Saturday, 13 August 2011

Algernon, Saatchi, and your trip to Mars

Don't leave home. Enjoy Mars from your armchair.

The Mars Society just sent me the above link to a VSSEC (no, nothing to do with vivisection) presentation at a West Australian event of two weeks ago. It is impressive that high school students in Australia these days can get access to serious scientific modelling of Mars rover vehicles such as are described.

I got home last night after a productive three days in Adelaide, my "overseas" trip, even if I did have to drive around the top of Gulf St Vincent and, approaching Port Wakefield, duel with a feral bus signed "Yorke Peninsula Buses" along its cruel side. I know  who the driver is and I know where you live, buddy. As a suitable pay-back I am thinking of taking the rabbit from by backyard and putting it in your backyard.

Speaking of animals, there was a yellow rhinoceros and a perfume-nuzzling white goat among the installations in the Saatchi Exhibition of British Art at the Art Gallery of SA (this runs until October), plus a 4-metre pair of cardboard puppies which, our guide said, fold down flat. There was a set of black as-if-tarred rabbits which had curious relationships with lit neon tubes. No reasons were given. That's why it's art. In the UK, this past fortnight, street rioting and looting in some cities has become the latest artform, depending how you look at it.

Yesterday I was one of eighteen at a hands-on 4-hour seminar with fellow editors from a variety of professional settings, most employed in government or private industry, and a few freelance like me. The gathering was mildly historic for us, being the first time the recently formed Institute of Professional Editors (Aust.) has sponsored an interstate event of this sort. And only two weeks from now they will host, in Sydney NSW, the 5th National Conference of Editors, which I will attend.

Other stuff during my visit to our state capital had to do with annoying medical matters with over-cheerful doctors, and I shared Heartbeat House (which is a residence made available at modest cost to country visitors) with a couple from Mildura: she to see her specialist while in town, and he, as accompanying spouse. He is an ex-professional boxer once well-known at country shows in Australia, and the pair of them also had done a spot of country singing. You never know who you'll meet.

Wanting a dose of culture other than the yellow rhino I saw the movie - in truth the only one for which the screening time matched my schedule - Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I knew from the write-ups that it was a backstory to the iconic Planet of the Apes, the film of Pierre Boulle's novel. What nobody had said, nor was it acknowledged in screen credits, was that half the screenplay - an intelligence-enhancing drug that goes wrong: it smartens the primates and kills off the humans - is a re-working of Daniel Keyes' classic short story Flowers for Algernon. OK, Algernon was a rat not a chimp, but same difference.

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