Monday, October 27, 2008

Are You a Keira Lover or a Keira Hater?

Well, I thought I wouldn't be able to ever enjoy a Keira Knightley film. It's the lips I think. The pouting, it just gets to me. She'd ruined the movie about Dylan Thomas for me. The Pirates of Caribbean never worked for me. Atonement was alright but she just wasn't that great in it and I preferred the book. As usual.

Then, I allowed myself to be persuaded to see the Duchess against my better instincts. I'm happy to see virtually any movie, I just love films, in fact, the only film I've ever walked out of was Frances, just before the lobotomy scene. Even as a 12-year-old I sat through the coathanger-in-vagina scene in Sybil. Obviously not scarred at all by that memory.

My mum made me see it with her. I went in, thinking it might just be awful.

BUT I LOVED IT. And, I was surprised, she was good in it. The lips were not at all distracting for some reason. She was compelling. Of course, the character was compelling really. I left the cinema and it stayed with me, into the next day, and even the next. I kept thinking about her, and the story, and her hair.

I'd already bought the book that the movie is based on, and being a bit of a fusty old academic, I am just adoring the adherence to solid research, but also the author - Amanda Foreman - writes well. Oh, she does. So now, each night, I leave my body in the comfortable bed, and I wing my mind to Olde England, where the Duchess of Devonshire holds court at parties and balls, I read her letters to her mother, and her mother's letters to her, I read snippets of articles from newspapers. She even wrote a book called The Sylph, a type of roman-a-clef that was an admittedly thinly-veiled account of her life, married and social. I want to buy this book.

Did you know the Duchess was Princess Diana's great, great, great, great-aunt, or somesuch? I couldn't count the family tree generations properly, but she is from the Spencer family and her childhood home was Althorp (same as Diana's).

They had so many life parallels, these two women. Both married older men who were repressed or remote, witholding and cold. Both the husbands had mistresses when they got married, and continued on with them. Both the women became famous/notorious for their fashion leadership and innovation. And both made waves and impressions on society with their ventures into areas where young ladies of their society did not "venture" - for the Duchess it was politics and her support for the Whigs, for the Princess it was holding AIDS sufferers hands, and later landmines. Both became more famous and popular than their husbands, who were the original title holders. And both (possibly) had illegitimate children?

So now I go to the Duchess. It's wonderful. As is she.

And did I mention the hair?

"These hairstyles were labor-intensive and required cushions and wool, pomatum and powder, and an array of decorations. They were uncomfortable, they attracted insects and mice, and they could be fire hazards. "

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

xavier scandale

this from the school which has educated both mobster and high-level police spawn in their hallowed and scholarly halls.

"Our year level has always had a bit of a lust for wanton destruction with the types of guys who think car jumping is a fun pastime," one student wrote to the Herald-Sun.

The boy, who described himself as the King of Xavier, also accused the Jesuit school of being more interested in its appearance than caring for difficult students.

i had an idea for a story, of star-crossed lovers (fifi condello and max nixon) who fall in love, across the great divide of the classroom and their family backgrounds.

pure fiction, of course. but it would be great. don't steal my idea.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

saturday stuff

first up, good morning good people. how was your coffee? your eggs?

i slept beautifully, partly i'm sure because 17 days of alcohol-free living will start to make you feel quite terrific once you've pushed through the days 15 and 16 desire to find wine and drink it.

the first thing i saw in the age today was the story about the horse, weekend hustler and harry, the kid who is the only person in the world who can enter the horse's box and not get bitten, kicked, stomped on. killed basically.*

i like stories like this.

the headline is "the little mate who softens a champion's heart" and the article tells us that:

harry is 5 years old

not only is he the only person who can get close to the horse without being attacked, he can also predict whether the horse will win or lose.

check these soothsayings:

young harry apparently said "yeah, dad, he'll win, he'll win" before every other race, except the turnbull where he told his father "he won't win today, dad."

the best quote is where young harry refers to weekend hussler as "the hussler". has harry been watching the apprentice and seinfeld? he said this to a jockey who (it seems, the article is unclear, thank god for the calls for proper grammar and english classes in schools again, all hail "clear thinking", long may it reign, etc.) failed to win on the horse "you're the one that murdered the hussler."

