Monday, December 22, 2008

yuletide yuyu

my blogger christmas list is very small this year. compared to past good times, when i've given gifts, it's dwindled to a very select group of beautiful people. i'm only buying for regular bloggers, so all you people who have dropped out and have real lives, no present for you!

because my list is so small, i have spent more on each person.

i hope you enjoy.

first, a good friend of mine, jo_blue. jo is a sweetheart, i've known her for 20 years this year. she's a good friend, and her favourite colour is blue. so for dear jo, some beautiful blueness to put around the house in malaysia.






that's a toilet seat, left. not some crazy percussion instrument.




















i don't know if you like blue cheese, but i'll eat it while i watch you open your pressies...














finally, a big blue TICK for you my friend. you are a good person, don't ever forget that. and keep up the blogging.


*

next, quite urgently, perseus q.

perseus wants a wife, so i got him one.



i decided not to stuff around with girlfriends, and having to return (or re-gift) etc.

just cut to the chase, no?
but she looks a little clean and conventional, doesn't she, so i got him a goth girl as well.





i think they'd all get on? im thinking while the wife is polishing the tureen, goth-girl and perse can, you know, smoke.

i'm also throwing in a womb chair and a librarian and a pirate. stocking stuffers, you know.



the pirate came without clothes, persey, you'll have to get her some of those.

thanks for your atheistic comradeship, as well as your wonderful, WONDERFUL book reviews/dating exposes this year. you are my favourite new friend.

*

next is the girl with many names. i think of her as alabama, but her real name is saskia. she writes poetry and while i generally don't like poetry, i like hers. she is a breath of sea air, a fluttery leaf on the wind, a dreamy slip of female. she has seaweed hair, and deep ocean eyes.

if i sound like i'm a little in love with her, well so be it.

for saskia, the pretty poetess, who loves the ocean, i got her the seven seas. it wasn't as hard as you might think. anything for my saskia.

1. the indian ocean

2. the black sea

3. the caspian sea

4. the adriatic sea

5. the persian gulf

6. the red sea

7. the mediterranean sea

all that watery goodness, wrapped up in some blue and green cellophane.

knock yourself out, darling girl. happy, safe swimming this summer.




















*

next on my chrissy list is AOF, another outspoken female. in gift-giving times past, i made the mistake of saying i would cook her a roast of some sort, but NOW I KNOW SHE IS VEGETARIAN, i will shout her a trip to the us so she can go to the top-10 vegan and vego restaurants, and eat herself silly. it's a ticket for two, so she can take not boyfriend. i'll look after her cats for her, water her plants, all that.

princess and i met aof earlier this year, which was a delight. i do like meeting bloggers. but not the freaky ones. just the nice ones.


oh, almost forgot. a stocking stuffer for you as well.




any book or podcast or essay of germaine's that you don't already have.
plus a glass of wine, it seems.

*
ah, my favouritest blogger. he is such a nice person, and if "nice" is a questionable word to use (shades of middle'dom, and all that) well, stuff you, disliker of nice. nice is a good word, and i am reclaiming it and using it for my dear friend INC.

i thought and i thought and i thought about what to get INC. you know, he has it all. he has a lovely wife and two beautiful boys. they have a house, they have fun-times, lots of laughs and they use "dude" all the time.

what more does this man need?

he has his religious faith, he has his intelligence and wonderful writerly ways.

but you know what he doesn't have?

a job that he likes. hell, a job that he loves.

so, for INC i am giving him that job.

it's in this box, INC. open it and tell me what it is. it's a magic box, you see. perhaps it contains the tools of being a cartoon-creator, an x-box games designer, a pilot, a traindriver, a tennis coach? because even though i know you quite well, i don't know what it is you would like to do most with the rest of your working life.

perhaps it contains a lawyer's hat - but a different type of lawyer.

happy christmas inc.











*
and last but certainly not least, my oldest blog-buddy, meaning i've known this dude online for as long as i've had my blog which i think is 3 1/2 years. he also takes the award for travelling the largest distance along the continuum of blogging regularity - from most frequent and prolific blogger, to "person least-likely to have a new post on his blog."

but i know he's around, indeed he has even visited these parts recently.

it's BEVIS.

bevis and i go way back. we've had stoushes, and warm, fuzzy feel-good moments. heck, i came runner-up in his big blogger competition, he was here when clokes and i got engaged, he was here when my house got broken into (two houses ago), i was here for the birth of his TWO children. so i've loved him long-time.

for bevis, i give him some time:














some magic dust









and a robot that can take his place in the family hustle and bustle every now and then so he can sneak off and resume his bloggy goodness more often.

for anyone else i haven't bought for, this box is for you.
open it and tell me what it is:
?
thanks for reading everyone. have a happy, safe chrissy and new year. i'll be around but transmission will be down for a couple of weeks or so.
x

Friday, December 19, 2008

small confession

i just went and looked at fits' blog.

i thought, hoped, that maybe, just MAYBE, bettie page's death might have, MIGHT HAVE made her come out of retirement-perma hiatus, and do a little, JUST A LITTLE, WEE, TINY, post.

but no.

perma-abandoned is me.

but hay, i have some diary pics, to represent the younger me. so that's good.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

things you don't want to happen three hours before your 12-year old highly-strung, over-tired daughter has a function at the sofitel

1. THE FUCKING IRON TO LEAK BROWN SHIT ON THE BOTTOM OF HER DRESS WHILE YOU ARE CAREFULLY IRONING ON THE INSIDE AS DIRECTED BY THE LABEL

2. THE STAIN TO NOT COME OUT COMPLETELY

3. THE STAIN TO BE RIGHT IN THE FRONT. I EVEN THOUGHT TO START THE IRONING AT THE BACK, JUST IN CASE.

4. THE DRESS TO BE SILK SO YOU CAN'T TUMBLE DRY IT DRY, EVEN IF YOU HAD A TUMBLE DRYER BUT YOU DON'T BECAUSE YOU HATE THEM AND YOU CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT

5. THE HAIRDRYER TO NOT WORK. REALLY, IT'S JUST TOO FUCKING WET NOW.

6. FUCKING MELBOURNE "SUMMER" WEATHER TO HAVE BEEN SHITE, AND ESPECIALLY TODAY, WHEN YOU COULD DRY IT IN HALF AN HOUR IF IT WAS HOT AND SUNNY

7. IN FACT, IT'S OVERCAST AND WHILE THERE IS A BIT OF A BREEZE, YOU CAN'T RISK LEAVING IT OUT THERE WHEN YOU GO TO PICK THE KIDS UP FROM SCHOOL BECAUSE

IT

WILL

FUCKING

RAIN.


YOU KNOW IT WILL.

what am i being punished for?
what am i being punished for?
what am i being punished for?
what am i being punished for?
what am i being punished for?
what am i being punished for?
what am i being punished for?
what am i being punished for?
what am i being punished for?



i hate that fucking iron.

this is why i don't iron.

why does the brown shit come out when you have it on a lower setting? ie SILK???????

why doesn't it come out on clokes' business shirts?

i want it to come out on clokes' business shirts because it only happens to me, and i told him we need a new iron, but because it's his, it's "fine".

why does it have to come out on princess' dress?


oooh la la, sunshine is coming out.


meltdown might be nearly over.



* * *

UPDATE'OH.

10.11pm sees me continuing the whinge-fest.

Ok, dress - I got the stains out, and managed to dry the fucker on the clotheshorse in the wind and sunshine between 3 and 5pm. I didn't iron it. The wrinkled look is in.

Then we were to be dropped off at the hotel but the traffic was so bad up St Kilda Rd, we jumped out of the car and onto a tram, then had to run up Collins St.

Made it.

Then I played bag lady at Collins Place. A bit of linguine pasta and a wine at the sports bar type place, a bit of a browse in Dymocks and get this, the salesgirl came up to me as I was browsing and said "This is going to sound a bit weird, but would you be ok for ten minutes while I go to the toilet?"

Me: "Yes, I'll be fine."

And then she went. And locked me in, with another bag lady who looked like a real bag lady.

