Saturday, November 27, 2010

This could be interesting

Update Sunday, November 28:  Morning after and we still don't have a result... what a freaky political year! First the federal election, then the AFL Grand Final (okay so that's not political, but still!), and now Victorians have managed to come up with something that could be a draw.

Herald Sun online this morning.

Forty two seats to Labor. Forty four seats to the Coalition.  Forty-five needed to win. Two seats left undecided - Macedon leaning to Labor, Bentleigh leaning to the Coalition. And 550,000 pre-poll votes that won't begin to be counted until Monday...

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Will my prediction ACTUALLY come true?  I didn't see this one coming.

Hung Parliament Looms in Victoria  
The Australian, Saturday 27 November, 12:00am
VOTING is underway in the Victorian election with opinion polls in the state favouring Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu for the first time.
[read full article]

Time to go and vote in the rain...

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Old Friends

I couldn't live very well without books.

I know this for a fact because I've actually tried to go for one week without reading.  (This was a punishment inflicted by my parents when I was younger. Obviously they knew I would suffer).

I shunned the bookcase, and instead found myself reading the backs of cereal boxes.  And the car manual.  And the instructions for the DVD player.

This was a few years ago, when I would read three or four novels a week.  Simple, easy classics by excellent authors.  Allow me to introduce you to my old friends.  I pulled them out the other day to have their portraits done.

I can't remember when I first picked up Anne of Green Gables, but I know I must have read it over thirty times since then.  The thing I love most about this series is the way you can grow up with Anne.  It seems that each year I've been introduced to the next book in the series, and matured as Anne matured.  It was only this year that I read Anne's House of Dreams!

  And people laugh at me because I use big words.  But if you have big ideas you have to use big words to express them, haven't you? 
- Anne of Green Gables

Australia has its own distinct brand of fiction I've discovered.  Each of these books presents the Aussie ethos, the unique landscape, the historical tensions and events which shaped the nation.  That sentence sounded so intelligent.  Don't get scared off!  They're great stories, and all based on truth.  Can't get much better than that.   

Oh, how girls love this lot.  I just read Jo's Boys again the other day.  Did you know it existed?  I'd only ever had a trilogy of Little Women, Good Wives, and Little Men, until Mum picked up the fourth in an op shop.  Knowing how it all ended for the March family was faaaaantastic.
Jane Austen - what can I say that hasn't already been said about her?  Nothing, that's what.  And Elizabeth Gaskell is someone I will read forever and always.
"Wouldn't it be fun if all the castles in the air which we make could come true and we could live in them?" 
- Jo March, Little Women

Trixie Belden the girl detective.  Oooh, I love a good mystery.  Especially one set in the hip 50s and 60s.  I have these old ones, but the series is just being re-released after years and years.  I believe the first one was written in 1948 - isn't that just swell!

“I have so got an ambition,” Trixie
told him with a toss of her head. “It’s 
all settled. Honey and I are going to 
be private detectives; aren’t we, 

Jim hooted with laughter. “And call 
your agency Schoolgirl Shamuses, Incorporated, 
I suppose. I can just see 
your business cards,” he went on gaily. 
“‘When the FBI gives up, we take over,’ 
printed in red.”

- (Trixie Belden and the Gatehouse Mystery, 1951)

Let's get a little adventurous now (and ignore My Fair Lady, I don't know how she got caught up in this crowd).   Grey Chieftain is a gem, especially if you like animal stories.  The Hound of the Baskervilles is a recent acquisition, and a spooky one at that. If you haven't read Ben Hur yet, then what are you waiting for?  Jules Verne was my first taste of science fiction a la 'ye olde style'.  And then The Adventures of Robin Hood brings action, romance and the medieval world together between two tattered covers.

"But one false statement was made by Barrymore at the inquest. He said that there were no traces upon the ground round the body. He did not observe any. But I did—some little distance off, but fresh and clear."
     "A man's or a woman's?"
     Dr. Mortimer looked strangely at us for an instant, and his voice sank almost to a whisper as he answered:
     "Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!"
     The Hound of the Baskervilles, ch. 2 (1902)

Hurrah for the Famous Five, the Secret Seven, the Five Finder-Outers (or was it four?), the Six Cousins on Mistletoe Farm... etc. etc.  Enid Blyton was so 1940s-50s-60s.  She opened up a world of endless summer holidays, tiny islands, rowing through the rocks at midnight, home made 'ices', canned 'tongue' (um, gross?), lots of chocolate cake, ham sandwiches on thick slices of bread.  Just smashing.  Now I'm hungry. 