finally, we learn that harry has a knack for picking winners of other kinds, and helped turn his father's $100 down the pub into $900.

they'd better keep a close eye on the kid. the bookies might grab him, and take him out the back.

and hey, do you think this photo looks photoshopped? the line of the horse's nose against the boy's t-shirt looks unnatural. i reckon they've played with the photo, and the kid's standing 2 feet back. but they've put the hay in front of the horse's nostrils to make it look like they are close. looks wrong. hard to see in this pic, but in the paper (front page) it's clearer.


in other news, four of the books i ordered online HAVE ARRIVED. including, true grit. so it's very good.

i've often fantasised about owning a book shop. one of my favourite book shops is syber's books in chapel st, windsor. the woman in there seems cranky but she's nice, she has lots of cats lolling around, and her collection is wonderful. it's been on the tip of my tongue whilst in there, on occasion, while at the register as she tallies my erudite and expensive selection, to offer my services as book person/cat feeder/shelf tidier. sometimes, i'll tidy the shelves as i browse, hoping she'll notice and say, in her manly voice, "can i offer you a job?" or "i'm looking to get out of the biz. wanna take over, sweets?"

other people fantasise about sex with celebrities or the person opposite on the tram. i fantasise about owning a book shop.


stepmothering is a hard fucking motherfuck of a job. sometimes i really hate it, and if you want to find the best, easiest way of hating yourself and being self-critical and thinking you are indeed the el primao shit, be a stepmother. my husband's children are beautiful and gorgeous and fantastic kids - it's not them it's me. i can't emphasise this enough. they are wonderful, my husband is wonderful. i know in my heart of hearts i'm okay but i am very hard on myself because the pressure to not cause these delightful children any more pain is enormous.

sometimes it feels like a no-win situation but all i can do is my best. i think we'll be okay.

i can just try to be a mother to them, do my best to be loving, kind, positive, encouraging, supportive, affectionate. but sometimes fail and struggle and feel it's not good to pretend love when you're not feeling it. but still pick yourself up, try again the next day, realise it's not a finite relationship, it's ongoing and organic (like any relationship) and that there will never be a day when you can dust your hands off, wipe your brow and say "ok, good job, that's finished."

the only thing harder than being a mother, is being a stepmother - frankie, love my way.

ps - perseus, did you read article page 8?

* this is my artistic license. i think the words used were "nudged" and "butted" in addition to "bitten."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

fuck foam - the emperor's got no clothes

i know i have touched on my hatred for "gastronomic" foam before.
and i know some people are creaming their jeans about ferran adriĆ 's visit to australia.

i know his restaurant el bulli in spain is the current bee's knees eating spot, with a waiting list for 12 months or some rubbish.

but know this, chefs of the world:

restaurants where you have to eat in the dark, are bullshit.

restaurants where there are 84 courses, with matched wines, are bullshit.

restaurants with menus that list every single fucking ingredient including palm sugar, are bullshit.

restaurants which feature dishes blending ridiculous tastes and textures, are bullshit. i'm not saying i can't appreciate innovative when it works. but parmesan and banana? beetroot and chocolate?

come on.

restaurants which promote descriptions like this: crunchy dehydrated tomato flakes, of biological origin with an attractive bright orange colour. Crutomat does not add acidity and brings out the full flavour of the tomato, giving a fantastic texture to pastries or preparations. Available in elongated flakes. Keep in a cool dry place. Ingredients: 400 g Tomato Flakes: tomato flakes, corn starch, sugar are bullshit.

give me a good beef burgundy. give me a good soft poached egg. give me a good tasmanian or coffin bay oyster (not sydney rock.) give me a good medium-rare fillet steak. give me a good duck confit. give me a good chicken casserole. give me a good slice of beautifully grilled fish, with garlic and oil. give me good potato mash. give me good green beans. give me a good, simple salad, with oil, salt and lemon. give me a good slice of bread, with real butter. give me a good souffle. give me a good cheesecake. give me a good bombe alaska (oh, mirka, here you excel.)

give me good service, but not hovery, obsequious, poncey, naffness.

give me the feeling of your geniune enjoyment of your job, not the feeling that you wish you were at home with beers and a pizza in front of australian idol.

don't flirt with me, i won't like it and neither will my husband. but i can flirt with you, and you and he can cope with that.

don't ever, ever fucking raise your eyebrow at my choice of wine, or wanting something that you think doesn't go with something else.

and don't use the words "foam", "froth", "clouds", "molecular", "spray", "frozen air" or "acqueous" when you want me to eat something on your menu. "smoke" is also dodgy when used as a noun.

follow these instructions and you will have, in me, a happy customer.

thank you.

i know he looks like he's wearing clothes. that's just the illusion.

