Monday, June 28, 2010

The continuing education of Princess

Remember when I took it upon myself to introduce Princess to some of my favourite, "significant" movies? She was sick home with a virus and I wanted her to expand her literary horizons (ie be a little bit open to things other than Twilight.)
First, there was Romeo and Juliet x 2. The Luhrmann and the Zefirelli versions.
The next day, we saw Wuthering Heights.
There was 2001: A Space Odyssey. For full response please scroll down to middle of post.+
So now, to 2010. With everyone else in the family away at various holiday spots (Sydney and QLD) Princess and I have [shamefully?] indulged in videos constantly since Friday afternoon.
This is our viewing list:
1. Princess and the Frog (I didn't watch this one, so don't judge me.)
Princess: Don't bag it, it was a good movie.

2. United States of Tara, Disc 1, Season 1. (7 eps.)
Princess: I liked it but it was slightly confronting and are there people actually like that?

3. The Bodyguard.
Princess: I liked that one.

4. The Queen.
Princess: I liked that one as well, it was interesting but it was more documentary, and I think it was done well.

5. Room with a View.
Princess: I actually liked that one quite a bit, but I felt it was like... what happened in that one? I only liked it for the brother, he was hot. He reminded me of Leo Di Caprio, I found it a bit more interesting when she was back home, maybe because more things happened than in Italy. Charlotte was funny, but she was annoying. The Mr Beebe was annoying but hilarious at the same time.

6. Little Women.
Princess: I didn't like the ending very much, I think she should have ended up with the hot dude, and that was that old guy who like, I don't know, her father or something.

7. Bull Durham
Princess: I liked that one but I thought the lady had no life, no offence. Like nobody likes baseball that much, slightly scary.

8. The Da Vinci Code
Princess: Okay I'm just gonna say it straight: The albino was scary. Seriously, that was just weird and like I think, but I think I liked Angels and Demons better because it had more of a chase at the end, before the thing blowed up or whatever, but like this one, she, the lady whatever her name was, like she, like she could have she could have told like everybody that like what the church was saying was completely wrong, but she's like nup, not going to do that, and he's like found Mary Magdalene's bones whatever, and didn't even tell her.
Melba: How do you know? He might have texted her.
P: Yeah, he was just... it ended like he was just kneeling on top of the thing with all the triangles. But it was a good movie.
9. Juno
Princess: I liked the movie, thought she was an interesting character, I didn't like that Mark dude, he seemed really paedophilish, he was scary, and then like I think it was nice at the end how she gave the baby to Vanessa and that dude with the tic-tacs he was cool, whatever his name was, I can't remember the names.

10. Muriel's Wedding
Princess: The father was really mean. And like I think she was really delusional and that annoyed me, because I kept on wanting her to wake up, and she did finally. They were like a really dysfunctional family but not in like a comedic way, but a really sad depressing way, so I didn't really like it much but I liked the ending. It redeemed itself, a bit.

11. Terms of Endearment
[Melba: the saddest movie evah!]
Princess: Dude, no way. Titanic is like the saddest, seriously. Okay I liked it, I think she was an idiot for not leaving him [Flap]. I liked the astronaut, he was funny and the mum she was so glamorous all the time, I loved what she wore. Um, the ending was sad like when she died and mum was like crying so much and I found it sad but yeah, she was dying and stuff and in some ways I think it was better in some way for the kids, because even though they would grow up without their mum, I don't think they would have grown up great with their parents fighting and cheating, and so then they'd grow up with their grandmother, a bit more stable.

Harry Potter retrospective is underway. Will report later.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The worst book of the decade?

This morning I finished this book. While I can't remember much of Life of Pi other than I enjoyed it, and it was weird, this book, THIS BOOK is wonderful.

I cried in the final pages, then got out of bed, remembering that I'd read some negative stuff about it. I googled, I found some reviews, and these comments in a review by a blogger called Edward Champion:

It contains a moral vision less sophisticated than the dribbing one might encounter from a human vegetable.

That the reviewer wrote the way he did because nobody was willing to call a clear turd out for what it was.

And my favourite:

Inarguably, I think, nearly anyone with any literary sensibility would recognize this as something truly vile...

Oh my god.

And this from another reviewer: disappointing and often perverse (The New York Times.)

There was a bad review in The Washington Post as well.

I loved this book, adored it. It was fresh, clever, so so so imaginative, concise, weird, moving, chilling. And did I mention imaginative?

Perverse? How so?

Vile? How so?

I wonder is it me? Or them?

Just goes to show books and what you like and don't like is such a personal thing.

I was stunned by how much I loved this book.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday wrap


I've been in bed since Tuesday lunchtime. Well, obviously not the whole time. I have been in and out, even managing on Wed to drag myself out into the world to go to Officeworks and the local council offices. The dog, you see, was out of registration.

I'm feeling much better. It's been a flu I think, because I had the whole body aches and face aches, although the body aches can just be me getting old and the face could be sinusitis? Anyway, started with a rotten throat, passed through a day of nose runs, awful headache, nausea. Just so blah.

