Tuesday, 30 September 2008
After I finish looking after the Chatterbox, I then drive 15 minutes away to pick up the "Third funniest kid in his class" and his brother (who, incidentally can't wait until he's seventeen so he can watch Pirates of the Caribbean). These two brothers (six and four) are the lights of my life every Wednesday afternoon for three hours, but this week, I get to enjoy them from Monday to Thursday from 4pm to 6pm.
All this work means I am away from home from just before eight in the morning to about 6.30 in the evening. Which isn't too bad because I can take LQ along with me and Dal gets the house to himself to work on his thesis.... or that's the plan anyway.
LQ was really sick on the weekend and stayed home with Dal yesterday and today. They went to the doctor yesterday to be told she has croup. She was given an antibiotic and another medicine to help with the cough. On top of that, Dal was told she should have some dimetapp for the "other type" of cough that she has. All this medicine means our little LQ has been recuperating quite nicely.
LQ has always been good when it comes to taking medicine. We proudly claim that it is the Petersen in her. It only became evident HOW much she enjoys her medicine today when she waddled into our room, picked up two different bottles of medicine (both hers and both with safety caps!), waddled back to Dal and lifted her chubby fists containing the medicine towards him. With a noise that we have come to interpret as "I want", she indicated to Dallas that it must be time for her medicine.... Is this a good thing?
On another "cute" LQ note - Dal was enjoying the peace and quiet this morning as he washed the dishes until LQ toddled out from the toilet with a piece of toilet paper in her hand. Again it was offered to him as though it was a treasure above all treasures. He followed her trail of toilet paper all the way back to the little room to find a nice big pile of whiteness, ready for a little puppy to go to sleep on.
I'm missing my child's cuteness while I deal with a talkaholic! Good thing Dallas takes photos.
Sunday, 28 September 2008
Yes, Hello Brother Dallas...
Alas, I have gone yet another week without watching a current movie. I watched The Year of the Dragon starring Mickey Rourke from 1985 (lame!), The English Patient (gorgeous!), and James Bond in You Only Live Twice (deliciously corny). But the standout film experience of the week came via Home Teaching.+
One of the individuals that I Home Teach is a man from Poland named Les. He's a single gentleman who has been living in Sydney now for over twenty years. Since Home Teaching usually involves boring (yet satisfying) thirty minute sessions of friendly gospel "sharing", I decided to spice things up and invite Les to a Polish film night. It is not often that I get to watch a good Polish film, and I thought this might be the trick. So, last night I picked up Les at his home and was greeted by his perfunctory "Yes, Hello Brother Dallas" in an accent dangerously close to Borat Sagdiyev. Les and I then drove over to the home of my home teaching companion, Geoff, where we ate pizza and watched Krzysztof Kieslowski's A Short Film About Killing.
This film comprises one of Kieslowski's Dekalog series of films which were ten films, each about one of the Ten Commandments, originally broadcast on Polish television in 1990. This film dealt with the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" and details the actions of Lazar Jacek as he prepares to, and then murders a cab driver. This murder comprises the first half of this eighty minute film. The last half details the subsequent trial, incarceration, and hanging of Jacek for his crimes.
This film is one of the most visually stimulating, intense, and excruciating films I've ever seen. The murder of the cab driver is altogether horrifying. Rarely, if ever, has violence been so terrifying. This murder is deftly juxtaposed with the gut-wrenching hanging of Jacek at the conclusion of the film. At first glance, it would be easy to shrug this film off as a "message" film designed as an indictment of capital punishment. But, a closer reading reveals a certain purity that emanates from this film. As Jacek goes from brutal murderer to being forced before the gallows it is clear that he has come to appreciate the sanctity of life, if only the sanctity of his own life. This transformation is rather startling, and as the film closes with Jacek's death there is this palpable feeling that life truly is something sacred. And although an ancient "commandment" instructing human beings not to kill each other may seem rather simplistic and obvious, it is, in fact, quite inspired.