Monday, October 13, 2008

there is a god

i have to take back all my atheistic ramblings, my offensive, sacrilegious and impious views, all my scathing attacks on organised religion.
for, you see, it turns out there is a god.
and this is the evidence of his goodliness.
(i always need some sort of hard proof to believe in anything.)
apols. to my believing christianic/judaic/islamic monotheistic friends.
my non-believing christianic/judaic/islamic/atheist bookish friends - good isn't it?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

what a gorgeous, balmy night

i'm loving it, the warmth and the cool breeze off the beach is divine as well. we've had a lovely weekend.

i'm feeling very sorry for the lapthornes - their worst nightmare has come true. i fear my last post was a little flippant or something, but it wasn't meant like that. at least they have some peace now, maybe, or at least her father can bring her home. it's so sad, and touching, that he wouldn't leave without her. so hard for his wife to be here, and him there, and for them not to be able to hold each other and cry together. so, so hard. sometimes i get scared that something bad will happen to princess. i remember reading an article about the port arthur massacre, it was a couple of years afterward. maybe around the anniversary. and the mother of a young girl who was killed there was interviewed. i'll never forget the mother saying that she just doesn't want to live without her daughter, and that losing her was a blow from which she would never recover. at the time, princess was little, and i looked at her intently and hugged her close, and there was a great rush of fear, of catastrophe, of how i knew i wouldn't be able to survive something happening to her. it's beyond imagining.

to brighter things: yesterday was a riot of 10-year-old boys at the biggest slot car racing in australia. i was the only chick there, and if you want to blend in, along with having some testicles and a bit of a large tummy, you need a trucker's cap. nice. they raced and raced for an hour. i spent my time putting the cars that crashed back onto the tracks. the purple and the red ones stacked the most.

today saw us ending up down at the beach with the gigi for a paddle/swim. she's taken to chasing seagulls. as they are flying. i am worried she will either swim out to sea or take off along the beach to williamstown, and i wouldn't be able to get her back. then we had hot chips at street cafe.

i'm not drinking at the moment. while not officially doing ocsober, my self-imposed period of abstinence has indeed coincided with this noble month. i'm not fund-raising, merely trying to do some mindfulness-raising, and also looking to my health. and feeling fucking mighty about it too.

the other thing, today i bought diablo cody's book candy girl. i don't know if you've read any of her stuff. i know people were divided on juno. i liked it, mostly for michael cera's fabulous yellow shorts. but the acting was ace, the storyline, while simple, still held some unanticipated turns (always a plus for me, can't STAND predictable) and overall it was a nice little movie. how patronising. don't mean to be.

HOWEVER, i had read about diablo cody before the release of the movie and tracked her down online, finding her now-defunct blog, thrilling to her relationship breakup with the guy she'd met online (in some chat forum about the beach boys, and more specifically brian wilson) ooops this is a really long sentence, take a breath, maybe stop here. I found her myspace page which she now blogs from, and followed her through the end of filming juno, in the lead up to the release, through her book signings and appearances at stores in america (for her book candy girl, which is a 12-month memoir of her time spent as a stripper when she was 24).

now stop there. before you start saying things like "fuck off, i read memoirs of a geisha, there's been so much shit about hookers and strippers and junkies with their rememories" don't think diablo is like any of them. she's much more than belle de jour or whatever her name is.

this dame is smart. she is really, really smart and really funny.

go find her myspace and old blog and and you'll see what i mean.

