneas. It was really sad, too. But we also had the Parrot poem, which is lots of fun.

I have one more exam to study for, in which I will write about Paradise Lost for about 3 hours. Sigh.

I have madeira cake in the oven. I only bake so I can lick the dough out of the bowl, really, but the smell as it cooks is just lovely.

EDIT: Death to typos! Stab! Stab! Stab!!!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Ah, the happy escapism of Georgette Heyer...

I've been reading Bath Tangle instead of studying, and I'm enjoying it hugely.

So far, Fanny is in love with Major Kirkby, who is engaged to her step-daughter Serena. Serena, although fancying herself in love with Major Kirkby, is actually in love with the Marquis of Rotherham, to whom she was engaged five years earlier, but cried off. The Marquis is engaged to Emily Laleham, a lass of seventeen, who was pressured into the match by her horrible mother. Nobody yet knows why the Marquis wants to marry her, because she's far too young for him. I had thought that Emily would eventually run off with Mr Goring, a good friend of her grandmother's, Mrs Floore, but a young Mr Monksleigh, the ward of the Marquis, has just turned up in Bath and professed undying love for her. He's a silly young nitwit, however, so the dependable Mr Goring might get a look in after all.

I'm sure it will all turn out fine.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sometimes it's the smallest things that make your day...

In my case, it was waking up to a warm room because my lovely boyfriend had turned on the heater before he left this morning. Bliss.

In other news, my Latin teacher has said that it might be possible to run a specialist course next year on Medieval Latin for Naomi and me, for which we are both crossing our fingers. (Naomi is the other medievalist in the English department.) Judy Deuling (aka our Latin teacher) has said that she'll investigate options, so currently I'm tentatively bouncy.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Police States, and All That...

So I'm watching the news from America in a certain state of disbelief.

It's now OK to spy on people. You don't need a warrant or anything, just announce that an "imminent attack" is suspected.,2106,3813267a12,00.html

It's now OK to arrest people without bothering about boring stuff like evidence or warrants. It's also OK to keep them in prison forever, because trials are so tedious and expensive. Oh, and torture? That's just fine, too.,2106,3813143a12,00.html

And while I know that not every American agrees with this legislation:
I am still, once and for always, astonished that US citizens voted George Bush in for a second term. What's the point of fighting a 'War on Terror', if you bring the terror right back home with you?

I'm told that in the latest Superman movie, the scriptwriters carefully excised the phrase "the American Way" from the list of Superman's virtues.

They had a point.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Random Musings

Well and so. About 9.30 this evening I realised that I'd been getting increasingly grumpy, tired and bad tempered. The polite term is 'out of sorts.' Then I realised that I hadn't had dinner yet, and that I'd been eating exceedingly poorly for most of the week. One beefsteak with savoury stuffing plus Real Vegetables (TM) later, and I feel a lot better. Aaaaah...

The electronic course catalogue for next year has come out and I've been spending some time thinking about courses. My number 1 first choices are theoretically possible, but would mean swallowing some extremely unpalatable timetable combinations, so I've been having a bit of a rethink. Still undecided, however.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What the...?

Well and so. I'm sitting at home writing a comparative essay on a bunch of English Renaissance texts, and alternately reading a Georgette Heyer novel to take my mind off things.

The essay is ... getting there. Right now I'm about to start a paragraph on feminine chastity and how it's a real fascination of these texts, and need to find some way to make it link in with the ideal of nobility, which is what the essay is officially about.

On the other hand, the novel is getting weird. (Georgette Heyer, Lady of Quality, (London: Arrow Books, 2005).) The female lead has fallen in love with the male lead, the male lead has fallen in love with the female lead, and he's just proposed to her! There's nearly 70 pages left to go! What is she thinking! I should add that in Heyer's world it isn't at all unusual for the proposal, or even marriage, to happen very early in the piece, but the complication there is the marriage of convenience, and the need for both partners to realise that they're actually in love with their spouses. Here, there is no such complication.

I'm so confused...

EDIT: A bunch of people got the flu. I say again: What the...?
EDIT2: Essay going well. Just managed to squeeze in a gratuitous reference to Volpone which we haven't even been studying, because the Celia subplot fit in well with the whole chastity thing. 1200 words down, another 1800 to go. Well, that's the upper limit, anyway. I need to come up with at least another 1300 to be legal. I've never had to write an essay of this length before. It's interesting having all that extra room to move around in.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Tomorrow, the draft writing samples that I handed in last Monday get worked over by my writing workshop. It has become a group tradition to sweeten the other members with a nice afternoon tea when it's your turn to get comments, so I did some baking with intent to impress.
The chocolate cake went well - it's hard to go wrong with cake mix.
The gingernuts were more problematical. Overall, they were overcooked and not rolled out thinly enough, so are destined for the rubbish bin. The reason for that was the mixture not being sticky enough, which is probably because the golden syrup was added last, instead of creamed in with the butter and sugar. The reason for that, is because I was loth to use the only source of golden syrup in the house, and only added it as a last resort.

Me: So, you're absolutely definitely sure that this is golden syrup.
Norman: That's right, golden syrup and food colouring.
Me: And you're not secretly a vampire or anything?
Norman: No, no. Of course not.
[Some time later]
Me: Would you like to try the first biscuit?
[Checks for growth of fangs]

I had to dip into Norman's fake blood supply. It's very disturbing rolling biscuits out of red dough. Also, it stains your hands, which is even more disturbing.

Come to think of it, I used baking powder instead of baking soda, which might have been bad, also.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

From The City To The Sea...

Well and so. Today, I bused down to the Beehive, met up with repton_infinity and walked home. Most of this was off-road, as someone in the Wellington City Council has percipiently observed that many of the parks in the central city are closely connected, and cannily provided a map to the walking tracks of same. (And put up some handy posts with mysterious looking yellow arrows as markers.)

And now I'm home. Phew, that was a long walk. Interestingly, I'm tired and sore, but not as much as I expected. I wonder how stiff I'll be tomorrow. Also, repton_infinity, who is lovely, has gone to collect fish & chips for dinner. Bliss.

For those who are interested in statistics:
Total time: 3 hours 18 minutes
Total distance: ~ 9km
Time to Te Aro: 1 hour 10 minutes
Distance to Te Aro: ~ 4.25 km
Time to Home: 1 hour 48 minutes
Distance to Home: ~ 4.75 km
Max Elevation: 130m (Top of the Botanical Gardens)
Secondary Max Elevations: 100m (Central Park and Macalister Park/Kingston)
Points of Interest: Beehive, Bolton St Cemetery, Botanical Gardens, Kelburn Park & University, Mount St Cemetery, Tanera Park, Central Park, Prince of Wales Park, Scottish Harrier's Hall, what looked like a sports stadium but neither of us were sure what it's called (EDIT: it turns out that it's boringly named Rugby League Park), Macalister Park, My House.
Point Where We Got Lost: The Scottish Harrier's Hall where the sign was a little misleading and we ended up on the road near Pearce St. Fortunately there was another track down the hill to Hutchison Road and we matched up again.
The Bit We Didn't Do: From My House to Island Bay. We've actually done that walk before, finding that one can do rather a lot of walking from just down the hill below My House to just up the hill from My House.
The Walk John Wants To Do Next: The Skyline Walk, ~ 15km.
The Walk I Want To Do Next: From John's House to the Brooklyn Windmill, estimated time ~ 1 hour
The Thing John Hasn't Noticed Yet: My hair is 8 inches shorter than the last time he saw me.

Dinner is here! Must go...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I Can Always Tell That Spring Is Here

Because I start to wake up earlier than usual from all the extra light in the mornings. Daylight Savings is on its way.

Sleeplessly yours,


Friday, August 25, 2006

It's Friday, And My Colleagues Don't Have Enough Work To Do...

