Monday, December 26, 2011

Sing tra-la-la and fa la LA
























My Christmas day was much better than last year's. Going fishing for a week or so. Stay well.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Women of Cairo









Hang in there sisters.



Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, other women are agitating in large numbers.

Note the preponderance of fur-trimmed parkas. That's what you get as a pressie for doing some actoring. They don't have Oscars over there, they have what's called The Parkas. Not as exclusive an award but still, it gets results performance-wise.







































Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New obsesssion

















Oh, how quickly other worlds are forgotten. Like the real one of Melbourne 2011, or the fictional one of Tokyo 1Q84.

We have watched four episodes and this is going to be my summer obsession. Fuck bbqs and beer, give me Middle Earth and a show that actually hired a language consultant to create a glossary. Well, maybe bbqs and lagers can be accommodated.

David J. Peterson from the Language Creating Society was hired by HBO to develop the Dothraki language – "possessing its own unique sound, extensive vocabulary of more than 1,800 words and complex grammatical structure" – to be used in the series. [from wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_of_Thrones_%28TV_series%29]

There's too much goodness here, so much so that the books are on my Christmas list.

But I don't read fantasy, she says.

Oh, shut up, she says.

It's going to distract you, she says.

From what? she says.

From, you know. Being focused on your own stuff. The business.

Oh shut up.

Delicious.

Am I crazy? I must be, mustn't I?

Thanks Alex for so willingly holding my hand and climbing down the ladder to 1Q84 with me. It was much better with you along for the ride.

While you no doubt recover and immerse yourself in something completely different (ie science stuff?) I have started reading The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell which weighs in at 975 pages and was recommended to me by a blogger (squib or bookmoth?) a couple of years ago.

It's about a Nazi SS oberstumphenfuhrer (or something) and I figure, why the hell not?

I'll let you know how I go.

What plans for Christmas?

Oh and we have started watching Game of Thrones. HBO. Animal skins draped across shoulders and a kick-ass young tomboy who doesn't want to grow up and marry a Lord and run his castle.

Aren't tv and books simply delicious? (A word I picked up from Jude Law on his 'bromance' with Robert Downey Jnr: "Don't call it a bromance, it belittles it. It's so much more than that.")

Monday, December 19, 2011

Links to 1Q84 articles and reviews, seems it was a flop?

This is an article from The Atlantic, talking about the book, calling it 2011's 'biggest literary letdown.'

This is a kinder one from The Guardian. This mentions too the way he writes sex scenes about as dispassionately (or passionately?) as the way he writes about food preparation. It also hits the nail on the head when it describes the scene in the playground when Aomame and Tengo reunite as moving. I agree.

New York Times. Scathing.

Washington Post - positive. The writer says that a reader will be glad to have all three volumes in one hardbound book because that's all you'll want to do, read it, until the end. Oh yes.

The Independent. Mixed'ish.

But perhaps the best paragraph is from the review above, in The Independent:

Murakami really does stand alone, as much a "foreign element" as his heroes: a sport, an outlier, sui generis, inimitable, if often imitated. Which other author can remind you simultaneously of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and JK Rowling, not merely within the same chapter but on the same page? Viewed through the "postmodern" lens, his exemplary blend of a light touch and weighty themes, of high literature and popular entertainment, ticks every box. Posh and pop, sublimity and superficiality, history and fantasy, trash and transcendence: they switch positions and then fuse as the metaphysical speculations of an Ivan Karamazov meet the death-defying adventures of a Harry Potter.

*

I wonder if the reviewers who bag it just can't let themselves enjoy a book that has Little People that come out of a dead goat's mouth, two moons and time slippage. Is it beneath them? Not 'serious' enough? I wonder if they like surreal art or is that ridiculous and silly? I wonder if reviewers are divided into those who bag and those who don't. Is it a case of desire for rigor smothering any possible positives? Who cares.

A couple have mentioned the Stieg Larsson Millennium series (the Girl and Dragon Tattoo or whatever) I also at times thought of that, but this book is so, so much better. I read the three Elisbeth Salander books, the first was readable, but books 2 and 3 were tedious and so forgettable. Nothing about 1Q84 will be forgettable I don't think (apart from the the details of daily stuff like cooking, brushing teeth, dealing with hair, and the sex scenes.)

Part 3 1Q84

I think it was Iris Murdoch who said 'never explain yourself' [in writing.] It's a credo I love and try to adhere to in my own writing. As a reader I don't want everything laid out across the page, I don't want my brain to be told how to imagine things, how to visualise things. Too much detail from the author interferes with my imaginings, and I like to think that reader can become complicit in the creation of worlds and characters when there are gaps for them to step into.

1Q84 has so many unanswered questions even at the end but towards the end it's noted that there are always more questions than answers. I can accept this, I can handle it, I desire it in a way because when things are left unfinished, in a novel, then it's not over. I can keep thinking about it and somehow remain in the story even after I've read the last page. This is a fabulous byproduct of reading for me, and I've only just now been able to articulate it. Thank you Haruki Murakami for showing me this.

*

Notes on Part 3.

Page 598 the reference to A. being eleven years old when she cut ties with her family. I thought before it was 10.

Page 599 Henchmen Buzzcut and Ponytail, something is wrong with Ponytail, he never speaks in the whole book, there are a couple of significant moments when he moves suddenly but incompletely and ambivalently. Is he a dohta?

Buzzcut says he can't remember much about A's face. Echoes bit before about the Little People with their undistinguishing features, their faces, hair and clothes that when you look away, you can't remember what they look like.

This first chapter of Part 3 is from Ushikawa's point of view.

Page 597 Ushikawa's fingers, ten, resting on the desk 'as if they were some curious object' then on Page 602 'He looked surprised to discover that these fingers were his.'

At this point I wondered whether Murakami was deliberately repeating things like this to create a sense of deja vue for the readers? Alex, you asked me whether you'd read a moon passage before one appeared in the book and I didn't think so. Maybe you had. You had the feeling you'd read it before. Was this a mechanism of manipulation of the author? Am I reading too much into this? [More about this later, this tendency to 'overthink.']

Page 631 Misspelling of two storey (as two-story). Why? Is this American spelling? Yes, just checked. It is.

Page 678 A asks for pregnancy test. Hasn't been with a man since June but period is 3 weeks late. Night at Hotel Okura when she killed Leader she was most fertile. The night she killed Leader was the night Tengo 'ejaculated' into Fuka-Eri.

- significance of Tamaru being gay?

Fuka-Eri is A's dohta and somehow Tengo has impregnated A?

Page 695 Ushikawa's appearance is described again. Is he the child from the sanitorium that Tamaru helped?

Page 698 Vice Principal at Tengo's and A's old school tells Ushikawa that A was taken in by relatives in Adachi Warn in Tokyo. Adachi is the name of the one of the nurses Tengo meets in cat town.

Page 701 Ushikawa from a wealthy family

Page 704 Why was A in a regular school when her parents were such religious nuts?

Page 714 Idea of going UP the stairway, logical, to get back to 1984

Page 715 So much happening. The bogus NHK person knocking on doors, Tamaru revealing he got a woman pregnant once and his child would be 17 now. A is pregnant, immaculate conception.

* look up Janacek's Sinfonettia, the version I listened to on youtube was 7 mins long but in the taxi at the beginning onf the book and while A is working out, it is much longer. Wiki tells me typical performance runs for 20 - 25 mins. Hmmm.

Page 723 Tengo leaves the town of cats to train back to Tokyo. Sleep and makes awful smell in his mouth, he chews gum, this happened to A earlier and she used mints. Later Ushikawa also has rotten smell in mouth. And Little People come out once he's dead; is it a sign of Little People inhabitation?

Page 727 "when he had polished off the beer" - so idiomatic, Aussie.

