Sunday, July 31

There and Back Again

The Hobbit.   I have been 'there and back again'.  I made that long and sometimes tortuously slow journey all the way to Smaug, and then all the way back to Bag End.  But it just left me... unfulfilled, I suppose you could say.  As I said, it was long and often very slow and in comparison to The Lord of the Rings, the vivid, vibrant, grippingly beautiful and intense style that enchanted and impassioned me every step, every sentence, was completely lacking in The Hobbit

I read it because my mentality has always been start at the start, end at the end, read before you watch the movie, etcetera etcetera.  And so, I completely abstained from the glorious three-part edition of The Lord of the Rings that I got for my fifteenth birthday, grovelling instead, in the tame and dusty pathways of The Hobbit

It scared me a little.  I had waited so long with so much expectation to read The Lord of the Rings, that when I read The Hobbit, I was really concerned that I wasn't going to enjoy it after all.  I had expected so much and was met rather, by a simple and unexciting children's book.  It really put me off.  But nevertheless, there was that glorious three-part edition waiting on my shelf, and I eventually grabbed it and set off.  Within half of a single chapter, it was obvious to me that I was not going to be disappointed.  Every expectation of the last five years was going to unravel like a fresh lawn in front of me, and then continue out of my imagination.  It became the book that I had waited for without realisation, my entire life. 

I should probably have never read The Hobbit, if only for the avoidance of those days of disappointment, and really, for all of you who consider reading it in the future, it isn't necessary anyway, because the entire plot and all the details are given in The Lord of the Rings, so that if you skip it, it won't affect your reading experience.  But despite my less than thrilling journey there and back again with Bilbo Baggins, it is impossible for me to stifle excitement over the impending release of part one of the film adaption next year.  Especially knowing who is going to play Bilbo Baggins...

It is my wonderful and delightful Martin Freeman, gallant portrayer of Dr. Watson in the BBC production, Sherlock and our awkward but wonderful Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  Who then, better to play funny and frumpy Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit?  Not to mention, he looks extremely funny, frumpy, and dare-I-say-it, cute, 'hobbofied'!

You agree, don't you?  This is one of the original stills released from, and it's just enough to sprinkle thrills up your spine, if you're anything of a Tolkien fan - movies or books. 

Though the book left much to be desired, I have a strong feeling that the movie will be something worth journeying for.  Even if only for Martin Freeman. 

Thursday, July 28

Captain of the Future

Well it's that time of year.  You're all a fair bit older than me, I think, so you've probably been through this before, and felt the agonies yourself.  It is school captain nomination time. 

Did any of you go for it?  I was never a hundred percent certain whether I would or not.  You see, I value just being able to do my work, sit down at lunch to chat with my friends, enjoy my freetime, do my homework, and extra-curricular activities - that is, anything that encroaches on my large but much needed bludge time - has been avoided to as great an extent as possible during the last year and a half.  But I think that as everyone started talking, something started stirring deep in the caves and crannies within me. 

School captain.  Now wouldn't that just tick the final box on my list of Creepily-Nerdy-Things-For-Goody-Two-Shoes-Teacher's-Pets-To-Do-At-School.  Yes.  It would.  That side of me is very simply stereotyped.  Thank goodness it is not the only side of me.  But the thing is with that, that if I don't do it, thank my creepily nerdy, goody-two-shoes, teacher's pet lifestyle at school will have been left incomplete.  School captaincy might not affect things too hugely in later life, but an incomplete adolescence will be hard to repair in the past.  

That and other things.  
  1. There are some people going for the position besides myself and some of my close friends (whom I would gleefully welcome as school captain), whom I really really REALLY WITH A VENGEANCE do NOT want to get it.  The sort of people that you would go for the position just to stop them from getting it. 
  2. I am acually really not that bad at all at orals, and public speaking, like as a school captain, would be something I would both be good at and quite enjoy. 
  3. Peer pressure.
  4. Expectation.
  5. It's a pretty obvious decision.
  6. I am on very good terms with my teachers and I think that this in itself gives me a decent chance.
  7. All the guys that I know going for male captain are good friends of mine, and very nice, and it would be just delightful working with them. 
  8. And then of course I can make a difference.  I especially feel the need for mental health strategies for teenagers, particularly in reagards to developing coping skills and providing support for stress, depression and anxiety.  Because obviously being at high school there's a lot of stress, depression and anxiety. 
Anyway, my nomination form has to be handed in tomorrow, and the speech must be made in just over a week's time.  I definitely will not post it until after I have made it, because I have good reason to suspect some of my contenders to spy on my blog in case I were to do such a stupid thing. 

Tuesday, July 26

Sappy Love Stories

The day seemed different to Rosemary than the day before.  When she saw him face to face their eyes met and brushed like birds' wings.  After that everything was all right, everything was wonderful, she knew that he was beginning to fall in love with her.  She felt wildly happy, felt the warm sap of emotion being pumped through her body.  A cool, clear confidence deepened and sang in her.  She scarcely looked at Dick but she knew everything was all right.

Chapter XVI, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, published 1934.

I love the image of emotion being a warm sap pumping through Rosemary's body.  You get that idea of something thick and hot and sticky, honey-like.  Something raw and unprocessed, straight from earth.  I think that it is so completely true.  Isn't emotion just raw and unprocessed in general?  Yes, it is, isn't it?  I love that Fitzgerald said this. 