+For those of you who read this that are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Home Teaching is a program in which members of the congregation are paired up and assigned to visit the other families in the congregation. This visiting usually takes place once a month and inspires greater unity amongst the congregation.
Friday, 26 September 2008
Danielle's really kind and fantastic mum sent some dresses over with D when she came. It has only been in this recent hotter weather that LQ has had occasion to wear the dresses. The dresses definitely add a girliness to LQ that the lack of hair takes away!
We (meaning me) ripped open the packaging so we could start blowing bubbles straight away. This is LQ's first experience with bubbles.... and she found it HILARIOUS (read: 'ilarious)
We have set up the bubble machine in the bath and the hand bubble blowing will be for outside fun. I can't wait for tomorrow!
If you don't quite catch it, she starts to clap for herself as she throws her little body onto the beanbag for the first time.
P.S. I know the video is a bit dated (goodness she's been walking for at least three weeks now!), but I took the video specifically for my blog.
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Since getting Foxtel (digital cable), LQ and I have had fun becoming acquainted with the many children's programs that are now available o us. I'm embarrassed to admit (but not so embarrassed that I wont) that LQ knows how to turn the tv on and off now and will do more of the turning on than the turning off. Some of the programs we enjoy are Yo Gabba Gabba, In the Night Garden, Blues Clues, The Backyardigans (I think I enjoy this one more than LQ) and of course Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
It took me a while to get used to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. There's nothing like nostalgia to help you hold onto old ideas... and my Mickey Mouse just isn't 3D looking with all sorts of new gadgets and gizmos. But LQ LOVES the bright colours and the pace of the show, so we continued to watch it. I started to soften when I heard Mickey say "Hot Dog! That was clever!" Somehow, Mickey saying "Hot Dog" made everything else ok. At the end of each program is this little jingle. - please note Goofy's 'Hot Dawg' dance.... amazing.
Mickey's goodbye jingle is so good, that I am usually heard to be singing it at random moments throughout the day and night. I knew it had gotten to a ridiculous point in my life when, after being awoken by LQ at two this morning, I lay like a board on my bed with "Hot Dog, Hot Diggity Dog" going over and over in my head. I lay there silently screaming as Mickey's song wouldn't let me go back to sleep.
I have found a similar post to mine that made me giggle because it's so true!
Sunday, 21 September 2008
I've also decided to list some of the best epic films ever made, if not THE best epic films. For a film to qualify as an epic, in my estimation, it has to have a rather large cast, take place over an extended period of time, deal with several different plot lines, and be a great film on top of all that. ENJOY!
Top Five Epics
1. Lawrence of Arabia (still my all time favorite film!)
2. Gone With the Wind
3. The Ten Commandments (1956)
4. The Godfather II
I Don't Think We're in Australia Anymore, Toto
"A Town Like Alice", made in 1956, tells the story of the British Empire at a crossroads. The plot follows a group of female British colonists living in Malaysia at the time of Japan's takeover during World War II. As the Japanese sweep into Malaysia, the British colonists are herded to a small building. The men are taken to prison camps and the women and children are forced to walk to Kuala Lumpur. Once they arrive at Kuala Lumpur, the women and children are given another group of Japanese guards and are told to walk another 80 miles to Singapore. As the women endlessly walk from one destination to another they slowly die of disease and exhaustion.
Along the way, Jean, the female protagonist, meets a young Australian soldier named Joe who labors as a truck mechanic and driver for the Japanese military. Joe tells Jean about his home in Alice Springs, a small desert town in the very center of Australia. His tales of Alice Springs begin to symbolize a positive future for Jean and Joe and a way for the pair to get clean from the cesspool of misery experienced at the hands of the Japanese.