"It wasn't a bit of good fighting grown-ups. They could do exactly as they liked". 
(Julian in Five On a Treasure Island)

Some perennial favourites.  Did you know there are sequels to Heidi?  Yes, and they are just as good as the first.  Laura Ingalls Wilder introduced me to life on the prairie through blizzards and fires.  Who can't relate to What Katy Did?  And Black Beauty makes me cry.  Now, The Railway Children only made its way onto my shelves about a year ago.  Its such a precious little story!  

Speaking of precious stories...

What perfect illustrations.

And funny sentences.

Don't worry my old friends, you'll be safe with me forever.    

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Two Cents: Victorian election

Yes, I know these are American coins.
Australia doesn't have 'one cent' coins.
These will do. 
Here starts a new type of files on the Mouse Files: 'My Two Cents' which I think is pretty self-explanatory. It's my two cent worth opinion on something which is worth having an opinion about.

Since I've emerged from my textbooks and papers to find 'how to vote' cards on the table, and newspapers full of generic election promises, here's a little something on the up-coming Victorian State Election.

First I have to say: Goodness, isn't one election a year enough? (Victorians think so.)  Everyone seems a bit tired this time round, creaking out the campaigns, throwing up a few signs, and doing the odd radio interview.

Who will it be?  John Brumby the Bland or Ted Ballieu the Invisible (sorry, couldn't resist).  
Labor or Liberal?  Greens in the Upper House... Democratic Labor Party or Family First, maybe?  The Sex Party or Country - WOAH!  Did I just say the Sex Party?  Um, yes.  Australia's newest 'major minor party'.

Say hello to the newcomers, boys and girls.  They're here to represent the adult entertainment industry, and all the Australians who like that sort of thing.  They got about .09 per cent of the vote in the Federal election a few months ago, and now they're setting up camp in Victoria.

I took a little look at their Victorian policies since they might very well get a member in.  After legalising all drugs for 'personal use', giving the vote to 16 year olds, replacing religious instruction with an ethics course, and advocating unrestricted same-sex adoption they sound a little Green-ish to me.  Oh, but they also want to 'decriminalise the sex industry'.  I suppose that explains the name.

The Australian Christian Lobby had something to say about their policies.  The Sex Party also had something to say about Christians moving around in Canberra, and the number of MPs in the Christian Parliamentary Fellowship.  Apparently it's cause for concern.  I could say something sarcastic here, but I won't.

But if this represents Australia's priorities for government right now, then the world truly has gone mad.



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Mouse Files

The Mouse Files
The Mouse Files by TheMouseFiles

Confessions: Hiding under a rock having fun

It's that time of year again...

Three weeks of Uni left - five assignments to get in.  That's my version of 'exam week' because I don't have any exams.

So, I don't have much spare time on my hands. In fact it's the other way around: I don't have enough time on my hands.  Unfortunately, that means that I haven't had time to invent a revolutionary machine that I can plug into my clock every night and wind back to gain a few more hours to research academic journals, order library books or write another 1000 words.  (That would be very cool -  but I just don't have time...sigh)

I do the next best thing, and hide under a rock (not literally).  No shopping, no novels, no interior decorating, no cooking, no writing for fun, no photo-editing, no long phone calls with get the picture?  I'm locked in the study, chained to my computer (blogging. Hah, shhhh) I hear your sympathetic groans.  But not so fast, you don't have to worry!  I'm weird!
Yes.  I actually have fun when I'm reading, researching and writing in the world of academia.  Confession:  I do this during the holidays when I'm bored.  I do this on weekends sometimes.  I'm a research-aholic.  I read research papers by the Australian Institute of Family Studies for fun.  I borrow books from the library on the different generations, on feminism, on the decline of religion...fascinating.

So don't feel sorry for me when I disappear under a rock, because I'm secretly having fun.  But I do get tired, and my brain begins to bulge with information overload, so I'll always re-emerge sooner or later.
In the meantime - don't expect me to answer your letters or phone calls.

