http://www.makepovertyhistory.org.nz beautiful monsters: May 2006 Archives

May 23, 2006

flat

It feels like home, now that weíve got a fire lit in the fireplace, and the fridge is full of kai. Weíve unpacked the magnetic poetry, and discovered that we have two copies of the queer edition. There are only so many sentences you can string together with two sets of rainbow community diversity queen butch bottom dildo fag. Luckily I also have the Shakespeare edition, and a few kiwi-ism magnets from the $2 Shop. So we have thou lavender dyke wench rattle-your-dags henceforth thy hokey-pokey trans commitment-ceremonyĒ. Hmmmm...

Iím so glad to have my own place. Itís been four and a half months since I slept in my own bed. Or enjoyed the full extend of my collections of clothes, CDs, and books. And all my other stuff. Iím so very grateful to the friend who let me stay in her house while I looked for my own place... but Iím not sorry to leave all the quirks of her home. Like the telephone, with the buttons that wouldnít work unless you warmed it up, cupped in your hand for ten minutes, or held it in front of the heater, and even then I could never get the 3 to work, which was annoying because my parentsí number has a 3 in it.

I never thought Iíd end up living in Naenae though. It seems so far away. I think itís more of a mental distance though. Itís quite a quick train trip. And within a block or two from our house thereís a swimming pool, library, supermarket, the train station, police station (not sure if itís a good thing or bad thing that theyíre just across the road but it seems very quiet so I guess thatís a good thing) video shop, Pacific Island food shop, health food / organic shop that does a decent espresso.

My flatmates have a dog, which is a new experience for me. I was bitten by one when I was little, and we never had dogs in my family or among my close friends, so I never got used to them. This one is a sweetie though, her name is Chance. Sheís very enthusiastically bouncy. She seems very quiet, which is good because her kennel is going to be right outside my bedroom window. I donít know anything about dogs so donít ask me what sort she is. Medium, brown.

We also have lots of ants. And bora.

But no doors. I mean, thereís a front door, and a back door. But nothing in between. Just holes in the frames where once upon a time there must have been hinges and latches. Even my bedroom has no door. Weird. Luckily I have a flatmate whoís really good at practical things like hanging doors.

Oh, and did I mention we have a church? Building I mean. A disused church. Mostly thatís going to be where my flatmates hang out, but we can have parties there, and open mic nights, poetry performances, the possibilities are endless...

So really, I think itís worth coming all the way out here. I hope so.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 05:43 PM | TrackBack

May 19, 2006

Colin Firth's ghost

I knew I shouldnít have gone there. But the cover picture was so pretty, and Keira Knightley is so hot. And I needed something to do while I waited for my washing at the launderette. So I rented Pride and Prejudice.

I have to admit that I am one of the viewers that Natasha Walter speaks of:
...most viewers now are probably hoping not so much that the new film can stay faithful to what Austen once put on to the page, but more that it can measure up to what Colin Firth once put on to the screen. (And watching this new and rather pallid Darcy wandering about his woods, you can't help wondering when the real chap is going to pop out of the shrubbery with his shirt dripping and order the impostor off his land.)

Maybe this adaptation is more a realist approach. And I like that. I like the pigs and chickens wandering around, and that some of the scenes are more crowded and bustling.

But even if the BBC version is too clean (and hey, it is meant to be a fairytale, bordering on soap opera - not a documentary) I believed in the people, the relationships and emotions.

Watching the movie I felt very conscious that these were contemporary actors, dressed up in late 18th Century costumes. I kept feeling like they were focusing on remembering the next line.

When the BBC series came out, I such a crush on Lizzie. Not Jennifer Ehle, I had as crush on Lizzie, who was embodied by Jennifer. Before the movie came out I had a crush on Keira Knightly. And now that itís over, hopefully I can go back to having a crush on her. But in the movie? She just wasnít Lizzie for me. I didnít believe that she hated Mr Darcy. And then I didnít believe that she was falling in love with him.