she came along for me around the time ms fits finished. she is my replacement for ms fits (as is another blog of australians but i'm not going to talk about them here. i don't want it ruined for myself. it's all i need at the moment in the way of blogging. that blog and diablo. and a little bit of a certain poetess who has long dark hair.)

so, to my last item on tonight's agenda.

you know the diaries? my bad '80s diaries? well, i've just read ahead about six to seven volumes and pretty shortly, it all gets alot more interesting. in the sex, drugs and rock n' roll way. which is really great, and i tell you, for nights last week i couldn't sleep before 2am, it was unputtdownable and i'd lived it. (my bad memory also meant it was like i was reading parts of it for the first time - my theory is that because i wrote it all down, i allowed myself to relax and forget it. hell, there's a part where i say i bought blue boots. if anyone had asked me before reading that whether i'd ever owned blue boots, i would have said "shut the fuck up!")

ANYWAY, my dilemma is thusly. in terms of ethics, i have been shaving off names and using initials etc. i think now that things are to get a little more interesting i need to not include certain things. so while i've been fairly non-censoring (seriously, apart from just leaving out boring stuff*, and people's names, it's all been in there). but shortly, young melba is to meet the man who deflowers her, introduces her to certain illicit substances, and this is after about 10 months of solid band-going, where i would sleep at 4am and wake at 1-2pm. also, up until now, the blatherings of a young girl about adam ant are tame and it could have been any of heaps writing this shit. soon, there's stuff that might identify me were people to put things together.

the other thing is that clokes, although i read out stuff to him, i'm not sure whether this project is a good idea now we are about to get a little more adult, and move away from adam ant towards people like joe strummer.

i need to think more about it. i don't want to dilute this project (as it's become) but i need to be sensible about it.

your thoughts?

hope you had a good weekend.

* shut up. i know someone's laughing about this. i know some of it - HELL, ALOT OF IT - is boring so far. well, what i'm talking about is ultra ultra boring.

Friday, October 10, 2008

my current obsession

the latest thing that has me incredibly pre-occupied is the missing australian britt lapthorne.

i'm not sure why i am so interested. sure, it's a sad story, her family are beside themselves, so i guess imagining their pain and distress makes me feel really strongly about it, but usually it's stories about children who set me off in this way.

i've been thinking about it more today, and i think one reason why i am so interested in it is that i was once her.

i backpacked on my own overseas for a period, meeting up with great people, and having a wonderful time, from greece, to turkey, to israel, to egypt and beyond. while i was older than her (25), i probably wasn't that much smarter. i've done some stupid things (not saying she has) and i've been drunk in foreign places and fraternised with local men (also, not saying she has). jesus, i ended up marrying one.

i've been on the back of a motorbike in bali, driven by a local, both of us pissed on indonesian palm wine. i've been in dahab, south sinai, where everyone was smoking dope, except me, though i did drink. i kissed a kurdish boy in eastern turkey, also while drunk, in a hotel corridor. i've been driven in cars by strangers, met up with people who dialled the wrong number and wanted to take me for a drink, had eyeballs with strangers who i met on cb radio. that was back in the '80s.

all i'm saying is that friends and family would have probably called me sensible, even back then.

and all i'm saying is this is no reflection on britt - i'm just marvelling that i made it through.

here's what i think's going to happen, unfortunately. my reasonings are based on experience in turkey, when my mother was diagnosed with cancer while we were living there. it went from the doctor saying he was pretty sure it wouldn't be cancer, to stringing us along for days beyond when he would have reasonably had the pathology results. i had to push and push and chase for the result, and then be told on christmas night (once, he perhaps thought, we had enjoyed our christmas day, didn't need to spoil that seasonal joy with some bad news about cancer) finally, that yes, she did have cancer. there were no hard feelings, it was just unfortunate, and i really believe that he didn't want to be the bearer of bad news. i wonder if there is a similar cultural thing going on it croatia.

my gut feeling is that the body found recently will be britt. they've said it's too decomposed to be her, that it was highly unlikely (at the same time, notice, maintaining there was still a small chance, ie they couldn't completely rule out that it was her, needed to do dna tests etc) and now there are whispers that they got it wrong with another body found in water previously - that they thought it was an older body than it turned out to be. there are also whispers now that the body they found is of britt's height, has blonde hair and is female.