"A Town Like Alice" is quite an effective and enjoyable film. The plight of the British women is made all too real with some timely deaths, especially the death of a mother of three young children. Jean takes on the role of raising these children after their mother passes away, but it is a crushingly poignant moment for those of us with small children. The love story between Jean and Joe is also effective with a more than satisfying conclusion. It is also great to see the town of Alice Springs as it looked in 1956. Honestly, it hasn't changed much.
Of extreme interest (especially where my current research in concerned) in this tale of WWII drudgery are how the Japanese and British empires are portrayed and even juxtaposed against each other. Before WWII, Malaysia was a colony of the British and had been since the late 18th century. The arrival of the Japanese challenged Britain's claim of control. As the Japanese scorched through Asia during WWII they proclaimed an "Asia for Asians". This really meant "Asia for Japan", as Japan was looking to make these countries colonies of their own. But after Japan was defeated, many of these Asian countries held fast to the idea of independence from their European colonists. In fact, Malaysia officially gained independence from the British in 1957, one year after this film was released.
Australia was also a colony of the British, and is most famous for the convicts that were transplanted there from Britain. But as Australia was filled with mostly British subjects (to say nothing of the Indigenous Australians), Britain allowed Australia to become a federation in 1901, effectively giving them independence. Why the history lesson? Well, if you've read this far, maybe you'll read a bit further...
In "A Town Like Alice" the conquering Japanese are portrayed as the Japanese were often portrayed in the 1950s. According to this film, the Japanese are just overgrown children. They strut around and make demands, and if these demands are not met then there is much yelling and threatening until the subordinates acquiesce. The Japanese are only in a position of power because of their overwhelming numbers and their cruelty, which knows no bounds. But, in a real crisis, the Japanese soldiers are only capable of throwing tantrums, like an overgrown child. The Japanese behavior towards women also belies their depravity. The British women and children are effectively tortured by the Japanese soldiers as they are made to endlessly walk from one destination to another without quarter.
The Japanese immaturity compared with the quiet dignity displayed by the British women proves that the Japanese are unfit to rule this empire they are carving out for themselves. Although they have might, the Japanese are hardly the modern and enlightened individuals that are needed to manage an empire comprised of impoverished peoples from far away lands. This film effectively banishes any claims the Japanese may have had on their proposed empire by displaying them as depraved and feudal tyrants.
In contrast, the land of Australia is seen as being a haven for the two lovers Joe and Jean. Compared to the hellish surroundings of the Malaysian jungle, the dust-bowl that is Alice Springs is portrayed as being a clean place with a bright future. Australia represents the positive efforts of the British empire to colonize properly. Australia has become a good, safe place where a hardworking individual can make a life for himself/herself. By this representation, Britain is vindicated in its empire building because of the positive outcome. Supposedly, the wholesale slaughter and exploitation committed to the Indigenous Australians at the hands of the Europeans is somehow different from the treatment of the Malaysians at the hands of the Japanese. I suppose the color of your skin and shape of your eyes makes all the difference in the world.
- by dallas
Saturday, 20 September 2008
Friday, 19 September 2008
I called mum the other day to ask her what she thought is an accomplished woman. I want to get a head start on being one myself. I'm really eager to look back on my life without regret. After some discussion and dissection of mum's life (up until now), mum made quite a poignant statement. She said "my accomplishment is my children."
Now, I've heard this statement from many women before and never has it had such an effect on me. My mum is an educated, bright woman who went on a mission before getting married in her late twenties. From my early twenties I just assumed she had tolerated having children (because that is how I thought I'd feel).
From that simple statement, it seems I have had a weight lifted from me. I realised that I don't need to have a highly successful career or become a phd student in genetics to be accomplished. In fact I don't even need to be the BEST at anything.... I could devote my entire life to raising my children and be content at the end of life knowing that I had achieved the ultimate - happy, successful children.
sooo.... the reason I started this post was to ask for ideas for traditions. Mum suggested that I start a few of my own for my children.... and I need some ideas to get started. What are your traditions?