There is this weird bit, described by Gregory Weinkauf as an excellent exchange at the second ballroom sequence, wherein Darcy and Elizabeth, entranced by their dance, become oblivious to all other participants who, for the moment, literally disappear (except for the ghost of Colin Firth). I didnít think it worked. I did like the bit where the camera angle is such that we canít see that Mr Collins is down on one knee, and he seems to turn into a dwarf. But though I thought it was funny, it didnít really seem to fit right.

Everything seems to happen so quickly in the movie. I missed the sense of days and weeks passing between events. It made the sudden changes in desires seem even less plausible.

And her father! In the miniseries I loved the relationship between Lizzie and her father, their shared sense of humour, and their deep affection. Mr Bennet was witty, intelligent, and loved his dotty wife, despite how he teased her. In the movie, Mr Bennet is just... sort of soggy. And sometimes he looked like a disheveled, droopy drug addict. Donít get me wrong, I think Donald Sutherland is a good actor. I just donít think he was acting Mr Bennet.

The movie definitely misses out on a lot of the wit of the BBC version. And I think partly itís because itís so rushed. There isnít enough time for subtle looks, pauses, exchanges.

And they all seemed like such giggly adolescents. I mean, Kitty and Lydia are supposed to be, of course, but Jane, Lizzie, and even Bingley?

Hey, maybe Iím just depressed and negative today, but Iím not the only one who didnít like it. I agree with everything in the review by Ray Bennett:
The brilliant humor of Mr. Collins' groveling snobbery is skipped, and there's no hint of a relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Wickham. The imperious Lady Catherine de Bourg, played at full throttle by Judy Dench, is given more time than necessary, and little is asked of Donald Sutherland, as Mr. Bennet, other than to be grumpily docile.

MacFadyen, a fine actor, is barely given a chance to compete with the memory of Firth's Darcy as, lacking the superb script of the BBC show, he is asked to do little more than appear handsomely annoyed. Knightley, giggly and juvenile, shows no sign of being up to the task of playing a woman with Elizabeth's intelligence and wisdom. Lacking Austen's subtle and witty insights, there has to be a reason for Darcy to fall in love with Elizabeth, but in this film you cannot imagine why.

It all ends rather suddenly with Mr Bennet sniggering to himself, which is rather unnerving, given that he doesnít seem to have much wit, just this nervous, soggy, laugh.

But there are plenty of rave reviews of the film, so donít let me put you off.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 01:49 AM | TrackBack

May 17, 2006

circles

If you watch enough TV, it starts to go around in circles. The same people, same themes. Like lately, thereís been young teenage girls, who turn out to have boy bits. It was on House, and Greyís anatomy. A while ago they killed someone, plunged them in ice and stopped their heart, and then brought them back. They did it on House, Greyís, and Miracles, all in the space of a week. And the actors, the ones with once off bit parts, they just go round and round, popping up in all the different shows.

I think Iím using TV in the same way that Iíve used drugs and alcohol, food, and cutting. Iím not sure if itís an improvement or not. It doesnít have such bad long term consequences.

*

Tonight we had Living the Questions. More talk about sin and atonement. The sessions start with a DVD, with a bunch of theologians talking about the topic. I canít remember who said what, but one of them said that Jesus didnít die for our sins, he died because of our sins. Which got us onto a discussion about the story that many of us learned in our previous church environments.
We are all sinful, and Jesus died to pay for our sins. Which is a really manipulative story. Because all of a sudden you start noticing everything you ever do wrong, and feeling guilty about all sorts of things, because you know that somehow by being imperfect, youíve killed Jesus. Well, thatís how I used to feel.

Now I believe that Jesus lived his life to the full, that he stayed true to his beliefs in truth, love and justice, and he was killed because of it. I donít believe his death some how makes up for anything I do wrong. But I believe the way he lived his life can teach me something about how to live.

One of the other theologians was talking about martyrdom, and people trying to get martyred, throwing themselves to the lions either literally or metaphorically. Anyway, he said ďBefore thereís something worth dying for, thereís always something worth living for.Ē Which I thought was cool. Ok, Jesus died for his beliefs. But thatís not the point. The point is that he lived his beliefs.

I think the theme of tonight was that, instead of telling people that theyíre imperfect/sinful (and needing to be redeemed by Jesusí death) we should be telling people that they are loved and accepted.

