On this day: Captain Cook in 1768

Captain James Cook

On the 26th of August, 1768, James Cook departed Plymouth, England for his first voyage around the world. There were ninety-four people on the ship the Earl of Pembroke, later renamed HMS Endeavour. In a voyage commissioned by King George III that lasted nearly three years, Cook and his crew stopped at many points on many continents. They became only the second Europeans to visit New Zealand, after Abel Tasman 127 years before, and the first Europeans to reach Australia’s east coast.

Painting of the Earl of Pembroke, later HMS Endeavour, leaving Whitby Harbour in 1768. Painted circa 1790.

Painting of the Earl of Pembroke, later HMS Endeavour, leaving Whitby Harbour in 1768. circa 1790

The route of the voyage.

Captain Cook's First Voayage 1700s

1860 Joke Photographs

Sequence of posed joke photographs of five stages of putting on a crinoline, ca. 1860.

I’ve seen these pictures all over the internet, and people seem to think they’re serious!

In the middle of the 19th Century, crinolines reached some ridiculous sizes, but the people knew how to laugh at themselves and staged this send-up, thought to be French, around 1860.


While I’m on the topic of joke photographs people take seriously, this so-called picture of Dublin, Ireland needs to be banned. On Tumblr, tens, hundreds of thousands of people have shared it. It’s all over Pinterest. It’s as real as Santa Claus, folks.

So-called castle in Dublin Ireland

On this day: Strictly Ballroom is released

Strictly_Ballroom-991048858-large Strictly Ballroom 1992

German poster

Strictly Ballroom is the movie that kicked off Baz (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) Luhrmann’s career as the creator of lavish, sparkling, colourful, dance-filled movies, and it had its Australian premiere on the 20th of August 1992.

I remember all of the fuss the ballroom dancing community made when it came out – there was a distinct lack of a sense of humour! Some of it actually seems tame compared to real ballroom dancing nowadays!

The film stars Tara Morice and Paul Mercurio. I have a bunch of ties to Mercurio. Two years before the movie was released he choreographed a contemporary ballet for the company I was performing with. He was a young father just retired from his dance career, and my mother was the only person available to babysit.

Four years after the movie was released, he introduced my family when we were featured on Australian Story.

Strictly Ballroom was such an iconic film of the 1990s, and it’s still so much fun to watch.

Outlander Season One Episode Two

Outlander Season One Episode Two

Ugh, mostly what I’m thinking about when it comes to Outlander this week are the men who have taken to the internet to rant about it. If you can’t cope with a woman taking the main role in a show, then kindly keep your misogyny to yourselves, thank you very much. It’s the same sort of reaction I’ve seen firsthand when someone has the “audacity” to ask male university students to read a book by a female author. Very disheartening in 2014.

As for the second episode…

I’m really struggling to know what I’d think if I’d not already read the book. It’s impossible to separate one from the other. There have been some justified complaints about the overuse of voiceover, and some people don’t seem to like the flashbacks.

For me, I think the flashbacks have been done well. So much of the book involves Jamie sitting around reciting lengthy stories of his past to Claire. He does a lot of telling. The flashbacks are pretty necessary because so much of the present conflict comes from things that happened before the book starts.

As for the voiceover, it really needs to go. It’s totally unnecessary. The book is written in the first person, but I didn’t like Claire much then, so I don’t want her over-explaining everything to me now!

Sam Hueghan as Jamie Fraser Outlander Season One Episode Two

I like Jamie more each time he’s on the screen. They’ve outdone themselves with the casting there.

The Outlander book has a lot of violence in it, but it’s becoming even more apparent in the show. Once dozens of pages of erroneous descriptions are removed, what you’re left with is scene after scene of Jamie getting gravely hurt (and it’s going to get much worse later on). In just two episodes he has dislocated his shoulder, been shot, fallen unconscious, and now he’s volunteered to be beaten up to save the honour of a girl, leaving him bloody and bruised, with an eye swollen shut.

Lotte Verbeek as Geillis Duncan Outlander Season One Episode Two

Lotte Verbeek as Geillis Duncan

As much as I liked Claire in the first episode, Caitriona Balfe’s weakness and inexperience as an actress showed through in the second. This was made very clear when Lotte Verbeek, playing Geillis Duncan, made her first appearance. Verbeek is by far the superior actress, and has charisma on the screen in a way I don’t think Balfe will ever manage.

Outlander Season One Episode Two 18th Century Fashion.

I must say, though, that eighteenth century dress definitely looks better on runway model-height Claire than delicate little 1940s fashions did!

I do love how much attention to detail there is. Sets and costumes are wonderful; the “look” of the show is enough to keep you watching.

I am enjoying the show, and I hope that people who haven’t read the book will stick with it, despite its faults. I’m also hoping the faults will straighten themselves out in the future.

On this day: Lubov Egorova dies

Lubov Egorova in the title role of the choreographer Marius Petipa's and the composer Cesare Pugni's ballet The Blue Dahlia, 1905.

Lubov Egorova in the title role of The Blue Dahlia, 1905.

Ballerina Lubov Egorova was born in St Petersburg on the 8th of August, 1880. Graduating from the Imperial Theatre School in her eighteenth year, with famous classmates including Enrico Cecchetti, she joined the Imperial Ballet as a coryphée.

An extremely successful dancer, amongst her great achievements was performing the lead role in The Sleeping Beauty opposite Ukrainian ballet superstar Vaslav Nijinsky.

Egorova married well, to Prince Nikita Sergeievitch Troubetzkoy. However, she eventually lost her husband, her son and her fortune. She died in Paris on the 18th of August, 1972. She was ninety-two.