Rachel's Blog

Wed, 26 Sep 2007
All packed and ready to go!

Having established that I am in possession of a gown for the Regency Gothic Banquet on Saturday night that will not need to be held in place with safety pins I am now (almost) packed to head off for Conflux tomorrow!

I won't be bloggy or emaily for the next five or six days, but if you're in Canberra you'll find me at the aforementioned dinner, the disco-thing on Sunday night, buying books and apparently even on a panel, although I don't know when that is yet. I'll be wearing my name - please say hello.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Mon, 17 Sep 2007
Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-laa and some bored backbenchers.

Image of Tinky Winky, courtesy ninemsn.

For the first time in living memory the ABC has changed the timeslot for afternoon Playschool from 3.30 to 3.00pm. If the TV was switched on early you used to catch a rerun of Teletubbies. Now it's the tail end of Parliament Question Time. But will the kids be able to tell the difference?

Mon, 10 Sep 2007
She was damn cheerful, that's all I can say.

I was in the bakery of a large supermarket choosing bread, she was stocking shelves.
"Great day isn't it?" she said.
"Sure is," I replied.
"I mean," she went on, "Isn't it just a great day to be alive?" I begin edging away, but I still don't have my bread. I circle warily.
"I like to take each day as it comes, you know?" I nod bravely, I want her to stop.
"It's great to be alive." She tucks a price tag onto the shelf and turns to me, "I was just diagnosed with breast cancer, you see, and I just like to be really grateful for every day I have."
"Ah," I say, and manage not to follow it with, "That's great!" Because she was just so happy. It sounded like a good thing. For a moment.

Sat, 08 Sep 2007
Ratatouille review and Pixar's gender problem.

I really want to like Ratatouille. I like everything about the idea. Fuzzy little rat. In Paris. Fine dining. Kitchen antics. A Pixar film.

But sadly it is not as good as I wished it would be. Pixar have had such success with their previous films — The Incredibles, Cars, Toy Story, Finding Nemo — each of which I can happily watch over and over (and have done). They've spent so long perfecting the art of telling a great story while at the same time making a thing of beauty that it's a crushing blow when it doesn't quite work.

The story of the rat who wants to cook is lovely, but it has been burdened in Ratatouille with unnecessary plot and heavy exposition. There are numerous (human) characters in the film (and I'll try to keep this spoiler-lite) but their plot lines don't ever quite mesh. Each gets scenes of exposition which left Abbey wriggling in her seat where she was spellbound seconds earlier. Exposition which can only be told and not shown, such as a DNA test, a bequest, a legal wrangling.

The second distracting thing was the character design. Particularly the noses. I understand that it's set in France but come on. It wasn't just that they were large, they were ugly. And not only on the people. The rats, who had had so much effort put into their eyes (beautiful and expressive) had some of the most hideous combinations of shapes and curves for the rest of their faces. I understand they're not supposed to be all cute and mousy, but it turned me off characters I was supposed to be sympathizing with.

Not unique to Ratatouille, but an issue with Pixar movies in general, is the habit they have of defaulting every main character to male. This has been building up for a while, obviously, but it's really beginning to stick out.

Nemo, Marlin, Woody, Buzz, Remy, Linguini, McQueen, Flik, Sulley, Mike. All male. All main characters.

It's particularly noticeable in Toy Story, but almost all Pixar characters are male. Female roles are left as love interest (Sally in Cars), sidekick (Dory in Finding Nemo) or comic relief (every other female character - see Mrs Potato Head, Lizzie (Cars), Dory again). Pixar is not alone in this trend - female roles in Hollywood generally suck, but these are animations! These are sometimes animations about inanimate objects! Why are cars and piggy banks suddenly gendered anyway?*

But back to Ratatouille. There are no female rats in this film. (There must have been some once - the rat colony is huge.) There is one woman in the kitchen (love interest) and a very minor mention of a female food critic. That's it. So on top of a poor story and lulls in the plot, wincing at the design (but not at the animation itself - gorgeous!) it put me in a bad mood.

Rataouille is fun. It is pretty with all the fur and water an animation fan could want. The kitchen scenes are fabulous. But I want it to be better.

Pixar at the IMDb

*I recognise that the gender imbalance is not such a problem in The Incredibles, but it is largely Mr Incredible's story, not Elastigirl's.

Thu, 06 Sep 2007
For those about to Rock and/or Die

Sugarshock 2!!

That is all.

Except to say, make sure to read the first one first.

Yeppity sir.