Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Little blue penguins are known as fairy penguins in Australia and as kororā to the Maori people of NZ. They belong to the genus Eudyptula (Greek for "good little diver"), and they only live down here in the southern hemisphere, so you'll have to come and visit us if you want to see some. =) I have met some of these little guys, and boy are they cute! =) At 16 inches, they are the teensiest of the 17-20 modern penguin species, while the emperor is the largest at about 3'7". (The largest extinct species of penguin we know of is called Nordenskjoeld's Giant Penguin, who lived roughly 40 million years ago and whose fossils have been found here in NZ. He was a big guy- taller than me (close to 6 feet tall!) and way fatter (200 lbs)!)
Little blue penguins usually live for about 7 years, but some individuals have been known to live for over 20! They spend their nights in cosy nests in sheltered rock crevices or dug-out burrows and spend their days out in the sea hunting for yummy food like squid, plankton, krill, and anchovies. (Mmm... krill...) At dusk they all come home with full bellies, usually in groups (called rafts) so they're better protected against predators like seals, killer whales, and large gulls. (Some penguins opt for more urban accommodation and build their nests under buildings and stacks of timber. Also, they have no problem accepting the artificial nest boxes that humans sometimes build for them. I'm totally going to put one in the backyard and see if any penguins come to live with us.)
Breeding begins around age 3. They're monogomous (like me!) and return to the same burrow every year to breed (not like me)! They lay 2 eggs at a time, which take about 5 weeks to hatch, and males and females take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the babies. (Very egalitarian. I like that.) They can lay up to 3 sets of eggs per season. After about 2 months of hanging out in the nest and being fed regurgitated food, the chicks have lost their down have grown waterproof feathers like their parents. They naturally know how to swim and are ready to fend for themselves, so their parents kick them out of the nest. They disappear from the colony for at least a year, but will return to the same site to breed, usually within a few metres of where they were raised.
Here in Christchurch you can see some of these guys at the Antarctic Centre, though I'm pretty sure they don't actually live in the Antarctic- it's too cold for tiny penguins down there! They have a small colony living in captivity at the Centre, most of whom wouldn't survive very well in the wild due to various conditions and injuries. Here's a picture of Elvis, who is blind and does a lot of singing. I'm not sure why she's standing on one foot. (All of the other penguin pix here are from the Centre, too.) They live all over the place around the South Island- apparently they're fairly easy to see in the wild, though I still haven't managed to spot any! (We did see a yellow-eyed penguin in the wild, though, and that's far more rare! There are only about 4,000 of those in the world compared to about a million little blue ones!)
So, in conclusion, little blue penguins are short, blue, and very cute. You should come to New Zealand some time so you can meet some. The end. =) (P.S. If you enjoyed reading about the penguins here, you might want to take a look at the similar work done by Julian and Charles from Anderson's Creek Primary school in Australia- they have excellent illustrations on their page.)
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
On Jo's birthday we went for a lovely walk (partly in the snow!) in the Port Hills, which separate Christchurch from Lyttelton Harbour. We walked from the Sign of the Takahe restaurant to the Sign of the Kiwi, a small café on Coronation Hill. From there we got a great view of the Cashmere Valley and of the harbour. All the way along our route there were stunning views of the snow-capped mountains in the distance and the chilly weather was actually perfect for a nice, long walk. Here is a picture of Jo and I at the Sign of the Kiwi.
Later that week we drove through NZ's longest road tunnel (yikes!) to get to Lyttelton, where we met up with our new friend Suzanne who lives there. We did a little shopping at the farmers' market, then Suzanne took us on a beautiful (and steep) walking tour through one of the cemeteries and back down into the town. It was lovely (and tiring). Luckily, I had consumed enough All Blacks Powerade to get me through the day. (I think the flavour is called Silver Charge, but it says All Blacks all over it, so I decided it tasted like All Blacks. They play rugby really well, but I have to warn you- they don't really taste all that great, especially when warm. I'm definitely more of a Gatorade girl.) Lyttelton, incidentally, is where Peter Jackson shot The Frighteners and where Joe Bennett, the guy who wrote this book I just read about underpants lives. (It was a really good book. You should read it.) Here's a picture of Lyttelton.
We (literally) took the scenic route home from Lyttelton, skipping the tunnel and instead heading over the hills to Sumner, where we ate fish & chips on a bench on the beach promenade. (Jo had the fish; G and I had the chips. We found that the three of us are a lot like that nursery rhyme about Jack Sprat. We make a good team.) Jo had two thumbs up for the yummy snack, but Gordon was distracted by something to the right over there. Was it a bird? A plane? A guinea pig playing soccer? A seven-year-old gymnast doing five press handstands? We may never know...
We're really happy that Jo came to see us; we had a great time! There are more posts to come about our fascinating adventures, so stay tuned! There will be penguins! =)
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Voila! The teaser for Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, the new and exciting series from Joss Whedon, starring Doogie Howser MD and Captain Mal Reynolds from Firefly. Joss told me (and everyone else who can read) to spread the word about Dr. Horrible, so I am. When Joss says "jump," I say "to what planet?" And seeing as how he's a far better writer than myself, I'll let him explain the master plan, which I stole from the official Dr. Horrible website.