Currently they've built a 9 high tower of coke and beer cans on the filing cabinet and are throwing a frisbee at it. Their aim stinks. The best they've managed so far is knocking two cans off the top. Dearie dearie me. Maybe I should move out of the firing lanes...

In other news, I've spent a week in Auckland beavering away and actually managed to solve something. Sort of. Also, I'm -
OK, they finally knocked it down with a resounding crash, I'm glad I don't have to clean it up -
nauseatingly well rested and prone to waking up at 6 in the morning. I put this down to the fact that my hosts (the lovely Donald and Tanja) who are often a hive of social activity have had a fairly quiet week, so we're all going to bed quite early. (The hive is on hold for various reasons, including a frequent guest acquiring a new boyfriend, another buggering off to Scotland, and Tanja being dewisdomised yesterday.) As strange as it feels to be awake and chirpy at 6.30 in the morning, I can only say that it's a mug's game and I want nothing of it. Well, OK, maybe a little of it. Still, I like that dozy warm feeling you get in the morning when you're all snuggly and don't have to get up quite yet. Particularly if there's company...

In other other news, I was one of the GMs for a Mordavia day game on Wednesday - I spent most of it in the spiral stair case having private conversations with players. There's something about those player plots, they take a while to get moving, but once they're going they have an awful lot of momentum. ;-) Also, Adam gave me a ride there on his shiny yellow Triumph motorcycle, and it is a sad fact that it took me most of Thursday morning to find someone I could brag to who would realise how incredibly cool that was. (Like a Kourier from Snow Crash letting someone hitch a ride on their skateboard, maybe.) Fortunately, my boss who's on a school camping trip near Ruapehu checked his email that morning and was able to make appropriate Ooh and Aah noises.

Anyway, back to Wellington on Sunday. I should probably get some work done...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Commonplace Book

Of Truth
"What is truth?" said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer. Certainly there be that delight in giddiness, and count it a bondage to fix a belief; affecting free will in thinking, as well as in acting. And though the sects of philosophers of that kind be gone, yet there remain certain discoursing wits, which are of the same veins, through there be not so much blood in them as was in those of the ancients. But it is not only the difficulty and labor which men take in finding out of truth; nor again, that when it is found, it imposeth upon men's thoughts, that doth bring lies in favor; but a natural though corrupt love of the lie itself.

Bacon, Francis, "Of Truth" in ENGL308 Renaissance Literature Coursebook, Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington, 2006, p37.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Chu Chu Trains

It's the end of an era; the train service from Auckland to Wellington is shutting down at the end of September. According to Toll Holding's (the train service's) spokesperson Sue Foley, it's due to falling passenger numbers: "The reality is, people talk about rail, they love rail, but unfortunately, not many people use rail." Yet I can't help thinking that Toll Holdings have brought this on themselves. That train is notoriously late and unreliable, particularly in summer. They have problems with derailments and keeping their tracks repaired, meaning that passengers can find themselves loaded onto buses for part or all of the trip, which rather takes away the point of travelling by train in the first place, and to top it all off, the tickets are expensive. I'll also add that except for my recent trip on the Overlander, where the train manager was cheerful and very helpful, the staff have tended to be downright surly, which doesn't particularly work as a selling point.
Anyway, all this is a real pity, because I like travelling by train, despite TranzScenic's best efforts to stop me. Bother them.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Because I realised I haven't posted for a while.

I am well except for this stupid two and a half week cough, which today I went to see a doctor about. He gave me some pills, which I suppose is the point of doctors. Also, I got my ears syringed, which is a very odd sensation, and since then a lot of sounds have been both louder and much crisper, like the sounds of the keys as I'm typing right now, for instance. I wonder how long I'll notice the difference for. What I'm also thinking about is the fascination we have with the gross bits of our own bodies - I made a point of checking out the huge lumps of wax pulled out of my ears; several years ago when my Mum had abdominable surgery she got great joy showing people pictures of her insides despite all protestations to the contrary; people who've had appendices removed sometimes keep them in jars on mantelpieces... Why do we care so much?

I've been trying to learn basic Greek - the modern kind I mean, which Victoria University doesn't teach, although it has a thriving department for the 2000 year old variety. So far I've been watching some video tapes called "The Greek Language and People", but the only word I can remember when I'm not watching the video sounds something like "parakalos" (thank you), so I'm not entirely sure how much good this is going to do me.

Also, today I got some new stripy pyjamas because my old stripy pyjamas have developed a whole in one knee and you can't have that.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Hooray For Being An Unemployed Bum

Well, not that I'm actually unemployed, just that I've finished up my holiday job, and I have the rest of the day to enjoy it.

Things that have been happening lately:
-I went to a Haunted House. It was very noisy, with lots of heart pumping frights along the way. I find it interesting, though, banging things and blood spatters will give me a fright, but for true serious fear it's generally the quiet psychological getting-into-your-imagination that really creeps me out. There are some photos.
-I went to a leftover party at Malcolm, Judy, Gordon and Lisa's house. The food and company were lovely, as always. Then we climbed Mt Albert. I can remember back when I thought that that was a big serious hill...
-I've been having royally awful computer problems all week, which is why it's taken me until Friday to clear out my workload. Grrrrrr.
-I went to see the new Pirates of the Carribean movie with John on Monday. Premieres are interesting. On the one hand, they decorate the theatre and have actors dressed up as pirates having fights, clambering out on ropes, and generally haranguing the audience. On the other hand, you have to hang out in Very Long Queues and then sit in the theatre staring at a blank screen for half an hour before the movie starts. The movie itself was great, lots of sustained and well executed silliness, combining gorgeous stunt scenes, well timed acting, photo realistic CGI and the ever pressing question of "Will Keira Knightly get to kiss Johnny Depp?" I loved it.
-I went to a frisbee training session on Wednesday which involved teaching us the basics of speed mechanics. It was lots of fun, and now I have sore muscles in unusual places in my legs.
-I have worked out the precise cutoff temperature at which Babe will cease to be a hunched up miserable cold feline, and start being a lolling relaxed happy warm cat. It's 16.5 degrees. The pair of us have been hanging out in my room for most of the previous three days because it was easier to heat, and the new clock that Cat gave me happens to have a thermometer on it. It was fascinating watching the change that half a degree in air temperature can make on my cat.
-It's nice and sunny today. I think I'm going to go have a walk.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Right now I'm staying in a hotel that's exactly my size. The bed is just the right length for me, the shower head barely clears my head, there is precisely one piece of paper in the handy folder, which is good, because I had to leave a note about the power to the kitchen area having shorted out. (I haven't had a cup of tea this morning. I won't get one until midday because the water is off in the building I'm working in. The pain!) So it all kind of works, but I wouldn't want to be John's or Morgan's height and staying there. The problem is that I can't remember the name of the ogre who had an Inn and stretched or shrank people to fit it, or this post would have had a much more interesting title.

On Monday, I went to see a chick flick called Just My Luck. It's a workable example of its genre, although no real surprises. I think that Serendipity, with a similar premise, did a far classier job of setting up elaborate coincidences and making them work. Still, it reminds me that the genre of Romantic Comedy, one of the most contrived around, gets most of its entertainment value from the secondary characters - the two leads have too many restrictions on what their characters can be like.

Georgette Heyer is back in print. :-D She, too, writes highly contrived romances, and they're a lot of fun. She's noticable for using a lot of Regency slang which I can only assume is correct, because most of the phrases she uses I've only read in her books, but I will add for your consideration, gentle readers, the phrase "I must have returned" which is a genuine period phrasing because the more sophisticated verb phrase "I would have had to return" or even "I should have had to return" had not yet been invented. I also note that she makes the distinction between the "will" of volition and the "shall" of obligation. ENGL224 is a course that rocks!

The computer program I'm working on is giving me some results that I don't understand. This is very frustrating.

Take care, all.

EDIT: And in other, happy, news, NeonGraal has trumped the rash of Aucklanders recently announcing that they're pregnant by announcing his engagement. Many congratulations and felicitations.