Monday, July 25

A Storm in a Tea Cup

In my writing activity from yesterday, which, (if you read my post from yesterday you would know), I didn't feel like doing, I was given a selection of cliches that I could use as the title or the basis for a story.  I haven't used any yet, but the one that I was most attracted to was "a storm in a teacup".  Just something about that little phrase is extremely whimsical and wonderful.  When looking in nooks and crannies on the internet, I chanced to come across something that delighted me so much that I just want everyone on earth to hear about it.  

Storm in a Tea Cup by John Lumbus
The Royal Delft 'Storm in a Teacup' by John  Lumbus

Storm in a Tea Cup by John Lumbus
The New English 'Storm in a Teacup' by John Lumbas

I know that this sort of thing is up my ally, but I really hope that you can appreciate how adorable and whimsical this little bit of joy is.  They're so clean and quaint and petit and even angelically simple and wonderful.   Watch it at work.  This is just gorgeous. 


Yes, anyway, that was my little bit of delight for the week.  I would have more to say except that I have nothing else to say. 

Sunday, July 24

Capture Every Minute

Do you know those hopeless hopeless incredible days when you are bored out of your brain and moody like an old goose or a frumpy puppy with big gangly paws, and you just want to hug Mum forever?  I don't want to read, I don't want to do my writing activity.  I abhor the idea of watching TV.  So instead I'm sitting in my room.  I'm wearing my stripy silky pajama pants, my fluffy socks, my jumper and my fluffy chinelle loving me to death scarf and sobbing outrageously every time the chorus of "Slipping Through My Fingers" by ABBA plays.  I can make it through the verses fine, and then the chorus plays, that beautiful, catchy, soft, sad, sweet chorus and I completely break down.  I must look like a mess right now.  But I just want to be here crying like this.  Painfully and passionately in silence and solitude, to "Slipping Through My Fingers".  Stuff high heels and dresses and beauty.  This is what being a girl is about.  Capture every minute with me.

Saturday, July 23

Speak the Speech, I Pray You!

Something that I have recently looked at in relation to Stanislavsky's concept of realistic and naturalistic acting (in drama) is Hamlet's rules for acting as outlined in his monologue, known as "Speak the Speech, I Pray You".  I thought I would share this monologue with you, and though most of you I would guess, can fluently read Shakespearean, for the less apt, I included the modern English translation.  So you can keep track, the bold parts are the original Shakespearean version, and the italic parts are the modern English translation.  Obviously, if you enjoy Shakespeare, skip over the italics parts, and if you can't be bothered to baffle yourself with thees and thous and pray yous, skip the bold

Scene II

[Elsinore. A hall in the Castle.]
Enter Hamlet, and three of the Players.


Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to
you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many
of our players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my

lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand,
thus, but use all gently; for in the very torrent, tempest,(5)

and, as I may say, whirlwind of your passion, you must
acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness.
O, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious
periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags,
to split the ears of the groundlings, who, for the most part,(10)
are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and
noise. I would have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing
Termagant. It out-Herods Herod. Pray you avoid it.


Speak the part, I beg you, as I read it to you,
lightly on your tongue. But if you just repeat it, as many
actors do, I would prefer the town crier spoke my lines.
And don’t saw the air too much with your hands, like this,
but use your gestures gently. Because, in the very strong
storm, and, as I may say, whirlwind of passion, you must
acquire and make an easy style that may give it
smoothness. O, it offends me to the soul to hear a hefty
fellow with a wig tear an emotion to tatters, to very rags,
to split the ears of the cheap seats, who, for the most
part, are capable of nothing but confusing pantomime
and noise. I would have such a fellow whipped for
overdoing a Moslem god, it out-herods Herod. Please
avoid it.


I warrant your honour.


I assure you.


Be not too tame neither; but let your own discretion be(15)
your tutor. Suit the action to the word, the word to the
action; with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the
modesty of nature: for anything so overdone is from the
purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was
and is, to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show(20)
virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very
age and body of the time his form and pressure. Now this
overdone, or come tardy off, though it make the unskilful
laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve; the censure of
the which one must in your allowance o'erweigh a whole(25)
theatre of others. O, there be players that I have seen play,
and heard others praise, and that highly, not to speak it
profanely, that, neither having the accent of Christians, nor the
gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed
that I have thought some of Nature's journeymen(30)
had made men, and not made them well, they imitated
humanity so abominably.


But don’t be too tame either, but let your own discretion
be your teacher. Fit the action to the word, the word to the
action, with this special rule, that you don’t overstep the
simplicity of being natural, for anything so overdone is not
the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and
now, was and is, to hold, as it were, the mirror up to
nature, to show truth in reality, scorn her falseness, and
his form and force to the very age and body of the time.
Now, this overacting, or lateness, though it make the
ignorant laugh, can only make the experienced grieve, in
whose opinion, you must outdo a whole theatre of other
audiences in your performance. O, there are actors that I
have seen perform and heard others praise, and highly
too, not to speak too harshly, that, having neither the
accent of Christians, nor the walk of a Christian, a pagan,
or a man, have so strutted and yelled that I have thought
some of nature's hired help had made them and not
made them well, they imitated mankind so dreadfully.
Well, from this famous monologue of Hamlet's, it was fairly simple to devise a short list of rules, or more accurately, suggestions, for an actor.  They are as follows:
  1. Speak carefully and purposefully
  2. Avoid over gesticulating.  (Use your gestures gently because when acting, it is important to have an easy style that gives you smoothness.)
  3. Don't act too tamely.  (As long as you don't overstep the simplicity of being natural.)
  4. Avoid over-acting.  (The purpose of acting is to hold "the mirror up to nature" and over-acting can only poorly imitate reality.)
I just thought that it was pretty cool how something like this could be picked out of Shakespeare.  Fascinating, hey?