this is their way of letting the family down gently, not that there is such a possibility. their reasoning is that by saying it's not her, they are being kind to the family, letting them have hope for a little bit longer (all the while knowing or suspecting it will turn to despair). this type of thinking is culturally opposite to the way we operate here. it's similar in japan - traditionally they would outright lie to the dying cancer patient, or whatever, and only tell the family the true diagnosis/prognosis. and everyone would keep it a secret from the one person who ought to know.

it's a similar way of thinking - build up to the truth by a series of lies.

of course, as has been mentioned by britt's father, there are other elements to this story, which is becoming increasingly bizarre.

- the serbian nationalist with tattoos over his body being sent by the afp to help

- the report of the mother of the hostel owner trying to mail an australian passport from the post office the day britt disappeared

- the original baffling question of why people travelling/partying with her, left the day she disappeared, knowing she hadn't come back to the hostel

- why her mobile phone was found in her room, with a call made from it to the hostel owner's phone

- have we heard anything about the cctv footage? i'm smelling a cover-up.

and most freakishly for me, why did one of the friends she was travelling with leave a comment on britt's facebook page saying something along the lines of "that picture with you and the cake is the favourite one of mine :)" TWO DAYS AFTER BRITT DISAPPEARED.

that's weird.

and the whole thing is just awful for the family. i feel for her mother and her father so much.

i think we'll be learning very soon that they've found her, and at least her family can have some peace. they'll be able to bring her home but i don't think they'll ever find out what really happened to her.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

well, talk about bad

in the comments section in the post below, perseus makes some good comments re geelong.

the wheels fell off, and now everything feels like it's back to normal.

you see, THIS is the normal state of existence for a geelong supporter. failure, crushing disappointment and depression. the 2007 premiership was an aberration, it's clear now to me. THAT was abnormal, THIS is normal. cats supporters wouldn't have known themselves the last twelve months. people would have been making all sorts of bad business/financial/romantic decisions. with the centre of their world so skewed, it would have been hard to keep upright.

but, now it's all ok. only now can a geelong supporter move on and start to make rallying comments that often include the phrase "next year". [my dad would hate to think i was kind of rubbishing them here. but i'm not. not really. dad's tried to find this blog - i wouldn't give him the url, mainly because i've called him a cunt on here a couple of times.]

i do feel sorry for gary ablett. what an awful week for him. watching him after the game, i think in that moment he realised what his old man went through all those times. when he'd come off the ground, and young gary and nathan were there, maybe saying things like "why couldn't you just win, dad?", and gary senior saying "you just wouldn't understand, son."

well, now i think he understands.

not taking anything away from hawthorn. they played well, they saw an opportunity and took it. good on them.

there was an ugly letter in the paper yesterday about the sunday appearance at kardinia park of some of the players, who wouldn't engage with the crowd, who looked hangdog and embarrassed to be there. half of me wants to say, well so they should/would. the other half agrees with the writter of the letter who made the point they are professional sportsmen, and need to give something to the fans even if they might not be feeling up to it. i agree with that.

but apart from that, all is well in my world.

manicure is good. pedicure is fantastic. yes, ms batville was right - as smooth as a baby's bum.

we are back home from the beach, the weather is gorgeous. i'm up to date with washing, i worked alot on my story while away (no internet will do that, you know. no internet = increased productivity.)

kids go back to school monday, i wonder if i'll be as busy this term?

also, for those interested i have almost finished the people of the book. commenters who said was awful are absolutely correct. i am finding it fucking atrocious. the writing is bad, particularly the contemporary voice. awful. i haven't yet identified the kebab sex, can someone please let me know if it's earlier in the book? maybe it's yet to come, as the story comes to a climax? there has been a lot of bad sex, and i can't believe the lesbian sex in the harem. so poorly done. so cliched. just awful.

having said all that, i am not struggling through it, i'm reading it and i will finish it.

on a brighter note, i read a david sedaris while away, short stories (articles) and chuckled and grinned my way through it. fabulous. will be buying another of his to offset the next brooks book. if there is another. i am determined to read one more to make a decision about her.

stay tuned - more bad '80s diary, it's been a while.