Monday, March 28, 2011

Up and down

It's coming up to Easter which means one thing in the land of choral singing round these parts. That's right...the Queensland Eisteddfod which this year is being held in Maryborough. So, for the Bundaberg Orpheus Singers is just down the road. We are entering the Sacred Choral and Madrigal section where the classic little ditty above is the set piece. I love it. It's fun too because being unaccompanied I get to sing and I have chosen to sit with the tenors. It's high in their range and low for me.

Our own choice is Rest Sweet Nymphs which is very beautiful also. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

We need some dreamers

For the first time in weeks I have not had to do "work" on a weekend (unless we count replying to email) so I have been able to do some TV watching catchup from my DVD recorder. Last night I went retro with Pie in the Sky which I will never cease to adore. I still have an Annie Liebovitz documentary from weeks ago, Brick Lane, all three episodes of Strike Back and La Vie en Rose from last night on SBS to make my way through. However, today I felt like a documentary about the 1960s in America so I watched Roads to Memphis all about the assassination of Martin Luther King, and the story of his assassin James Earl Ray. It seemed peculiarly pertinent that I watch this as it connects directly with some of the topics for discussion that have been popping up in class. In the first few weeks of term we introduce our students to the idea of genre, use of language for particular audiences and purposes, the difference between writing and verbal speech etc. Two of the examples we provide always provoke a lot of discussion and this year was no different. First we give them an excerpt from Dr King's "I have a dream" and this is followed by Lincoln's Gettysburg address. While it is fascinating to see the varying levels of awareness of these cultural figures, it is also interesting that the students engage with the writings so readily even if they don't know very much about either Lincoln or King (I blame the current education system but that's another story). We talk about the language they use, who are they speaking to, why do they choose particular words, phrases, do we think they are effective in getting their messages across. In some ways, for students to answer these questions its helpful if they have no prior or contextual knowledge until after the discussion; that way they take the writing on its own merit. Anyway, it's always a lesson I enjoy and it often filters through into many classes that follow.

Watching Roads to Memphis this afternoon I was reminded of how far we haven't come in many ways. A similar point was hammered home to me when I used John Lennon's Imagine in class for reflection last week - giving the students the song lyrics to reflect on the message. Nothing has changed. In fact with the ongoing turmoil throughout the world constantly bombarding us on the news, Lennon's song seemed even more poignant. Sure, call him naive, a dreamer, but without the dreamers the world would be a poorer place. (embedding is disabled so you'll have to click on the link)

A fellow lecturer was keen to use some Bob Dylan as well for similar reasons. And with the connections between everything suddenly seemed very clear. And sad. I don't really keep up with current music these days...well that is I don't listen to Triple J or any other commercial radio. Who are the equivalent songwriters writing protest songs, songs of political comment - for me over the past decade it's been Wilco, Billy Bragg and the like. Bring them forward. I think we need some decent dreamers.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Isn't it wonderful....

Isn't it wonderful when you wake up in the morning and realise that it's Saturday? No work.
No need to talk to people if you don't want to.
Cups of tea and coffee when and how you like them.
The fresh smell of washing powder wafting through the house as you do your weekly laundry.
Restocking the fridge with groceries and throwing out all the stuff you didn't eat last week.
Cooking up a big lamb curry and freezing it in meal size portions so cooking over the next few weeks is not a chore.
Faffing about on the internet.
Catching up on the telly you recorded during the week.
Looking forward to lying on the lounge in the afternoon pretending you are going to read a book but knowing this is a lie you tell yourself so you can have a nap.

Enjoying the peace and quiet.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Go dating goths...GO!

It was my usual Tuesday evening slothed in front of the TV catching up on things I had recorded. Watching a repeat of Bones for the want of anything better on the real television, I was delighted to catch a cameo from Kent and Vyxsin, the "Dating Goths" from The Amazing Race. Kent had even more makeup on than usual, and Vyxsin's hair was very pink. Kent got to do some fabulous overacting in a scene at an auction at a scifi/fantasy convention. I am currently watch them disintegrate on The Amazing Race which is playing Sunday evenings on one of Channel Seven's extra channels. I would love for them to win, but after this Sunday's episode it looks like they "may be eliminated".

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011


I see from my twitter feed that Whites only made it through one series before being canned. Now it looks like there is a movement to get it renewed again. After accidentally watching last night's episode on the ABC I'm not sure why, because it just wasn't really that funny. This is a shame because with cooking shows and celebrity chefs taking over our television schedules there sure is room for a biting comedy about them. Mix Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and that guy with the cravat together and there's a character I could watch with interest. Anyway, it makes me sad that Whites was so....ordinary...because I love Alan Davies. He was perfect in Jonathon Creek and lovely on QI. And Katherine Parkinson from the IT Crowd is fantastic as well but here she just seemed to be playing a poor imitation of Jen. The crafty little apprentice storyline was all just a little obvious and tired. The best thing was Maggie Steed as snobby diner from hell. Here's an actress who knows how to make the best of a ornery job.
I just don't know that I will tune in again.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

ramblin' through the week

This is just a little ramble through my week. Teaching is going well, but as a colleague and I discussed this afternoon we have to cram a whole heap of skills and content into the first month of the term to get our students to the first assignment. This makes for lots of preparation, lots of reading for the students, and classes which are go go go. I have managed to keep up with my study readings and started on my assignment. This weekend will be all about evaluating and posters.