Friday, July 22

An Unforgettable Grief

Wow.  There is something very like dying and yet being born about what happened to me today.  Perhaps it's not much of a story, but it's a great moment nevertheless. 

Today I finished reading The Lord of the Rings to my dad.  We started reading it - well I don't even know when we started reading it for certain, but I can guess that we began mid year, perhaps June or July last year, nearly immediately after I finished reading it for the first time myself.  And today, the 22nd of July, 2011, at fiveish in the afternoon, in a corrugated iron shed, sitting in wicker chairs some twenty-five years old, nestled in amongst the cushions I hand-sewed for Dad for Christmas, drinking chai tea with one sugar, we finished it.  I made it about a page and a half to the very end, and then I could hardly breath, and I was crying softly and heartrendingly with my heart completely smashed.  Gosh.  It was so hard! 

Dad said, "keep reading!  Keep reading!  We'll cry and see them off together!"  And that it just what we did.  I tried to get my breath back as much as I could before I soldiered on, and with sobs and trembles of grief, I read to the very last sentence, and then, with Sam's sweet last words, we sat and cried together and grieved those beautiful, wonderful people that we had met and loved and lost together for a year and a half. 

I think I am either a lot younger or a lot older now.  I can't really tell which it is just yet.  But to cry with that pain that was truly authentic and totally perfect and read at the same time gave us both the doorway to revelation.  What we had just done was so intensely personal.  We were grieving. 

There is nothing at all wrong with grief.  And there is nothing at all wrong with crying.  There is nothing at all wrong with crying while reading because what we've been through with dear Sam Gamgee and Frodo and Gandalf and Merry and Pippin has been something completely personal and incredible.  We said goodbye for the last time to friends so key to our development and life of late that seeing them leave is like wrenching away a limb.  We will grieve, all right, and sob when we need to, but what we have done together, I will never forget. 

Thursday, July 21

Green Milk and Laundry Water

Her shoulders were too burned to swim with the next day, so she and her mother hired a car—after much haggling, for Rosemary had formed her valuations of money in France—and drove along the Riviera, the delta of many rivers. The chauffeur, a Russian Czar of the period of Ivan the Terrible, was a self-appointed guide, and the resplendent names—Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo—began to glow through their torpid camouflage, whispering of old kings come here to dine or die, of rajahs tossing Buddha’s eyes to English ballerinas, of Russian princes turning the weeks into Baltic twilights in the lost caviare days. Most of all, there was the scent of the Russians along the coast—their closed book shops and grocery stores. Ten years ago, when the season ended in April, the doors of the Orthodox Church were locked, and the sweet champagnes they favored were put away until their return. ‘We’ll be back next season,’ they said, but this was premature, for they were never coming back any more.

It was pleasant to drive back to the hotel in the late afternoon, above a sea as mysteriously colored as the agates and cornelians of childhood, green as green milk, blue as laundry water, wine dark. It was pleasant to pass people eating outside their doors, and to hear the fierce mechanical pianos behind the vines of country estaminets.
Part I, Chapter III, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, published 1934.
This passage was the moment when I became completely immersed.  It was the first moment to pinch me awake and tenaciously grip me ever afterwards.  There are so many beautiful, atmospheric pictures in this.  I love the idea of sea 'mysteriously colored as the agates and cornelians of childhood, green as green milk, blue as laundry water, wine dark'.  I know myself what this looks like, and I've often wondered at the right words to describe this phenomenom.  But this is just it!  Wine dark.  Mysterious.  Green as green milk, blue as laundry water.  It's so dark and silky and powerful, isn't it?  Like something incredibly strong and dangerous but tender and wonderful.  I adore it! 

And of course, how many stories could be conjured up behind the idea of the Russians and the rajahs and the English ballerinas?  It's like a hundred histories hinted at with a gesture of the hand.  Isn't Fitzgerald glorious?

Wednesday, July 20

Codename Four Eyes

He tried breaking into other dialogues, but it was like continually shaking hands with a glove from which the hand had been withdrawn - so finally, with a resigned air of being among children, he devoted his attention entirely to the champagne. 

Part I, Chapter VII, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, published 1934. 

This single line, simple and short, is something very exciting, isn't it?  I love the image of shaking hands with an empty glove.  I know what it feels like, and I'm sure if you don't, you could guess.  But it is such a joy to stumble across a single line like this and feel suddenly like you get it!  It's a whimsical fleeting thought that was snatched and folded in. 

I got my glasses yesterday.  I spent yesterday afternoon 'weaning' myself into them a bit, and then I wore them frequently today and made sure that everyone I knew got an eyeful.  My depth perception, especially looking down, is a tad mutilated, but not to the extent of putting things down a foot from the table or reaching to pick something up from a meter away.  It's more to the extent that if I was to throw a rubber across the class to someone, I had better peek out from under my glasses so I can aim accurately.  Actually, I'm enjoying being a little handicapped, because it's a great fuel for jokes.  How typically Australian is that?  Self-mocking humour.  Remember that assignment? 