Then I drifted up to 7-11 and bought a Kit Kat. Then I drifted back, and found a table and did the crossword. Then at 7.25 I went back to the Sofitel lobby, and proceeded to almost doze off while agonising over the last 3 crossword words.

Finally, 30 minutes late, they came down. Then we had to walk down to Swanston St to catch the tram. Then on the tram a smack-head got on, with a lit cigarette and proceeded to piss everyone off by smoking it, especially the woman who was eating a banana, and her over-ripe banana smell had been annoying me, so that's perspective for you. But everyone was too scared to say anything to the dude, including me. Didn't see what happened to the smoke, but he started to nod off, and he was right near us, and people had moved away from him so there was no buffer zone, and then at Domain Interchange, when he stamped his feet and started to get agitated (heroin does that?) I said to Princess "stand up, we're getting off."

Just as we went down the steps I heard a voice yell out "FUCK OFF!!!"

Methinks my gut feeling was right. The tram trundled off, with everyone else captive to his unpredictableness. If I'd been alone, I would have stayed on. Princess doesn't need that, not after the day we've had.

So, we waited at Domain, then got on our tram.

Just as we were about at our stop, it was pissing down heaps. We were laughing about using the newspaper as hats, and I rolled up my jeans, and Princess said "My dress! My HAY-ER!" and I said "Stuff your hair, and don't worry about your dress, I washed it twice, it's ok with water, it's the brown stuff from the iron (and your friend's coke on Tuesday night) that's the problem'o.

Then magically, just as we stepped off the tram, into puddles, the rain had stopped. So we didn't need to take shelter in the Bad English Pub, we managed to walk to our place without getting wet.

What a day. It's been a marathon week, staggering to the finish line. Which is tomorrow.

Can I do West Wing? I think not. Bed and Barack for me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

an analysis of Germaine's analysis of Australia

I was going to do a proper post but I can't be arsed, I have things to do, besides I've just found what is possibly the most interesting blog of 2008, a blog dedicated to Nicole Kidman's Forehead.

I'm torn, also, between posting on the idiot parents of Adolf Hitler in the US which I've just seen on the Age website.

Some points re Germaine though. I am a self-admitted Greer fan-girl, and while reading her article in todays' Age about the movie Australia, I found myself agreeing with her on some points, but I also realised I was annoyed by her review. It's not a film review, as such. It's more a litany of flaws as she sees them.

The problem is that maybe she is too cerebral to be able to enjoy entertainment and a bit of froth and frippery. I wonder if she has an imaginative bone in her body. I think she's one of those hyper-smart people who takes everything far too seriously, and while she can crack ironic and witty-quips with the best of them, it's always still terribly clever, and I think she find it's difficult to remove her scholar hat and the feeling that the world is waiting for her words, and to just re-fucking-lax.

Greer also used her article to have a bitchy go at Marcia Langton (some hangover revenge from just before Germaine came out to do the publicity for her essay on Rage, perchance?).

Rather than go through the article, picking out points, what reading it made me think about was this fundamental question:

Do filmmakers have a responsibility to be historically accurate with their fictionalised accounts that they bring to the screen?

Germaine obviously thinks they do. While Baz was sloppy with research (as pointed out by Germaine), I wonder whether the mechanisms of fiction mean that you can pick this and that, borrow and transform. It's a creative process. Where does inaccuracy then start to undermine credibility?

To Nicole's Forehead now.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

no offence, but

i want to talk about the idea of god, the idea of heaven, and how it's all just a delusion, to steal the most appropriate word i can think of from mr. dawkins.

reading the paper today, and specifically the text message about the runner who died from cancer, saying "she's in heaven now" instead of "she's died" made me want to puke.

why do adults, seemingly intelligent adults, buy this rubbish?

it's because they (we, i'll include myself) are so scared of death, so terrified it's final and black and nothing.

i am scared of death. when i think of it, though, i push the thought away and try to live in the present and enjoy my life and be grateful. i don't comfort (delude) myself that it will be lovely, and there'll be heaven and family reunions and a pony for everyone.

likewise, the tons of messages on the triple m website for richard marsland. all this guff about god having a new comedy writer on the team, and heaven will all be laughing, and the angels had plans for richard.

IT'S RUBBISH. IT'S FAIRYTALE. WHY CAN'T YOU PEOPLE SEE IT?

come on. give me your best shot. what have you got to convince me?

logic and intelligence is on my side.

and i want to say, one of my fave bloggers is a religious man in the traditional sense of the word. i don't want to piss him off, but at the same time, i can't censor myself just to tip-toe around others. so, sorry dude.

Monday, December 08, 2008

feeling sad about richard marsland



i'll miss his lovely voice. a funny guy. and his nicholas cage impersonations - so clever.

it's really sad.

* i edited the above to make it clearer about the nic cage reference.

still sad.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Rumi Friday

A Man and A Woman Arguing
One night in the desert
a poor Bedouin woman has this to say
to her husband,

"Everyone is happy
and prosperous, except us! We have no bread.
We have no spices. We have no water jug.
We barely have any clothes. No blankets

for the night. we fantasize that the full moon
is a cake. We reach for it! We're an embarrassment
even to the beggars. Everyone avoids us.

Arab men are supposed to be generous warriors,
but look at you, stumbling around! If some guest
were to come to us, we'd steal his rags
when he fell asleep. Whos is your guide
that leads you to this? We can't even get
a handful of lentils! Ten years' worth
of nothing, that's what we are!"

She went on and on.
"If God is abundant, we must be following
an imposter. Who's leading us? Some fake,
that always says, Tomorrow, illumination
will bring you treasure, tomorrow.

As everyone knows, that never comes.
Though I guess, it happens very rarely, sometimes,
that a disciple following an imposter can somehow
surpass the pretender. But still I want to know
what this deprivation says about us."

The husband replied, finally,
"How long will you complain
about mooney and our prospects for money? The torrent
of our life has mostly gone by. Don't worry about
transient things. Think how the animals live.

The dove on the branch giving thanks.
The glorious singing of the nightingale.
The gnat. The elephant. Every living thing
trusts in God for its nourishment.

These pains that you feel are messengers.
Listen to them. Turn them to sweetness. The night
is almost over. You were young once, and content.
Now you think about money all the time.

You used to be that money. You were a healthy vine.
Now you're a rotten fruit. You ought to be growing
sweeter and sweeter, but you've gone bad.
As my wife, you should be equal to me.
Like a pair of boots, if one is too tight,
the pair is of no use.

Like two folding doors, we can't be mismatched.
A lion does not mate with a wolf."

So this man who was happily poor
scolded his wife until daybreak,
when she responded,

"Don't talk to me
about your high station! Look how you act!
Spiritual arrogance is the ugliest of all things.
It's like a day that's cold and snowy,
and your clothes are wet too!

It's too much to bear!
And don't call me your mate, you fraud!
You scramble after scraps of bone
with the dogs.

You're not as satisfied as you pretend!
You're the snake and the snake charmer
at the same time, but you don't know it.
You're charming a snake for money,
and the snake is charming you.

You talk about God a lot, and you make me feel guitly
by using that word. You better watch out!
That word will poison you, if you use it
to have power over me."

So the rough volume of her talking
fell on the husband, and he fought back,
"Woman,
this poverty is my deepest joy.
This bare way of life is honest and beautiful.
We can hide nothing when we're like this.
You say I'm really arrogant and greedy,
and you say I'm a snake charmer and a snake,
but those nicknames are for you.

In your anger and your wantings
you see those qualities in me.
I want nothing from this world.

You're like a child that has turned round and round,
and now you think the house is turning.

It's your eyes that see wrong. Be patient,
and you'll see the blessings and the lord's light
in how we live."

This argument continued
throughout the day, and even longer.


*

Rumi 1207-1273

Nothing much has changed, has it?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Baz Australia



Do I really need to put a disclaimer here about spoilers? Surely you can work it out for yourself about reading this, or not reading this.

Dear Baz,

Last night, my sister and I went to see your film Australia. I thought you wouldn't mind me writing to you directly, hell, maybe you'd even welcome it. I imagine some people, when they are face-to-face with you, are sycophantically pussy-footing around the movie, saying how wonderful it is, epic, the new Gone with the Wind, etc. You have all your 'yes people' with you, and all the no-people seem to be writing reviews which are being published world-wide. It's a complete onslaught of "this is shit" pretty much, even Jim Schembri has written three reviews, that I've seen in the one publication. THREE. What's that all about?

