Sunday, 29 April 2007

Fiddler on the Roof

That was fantastic. More enjoyable for me than the movie, which I also loved — less tragically sad, especially the ending. Topol was brilliant. I have the greatest respect for that actor, and I feel so lucky to have seen him play Tevye in person!

You can tell he's getting older, though, poor guy; when he dances, and sometimes when he sings. He's got a great voice, but he sometimes takes a slightly easier note, and when he dances (like the immortal If I were a rich man), he's not shaking his old bones around as much as he did in the movie. He's seventy-two years old this year; if it were me, I'd have retired long ago! I hope he's very rich by now; I'd say he's earned it. The movie was made in 1971, but it's such a timeless piece that it doesn't seem old at all.

I'd never realised before (not having watched the movie in years) what a complex show it is, containing commentaries on contemporary society, marital roles, religion, racism, politics, and of course traditioooon! Tradition! OK, I'd realised it had some content against racism, but not really anything further. It's such a rich show, though.

I still have a major crick in my neck from gazing in rapt silence at the stage for three hours — but we were in the third row from the front! I realise that's why I have the crick in my neck, but I don't regret it even slightly — we were so close to the stage, it was amazing. Topol especially acted so genuinely, I was sure in a couple of scenes that if I could see closer I'd see the actual tears in his eyes.

I want to say it was the best show I've ever seen, but it's a ridiculous comparison — it's not even in the same league as anything else.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

You better believe it, baby

A+! Oh yeah... oh yeah... *does little dance* My first one! I'd resigned myself to getting a C in this paper (a history one) this semester, but after getting my first assignment back, I've changed my mind!

Not that I think, to be honest, that I deserved an A+. It was mostly well-written (although when I re-read it just now I saw a misplaced comma *shudders*) and carefully structured; but I forgot to include a sentence I should've included in my introduction, and the conclusion (on re-reading) brought in some new information which should've been brought in earlier than that. OK, when I say it like that it sounds like trivial errors, but they aren't! Especially the comma.

But out of my four assignments I've received back so far, I've received a B+, two A's and now an A+. Not too shabby — it really raises the bar, though. I'm so much more motivated to work harder on my upcoming assignments — I've got out books to research my topic and started taking notes already (it's due on 7 May; this is something I would normally do about 2-3 days before the assignment was due). I mean, if my next assignment gets a C+, which last year was a typical mark for me in history, it'll now be a big disappointment, and show I really didn't put much effort into that assignment. I have to do bigger and better! Or at least better, since that history assignment was nearly 200 words over the limit. Standards to uphold...

It's so exciting. I'm so proud of myself, which I normally shy away from being, but I feel I'm allowed to be proud in this case. I put effort in, I studied hard, I researched my topic well; and I got an even higher grade than I candidly admit I deserved.

A+! Woo yeah! You better believe it, baby!

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

RIP Yeltsin

Not the best man, not a shining model of all that is good and pure — but a man who brought around some damn good changes, and led the abolishment of communism in the Soviet Union. Rest in peace, Boris Yeltsin.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007


Grandma's always been a strong woman, mentally and physically. Her short-term memory's started deteriorating lately; but she's still fine, just forgets things a bit. So it came as a shock when Dad texted me on Sunday to say Grandma had had some kind of attack and been diagnosed with Bell's palsy. On Tuesday, he texted again to say Grandma had been misdiagnosed: she'd had a stroke — and now she was in hospital again. Apparently she couldn't "speak or think well" but it "wasn't too serious".

Naturally, Dad flew up that day anyway; he couldn't get a cheap direct flight, so flew to Palmy instead, and I gave him a lift to New Plymouth. We were so relieved to see Grandma hadn't changed at all, except that she couldn't say anything other than "Yes" and "No" and (when we asked if Grandma wanted anything taped from TV), "Coronation Street!" So at least she can say the things closest to her heart. She also managed "peach therapist", and was so (understandably) proud.

She still can't remember how to spell some things (success = sucuss), and has difficulty writing and speaking, but it's coming back. She's forgotten a few things, like how to use her computer; it's difficult as Granddad generally depends on Grandma — the strong, dependable, capable woman! — and now he has no-one to print off the church newsletter or drive to the supermarket or text us. So Dad's staying another week or so to help Granddad learn some basic things, so he's less dependent on Grandma.

You should have seen her face when Dad and I walked in to her ward. Overjoyed! She didn't have any idea that we were coming, and was so excited. She couldn't say our names, but she kept pointing at me and then at Dad, and hugging us, as if she couldn't believe we were actually there. She was in such great spirits; so happy to see us.

And Grandma got discharged this afternoon.

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Tess of the d'Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy)

Well, I've just finished another terrible, well-written book. Tess of the D'Urbervilles is not as disturbing as Atonement (nor quite as well-written, in my opinion), but it's still got a dark, perverted plot. Sorry, Jo, I know you love it. But seriously. Plot summary:

Chick is taken advantage of (not quite raped, but not in a state where she could necessarily consent) by Loserguy, back in the days when premarital sex was a major no-no. Chick has baby, which dies. Loserguy has abandoned chick and doesn't know of baby's existence.

Chick meets Mr Right, they get married; and on the wedding night she confesses that she slept with Loserguy. Mr Right is so upset he takes off, and chick meets Loserguy again. Loserguy decides she's hot again (and feels stink for ruining her life), so convinces her that Mr Right is never coming back.

Chick moves in with Loserguy, at which point Mr Right returns but, finding out that she lives with Loserguy, leaves again. Chick is gutted, kills Loserguy so that Mr Right will come back, has a happy week with Mr Right and then is arrested and executed for murder of Loserguy. Mr Right then marries chick's little sister.

Seriously. Does that sound like a nice book to you? I'm not saying books have to be happy-happy lovey-dovey, but I don't know why so many of these classics can't be less perverted, less dark, less morbidly unhappy throughout. Wuthering Heights wasn't really perverted, but happy is not an adjective that anyone could apply to it. Next on the reading list: Heart of Darkness by Conrad....

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Atonement (Ian McEwan)

I've been reading Atonement by Ian McEwan. It's well-written, it's evocative and provocative, it explores unseen depths — but the plot sickens me. If I wanted to read a book about a child being molested and some innocent guy falsely accused of it, I would... no, I would never want to read a book like that.

It sickens me. I'm about halfway through the book now, and I had to put it down and go away. The worst thing is that I'm reading it for Massey — if I'd started this book for leisure, I would probably "have" to finish it just to find out what happened, but I don't think I'd have read more than the first chapter of it if I wasn't required to.

If I'd read this book coming straight out of high school, I would have been shocked and much more sickened than I am now, even if I hadn't understand all the nuances. Even now, halfway through, it hasn't explicitly been said that this guy was raping this child, or who this guy was; but it's completely clear. It's a well-written book.

It's called Atonement because the child who reports the rape and accuses Mr Innocent has to spend the rest of her life atoning for her mistake, or some such thing. I've probably ruined the plot for anyone who hasn't read the book; but I'd recommend you not to read it anyway, so I'm unrepentant for plot-spoiling.

I think it's false, sort of, that the child should be the one atoning for her mistake made in all innocence and ignorance; it should be the guy who actually does commit the rape, that atones for it. I'm not sure what happens there yet, since as I say, I'm only halfway through it — the rape's only just been committed, and reported.