Chapter 13, Ushikawa chapters are intrustive? I just want Tengo and Aomame.

Page 731 - 732 Reference to Ushikawa having no photo of Aomame other than class picture which depicts her face as 'tiny and somehow unnatural-looking, like a mask.'

Ch 16 page 763 Ushikawa - 3rd time mentioning 'start from scratch' (previously he was cold in the sleeping bag, now with surveillance. Why the repeats?)

Page 764 Ushikawa used to be a lawyer

Page 767 Maza = mother, dohta = daughter? A person splits?

My idea - Aomame has been used by the dowager, her daughter didn't die, or not in the way described, her child survived? Somehow connected to Tengo or Aomame?*

Page 768 Fuka-Eri - "strangely depthless eyes"

Page 769 Fuka-Eri looking at electricity pole. Twice. Then later Tengo does as well. Never explained, love it.

Page 772 - 73 NHK collector at Ushikawa's door. (Death knocking?**) "I never give up until I get what is coming to me. I never waver from that. It's like the phases of the moon, or life and death. There is no escape."

Page 771 turns on space heater
Page 773 Ushikawa turns on the space heater

Page 780 Ushikawa is "dwarfish"

Page 780 U in park, watching Tengo. A goes to the phone, misses seeing T but catches glimpse of U. U stayed in the park "checking on something he needed to make sure of" (this is never explained or referred to again.)

Page 888 Tamaru telling Tengo to meet A at the slide. Message to keep both hands free.

OMG the ladder!!

Late in the book, lots of references to Tengo's hair. Mention of cowlicks and tangles, never before has it been mentioned or highlighted in this way.

Page 896 A: There's the moon.

Is A the smaller moon (her name means green pea, and the small moon is green and rounded but not perfectly shaped. A green pea is well-shaped?)

What does Tengo mean in Japanese? Had a look, can't really find.

Page 899-900 Buzzcut talking to his 'superior' who is asking questions in italics not direct speech. Unclear who/where the superior is.

Page 902 Shrine maidens - the 'voice' is still audible or there was a final message before the Leader was killed?

Page 907 A's 'small pink ears', what about her deformed ear?

Page 914 "closer to a ladder than a stairway. It was shabbier and more rickety than she remembered."

Page 918 Metropolitan Expressway 3 - traffic described as 'bumper to bumper' then on the next page 'they watched the leisurely flow of the traffic before them.'

WTF?

Page 923 A's tears are described as falling to the sheets like rain. Blech.

*

I am glad the ending was happy and it was right at the end, when Tengo and Aomame were reunited that I felt something for these two characters, and was wanting them to be together, get up the ladder and be safe.

There are so many layers in this book, and seemingly lots of red herrings (for want of a better term, I prefer to think of them now as Idea Starters rather than tricks or traps). I think a person could read this book as a fantasy, read it as a thriller, or read it as a piece of literary fiction looking for all the themes and symbols. My mind was going off in all directions, much like Tengo's at the end, when he started to overthink and doubt and suspect and worry that something would go wrong. But Aomame doesn't waver in the same way. She is very simple and clear, whereas he is more complex in his thinking.Can see all the possibilities.

I have a list of 'reasons why I think this is an incredible book'

- the beldn of literary imagery with popular fiction style

- the existence of the ladder, the slide and the two moons. I can see them all, and they seem so archetypal in some way.

- people disappearing mysteriously and we never find out what happened to them (Tsubasa, Tengo's girlfriend) likewise Tengo never finds out what happened to his mother (but the reader does.) This is what happens in life; nobody ever has all of the pieces of the puzzle.

- all the references including the bit about Jung's theory of the collective unconscious. I had wondered about that. Also the bit about his stone house that he built and the inscription of 'Cold or Not, God is Present.' Also unexplained, but with more than one possible meaning.

- Chekhov's gun and how if there is a gun it has to be fired. Didn't happen and the characters are aware that Chekhov's 'rule' is broken. So if thisliterary rule is broken, what other literary rules have been broken?

- the nicknames - Bobblehead, Buzzcut and Ponytail. I love people who make up names for people because I do it. Don't we all do it?

- the amazing consistency, where scenes are filled with fixed objects that become like characters, eg the playground. We have the slide, the locked public toilet block, the mercury-vapor lamp and the zelkova tree.

- the fabulous slips into surrealism, eg Bobblehead's mossy tongue

- the page numbers are mirrored images, flipped and inverted and running to a pattern (Alex you may not have this on your version?)

- the coincidences and near misses, slips of time. The confusion with continuity at times, when visits to the park are shown from three different points of view in three (or more) different chapters. I'm wondering whether this is another broken literary convention or rule: don't confuse the reader with continuity problems, keep things as linear as possible or if not, make it work within the world, time sequencing.

- the fairytale qualities, Six Little People come out of Ushikawa's death mouth like dwarves returned from the mines. But they are clean and their clothes are clean.

- the mention of Tengo and A leaving 'the forest'

*

So why do I think this is a masterpiece when there are flaws and inconsistencies?

I can't compare really because I haven't read anything else of his, but I suspect he is a precise and knowing writer of literary fiction. I think it's all quite deliberate, how he has done this book, and it's possibly the greatest cross-over novel of all time, one where the possible audience-capture is so vast that anyone could find something in it, and find it not too hard to read. The only thing is the size of it, not many people will commit to reading such a big book. I wonder whether it was in three volumes originally, and published over time?

To google.







* this is an example of the elaborate scenarios I made up to fill in the gaps. This is reader as most active, as part of the equation of conveying the story.

** later one of the nurses tells Tengo that his father wasn't completely in a coma, that he was tapping the side of the bed. She demonstrates, and Tengo says it's a knocking not tapping a code. Was it Tengo's father who managed to knock on the three doors asking for payment? Ushikawa kept an eye out for the NHK collector to leave the building, but no one ever did. Again, unexplained but marvellous.

1Q84 - part 2 finish

Just some notes from Part 2:

page 542, it's an A chapter, she is reading Air Chrysalis

there is a boy, Toru, befriended by a girl from The Gathering. Toru is small and skinny with a face like a monkey (his face has several deep wrinkles.) Curved backbone etc. Sent to a Sanitorium and is 'irretrievably lost.'

(These were the words used by Tengo's older gf's husband.)

Then Tamaru's story (heard earlier, of his upbringing in orphanage in Hokkaido? Or Sakhalin? there was a boy he helped to look after when he was young.)

p552 rubber plant and goldfish. Contradictions on this page and continuity issues with the order of seeing the goldfish at the Dowager's house and A getting her rubber plant. Editing OR story turning in on itself?

page 553 movie references eg Fantastic Voyage, blend of Western and Japanese popular culture references.

OMG moment # 3

p554 She sees man in playground.

p555 Nikon binoculars in flat, why have they been included in the stocking up of the hide out? Why would you have binoculars? For this moment? Also another thought (on branding of items in the book) many brands are used in original form, eg Esso, Nikon etc but the cigarettes are called Seven Stars. Maybe they exist but when I was in Japan I smoked Mild Seven. Will google later.

[There is a movie called Spirited Away. It's about a girl whose parents go on holiday and they stop for food on the way and the place they stop is weird and her parents disappear and she goes looking for them and it's the most incredible other world she finds. I kept seeing images from this movie while I was reading this book.]

p558 look up zelkova tree - significant? Several mentions.

p562 cat town (where Tengo's father is) - lots of cat references, Fuka-Eri called it going to cat town (having sex?) Tengo imagines A hiding away like an injured cat.

Receivers and perceivers match up?

Murakami's story is so restrained in some parts writing-wise, yet loose in others (where cliches and overwriting creeps in.) How can a writer so clean and aesthetic in parts be indulgent and sparse in equal measures? Is he writing for himself or for clearly defined audiences, trying to keep everyone happy?

