venetia_sassy: (MLP // shake it off)
Chloe Hooper's book, The Tall Man, has been on my To Buy At Some Point list and after watching the documentary based on the book, I know I'll have to get it.

Palm Island is a stunningly beautiful island off the coast of Queensland. 'On November 19, 2004, Palm Island resident Cameron Doomadgee was arrested by Senior-Sergeant Chris Hurley and taken to the local lock-up. A short time later, he was dead.'

I watched the first half hour barely able to hold back splutters. No wonder there were riots! The police practically followed a step-by-step guide of How To Provoke A Riot. And it just kept going. It was a breathtaking display of white privilege and 'all cops together'. And a police union rep actually claimed on camera that Aboriginals and police were competing minorities.

I had to take a rage break at that point. It was incredible.

I'd read news reports and so on but seeing it all laid out ... and Hurley is still a serving police officer.
venetia_sassy: (MLP // shake it off)
I just watched the documentary, My Lai, and ... oh fuck. War is horrific. And if those guys had been asked two years earlier if they could ever possibly be involved in such a massacre, I'm sure they would have given a resounding, appalled no.

It's a very good documentary. But be warned, graphic images are shown.

venetia_sassy: (Images // tea)
Watched three documentaries over the last few days.

Doco #1: Public Enemy #1

I had a vague idea of John Dillinger as an American bank robber of the early 20th century, popular with the public, but that was about it. This doco was a good overview of his life, 'career', how he was pursued by the authorities and why the public took to him. It was almost sad to see the inevitable escalation of the crimes and the final showdown with police.

"I'm traveling a one-way road, and I'm not fooling myself as to what the end will be. If I surrender, I know it means the electric chair. If I go on, it's just a question of how much time I have left."

Further information here.

Doco #2: Striptease Unveiled

It never occurred to me that the striptease had to be invented but apparently it's only been around (publically) for a hundred years or so. Huh.

It was interesting, seeing the different forms of striptease (or just stripping) and I would like to get a non-Freudian explanation for why, even in classical times when male genitalia was all over art, female genitalia was not displayed.

Doco #3: The Hungry Tide

Not so light-hearted. The central Pacific nation of Kiribati is threatened by the effects of climate change. This doco was showing those effects and the efforts of the islanders to get the bigger countries to listen. But as one islander said after the Copenhagen summit, 'these people are deaf and dumb and they are blind. They will not hear what we are saying.'

It always infuriates me to hear climate change deniers not wanting to change anything they're doing. Hey, here's an idea. Whether climate change is natural or not, it's happening and has to be dealt with. If there are things we can do to slow it down, let's do them so we have more time to figure out how to deal with future situations. Oh, you don't think pollution has anything to do with it? So what? We shouldn't be polluting the earth anyway. We only have one planet and we need to look after it.

The Kiribati islanders are doing their best to look after their people and their islands. They were promised funds to assist them in dealing with climate change. Those funds have not yet materialised.

venetia_sassy: (101 Dalmatians // happy puppies!)
Today was a good day for resting. It did start less than auspiciously, I admit. Got up early to let the dogs out and nearly stumbled into a puddle of dog vomit. Lovely. At least it was on the tiles.

Managed to go back to sleep until The Boyo came in and stared at me, intimating it was Time to Go Out again (the stare is amazingly effective, no matter how deeply asleep I am.) We went outside and there was a heavy smoke haze which set my sinuses aching. I checked the Hazard Reduction Burns site and there were two burns scheduled nearby so yes, that would do it! Later, there was a rattling good thunderstorm (literally! The windows rattled) which naturally set The Boyo to barking since he wanted to hunt down the thunder and kill it (he has yet to succeed. This annoys him.)

*yawns* Really, apart from switching out my handbags, cleaning a pair of earrings (verdigris. Very fiddly) and making a half-batch of biscuits ... I've managed the resting pretty well! Smoke and rain did aid in that. 

Watched a documentary - The Secret Life of the Dog - with an very interesting section on the 50 year experiment in domesticating silver foxes, then started listening to the Panic albums in readiness for tomorrow! Excitement! This is really only the second concert I've been to, would you believe. Then again, starting with Adam Lambert and following up with Panic sounds pretty good to me. *g*

Poor bugger

May. 5th, 2011 11:57 pm
venetia_sassy: (SH // Gladstone oh no! dead dog?)
Watched The Real King's Speech documentary tonight (I haven't seen the movie though I hear many good things about it) and came away thinking that the confident, articulate Edward wanted all the royal privileges but none of the responsibilities and shoving the kingship on his shy, stammering brother was bloody mean (England was probably better off though.)