This is my accomplishment, eating her toes
Elly-boo was napping when we arrived, but after LQ protested extremely loudly about a minor incident, Elly-boo woke up. She and LQ played alongside each other for a while, but it wasn't long before Elly-boo insisted we go to the park. It has been such a lovely day, I decided to acquiesce.
The tricky part was getting our pram out of the car which was parked on the side of the street. I needed at LEAST four hands to hold the girls while I pulled the pram from the boot of the car. This I don't have (yet). I am sure, one day through evolution, mothers will be blessed with retractable arms to use when needed.... I digress (again). So I improvised with a nearby shopping cart.
Monday, 15 September 2008
You see, the Ideal Me has everything under control. Ideal Me gets up at 6am (an hour before LQ) to go for a run and have a shower. Then Ideal Me reads my scriptures while LQ eats her breakfast. By 9am, Ideal Me has put on a load of washing (if required) and has stimulated LQ's little brain by spending an hour playing with puzzles and other educational toys. As the day continues, Ideal Me works toward a perfect home (including perfect children), a smaller waist and a tertiary education. Ideal Me has a healthy dinner made by 5.30 each evening, watches little TV and falls into bed before 10.30pm.
However, as a new day greets me - and my eager 16 month old - Ideal Me takes a hike. In her place is ... - Me. And "Me", on most days, is lucky to get out of her pyjamas. It is only when "Me" is back in bed (around midnight) that Ideal Me pokes her pretty little head around the corner and gives Me another look at how grand life will be ... if I could just get out of these pyjamas.
Sunday, 14 September 2008
This week I have no review. I spent most of the week in the bowels of the University of Sydney Library endlessly writing film analyses for my thesis. As such, I was not able to watch any films worthy enough for this blog. Instead of a review, I have decided to do an expanded list.
But, instead of just giving a list of movies, I'm going to write a little something about the movies in the list. This will be my way of copping out of writing a review. I've been thinking about this list for some time, and hope you do not think I am too pretentious in making it.
Five Great Movies You Probably Have Never Heard Of... But Should Watch
When it comes to the pantheon of films that have been released around the world, over the last 100 years or so, there are at least several thousand great films out there that many of us, including myself, have never heard of. I do not pretend to know everything about film or have seen every movie ever made. My goal in doing this list is to put up five films that I feel truly are great films, but are not talked about all that often. I also wanted to choose films that are accessible to most people, if not everyone. These are films that you could watch almost anytime, and just sit and enjoy them. Well, I know I could just sit and enjoy them at any time.
1. Ordinary People
Released in 1980 this is Robert Redford's directorial debut and won him an academy award for best director, as well as the academy award for best film. As such, it is surprising this film is not talked about all that much. It certainly did not do anything new for the art of filmmaking, but it is a solid film with some shattering performances about a family falling apart as they come to grips with the death of a son. This is definitely not a feel-good movie, but still top notch entertainment.
2. The Court Jester
Starring Danny Kaye in his best performance, this film, released in 1955, is truly magic. I defy anyone to watch this and not come away with a smile on their face. The story, set in medieval England, is all very silly and involves Danny Kaye impersonating a great court jester in order to foil some plot or another to usurp the kingdom. In point of fact the plot matters very little, as in most musicals (except those dastardly Rogers and Hammerstein musicals), and is just a set up for great set pieces and moments of comic genius.
3. Twilight Samurai
This is a Japanese film from 2002 directed by Yoji Yamada and starring Hiroykui Sanada. After watching this film, Sanada shot to the top of my "list of actors to watch" as he gives a truly remarkable performance. Sanada plays Seibei, a low ranking 19th century samurai relegated to a menial bureaucratic post in a small village. Seibei is a widower and must raise his two daughters alone. Although Seibei is known for having legendary skill with his sword, there is not much money in swordplay, therefore he must pick up work where he can in order to make ends meet. This film is exquisite, and if you do not mind watching a Japanese film with English subtitles then I highly recommend it. It even comes equipped with a climactic sword duel. What else do you need?