Ch 23 p567 A "applied a barely perceptible touch of lipstick" this is unoriginal writing but possibly highly original writing would detract from the story?

p568 she's going back to the ladder?

p573 what does QED mean?

p575 gun - Chekhov, she 'started to squeeze the trigger'

* I am not moved by any of the characters or events, there's no deep emotion other than 'wow' or 'omg' thrill moments, but nothing where I am connected to the characters.

I like to live an emotional life and it's all about relationships and relating for me. So I revise my statement that this is one of the best books I've read. I will say it's one of the greatest, though. It's a tour de force, a masterpiece but it's not really touching me.

All the real world refs, Nikon binoculars, movies, stations, cities, areas, brand names create a very real world to make it more of a contrast for the magical realism (?) to take place.

Part 3 next, but I have finished the book. I'm preparing to revise some of my revisions and can't wait to google around to see what others have made of the book. I also want to read more of his oeuvre.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

1Q84 discussion part 2

Okay, I'm not yet at the end of Part 2, I'm up to the beginning of Chapter 14 in the middle section but I have some notes to start us off with.

Page 328 - Tengo's girlfriend is obsessed with his balls. Always cupping, massaging his testicles.

Tengo is writing the story of Aomame. Disappearance of Fuka-Eri doesn't register in Aomame's world, also the novel Air Chrysalis about the Little People. Wouldn't it catch her (Aomame's) attention? [Later, it is referenced. I've just finished an Aomame chapter where she has had an extended conversation with a man she's been sent to kill; the leader of the cult. He talks about the Little People, talks about reality shifts and time shifts and I found it hard to follow.]

I've also got a note about Aomame's face, that there was a reference very early on about there being possibly something wrong with it, that she has to keep the expression neutral otherwise it will become frightening to people if they see it. I remember now this was an early hint (for me) that there was something strange about her, more strange perhaps than what has been revealed thus far about her character, history, thought processes.

I'm trying to find the description of her face and I'm re-reading the opening pages where she's in the taxi. I'm also listening to Janacek's Sinfonettia. Several things which I half noticed when first reading are now seeming more suggestive:

1. Aomame has no idea how she recognises the piece of music - Sinfonettia. While the text tells us she loves history as much as she loves sports, and that she doesn't read fiction, it's clear she knows about the Czech composer and his piece of music that is playing in the cab. As she listens to the music, she thinks

Why, though, Aomame wondered, had she instantly recognized the piece to be Janacek's Sinfonettia? And how did she know it had been composed in 1926? She was not a classical music fan, and she had no personal recollections involving Janacek, yet the moment she heard the opening bars, all her knowledge of the piece came to her by reflex, like a flock of birds sweeping through an open window. The music gave her an odd, wrenching kind of feeling. There was no pain or unpleasantness involved, just a sensation that all the elements of her body were being physically wrung out.

The mention above of no personal recollections makes me wonder whether there is some kind of collective memory at work here? Or has she begun her shift to another version of herself?

2. The taxi is described as no ordinary cab and there is no visible identity papers/card for the driver. When she asks him about the traffic jam, when she asks him how he knows it's an accident without listening to a traffic report, he says

You can't trust them... They're half lies The Expressway Corporationg only releases reports that suit its agenda. If you really want to know what's happening here and now, you've got to use your own eyes and your own judgment.

Shades of Big Brother here?

Then when she gets out of the car to go to the ladder, he says

... remember: things are not what they seem.

*

I've found the description of her face

A detailed examination of her face from the front would reveal that the size and shape of her ears were significantly different, the left one much bigger and malformed. No one ever noticed this, however, because her hair nearly always covered her ears. Her lips formed a tight straight line, suggesting that she was not easily approachable. Also contributing to this impression were her small, narrow nose, somewhat protruding cheekbones, broad forehead, and long, straight eyebrows. All of these were arranged to sit in a pleasing shape, however, and while tastes differ, few would object to calling her a beautiful woman. The one problem with her face was its extreme paucity of expression. Her firmly closed lips only formed a smile when absolutely necessary. Her eyes had the cool, vigilant stare of a superior deck officer. Thanks to these features, no one ever had a vivid impression of her face. She attracted attention not so much because of the qualities of her features but rather because of the naturalness and grace with which her expression moved. In that sense, Aomame resembled an insect skilled at biological mimicry. What she most wanted was to blend in with her background by changing colour and shape, to remain inconspicuous and not easily remembered. This was how she had protected herself since childhood.

Whenever something caused her to frown or grimace, however, her features underwent dramatic changes. The muscles of her face tightened, pulling in several directions at once and emphasizing the lack of symmetry in the overall structure. Deep wrinkles formed in her skin, her eyes suddenly drew inward, her nose and mouth became violently distorted, her jaw twisted to the side, and her lips curled back, exposing Aomame's large white teeth. Instantly she became a wholly different person, as if a cord had broken, dropping the mask that normally covered her face. The shocking transformation terrified anyone who saw it, so she was careful never to frown in the presence of a stranger. She would contort her face only when she was alone or when she was threatening a man who displeased her.

This frightening distortion of her face is intriguing, and since this passage on page 11 of my copy, there has been no further mention. Nor of her deformed ear, something else that is interesting. Will it become significant? In a book where so many other things are repetitively stated, Tengo's size and strength, Fuka-Eri's idiosyncrative speech patterns, the German Shepherd's penchant for raw spinach, the job of Tengo's father, all seemingly innocuous, why are these two things to do with Amomame's appearance mentioned once and once only?

I love it.

*

Page 331

There is a description of a business card. In Japan, business cards have surnames first and then given names but in this instance it's the other way round. Murakami would not make such a mistake? Was it in translation? Or deliberate? Sloppy?

*

Page 333

Creepy artistic grants worker Ushikawa tells Tengo that time and freedom are the most important things a person can buy with money. This is true for a writer, but is it true for other people?


Ushikawa visits the cram school, he's described like a shambolic type of Columbo character. I expected him to be a detective and was delighted when he was unexpectedly revealed to be a grants officer. Loved the unpredictability of this.

Friday, December 16, 2011

1Q84 discussion number 1 SPOILER ALERT

Anybody who would like to discuss, please join. We will be talking about the book so if you want to read it and don't want to find out stuff, then don't be a dickhead and read these posts?

I'm up to Chapter 12, Part 2 page 451. Alex has finished Part One (and since commenting has maybe steamed ahead.) So for the discussion below, let's focus to the end of Part 1, to page 309 in the copy from Readings.

*

I've got a collection of scrippy scrappy bits of notes I've made over the time I've been reading this. I don't usually make notes when I read books unless it's something useful for me as a writer and which helps me in my process in some way. Recently a writerly friend said she is always a reader first when she reads, but I think I'm sometimes a writer, especially if what I'm reading is flawed enough to jerk me out of the story. This is probably the major problem with published writing, books that I've paid money for. My message to authors: don't jerk me out of the writing. 'Don't be a jerk like that,' I say. And then they probably say 'but I didn't mean to,' and 'nobody else said it jerked them out of the text, so maybe you're the fucking jerk.' And then I don't say anything back, because maybe they are right.

*

1Q84

Yesterday I was at my old work 's farewell for me and another two people. And after we'd had the speeches, after I'd made my pretty awesome speech, and we'd had little cakes and cut up fruit, mini mince pies and cups of tea, I was in a huddle with some readers and I said that I thought 1Q84 was one of the best books I'd ever read.

I do have to qualify this of course. I have to break it down, because as I intimated above, what is great for me might not be for others, and vice versa. Of course, this is how the world works. And I also have to qualify it by saying that my adult reading teeth were cut on books like Dick Francis's horse books and Robert Ludlum's action man, high-octane thrillers.

*

The first thing I wrote in my notes about this book was:

There's something lovely about the word 'Air' when used in the title of the book, as in Air Chrysalis.

