There are some childhood disappointments you never forget.

It is that clear in my mind, how excited I was for a dose of Star Wars after the breathtaking first movie. Oh, I had such a crush on Harrison Ford. And confusingly, on Carrie Fisher. Life is complex, and I knew it already. I was a scifi nerdette, a proto geek girl, into Asimov and Heinlein and Clarke and Pournelle and Herbert…(and I knew L Ron Hubbardstank as a writer of scifi, and that is all I knew of him).

The Star Wars Holiday Special

The Star Wars Holiday Special (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The season of the coming of the Star Wars Holiday Special saw my brother and I on a hot evening in front of the tv eagerly waiting for the ads to STOOOPPPPP – you know how time dilates when you are waiting for something? Of course, we had fewer ads then, but in my memory they were a huge wall of irritation to be endured, it was coming, finally! We had all seen the ads, I knew my friends would be also huddled around their TV sets. Christmas in Australia is HOT, and air conditioning was not yet commonly built in, so we had fans and huge evaporative air conditioners that sprayed noise and water, so the volume needed to be up, and you needed to be at the carefully calculated distance for cool not soggy.

The music came up, the titles…and the confusion started early. Was this a Donny and Marie show we had stumbled into? The comforting sickly cheese of a Brady Bunch special variety hour? What was WRONG? Harrison Ford looked beyond embarrassed, he, too, was enduring the experience, and no doubt thinking his career was ending before his eyes. Carrie Fisher seemed bright and happy (so innocent of the chemicals she was requiring to do this was I). Mark Hamill seemed to have shrugged and decided to do his professional best, oh bless his intentions. And we all, a collective stirring of child consciousness, we all learned the first lesson of Lucas, the first bitter foretaste that he could and would betray us, he would lead us to Jar Jar Binks one day. A first glimpse of the mortality of our innocence was felt that day.

So I cannot recommend watching this for the cheese value – this is beyond cheese and is simply moldy, fermented to the point of something beyond distaste. The RiffTrax guys have a commentary track that tries to make it bearable, but simply lends itself to a shared misery that we all tried to alleviate, like sifting through the wreckage to find any surviving shards of your life after a disaster.

In short, it SUCKED. And when the next two movies came out, we were relieved. Indiana Jones makes us smile again. But we were not shocked by the awfulness of the history of Darth Vader, of Jar Jar and ‘mitochlorians’ and oh the horrors to come..

So here is a review of the Star Wars Holiday Special. Happy Life Day (gag).

“…And Introducing Chewbacca’s Family!” Case File #30: The Star Wars Holiday Special | TV | My World Of Flops | The A.V. Club.

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The Milky Way and the lighthouse

James Burke @rigb_science #connections

James Burke @rigb_science #connections (Photo credit: Toastwife)

Cover of "Cosmos"

Cover of Cosmos

Here we stand on the shores of a cosmic ocean. This (or something pretty close) is from the first episode of Cosmos, that I watched as an entranced sleepy 14 year old, up very late to catch every last resonant image, every last amazing fact (Hypatia, how had I not known of thee? Voyager, small ships of knowledge, the ancestors of all chip bound explorers of the local seas), of that seminal awakening for many of my generation.

Connections was also a hypnotic ride (please, I urge you, spend hours of delight watching every episode on YouTube – sometimes, the Internet is beyond bounteous).

I am thrilled Neil deGrasse Tyson is doing a new version of Cosmos, a fitting heir to the magic of Carl Sagan. Phil Plait is blogging over at Slate these days, and I am delighted to see his audience increase. He, too is, an heir to Sagan – we need more popularisers of science, men and women who can convey the joy and passion of science.

Dr. at the November 29, 2005 meeting of the NA...

Dr. at the November 29, 2005 meeting of the NASA Advisory Council, in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I knew, at 14, there could be no higher calling than scientific pursuits – astronomy would be preferable, but that turned out to be because I had not met my true (career) love – computing. That was my homecoming. But my love of science, all the sciences, from the atomic and subatomic awe inspiring and mind boggling worlds (such brave new (tiny) worlds that have such wonders), to the macro, the Universe, or universes, dimensions and galaxies, of physics and astronomy and on (brave enormous worlds etc). Of the earth sciences, of biology, of technological sciences. Of the wonder of engineering, and again, back to my discipline – computer science – the field of dreams. If you build it he (/she/they) will come, indeed…

We take dreams, ideas, thoughts, and strive to create realities of software and hardware. We create futures. We think in art and colour and movement, of usage and layout and need. If you can think of a more satisfying career, good for you. I cannot, and I can never recommend it highly enough.

Part of Carl Sagan with a model of the Viking ...

Part of Carl Sagan with a model of the Viking lander. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From a 14 year old girl having her heart ache with the wonder and beauty of knowledge to a 45 year old woman still prone to joy and wonder at it all, I owe Carl Sagan such a thank you – for he inspired me as he inspired so many others. He showed me possibilities, and I had to follow the trail thereon.

From the shores of the cosmic ocean to my small light of knowledge, all scientists strive to claim a little more land in H.G. Wells’ ‘sea of ignorance’, as he exhorts every generation take up its responsibility to reclaim more land from it. Doing my best, Mr Wells. Doing my best, Mr Sagan.