A LETTER FROM JOSS WHEDON
At last the time has come to reveal to you our Master Plan. BEWARE! Those with weak hearts should log off lest they be terrified by the twisted genius of our schemes! Also pregnant women and the elderly should consider reading only certain sentences. Do not mix with other blogs. Do not operate heavy machinery while reading this blog. You must be this tall to read. ‘Kay?
It is time for us to change the face of Show Business as we know it. You know the old adage, “It’s Show Business – not Show Friends”? Well now it’s Show Friends. We did that. To Show Business. To show Show Business we mean business. (Also, there are now other businesses like it.)
ONE WEEK ONLY! AN INTERNET MINISERIES EVENT!
"Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog" will be streamed, LIVE (that part’s not true), FREE (sadly, that part is) right on Drhorrible.com, in mid-July. Specifically:
ACT ONE (Wheee!) will go up Tuesday July 15th.
ACT TWO (OMG!) will go up Thursday July 17th.
ACT THREE (Denouement!) will go up Saturday July 19th.
All acts will stay up until midnight Sunday July 20th. Then they will vanish into the night, like a phantom (but not THE Phantom – that’s still playing. Like, everywhere.)
And now to answers a few Frequently (soon to be) Asked Questions:
1) Why, Joss? Why? Why now, why free, why us?
Once upon a time, all the writers in the forest got very mad with the Forest Kings and declared a work-stoppage. The forest creatures were all sad; the mushrooms did not dance, the elderberries gave no juice for the festival wines, and the Teamsters were kinda pissed. (They were very polite about it, though.) During this work-stoppage, many writers tried to form partnerships for outside funding to create new work that circumvented the Forest King system.
Frustrated with the lack of movement on that front, I finally decided to do something very ambitious, very exciting, very mid-life-crisisy. Aided only by everyone I had worked with, was related to or had ever met, I single-handedly created this unique little epic. A supervillain musical, of which, as we all know, there are far too few.
The idea was to make it on the fly, on the cheap – but to make it. To turn out a really thrilling, professionalish piece of entertainment specifically for the internet. To show how much could be done with very little. To show the world there is another way. To give the public (and in particular you guys) something for all your support and patience. And to make a lot of silly jokes. Actually, that sentence probably should have come first.
2) What happens when it goes away? Does it go to a happy farm for always like Fluffy did when mommy was crying and the neighbor kept washing his fender?
No, Dr horrible will live on. We intend to make it available for download soon after it’s published. This would be for a nominal fee, which we’re hoping people will embrace instead of getting all piratey. We have big dreams, people, and one of them is paying our crew.
And somewhat later, we will put the complete short epic out on DVD – with the finest and bravest extras in all the land. We’ll go into greater detail about that at Comiccon, but we’re changing the face of Show Friendliness a second time with that crazy DVD.
3) Joss, you are so kind, and generous, and your forehead is like, huge, like SCARY, like I think I can see Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint hanging off it… what can WE do to help this musical extravanganza?
What you always do, peeps! What you’re already doing. Spread the word. Rock some banners, widgets, diggs… let people know who wouldn’t ordinarily know. It wouldn’t hurt if this really was an event. Good for the business, good for the community – communitIES: Hollywood, internet, artists around the world, comic-book fans, musical fans (and even the rather vocal community of people who hate both but will still dig on this). Proving we can turn Dr Horrible into a viable economic proposition as well as an awesome goof will only inspire more people to lay themselves out in the same way. It’s time for the dissemination of the artistic process. Create more for less. You are the ones that can make that happen.
Wow. I had no idea how important you guys were. I’m a little afraid of you.
4) Joss, do you ever answer a question simply or coherently?
There’ll be more questions, and more long, long answers, but for now I’m just excited that we’re actually making this happen. We (and a lot of other people -- gushing to commence soon) worked very hard on the show and we hope/think you guys will be pleased.
Until July 15th , I remain, yours truly, -j, of the firm j, j, m & z.
So there you have it! I hope everyone will join in and log on to enjoy the sing-along hilarity!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
And the cutest of them all...
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Who woulda thunk it? I like modern fiction! Those of you who know my reading preferences would likely be surprised that I should deign to read anything not written before 1900... Really, anyone current enough to have had access to a typing device (aside from Barbara Kingsolver) is inconsequential as far as my literary habits are concerned. (I'm not saying it's right; I'm just stating the facts.) But Gordon left this one out on the table and I read it. I don't know why I never listen when he tells me there are good authors under 100 years old, but I should. (I hope he doesn't think I'm one of them- if he reads this I'll surely be eating my words!) Anyhow, this book was very good. =) It had interesting, believeable characters, the writing was really smart and very funny, and there were many mentions of office supplies. Definitely recommended.