The footage of Bertie, jaw clenched, forcing out his speeches ... can you imagine a worse life for a shy person with a speech impediment? Countless public speeches every year and he was living in the new age of television along with radio, so everyone could see him if he made a mistake ... *shudders* That's courage, right there, and determination to do his duty whether he liked it or not.

It wasn't a terrific documentary but it was more than I'd seen before so I stayed interested.

venetia_sassy: (Words // levels of insanity)

Watched Girls' Own War Stories tonight, a doco about Australian women during WWII, and really enjoyed it. A documentary not only about Australians during the war but about Australian women and how the war changed their lives, their expectations for the future and what they believed about themselves.

There was an anecdote at the end of the film, from a nurse who cared for returned POWs and she said they were so shocked to see women, nurses, wearing trousers. Only three years away from home but that was a symbol of how much had changed in that time.

It was odd to watch all this and think that my maternal grandparents would have been the same age as the women being interviewed (grandfather died before I was born, grandmother when I was a baby.) My grandfather was one of the first soldiers sent overseas (later captured and spending the rest of the war as a POW), my grandmother wasn't involved in war work precisely but in 'essential services'. She was a fully qualified dentist and worked throughout the war in a fairly senior position but of course, as soon as the men came home she was out of a job. One, there were men wanting their old jobs back and two, she was married and married women were supposed to be 'supported' by their husbands.

I'd like to see a documentary about that someday. How women dealt with being shoved back in the home after they'd spent years learning that they were capable of so much - and being praised for it at the time, then expected to forget!


venetia_sassy: (Words // levels of insanity)
Just watched John Pilger's new film, The War You Don't See, which includes footage from the Gaza flotilla raid, an interview with Julian Assange and a statement from former U.S. soldier Ethan McCord on the 2007 Apache attack which left two Iraqi children badly injured (very distressing.)

At the end of the film, Pilger calls on fellow journalists to 'be the voice of people not power.'

I always thought it was the job of the journalist to ask the awkward questions. Apparently not (Fox News does not count as journalism, as far as I know.) I wish we had more journalists like Pilger.

venetia_sassy: (Words // levels of insanity)
Last night was revoltingly humid, I had little sleep, weird dreams (there were giant white birds - the size of giraffes? Bigger? Smaller? - an almost albino peacock, a neighbour's paddock and something to do with my brother's sunglasses. WTF?) and a sore neck. I was not feeling very bright this morning.

Serious reading was out but fortunately there were a number of documentaries showing that I wanted to watch.

Ode to a Requiem - from the blurb in the tv guide, I thought this was a doco about the writing of Mozart's Requiem and the efforts to complete the most 'authentic' version. Well, there was a little of that. But when I started watching I realised I'd seen the doco before; I just couldn't remember much about it. That would be because there isn't much to remember. There was less information than on the wiki page. Mostly it was extensive excerpts from a glorious performance of Robert D. Levin's reworking of the Requiem. Beautiful but not much of a documentary. In this case the title was more accurate than the blurb.

I had South Pacific: Castaways on while I was making dinner. Mostly I admired the wonderful scenery as I was a trifle distracted. I was fascinated by the bird of paradise and the crabclaw sails, though. It wasn't until afterwards that I realised the narration was by Benedict Cumberbatch. Well, damn. Oh wait! That was the second episode in an six-part series!

(Dinner was cold sesame noodles and a cucumber sesame salad. I messed around with portions and ratios - and cut out the chilli - but those recipes were the starting points. And the food was really good and perfect for a hot night.)

Then it was Immigration Nation: The Secret History of Us, first in a three-part series detailing Australian attitudes toward immigration over the years. This episode focused on the official beginning of the White Australia policy just after Federation in 1901. Said policy was revolting. The treatment of non-Caucasians who wanted to come to Australia was appalling and the treatment of non-Caucasians already in Australia ... it was shameful. My one complaint about this documentary was that it really didn't say just how many non-Caucasians there were already in Australia at the time of Federation. It made it clear that the proportion became much less due to the policy but compared to what? I know about the Chinese miners, the Japanese pearl-divers, the Afghani camel drivers and the South Sea Islanders who were brought over to cut the sugar cane. I know that not all the convicts were white. But how many? And who else?

Then it was Catastrophe: Snowball Earth. Ye gods. Fascinating subject but a painfully slow and repetitive treatment. Every simple, basic fact was repeated. And repeated. And repeated. So. Fucking. Tedious. I made it to the end because I wanted to know what happened but Mum gave it up halfway through and I don't blame her. I think I'll leave this series alone. Yeesh.

Can it be cooler tomorrow, please?

venetia_sassy: (Words // levels of insanity)
Just finished watching Bodysnatchers of New York and wow. That was an amazing example of how people can rationalise their own illegal actions.

