Australian SpecFic Snapshot

The Australian SpecFic Snapshot has been happening this week – 5 questions asked of each of… quite a number of Australian speculative fiction writers, editors, fans and illustrators.

The interviews will be archived on ASif! but are being blogged here:

Kathryn Linge interviewed me (thank you Kathryn!) and I got very excitable and showed off a very small panel (but one of my favourite) from the Recent Project:

December Short Movie Reviews

Australia. My sister hates it when I begin reviews of movies by saying, “Well, I wanted to like it.” She says, “Did you like it or not – yes or no?”. She liked this one. I… well, it’s more complicated than that. Usually when I want to like a movie it is because it has something – heart, story, special effects, a Big Idea – which deserved a better package. In Australia’s case, I think it was the country that didn’t quite get what it should have. The movie falters. It is sometimes cringe-worthy and sometimes stunning and sometimes painful and sometimes breathtakingly beautiful (the highlight for me was Daisy, riding in her yellow dress) and sometimes unexpectedly effective. Australia is the movie Australia couldn’t make in the ’50s: an epic, beautiful, elaborate, musically rich film that isn’t Bleak and Gritty and Worthy. I hope it does well enough that people aren’t put off trying to do something like this again because the materials are there. But I also think this particular movie would have worked quite well as a miniseries.

Gallery walk. Angela H and I went on the Paddington Gallery Walk – one Saturday in December, seven Paddington art galleries stay open until 9, with wine and beer and cheese. It’s a lovely evening.

Four Holidays. I quite liked parts of this and was touched by two scenes: the very female-centric comedy of the relationship between the sisters, and the scene where the various families are playing word games and the brother and his wife – shown so far as very unappealing people – win hands down because they know each other so well, while the protagonists know very little about each other. It reminded me of my parents who once won a game of Pictionary because my dad drew a palm tree and my mother guessed pinacolada.

Madagascar. Silly. Not (usually) good silly, either. There were some priceless moments with the penguins, but not nearly enough quality lemur scenes. One of those movies where I come out wanting to shake the people responsible and say, “durnnit! you had so much to work with! how hard did you have to try to get the script completely wrong?!”

Twilight. Not as bad as I expected it to be. A few cringe-worthy scenes near the beginning (which aparently make more sense if you have read the book, but are still cringe-worthy), and what I suspect was meant to be the contrast between characters dealing with serious emotional issues and flippant teenagers usually came off as a contrast between overly angsty main characters and teenagers just acting like teenagers, but in general – although not rising above what it was – it wasn’t actually painful.

Frost/Nixon. Great movie and definitely up there with my best for the year. It is based on a stage play and I think this shows in the way everything is heavily dialogue driven – it’s a slightly different dynamic than usual in movies. It was solid and interesting and also entertaining, and there aren’t enough movies like that. It made me want to watch All the President’s Men again.

May Australian Spec Fic Carnival

For your viewing pleasure:

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Five Beautiful Places: or, what I’ve been doing with my weekends.

  1. Mt Tambourine. Deb and I walked the Witches Falls Circuit through the vertical rainforest and hung over the lookout platform, staring at the great hexagonal columns gradually detaching themselves from the mountain, and at the slight waterfall which fell and fell and never seemed to stop falling, and the endless trees. We saw hollow trunks and massive whorled cavernous shells of trees, and on the way back lyrebirds crossed our path. I’ve never been bushwalking in a skirt before, but it did make me feel very Isabella Bird, and was quite comfortable and airy.
  2. Mt Kosciuszko. Very high, very clear, very beautiful. On the mountain, everything is grey-green and pure and cold and fantastical rock formations and clear pools shape and reflect the sky. From the skilift, while the other subeditor’s brother threatened to rock it, the world was distant and perfect and the grass far below was blonde and soft and restless. I hadn’t planned this trip and was only warned a week out that I would be going with my sister to “the highest mountain on the lowest and flattest continent”. I want to go back and be quiet somewhere up near the summit and keep trying to capture the peculiar blue of the hills and clarity of the air. Coincidentally, it was where my parents had spent their honeymoon on the same weekend 29 years before.
  3. Mt Coot-tha. We had our Good Friday breakfast in a new location – orange juice, barbequed bacon and eggs, hot cross buns crunchy from being toasted in the oils on the barbeque, pancakes with lemon and sugar, or with chocolate eggs wrapped in them and melted. While the various fires were being lit, a few of us ran up the hill which was green and lawn-like and sparkling, and spelled Emily! with our shadows near the top (because there were six of us and she had the shortest name).
  4. Hatton Vale. We have horses in the back half of my parents’ yard now, and a labyrinth of butterfly-leaved bushes at the front. I sat out on a blanket with a shady hat and drew both and ate dark Lindt chocolate.
  5. The road to Dalby. I went out for Aimee’s birthday – halfway to what used to be home. I hadn’t forgotten how beautiful the country on that side of the range was, but it has been too long since I’ve seen it. Out past Oakey and the upturned bowl of Gowrie Mountain, the world levels out. The sky is a great blue dish, plumed on one side, and the world is so flat it seems tiny under that immense sky. The highway straightens and becomes blue, the trees and powerlines march away, the grass is tawny and the sorghum russet-red and when the sun sets the world turns gold and candy-pink and scarlet. It is so soon like home, and there is a claustrophobic feeling attendant on returning through Toowoomba and sinking down the range into the little, gnarly, pocketed, miniature landscapes of the valley, which are dim and beautiful and every changing like a little world in a fairy tale. But not so vacantly majestic, nor so nearly home.

Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples 13 February 2008

Yesterday morning I went to work early (9am AEDT is 8am in Queensland), cornered the practice manager and we went up to the partners’ bar and watched The Speech. I then spent most of the rest of the day talking about it on and off – to solicitors and friends and family and housemates and taxi drivers. This is a Frankensteinian cobbling-together of some of the contents of my emails and conversations thereon:

  1. It needed to be done. It’s difficult to fix something if you can’t acknowledge something’s wrong, and we were always going to get hung up on this issue.
  2. It needed to be done by the Government. This wasn’t about individual guilt for another individual’s actions. Not about asking you and I to apologise for what happened at Hornet Bank, for instance. And it wasn’t asking the Government to apologise for the actions of rogue citizens or for something that happened in the mists of time. Rudd was right – it was recent. But more than that, these were actions of and condoned by a single entity which is still in existence – Australia, represented by its Government which represents its citizens. That entity is being asked to apologise for its own actions. And if you accept that what happened was wrong – however good or misguided the intentions may or may not have been – then an apology is in order. It is the decent thing to do and it should be given by the entity responsible – Australia. As citizens, whether before or after the events in question, or whether we or our parents arrived after or we chose to become citizens, we are a part of that entity, and we elect representatives to do things on our behalf. The country did something for which there is a very strong argument that it is wrong. We aren’t individually guilty of that. But we are jointly responsible for making sure we don’t condone it.
  3. Even if I thought something was legitimate at the time, I should still be big enough to apologise when I realise it wasn’t. And if there are grey areas in some respects, there are issues of racism, discrimination and genocide to more than balance out that equation.
  4. Guillard and Bishop were caught in the corners of the screen as Rudd and Nelson talked, so we got a good look at their faces. When Nelson started his response, I thought Bishop was going to jump up and interrupt a few times :). This was a highlight.
  5. Rudd got in a line about the complexities of post-reformation theology.
  6. Yes, it’s meant to be a debate but Nelson did not do himself or his argument any favours. I wanted to rewrite his speech for him. People have said it wasn’t the place to say what he did. I agree with my mother that there should be political debate. He just did it really badly and insensitively and sort of missed the general point of compensation. I had an overall impression of faulty reasoning and tangents, but when I read the transcript it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought (that just means that it came across worse live). (Read this noting that I find I get less agitated if I critique someone’s writing than their ideas – it’s the only way I get through the Opinion pieces in the Courier Mail).
  7. This is our government and ultimately they are responsible to the people who elected them. I don’t want my government to ask, “How can we avoid liability for what we did?”. I want them to ask, “Are we liable for what we did?” and then fix it to the best of their ability.
  8. This doesn’t fix anything. But it means we can start to try. Not the drought-break, but maybe the watershed.
  9. This doesn’t fix everything. It has snowballed over the decades into such a huge thing, but it isn’t an apology to everyone for everything that has ever been done. It was about specific policies and actions and the people trampled by them. And some people were less hurt by it than others. Some people don’t care. Many do.
  10. This does not create a situation of inequality. It is acknowledging the inequality that has been there all along.
  11. No, this can’t be dealt with in the criminal courts. For the most part, it was legal at the time. Not right, but legal.
  12. No, this isn’t the same thing as Germany. For one thing, the German government was comprehensively dismantled and replaced after WWII so it isn’t a continuous entity.
  13. No, it doesn’t automatically create an entitlement to ‘handouts’ or compensation. But if it does, why are we complaining if it is the Right Thing? Obviously, there are many possible answers to that, but it won’t hurt to examine them.
  14. You can’t have a “one-size fits all” solution if you’ve just deliberately lopped limbs off a group of people. I really like the cartoon A Concise History of Black-White Relations in the U.S.A. and have found it useful for explaining a number of things. But it’s a very different situation than this (maybe relations with Native Americans  – is that the preferred name? I’m open to correction – would be more analogous?). The Straight Ablebodied Rich White Man’s Burden might be closer to what seems (broadly) to be going on in Australia, only imagine that the speaker put the better part of those other bags there. 
  15. Please to define “a better life”.
  16. What did you think?

[Edited 16/2/08 to change “Fraser” to “Nelson” : )]

Well, this should be interesting

After voting on Tuesday (and being charmed to find that the voting booths at City Hall were located near a display of embroidery), occasionally forgetting I had voted, attending the Toogoolawa Camel Races, driving to Gatton, catching up with Aimee, breaking my car, waiting for the RACQ, finding the breaking-of-the-car was not my fault, being driven home by Aimee and engaging in consumption of baked cheesecake, I find that Howard has formally conceded defeat to Rudd.

Although not obvious from the above, I’ve been wrestling with whether I am willing to trade economic stability for social security.

 I guess I’ll find out.