Anyway, the difference between wearing and not wearing glasses is the difference between seeing a crisp, bright white word, and guessing at a  faint, pale smudge.  The difference between seeing every individual greasy strand of split-ended hair on my head to seeing a soft, glowy, chocolate head of hair.  It's obviously not all good.  And this is short and long distance.  I feel empowered.  Television looks better too - even more three dimension, despite the fact that that is physically impossible.  In short, I think that besides rendering me the biggest girl nerd registered in this crazy continent, wearing glasses is going to actually help me see things a whole lot better.  I suppose that figures.

Tuesday, July 19

A Spoonful of Sugar

Following a walk marked by an intangible mist of bloom that followed the white border stones she came to a space overlooking the sea where there were lanterns asleep in the fig trees and a big table and wicker chairs and a great market umbrella from Sienna, all gathered about an enormous pine, the biggest tree in the garden. She paused there a moment, looking absently at a growth of nasturtiums and iris tangled at its foot, as though sprung from a careless handful of seeds, listening to the plaints and accusations of some nursery squabble in the house. When this died away on the summer air, she walked on, between kaleidoscopic peonies massed in pink clouds, black and brown tulips and fragile mauve-stemmed roses, transparent like sugar flowers in a confectioner’s window— until, as if the scherzo of color could reach no further intensity, it broke off suddenly in mid-air, and moist steps went down to a level five feet below.

Part I, Chapter VI, Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald, first published 1934.

First of all, my dears, sorry for yesterday's silence.  It was all the fault of my faulty internet.  It was impossible to even open a web page from early afternoon until midnight last night, and obviously I was in no position to blog at midnight. 

Anyway, I read this paragraph yesterday afternoon, and I was absolutely lullabied by that just sugar-sweet analogy of the fragile, young roses being "transparent like sugar flowers in a confectioner's window".  And how about the lanterns "alseep in the fig trees"?  They were not dangling, hanging or suspended in the branches.  They were asleep.  To me, that just sings of the soft, luminous sleepiness of the scene - something warm and gently glowing, yet refreshing as it is at night.  Can you just imagine in the things that would follow?  Crisp, rejuvenating salty sea breeze in lungs hot from the upstairs party, hard, cold pavers beneath hot bare feet.  Although it does not scream at you from this paragraph, I believe Fitzgerald to be a master of atmosphere, and he paints pictures that are perfect but unfinished, and suggest to your imagination a thousand things that smell, taste, sound and feel incredibly fresh and wonderful.  There will be some real treats ahead!

Sunday, July 17

We Win the War

I finished The War of the Worlds last night, and I can't stress enough how big of an experience it was to read.  It would be a fair statement that it is probably the quintessencial science-fiction novel.  Though hundreds of novels, with all their Martians and aliens and extra-terrestrials, lived long before and after this book, it seems to me that H. G. Wells told the Martian story that everyone wanted to hear.  It seems to me that no one has managed to tell a story like this better than him, and so no one has managed to contest him for his place as quintessencial sci-fi story-teller.  Its straight, grim, factual fashion of narrative makes it thrilling and cold to read.  Although it requires a certain mindset to be enjoyed or even properly appreciated, when you read it in the right mindset, it is absorbing and chilling.  It unleashed concepts that are more individual and a wider scale. 

I watched the more recent film adaption, War of the Worlds, this morning, and it was startlingly accurate and intense.  It neglected the whole idea of the Martians' appearance, which was disappointing, because I thought those concept were very neat, but on the whole it really was the most brilliant accompaniment for such a book.  It was very well acted, oh, and, one thing I thought was cool was that it merged the characters of the curate and the artilleryman as one.  The one character in the movie displayed the personality of both of the book characters at the same time, and all the circumstances surrounding them surrounded him.  It was very clever.  Overall, I really enjoyed it.  I think that they are both super-worth-while experiences. 

Friday, July 15

A Parody of People

I'm feeling a lot at the moment that I'm too blank to talk.  I've been a buzzing live wire, a vibrant and kicking person today, but settling back into the environment of home has somehow managed to drain every drop of vivacity from my veins.  I can hardly feel my legs, but that might be more about how I'm sitting on  them. 

Anyway, because anything I am likely to say in my current state will be highly unentertaining and possibly sarcastic, I thought it would be better to time travel back to the 7th of July this year, when I read a single sentence that I found very interesting. 

...that distant shape, higher than the trees or chuch towers inland, and advancing with a leisurely parody of a human stride.

Part 1, Chapter 17, The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, published 1898. 

This does, I'm sure you deduced, refer to one of the Martian machines.  What made this line stand out like a pop-up illustration was how big the idea of 'parody' was.  For me, saying that the stride of the Martian machine was a "parody of a human stride" paints it in a ghastly and even grotesque light for me.  As though they are so superior and patronising of our entire sepcies that their every movement is a mockery of something ingrained in us like breathing or walking.  One sentence, but that one sentence made the chapter for me. 