Characters
There were too many. Look, I know you had to get every single fucking Australian actor into this movie. But Bryan Brown, David Wenham, Barry Otto, Jack Thompson, all in a matter of minutes, all scurrying around looking through binoculars and telescopes at the port? Bryan was wasted, David was much too much evil, Barry was ok, but it was hard to understand who he was and what his interests were, and Jack. He was ok. Barry seemed a neutral character, Bryan was a baddie, as was David. Jack was a heart-of-gold flawed accountant (point?), and by the time Ben Mendelsson appeared (as a rival for Lady Sarah's love? unclear) and John Jarrett as a very shouty army man, it was obvious to me that there were just too many people to keep track of. I've probably forgotten some of them. There were a small group of police officers (minor characters), Evil David Wenham's sidekicks (very minor). There was a bigoted bar-keeper. Some snotty wives, one nice wife (married to Evil David a bit later).

Then the main characters. They were all ok. Hugh (the Drover), ok. Nicole (Lady Sarak), ok, but too startled looking too often. Brandon the boy who played a central character, Nullah, the boy who has to hide anytime the coppers come, and who gets caught up in the central relationship between the Drover and Lady Sarah.

My suggestions:
Baz, if you'd kept the focus on the main characters. Show us a bit more of their romance, increase the indigenous characters, let these characters show us a bit more of their stories, emphasise the stolen children issue a bit more, images of kids being taken away, Lady Sarah being told about these things, indigenous stories around the campfire etc. Show her falling in love with the countryside. There was a line somewhere, after she'd buried her husband, where she said something like I have no idea what my husband saw in this land. That was the moment when you should have picked up the reins, Baz, thinking ok, I'll show the world what there is to love about this country. It's unique beauty. And also great potential there to educate the world about the indigenous issues we have, and the shameful part of this country's history. Full marks for going there, but you didn't go there enough.

You should have had just the one evil character. An audience only needs one, can only cope with one. My pick would have been Bryan Brown. Get rid of Wenham. Brown can be more menacing that Wenham, and despite Brown being a walking ocker cliche, Wenham overacted. I know you like the overacting, the almost caricatured display of personality on-screen, but for me, it didn't work. You should have lost the accountant (Jack Thompson) and most of these minor, yet name, characters.

The cinematography
Baz, you got this bit right. I loved it in Romeo and Juliet and I loved it in this movie, and while I felt you could have lingered a little less on some of the scenery shots, some scenes were truly beautiful, in a magic-realism type way. I liked the way you developed the theme of magic, and mystery, with Nullah and his wonderfully-named grandfather King George (David Gulpilil) singing to each other, and King George always being present around his grandson, looking out for him from afar like some watchful stork, whether he be atop a mountain ridge or a water tower in Darwin. He was always there, always understanding and seeing what was about to happen.

Some early scenes in the billabong were gorgeous and so lushly spectacular; I loved those.

I was distracted by what I suspected were CGI-enhanced scenes. Yes, I know, I don't know what you would do about that either. But you're the expert. Make them seem less fake? I didn't go to film school, you tell me what you would do. Rewrite the scene so it doesn't need a fucking ravine for the cattle to be stampeding towards? There must be a way. But the bit where Nullah is on the edge, and stops the cattle, that was good. And it signalled the moment when Lady Sarah starts to invest emotionally in the boy.

Attention to detail - full marks, Baz, for costuming and the little details of life back then, including the decor of the homestead. I'm guessing that was all historically accurate, but if not, it was exquisite.



Christmas at the tree. I really dug that tree.


Music
The music was good, especially the appearance of Old Rolf with his wobble board. But why oh why did you get Elton to write a song about Australia? Was there no Australian artist that could do it? Shame on you. I loved the insertion of Wizard of Oz references into the movie, that worked for me.

Plot
Um, if I were you I would have, like I said, make it just one villain, concentrate more on the droving journey, the relationship between Lady Sarah and the Drover and the boy (who incidentally needed to be shown mourning and/or missing his mother a little more). All the war stuff was ok, but the Nice Wife (of Evil David) could have been a little more developed, and a friendship between her and Lady Sarah needed to be fleshed out just a little. One exchange would have done it, before we saw them at work in their army khakis at the radio station. A little more fleshing out of the snobbishness of "society" directed at the Drover (he said he was as good as black in their eyes, I guess for living with the aborigines, having married an indigenous woman), a bit more of a relationship between the Drover and his stock-hand, also his brother-in-law who sacrifices himself to save a bunch of kids at the end.

General comment
On the acting, I think Nicole was actually better than Hugh. He was trying to be a sensitive new age guy, but also a Drover who lived life rough. It kind of didn't work. He cried, copiously, towards the end. I'm not sure how I feel about seeing a Drover cry. In a bar. While saying "give him a fucking drink!" But I wouldn't turn him down. Baz, I give you permission to pass on my url. David Gulpilil was fine, as always. Brandon Waters was mega.

Minor nitpicking
Baz, sorry, but in my you have a cinema-goer who if not taken right into the movie, will sit on the edge and notice things. In this case, last night I was not swept away, I remained on the outside of the screen, and this is what I noticed:

1. I think Hugh's beard should have stayed on for the ball. He didn't look as spunky and he looked like he had eyeliner on. He did, didn't he?

2. You should have told Nicole to relax her eyes a bit. If she can. Just saying. And I know she's your muse, but if you're going to make another movie, you need a new muse. Like Woody Allen. He's moved on from Diane Keaton, to Scarlett Johansson. You also need to move on. I'll think about suggestions.

3. The "sex scene" (it really wasn't) between the Drover and Lady Sarah should have been fleshed out a bit more. Heh.

I know you've got the goods, for example where the hull was this:




Now I know for sure, I did not see this in the movie, there is no way I'd miss his hand on her arse. There was no upright action, I'm sure they shot straight to the horizontal. BORING. Plus I noticed a little bit of vein action on Nicole's left leg. Hello, ever heard of body make-up?

4. There was inconsistency in Nicole's face, from scene to scene. Maybe she was pregnant during that part, but in the middle somewhere, around the Ball scenes, her face looked so different, kind of saggy, a bit bloated, tired. Not the usual, taut skin. For me, it was quite obvious.

But kudos, Baz, for having one close-up where we could see she has pores like the rest of us:




5. David Wenham, in one scene, reprised his Diver Dan muttering. It was annoying and distracting. He did it twice.

Small things I noticed which were good:

1. The bit where Hugh is talking about his past "romantic life" while they are camping, just after his wet his torso and there's a moment when the camera slips down to his groin, his trousers are low-slung and his hand kind of goes there for a split second. It looks hairy and damp and you can see his groin lines. Mmmm.

2. The kissing was good. No, really. I liked it.

3. The little domestic tensions that started creeping in; he's a man, he's a drover, he wants to drove. He doesn't want to hang around the house all day. She's a woman, she's insecure, she wants her man around. They have a tiff. He storms off. For six months.

4. At the beginning, they are in the car going to Faraway Downs, her homestead. She is wearing the funniest goggle-type glasses. Good work Baz, and Nicole.

5. The humour works quite well. Nicole is reasonably good at humour, and she did it well, with her semi-hysterical little intakes of breath, snorts and gasps. Not bad.

6. There was no scene of Him washing Her hair in the outback. This is a good thing. Well done Baz for resisting that particular mistake. It's been done well once, you can't compete. Good man.

7. I read somewhere it took a lot of frigging about to get Hugh's clothes working. I have one word to say. Belt. As my sister said, he knows how to wear a belt. More mmmm.




Hugh channelling Clint near the iconic boab tree.

So that's maybe about it, Baz. Thanks for the movie. I did enjoy it. If you want to know whether I cried, I did. But not as much as my sister. Things that made me cry were Nullah and his grandfather. I cried at the end when Nicole, who is now attached to the boy in a motherly way (despite us knowing she considers herself a not very maternal person, and she physically can't have children) lets him go walkabout. Brandon Waters, as Nullah, is awesome. But I hope we don't see him again in another movie. Let this be his one time, and let him now have his childhood. There was something vulnerable in him that you didn't see in say a young Lindsay Lohan or Olsen twin.