Wednesday was worst but I dosed myself up. Thursday a little better. And now today, better still. But I intend to crawl back into bed in a minute. I have just kissed the last of the family as they headed out the door.

I do love having the house to myself, it's such a delicious feeling.


So this week of being in bed has meant much reading.

I have read the following:

- half of Dogboy by Eva Hornung. What a book but it's so intense I have to dilute it with other stuff in between. It's so amazingly done, so believable. What a book.

- all of The Pillow Book by Matthew Condon. It's a re-read and I knocked it off yesterday. It's an interesting book because it's about domestic violence with the male as victim.

- Perfect Victim by Elizabeth Southall, which is about the murder of her daughter Rachel in 1999. Another re-read. I like to torture myself with these books for some reason.

- Orhan Pamuk's Snow. I'm 240 pages in and it's fucking awesome.

- Last night I started re-reading Widow for One Year by John Irving. It's funny. This dude has been my favourite writer forever but now, on rereading him as a more mature person, I am seeing his self indulgence and pomposity and I don't like it. But I'm liking the book again. We'll see.


So other than that, nothing much to report. Not sure what to have for breakfast. Not feeling so in love with food at the moment. Haven't wanted a glass of wine all week which is strange for me, usually I have to resist. We're going out on Saturday night to a friend's birthday party and I plan to wear my new anniversary shoes. Might be going out tonight with a friend and her daughter, we'll see. Otherwise a quiet weekend and I'll be ready for work on Monday. But it has to be said, all those people who say "Oh I'd keep working, definitely, if I won ten million dollars":


Work would be the last thing I'd do.


The writing is going okay. I'm on to another one, which is a fairly old one from about ten years ago, which I've got between 40 and 60K words done. (60K original, 40K edited but I can't remember what I cut out so will have to compare the two docs.)

It's not the one I thought I'd move onto next but for some reason it's the one that has been nudging at my brain. It's a bit exciting. Oh I wish I could have started this serious writing earlier, then I could have been this happy for a bit longer. Does that make sense?


I've ordered some books from Book Depository in the UK. A friend put me on to them. Cheap books and no delivery costs to Australia. She uses it all the time, so I'm a bit excited and it's really quite dangerous for someone like me to know about a place like that.


Tenants are in the flat, and I am learning to stop my mind from turning there all the time. Habituated to do so I guess. My mind is now starting to turn to the trip in September, I still need to book. Mum is going well so fingers crossed she can come. School holidays are coming up at the end of next week so that's really nice too. I won't be slaving during them at the flat, can huddle and hibernate here and do my thing. Once I'm better I intend to take the dog for a walk every day, no matter the weather. Wish me luck with that one.


Oh! In the garden yesterday when I took the dog out for a wee in between storms, I found that we have capsicums growing against the fence! Three of them, and I took them off the plant. Also we have some tender little violets there and a strawberry plant! With one frosty white looking strawberry on it! Incroyable.


Speaking of French we have our Tour meal coming up next month. This annual event is now in its fifth year for us.

We've had boeuf bourgignon, French onion soup, lapin (don't mention the lapin!), onion tart, cheeses, coq au vin. This year, it's at our house again and we are inviting another couple. My sis and her husband I don't think are all too pleased but nevermind.

My bro-in-law is the one who's the most enthused (along with me) about planning the menu and last weekend he arrived for dinner here with about 6 cookbooks and we sat down and he has decided to do creme brulee and I haven't decided what to do but probably Boeuf En Croute (which is Beef Wellington I am told, and Clokes did a fab Beef Wellington for our anniversary dinner not so long ago. He won't be making it, he has said never again and when he says something like that, I believe him.

This is a mild-mannered man, dear people, who never talks like that and is not given to histrionics like me. Maybe he will agree to help me? He did it with porcini mushrooms as a layer rather than pate. I would love to try it with foie gras but I know that others might not like it, ie him.)


So I think I might go back to bed. Happy weekend to all and keep warm and dry.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


I have just finished reading Wetlands by Charlotte Roche.


I have this to say about it:

- it is the perfect length

- it is funny

- it is very revolting, not for the faint-hearted

- it is revolting and funny at the same time

- it is in no way sexually arousing (for me, I don't know, maybe poo-philes and pus-lovers will find it kinky?)

- isn't kinky such an old-sounding word? it's so seventies.

- I LOVED the ending. LOVED IT. It was a happy ending, an ending with hope and love and potential and she gave a reason for why the main character was as she was.

- it made me think of Affection by Krissy Kneen. Another warts-and-all type of book, readable and brave. I had read Christos Tsiolkas's Dead Europe just before Wetlands, and I loved that as well. I must be so stupid, it took me a little while to realise there was some sort of vampirish thing going on. What a great book it was though. Again, with all the bodily fluids, and blood. There's one other book I want to read which sits, I believe, in the detailed-bodily-fuctions-gross-out genre, and that is In-human by Anna Dusk. How cool a name is Anna Dusk - is it real I wonder.