One of the pleasures of staying in a hotel is being able to bum around in your underwear entirely free of worry about wandering flatmates, neighbours or random visiting vicars seeing that which they ought not while you're making yourself a nice hot cup of tea. This is only a good idea, however, if the fire alarm doesn't go off.

Monday, June 26, 2006


I am Not having a Good Day.
Maybe if I sell my first-born child to Murphy he'll back off a little...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

How Things Change...

So I'm up in Auckland for a couple of weeks pretending to be an engineer again, and I'm struck by how things are changing around me. We have a new boss, Lee Finniear, whom I got to meet for the first time today (he seems a nice bloke), but there are also other bits and pieces like people moving and shops closing that I think everyone who lives here takes more in their stride because they happen so gradually. For instance, this really cool cafe called Alleuia has changed it's tables. This makes me sad, in a petty kind of way, because it was the tables that I liked most about the place - they were all mismatched and sanded down rescuees from second hand furniture shops and they were, well, cool. Except someone decided that they wanted posh shiny tables now and an essential part of the place's laid back atmosphere has dissapeared. And it's not particularly important, but once again I'm reminded that you can't ever freeze a place (or a person) in crystal and expect them to be exactly the same when you come back as when you left.

Friday, June 16, 2006

No More Exams For Me...

La la la.
(Well, for this term, anyway.)

I also got confirmation of the site that I'm going to study in Greece: Eleusis, otherwise known as that place wot Theseus came from in The King Must Die. I guess I'm going to have to do some more serious reading than an historical adventure novel. ;-) (Although, the lists of sites says that I'm sharing the site, but doesn't say with whom I'm sharing it. Go figure.)

And now I'm back at home having my first cup of tea since 7am this morning. O Tea, how I love thee, let me count the ways...
I spent the afternoon bouncing around the campus (and town) playing Change-Of-Course Hopscotch and making sure that Babe has enough food for while I'm away. On the plus side, this meant some interesting conversations with Robert Easting and Matthew Trundle about a) travelling through Greece and b) what courses are good to take for an easy A. Matthew thought that Salient should run an article on the latter, but declined to comment on his picks for the shortlist. Probably wise of him.

Ah, the irony. I was putting off getting changes signed off in the hopes that I'd be accepted into CREW255 and could do it all in one fell swoop. I had to give up on that idea, eventually, because the professor running the Greek Field Trip was complaining about people not setting up their enrolments properly. What just arrived? My acceptance into CREW255. (Which, incidentally, I'm very happy about.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

On Studying...

Study continues apace. I've now finished rereading Love's Labours Lost, and I'm starting on the "Song of Songs" from the Authorized Version of the Bible, which has steamy bits. For instance, from Chapter II:

9 My beloued is like a Roe, or a yong Hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh foorth at the window, shewing himself through the lattesse.
10 My beloued spake, and said vnto me, Rise vp, my Loue, my faire one, and come away.
11 For loe, the winter is past, the raine is ouer, and gone.
12 The flowers appeare on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree putteth foorth her greene figs, and the vines with the tender grape giue a good smell. Arise, my loue, my faire one, and come away.
14 O my doue! that art in the clefts of the rocke, in the secret places of the staires: let me see thy countenance, let me heare thy voice, for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.
15 Take vs the foxes, the litle foxes, that spoile the vines: for our vines haue tender grapes.
16 My beloued is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lillies.
17 Vntill the day breake, and the shadowes flee away: turne my beloued and be thou like a Roe, or a yong Hart, vpon the mountaines of Bether.

Reynolds (ed.), "Song of Songs", Authorized Version in ENGL224 Texts 2, Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington, 2006, p124.

It's Cold

And I have a very rare enthusiasm for household chores. Chop kindling? Sure. Wash dishes? You got it. It's the best way to keep warm. I should probably do something about cleaning out the bathroom, but I guess that will depend on what the rest of the afternoon is like...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

In which I talk about my family.

I spent the past weekend in Waikanae visiting Gran. This actually means visiting Gran, an uncle, two aunts, a random assortment of dogs and whichever cousins happen to be floating around that weekend. My mother's side of the family tends to be tall, extraverted, sporty, and a wee bit daft. Many are, or have been, teachers. (1) (I always find myself emotionally reverting to an awkward, gawky thirteen year old when I'm around them, alas, which is frustrating, because they're all lovely, just a bit intimidating when encountered en masse.) My father's side of the family, in contrast, are less tall, relatively strait-laced, still interested in sport, far more introverted, and used to run to churchmen. (2) That last changed when my grandfather Herbert Edward, in Oxford training to be a priest, woke up one morning and realised that he didn't believe a word of it, and ran away to Egypt to be an engineer. He somehow ended up in Rhodesia as a schoolmaster, and they've run to teachers since. But anyway, this is talking about a visit to my mother's mother, who lives in Waikanae, and the random pieces of information I learned there and the random activities I did there.
- Michael has a new girlfriend, Sarah, who was brought up for inspection that weekend. She seems quite nice, is from Hampshire, was a lawyer, but is thinking of taking up primary school teaching. She likes skydiving, which is where she met Mike.
- David has a new girlfriend, Jane (?), who was brought up for inspection last weekend. I think she's something to do with the NZSO, but the details came from Gran, who is about to be 88 and is having short-term memory issues right now.
- I watched a rugby game yesterday. Apparently it was quite an important game, or something. Anyway, I lost the family sweepstake on the scores - a dollar I'll never see again...
- Michael has been accepted into the new intake of firemen and is going to Rotorua for training, thence to Auckland for his new post.
- Helen is studying for a golf referee's certificate.
- Mum and her husband John (3) are off on a cruise somewhere. I don't think she actually said where, but she's been very bouncy about it.
- Barbara's dog Jazz took me for a walk out on the beach on Saturday. This was fine while she was interested in catching a tennis ball, but when she got bored she neatly deposited it at my feet and took off home, pausing only to occasionally laugh at me and roll in smelly stuff.
- On Sunday I took myself for a walk out on the beach, which went much better. The end result of all this walking is that now that I'm back home in Wellington, all I really want to do is sleep. Am trying to stay awake until this evening so that I don't jetlag myself.
- Gran's eyesight and hearing are going, and she feels the cold very easily. :-/ (She spent much of last evening looking out blankets, hot water bottles and heaters for me. I woke up at midnight sweating from the heat.)
- Gran has a copy of The Apple of my Eye, a travelogue of New York by Helene Hanff which I hadn't read before. I highly recommend it.
- Grandad Pegg (the Herbert Edward who ran off to be an engineer), was so loved when he came over to NZ on a visit that the Hutt Men's Club had a special dinner to see him off. Gran Pegg, in contrast, remains in Gran Hay's memory as an 'old tartar'.
- My Great Grandfather West (Gran's father), died the day of a general election, having made such a huge fuss about wanting to vote that Gran had to arrange for an invigilator (or whatever you call them) to visit his nursing home, which time all the little old ladies decided that they would rather like to vote too, and it took all afternoon, much to the matron's disgust. (It made them miss their afternoon tea.) When Gran asked him who he voted for, he said "That's my business", rolled over and went to sleep and didn't wake up, never having found out if the side he wanted to win, won. (Next election, remember to vote, kiddies.)
- My Great-Great Grandmother West was in Napier during the 1931 earthquake. Great-Granddad had to go and fetch her because her house slid halfway down Bluff Hill and she had to live in the Hutt with his family for the next five years. She was apparently not best pleased about this. My Great Uncle Jack used to refer to her as 'the witch in the kitchen'. (I talked to Gran quite a lot, this weekend.)

Confused yet?

(1) The exceptions being Mum, me, and my sisters, except for the teaching and being a bit daft part. Yes, even my older sister Alexandra has a streak of eccentricity, although I think she'd die before admitting to it. [waves Hi to Alex]
(2) The exceptions being my cousin Jot who is an extravert's extravert, and my father, who was an eccentric's eccentric.
(3) As opposed to John, my ex-defacto-step-dad, and John, my boyfriend. I had a lot of fun explaining the multiplicities of Johns to my sign language teacher when we did the module on family relationships. He took it in his stride.