I do commend you, Baz, for tackling the uncomfortable issue of race, and the history of racism in this country. Maybe it's this that is making people edgy about the movie, and feeling they have to slam it. I read somewhere a comment from an American who said "Wow, who knew the Aussies were so racist?"

We need to be able to confront our history, and our racist tendencies as human beings, and try to make amends, and try to find a way to all co-exist. To say sorry. This movie was timely, with what's happened in America with Barack Obama's election - he is mixed race, he knows about belonging, and not belonging. He has confronted, and hopefully will continue to confront, the ambiguities, uncertainties and discomfort of race and its relevance in the world. This movie was a wonderful vehicle to present these ideas to a mass audience; in that respect, I think you have succeeded Baz. But more work needs to be done. This could never be a one-shot panacea. Was this a Sorry Film, Baz? I suspect it was. If so, I respect that you've done it. Was this also an advertisement for Australia? If so, I think it has failed. Because other people from other countries maybe won't be able to see past the cliche and the humour, and find the heart of our country. Because I don't think the movie has much heart. I couldn't feel it, I couldn't hear it. It needed more heart, and whether that failed because of the cast, the plot, the direction, I couldn't say.

I wanted to be swept away, but I wasn't.

I wanted to be touched more, but I wasn't.

I wanted to see a big-hearted movie, from a man I have considered could not put a foot wrong, but I was disappointed. But I don't think the scathing reviews and general undercurrent of nastiness is warranted. It wasn't epic, it wasn't great, but it is ours and I liked it enough.





Yours sincerely,


Melba.
xxx

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

time for some serious blogging

ok, after the fripperies of oysters, and the intensity of running cinema 101 for an ill child (back at school today) i need to talk to you about something very important.
so... lean close. in a nice, intimate huddle. ok.
this is for the girls only, so boys you can go and have a wank or whatever it is you do when girls talk about shoes. play some warcraft, or go on twitter and tell the world all about nothing.
today is a shoe post.
for, on the weekend, in one of the newspaper magazines, i saw an advertisement for these:
and the information that there is a limited release on now. i have been looking for these fucking clogs for years. when i say years, i mean years. i mean like 8 or so??
oh sure, i found some pretenders in that shoe shop in sorrento-darling, and i was so excited i got two pairs, white and red. and then they fell apart. the studs started coming out of the leather, detaching from the sole, within about 3 wears. plus they killed my feet.
now, i know the pain just goes with new shoes for me. i swear, even runners can rub. it's just my feet. or heels to be more precise. i think i have pretty feet, they are nice and small and cute. but they don't like shoes. i know i've talked on here before about how i would like to wear thongs and ugg boots for the rest of my life. but i would throw these clogs in the mix. i just like them.
so, today sees me driving off on a mission, to get these clogs. i want the white pair. and maybe the black pair. because who knows, it might be years before they are in the shops again.
these are the real deal. not those faux ones with the soft, plasticcy sole, or the suede'y top part.
the real deal.
and to finish my sermon, i leave you with this little delight. yes, i have shared this one before. but it needs to be shared again.

Monday, December 01, 2008

educating the princess

evidence i have chosen the right secondary school for my princess.

2008 second-hand book sale list contains the following:

boy - tales of a childhood (roald dahl)
of mice and men (steinbeck)
romeo and juliet (old bill shakey)
animal farm (mr orwell)
medea/hecabe/electra/heracles (euripides)
macbeth (you know who)
to kill a mockingbird (harper lee)
william blake's selected poems
othello
streetcar named desire
the crucible
romulus, my father
equus
theban plays (oedipus rex etc)
hamlet
the old man and the sea (old hem)
WUTHERING FUCKING HEIGHTS
god of small things
summer of the seventeenth doll
great gatsby
bloody turgenev and solzhenitsyn
siddhartha (hess)
perfume by suskind
l'etranger, mais bien sur
the republic, by plato

the only gaps i can see are machiavelli's the prince (but she knows that shit anyway), austen (she can read that herself) and the lovesong of j. alfred prufrock (there will be time... for me to teach her about prufrock).

i can't tell you how happy i am not to see trainspotting or some contemporary flash-in-the-pan novels like shantaram (i like it, don't get me wrong, but it's not a 'classic') or anime or manga stuff, to dumb it all down for the "non-readers." unfortunately the kite runner is on the list ( i have heard it is not good so have avoided) also a morris gleitzman novel - boy overboard, but i think that one is ok, cultural exchange and all that. but the snob in me is prepared to overlook a couple of mis-hits.

* * *

in other news, clokes, the kids and i enjoyed a very pleasant eyeball (to use the old CB lingo) in the park with the loverly i'm not craig and his wife and two beautiful boys yesterday. we were lucky the weather held for us, we sat and ate and drank wine and it wasn't uncomfortable at all!

what a great family, and yes, he is as nice in person as he seems in blogworld.

so, thanks inc, and your lovely wife. jells park next time!

happy days all.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

the oysters were had

we had them last night. half a doz coffin bays. delish. off the shell, no lemon, just like i promised. then we had seafood pasta - pan fried salmon fillets, broken up, baby clams sauteed in spring onion, garlic and vodka (no white wine) and large, fresh, green prawns - then all tossed through the spaghetti with olive oil glugging out of the 4-litre canister.

as dorothy michaels put it so well: heaven, sheer heaven.

in other news:

1. princess was introduced to animal farm. i do believe she enjoyed it the most out of all the cinema 101 offerings. she liked the fact that there was a story she could get a handle on (animal liberation) and tolerated the idea that there was a deeper, political allegory at work as well.

2. in west wing we are up to the bit where donna has fallen for the christian slater character, josh seems to be suffering some sort of un-articulated wistful lovey stuff towards donna, she has, i think, just left in the snow on a chopper to make her connection for getting away on her well-deserved holiday. i smell disaster.

3. i have the most beautiful arrangement of fushia-pink peonies, and a few white ones. they are so pretty i can't stop looking at them, and they make me shudder with delight.

4. i am really, really happy that we have a bit of a clothesline now, out the back, hanging off the edge of my balcony. we live in apartment, it's a funky secret life of them apartment, and with 5 of us in here, plus a gigi, it's at times like living on a ship, which also doubles as a chinese laundry, with clothes-horses galore and racks over the bath with lines of shirts and school dresses. we are bursting at the seams, and my mind keeps turning to our wedding presents, and my books, all in storage along with a ton of other stuff.

5. i have a mad, crazy-scientist type plan to renovate. and go up. we are top floor in the building. things are happening in this direction, ie i am making enquiries, i have an architect friend who is starting to do some drawings, and i had a builder come and look. he said "anything is possible." i like this builder, because he didn't laugh at my idea and more importantly, seems to want the business. the people next door to us are also keen to explore this possibility. i promise now if i can make this thing happen, i will have achieved a great thing. i also promise to invite you for champagne should i be able to pull this off.

6. we have gold class tickets and i am insisting we use them to go and see australia. i know there's a lot of bad talk around it, but i am determined to see it, and fairly determined to like it. i know everyone's banging on about nicole kidman, everyone's come out of the closet and are saying how detestable she is. i admit i haven't been one of those nicole-haters, in the past i couldn't see why some people would get so riled about her. but now, i can see that she seems a bit past her use-by date. that's the best way i have of putting it. she has jumped the shark and i hope she doesn't ruin the movie. for i do love baz and his shows. we'll see. oh, and please no comments about the movie if you've seen it. let's wait until i have, then we can have a free-for-all.

7. lately, i am missing old blogging friends. bevis, for one, has dropped off the radar. he had a new baby recently and that's great, and i suppose i should go and chase him up more, but i miss him being around. and he was always very around. yesterday i was browsing through some old i'm not craig posts, the earlier ones, and it's like reading other people making comments. so witty and fresh. now, it's different. still good, but different. i miss sublime, and rowena and steph and m_m.

i miss fluffy and ms fits and aleks.

i miss groverjones and ladycracker and nadine.

i miss cotton.

but most of all, i think i miss gianluca di milano.

yes, there are new friends. but still, le sigh.