I don't quite know why I wrote this, but I did. I still believe it though, it fascinates me.


I've also got written:

Lacked editing? couple of repeats of information as 'new to reader' eg Tengo's father's job of NHK subscription collector.

I also noticed all the references to the female characters' breasts - large or small. I'm wondering whether this will become relevant later, like the NHK subscription collector but I wonder. I wonder what that's about.

The thing though that grabbed me right from the outset, in the first few pages, was Aomame getting out of a taxi in gridlocked traffic and climbing down a ladder off the side of the freeway to the road below. Something happened time-wise or dimension-wise during that climb down, and while it was hinted at by her noticing anomalies in a police officer's uniform and gun, and while it's also been suggested by later references to two moons in the sky (something else that intrigues me in a really primal way: moons and air, love it) it hasn't been disclosed in any greater detail up until where I've read now. And there haven't been too many more hints (that I could see, Alex?) so I love that light touch. There's no Ludlum here.

Once Aomame climbed down that ladder, and got onto the street and to her appointment (where she murdered a man, a bad man) I knew this wouldn't be one of the books that I would put down mid-way and pick up something else to read in tandem. I knew I would be living and breathing this book from those first pages until the end, unless something major happened to stop me (ie the arrival of aliens in the mid-section or something like that, could still happen folks.)

*

On page 200 of my copy, we are told:

' "This is the end," Fuka-Eri informed him in a whisper. Time stopped, and the world ended. The earth ground slowly to a halt, and all sound and light vanished. '

It's biblical in its pronouncements, yet simple writing. I thought it was a good description of how the world would or could end, not with a bang but a whimper, like a merry-go round slowing down to a stop and all the carnival lights going out. I like this imagery, the idea of the world (which does spin) slowing down, grinding to a halt. There'd be sound as well, a kind of groaning and possibly some squealing brake noises.

On page 215 the idea is introduced that humans are just 'carriers' for genes and that genes are knowing a ruthless. "They don't care whether we are happy or unhappy. We're just a means to an end for them."

This is the type of thinking that I love. I had never thought something like this before but in an instant I saw the truth, or possible truth, in it. I once knew a guy, he was a close friend, and he would say things like this. For me, it was amazing knowing him, because every conversation was filled with pearls like the one above. I wish I still knew him; his brain and his type of thinking were both massive and rich and he's the only person in the world I've known who has such a different way of looking at absolutely everything.

On page 223 we are told that Bun the German Shepherd (and this is again, the second or even third time) "For some reason, she liked to eat raw spinach." Like a reminder BUT as if it's the first mention. Again, I don't know whether this is sloppy editing, sloppy writing or deliberate. Is the ms too big for the author to manage? Is it that the author knew it would be a big book to read and so the reader would need little reminders? But why innocuous things like this? I don't know.

THE FIRST OMG MOMENT

Page 249 when Little People come out of Tsubasa's mouth while she's asleep.

Up until now there have been references to the Little People, a few mentions, but it's been entirely possible until now that the Little People are just figments of deranged brains, or fictional characters in the book Air Chrysalis, which has been dictated by a strange possibly damaged 17-year-old girl Fuka-Eri (who has beautiful large breasts we are told, repeatedly, from the narrative of Tengo the writer.)

Now I've got a note: too many references to female characters' breasts. Aomame's = small ones, Fuka-Eri's = big ones. Every chapter these characters are in, there is guaranteed mention of their breasts.

Page 260 - 261

I've written 'Tengo is reading Chekhov's Sakhalin aloud to Fuka-Eri in the middle of the night. She becomes fascinated by the Gilyaks = the indigenous people Chekhov wrote about, the first time on p260 her speech is written with a question mark (before this, it had been noted by Tengo that her speech was peculiar and flat, short sentences spoken without question marks. Again, this repetition I noticed and it bothered me and could have jerked me out but because everything else was so gripping, I let go). Then on page 261 we have exclamation marks from Fuka-Eri - 'The poor Gilyaks!' [she] said. 'The wonderful Gilyaks!' She feels compassion for these people, I am entranced by the side story of how they would travel their land ignoring roads that had been laid down, walking parallel to the roads through difficult treed terrain.

Chekhov and his Gilyaks come into the story again later, and it makes me wonder about this and other types of criss-crossing between the two main narratives. (A bit about the structure of the book. Each character gets a chapter and a point of view. Tengo is one, and Aomame is the other. We get one chapter from him, from his POV and then one chapter from her and her POV. The book started with Aomame in the taxi. I have read the book without stopping mid-chapter, something has made me want to keep regular in my reading but also, I just can't stop reading mid chapter because the story is carrying me along in a way I haven't been carried before (shades of Ludlum in this.) Also, the way Murakami end chapters, he will stop mid-scene and not adhere to the [conventional?] narrative arc where each chapter should have its own natural rise and fall, beginning middle and end. I have to say this is also shades of Ludlum? Or at least it's a device to keep us reading because you know that in between Aomame preparing to kill someone, at the point of, if the chapter ends, you will have a chapter of Tengo, and then go back to Aomame, and no time has passed at all, there is no cheating, no time skips when there's a seminal scene. I like this reliability and it's working for me.]

Back to the notes:

Page 277 Flat, unemotional way of writing about sex. 'Fully enjoying the hardness of his penis and the softness of his testicles.' This is about Tengo's older married lover and her enjoyment of his genitals. This type of writing about sex in fiction suits me. Generally, I don't like it when sex is described in novels, I'd rather for some reason to not even go there. I think because it's so hard to write a 'good' sex scene (and really, what is a good sex scene?) but also because it's usually a licentious inclusion only, it's to titillate and to arouse (perhaps) and unless the book itself is about sexual pleasure (ie Lady Chatterley's Lover) why bother? What's the point? (to be said in Reg's voice from Life of Brian, when he wonders why Stan would bother with wanting to have the right to have a womb.)

For me, sex in literature should not be arousing, it should not move you, it should be flat and clinical because it's the most primal of activities and it's only modern life that has attached romance and softness to it. For me, it's perverse to have sex in books, it can be too intrusive to the story. If I want sex, I'll get porn. I don't want it in my books.

OMG Moment # 2

p 306, just before the end of Part 1.

Tengo is telling his married girlfriend about the story he's writing. (Before this, he has rewritten Fuka-Eri's Air Chrysalis and is now energised and working on his own novel. Up to now, we have heard nothing about his project.) He says it's about a different world. How can you tell it's different, the older married gf asks. 'There are two moons,' he says.

Because by now the reader knows that Aomame has seen two moons in her sky, you think ohmyfuckinggod, all the Aomame chapters are his story? There are other pieces of connective tissue between her and his narrative. They knew each other in primary school (you slowly realise this); they each think of the other now they are adults, in fact Aomame loves him and he is the only one she loves, even though she hasn't seen him since she was ten years old.

*

This is to the end of Part 1.

Other thoughts. So far we have several disappearances. Fuka-Eri disappears (she is 17) but she has also left her family (who were caught up in a cult) when she was ten. Aomame's parents were in a cult, and she left them when she was ten. Then there is Tsubasa, ten years old, who has left her cult family) and was residing with the old lady (dowager) who employs Aomame (about 30 yo) to kill bad men (men who have beaten, tortured their wives etc. The dowager runs a women's shelter.) By the end of Part 1 I think, Tsubasa has also disappeared, or maybe not yet.

Alex? Anyone else?

What is your response to Part 1?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Read it with me?

I'm up to page 240.

I'm wondering if this book could be the foundation of about a zillion posts I could make, consecutively over the next x amount of time.

Anyone else reading it? If not, do ya wanna? Would love to hold someone's hand along the way.

But if I am to trek solo, I want to share bits and pieces of this mammoth tome. For I am loving it so and want to shout about it from the mountain tops.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

1.About to take Princess to TopShop.