Edited to add: Whakapapa? What whakapapa? :-)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Review: in a fishbone church

A while ago, I complained bitterly about how bleak New Zealand books were. Someone (Morgan) suggested that I try Catherine Chidgey as being somewhat less dour, so when I saw a book by her in the Uni bookshop I decided to give her a try out.

Well, to be honest, the book is still pretty dark. It's written in a style (that seems to be popular with the literati set) of structuring the narrative as a mosaic - there are continual filmic cuts between characters and timeframes without many cues to the reader to help them adjust to the changes. I posit that cinema cuts are easier to cope with in cinema because the visuals can get more information through quickly than the linear word-by-word info stream of a novel. On the other hand, my experience of in a fishbone church (and Baby No-Eyes, Patricia Grace and Below, Tim Corballis) is that of a very complete all-encompassing experience, so maybe one of the points of this style of writing is to approach the wider info-stream available to films. I still find the style very tiring to read, though. In all three of the books I've mentioned there's no real centre of mass to get to grips with, nor is there an ending that provides much closure, they just go on and on and then stop (1). I also find that I need to pay a lot of attention - small details that appear in passing in the beginning of the books are referred to with much more context near the end.

Of the three, they're all uncomfortable in terms of content. Baby No-Eyes is right up there as a counter-discursive, 'writing back' kind of book; Below seems to exist primarily in order to torture the reader; and in a fishbone church is more subtle, but still disquieting, I think because of the continued threat implied into domestic situations: hair combs that scrape bone, eating swans full of shotgun pellets, being nearly drowned in a bath, and so forth. I'm going to change my opinion that this darkness is somehow endemic to NZ writers, however, I think that it's more part of the desire to be perceived as a 'serious' and 'literary' writer. As an inveterate reader of science fiction and fantasy, I find I still like having a nice solid story to get into, rather than having to understand the psychology of the characters from every conceivable angle. Also, because these novels are all set in situations that are potentially real, there are few sources of external conflict so the authors need to provide internal psychological tension in order to have something worth writing about (2).

My overall verdict? Interesting, but I think I'm going to slope off back to genre fiction for a while.

(1) To adapt a quote from the movie Amadeus: "You don't even finish your songs with a bang so that the audience knows when to clap."
(2) The exception being Baby No-Eyes which includes a major land demonstration.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


So we just had an incredibly hardout, incredibly fun game in which we drew against Not 2 Serious, who are not only at the top of the league, but have only previously lost one game this season. So not only am I feeling extremely pleased with myself, but I'm still so hyper my hands are shaking.

Way to go, guys!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Existential Angst

So I had this odd feeling yesterday afternoon - "Must Study" which was very weird because I didn't have anything I needed to study for. By some strange plot of the University, two of my courses are now complete - I had final tests for them yesterday morning, a third is virtually complete - the last assignment is going pretty well, and I only have one exam to study for, which isn't for two weeks. So to all those students who are currently rushed off their feet - I feel somehow that I should be one of you, but I'm not, and it was making me jittery.

All better this morning, though. :-)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

48 Hours: More Mud Than Mordavia

So, its the end of the first full day. We cut off filming at 5 because the light was going and all of our shooting is outside. We're in the process of filming a Monster Movie that's set in Fraser's Dad's backyard. Given the weather, I'm hoping that we get style points for having an entirely outdoor shoot on a rainy weekend.

Oddly, despite the fact that I've been eating all day, I've been hungry all day, too. Still, right now I'm clean, dry, demudded, my feet are dry, and I've just had a hot dinner. Bliss.

Am having a wonderful time.

(I exaggerated a little bit - there isn't more mud than in a winter Mordavia game. Just.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Commonplace Book

The myth of colonial isolation and inferiority seems to be connected broadly to the theological concept of the Fall of Man - the immigration of our ancestors was, as it were, a second Fall, a departure from a Garden of Eden situated somewhere in Victorian England. Like other myths of inferiority (as in the reaction of a Jew to anti-Semitism, for example) the loss of self-confidence is insidious: no labour of intellect or will can ever really bridge the predetermined gap. Many New Zealanders who go to Britain (to go 'back Home' is the code word for it) may be unconsciously making a trip to a land that does not exist: the land of their great-grandmother's exiled fantasy, with the Old Lady sill drinking tea and whisky at Windsor, the village cricket team still playing in the twilight, and Oscar Wilde riding off to jail in a hansom cab. But not all of us are bound by the myth. Personally I prefer the dark country I was born in, with its man-eating pigs and politicians imported from Australia, where, if you break wind at the Bluff, you can be heard in Auckland.
- James K. Baxter, Aspects of Poetry in New Zealand, (The Caxton Press: Christchurch), 1967. (Originally presented as a lecture at Victoria University of Wellington.)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

More poetry

Yet Another Boring Poem About A Bird
So, there was I,
a stranger in the Auckland Zoo,
facing down an angry tui
who staunchly perched beneath
a green netted sky.

It's an over used cliche I know,
as hackneyed as a kowhai tree
blooming in its first flush of gold
or the soft purpled grey cat's down
of a magnolia bud, just sneaking out
for a quick smoke in the chilly
end of winter -
just casually saying Hi, as one does,
it's not that we knew each other that well,
but yet I merited a quick Gidday.

But back to that cliched tui
its white bib and flounce of black,
shone through with bluey purple
(purple again!) and back to me,
in the green and damp smell,
talking to the tui, and
that bird, on that day,

--Stephanie Pegg, May 2006

(All this seems to be a natural outcome of reading a lot of poetry in class right now. If there's anyone out there who doesn't like reading poetry, well, I guess you can just stop reading my posts. ;->)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

On Breakfalls...

So this evening at our frisbee game, I made an involuntary but extremely exciting horizontal flying dive. To the good people at Sword and Shield who taught me how to breakfall, I didn't do the slap-hand-on-ground thing, but did (by reflex or accident) manage the land-on-side-and-cushion-head-with-shoulder thing. So I have a slightly stiff neck and a grazed elbow, and hopefully things won't get any more exciting than that. Thanks for teaching me how to breakfall, guys!
(Would someone please give Steve Hodgson a hug for me and explain why?)

(And once again, I muse on the paradox that a non-contact sport like frisbee is, practically speaking, more dangerous than sword fighting.)

Hooray! My birthday is only one hour and four minutes away.

Monday, May 15, 2006

So I Just Had My 48 Hour Writing Audition.

We ended up with a silent film, with a giraffe, and the line "I can't remember anything before two weeks ago" in which Fraser gets tied up, beaten up, and then nearly slaughtered like a dog. By Debbie. With Sam as smiling yet sinister sidekick. Oh, and I forgot the bit where Debbie reaches into Fraser's throat and pulls out the other giraffe. We were going for a gloomy, claustrophobic, sinister feel, as you can tell.

Twas a lot of fun.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Yet Another Infliction Of Poetry...

Catullus No.13
O, come with old Catullus, that we may dine:
a loaf of bread, a flask of wine, you, a girl,
it will be Paradise!
So long as you bring some wine,
  and maybe a bit of bread,
  and definitely a girl,
  and you.
For your well-salted wit
you shall have all my love,
(though my pockets are home for spiders)
and a little something more elegant,
  or smelly, I should say -
for my latest girlfriend left a bottle of the
most stinkiferous, redolent, exotic attar
of roses that you ever did smell.
(You will beg the gods of love to make you
  All Nose.)

-- Stephanie Pegg, May 2006.

(Our class assignment for today was to rewrite one of Catullus' poems in the style of a poet that we liked. I started off with whatsisname Fitzgerald and the Rubaiyat and then got a tad distracted.)