Apart from that, my piano students on Wednesday afternoon are absolutely delightful. The youngest is racing ahead through his book in leaps and bounds. For the last two weeks he has arrived with at least one, if not two, extra pieces ready to "surprise" me with. And the determination of my two adult students is admirable and inspiring.

Tuesday we were grilled at work in a series of meetings with an external consultant who has been employed to do a review of preparatory programs and support services at uni. I think what he might have found that there are many issues which feed into the uni's high undergrad attrition rates...many of them in the undergrad faculties and programs. Unfortunately, that might not be within the scope of his review. I had a lot to say and I said it. Let's face it, you usually only get one chance with these things so I went for it...very politely.

TV wise I have been studiously avoiding the news. Not because I am not gravely concerned and saddened by recent events, but such is the power of seeing it over and over again on the telly that it all gets too much. Instead, I have continued my love affair with cheesy sitcoms, watching Scrubs every night on one of the Channel Seven repeat stations. Tonight, I am going to catch up with Big Love from last night, and then watch either Pie in the Sky, The Amazing Race or All Creatures Great and Small. I am recording 30 Rock as well as some program that sounds mildly interesting about the High Street in the "olden days" on the ABC at 8:30. I enjoyed David Attenborough on Sunday evening. I also watched Bones although I am sick and tired of Channel Seven stuffing around with random repeats. I mean really, a couple of weeks we see The Gravedigger get her head shot off outside the courthouse and then last Sunday, we discover who she is. Stop it! Still, the science-magic is all very gobbledygooky and entertaining. It makes me feel smarter when I watch it, even though I don't understand what they're talking about, I still manage to follow what's happening. That's quite a writing feat.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Not romantic or funny

Last night I watched 27 Dresses, just to see what I might have missed when it was at the movies. The answer to that question is nothing. Sure, I like James Marsden and Judy Greer and the guy from 30 Rock whose name I can't remember. I don't watch Gray's Anatomy so the appeal of Katherine Heigl is lost on me. And really, is Ed Burns that hard up for a gig these days that he had to take a crap, one-dimensional part in this film? It seems so.

It was just what I expected, or even a little bit less. Lots of stereotyping of romance, love and gender. There was the potential for it to be a little bit subversive but they went for the happily ever after ending which all in all was a little bit sick-making. Overall, it made me feel old, cynical and not at all inclined to watch another so called romantic comedy ever again. Unless someone can recommend a decent one made in the last five years.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

@DavetheFish said he was dull

New Tricks has to be one of the most charming and comforting programs on the telly at the moment. Unlike the fashion in most crime dramas there is no blood and gore which is a plus (although that doesn't stop me from watching Bones). However, it is the actors which make it a worthwhile hour of my time on a Friday night at the moment. Amanda Redman is just right as Sandra Pullman, the real policewoman in charge of her three mildly unruly and eccentric retired coppers. Together they are a slightly inefficient crime-solving machine. Although, I must admit these later series are not quite as narratively tight as the early episodes, it's Jack, Jerry and most of all Brian who steal the show every week. Dennis Waterman is spot on as Jerry, the aging womaniser who loves a drink, a smoke and a good time. James Bolam is lovely as Jack, widower and elder statesman of the group. It's Alun Armstrong though as Brian who steals the show. With a sometimes precarious grip on reality, Brian is a computer whiz with a knowledge of all things wild and wonderful, who can join random dots together to solve a case.

Last night's Banksy inspired episode was the usual stuff, but more interesting for the fact that Brian joined Twitter in the opening scenes. His frustration at his inability to condense his morning's activities into 140 characters was delightful, as was his glee when his followers reached double figures - 11. Sadly though, no-one (cast or writers) had much time for Brian's growing twitter addiction and he deleted his @TopCop999 account after @DavetheFish said he was dull. What I was really waiting for was Brian's twitter account to somehow save the day in the investigation of the cold case murder. That would have awesome, and a great trick indeed. Unfortunately, it was relegated to minor, amusing subplot that went nowhere. Perhaps Jerry could join Facebook in a few weeks time. I'm sure that's fodder for plenty of hi-jinks.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Margaret...tell 'em about the cat

It's been a busy quick week here at The Spiralling Shape. After a week with no internet access at home I finally received my new modem etc in the post yesterday and managed to set it up with the help of a friendly, methodical helpdesk person on the end of the phone. We haz interwebs. (Poor attempt at lolcat speak).

Tuesday saw International Women's Day arrive and depart. I meant to post this at the time but the day got away from me. I like to think it inspired me when I was a little girl whiling away the afternoons in front of the telly.

Awesome isn't it?! Especially the key change and the big finale.

Apart from that teaching continued with a good class of keen students. We now all understand the basic structure of an academic paragraph and are learning to love spelling and grammar. We have also had some thoughtful discussions of contemporary society, culture and communities.

In between that I have taught my piano students; Wednesday afternoons is full now for three hours. I start with the 8 year old who is as keen as mustard and finish with my two determined adult learners. I really am enjoying it at the moment.

And finally, I am keeping up with my new study. I have done my first two weeks readings, listened to two online lectures and this weekend will begin my first assignment. I have also decided to start a new blog that will be devoted to my study. That is, I will keep The Spiralling Shape for its original purpose and put all the library stuff somewhere else.