Wish me luck, oh people of Melbourne.

2. And then I'm going for 'lemons' with some bloggers.

3. And then I'm going to a partay tonight.


When really, all I want to do is the middle option.

Is it just me but as soon as the clock ticks from midnight on 30 Nov to one past midnight on 1 Dec things just go mental. Birthdays, catch ups, Christmas things you have to think about. When all I really want to do is number 2 above and read my books. And potter in a writerly way.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Because it's my birthday

You get two posts for one.

There are many reasons why I'm happy my daughter loves Adele, rather than say Beyonce or Lady Gaga. This video demonstrates all of those reasons.

Beautiful song.


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Money

There's more to hate about it than like, don't you think?

I hate having to ask for it.

I don't really care about not having it.

I don't understand why some people love it more than anything else.

At the moment, I feel I'm poised in quite a precarious situation, like the position the Karate Kid held just at the end when he was about to make his amazing kick. Up on tip toes, on one leg, hands doing something fairly elaborate. Yet I'm sleeping at night and I'm not depressed or worried or anxious.

Requests to the universe (you never know, it might help):

1. please, no more heavy downpours until we get the roof fixed in St Kilda

2. please, assist Ali with his business in the UK so he can send me $$$ for what needs to be paid for here

3. please, let just the perfect amount of schools in Melbourne think the new business is one they absolutely have to work with

That's it, not very much is it?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday song

Because I'm so busy now I'm a Capitalist Empire Building Pig in addition to Struggling Literary Fiction Writer Who No One Wants to Publish (but I won't give up, oh no), I will have to intersperse the already sparsely-appearing '80s Diaramas with Some Music that can be Easily Posted.

To launch this new Friday approach, a piece from a blogger 'acquaintance' who I've never met but whose prose and poetry I fell in love with back in oh around 2005. I don't listen to a lot of music at all, I like quiet and silence when I go about my day. But I love this .

I give you The Gypsy Curse [http://www.facebook.com/thegypsycurse]:


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

the fifteen-year-old girl in me














Nota bene: hussar jacket a la Adam Ant
























The 15-year-old girl who still lives inside of me says YES to Reece Mastin



























She also says YES to Johnny Johnny Whoops Johnny Ruffo


















Perhaps not unsurprisingly, she says NO to Nut Man, aka Andrew Wishart. But the 40+ woman that I am also says NO to NM.



*

Good news is that I can watch this tripe again next year (as long as Mel B and Guy Seb are on it. Don't care if they lose NatBass, she is mad as a cut snake. Ronan was a bit meh. But I'd take either of those two over that Sandilands fuck.) I had made a Henchard vow that if Nut Man won I would 'never watch the show again*.'

Apologies to Alex for not doing many posts. Maybe next year. I think it was maybe because Hug Man stopped being so huggy, and after the auditions it wasn't that funny.




* I've never watched it before, either.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Vanilla Ice?

This morning in the rain, heading back from Seaford (don't ask, long story) I passed the Chelsea Heights Hotel.

Their billboard said:

James Reyne

Richard Clapton

Shannon Noll

Vanilla Ice

It's almost like one of those IQ tests - pick the odd one out, you know like: rabbit horse zombie cow.

Reyne and Clapton are fitting, Shannon Noll sorta kinda but Vanilla Ice is just sad.


If I was an ageing rock-star I would seriously not play at the Chelsea Heights Hotel. I would take up a completely different job if I had to earn money and then play music as a hobby.

Wouldn't you?

Friday, November 04, 2011

desperate call out to the people of melbourne

I have been trying for ages to find out where to get pubic hair dyed.

I have googled and googled.

I am hoping that, like in 2006, I have a few more passersby than just Alex who might pop in and offer suggestions. The post above was when I was looking for the best haircutter in Melbourne and funnily enough it came up on page 2 of google returns when I googled 'pubic hair dying melbourne salons': the reason, Grant Edmunds's comment.

So, I know there's a product called Betty Beauty but it's a DIY and I don't want to DIY. Surely, in this world where everything can be waxed and I can quite easily get my anus bleached, someone out there is prepared to breathe life (!) into my pubic hair?

Surely I'm not the only person who is in need of such a service? Guaranteed, if anyone wanted to open a business specialising in this area I'm sure there would be heaps of customers; people who just want to dzus (sp?) it up a little, women who are grey, men who are grey, society matrons who are grey. What do all the women who have botox, spend heaps on colouring their roots, clothes, makeup etc. Are you telling me they are walking around with grey snatches? I think not.

Or is the brazilian what people are using to deal with this issue?

I leave it with you. Have a good weekend.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Midnight in Paris and the allure of nostalgia

Is nostalgia a dirty word?

Last night I saw Woody Allen's new movie. Apart from the tedious opening pastiche of street scenes in Paris, set to some music, and apart from the distracting Allen mimcry of Owen Wilson's speech patterns, pacing and vocal quality, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the appearances of Ernest Hemingway when the Owen Wilson character slips back to the 1920s and comes across various famous artists and writers who were hanging out in Gay Paree in the early 20s.

'Have you ever shot a charging lion?' was arguably one of the best lines in the movie, and one of the best scenes was when Wilson and Marion Cotillard (who played lover and muse of Picasso) slipped back to her favourite era which was the belle epoque, and where they stumbled across Toulouse Lautrec, Paul Gauguin and Matisse who were all sitting around moaning that the best time to have lived and been an artist was the renaissance.

Another wonderful scene showed Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali in a cafe talking about rhinoceroses, then joined by surrealists Man Ray and Luis Bunel. Marvellous stuff.

But back to Hemingway.

I'm still reading the Carlos Baker biography of Hem and am up to page 700 or so. It is riveting. A previous biography was by Jeffrey Meyers and it was good but not this good. A lot of people seem to have decided Hemingway really just wasn't a very good writer or person or both. I just can't accept this, it's too black and white and doesn't give credence to the fact that some of his writing was genius and some of his characteristics as a man were admirable. But he was flawed. Fascinating and flawed. And so terribly clumsy and accident-prone, and for such a robust healthy strong men, vulnerable to illness, like chest colds and infections. He also suffered amoebic dysentery once in Africa when three inches of his large intestine dropped out of his body. He had 150 bowel movements a day and had to wash his prolapsed intestine with soap and water and push back into his body. He shot himself by accident while trying to wrestle a shark onto his boat. He was almost shot in the head by a friend who accidentally discharged her gun while he was bending down tying his shoe lace. He had skylights fall onto his head, he had several car accidents, lots of concussions, and I'm not even up to the plane crashes yet (x2) or the suicide. He got skin infections, knee problems, eye infections and ulcers. He managed to keep off the booze at various times, particularly when his last wife Mary had an ectopic pregnancy and he had to look after her and be kind. But when his writing was going badly or not at all he became mean and miserable.

Some of the things he said are funny and sharp, like A man can't really be a good writer unless he's had syphillis.

But saying that 'The best writing is certainly [done] when you are in love...' makes me wonder. Hmmm, and when you are in love you have a long-suffering wife to care for you and the house, yes?

He believed you'd lose it if you talk about it (but then seemed to let all and sundry read his stuff before it was finished. In Paris int he early days he would breakfast at Cafe Dome and read his stories to 'anyone who would listen'. '... he was willing tobe ruthless with himself or with anything or anybody that got in the way of the perfection of his work.')

Zelda Fitzgerald (who Hemingway hated) commented that "I notice in the Hemingway family you do what Ernest wants."

He really only kept a couple of friends to the end including Ezra Pound; he burned people constantly via scathing telegram, letter or by including them in his books either thinly veiled as a fictional character or in non-fiction form under their own names.