I am waiting, waiting waiting on my glasses, and complacently contemplating reading or writing or web-surfing as my method of whiling away the evening, but it's just occured to me that the only thing I feel like doing is being with people.  My personality type, I think you could safely say, is composed of two opposites.  I am an extremely sanguine person by nature, who is also majorly melancholy.  This means that I am someone who delights in the company of people and can be very bright and social, but can also be satisfied with, and even desperate for, solitude - a person who enjoys their quality time with themselves.  Everyone has these qualities to an extent, even if its only a little layer.  Right now, the end of the week has forced me tuck-and-rolling into solitude when I feel a lot more like being surrounded by conversation.  The people who are home, I can think of nothing to say to.  Besides, they are watching reality TV shows.  It looks like a long and uneventful weekend. 

Thursday, July 14

To My Heart's Content

There was this one little scene in The War of the Worlds that I read last night that got me going like nothing has got me going in quite a long time!  I was sitting in bed with my electric blanket on setting three, and two pillows behind my head.  I was reading the scene in which one of the Martians is alerted to the fugitives' prescence in the ruined house, and the main character (who as yet, strangely enough, I don't know the name of), is hiding and listening to its tentacle coming closer and closer, tapping along the walls.  Oh!  It was the moment when I suddenly and electrically became connected to what I was reading.  It was quite incredible how my heart rate just took off at a gallop, and it took a long time afterwards for it is settle down to a calm trot.  It was great, though, to enjoy a little thrilling experience like that.  I think reading Frankenstein, which I failed to become egrossed in, has left me with a tender craving for intrigue and suspense.  I've wanted to really get into it and be egged on hour after hour by the sheer exhilaration of promise and dread.  It's always wonderful when a book can offer such a thing. 

Wednesday, July 13

The Hnau in the Now

Since I talked about Wells’ interpretation of Martians yesterday, I thought that it would be lovely to share with you some Martians, or rather, extra-terrestrial beings, that I met and enjoyed the company of a while ago. These extra-terrestrial beings I speak of are C. S. Lewis’ creations. I made their acquaintance mid last year. They are the hrossa, the séroni, and the pfifltriggi, the inhabitants of Mars of Malacandra, from the first book in the Cosmic Trilogy, Out of the Silent Planet, published 1962.

My favourite of them were the hrossa, singularly hross. They are like great, tall, thin, otters – taller and thinner than humans. They live in the low river valleys or handramit as it is known in the speech of the eldila. They are farmers and fishers, but relish in the performing arts, especially dancing, and are gifted poets, though they don’t write their compositions down. Their only coverings are pocketed loincloths, and the boats that they build resemble human canoes. Their special manner of speech is characterised by the initial ‘h’ sound that is attached to the beginning of their words. I don’t remember all the details of them myself, (I had to do a touch of research to give you this basic information), but the one lasting impression of the hrossa that I carried since reading the book was the very dog-like and parental affection displayed by the main hross, Hyoi, towards Dr Ransom. He was so very endearing and the hrossa in general came across as a very authentic, compassionate and, I suppose, just ‘in touch’ race. In touch with the land, like the American Indians or the Aboriginals, and in touch with nature, each other and other creatures.

The séroni, or singularly, sorn, are thin, fifteen-foot-high humanoid creatures, which , when first introduced, appear terrifying and menacing. They have coats of light feathers and seven fingers on each hand. Their homes are in the mountain caves of the high country or harandra, in the speech of the eldila, but they often descend into the handramit where they keep their livestock, (giraffe-like creatures). They are scholars and great thinkers, and delve into science and abstract learning. They design machinary, which is then built by the pfifltriggi. They can write, but choose not to write works of fiction or history as they consider the hrossa to be superior at this task.

The pfifltriggi, singularly pfifltrigg, are frog-like in shape, with heads like a tapir’s which bulge at the rear with the shape of their brain. When they rest, they lean on the ground on their elbows. They move quite quickly and insect-like in manner. They are miners, builders and technicians, who build houses, machinery and various gadgets designed by the séroni. They mind minerals especially gold, which they know as “sun’s blood”. They are said to wear a form of clothing, and are depicted as wearing protective goggles for their eyes.

What I thought was very cool about these hnau, (a word used in reference to sentient or reasoning beings, humans included), is that they are “unfallen”. They are completely free of the propensity to sin that lies in human beings. The connection between these three races is somewhere between that of equals and that of a human to an animal, “mirrored in the way that humans tend to anthropomorphise pets”. They just acknowledge each other as equal and necessary.

While I was researching, I also stumbled across a little bit of random but thoroughly fascinating fact that describes the appearances C. S. Lewis’ extra-terrestrial beings in other literary works. I never knew they had appeared in other literary works, so at least I learnt something today.
Apparently, all three of them are mentioned as included in the races living on Mars in Rainbow Mars, Larry Niven’s 1999 novel. In this, they are referred to as the “Pious Ones” by the Barsoomian races.  Ha ha!  Fancy that! 

At the beginning of the second volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the séroni are mentioned as being one of the Martian races allied against the Martians from The War of the Worlds, referred to as the “mollusc invaders”. I am sensing strong presence of inter-textual referencing here!

In Scarlet Traces: The Great Game, hieroglyphics appear to describe the hrossa, séroni and pfifltriggi as the orginal races of Mars. It also says that they were made extinct when the War of the Worlds Martians arrived. Once again, major inter-textual reference.