Disclaimer: I came out from under my rock to blog this and fiddle around with my laptop.  In the process of doing that, I deleted every single photo I've ever uploaded (don't ask me how I did it)  THEY'RE JUST GONE!  Hear my screaming.  Moral of the story:  I should have just stayed under my rock.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I won the Melbourne Cup

Well, it wasn't a draw (sigh), but I was slightly mollified when I won.

Yes, I won.  (I'm going to repeat that phrase a lot, because I never win.  Seriously. Ask my family and any one who has ever seen me compete in anything.)

Anyway, half an hour before the 'race that stops that stops a nation' started (and I won), I drew three horses' names out of a hat (theoretically), and so did the rest of my family, plus cousins, plus Uncle B and Aunty J.  My brother pulled out the sure favourite So You Think, so I did think that he would win for sure.

We all contributed $2 to the pool, and our sweep was done.  (Why is it called a sweep anyway?)
The sweeping took under 5 minutes so we spent the rest of the time embellishing the faces of the jockeys in the newspaper with black pens (yes, this was an immature thing to do, but it was a public holiday...)

The last time I watched the Melbourne Cup was when Makybe Diva won for the third time back in...wait, let me google it...2005! Wow, five years ago.  Okay, so I don't watch it much.

BUT, I do love watching horses on film.  Yes, don't you love those dramatic horse-races, with the intense music, and super slow-motion just before the hero horse wins by a nose... they're all the same, but I love 'em anyway.

Seabiscuit (2003) - Based on a true story. Little horse unexpectedly wins big races.  Set around the Great Depression.  Made me cry.

Here's the end quote by Seabiscuit's jockey which sums it up:
"You know everyone thinks that we found this broken down horse and fixed him, but we didn't, he fixed us, everyone of us, and I guess in a way we kinda fixed eachother too."

It's not a children's film (be warned), but very deep and triumphant.

Dreamer (2005) - Inspired by a true story.  Injured horse saved by girl, wins race.  Am I giving away too many spoilers?  It's predictable anyway, right?

Definitely more light and fluffy than Seabiscuit.  Dakota Fanning stars as the girl who saves the horse. Her name is Cale...isn't that deliciously original?

I love the song 'Dreamer' which plays during the credits.  It was written and sung by Bethany Dillon (who, if you don't know, is a Christian singer/song writer who has prodeuced some awesome music)

I am a dreamer, Take me higher. Open the sky up, start a fire. I believe, even if it's just a dreammmmm.  (Good thing you can't actually hear my singing.)

Phar Lap (1983)

Now, here's a classic - and it's Australian!! (Well, the horse was a Kiwi, but we can at least claim the movie)

It stars Tom Burlinson from the Man From Snowy River, and is another tear-jerker.  But for a good reason!  Phar Lap's story has a sad ending in real life (I won't give it away this time)

It also makes you want to cheer as Phar Lap thunders down the home stretch, and the commentator is going nuts in his super-Aussie accent which no one can understand... Yes, a classic.

Phar Lap was amazing.  I've seen his heart at the National Museum in Canberra.  It looked foul, but it was very big.  I would suggest you skip the heart and just go look at his skin in the Melbourne Museum.  Much nicer.
Anyway, back to 2010.

The race started at 3:00pm and we were all yelling for our three horses.  Race horses have such cool names by the way.  Hmmm.  I just tried to google the names of this years' horses, but our internet protection keeps blocking it as 'Gambling'.  That's really annoying, because I'm not even trying to gamble.

Back to last Tuesday. I was getting slightly distracted like I did just now, when all of a sudden, Americain shot up from the pack and overtook So You Think by a mile (or so).
*Long Pause*
"Who had Americain?"
*Longer Pause*
"Oh. Me!! I won!! Yes!!"
*Starts to dance around the room*

And then the phone rang.  It was someone from Adelaide, and I wanted to tell them that I had just won the Melbourne Cup, but I don't think they even knew it was on. So much for the 'race that stops a nation'.

He is a very beautiful horse.  Good job, mate! You ran well.
I won [five dollars fifty] the Melbourne Cup, and now I'm going to celebrate my win [with an ice cream - because that's all you can buy with five dollars fifty].

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