4. Brief Encounter
You have certainly got to love the British. This early David Lean gem released in 1945 is set in London and is blissfully stark in its telling of a love affair that "almost" happens. Housewife Laura Jesson and Dr. Alec Harvey meet one day in a cafe, and a strong connection is sparked. Although married to other partners, Laura and Alec continue to meet in cinemas and cafes though they know their love is impossible. This is a fascinating examination of love, marriage, passion, and restraint written by Noel Coward. A truly great film.
5. Ride the High Country
Yes, yes, well I had to put at least ONE western on this list. It is surprising this film does not get more credit. It is the final film of Hollywood Western legend Randolph Scott, and one of the final films of Hollywood star Joel McCrea. Released in 1962, this is an early effort by Sam Peckinpah, who would strike gold seven years later with The Wild Bunch. Although this film contains some great action, it is rather far removed from the "blood-letting" that Peckinpah would later become famous for. This is an elegant film that deals with the myth of the Old West as well as the reality of aging cowboys and gunfighters becoming antiquated in a "modern" world. Any fan of the Hollywood Western should give this a look. It really is fine filmmaking.
Saturday, 13 September 2008
I came back home on Thursday evening ready to bombard you with all my brilliant blogs.
As it happens, I managed to forget at least FIVE things. I forgot I was wearing Fiona's nice white belt when I left. I forgot to bring home my Primary clipart CD's (I was a REALLY good Primary President and worked on a few things). I forgot my Cupcakes, Cheesecakes and Cookies recipe book (I took it in the hopes of experimenting with a few recipes). I forgot my mobile phone recharger AND I forgot the camera USB cord. I'm considering one of those brain empowering games that Olivia Newton-John seems to enjoy. But I digress.
Because of my lack of sharp brain cells (am I still allowed to blame motherhood?), I am unable to show you all the wonderful things that have happened in my life since Monday. Such as, Tyler's Birthday Debacle - this story involves a buffet and an unhappy stomach; OR LQ claiming the "Man Chair"; OR A Beanbag and LQ (and the silliness that ensues). I can't show you how much my family LOVES LQ and I can't show LQ's dimpled bottom reflected in her toy.
So until we get the USB cord you will just have to IMAGINE (I believe Elmo or John Lennon can help you out if you don't know how to do that).
Monday, 8 September 2008
Oh happy days! LQ has taken the steps to walking by herself. The unfortunate part about it is .... we are in Hobart and Dal is back in Sydney. He was here with us only 24 hours ago, but LQ has shown us that it will be in her OWN time that she does anything, and here is the proof. So my darling husband, my better half, my one and only, the father of my demanding child has missed one of the big steps (or little steps) in his child's life. It's enough to make anyone cry.
In an effort to ease the pain, this post is dedicated to Dal. But you are all most welcome to enjoy the success of our first born.
Sunday, 7 September 2008
I Must Admit, I've Taken a Shine To You
After almost two weeks of trying, Helen and I have FINALLY finished watching Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. We started the film on Monday the 25th of August and watched about 28 minutes of it. Each night between then and Thursday the 4th of September one thing or another kept us from finishing the film (let's be honest, Isabel takes most of the blame). But on Thursday we finally finished the film, and because it took such a monumental effort to watch The Shining in its entirety I have decided to review it for this week's post. I've also compiled five guilty pleasure films for this week's list. Have a great week!
Top Five Guilty Pleasures
- Rambo: First Blood Part II
- Billy Madison
- Rocky IV
- Clash of the Titans
Mr. Nicholson Takes a Vacation
Based on the novel by Stephen King, The Shining, released in 1980, examines the story of Jack Torrance who is hired as the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. Jack, with his wife Wendy and son Danny, relocate to the secluded mountain retreat where they are responsible for watching over the premises during the months of November to April. Mayhem ensues shortly after the Torrances arrive as Jack and his son Danny begin seeing visions of the hotels previous, deceased guests.