It’s kind of amazing how I’ve mentioned H. G. Wells’ and C. S. Lewis’ Martians in relation to each other, ignorant entirely of how close they had become in other science fictions. I find that really incredible. But I think that it’s good, too, even though it’s very strange. Both alien races are spectacularly depicted and spectacularly designed. They both deserve to be well-remembered. And of course, I vouch especially for the hrossa.

Tuesday, July 12

Wells' Extra-Terrestrial Idea

I think since I am reading The War of the Worlds, it's about time that I gave you a taste of Wells' interpretation of the alien.  There must be hundreds upon thousands of depictions of the martian or alien or extra terrestrial immigrant etcetera etcetera, but they are all unique in flavour, with subtle similarities.  I believe, however, that Wells' Martian is one of the most individual that I've met.  Chapter Two: What We Saw From the Ruined House of Part Two: The Earth Under the Martians, gives the clearest, most detailed and uninterrupted account of the Martians so far, and from pages of fascinating and disturbing description of these grotesque creations, I harvested three excerpts that give a basic idea of Wells' Martian as well as offering a sense of repulsive and yet alluring intrigue.  Chapter Two of Part Two is definitely worth reading, just for the experience alone, if for nothing more 

"It's motion was so swift,complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.  The fighting machines were coordinated and animated to an extraordinary pitch, but nothing to compare with this.  People who have never seen these structures, and have only the ill-imagined efforts of artists of the imperfect descriptions of such eyewitnesses as myself to go upon, scarcely  realize the living quality." 

"They were, I now saw, the most unearthly creatures it is possible to conceive.  They were huge round bodies - or, rather, heads - about four feet in diameter, each body having in front of it a face.  This face had no nostrils - indeed, the Martians so not seem to have had any sense of smell, but it had a pair of very large dark-coloured eyes, and just beneath this a kind of fleshy beak. ...  In a group round the mouth were sixteen slender, almost whiplike tentacles, arranged in two bunches of eight each.  These bunches have since been named rather aptly, by that distinguished anatomist, Professor Howes, the hands." 

"They have become practically mere brains, wearing different bodies according to their needs just as men wear suits of clothes and take a bicycle in a hurry or an umbrella in the wet." 
Chapter Two, Part Two, The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, published 1898. 

What do you think?  The idea of the Martian acting only as a brain within its vehicles is very vividly disturbing, isn't it?  Because mankind is not inconceivably far from achieving this same end.  Chapter Two of Part Two goes into this idea, and plays on how concepts like this have been presented numerous times in satire and parody etcetera, when reality is not dissimilar from what we take as a ridiculous joke.  It also handles the concepts of the Martians' reproduction, feeding and inventions, or more accurately, the race's failure to invent the wheel.  It's very fascinating and thought-provoking.  Read it. 

Monday, July 11

I Can See Clearly Now

Well, I have a bit of news for you!  I officially need glasses.  Now, here's the case.  I apparently have astigmatism in both eyes, which is a fairly common 'defect'. 

a·stig·ma·tism - (noun) 1.  A defect in the eye or in a lens caused by a deviation from spherical curvature, which results in distorted images, as light rays are prevented from meeting at a common focus.

Thankyou to our good friend, Google, for this incredibly precise and enlightening account of 'astigmatism'.  Now, the deal is that I can wear the glasses pretty well all the time, but their especial use is for when I am reading, in class or watching movies, as it will make near and far writing clearer and help to prevent headaches induced by long periods of movie watching, as I have sometimes experienced. 

To be honest, I am really looking forward to it.  The frame I've chosen is very quirky and suits my face.  Actually, the word I'm searching for is 'jaunty'.  I actually spent almost an hour in the optomitrist's after my appointment, trying and retrying all the prototype frames on, until I had narrowed it down to a potential three.  After that, it was trying those three on again and again until I had narrowed it down to two.  I then spent forever switching between the finalists and posing and smiling until I emerged with the victor.  I would love to be able to describe the winner for you, but I don't remember the brand, leaving you with only the colour brown to contemplate.  I'll get them in a couple of days, and then I can give you a better idea. 

I don't remember having had an eye check... ever... though I think I probably would have had one in early primary school - the same sort of deal as the dental van.  It was a funny sort of process.  Before the optomitrist was ready, the receptionist took me to a seperate room for a very basic test which involved looking through a machine at a little circular picture of a hot air balloon.  Then I was back in the waiting room.

While I was sitting and waiting, a young university aged student came in and started chatting with the receptionist.  He began telling her this story, and I, sitting innocently in my chair was dragged helplessly along for the ride.  When he had first bought his transition lense glasses, a mate of his had shared his secret with him - if you're wearing sunglasses, "hot chicks" can't tell if you're "checking out their rack".  Yes.  The exact words.  It was about now that I began to find it very difficult to keep a straight face.  Apparently, while wearing his transition lense glasses at the beach, he had bumped into a "very hot chick", remembered his friend's little secret, and spent some time talking to her with his eyes plastered on her unsuspecting breasts.  It was when she had suddenly stopped talking, given him a disgusted glare and stormed down the beach that he took off his glasses to discover that they hadn't blacked out fully.  It was about now that I was having a lot of trouble keeping from laughing loudly in the empty waiting room. 