But what I admire about his writing is this. '[His] technique was matched by his higly innovative stule - the most influential prose in the 20th century. The short words, limited vocabulary, declarative sentences and direct representation of the visible world appealed to the ordinary as well as the intellectual reader. He prided himself on his purity of expression and suggestive simplicity. [His] style was characterized by clarity and force. He stressed the function of the individual word, wrote five simple sentences for every complex one, used very few similes, repeated words and phrases, emphasised dialogue rather than narration. He expressed his violent themes in limpid, focused, perfectly controlled prose... His style was precise and exact, yet hightly connotative; sparse and bare, yet charged with poetic intensity.'

In Woody's movie, Hemingway's 'typecast' essence was captured with several remarks, especially the ones about writing the 'one true sentence', but the delivery was kind of tongue in cheek, but gentle, not in a 'he was a real dickhead' way. I was surprised by the absence of James Joyce though, he was there hanging out with his family in Paris in 1922 as well but perhaps he wasn't one of the rabble rousers; he and Nora, maybe they ate dinner went home and kept to themselves?

After the movie ended we sat in the cinema talking about it. My mum, my sister, my daughter and me. My mum said that she missed Woody, meaning seeing him acting as male lead. I said I didn't. I've had my fill of him, and I actually prefer it now that he is using 'surrogates' for himself. It was good, though, that the Owen Wilson character didn't have the typical Allen eccentricities and tortured egocentricities and hypocondriac tendencies that were Woody's 'specialty' in the late '70s and through the '80s. Even in Hannah and Her Sisters, where Allen plays a role, the Michael Caine character is Woody'istic in his lust for his wife's sister and his childish inner musings and self doubts. No, I've had enough of all that really, you can always watch the dvds of the old movies.

I wonder now whether he'll do a New York movie that's like a swan song too? I can't imagine how he could come up with an homage that is more poignant and more successful that this Paris one, but I can't wait to see what comes next.

I don't care if nostalgia is suspect. While it may be the opposite of the realism you find in many contemporary movies or novels, I love its softness and blurriness. Its comfort.

Friday, October 28, 2011

lunch today

At lunch today there was a woman sitting at a table inside the cafe when we arrived. During our meal, I noticed she had moved outside.

We were talking loud as usual (we work for a sexual and reproductive health organisation; all our lunches at the food-court near work are like this.) Today, however, we were in situ in Maling Road; a domain where different sensibilities are apparent?

I did wonder whether it was anything we said which made her move. Her face was still red when we passed her table outside. I wonder which of the following it was, that came out of her or my mouth during our meal:

- I do prefer a circumcised penis

- I told her to tell him he's a 'cunt tease'

- if I had [name of Year 9 student we believe is dealing drugs at prestigious school]'s number I'd call and get something, does he sell eccies?

- I've had brazilians, but it's a bit grey down there now. I'm looking for pubic hair dye

- the full '70s bush, alright! Fabulous!

- I told him just to go to a prostitute

- I always had his dick in my mouth

- the sex was amazing

- he's good at going down on me

- maybe I need to try some woman love... I could probably go there, but I really like a dick I think

- she's got kissing ahead of her. I loved kissing. Notice how I use the past-tense. Sad.

- I told him just to have sex with me when I'm asleep even. I don't care. Or just a quickie.

- we didn't have sex the entire time we were away

- a 14-year-old boy going for a massage? Bullshit, handjobs!

- I'm not the affair kind of person. I couldn't do that.

When I wondered to my friend if we'd scared the woman away she said: we weren't that loud.

The problem is, we are. We're desensitised and out there and I apologise to the Balwyn mum who happened upon us two in public.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

He's right

Jonathan Franzen is right and you don't know how pleased I feel to find that this man and I think alike.

Recently I was thinking about technology, I think about it a lot which is interesting considering I pretty much hate it (and hypocritical too, considering I use it every day.)

But here's the thing. I was wondering whether technology is the [new] opiate of the masses, in light of the reaction to Steve Jobs dying.

And then, in a collection of essays by Mr F, we have:

... the powerful narcotics that technology offers. (p200, How to Be Alone.)

This was written in 1996. So instead of being edgy and innovative I am simply retreading old ground.

And how much do you love the title? How to Be Alone.

I want to marry him.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Two posts, one day

I couldn't not post this. Check it.


This top pic was taken by Daniel Boud (http://boudist.tumblr.com/post/2080576377/i-photographed-marieke-hardy-in-bed-with-anthony) of Marieke Hardy and Anthony Hayes.

It is an homage (I guess) to the other pic of Hinchy and friend, taken in 1979 (I believe) by a photographer other than Boudist. I prefer the cropped version that appears on her blog, not for prudish reasons but just because you can see the expression on his face more clearly and you are less distracted by her breasts (while enjoying the suggested swell.)

I looked at her blog again today (it's fairly quiet over there, nothing like the wild old days of RWYWHM, there's no comments for one) and again, was struck by a familiarity about the dude's face.

Then I realised. I googled Anthony Hayes (also, in the good old days known as Roguemaze; he ran a blog and his avatar was a sensuous pic of Melissa George, I remember him saying he thought she was a sex-bomb, and now he's playing her hubby in The Slap. The other thing I remember about Roguemaze was him telling me he liked complicated women and I told him he didn't, he was just saying that but really, he'd prefer simple and easy.)

Are they in a relationship? Is he the ginger that she refers to at the end of her book? I am all agog and if anyone can spill, I'll be your best friend.

I've been to Bali too

Hasn't Bali featured in the news lately? We got back on Grand Final Day (Go Cats, oh didn't they go?) and settled back into Melbourne pretty quickly albeit reluctantly. I hadn't wanted to leave, Legian Beach, or Double Six Beach rather, was a nice place to be. It was warm, it was cheap, the food was amazing, and my brain had emptied of all the mess and bother that was in it before we left.

Usually when on holiday, about three days before the end my mind turns to home. I begin to detach, to ready myself for the return. And am usually happy to get back home. Not this time. On the last day I was floating in the pool with my favourite orange Pool-Noodle, frangipani blooms dropping into the water from overhead, so relaxed that even the jarring incongruence of an enormous chariot and two white, rearing horses (complete with penises sheathed in veined and wrinkled foreskins) statue next to the pool was a calming and familiar place to rest my eyes. I didn't want to come home.

Not that home has anything bad going down. Quite the opposite. I am in motion towards opening a business with a couple of colleagues. My writing is going well. Everything is fine. But it was just so nice over there.

Not for others, though.

I got back and Bali seems to be dominating the news.

1. Bali Boy.

My questions about this 14-year-old boy who was busted with drugs are to do with things other than drugs and 'what the hell was he thinking?' I would like to know the following: is it true (as reported) that he was visiting a spa in Kuta up to twice a day for full-body massage? If this is true, what the hell? Which 14-year-old boy does this? Was hand relief a part of the service?

I feel for him though. Which parent thinks it necessary to explicitly warn their 14-year-old about the drug laws of another country? I didn't. But a conversation with Princess after our return, about this boy, was enlightening.

'Most kids are experimenting with drugs and alcohol at that age, not later. By the time they get to 16, 17 etc they are settling down. Unless they are the ones who are still doing it.' Can't argue with that logic, but I was a little surprised. 'No, I know heaps of kids who have tried both.' She's just turned 15.

Seems to me that if you go to Bali, don't buy drugs (that's pretty obvious) but also don't hire a motorbike, moped or car. Apparently the police will pull you over for imagined infractions and get money from you.

2. The wedding bar brawl.

Dean Laidley et al. What the hell? Again, suggestions it was a set up. Bouncers arrested, bouncers tell their side of the story. They were trying to stop a brawl between the Laidley crew and another group. I did wonder why Laidley Snr and Jnr had left the country so quickly? Leaving wife and other members of the family behind? More to this story I think.

