Newcastle Katabasis… (AO goes on the road)

Time for a little Antipodean Road trip!  A katabasis of sorts, in which I headed down the New England highway to Newcastle.  (Armidale is 3000 feet above sea level; Newcastle is at sea level.)  The occasion?  To meet with my co-conspirator on all things to do with classical reception in children’s literature, Marguerite Johnson, and her lovely students (including Erica Wright, whose piece on Mercy and Overwatch came out last week).   They’ll be talking about vampires and werewolves, witches, games, death, and more; and Marguerite will write a fuller post about it all.

Here’s a look at the program . . .


Screenshot 2017-10-26 21.23.50


Doesn’t it look good!


Classical Sightings

These days when I travel I keep an eye out for classical items that jump out.  This trip began with a metallic minotaur in Uralla, and ended with an ocean-going Caesar in the port of Newcastle. Not far away is a ‘waiterless cafe,’ rejoicing in the name of Hey Zeus…  And no labyrinth would be complete without mention of Jim Henson’s marvellous movie–on Hunter Street, the immortal Jareth makes his presence felt…

— Elizabeth Hale




A Handy Centaur

A quick post this time, as Antipodean Odyssey is on the road.   Next week, I’ll put up the next in Dorota Bazylczyk’s wonderful series on Laura Orvieto.

In the meantime, from the ‘things you never knew you needed’ basket, here’s the Handitaur five-fingered finger-puppet.  It’s made by Seattle-based novelty toy company, Archie McPhee, as a companion to its line in horse and unicorn hand-puppets.

The Handitaur
The Handitaur (Archie McPhee)

What is there to say about the Handitaur?  Is it merely a mythological outcrop in the expanding field of novelty toys?  Part of the ongoing boom in adultescence?  Does it participate in the ongoing symbolism of the Centaur (the duality of animal and human; of lust and intellect; of thought and play)?

More practically, where will it sit in the house?  Next to the Loch Ness Monster soup ladle? , or beside a solar-powered waving Queen Elizabeth, or a soft-toy Socrates?  (How do these items find their way to Antipodean Odyssey’s kitchen windowsill, anyway? )

I suspect these items serve as totems of learning worn lightly.  In the midst of the internet revolution, industrial revolution, the shift in education towards the bluntly utilitarian, there’s something to be said for holding fast to one’s Handitaur, holding on to the power of humour, of downright silliness, but also of fantasy.  It’s no coincidence that fantasy is surging through popular culture, testimony to the power of play in uncertain times.

— Liz Hale