The Milky Way and the lighthouse: photos from Australia.

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Thomas Keneally on why he is such a delight

Thomas Keneally claims not the mantle of ‘delight’ yet his words proclaim him (in my mind) to be so:) He seems to carry a certain zest, as if he has looked into the abyss – and chuckled at the vibrant foolishness within. He writes stirringly of the darkness in humanity – but also the light that counters that darkness. Of you have never read any of his books, do so – the ubiquitous Schindler’s List is acclaimed for more than the movie interpretation. The words matter. He does not create a saint out of an all too flawed man, rather he recognizes the dual capacities within us all, that we must choose from when life places us in sudden history made current.


Thomas Keneally: this much I know | Life and style | The Observer.

As Clive James faces death, I face losing one of the most formative heroes of my life

Clive James is dying. my heart is full of sorrow.

this man is such a formative influence on me. his books (i adore his poetry), his writing, and his broadcasting (my ‘gateway’ to his work) are a huge part of my life. i listen to his reading of his own (audio based) books (again, the poetry rocks), and read his essays, collected criticisms, stories and poems literally weekly. i just got his collected postcards dvd set. magic. I’ve been hunting out of print books second hand on amazon, just obtaining what i think is an under rated mater work – fame in the 20th century. i wish i could find the dvd.

i – WE – owe thanks to a fellow Aussie, a world citizen, and a master of communication in so many forms of media. what he did was bring a different culture to many of us when it was thought culture belonged to other people. he instilled (long with Dorothy  L Sayers) my longing to go to university – and stay there. and here i am, teaching at my beloved Flinders University.

(yes, my sentences aren’t capitalised. i am incredibly lazy on here, as i have to be so careful at work. mea maxima culpa. and this is about Clive, so stop it.)


Clive James wistfully faces death, admitting he may not see Sydney again | Culture | The Guardian.

Angelina Jolie and her film on the Bosnian War

This film sounds like it evokes the horrors of war in a way that many films have not ever capture – the female horrors of rape, child loss. It is different from male horrors experienced. And as rending, heart breaking as it sounds, that is a valuable voice to hear.

[Jolie] took this focus and directness, this earnest approach to her new film, In the Land of Blood and Honey, which opens in the U.S. this month. She told me that when it came to the technicalities of making a film, “I wasn’t afraid to ask the DP [director of photography]. And I listened to my cast, most of whom lived through the war. I listened to their stories and tried to incorporate it into the work.” Against the backdrop of the war, she has created a moving and surprising love story of a Serbian soldier and the Bosnian woman he reencounters ambiguously during the war. It is difficult not to admire Jolie, particularly after watching her film.

via Angelina Jolie Directs a Film About the Bosnian War – The Daily Beast.

Outland – Disability, Australian, Scifi, Gay – ticks all the boxes for me:)

Image of alien planet and gender symbols

Image via Wikipedia

An Australian tv series about gay *(disclaimer) scifi fans – with a disabled woman? Could this appeal to me any more succinctly???

Btw, fans (like me) of the absolutely marvellous Boxcutters podcast have long been waiting for this:)

The new television series Outland, set to air on Australia’s ABC1 in February, has been described by some as a gay answer to The Big Bang Theory. Says the show’s producer: “[C]loseted science fiction fans will finally have a voice… a full family of gay Australian characters can go where they never ventured before – prime-time television.”

via Upcoming Outland TV Series: Australian, Geeky, Gay.



*(disclaimer)Ok technically my sexuality is fairly ambiguous, i subscribe to the love the person, notice the packaging later theory – I happen to love my husband, and have for many years, but have loved women too. I find both sexes attractive, IF I find the personality attractive – looks alone just cannot do it, and people become more attractive the more I like them as a person anyway. Thats another post though, but I just don’t get the need for labels and putting people into strict boxes of definition –  unless that is where they WANT to be).

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My thoughts on the announced Doctor Who movie

The Doctor is known to have changed appearance...

Image via Wikipedia

The best two paths this could take :
1) The Time Wars – what formed the reboot Doctor?
2) the start of the Doctor as we know him – as a young Gallifreyan, with Rassilon. What made him a renegade Timelord?

Epic coolness there with both. Basically, lets see what forms our doctor, hmm?

If the intent of the director is to ignore canon, i fully agree with the quote featured in this article from a comment on the first news of this :”I’m just going to say this: it might be a good film. It might be a great film. It might be the greatest film ever made but without it being part of the Whoniverse, it won’t be a Doctor Who film

In one of those lovely quirks of irony, I was showing my seven year old son the Doctor Who episode Dalek on Sunday. You might remember it. Written by Robert Shearman, it’s arguably the finest Dalek story since the show returned in 2005, and the bit that stuck in my head tonight was the moment when the solitary Dalek managed to absorb the entire Internet.

It struck me that if he’d tried to do that, around twenty minutes after Variety uploaded its story regarding a film being made of Doctor Who, it might just have imploded there and then.

via A few thoughts on the Doctor Who movie news – Den of Geek.

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