All I can say is I saw enough ugly Australians to make me think (terribly) that no wonder some people in the world hate us. I was there 25 years ago and that was my thinking. Nothing has changed for the better; in fact we saw in addition to the standard Bintang-singlet-wearing, street-walking, late-morning-beer-drinking bogans: a Vodka Cruiser Granny.

3. Nurse suffers brain damage and kidney failure after drinking cocktail on Lombok. I drank cocktails on an island off Lombok BUT I didn't go near the Arak (this time.) Apparently it was laced with methanol. Poor thing, I feel sorry for her.

All this in eleven days.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

I can't believe it

Nut Man is still in.

*

In other news, we went to Bali, we came back. It was fucking awesome though my bowels are happier back here in Melbourne-Town.

I also came back with a henna tattoo of a strange-looking cat on my shoulder and with GO CATS written underneath. It's fading now, quite early. Mr Black on Double Six Beach assured me it would last two weeks. But being a non-tattoo person, and a person who poo-poos that tatt on occasion (not for me, declasse, too "common" as well as too common) I'm okay with it fading. It served its purpose which was mainly to annoy Clokes during the lead-up to the game.

*

Have caught up on X-Factory and roped in Princess (she was away for 8-weeks with school last term. 'How amazing,' I hear you say. 'You didn't whinge much at all.' No, I didn't, did I? My pick for X-Factor winner is Reece or Christina. I would never expect Nut Man to win. I hope NM doesn't win. Sure, he's got a voice but he is not an international superstar in the making. No offence to Nut Man or anyone who knows him.

*

I'm disappointed with Hug Man. He aint delivering in the old hug department. I think now he is emceeing, that's where all his energy is going. Or else his contract changed.

*

I told a colleague at work today that I will not be there next year. Stupid? Maybe. Do I care? No. My decision was made before Bali and the "meeting" that we had on Tuesday which went from 11am until 4pm (with a lunch break) was SO FUCKING WASTEFUL OF MY TIME AND EVERYONE ELSE'S THAT I WILL NOT NOT NOT DO ANOTHER MEETING LIKE THAT. I will lie my way out of it, shamelessly. Better things on the old horiz.

*

The Slap starts tonight. I am expecting to like it better than the book. Is it two-faced of me to say I will probably enjoy the tv show? Do I care? No.

*

One of my good friends has made it back from living overseas with her kids which I am really happy about. She's got a new blog but I was unable to comment there for some reason. So Jo, don't think I'm ignoring you, will head back there when I get a chance. So happy you're back, will call you soon.

*

I think that's all for now. Have to go cook. Something with chicken and a wok and some veg and rice. So that'll probably be stir-fry.

Friday, September 16, 2011

NUT MANNNNN

NUT MAN is in, and even better we got a little more info about his job: he works for cup nuts vending machines. Would you like your nuts cupped?

Bad news: You-Can't-Sing-Ruffo got through, and intenso mini-Cruise went out. No respect for Mister Sebastian right now. None. Big big mistake.

Happy about most other people who got into final threes. Groups: Heavy Fringe girl in trio got them through plus they are all better looking than the other three; twins out (I confess, a smidge of disappointment. Ronan: Should I keep you in? Twin 1: Do we answer that? They were crack ups. Family Vixen had to go through but Mama Cass needs to keep it together. And Young Men Society; hmmmm not sure about them. Can they do anything other than smooth vocals? Can they wear anything other than rapper hats too high on their heads? Can they dance any other way than in-sync?

Young Boys: My tip is Side Hair Boy Reece will win if Fab Hair-Mighty Confidence-for-15 Christina from young girls doesn't. Also in young boys, Fluffy Declan. He. Is. Awesome. And the other unmentionable one. Mel B said it at the first audition: YOU CAN'T SING. Thank god someone told him to cut out the 'dancing.'

Young Girls: Apart from Christina there is va va voom redhead and meh blondie.

Then in the Old Farts category: Cleo, who is 27 and stunning (she has a shot); Tattoo Neck Man who is so shy but has a winning smile 'and the girls will love him' (as long as they can stop looking at the ink) and NUT MAN.

So my picks from each group: Reece from boys, Christina from girls, Cleo from oldies and Thick Fringe Girl's group from groups.

And Hug Man worked overtime in the show today. Flying between locations, warming up his arms in the car on the way to location, spritzing with body spray for those close up clenches.

And have I mentioned how much I love Mel B's accent?
That is all.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Just for Alex

Josh Brooks, aka Head Phone Boy. You can't see it but he always, always had a pair of headphones around his neck. Except for once, when he got knocked out of the competition by Johnny 'You Can't Sing' Ruffo (see below.) HP Boy's audition was awesome and I said: he's going to win.

Ruffo. Who had the audacity to ask Beyonce whether it was more important to focus on your dancing, your singing or both. Der. She graciously told him never compromise the singing. Not a problem for him, because he can't sing. How guy picked this dude over Josh I just don't know.

Nut man aka the nut salesman. He has a name and he has a fine voice and at every opportunity someone manages to say 'he doesn't look like a typical pop star but...'


He won't win. But going on my predictions maybe he should start practising his acceptance speech?


This is Hug Man. He is the 'host' or 'compere' or 'man who stands off stage and whose job is to give people hugs.' I bet it was in the job description: must be okay, even gleeful, about receiving full-body-contact with range of people.


Next post: The Freaks and Guy's Mr Bean Eyebrows.

True confessions

So I'm watching X-Factor. I've never watched it, though I have in the past (long time ago) watched some Idols. I have indeed flirted with reality tv - couple of Big Brothers, some Apprentice, Survivor for quite a while. And of course we do watch Masterchef. Or have done thus far. It seems the foundations of my current marriage lie on some of that reality tv. Clokes is a tv man, and he only reads because I do. He'd be happy to never read another word in his life, unless it was some twit's tweet.

The reason, firstly, I decided to watch the first X-Factor was Scary Spice. I admit it. I also think Natalie Batthingthwaiteth is kinda cute and I did think Guy Sebastian was also a sweetie. Ronan Keating I had no idea about. Never listened to his music that I've been aware, no nothing about the man at all.
The first episode hooked me. For this is what they do. It's like opium? Crack? It was embarrassing when the two female judges asked a couple of the guys to take off their t-shirts. Really embarrassing.
And of course now I have some really strident opinions about who is good and who is shit (Master Ruffo, I'm looking at you, man) and we have our catch phrases such as NUT MAN!
And then last night, there was Beyonce with her A-Team telling us all why this one was so cute, and how that one slid into his notes and wow, she just loved that one's hair.

Here is the rundown on a couple of the contestants.



I reckon if a girl wins it's likely to be this one. Christina. 15. Cute as a button and so confident I just don't know how she can be that cool.




This guy reminds me of a young Tom Cruise (not such a good thing) but he is SO confident and the ladies love him (ie Natalie and Mel B.) I think he's a potential winner.



I call this guy Fluffy, he's different, has a good voice and isn't your typical pop star type. He's 15. Beyonce loved him.



This guy is a serious contender. His audition was amazeballs and he is very cute. Girls will love him. He has a good voice. He's got the look. Blah blah.

These are the twins. Ronan likes them even though they are pretty embarrassing. Their performance last night was totally crap, flat and embarrassing. They're gone.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The smell of madness

Did you know that there is a substance (trans-3-methyl-2 hexenoic acid) that is unscientifically described as the smell of madness?

Is this not one of the most fascinating things you've ever heard?

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Tech question:

(and it's post number 666, the old number of the beast)



So how do I make my blogroll left justified?

At the moment it looks like a fucking grade sixer has laid it out.

I can say that because I used to be a grade sixer and my three kids have all been grade sixers.

Help.

My Tech Dude is mowing the lawns so there's already enough on his plate.

I'm sure it was never centre justified.