((Today I've had a signing test worth 20% and handed in a 2000 word essay worth 33% and a language assignment worth 20%. So I'm feeling tired but accomplished. Yay!))

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Poems R Us Ride Again

To Mr. John Wyndham,
This is the outer edge of space, you know.
Since first Maui paddled out here in his
brothers' best waka (that's canoe to you)
this has been the edge.

What do you think of us in our secure
isolation? A golden land, to which
your chrysalids may limp from Labrador?
Labrador! (Where the heck is that?)

Oh, sir, you stand at the still dead centre.
Time fleets us, also, and the spinning world
throws us ever outward to an unkenned
undiscovered shore.

When next you write a refuge, remember:
this is the outer edge of space.
-- Stephanie Pegg, May 2006

(This is the first draft. Critical comments are welcome.)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

tristissimam mortem Q. H. Flacci lugebimus

Yesterday in Latin we reached the chapter in which Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the daring hero of the epic tale of life, love, battles, and the pursuit of poetry which has been informing our Latin class for the last year and a bit, finally pops his clogs. So we wore black armbands in his honour. (Also, it's the last chapter of the book, and now we shall be reading Catullus. It looks hard.)

And in other news, one of our frisbee teams won the game last night, and the other drew. It was a very good turnout actually.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

And in other news...

I've been accepted into the Classics Department's Greek Field Trip for this summer. Much Joy.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Commonplace Book

"We have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."

Reach me down my Tycho Brahe, -- I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then till now.

Pray, remember, that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data, for your adding as is meet;
And remember, men will scorn it, 'tis original and true,
And the obloquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.

But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learnt the worth of scorn;
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn;
What, for us, are all distractions of men's fellowship and smiles?
What, for us, the goddess Pleasure, with her meretricious wiles?

You may tell that German college that their honour comes too late.
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant's fate;
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too truly to be fearful of the night.

What, my boy, you are not weeping? You should save your eyes for sight;
You will need them, mine observer, yet for many another night.
I leave none but you, my pupil, unto whom my plans are known.
You "have none but me," you murmur, and I "leave you quite alone"?

Well then, kiss me, -- since my mother left her blessing on my brow,
There has been a something wanting in my nature until now;
I can dimly comprehend it, -- that I might have been more kind,
Might have cherished you more wisely, as the one I leave behind.

I "have never failed in kindness"? No, we lived too high for strife, --
Calmest coldness was the error which has crept into our life;
But your spirit is untainted, I can dedicate you still
To the service of our science: you will further it? you will!

There are certain calculations I should like to make with you,
To be sure that your deductions will be logical and true;
And remember, "Patience, Patience," is the watchword of a sage,
Not to-day nor yet to-morrow can complete a perfect age.

I have sworn, like Tycho Brahe, that a greater man may reap;
But if none should do my reaping, 'twill disturb me in my sleep.
So be careful and be faithful, though, like me, you leave no name;
See, my boy, that nothing turn you to the mere pursuit of fame.

I must say Good-bye, my pupil, for I cannot longer speak;
Draw the curtain back for Venus, ere my vision grows too weak:
It is strange the pearly planet should look red as fiery Mars, --
God will mercifully guide me on my way amongst the stars.
-- Sarah Williams

Ransom Demand

Cat, I hate to say it, but I think that Hyacinth has broken into your house again - I got this in the mail:

Clearly, the multiple personalities are back, hence the use of the 1 pl nom in the pronoun. If you should see her sneaking around your back yard, let her know that I'm not caving into her demands and that she should start taking her pills again.


Monday, April 24, 2006

The King Must Die

I was recently lent a copy of The King Must Die by Mary Renault, which is brilliant. It's a Euhemerist retelling of the Theseus myth (the guy with the Minotaur and the Labyrinth) which incorporates real archaeological evidence from Crete and some educated guesses about ancient customs. Also a couple of glancing references to Adonis and the Boar, and Orpheus, if you know where to look for them. I'm guessing that both ReptonInfinity and Adrexia would like it quite a lot. Are either of you interested in borrowing it before I give it back? Or anyone else?

I got some assignments back today, including an essay with the note at the front saying that helpful comments were given with the essay. What my tutor had actually done was make some ticks, write one 'good point', have one minor quibble about something I'd said, and then lovingly circle every single colloquialism in the essay with a suggestion for improvement. 'significant' is better than 'big' because??? (I'm assuming it's because it has more syllables and so looks more impressive or something, certainly it didn't supply any finer shade to the meaning.) There was actually a reason why my language was a bit less formal than usual, and this isn't a complaint, because she gave me a better grade than I'd expected, but sheesh. I'd far rather she'd spent her time thinking up helpful advice rather than nitpicks when a simple "Your language should be more formal" would have done.

In other news, I had a surprise in my first lecture of the day when Anna from Auckland said Hi. She's been visiting another friend who is in the same class as me, and tagged along to the lecture. So then we smuggled her into the tutorial later that morning. (She seemed to be enjoying herself.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


So, what has little Steph been doing with herself, lately?
Well, I went to a Frisbee tournament, I went to work (in Auckland), and I went to Easter Camp. Also, today was the start of the University Games, although I'm getting over a cold and slunk off home after the first game to get some sleep.

Memorable bits from the last couple of weeks (in no particular order):
- Getting a shiny new sword, made just for me! (Thank you Darren.)
- Actually managing to figure out a problem that was happening at work and come up with a solution. It was a frustrating few days to start with. :-(
- Watching a couple of friends break up with fairly vindictive timing within about 10 minutes of arriving at Easter Camp.
- Being told by my sister that there was a girl there that wanted to hit on me within about 10 minutes of arriving at Easter Camp. (She didn't, but it was a rather surprising thing to be told.)
- Seeing, in Waiouru, an ad for fetish and leather supplies outside the local Subway. Supplying the army trade maybe?
- Realising that people in small towns like Pahiatua are actually quite cool about people in weird clothes invading their supermarkets (unlike three_monkey's Christmas experience).
- Being in a story circle that lasted for, like, three hours. "Sing a song, tell a story, ask a riddle, do a dance, or go hide in the cow byre until an angel inspires you." (People who were really stumped were let off with autobiographical anecdotes, like the first time they fell in love, or that time they almost died. Although I'm not sure that that's being let off lightly.)
- Getting home. Thank you for looking after Babe, Edward, she's looking happy and comfortably squishy.
- Relaxing in a spa pool working out kinks afterwards. Thank you for keeping me company, John. :-)

Monday, April 17, 2006

I'm Back.

Pretty tired, though. I'll write more later.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I Ache Therefore I Am...

I'm currently holed up in Auckland saying Ow being fed tea by the lovely Tanja and cuddly Donald and am shortly about to curl up and sleep like a log.

I spent the weekend at an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, my first (hey, I guess that means I'm no longer a frisbee virgin). It was extremely full on and much fun. Saturday was bloody hard work - four games back to back and all but one of them went to the full 100 minutes allowed. We had one half hour break after the third game, basically because the Christchurch team we were playing against made their point total of 13 relatively early which gave us time to stagger off the field and have lunch before our last game. The last game was the one that we won (against Palmerston North), but I and I think several of the other players very much hit the wall part way through and started subbing off after very short times on the field.

Today we only played one game, again against Christchurch. For that game, the score on paper looks extremely unappealing, 13-1, but I'm actually not dissapointed because I think that our team was playing very well throughout and Christchurch were a very tough team to play against. Also, as Tanja put it this evening, it's a lot more fun to lose to an excellent team than to win against a mediocre team, and this morning's game was the former. We defaulted for the rest of our scheduled games because the rain was persisting down, with some hail for extra spice, and we thought that we'd be noble and allow the other women's teams to skip one of the scheduled slots and be done a couple of hours ealier. At least that's the party line. ;-)

This afternoon I spa pooled and swam and was the cheering section for the men's and women's finals. For the women's side, Christchurch won against the Wellington serious team (see, I said that they were good) and for the men's side, the Wellington team (for whom repton_infinity plays) won in an extremely close and exciting match. I found it very interesting watching the difference between the way that men and women play: the guys are extremely athletic and fast, but that comes with an aggressiveness that means lots of foul calls and the occasional injury timeout which means that the game is very stoppy-starty. The women's games seemed a lot more continuous and dynamic and flowing to me.

