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Sunday, December 31, 2023

In Which I Fulfil A New Year’s Eve Tradition - The Rocky Horror Picture Show!


Tonight was New Year’s Eve, so I grabbed the chance to go out for a New Year’s Eve tradition: a viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. 

You can, of course, just play the movie on DVD or streaming. Disney + streams it, or you can buy and download it. But it’s not the same.

If you go to see it at the cinema, it’s a sing-along with a pre film show, an MC dressed as the main character, Frank N Furter, who calls out the “virgins” who haven’t seen it before and stages a costume parade for the cosplayers, with prizes for the best ones. I’ve been to a showing where people dressed as some of the characters turn up on stage to sing along. 

Tonight I went to my local cinema, the Classic. We were offered sparkling wine and a pack which contained a number of items that helped us do the traditional stuff, eg confetti to throw in the opening wedding scene and a newspaper to put over our heads during the rain scene(and were showered by people with spray bottles). During “There’s A Light Over At The Frankenstein Place” we all sang along and waved our phones using the torch app. When I first saw this film, with my cousin and his wife, people brought candles and lighters - how times have changed! I think the phones were much safer than candles.

Of course, there was “The Time Warp”, only this was the first time I saw everybody dance it! When I was going to the Year 12 Formals the kids danced it every year, as well as the Macarena and “Summer Lovin’” from Grease

And the film was just as much fun as always. In case you aren’t familiar, it has fun with old science fiction movies of the 1940s and 50s. You know the drill: the young lovers have a car breakdown and go to a scary house and ask to use the phone…

Richard O’Brien, the show’s creator, was in it. You may have seen him elsewhere in, say, Flash Gordon and Season 3 of Robin Of Sherwood, in which he played an evil sorcerer working for the villain. The lead, Frank N Furter, was played by Tim Curry, who is best known for this film, but has done plenty of other shows and films, such as a dashing Pirate King in a stage production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates Of Penzance. I’ve also seen him in The Life Of Shakespeare, in the title role. He made a  wonderful Shakespeare, but you wouldn’t recognise him between this and Rocky Horror.

If you’d like to see the stage show, with Richard O’Brien, here is a link to it on YouTube.


Anyway, I had a great time! I haven’t seen it since before the pandemic, so I was glad to go tonight.

Just Finished Reading… Wages Of Sin By Harry Turtledove. Perseus Books, 2023


This is the latest novel by the “Master of Alternative Universe”. In this case, the “what if…?” is “what if HIV arrived in Europe in the 16th century?”

In 1509, some Portuguese traders buy slaves in Africa, to take back to Lisbon. One of them is a beautiful teenage girl, who is passed around the crew. She has been raped by her captors before being sold. So… 

In 1851 - not the Victorian era, but the reign of King Michael III - England is very different from the one we know. AIDS, known as the Wasting, is common enough that strict measures have been  taken to control its spread. Victims are branded with a W as a warning to others not to sleep with them. Women are forced to wear burqas when they go out, to avoid tempting men - which doesn’t stop them from being groped and catcalled in public. England is still Catholic, because Henry VIII died of AIDS  - no surprise there - before he could break from Rome.

Not a world we would like to live in!

The novel is seen through the eyes of engaged couple Peter and Viola. It is an arranged marriage, but the young couple are willing. She is a doctor’s daughter in Salisbury, he is studying law in London. Most of the novel is about what is happening with each of them. Peter is trying to avoid temptation despite his randy room mate’s regular brothel attendance. Viola is frustrated by having no freedom, though her father is very supportive of her. 

She writes a book. 

I found it very readable and finished it quickly, but if you are expecting adventure like that in such other books as The Guns Of The South, you won’t find it here. There is no uprising, no cure found for the disease, no change of society. It’s just a story about what it might be like to live in that one. 

Interestingly, Viola’s novel, inspired by the travel tales she loves to read since she can’t actually travel, is about what it might be to live somewhere where the Wasting hasn’t taken hold.

Recommended. The book is available in both Apple Books and Kindle ebooks, or in print.

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Some Book Based Shows I’m Watching!

 I have just watched the first two episodes of Percy Jackson And The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, which is now showing on Disney +. The first two episodes are up, not sure when the rest will be in.