The format of the documentary was interesting. I'd managed to miss the case in the news so I had no idea of the details or the outcome and at first the details the DA seemed so appalled by left me blinking and going, you really know nothing about the funeral industry, do you? Read a description of embalming sometime!  
And the way the shots were set up, it didn't show if someone was in gaol. It was only as the documentary progressed and more details emerged that the camera drew back and showed a person's surroundings. It was very clever.

I'm not remotely appalled bu the idea of tissue harvesting, any more than I'm horrified by organ donation. But consent is vital. Screening is vital. And I am so sorry for those people whose trust in the funeral homes was violated and for those people now living with damaged or diseased transplants. I would also like to know what happened to the various funeral home directors involved.

I wasn't involved in organising my father's funeral. Call it a coping mechanism, whatever, but I ordered Jessica Mitford's book The American Way of Death Revisited soon after. It was fascinating and quite horrifying, the way death and grief have been commercialised. (I wish there was an Australian equivalent of the book. I still don't know how it works here.) Illegal bone and tissue harvesting was the next step, I guess.

Interesting article on the subject (if a trifle florid and sensational to begin with.)

The documentary is available online.
venetia_sassy: (Words // levels of insanity)

Since last Friday evening, my week has gone something like this:

Insomnia, headache, headache, insomnia, headache, finances, special financial headache, oversleep, headache.

I can afford the osteo visit tomorrow. Praise be to little fishes (or whoever looks after the headache sufferers.)

And I did watch a very interesting documentary, America Before Columbus, on Sunday. Part 2 this Sunday, will be watching.

P.S. Also ... a new werewolf story has taken up residence in my brain. I am ... cautiously hopeful about it. If I can just find the words. (Headaches and insomnia to tend to screw with that.)

venetia_sassy: (Images // reading)

Had an osteopath appointment today for the first time in a couple of years. Our last osteopath is now working full-time at his northern beaches practice and it really is just a bit far away. Just a bit. *g* So we decided to try a new local practice and we're both quite pleased so far. But an osteo treatment always leaves me feeling exhausted so when I came home I watched another documentary rather than trying for anything active. (I did manage to make dinner but wow, I think I'll fall asleep early tonight. *yawns*)


The doco was Famous Mistresses: The Pope's Mistress. Fascinating subject but the doco ... was pretty lousy. Florid narration and cringe-worthy historical re-enactments; skipping from one subject to another with little detail given to any; the information presented could have taken half the time. And having looked up the various persons on Wiki, I'm confused as to various details (and at this point, willing to give more credence to Wikipedia.)

Forget the doco. Some basics: Giulia Farnese became the mistress of Rodrigo Borgia (later Pope Alexander VI) in 1489, while she was still a teenager and he was a high-ranking cardinal in Rome, living with his then-mistress, Vannozza dei Cattanei. Giulia used her influence with him to have her brother Alessandro (later Pope Paul III) made a cardinal. Her daughter was reportedly fathered by Borgia rather than her husband and she was friends with Borgia's daughter, Lucrezia Borgia.

Nearly everything else stated in the documentary is contradicted by online sources so I won't go into details, except to say that it was a time of remarkable licentiousness and corruption within the Vatican, where priests - and popes - lived openly with their mistresses and bribery and murder were commonplace. And yet it was Alessandro, who was known as the "Cardinal of the skirts" because of Giulia's influence, who later became a reforming influence on the Church. Go figure.

The way the doco skipped from subject to subject was irritating because all of these people were interesting. And yet, the doco focused (as much as it focused) on Giulia about whom little is known. Would be an interesting time and place to read about though ...

venetia_sassy: (Images // reading)
Tonight, watched American Experience: Annie Oakley. My first real reaction was, wow being a travelling performer must have sucked. At least if you weren't part of a major show. Very unstable life.

Annie Oakley grew up dirt-poor and learned to shoot with her late father's shotgun to help provide for her family. She became an outstanding sharpshooter, a skill she said must have been innate because no one ever taught her how to shoot. She made her living as a performing sharpshooter for decades and became an international superstar.

By the end of the doco, I felt that I'd had a decent overview of Annie Oakley's career and public persona but there was almost nothing about Annie. Looking online - well, there was a good reason for that. Annie was an intensely private person who skillfully fostered her public persona without letting personal business show.

And I wanted to know more about Annie and her husband Frank Butler. When they met and married, Frank was the public figure, the moneymaker. Then Annie became popular and Frank took a background role. That was not the norm for the time and Annie placed great value on being seen as respectable so how did they sort that out? They had no children and they were married for 44 years. Frank died just 18 days after Annie. Was it a great love story, a pragmatic partnership, what?