Tucked in to my weekend was also hanging out with Cat and Michael. We went to see Kinky Boots on Saturday evening ("In what hell could I have inspired something burgundy") and Cat came to watch the games for a bit and mess with my team mates heads ("Steph, are you OK? Why aren't you warming up with everyone else?" "Oh, I'm fine, I'll catch you up.") They were very admiring of Catherine's Jedi cloak, by the way.

Anyway, what with one thing and another, I'm feeling very staunch, but would very much like to go to sleep now. Take care all.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Let me see:
Skin feels like it's been sandpapered. Check.
Cramps and nausea. Check.
I want to simultaneously bite someone's head off and burst into tears. Check.
I hate having periods. :-/

On paper, life is pretty good right now. I'm finally feeling on top of classwork, I'm managing to work through the mountain of assessments that all hit in the last couple of weeks and I'm really looking forward to a trip up to Auckland next week. Yesterday I lured an unsuspecting gentleman into the ways of watching The Fifth Element, and it was a plain nice evening.

Anyway, I'm sure that I'll start enjoying all of this again in a couple of days and apologise to anyone I've taken my ill temper out on lately. In the meantime, I have a large block of chocolate and a recording of All Around My Hat to keep me company.

Take care all.

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Apostle

This afternoon when I ought to have been studying, I watched a Robert Duvall movie called The Apostle, which is about an evangelical preacher in the American Deep South. It's a very good movie, but the thing I found most fascinating was the language.
They had a whole bunch of Holiness Temple preachers in full bore (real ones, that is), and it sounded like a tidal wave, they had all these lovely long dipthongised vowels, and were emphasising stressed words a lot, and used extra unstressed words to manipulate where the key words would be to get the best verbal emphasis. There were also a lot of terminal -e sounds being tacked on to words, as if they needed an extra syllable to get their mouths around the next cascade of words: self-e, don-e, Jesus-uh. The whole thing made me wonder if the preachers were anything like an Old English bard in full flight. Absolutely fascinating.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Another Entry For The Suppurating Wounds Club...

Courtesy of a blood test gone wrong. (I'm not ill or anything, I was at the doctor to talk about asthma stuff and asked to have my iron count checked, is all.) Also, I'm now officially asthmatic and have a shiny new inhaler of a superior sort in case of emergencies, as well as a free flu vaccination. My arm hurts.

I also have a picture from the dancing practice at the Te Aro Fair on Sunday and a nice shot of my sister's flatmate Michael with the nice butterfly we arranged to be painted on him. :-)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Commonplace Book

I haven't posted anything lately, so here goes another random poem (selected for no particular reason other than I happen to like it.)

I am Raferty the Poet
Full of hope and love
With eyes that have no light
With gentleness that has no misery

Going west upon my pilgramage
By the light of my heart
Feeble and tired
To the end of the world

Behold me now
And my face to the wall
A-playing music
Unto empty pockets
--Raferty (trans. Douglas Hyde)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Frisbee Win!

We won our game! Convincingly, even, with a final score of 6-3.
Also, lots of fun to play, the last point was a series of improbably bizarre catches, house_monkey made a spectacular point scoring dive roll, and I got to run around lots which thankfully cleared the bad temper I'd been nursing all day.
(You know that you're having a bad day when you find yourself wishing that everyone else in the world but you had died in a plague. Stupid work laptops. Stupid crowds.)
But it's all better now. :-)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

In Which I Chill Out

So it's been a good weekend, and I feel that I've managed to recover some of my missing spoons from last week. (Thanks, Debbie, that's such a cool metaphor.)
Anyway, I've been doing domestic type things all day like toddling along to dancing practice, and having bacon sandwiches for lunch, and catching up on homework, and making a really nice beef casserole that turned out to be not too peppery after all, and doing minor repairs on clothes, and watching Serenity and, well, chilling out.

[Big Zen sigh] Aaaaah. Bliss. Time for sleep now, I think.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

And now for the news...

1. Babe has ceased to leak, to the relief of us both. Now I can remove all the strategically placed towels that have been protecting the upholstery.
2. I've been back at Varsity for the last three days. It's good to be back, but all of a sudden I'm feeling stupid again, and I'm not loving the crowds.
3. I can now finger spell my name.
4. I got turned down as a group leader for the PASS programme. Bah! For maybe 12 hours of not-very-well-paid work, they sure do give people the run-around.
5. The frisbee game last night was much fun, albeit with an unprecedented number of collisions, falls, near-misses and plain just falling over one's feet. One of the last was me (although since I was scoring a point at the time, I ain't complaining), although the scariest part was when John ran over the girl I was marking and I had to somehow navigate over the pair of them.
6. Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday. Our frisbee team celebrated with pancakes. Is anybody in the team actually a Catholic? Anyway, the pancakes were good, thank you for the idea, John. Now, what to give up for Lent? Smoking?
7. I'm all of a sudden feeling very tired and deflated. There's been a lot of stuff happening lately, and it all seemed to catch up at once. Yesterday's late night is probably not helping any. :-(


Friday, February 24, 2006

Babe Speaks:

Arrgh! I've been kidnapped by aliens! They stuck things into my private parts and then they cut me open and stuck tubes into me as well. While I was awake. I'm still looking for the microchip tracking device. Even when I thought Steph had come to rescue me it turned out to be a foul trick involving a Mad Russian Taxi Driver. And now I'm locked into a pathetic simulacrum of my house and I CAN'T GET OUT!!! Someone save me!

Note from Steph: It took her precisely the length of the taxi trip home to work the shunt out, so now I have to clean her bleeding wounds 4 times a day so that they won't close up. Babe, you better be worth it, is all I can say.

(My contribution to the Suppurating Wounds Club.)

My Cat Does Not Cost More Than A Car...

But she's working on it. It turns out that the scratch at the base of her tail wasn't her only injury while I was away, she has a nice juicy abscess. Also, because I didn't spot it until yesterday, it's grown large enough that the vets can't just give her antibiotics and are weighing up the relative risks of trying to drain it in a half-arsed fasion with her awake or putting her under general anaesthetic and doing the job properly.

How does Babe get an abscess? She spends 98% of her time inside sleeping. Bah! Humbug! I'm worried. :-/

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

And in other news...

I've been trying to get a little ahead on my term's reading, mostly for my NZ Lit class. So far this has meant Man Alone by John Mulgan and The Bone People by Keri Hulme. Now, Man Alone was apparently a landmark book that is supposed to have influenced subsequent New Zealand writers and it's bleak, and dour, and dark. In fact, a quote on the back by C K Stead agrees with me: "It's rare, dour, sober truthfulness enacts a phase in our national history and catches certain truths about our national identity." I found this a bit depressing actually, because I got to thinking and realised that most of the books by New Zealand writers that I'd read are very bleak: things like Robin Hyde's Nor The Years Condemn, Philip Mann's Pioneers and Wulf's Yarn, even children's books like the O series of Maurice Gee, Take The Long Path by Joan De Hamel and Margaret Mahy's young adult novels (her kids books are silly and fun, but for teenagers she expects more). In fact, the only NZ written books for which I can't pin the label 'bleak and dour' are Hugh Cook's sprawling fantasy novels.
Is New Zealand as a nation really that depressed? Our movies (The Piano, River Queen, The Navigators, Whale Rider) certainly seems to imply so. Our music, with a happy core of Split Enz, Crowded House, Dave Dobbyn and Stellar*, seems to imply not. What's with that? Is this all just an erroneous impression gained from too small a random sample? Anyway, I'm about half way through The Bone People and I'm enjoying it a lot. It's very bleak and dark (but of course) but has lost the dourness. There's a lot of interesting texture in various characters' obsession with food, or the sea, or the colours of semi-precious stones, and how can one not like a main character whose favourite obscenity is "Shit and apricocks". I'm liking it a lot, and wondering what the hell the ending is going to be. There will be more on my theory of whether or not New Zealanders are essentially depressed later, when I've had time to digest more of the books on the course.