I have big problems with applying that to myself. I have no trouble believing that the rest of the world are loved and accepted. But I canít believe that God loves and accepts me. Sometimes I hate myself so much.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 02:38 AM | TrackBack

May 14, 2006

once upon a time

Every time I go home to Rotorua I have to sort through a box of my old stuff. This time I sorted through some boxes with school books. I have no idea why I still have maths books from primary school. What did I think they would ever be useful for. Iíve kept all of my story books, because theyíre cute. And because I seemed to find it so easy to write fiction then. Maybe theyíll inspire me to write stories again. But, although I had lots of ideas for stories, I wasnít very good at finishing them, and there are dozens that stop mid sentence:

Rooms to Let. Mr Cribsin had 6 rooms that he did not use. He put a big sign on his door, it readÖ ROOMS TO LET. $5 a week. 50c a meal. UP to 10 people a room. The next day an old

Darn it. I want to know whether anyone tried to cram more than 10 people in a room. Donít you love those details? This is one of my favourites, that I did finish, from when I was 8 years old:

Once upon a time there was a dragon. He lived in a dull cave full of cobwebs and stones. It was gray and dark. The dragon didnít even know what he looked like. He never went outside. He was vegetarian. He ate the weeds from the corners. He had no name. He did not need one, he did not know what a name was. One day he fell ill. He tossed and turned in his stone bed. Oh he felt ill! The next day he was worse. He needed help! So he went outside for the first time. It was strange! He wondered where to go. Soon Doctor Puffles passed to go to church. He asked what was wrong, and soon he was on a soft bed at the Puffles. The End.

*

Iím so proud of my Rainbow Room kids, theyíve been fabulous lately. Our Associate Minister and his wife have a brand new baby, and last Sunday the kids made this poster to welcome him.


Mattiasposter.jpg

Even the boys helped. Ok, so one of them drew a monster, but note how there are no butt-faced fart-men, or knives and guns. One of the cheekiest boys painted a tree with hearts growing from it. And not in a gory way.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 06:19 PM | TrackBack

May 01, 2006

Hey Tiki

I went to the Pataka gallery in Porirua today, never been there before. I was really impressed with the whole centre theyíve got out there. Bustling cafť, cute little Japanese style garden... and the displays in the gallery were really well done.

They have a Hei Tiki exhibition on at the moment, and itís well worth a look. As you enter the gallery you walk between life-size historical photographs of Maori men and women wearing hei tiki, beautiful, gigantic, stanch tiki. And in front of the photos, in display boxes, were some of the amazing old hei tiki, all worn with time, but their paua eyes still glinting.

There were contemporary artworks, from blurry photographs of traditional hei tiki, bright coloured resin tiki on lollypop sticks, tiki robots, stylised prints, and abstracted tiki paintings.

There was an area where kids could decorate cutouts of tiki with glitter and collage, stamps and felt pens. And room 12 from Porirua primary school made tiki out of fimo.

And finally, in an alcove, there was the most amazing display of tiki kitch, including Air New Zealand tiki-topped swizzle sticks and toothpicks, tiki ashtrays, plastic, wood, ceramic, metal and glass tiki, coffee mugs, school rulers and salad servers. Even a photo of the Beatles wearing giant tiki, and one of the actual tiki, possibly worn by a Beatle.

On one level, it was really sad. A smorgasbord of cultural appropriation. I mean, ashtrays, toothpicks, how low can you go?

But on another level, it was just... fabulous. Tucked in amongst the teaspoons and letter-openers there was a tiny little nativity scene, with plastic snow covered pine trees, and baby Jesus, tucked into his manger, watched over by Mary and Joseph, and, in the shadows at the back of the stable, a gigantic, green, plastic, tiki.

*

I've been reading this essay, Wanting to Be Indian: When Spiritual Teaching Turns into Cultural Theft". It's good, I think, because it doesn't just tell me all the things I'm doing wrong. She discusses positive ways of living and relating. And on the way there I found this most excellent 404 message.

Posted by Fionnaigh at 01:13 AM | TrackBack