Anyway, on a more general note, tomorrow is the beginning of semester two and my thoughts are a mingled mash of excitement and slight dread.  I think that overall, I will enjoy getting back into the routine, and I will certainly enjoy being around people again.  Though I adapted quickly to the quiet and habit of holidays, returning to classes full of real live kicking people will be fun.  Take care.

Saturday, July 9

63 Hrs 13 Mins and Counting

My holidays are drawing to an end.  They will fizzle out like a sparkler in exactly 63 hours and 13 minutes.  In exactly 63 hours and 13 minutes, I will wake up on the first morning of semester two. 

I've pretty well been there, done everything first semester.   I have competed with homework, assignments, deadlines, little sleep, a new job, snobs, a dog, siblings, my mimimal social life, my tragic hair, stomach bugs, colds, boredom and dentists.  Belive it or not, I competed with and emerged victorious over all of the above with the assistance of only a very basic Survival Kit. 

[     Survival Kit includes:
  • Toothbrush
  • Chapstick
  • Hair straightener
  • Tissue box
  • A book (any book will do)
  • Herbie my laptop
  • Electric blanket
  • Stockings                          ]
I think that without heartbreak, physical injury, flat out failure, death, moving house and being fired, this year so far has included pretty well everything.  I think I have enjoyed my connection with friends at least twice as much as ever before in my life, and my relationships with my teachers is very comfortable.  I don't look forward to getting stuck into semester two in 63 hours and 13 minutes, but I think that because I survived semester one so well, semester two might be just that tiny bit easier. 

Thursday, July 7


I finished that teen fiction novel that I had to read as an introduction to next term's assessment.  After spending a day watching chic-flicks with two of my best friends until my head pulsated, my eyes ached and I was desperate to fall asleep, I miraculously managed to stay up reading for another three hours after that.  And then this morning, I finished off the last few chapters and had it over and done with.  

I am unashamed to admit that I didn't mind it, really.  It's not at all the sort of book I would read of my own accord, but it had its merits - a sort of kooky teen 'wit' - and left me with an understanding of the subject matter that I had previously not possessed.   I suppose it was like watching a really sappy teen flick that you feel guilty watching but secretly enjoy.  Overall, it was an interesting experience. 

I am currently involved in the task of editing a novel I threw together several years ago.  It's been very fascinating observing in my writing the development and maturing of my style, word choice, phrasing, interests...  etcetera etcetera.  I often find myself editing out the word 'jovial'.  I profess that I failed completely and utterly to use it, even once, in a way that it actually sounded right, sensible, normal, logical... take your pick.  There's something about it that just doesn't fit in to my sentences.  Sorry 'jovial'. 

Funnily enough, I can't remember ever using that word since, which is probably a good thing.  But the strange thing is, that in comparison to my old writing style, which embraced lots of varying words and phrases, the style in which I write now lacks proper 'style' I suppose you could say.  It's like I use only the words that are presently appearing in my head without attempting to rope in new words.  It's like I hardly think about it.  I am so out of practice, and blogging doesn't really give me any practice in creative writing... like story writing.  I tried to write a short sort of stumbling along story earlier this week and I liked some of the little thoughts that went into it, but overall, it ended with a big, soggy flat sploosh like dropping a pancake on a concrete floor.  I had no where to take it, really.  So I let it just end.  And it shouldn't have ended there.  Storylines are not my forte.  And you can take all the cliched hints from 'learn to write fantastically' and 'create believable characters' and 'write a bestseller' type websites, but in the end, either the hints are too obvious to even contemplate, or it becomes a matter of being bothered.  Uuugh.  It's quite sad.  I think that when I am my own thing, I will invest in a hour a day of writing at least, to properly get it

Tuesday, July 5

The Winner is Announced

Remember the Open Sesame Challenge?  Yes.  Well.  It obviously didn't turn out quite as I'd hoped.  Partially because only one person besides myself contributed an entry, and partially because only one person voted.  But thankyou extremely to those two people for your contribution because otherwise it would have been just me...  which would have been kind of lame...

Anyway.  The Open Sesame Challenge has been closed for entries for a while, and the voting closed a couple of days ago.  I am very pleased to announce that (because there was only one vote), Changesofheart's entry was the inanimous winner!  Her entry was the introduction to Love Poems from God.  Here it is again for you to read:

'I hope a few of these poems will reach in deep enough to cure what separates us from each other, and from the beautiful. I hope you fall into this wine barrel and crawl out legally drunk, and get arrested for doing something that makes God proud of you, like being too happy.'

There you go.  Changesofheart's entry was voted as the most 'interesting' opening to a book, and I agree that it is very sweet and funny, isn't it.  It's a worthy winner.  

I just hope, though, that next time I hold a challenge like the Open Sesame Challenge that more of you will participate, because it ends up a tad flat otherwise.  What sort of challenges would you like to participate in?  I have plenty of ideas for challenges, but I don't feel that it's worthwhile unless more people get up and add to it.  I don't suppose you would be more interested if there was a prize...?  Take care, and thankyou very much to Changesofheart and Themanycoloursofhappiness for your contribution! 

Monday, July 4

The Broadcast

Well, yesterday I suggested listening to Orson Welles 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds.  I listened to 20 minutes of it myself and am very impressed and delighted by the quality and ingenuity of the adaptation.  Here it is in its entirety for you to hear.  There are several ways to watch it on Youtube, but this was the only version that had the entire broadcast in one go, which I consider to be a lot more convenient than having to upload and select up to ten different clips.  It has pictures over the top, but really, you obviously only need to be able to hear it, not see it.  I hope that you enjoy it.  