Friday, November 28, 2008

passion, cont.

this started as a comment underneath the previous post. it got too long, so i decided to make it a post.

well, we all adore books, a few of us like oysters, most don't like lending books, a couple don't mind, only one hard-hearted bitch doesn't give money to beggars - moi. (where do you live, squib? is there a scarcity of beggars? are they lovely old ladies or smack addicts with shifty eyes? i figure if they have the impertinence to ask, i can also be impertinent, and say no. but i'm always polite.)

so, to oysters. tonight we shall have them. plain. i'm not even going to squeeze lemon juice on them. i shall throw back my head, dig it from the shell with my tongue, and bite at least once, before swallowing. i always bite. i don't understand the oyster-eaters who just swallow. they are faux oyster eaters, and not wanting to admit they don't really like them. for them, it's like taking medicine. for me, mmmm. the sea.

i also wonder whether there's another type of oyster eater. the restaurant oyster eater. why pay for them in restaurants when you can get them from the market - superb oysters - for $13, 14, 15 per doz. opened. at prahran market you can get them shucked in front of you.

these restaurant oyster eaters are clearly only doing it because it's a public act, they can be seen to consume the intimidating mollusc. it's like a statement of bravery or something.

save your money. eat them at home. have the bombe alaska instead.

ah, the bombe.

soon, it's my birthday and we are going somewhere fancy-pants. they have bombe alaska on the dessert menu. earlier this year, on our anniversary (coincidentally, the birthday of dearly departed ms fits, RIP, and the demise of her blog) we went to mirka at tolarno, and had the bombe glacee. it was so good, we had to return a couple of months later (it wouldn't leave my mind, you see, it kept calling me, from down the road) and have a glass of champagne perhaps it was, and a bombe each in the bar.

so, i'm looking forward to that next week.

in other news, princess has been home this week. we are both of us pretty pathetic. i've been nursing cluster-type headaches (not real cluster aka "suicide" headaches, i don't think) for the last 3 days (went to dentist, he thinks it's referred pain from sinusitis. i just don't know, i told clokes maybe it's a brain tumour. i figure if i joke about a brain tumour, it won't be one.) she is still getting over her virus and we have both descended into a malaise which is, really, as i've said, pathetic.

continuing the cinema education of princess course which i began last week (she passed romeo and juliet with flying colours, failed wuthering heights ("i'm never watching that movie again" was the exact quotation), this week saw us in front of 2001 - a space odyssey. please bear in mind it's about 25 years since i last saw it.

it went something like this.

mg: [starts dvd]

[black screen, classical music]

[black screen, classical music]

[black screen, classical music]

mg: i think this is part of it.

[black screen, classical music]

[black screen, classical music]

princess: is there something wrong?

mg: [starting sweaty palpitations, memories of timothy dalton's heathcliffe flood back, starts to rethink movie choice]. no, i think this is the introduction.

[black screen, classical music]

[black screen, classical music]

[black screen, classical music]

princess: this is weird

mg: JUST ENJOY THE MUSIC.

[black screen, classical music]

[black screen, classical music]

[black screen, classical music]

[movie starts]

mg: i told you, it was just the introduction

p: weird

* * *

p: are they people in monkey suits?


* * *

p: does anyone talk in this movie?

* * *

p: [on sighting of black monolith] what's that?

mg: see how they're touching it? i think it's a symbol of how they're going to develop know, of knowledge, you'll see some changes

* * *

p: there's no changes

mg: wait, it's coming, see how he's playing with the bones? in a very thoughtful manner?


* * *

p: so they saw the pole of wisdom and started to use tools?

mg: [happily] yes!

* * *

p: [at 25 minute mark] thank god they're talking? what the hull? what's she wearing?

mg: she's a flight attendant. they're going to the moon.

p: what the hull?

* * *

p: look at those chairs! retro!

mg: yeah, the funny thing is that when this movie was made, those chairs would have been so way out, futuristic, cutting-edge, and now here we are, 50 years later - god is it 50 years? lemme see the box - anyway, and you are saying how retro they are, and that people have those today.

p: yeah

* * *

p: so they've found a pole of wisdom on the moon? what the hull? aliens?

* * *

p: why's he running in the space ship?

mg: for exercise. they're on a long voyage to jupiter now. see those guys in the sleeping chambers? they are in suspended animation

p: like hibernation!

mg: yep

* * *

p: which one's dave and which one's frank?

mg: was it frank or hank?

p: frank! god mum, you're so deaf

mg: that's dave there. and don't be rude to me.

* * *

mg: so, what do you think about HAL. what a freak, hey? do you think he's suspicious?

p: [not really that interested but going along with it for my benefit] yeah.

* * *

p: i thought you said this was a fantastic movie, mum

mg: no, i didn't say fantastic

p: yes, you did

mg: no, i said i thought you should see it

p: you said it was fantastic

mg: did i?

* * *

p: i hate that sound, the breathing - WAA, OOH, WAA, OOH. it's driving me mental. why do they have to put all those sounds in it?

mg: [turns down sound, from level 56 to 35. feels deaf.]

* * *

[during scene with space pod and craw hands]

mg: let me move my craw hands in this pod, look at my craw hands, see how funny they are!!

p: ... ... ...

* * *

p: so HAL made the pod knock frank to go spinning out into space, but why did dave go to save him. he's already dead! what's the point?

mg: well, they are comrades on a mission. maybe he thought he should collect his body, in a moral way, maybe he thought he could find out what happened to him. i don't think he saw the pod craw arms bang frank. we didn't.

p: so HAL is evil? EVIL HAL. EVIL COMPUTER. i like HAL.

* * *

p: that breathing is driving me crazy!! turn it down!!!

* * *

[during hallucinogenic, lsd-trippy colour sequence with dave in pod going god knows where]

p: where's he going?

p: freaky

p: weird

* * *

[massive fast-forwarding through hallucinogenic, lsd-trippy colour sequence, including bits of planets and landscapes]

p: what the? where is he?

mg: looks like a palace, like the palace of versailles, or something

p: this movie is so weird? who made it? who was the director?

mg: a very weird guy. everyone thought he was weird.

p: they were right.

* * *

p: so, maybe HAL didn't kill frank. maybe dave went mental, and killed HAL and now this is him dying, or after he's died

mg: [awestruck]

* * *

and i think that is quite possibly the sanest interpretation of 2001 i've ever heard.

happy weekending to you all.

update: well, the "sinusitis" tuned out to be a motherfucking huge root canal requirement and 2.30 [NOT A FUCKING PUN] saw me writhing in pain on my bed, unable to speak, paralysed like some stroke victim down the left-hand side of my entire face, taking 2 nurofen pluses, it just smidging the edge of the pain, then me driving carefully to pick up small boy-child from school, driving back home, throwing him out onto the street to go up and be let in by bigger sisters, driving on, in pain, to dentist, only to arrive, park the car, pain disappears like that [snap] and then go in, and dentist drills and begins the first of FOUR ROOT CANAL SESSIONS. it's ok, i've had one before, but never, never, pain like this, comrades. but the first root canal session is the best one, because it's quick, and it ends the pain, finito. it was tough, but now i have wine, ice cream is on the way, and a weekend planned of goodtimes. clokes is now out shopping for certain lovely person's birthday present, let me share with you my list of wants:

1. chanel studs, there's no way he'll find them, i couldn't even see them in the paris chanel store.

2. nice cleanser, and moisteuriser and eye cream. if you are a woman, you know this information is completely inadequate for a man to make a good selection. i said so in my text, i said i'd need to choose.

3. bubble bath - to replace the l'occitane rose one i already have, there's about one more dribble-worth in the bottle. he also won't know which one it is without writing it down or taking the empty bottle.

4. book voucher - $1000

5. Dexter - Season 3

6. Sex and the City collection DVD. NOT THE MOVIE.

7. tea cup and saucer and cake plate trilogy - vintage.

8. set of flat champage glasses. you know the marie antoinette breast ones. they have been "out" for ever so long, in favour of the flute. i'm bringing them back in.