I've also been watching three TV adaptions of Dorothy L. Sayers novels, Strong Poison, Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night, courtesy of the lovely Debbie Cowen, who lent them to me. I found watching the first, Strong Poison, to be a little bit jarring at first - I know all three books very well, and had formed my own mental images of what all the characters were like, which no actor/director/scriptwriter can ever match. Having said that, their performances were all true to the books, it's just the nature of interesting characters that they take life in people's heads, and everyone's take on them is different. By the second mini-series, Have His Carcase, the dissonance wasn't so bad, and it was easier to watch and enjoy on its own merits.
I found the entire series to be a fascinating lesson in scriptwriting and adaptation, just watching how story lines were compressed, clues were simplified, more scenes were added in order to Show not Tell, entertaining scenes and characters were sadly (although necessarily) jettisoned if their payload of clue or characterisation could be shifted elsewhere. While not being able to explore anything as deeply, the scriptwriters were all trying hard to retain the feel of the books, and it was interesting how some iconic lines got shifted onto different characters, and served slightly different purposes, yet still made the cut. While Strong Poison, which is a fairly simple book, survived this process of simplification quite well, the other two are much meatier works - both long and complicated, Have His Carcase for its detective puzzle, and Gaudy Night for its characterisation. Of these two, Have His Carcase was, in my opinion, more successful. The criminals made stupider mistakes, and the detectives got luckier, but the essential parts of the story still happened in more or less the right shape. Gaudy Night didn't cope so well, just because there was so much other stuff in there, intense character development, statements on the value of work, musings on women's education and in all, I don't think they quite managed to skip over the gaps of what had been taken out quite so well. This is not to say that I didn't like them, because I liked all three adaptations a lot, but I found it interesting to make the comparison.
(And my, but the actor playing Lord Peter, Edward Petherbridge, had such a lovely voice...) I also wish they'd dramatised The Nine Tailors as well. While it doesn't fit into the Harriet Vane story arc, the fens and the bells and the flood were fantastically memorable images that I think would have filmed very well.

Monday, February 20, 2006


I have been cleaning. I got home yesterday from a week away and was horrified by how filthy the house is. Alas, I can't even blame this on feckless flatmates; no house gets this bad in a week, Norman and I have merely been slack. So anyway, death to sticky floors! Death to messy kitchens! Death to mysterious smells in the bathroom! Death to black patches on my duvet! (How much fur can one cat shed, anyway?) Death to grey carpet! (How much hair can I shed - oh, never mind.) Death to Smoochy!!!

The reason for my trip was work, which was very productive, and Mordavia, which was very fun. The biggest thing that happened was a huge and horrific battle which wiped out two thirds of the player characters. For about half an hour the GMs thought there wasn't going to be another game, but the straggling remnants of the battle and the players who hadn't turned up [ahem] managed to pull something shifty and took out the major war leader and after that the army kind of drifted off. The town of Berium is probably toast though, and we're wondering where a good site to shift to for the next game is. (In case anyone is wondering, there was a lot going on that had nothing to do with battles at all, it's just that it takes rather longer to explain why it was so significant to send a large section of the crew into the game as a group of coolie labourers asking where the road they were supposed to dig up was. Actually, playing a coolie labourer was rather a lot of fun. I think I have an innate fondness for playing venal peasants. "To Fred, who was very well hung!" etc)

And my feet have almost stopped hurting. Joy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Johari Windows

Because I confess to curiousity as to what other people think of me:

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I Shall Have Bruises Tomorrow...

Well, I've actually got bruises today, but they'll take a little while to develop into their full glory. This is not anyone beating up on me, just that I went along to a training session at Auckland Sword & Shield, and along with more unarmed fighting, we started learning the whys and wherefores of dagger and buckler which means lots of attack/defense drills with the occasional miss and resultant bruise. I haven't been able to train with the group regularly since I moved, but it's good to go back for visits. I got to the end of the session with my hands shaking slightly and the warm glow of having worked well. Also Steve Hodgson (the chief instructor) said that I seemed to be a lot more relaxed about personal space issues than I had been when I joined the club and that that was helping my fighting skills. So it's all good.

For the Wellingtonians who are reading this - stay where you are! The weather is horribly hot and humid, such that as soon as people walk outside they start dripping with sweat - perspiration - er, glow. Still, it rained this evening, which brings out a wonderfully earthy smell from the grass, and concurrently takes some of the heat out of the air. I saw a little of the Battlecry Mordavia game (hence got to smell the grass in the rain), and even gatecrashed it briefly with a tale of a lost pig, but otherwise missed most of it. There's one more week until the big weekend game with lots of organising still to do so I need to stop here and run around in circles for a bit.

Take care all,


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Incongruous Sight For The Day...

So, this morning I went in to the University to pick up some of the texts I'll need for next semester. As I walk out of Student Notes I'm greeted with one of the more unexpected poster ads - not for a book shop, or Student Job Search, or anything study related, no, it's actually a very large picture of an expired condom that's advertising emergency contraception. Now, I suppose as a public health message, fair enough, yet I can't help wondering if whoever sells advertising for the University thinks that students are generally promiscuous, or too ignorant to know what a morning-after pill is, or too stupid to work out how to get one. And hey, it's really important to ask for the right brand, doncherknow.

(By the way, Alasdair, both the bookshop and Student Notes have got a lot of their new stock in, and there isn't a queue in sight.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

La la la.

We won our latest Frisbee game and I scored one of the points. Hooray!
It was a really close game the whole way through, with a final score of 7-6 and a tie-breaker point to be played out after the whistle blew. It was a very impressive point, too - a massive lob from Mashugenah to be caught by Repton_Infinity waaay down the other end of the field. A very fun game. :-D

(The asthma inhaler seems to be helping, although I had a very impressive coughing fit the first time I subbed off. Damn dust.)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Now I Have An Inhaler. Ho. Ho. Ho.

So. About a week ago, it suddenly occurred to me that nearly every time I've gone out on to grass lately I've started wheezing and coughing, even if only a little bit. If I go out on grass and run around it's a whole lot worse, with the one recent exception being a day when it rained a lot, so maybe less pollen or something. After wailing eloquently at my GP he said "Yeah, that sounds like asthma" and gave me a prescription inhaler as an experiment.

The experiment seems pretty damn successful - all of a sudden I can race up hills without having to stop and catch my breath at all. Seriously, I just walked up fom Brooklyn to Kingston in 28 minutes, which beats my best time for walking down the hill the other way. This is me, bouncing up the hill, humming the Pina Colada song: bounce bounce bounce...

Oh, and Memoirs of a Geisha was also very good. Thanks for the company, Frank.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Commonplace Book

Big whorls have little whorls
   That feed on their velocity,
And little whorls have lesser whorls
   And so on to viscosity.
-- Lewis F. Richardson

This was Richardson's summary of his 1920 paper "The supply of energy from and to Atmospheric Eddies" and can be found here, along with the two poems it's parodying. Gotta love physicists with a sense of humour.

In other news, our frisbee game last night was a draw. Go us!
(It's one of the more endearing traits of Ultimate Frisbee that there are no referees, but it does mean that sometimes people's idea of the score at the end of the game can be a little bit hazy. This time round, it turned out that both teams had thought that the other team was winning, so we compromised on a 12-12 split.) Also, one of the opposing team members said something nice to me about my playing at the end of the game, which still has me smiling. After the game our team decamped to my house for an evening of sausages, chips and conversation. It was a pretty good night.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Because I Haven't Inflicted Poetry On Anyone For Ages...