Sunday, July 3

Welles and Wells' Martian Misunderstanding

For the 1938 Halloween show of the American radio drama anthology series, ‘Mercury Theatre on the Air’, actor and filmmaker, Orson Welles, decided cheekily yet cleverly to adapt H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds. He rewrote the novel as a 60 minute radio transcript, shortening the story and rendering it much more personal and relevant by changing the location and time to present day New England. The show aired over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network on the 30th of October.
At the time, ‘Mercury Theatre on the Air’ was competing with the ‘Chase and Sanborn Hour’, a show playing at the same time on a different channel. A common propensity of a ‘Chase and Sanborn Hour’ radio listener was to turn the dial every Sunday, at around 8:12, in a bid to avoid the musical section… and then turn back once they thought the music was likely to be over, as you might do any day with television ads. But what happened on the 30th of October, 1938, was that when all those ‘Chase and Sanborn Hour’ radio listeners turned their dials, they tuned in to what they thought were news alerts warning of ‘Martian invasion’.

Orson Welles performing 'The War of the Worlds'

The first two thirds of the broadcast were depicted as a series of simulated news bulletins. Having missed the introduction to the play, and hearing only these very realistically enacted commentaries and interviews, was enough to convince thousands that it was true. In fact, Richard J. Hand (this is a neat little fact to pull out of one’s hat), cites “studies by unnamed historians who ‘calculate[d] that some six million heard the CBS broadcast; 1.7 million believed it to be true, and 1.2 million were ‘genuinely frightened’,’”. It has been argued by a few sources that the atmosphere of apprehension and tension prior to WWII rendered many susceptible to such a scare.

The New York Times Newspaper Clipping

In the months following the broadcast, some 12, 500 newspaper articles had been published. Hitler himself is rumoured to have stated that the panic resulting from the broadcast was “evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of democracy”, but whether or not that is true or just gossip is beyond me. I think, however, that it proves quite a big point about the immensity of the impact. Apparently among the effects were thousands of calls to police, several miscarriages and early births, distribution of gas masks, public rallying etcetera etcetera. Yes, so quite a big deal.

Newspaper Clipping

Everyone sued, but it all ended up being cleared away quite simply, with ‘Mercury Theatre on the Air’ having to promise not to use the phrase ‘we interrupt this program’ for dramatic effect. Simple enough. Really, the fact that it was only announced once during the broadcast that it was an adaptation of a novel, and the public’s readiness to believe what they heard on the radio, made it less about the cleverness of the adaptation itself and more about how and when and where it was done, but still, I think that besides all the controversy, besides the negative view, wasn’t it just the most incredible and impacting, gosh impacting, way of conveying a story? Imagine it! To have been a part of that would have been pretty unimaginable. Not terribly well-advised or well-thought-out, but unforgettable.  Would you like to hear it?

Saturday, July 2

An Alien Concept

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.

Book One: The Coming of the Martians, Chapter One: The Eve of War from The War of the Worlds  by H. G. Wells, first published 1898. 

Yes, well that was certainly a big, fat chunk of words to feed you.  Have you managed to swallow it?  That is the opening to The War of the Worlds, and I thought it be the perfect introduction to the subject. 

This opening prompts an idea so, excuse me, alien, and yet, increasingly familiar as it is an idea that surfaces often enough is movies, comics and books etcetera.  However, the thought that one might hear such a thing, as an introduction to a true story - a real, live event - gives me quick thrills of something akin to horror.  The idea of people listening to Orson Welles perform it over the radio and thinking it all to be true, is awful, really, but incredible.  What a thing to do!  And how well he pulled it off!  It would be incredible to sit and listen to it, wouldn't it, even knowing that it is fiction.  What an experience!  Tomorrow, I will have to explain the whole situation to you!  What fun!

Friday, July 1

Lethargy of the Soul

Hello, my dears. I haven't really had anything much to mention the last couple of days, and what with Blogger not functioning properly last night, there’s been a bit of silence at my end. I suppose, however, that you're desperate to hear that I finished a book, started another one, went to the library, sat in bed reading for hours, and worked a couple of shifts. Yes, extraordinarily exciting, I know.

Well, in review, I did finish Frankenstein, which I was glad to finally put to bed, as I found that the slow pace managed to slacken the tension a bit too much. So that is that. I have a book which I am having to read for an assignment, (yes, over the holidays), which I would really rather not be reading, but am surprisingly finding quite interesting. I mean, interesting as I can sit and munch whole chapters of it in one mouthful, rather than interesting as in I actually like the story line, or characters, or subject matter or anything like that. To be most brutally frank, it is a modern teen fiction novel, and the gags are all aimed at the 'snottiness' of mean girls and the 'uncoolness' of parents.

I got The War of the Worlds out, so I will start reading it soon. Uughh. That means that I'll be intermingling two books at once, and I don't like doing that. But I'll have absolutely nothing to say if I don't read it.

Hmmm. Well I really don't have much else to say! I’m going to see an optometrist next week, and hopefully brushing my hair regularly is going to promote some super-quick sneaky growth, to counter-attack my tragic haircut. Without assignments, friends and books bouncing about in my face, there is very little inspiration! Oh, the horror! Can you stand it?