9. a set of nice, german knives - messermeister would be nice.

10. a kitten.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

passion

if i had to state my one, true, enduring passion, for something, not someone, it's books and reading.

i have lots of books. i am not precious about whether i buy them new, or second-hand. i don't like writing in them in pen, that is a no-no, but i have made notes in pencil. i stopped lending them to friends because i had to then make a list of what went where, and then often-times ask for them back. in the past, i've lost copies of books, so now i have to say "i'm sorry, i don't lend my books to anyone" and it's a similar line to the one i give the beggars on the streets, "i'm sorry, i don't give money to people on the street." they don't quite know what to do with that one. i give them full eye contact, and there is sincerity in my voice. somehow, though, i've managed to misplace my copy of hemingway's the sun also rises. this annoys me, because despite my non-lending policy, i don't have it here. and i bought it overseas last year, second-hand in florence, and it was here. where is it?

other people who lend me their books, indeed foist them upon me, well, what can i say? i accept, i read, and i return. meticulously. i make sure their names are in the front cover, and i make sure i don't keep them too long.

i actually found a copy of one of my books in a friend's book-case years after i'd obviously lent it to him. there was my name in the front cover.

so i think i've mentioned this online used book ordering service called abebooks.com. you can search and order books from all over the world. i haven't failed in one of my searches yet. another one was in the letterbox today: food, a history.




this is another book i've had written down on a scrap of paper for years, and i can't remember where i saw it, what specifically made me want it. it arrived today from syracuse, ny, and this is in chapter 1, the invention of cooking. while i am omitting all footnotes, i note where they occur to show that the claims and statements made are supported by other works. this is scholarly, but oh so readable.

"It is no way to eat oysters. You see the fastidious eater-out fiddling with them in restaurants, coating them with lemon juice strained through muslin napkins, or dousing them with bizarrely flavoured vinegars, or sprinkling them with glowing strains of vermilion tabasco or some other blindingly, chokingly hot liquor. This is deliberate provocation, designed to refresh the bivalves before death, a little mild torture under which you can sometimes feel that you see the victims wriggle or flinch. Then the diner manipulates spoon and scoop, prising and sliding the oyster out of its bed onto a curl of cold silver. As he raises the slick, slippery molusc to his lips, the sheen of the creature clashes with the shine of the cutlery.

Most people like to eat oysters that way, but it means they forfeit the full, true oyster moment. Unless you discard the utensils, raise the half-shell to your mouth, throw back your head, scrape the creature from its lair with your teeth, taste its briny juice, and squelch it slightly against the palate before swallowing it alive, you deprive yourself of a historic experience. For most of history, oyster-eaters enjoyed the slightly fetid, tangy smell of the inside of the shell, undoused with the disguising sweetness of aromatic acids. This was the was Ausonius liked them, in 'their sweet juice, mingled with a sensation of the sea'. Or in the words of a modern oyster expert, your aim is to receive 'some piercing intuition of the sea, and all its weeds and breezes... You are eating the sea, that's it, only the sensation of a gulp of sea water has been wafted out of it by some sorcery.'[fn]

For almost uniquely the repertoire of modern western cuisin, the oyster is eaten uncooked and unkilled. It is the nearest thing we have to 'natural' food - the only dish which deserves to be called 'au naturel' without irony. Of course, when you eat oysters in a restaurant, the shell has been barbed and unclamped with all the panoply of civilization by a trained professional, wielding appropriate technology, an inviolable ritual and a stylish flourish. Before that, the oyster was reared underwater on a stone tile or wooden trellis, herded in an oyster-bed, grown for years under expert eyes and harvested by practised hands - not plucked from a rock-pool as a prize seized from nature. Still, it is the food that unites us with all our ancestors - the dish you consume in what is recognizably the way people have encountered their nourishment since the first emergence of our species.

Even if you are one of those people who think they hear the scream of the pear or peanut as they seize it and munch it raw, you will still find virtually no food in modern western cuisine as convincingly 'natural' as the oyster, for, with very few exceptions, such as some fungi and seaweeds, the fruits and vegetables we eat - even the 'wild' berry picked from the bramble - are the result of generations or aeons of selective breeding by man; the oyster remains a product of little modified natural selection and varies markedly from sea to sea. Furthermore, we eat it while it is still alive. Other creatures have more food of this kind. Australian Aboriginals [sic] guzzle witjuri grubs, prised from gum trees, plump with half-digested wood-pulp in their guts. Nenets chomp the living lice lifted from their own bodies, 'like candy'. [fm] Nuer lovers are said to show mutual affection by feeding each other lice freshly plucked from their heads. Masai drink blood squeezed from wounds in live cattle. Ethiopians like honeycombs with the young larvae still alive in the chambers. And we have oysters. 'There is a dreadful solemnity' in eating them, as Somerset Maugham observed, which 'a sluggish fancy cannot grasp',[fn] and which would surely make the Walrus weep without hypocrisy. What is more, oysters are fairly unusual among raw foods because they are generally ruined by cooking. To put them in steak-and-kidney puddings or skewer them wrapped in bacon, as the English do, or smother them in various kinds of cheese sauce, as in the dishes called Oysters Rockefeller and Oysters Musgrave, or to stuff them in an omelette, as in the signature dish of the regional cuisine of the Chinese province of Xiamen, or to chop them for stuffing veal or big fish, is to smother their taste. Inventive recipes can occasionally be more successful: I once had an impressive dish of oysters at the Athenaeum, in London, lightly poached in wine vinegar and pasted wtih spinach-flavoured bechamel. Such experiments are justified for fun but rarely advance the frontiers of gastronomy.

The oyster is an extreme case, but all raw food is fascinating because it is anomalous - an apparent throwback to a pre-civilized world and even to a pre-human phase of evolution. Cooking is one of relatively few odd practices which are peculiarly human - odd, that is, in the scales of nature, judged by the standards of common approaches to nourishment, as evinced by most species. One of history's longest and most luckless quests has been the search for the essence of humanity, the defining characteristics which makes human beings human and distinguishes them collectively from other animals. The effort has led nowhere and the only objectively verifiable fact which sets our species apart from others is that we cannot successfully mate with them. Most of the other features commonly alleged are inadmissable or unconvincing. Some are plausible but partial. We arrogate 'consciousness' to ourselves without knowing quite what it is or whether other creatures have it. We claim unique powers of language - but other animals, were we able to communicate with them, might dispute this. We are relatively inventive in problem-solving, relatively adaptable in our ability to inhabit varied environments, relatively dexterous in our use of tools - especially of missiles. We are relatively ambitious in our works of art and in making embodiments of our imaginations. In some respects, in these connections, the gaps between human behaviour and that of other species are so enormous as to qualify, perhaps, as differences of quality. We are genuinely unique in exploiting fire: although some apes can be taught to use it, too, for limited applications like lighting a cigarette or releasing an odour of incense, or even keeping a fire alight, this only happens under human instruction and only people have ever taken the initiative in harnessing flame. [fn] Cooking is at least as good as all the other candidates in an index of the humanity of humankind - except for one serious qualification: in the vast span of human history, cooking is a late innovation. There is no possible evidence of it that is more than half a million years old, no absolutely convincing evidence from more than about 150,000 years ago.

Of course, it all depends on what one means by cooking. Cultivation, in some eyes, is a form of cookery - 'terram excoquere', as Virgil called it - exposing clods to the baking sun, turning the earth into an oven for seeds. [fn] Animals with suitably robust stomachs prepare their food by chewing the cud: why should this not be classed as cooking? In hunting cultures, the men who make the kill often reward themselves with a meal of the partially digested contents of the stomach of their prey: instant replacement for the energy expended in the hunt. This is a kind of natural proto-cookery - the earliest known incidence of eating processed food. Many species, including ours, make food edible for infants or the infirm by chewing and regurgitating it. Warmed in the mouth, attacked by gastric juices, pounded by mastication, it acquires some of the properties of food processed by the application of heat. The moment you rinse your food in water - as some monkeys do with some nuts - you start to process it, and indeed there are real raw-food freaks who like to leave on the dirt. Like Farmer Oak in Far from the Madding Crowd, they would 'never fuss about dirt in its pure state.'