Or at least a week. :-)

"Ode to the Lemon"

From blossoms
by the moonlight,
from an
aroma of exasperated
steeped in fragrance,
drifted from the lemon tree,
and from its planetarium
lemons descended to the earth.

Tender yield!
The coasts,
the markets glowed
with light, with
unrefined gold;
we opened
two halves
of a miracle,
congealed acid
from the hemispheres
of a star,
the most intense liqueur
of nature,
unique, vivid,
born of the cool, fresh
of its fragrant house,
its acid, secret symmetry.

sliced a small
in the lemon,
the concealed apse, opened,
revealed acid stained glass,
oozed topaz,
cool architecture.

So, when you hold
the hemisphere
of a cut lemon
above your plate,
you spill
a universe of gold,
yellow goblet
of miracles,
a fragrant nipple
of the earth's breast,
a ray of light that was made fruit,
the minute fire of a planet.

-- Pablo Neruda

(Courtesy of the Wondering Minstrels again:

Friday, January 27, 2006

Down the Rabbit Hole

Kidnapped Stephanie (dear Stephanie) and dragged her along to a film about Russian vampires. Squelch and squish. Also, an ingenious method of storing one's backup weapon.
Some composer's birthday today. Stephanie got her revenge by making me listen to a glass harmonica.
Some writer's birthday, too. Rabbits are for dissecting. I don't care if they're white.

See you on the other side of the mirror, darlings.


Thursday, January 26, 2006


I've been asked to run one of the PASS sessions next trimester for ENGL111. It's like a supplementary tutorial, but run by students that took the course the year before. We're supposed to be less scary or something.

1. I'd get to warp naive young minds.
2. It would be teaching experience of a sort.
3. There's Chaucer's "Miller's Tale" which is one of his funnier (and smuttier) offerings. "The Rape of the Lock" was quite fun as well.

1. There's Malory's version of King Arthur, which I hated with a white hot passion.
2. The money isn't fantastically great. But then it's only an hour a week, so it's more of a token anyway.

I must think on this.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Well, At Least It Wasn't Windy...

The frisbee game tonight was somewhat damp. Actually, it was very damp, and to add to the insult of being a drowned rat, I was the only girl there for the first half, which meant that I couldn't sub off. Phew.

All of which is lots of exaggeration for dramatic effect, because it turns out that a little bit of rain makes for a very fun game. We didn't get nearly so overheated and there were some amazingly spectacular dives and slides. Also, because I take my victories where I can find them, I survived a frisbee game where I wasn't allowed to sub off in the first half. (Tanja, thank you, you have officially saved my life. :->)

It was very very good to crawl into warm dry clothes when I got home, though.

Monday, January 23, 2006

I Want To Be A World Famous Writer...

...So that when I post a picture of my cat on the Internet, 121 people will all see fit to comment on how beautiful she is. It would be good for her ego.

(Although I'm rather impressed at how many times people can say the same relatively trivial thing, over and over and over. It seems to be the text equivalent of nodding to show that you're still listening.)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Review: KapCon

I've never really been to a roleplaying convention before. I missed the various incarnations of the Flying Crocodile Cup, never got around to Battlecry and in general haven't been doing that much tabletop roleplaying lately. I turned up to one of the games in Confusion last year, but I was only there for an afternoon so decline to count it. On the other hand, it turns out that very many of my friends in Wellington, as well as a flatmate (Norman) and visiting guest (Struan) have been considering KapCon as one of the highlights of their social year, so I thought I'd give it a try.

First off, I had a lot of fun. I met many interesting new people, and got to know some other interesting people that I'd previously only had a nodding aquaintance with. The games were also tres cool, even though I didn't play in every session. (I have a tendency to get peopled out, especially in crowds, and the walls of Wellington High School are quite good at reflecting sound. The term "Tidal Wave of Noise" was very applicable at times.)

Of the games I played in, two were fairly standard short games - enjoyable, but they didn't push me out of my comfort zone. The others were somewhat ... interesting. One was a medical soap opera in which we were filming the pilot of Wellington's answer to Shortland St "Bleeding Hearts", which meant acting out scenes - turning into sides of bacon, hurriedly rearranging furniture as needed, upstaging each other like mad, and doing whatever we could to improve our ratings. The plot to kidnap one of the doctors to Molvania that was foiled by a helicopter accidentally taking out the nurse Tiffany (whose real name was Greta something, and was also a mail order bride to my father the hospital accountant) was very memorable.

The other was also a semi-Larp, but much more serious. It was called "Couples", run by a chap called Tony S?, and if I had to name the genre I'd call it psychological realism. We were playing 6 friends (all paired off, but with history) who had gotten together for a weekend away by the lake in Wanaka. The twist was that we all had issues that were giving us serious grief, and the tensions of the holiday brought them all out. It was, without question, the most intense roleplaying I've ever experienced. The character sheets were detailed psych profiles that were based on real people, and after we'd had time to read through them we talked with the GM privately to work out extra details and quirks, and then spent time with our character's partners developing shared history: everything from favourite colours, the cars that we drove, an ordinary evening's entertainment down to things about our sex lives and how we felt about each other. The issues that we had to work out were all things that could happen in our real lives and some of them happened to cut very close to the bone. (I highly recommend this game, but it ain't for the faint hearted.) From a technical perspective, the roleplaying between people became very natural and unforced - the shared reality everyone was creating between them had nothing to do with what the world is like and everything to do with how we related to each other, so everything just flowed smoothly. It was incredibly intense from an emotional perspective, and I spent 20 minutes after the game was over wondering if I was going to burst into tears before turning into Princess Yun Sing for the main Larp of the evening, who is a very different person indeed. I also found that the next day I was still getting odd moments of emotional backlash that ranged from wondering what my character would be doing in 6 months time, to how I, a very different person, would have reacted to the same events. (It's rather astonishing, when you think about it, how much immersing into a character can protect your real psyche from weird shit.) I'm very glad that I got a private debriefing with Tony the next day, and I'm also very glad that I got to play in the game.

The main Larp "Rule Brittania" was great. I played a Chinese princess with a thirst for travel, some special magic medicine and a dark secret about how the medicine was made. I achieved all of my goals as well as an extra that turned up during the game. (Andy, if you ever read this, waving The Book at you after the game was over and seeing you mouthing swear words at me truly made my night.) There was too much stuff going on to describe with any justice, but I take my hairpins off to the wonderfully sinister Fu Manchu, a seedy-looking businessman, who happened to be a really nice guy. (Alas, my character kept on wondering what the hell she was going to have to pay him back with later, but she really appreciated all the help he gave her.) I do have one regret though - I was playing a character who looked vulnerable and innocent but was actually dripping with Kick Arse fighting ability and magic charms that protected her from dark magic. Did anyone attack me, at all? Nope.

Logistically speaking, the con was organised with ruthless and impressive efficiency, capable of handling even my feckless and tardy self with grace and aplomb. There were no problems. At all. Everything was announced clearly, it was easy to find the game rooms (although Struan and I got lost finding the main entrance on our first day), there were snacks available at a reasonable price, there were food runs for cheap pizza and, I kid you not, everything started and finished bang on time. I didn't think it could be done, but now I have learnt my error and will henceforth strive harder to please the Gods of Punctuality in my own paltry organising efforts.

How did it compare to Science Fiction conventions, with which I have considerably more experience? Well, it's not in a hotel, so room parties, hanging out in the bar, and lounging around the piano singing filks badly just didn't happen. It was a lot less casual, unlike SF Cons where you can wander in and out of panels as you please, here you needed to sign up for 3 hour games in advance and if you were late, they might be able to slot you in, or then again they might now. There was still the atmosphere of hanging out in the foyer chatting and playing games, though, which is one of the better parts of cons everywhere.

KapCon. Do I recommend it? Absolutely.