An interesting quote from this article:

Annie Oakley was a paradox. While she believed women should be active in sports, even teaching women to shoot free of charge, and spoke publicly about equal pay for equal work, she did not support women's suffrage. She was a Victorian woman who placed the utmost importance on being seen and treated as a lady, yet she excelled in a man's sport.

Well, she placed so much value on her privacy that we still know very little about her thoughts and dreams but likely she'd prefer it that way.

I would just like to note here that I have never seen Annie, Get Your Gun and after what I just read about it, I certainly never want to.

Everyone knows the story of Annie Oakley. As the cocky sharpshooter and country bumpkin of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, she fell madly in love with the sophisticated Frank Butler. He was attracted to her, too, but when she defeated him in a shooting match, he assuaged his bruised ego in the company of more feminine companions.

Their rivalry kept them apart until Annie's adoptive father, Chief Sitting Bull, explained the facts of life to her: a man can't tolerate a woman who can best him. (Or, as they sing in the musical, "You can't get a man with a gun.") The only way for Annie to win Frank's heart was to forfeit the next match.

She did, and lived happily ever after in Frank's shadow.

Bullshit. In real life, she won the match.


venetia_sassy: (Images // reading)

Tonight I watched Wings of Defeat, about the kamikaze pilots of WWII.

I knew very little about the kamikaze pilots, just that they were pilots who flew potentially suicidal missions. I didn't realise that kamikaze missions were guaranteed suicide missions. The only chance of survival was to develop engine trouble or be shot down before reaching the target (then they had to survive that.)

I thought kamikaze was more along the lines of what is actually known as banzai - a mission with a high probability of death. I didn't realise that kamikaze pilots flew their planes directly into the targets, giving themselves no chance.

This was not easy to watch but it was an excellent film. I found the start a bit slow and the timeline confusing at first but then it got rolling and it was terrific. The few surviving pilots were wonderful interview subjects and I felt so sorry for them and the pilots who died. Maybe some were gung-ho about dying gloriously but these guys knew that things were in bad shape and that their lives were being thrown away in a war they couldn't win.

The more I learn, the more I realise how much I don't know and how much there is to learn and I seriously wonder if I will ever feel well-educated. (Does uni give you that feeling? Is it a false feeling?) I didn't realise Japan was so heavily bombed before Hiroshima. The resources were running out, the soldiers were being slaughtered and the government was yelling, Every citizen a kamikaze! Arm the children with bamboo spears!  It was interesting to see the former pilots expressing a resentment towards the Emperor they were taught to worship, who could have ended things much sooner.

Also interesting were the interviews with survivors from the USS Drexler, destroyed by kamikaze. When asked if they could understand how the kamikaze pilots did what they did, they said, sure. You love your country, you want to defend it and you're told over and over that this is how to do it ... it could happen anywhere.

(They also provided an amusing moment. Guy 1 is saying that he doesn't know how they survived, he has no idea how they managed it. Guy 2 says, I have an idea on that. Guy 1, oh yeah? Guy 2, yeah. I swam like hell!  I had to laugh.)

venetia_sassy: (Images // reading)

Been clearing out old videos, having replaced some of the recordings with DVDs and admitting I'll never watch others (I have packrat tendencies, okay?) The documentaries though, I'm trying to watch before I get rid of them, although there's, er, rather a lot of them. But there's nothing on TV right now anyway.

Tonight was a TimeWatch Documentary, The Princess Spy.

Noor Inayat Khan was the daughter of an Indian Sufi mystic and an American journalist. She was born in Moscow in 1914, went to nursery school in London and grew up in Paris. She loved music, studied child psychology, wrote a children's book and helped raise her siblings after her father died.

When Germany invaded France, Noor and her family fled to England. Though a pacifist, Noor joined the WAAF and trained as a wireless operator. She was later recruited by the SOE to work in France. The usual life expectancy for an undercover wireless operator was six weeks. Noor was in Paris for over twelve weeks, becoming the last operator in Paris after the rest were captured, before she was betrayed to the Gestapo. She was held prisoner in various locations for almost a year. She was interrogated, tortured and chained - having made several escape attempts. She refused to cooperate with the enemy in any way.

On 13 September 1944, Noor was executed at Dachau concentration camp along with three other female agents. She was 30 years old.

It's a hell of a story and I'm glad I watched the documentary. The doco was rather uneven and the narrator and the nephew were a bit grating but it was a good intro to Noor's story. Being me, I immediately looked her up online and discovered several books I want to get.

* Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan - Shrabani Basu

* Flames in the Field: The Story of Four SOE Agents in Occupied France - Rita Kramer

* A Life In Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII - Sarah Helm (It was Vera Atkins who searched for the truth of what happened to Noor and the other missing agents after the war ended.)



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