As soon as you squirt lemon juice at your oyster, you are beginning to alter it, to apply changes which affect texture and taste: a generous defintion might call this cooking. A marinade, applied for a long time, can be as transforming in its effects as the application of heat or smoke. Hanging meat to make it gamy, or just leaving it around to rot a little, is a way of processing for texture and digestibility: it is obviously an older technique than cooking by means of fire. Wind-drying, which is a specialized form of hanging, works a profound biochemical change on some foods. So does burying - a technique, once common to induce fermentation, rarely used in modern western cuisine but commemorated in the name of gravlax: literally, 'grave-salmon'. Burial as quasi-cookery is also recalled in the dark tint now chemically applied to kinds of cheese which were traditionally preserved in the earth. Among some horseborne nomads, cuts of meat are rendered edible by being warmed and pressed in the horse's sweat under the saddle on a long ride. [fn] Churning milk is a process of almost alchemical magic: a liquid becomes a solid, white becomes gold. Fermentation is even more magical, because it can turn a boring, staple grain into a potion that can change behaviour, suppress inhibitions, conjure visions and unlock imaginary realms. Why should cooking with kindled flame be privileged among all these startling ways of transforming food?"


i'll stop there. the above passage finishes halfway through page 5. PAGE 5. can you imagine what delights await me?

it has occurred to me over the recent years that i have some sort of fiction-fatigue. i've read so many novels, that they all seem to, while not the same, follow similar plot lines, like commercial movies do. it surprises and delights when i read something that is different, unfamiliar and unpredictable. i know there is different fiction out there, but it just seems hard to commit at times. it's like making new friends once you're over 40. i just can't be bothered, really.

non-fiction, like that above, is fresh and unpredictable. i can find out things i didn't know, find out more about topics i know a little about.

my reading has bothered people over the years. once, my ex-husband ripped up a couple of books in a fit of rage, i wasn't paying him enough attention perhaps. he hated my reading, so much. it was a continual source of conflict between us. but did i stop reading? no.

if i could, i would lie in bed all day, day after day, reading. if it were the olden days, i would be one of those spinsterly women, slightly sickly, who sits and reads, because it's all she has. i would take to my bed regularly, withdrawing from the world and all in it, and read. hell, i do that now.

can you read too much? i think so. my daughter is way more of a reader than i was at that age. my reading obsession didn't really kick in until i was in my mid-to-late teens. sure, i read heaps before then. all the standard books, and some non-standard. i remember climbing onto my parents' bed and riffling through the cupboard, i found a novel called the fan club, by irving wallace, a story about a fan club of misfits and psychos who kidnap a movie actress who is part marilyn monroe, part sharon tate, and the hottest, sexiest star in all of hollywood. from memory, there were four guys in the fanclub, one was like a nice guy, one was like a loser-nerd-creep premature ejaculator, one was a bastard woman-hater, and i can't remember the other one. it's a very misogynistic book, as the men all take turns raping her (the rapes in great detail) and basically she gets smart, and realised that she has to make them think she is falling in love with each and every one of them, but they all have to keep it secret from each other. in the end i think she escapes, possibly she kills one of more of them.

my dad liked erotic literature, so i read his emmanuel books, the story of o, as well as the fan club one. i couldn't have been older than 13 or 14, because it was around then that my parents split, so the books wouldn't have been there after that. i can see the scene, dad like steve martin as the jerk, i don't need anything, well, just my irving wallace, that's all i need, my irving wallace and oh, this story of o. that's all i need as he shuffled out the door, suitcase in hand.

i have over the years tried to find a copy of the fan club. i wonder if it is still as erotic as i remember it. i'm wanting to get some david foster wallace books (as a result of an article in the current monthly, oh what a good publication that is). maybe if i order a couple david fosters and the irving, the bookseller won't notice that i'm ordering crap with my quality.

reading at the moment: bio of princess masako of japan, the duchess, the seven words you can't say on television, steven pinker, barack obama's dreams of my father.

doing: the age quick crossword and avoiding doing a letterbox drop for unchain st kilda, make sure you vote council out!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

robert altman

so the first mistake was choosing to do a robert altman retrospective.

is there anyone else who thinks his layering of voices effect extremely tedious and impossible to understand?

i enjoyed short cuts*, but couldn't hear any of the player, so i decided we should do a retrospective. we're all about retrospectives at the moment. we are also doing coen bros, and wes anderson, and i know both will be more satisfying than mr altman. and even with movies i've had trouble hearing in the past either because of loud music or inarticulate speech, i figure i can catch what i missed because we use... subtitles.

clokes loves saying "for the hearing impaired" when i remind him to put them on. so maybe i am a little deaf. i like to think it's because of all those bands i saw as a youngster, rather than my advanced age.

i do realise using words like "youngster" does not help my youthful image.

anyway. we started with number 1 which is beyond therapy.

if you have seen this, i would love to hear your thoughts.

if you haven't seen this, don't waste your time and money. we turned it off after about 10 mins of hoping it would "get better".

reasons why it was atrocious:

1. jeff golblum is not leading man material. sure, he was funny in the big chill when he had to sleep in the aeroplane bed. BUT THAT'S IT. the fly = no. the tall guy = no. jurassic park = no. the only decent thing this guy's been in is the life aquatic, but that wasn't because of him.

2. julie haggerty - never was there a more annoying actress on the face of the earth. she was annoying in flying high, why could someone think she would be good in a rom-com? it was like robert altman had visions of her as some diane keaton-annie hall manifestation.

wrong. wrong. wrong.

3. "it's like a porn movie, without the sex" this is what my husband said about 30 secs before we turned it off.

4. trying to build interest in the characters by having all these nutty people in a restaurant is just nutty.

i don't have any more points. i've wasted too much of my life already with even writing this much.

we are back on west wing.

* the irony is short cuts is apparently not available on dvd in australia.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

tragedy 101

today i read that a pram with a toddler, plus an older child, plus a man went into the water off a wharf in nsw last night. the three people died, and someone else who tried to help is in a critical condition.

apparently, the older boy may have accidentally pushed the pram into the water.

as i thought to myself what a tragedy, it reminded me of how people often misuse this word.

anything to do with sport, especially the australians losing the cricket, is NOT a tragedy.

shane warne retiring from cricket IS NOT A TRAGEDY.

ian thorpe not being able to swim at the athens olympics, is NOT a tragedy.

disappointment DOES NOT EQUAL TRAGEDY. even sadness does not necessarily equal tragedy.

the bali bombings, on the whole, were not a tragedy. if you, however, were someone who had battled and beaten cancer, say, and you were in the sari bar that night celebrating your remission, and got killed, that is kind of tragic. but if you were just some heavy-drinking punter out for some cheap bali pussy/beer/dvds/pool action, then that is not tragic. it's not right that you be killed by terrorists, and it's definitely sad for your family and friends but somehow, it's not tragic.

siev x was a tragedy.

a elderly man who steps in between his daughter and the mugger and gets knifed, that is a tragedy. something about his vulnerability, his bravery, his self-sacrifice. if the daughter had been on her own, gotten mugged and killed, to me, that's not so tragic, if at all.

the above incident with the young boys and father, is a tragedy. what makes it particularly tragic, if degrees there be, is that the young boy may have caused it all by pushing the pram. there has to be some chance involved, some real darkness, twist of fate or occasion. malice doesn't come into it. and i'm not even sure the traditional shakespearean human flaw can be seen as tragic, or causing what i would call tragedy.

for me, it's that little bit of extra something that makes your heart wrench when you hear about it, and you go oh no, how terrible.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

the verdict




so, our two-day movie-thon of all things romantico have concluded.


the verdict is that princess prefers the camped-up bazzy modern romeo and juliet remake to the zeffirelli 1968 one. i am so surprised. that she would prefer a movie made in the 2000s, with modern sets, modern costumes, modern music, a fish tank meeting, guns, lsd tabs and more-accessible orientations such as gang warfare and pool halls. that she would prefer that kind of movie over a gay 1968 rendition of r&j where romeo looks like a certain current teen-star, or a wild, dark gothic "psycho-romance" 1970 version of wuthering heights, where timothy dalton can't act to save his life, and the direction is so ordinary that in certain scenes, the actors are upstaged by the stagnant rocks and moors themselves.

during romeo and juliet, a comparison between the two versions:


p: what are they wearing? what are those? tights? i don't like this! HE LOOKS LIKE ZAC EFRON, YOU CAN TURN IT OFF NOW!

me: you don't want to see them kiss?


p: NO!

we did, however, get through wuthering heights. it was the timothy dalton one, it was awful, and again, she didn't like it.


p: he's a psycho, he's going mental!


me: well, it is darker, i told you.


p: but he's going mentallllllll. i don't like it very much.


me: it's pretty gothic, er goth-


[silence]


me: the book's good, it's much better. this isn't really that good.


p: no. they're both mental!


and later -

p: are you crying?


me: i was before.


p: [looks at her mother in disbelief]



so, not a complete failure, she's seen romeo and juliet, she knows the story a bit more, and she's now discovered leo di caprio.

my work here is done.