Kubrick, who's previous films include the dark comedic masterpiece Dr. Strangelove, the sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, and epic masterpiece Spartacus, tried his hand at the horror genre with The Shining. What results is certainly an atmospherically creepy film, but is certainly not as great a film as it should have been. In making his horror film, Kubrick put together several "scary" elements, threw them together, and expected to magically get a great horror movie. The Shining is filled with several strong flourishes, as if Kubrick is shouting at his audience that this is a great movie. Supposedly, overbearing music, a child in peril, creepy twin girls, haunting 1920s music, Shelley Duvall's face, a river of blood, and a man in a boar-suit all equal "great horror movie". But they do not.
The most frightening aspect of this story is that a family is completely isolated and the husband and father of this family slowly descends into madness. For a mother and child to place absolute trust in a man that slowly becomes so insane that he will stop at nothing to obliterate his family is a horrifying thought. But Jack's descent into madness, though terrifying, does not have the impact that it should. Jack Nicholson gives a virtuoso performance as a man in the throes of madness. But during the first half of the film, when Jack is not insane, Nicholson plays the character with a caustic arrogance. All of his actions seem fake and forced, and he shows no love for his wife and child. He seems a man already walking the edge of madness, so it really comes as no surprise when he takes up an ax and begins hacking down doors in an attempt to slaughter his family. Instead of being horrified that a good man has become a murderous madman, the audience expects this behavior of Jack, which lessens the tension.
Watching this film, I began to wonder if Stanley Kubrick had first-hand experience with abuse at the hands of a domineering father. The Shining, as a metaphor, works well as a way to exemplify a family in the clutches of a violent father. The isolation of the Overlook Hotel represents the marriage of Jack and Wendy. Jack is the vision of an abusive, power obsessed father. Consider the scene where Wendy has locked him in the storage locker. Jack is hunched over the camera, leaning his head against the door speaking to his wife. Although physically cut off from his wife and child he is framed in a position of power by the camera which shoots him from below as he towers over the frame. Jack has destroyed communication by dismantling the radio, and has cut off Wendy's escape by destroying the snow plow. Jack then affects a sympathetic voice in an attempt to persuade Wendy to open the door. Although cut off, he still wields an incredible amount of power.
As a counterpoint to Jack is his frail wife Wendy. Played by Shelley Duvall, Wendy is such a timid, powerless individual that she would probably fall over if Jack were to blow on her. She allows Jack to dominate the relationship, and takes all of his abuse. It is only when Jack appears capable of hurting Danny, and threatens Wendy with "bashing in her brains" that Wendy gets wise to his abusive nature and takes action.
The overall effect of The Shining is rather chilling, Jack Nicholson is great fun to watch, and the chase through the snow covered maze is a masterstroke. But I can not help but wonder how much more effective this film would have been if I'd truly cared for this family, and not just seen them as victims, or metaphors.
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
This offering took me back to a time when it was embarrassing for us Cluff girls to ask mum to buy us feminine hygiene products. Instead of asking mum to buy us "whatever", we would say "hey mum, we've run out of lollies. Could you please buy us some when you go shopping?" My two younger brothers overheard me saying this once and begged mum to buy them some "lollies" too. It didn't matter what we said, they were convinced they were missing out.
Back to LQ this morning. I'm sure she was enjoying her "lollies" immensely. Here's proof.
Monday, 1 September 2008
Sorry I didn't raise the camera for the end of the film...
You can imagine then, the longing I get during the bleak winter months for the simple pleasures of summer. Mother Nature could not have given me a better "pre hug" today. Today marked the beginning of spring and what a marvelous start to MY warmer days it was. It was a promise of things to come and I could not leave the day without commenting on how much I appreciated the weather. It seems that our leftover tree (the others were murdered) has also noticed spring and made it known by covering itself in beautiful blossoms.