Having read the book, I have to say I’m impressed. It feels very faithful to the novel, unlike the film. The show is well cast and the effects are amazing. It does help that the author, Rick Riordan, is involved and has written some episodes. Having the author involved is not always the best idea, but in this case, it works well. 

In case you aren’t familiar with the story, it’s about a young boy, Percy(Perseus)Jackson, who discovers he is a demi god, the son of sea god Poseidon. After some attempts to kill him, he is taken to Camp Halfbood, where children of the Olympian gods learn and train together. There, he makes some friends, Annabeth Chase(the cousin of Magnus Chase, hero of another book series, which I hope will be filmed some time) and satyr Grover, who had been keeping an eye on him at school. The three of them go on a quest/road trip to find the stolen lightning bolt of Zeus. 

I am thoroughly enjoying seeing this and looking forward to the rest! 

Another show I’m watching but haven’t finished yet is The Artful Dodger, about the character from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. In it, the Dodger - Jack Hawkins - has grown up and is using his hands for something better than picking pockets. He is a surgeon, living and working in  Australia during the convict era. One day, to his horror, Fagin arrives as a convict. Fagin is the last person he wants to see, especially as Fagin let him down back in England. Anyway,  Jack thought he was dead, but apparently Oliver Twist had saved him from the gallows. Neither of them is an Oliver Twist fan, by the way. Jack has his own secrets, so he reluctantly asks for Fagin as a convict servant and Fagin, who is a likeable rogue,  not a villain in this show, helps him with a big problem.

The role of Fagin was played by David Thewliss, whom I have only ever seen as Professor Lupin in the Harry Potter films. I wouldn’t have recognised him! 

I’ve just started watching Lovecraft Country, which I bought on Apple TV. It’s set in the 1950s and about Atticus, a young African American who has just returned from Korea and is looking for his missing father. There are supernatural elements, as you might have guessed from the title. I’ve read the novel, by Matt Ruff, and found it great fun, but the TV show seems to be a lot more serious. Only one episode so far. The star is Jonathan Majors, whose acting career is over, it seems, after he was found guilty of some violent actions. 

Another cast member, Wunmi Mosaku, was in Loki as Hunter B15. She is British, but does an American accent in both shows. Nice to see a familiar face, as well as Jonathan Majors, who was the villain in Loki, as well as a decent variant of the baddie.

It’s Christmas Eve, time to retire to bed and reread Susan Cooper’s masterpiece The Dark Is Rising. Good night! 

Monday, December 18, 2023

In Which I Show Off An Anthology I’m In

 The last few days have been fun and games with the courier working for Amazon. The courier is pretty hopeless, but when you contact Amazon they usually tell you that due to “privacy concerns” they can’t contact them and tell you to do it yourself. This particular bunch never pick up, as I have found in the past, and don’t even leave a card to tell you they have been there. Once, they left my parcel in someone’s back yard - no idea whose - with a photo to prove they delivered it. This time they said they hadn’t been able to deliver it, despite my being at home at the time! 

Never mind, I finally got through to a very kind and helpful  Amazon employee in Sydney, explained in great detail and he fixed it for me, letting the driver know to leave the parcel at my front door. 

And here it is!

I have a story in this anthology and got my contributor’s copy in ebook, but I like to have a print copy of anything I’m in. How else can I brag? Even to myself? 

It’s a Jewish-themed anthology, with stories about “rescuing ourselves”. Mine is set in Melbourne, where I live, and has a sort-of dybbuk in it. 

It was the first time I have been part of the demographic invited to submit to an anthology, so I finally wrote a story I’d had in mind, but never got around to writing.

Nice cover, isn’t it? Despite the cover title, it’s just called Days Of Awe. But I do like the cover title. “They tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat!” is basically what most of our holy days boil down to.

There are quite a variety of themes in these stories. 

If you’d like a copy, you can only get it on Amazon, but now you can get it both in Kindle and print. It’s edited by Aviva Blakeman, who mostly writes romance novels, but decided to try her hand at an anthology.

Here is the link to the Australian site because looking up books on Amazon is a bit difficult.

And here is the link to the US Amazon site.,digital-text,279&ref=nb_sb_ss_recent_1_0_recent