Now I am turning to Snow by Orhan Pamuk. I have had this book on my shelves for years, dear readers, years. I have never read any of his books. I also have Istanbul and My Name is Red. I have often wondered why I haven't read them yet, but now I know. It wasn't time, and now it is.

I am going to enter a phase of "Turkish readings" including re-reading my favourite trilogy by Yashar Kemal Iron Earth, Copper Sky; The Wind from the Plains and The Undying Grass. I also have some memoirish stuff to re-read (life during the end of the Ottoman era) and a couple of non-fiction including Lady Mary Wortley's travel writings.

This long weekend, in addition to reading much, I want to tidy my bookcases and put all my stuff into author groups.

Any ideas on how to organise? How do you organise your bookshelves? Do you?

At the moment mine are all over the place. I do have a Helen Garner section and a Hemingway section, but I want to have sections where I can locate a book fast. I also have overflow. What do I do with that? For years my overflow has been all my "embarrassing" books, you know the ones that you don't want to be seen reading. My embarrassing books are things like Jackie Collins, Stephen King and books with titles like Who Killed Leigh Leigh and Single, Wild and Sexy. Another embarrassing book I had was Survivors of Verbal Abuse or something like that. I ripped the cover off that one because I was reading it and commuting at the same time.


The flat is finished yay. I have the whole weekend plus Monday to recover and turn my mind to the next project, which is going to Turkey in September. It'll be just me and Princess, though I'm hoping mum can come too. We have to wait another couple of weeks to see what the doctor says. A few friends are planning to join us there in the south - what fun - and I think the plan is to stay in the village house that Ali has renovated. It has a pool in the almond orchard, stone walls and from memory there were some chickens strutting around the dirt lanes. Bliss.
I think we'll hire a car so we don't have to drive the notorious jeep. I feel sick just thinking about it, ama hersey iyi olacak. Degil-mi?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Sunday update

The flat is almost finished, but I was told on Thursday that the gas heater was not compliant. So I ran around Friday working out a solution which involves pulling out that heater tomorrow and creating an open fireplace (nice) and installing three of those slimline electric wall-mounted heating panels.

Bloody hell.

The current heater is a fake gas log fire one which I had installed about 8 years ago, and it's always worked fine but two plumbers have told me that heaters like that need appropriate ventilation, which would have been too costly and difficult to put in, not to mention fucking ugly.

While at the heater shop, I was approached by someone from Channel 7 Today Tonight with questions about the heaters I was buying. The conversation went like this:

Pretty girl: Hi. [self introduction] I can see you're buying some of the heaters we are doing a story on. Can I ask why you chose those ones?
Me: Um. They look nice. They are streamlined and a nice clean line.
PG: So did efficiency come into it?
Me: Oh I think on the website it said that they are okay for all that, but really, it was how they looked.
PG: Would you be prepared to say that on camera?
Me: Oh no. I'd be too shy plus I've got two sick kids at home, I haven't got time.
PG: [big smile]. Oh okay. [Backs off.]
It hadn't really sunk in what the show was, and I didn't click until I was walking out of the door why they were even there. I hate Today Tonight and all those shows with a passion, and all the people who watch them too. I'm so glad I didn't say yes, and I'm so glad I didn't have my mug on a story about two gassed boys. It would have been embarrassing and horrible.
I found out yesterday that not everyone in my family supports me and my writing. I found out why one of my close family members doesn't ask "how it's all going", or say anything like "hey, you've written a book [insert any number of appropriate sentiments here.]"
I am not flashy with my writing. I don't talk about it with everyone, and until about a year ago I didn't talk about it with anyone. I'm not one of those bores who sits there at lunch, dinner parties, wherever going on and on about me and my writing. I am one of the people who are usually sitting opposite such a person, smiling and nodding politely.
BUT I have supported this particular person doggedly through the years, through many creative/adacemic/sporting/entrepreneurial/business activities. I feel disappointed and hurt that I am not getting a skerrick of support or interest back. And I said so. (Also, btw, I have not received any questions/comments/interest about the renovation either.)
I was told that because it's creative and personal and mine, this person feels a lack of necessity to support me or show interest (!) and that anyway, I have lots of people interested (mum, dad, sister) (!) and it's better than faking interest (!) and besides (Oh, now I'll tell you the real reason, but just because you're pushing me): "I think you should be working instead of spending time writing a book. And looking after your kids and family."
What did it take for me not to smash this person in the nose? To be all very "large" about it and even give a kiss and rub an arm as if to say "no hard feelings?"
Because I felt sorry for him. I really did.
Because to live a life without creativity is sad I think. And I feel lucky, inspired, and (damn it all) touched by that wanky old muse.
And besides, I do work, I'm contributing, I'm cooking, my kids aren't smoking dope and having all sorts of unsafe, skanky sex, stealing money, in trouble with the cops, running away from home, refusing to go to school like some, being assessed by community services.
We sit and watch Masterchef. We watch Modern Family. We have deep and meaningful conversations in the car on the way to Family Night about condoms and what is the Pill?
I am seeing this person turn into a cranky old man.
And that's sad.
Time now for some eggs and coffee. Happy Sunday everyone. Diaries next week, I promise.