Monday, November 17, 2008

when to introduce your daughter to shakespeare, or are you old enough?



there are two shakespearian works that i love. romeo and juliet and macbeth. both were studied at school, so both were meticulously de-coded and understood and enjoyed.

my 12-year-old princess is currently obsessed, along with all the other girls in the world aged tween to teen, with four books called the twilight series. they are better written than the harry potter series, and the love story that is central appeals to girls. there are references throughout to pride and prejudice, wuthering heights and romeo and juliet.

princess has read the four books, all hefty tomes, in their entirety, about 6 times. the movie comes out on dec 11 or something, i am slated to take her and her friends to see it on saturday the 13th. i'm not allowed to watch with them, i have to drop them off and leave.

so when princess starts asking questions about wuthering heights (also studied year 12 english lit) and romeo and juliet, and when princess is sick with a bad virus for 6 days and counting, and has nothing to read other than the fucking twilight series, what's a mother to do?

why, she goes to the video store, borrows wuthering heights, also the zeferelli version of r&j and settles in for a bit of culture transfusion with her somewhat precocious daughter.

so an hour and a half later sees us both on the same couch, crying at the end of luhrmann's romeo and juliet. she didn't like it, she wanted the happy ending. i tried to explain that it would not have been such a strong story, the best of all romantic stories, powerful, moving, emotional, etc, without the tragic ending. of course, luhrmann has drawn it out, not just having romeo finding juliet "dead" and then killing himself, just as she wakes, but with her moving her hands, fluttering her eyelids, opening her eyes just as he is taking the poison. and he sees she is alive. this all added terrifically to princess' hysteria, as she sobbed, said she didn't like it, but refused when i suggested we turn it off.

me: it's not a bad thing to cry, and let movies make you sad. they're not real, after all.

p: i don't care. i don't like it.

me: it's such a beautiful story.

p: well, it's like poetry, the way they talked, but sounded like gibberish

me: yeah, i couldn't understand it either. i need the subtitles.

p: i don't like it. i don't think i'll ever watch it again.

so, she'll be home again tomorrow. i don't think she'll be able to take zeferelli's r&j - i was thinking we could do a comparison and see which one we preferred. and i think she'll be wary of wuthering heights.

p: so is wuthering heights sad?

me: um, not in the same way

p: [silence]

so, i might have to rethink tomorrow's activities. maybe a boardgame would be safer.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

dream

this morning i woke up in tears. i'd had a dream, where i'd been walking down a cobbled lane, and out of an old dark terrace house came a small child. she grabbed my hand and dragged me and whoever i was walking with (mother? sister) into her house. in there, was a family in mourning. it was a large family, with many children, most older than the girl who'd taken me inside. she was about 4 or so. she didn't talk to me, just showed me the reason why everyone was so sad.

in her hand was a tiny, dead baby. the girl gave it to me, and it fitted neatly in the palm of my hand. i tried to convey my sympathy to her, without words. it was as if she was too young to be able to articulate her pain, and so would be too young to understand me. i think i tried to utter a few words, so sorry, such a beautiful baby, and smiled at the little girl.

then i became more aware of the other people in the room. there was a grandmotherly person, who was the only one of the others who seemed aware of the little girl, the dead baby and the grief. older children were watching television, or sitting - none of them as upset as the little girl. the grandmother was there supporting the little girl, but distantly. i felt the little girl had come out onto the street, to find someone to show her pain to.

i felt she was showing me her pain.

when i woke up, i wondered what this dream meant. very quickly i realised that i am that little girl, and on this blog, at times, i am showing people my pain. even though the diaries are old, way old, they are real. last night when i posted the latest entry, for the first time i left out something, something hurtful which i felt was just too hard to reveal.

i sense a connection between that omission and my dream.

i need to think about it, and work out what this means for me. as the diaries progress, they become more and more personal, painful, and i am revealed as a very vulnerable and at times stupid girl. there's nothing major - no rape, no murder, no theft. but there is lying (not me, others) and drunkeness, drugs, and later violence (not me, others).

why do i feel i have to say those really bad things come from others not me? why do i care what you all think? is this why i am blogging? to get some sort of approval from my audience?

i write, it's a big part of me. it's something i can't not do. just like reading, i have to do it. but i think i might regret it if i think that i am using my very personal inside diary stuff, my at times very painful past bits (which, let's face it, we all have) to entertain and amuse people i've never met. i don't know.

i'd love to know people's thoughts on this. i feel i'm at a cross-roads. the dream has resonated, and made me consider something that might be important. am i guilty of exposing all, is it inappropriate? reading my old diaries has been cathartic - it is, i think, a part of me leaving all that shit behind. a reconciliation, maybe. a realisation. and if i can learn more from it, then i would never not want to learn. but if the lesson is going to be regrets about publicising all this stuff about me, and then it's there forever, then that's not the learning i want.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

for your viewing pleasure, see i'm always thinking about your needs, dear reader

this week, we have watched into the wild and the secret of the grain.

i won't bother rhapsodising.

just see them.

now.




hafsia herzi in the secret of the grain. french with english subtitles.







scene from into the wild. screenplay and direction by sean penn. always a good start in my opinion.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

yes i am mostly happy, yes i am mostly content, but leaving scotland broke this lassie's heart

so about a year ago we were in scotland. i had never been and always, always wanted to go. yeah, edinburgh was nice, a beautiful city, rah rah.
but the country-side. och, the country-side.
we drove up from edinburgh to loch ness, and stayed in a little bed and breakfast right on the lake. we did a boat trip, and it snowed while we were out there. they had this piped music on the boat, and it was all scottish reels and the like. i loved it, and my heart was bursting and even though it was so fucking freezing and everyone else went inside, i had to stay on deck and watch the dark waters, and the clouds and really, my heart was bursting with happiness.
princess gave her teddy, oscar, a surname. we became clan mc donald and got him a beer-can kilt. we ate haggis, we ate fish and chips. we drove to the isle of skye and i saw a sign that took me back to childhood, with my dad insisting i stay up late, at about the age of 8, and watch the best movie of all time - brigadoon.
as we drove, i played a cd of bagpipes that i had found in a shop in edinburgh. i wore my tartan scarf which had cost about 200 fucking dollars. cashmere. and i sang oh you take the high road, and i'll take the low road, and i'll be in scotland afore ye! and never will i see my true love's face again on the bonny bonny banks of loch lomond! over and over and i was driving everyone mental.
but i didn't care, because my heart was bursting with happiness.
we got to loch lomond, i pulled over, and said i'd just be a minute. i scrabbled down the banks, sat beside the lake, hearing the water lapping and just amazed that i was there. after about 3 minutes, voices, and next thing i knew, there were the three kids, plus oscar the teddy, joining me and ruining my moment. but i'd had it. i'd had my moment.

loch lomond

memorial to the mcdonald massacre, or was it the campbell massacre. anyway, it was really significant to oscar.

sign on isle of skye.

eilean donan





breakfast at our b&b - loch ness


look at the scotch. can you see the nessie-shaped ice block? look more carefully.


the heart-bursting boat trip.


the boat.
there are lots of good things in my life, particularly a readerly-affair with hemingway at this moment.
but there's no scotland.