R.I.P. Denis Ten

2017 Shanghai Trophy

Horrifying news from Kazakhstan that ground-breaking figure skater Denis Ten, a world silver medallist and Olympic bronze medallist (both firsts for his country) has been murdered by two men trying to steal his car’s mirrors.

Ten was only twenty-five, and competed at the Pyeongchang Games this year.

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Twenty Years

Couple ready to cope with dreaded Y2K bug

Remember Y2K? The Millennium Bug?

I was randomly researching something, and came across this article that was published twenty years ago today. I remember both that a lot of people lost their minds at the end of the 1990s and prepared for the end of the world, and that some people went into hiding for years before emerging to discover they’d been wrong about everything.

This makes for a funny read (read the whole article at the link), but some days now the world does seem like it’s falling apart:

Getting Prepared

Couple ready to cope with dreaded Y2K bug

BUNCH — It’s hard enough getting to the Kirkwoods’ hideaway. The country roads that lead here burrow into the wilds of Adair County. The dirt road at the end climbs into the forested hills where the former computer salesman and nurse from suburban Dallas make their home.

They would have looked even deeper into the woods for a place, but if TEOTWAWKI happens, they want to be sure their children and grandchildren still living in cities can reach this sanctuary in time.

“TEOTWAWKI” is an acronym heard among an increasing number of people who worry about the Millennium Bug and what chaos will come if the switch to the Year 2000 disrupts computer networks worldwide.

They’re talking about “The End Of The World As We Know It,” and it’s catching on.

Fearing an apocalypse over the Millennium Bug requires some of the same lack of faith in government as with other survivalists’ concerns. It carries a fear that the masses in the cities won’t hang together but instead will reveal their worst if things really do get desperate. The new survivalists are people who don’t want to take that gamble when spokespeople for public utilities, banks or other entities try to assuage concerns about the Millennium Bug with the calm words, “We’re working on it.”

They’d rather take their chances in finding a nice piece of land “with constantly running water or artesian wells and good hardwood cover in rolling hills where you could put a house 300 yards off the road and not see it,” McMillan said.

“The interest (in rural property) grows daily,” he said. And some of the inquiries, he added, have come from people in government and from computer programmers, which he said should tell you something.

“If the pilot of the plane puts on a parachute, wouldn’t you get nervous?”

Then Comes Seduction (Huxtable Quintet #2) by Mary Balogh

Then Comes Seduction (Huxtable Quintet #2) by Mary Balogh

New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh sweeps us back in time to an age of scandal and glittering society—and brings to life an extraordinary family: the daring, passionate Huxtables. Katherine, the youngest sister—and society’s most ravishing innocent—is about to turn the tables on the irresistible rakehell sworn to seduce her, body and soul….

In a night of drunken revelry, Jasper Finley, Baron Montford, gambles his reputation as London’s most notorious lover on one woman. His challenge? To seduce the exquisite, virtuous Katherine Huxtable within a fortnight. But when his best-laid plans go awry, Jasper devises a wager of his own. For Katherine, already wildly attracted to him, Jasper’s offer is irresistible: to make London’s most dangerous rake fall in love with her. Then Jasper suddenly ups the ante. Katherine knows she should refuse. But with scandal brewing and her reputation in jeopardy, she reluctantly agrees to become his wife. Now, as passion ignites, the seduction really begins. And this time the prize is nothing less than both their hearts.…

Then Comes Seduction (Huxtable Quintet #2) by Mary Balogh

I did myself a terrible disservice with Then Comes Seduction, because I started it about six months ago, loved it, and then I had to travel and catch up on some other things, and never finished it. I have read about three-quarters of the book, but decided to review it anyway. What I really need to do is go back and start it again – and I don’t have time at the moment!

Then Comes Seduction surprised me at first because the relationship between hero and heroine escalates quickly. In my experience, this is really unusual for a Mary Balogh book. I had no idea where it was going to go from there.

What happens after that is Balogh expertly using the strict (for women!) social rules of the time to force the heroine into a terrible situation. She’s found out, and then pretty much forced into a marriage.

Yes, this is a popular historical romance trope, but the difference here is that Balogh recreates the Regency era in a way very few other authors can. I was hooked on the drama.

I read up until the point where hero and heroine are at his estate… and I can’t say what happens from there!

I do think the story slowed a little at this point, but one day I’ll have to find out for certain.

Four Years

Canberra MH17 Service 26th July 2014298-mh17-candles

Today marks four years since the Russian military shot down passenger plane MH17 over the warzone in Ukraine.

Above is the service we held for ambassadors and politicians at the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canberra in 2014 (twenty-seven Australians were killed in the disaster). In the first picture ambassadors and other embassy representatives from countries including the Netherlands, Malaysia, and the United States can be seen on the left.

The second is a cross surrounded by 298 candles – one for each victim of the attack.

Marvel’s Black Widow finally lands a director – and she’s a Canberran

This was announced a few days ago.

Canberra-raised Cate Shortland has been announced as Marvel’s first solo female director. She’ll direct, Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson.

Marvel’s Black Widow finally lands a director – and she’s a Canberran

We’ve produced a few Hollywood stars around here, and a number of Oscar-nominees. I actually used to work with one in the theatre. And – hey – my mother used to socialise with James Bond fifteen minutes away in Queanbeyan!

Canberra woman Cate Shortland is set to smash records and become Marvel's first solo female director.

Am I the only one who thinks this might not be a good idea?

The folks over at Downton Abbey have announced production on a film version of the hit historical drama has begun. I know lots of people are excited, but I’m over here thinking: maybe they should have left a successful show alone instead of milking it for all it’s worth…?

I was never particularly invested in Downton Abbey’s characters. There were too many to really come to care about any of them. I was, however, in love with the costumes (particularly the early seasons, because 1910s fashion will ALWAYS win over the drab years that came afterwards!). I’d watch the show if I was home and it was on.

However, I get the sneaking suspicion that people who WERE more invested than I was are setting themselves up for disappointment. I think sometimes people have to know when to let things go, and – apart from the brilliant Serenity, a spinoff of the Firefly television show – movie versions of favourite shows never seem to be any good.

Oh, well. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

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