At least it's not comic sans, world's most heinous font according to graphic designers everywhere.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Streets of Sadness





Googling around, trying to find a William Blake reference and came across this project:

Streets of Sadness at http://www.streetsofsadness.com/

They are wanting people to buy homeless and other begging people's 'signs' - you know the bits of cardboard (usually) that people write on to ask for help.

I'm undecided what I think about this, but am leaning towards 'nice one.' I don't give to people on the street, and tell them that when they approach me. It's pretty harsh but I got stung once and it made me angry. It really shouldn't be about me, though, should it? It's about giving and sharing, and making things a little easier for other people, even if that means making it a little easier for them to buy booze, cigs or dope I guess.

Link also to right on blogroll.

If you could have an annual subscription to one publication

what would it be?

If you could have two, what would be the second?

Friday, August 26, 2011

I want to be like Maggie



Look at her, isn't she darling? Do you think if I start now, I can be more like her when I'm her age? I'm not talking about her cooking, her tv appearances. I'm talking about her smile, her kindness, her humanity.


I want my grandkids to have a grandmother like MB. That requires me becoming like MB (unless the other side of the family has a MB and then I'll just have to be a better type of Maggie.)

Is there are shop where you can buy these ingredients?

(And I'm being 100% serious, apart from the last sentence. I really do want to be nice like Maggie Beer.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Monkey's Mask



This is the first verse novel I've ever read and it's amazing. I haven't been much of a poetry person, apart from the old faves. I guess that's what I thought poetry is, all rhyming verse, or if not rhyming, tedious at the least, as I always struggle to get the meaning. This could be my fault but really, when I read, I want it to be effortless and floating, not as if I have the fucking writer him or herself strapped to my shoulders, getting impatient with me, pointing out where my dullard brain just isn't getting it.

The Monkey's Mask combines a few things I usually don't like or don't seek out in my readings so it had its work cut out.  I don't tend towards genre (detective story); I find poetry had work (see above) and there's no reason for me to seek out 'lesbian literature' (if that's what it could be called) other than for pure curiosity.

But you know, I couldn't put this book down. I raced through the first half in one night, cosy in bed with my hottie (the rubber one, not the man of flesh and bones) and then finished it the next night (last night). It was incredible. The pace, the voice, the action. The mystery. Her choice of words, the way she was able to deliver the meaning and layers of meaning in so few words. Sometimes I get the feeling of true connectedness with a writer (not in a stalky way, well er maybe) but this was possibly the truest, clearest connection I'd experienced while reading a book. I felt I knew what she was meaning as she wrote it. Weird? Possibly. Does this make me gay or a detective fiction fan or both? I don't care, all I know is I loved this book and it made me want to collect her oeuvre and proceed from beginning to end.

Delightfully wonderfully incredibly pleasantly surprised is probably the best way I can express my reaction to this book.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I just can't help myself

Whenever I go into a bookshop, I come out with at least one book. Whenever I go into a second-hand bookshop, I come out with double, because I figure they are cheap.

Went away on the weekend to a small country town and I think I spent as much on books as I did two nights of accommodation (it was cheap accommodation.)

I picked up:

Hemingway, A biography by Jeffrey Meyers. it's hard cover and it cost $20.00. It's a biggun.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath. I don't read poetry really and I am going to start trying a bit more. Throw the old poetry a fricken bone, so to speak. This copy is hardcover, in good nick and cost $12.00. It also has a groovy pic on the cover, a photo of her typing on a typewriter. At least I guess it's her.

The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton. Two things about this. Does he not have the best name in the world? Also, this book is cleverly divided into sections which offer consolations for (in order): unpopularity; not having enough money; frustration; inadequacy; a broken heart and difficulties. And if that weren't delicious enough, then he has paired each section with a famous philosopher: Socrates for unpopularity, Epicurus for the money one, Seneca for frustration and of course Schopenhauer for a broken heart - "the darkest of thinkers and yet, paradoxically, the most cheering." I have another of his books, not yet read. I think it's Status Anxiety. This new book also is hardcover and cost $5.00

The Monkey's Mask, Dorothy Porter. It's a nice cover, female head tilted back so you can see the line of her throat. Cost $10.00

Ernest Hemingway, A Life Story by Carlos Baker. I can't get enough of Old Hem. Paperback, good condition, $6.00

A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. I wouldn't want to give the liar full price but this is paperback, good condition and was $10.00

Marcel Proust: A Biography by Richard H. Barker. Hardcover and has a painting of a face with a veree Franch moo-stache on the front. $5.00

Hazel Hawke's daughter's memoir of her mother with Alzheimers. Don't judge me. At least I didn't get the Diana and Charles one. $5.00


Friday, August 19, 2011

Yeah right, Roger David. This is not sexualised at all.











The only good thing about this ad is that the comments in The Age are disparaging, and with the brief browse I took, there were none that said something like: oh what are you all going on about, it's nothing. Nanny State blah blah, this is what we've come to? Starving children in Africa and you worry about this, it's just a bit of fun, etc.
Fact: the girl above has a barcode on her shoulder that says SLAVE
Fact: the girl above has something in her mouth that makes her look gagged or ready to receive a penis
Fact: the girl above may be eighteen, but she doesn't look eighteen.
Fact: the slogan New Love Club doesn't mean Buy Your Clothes at Roger David. What could it mean? Could it means she is so young, she is new to love? She is a virgin? She is a child? It sounds to me like a pederast's personal blog page.
Fact: the girl above isn't wearing any masculine clothes, garments that you might suppose a person might buy at a Roger David store
Fact: there is no male model wearing clothes that you might suppose you could purchase at a R D store.
I really wish that imbecilic marketing/ad agencies used things other than the sexualisation of children in their quest for controversial and high-profile campaigns and their pursuit of the dollar. They think we are idiots? No, they know that the response to this will put RD way up in the google returns list. It makes them edgy, funny that. RD always seemed so daggy. Oh, that means it's worked and all my moaning is completely irrelevant.
Link to Age article: http://www.theage.com.au/national/banned-ad-inappropriate-20110818-1j07e.html?comments=67#comments

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Body punishing

Gail Dines, anti-porn crusader, describes gonzo porn as body punishing. I just got back from something body punishing:

trying on bathers.

I swear, I know every woman hates it but I tried on about thirty pairs and the second last one, was the winner. I've got a bad shoulder so that made it even harder, PLUS the girl in the store had the heating cranked up. By the time I finished I had to just come home and recover.

But I have new bathers and I'm pretty happy with them.

*

And a question: who says that I have to have an online presence if I want to be a published author? Oh, the publishers? I'm sorry, but I won't be tweeting for nobody.




Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Why hello

Been a while.

I've just been looking over old posts and one, about Inglourious Basterds I found so impressive. Did I write that? I wondered, laughing aloud.

Here it is in case you missed it:

http://melbgirltakeonthings.blogspot.com/search/label/Tarantino


In other news, Princess is away with school and has been gone 3.5 weeks. You can see how relaxed I am because there's been no moaning from me. How times have changed, compared to when she went to America.

Part of the reason I haven't been blogging (well the whole reason, really) is that I've been writing, making use of every minute like some chook scratching at the dirt, digging up seeds which then have all gone into a sack to go to the mill. Terrible analogy, I know, shut up.

I've been reading. Fabulous recent booky goodness Engleby by Sebastian Faulks (instant love, instant order of half of oeuvre on [unmentionable overseas internet book company]. Then, despairing after finishing Engleby and thinking what will I read, By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham. Similar paroxyms of delight. So I heartily recommend both. Engleby for the humour (genius) and the intelligence. By Nightfall for the absolute lack of indulgence by Cunningham and the brilliance of the twist, the protagonist's very human flaws. Loved both so much.

[I just tried italicising the book titles - it's not working. Fiendishblogger is not behaving for me these days.]

Movies. Just re-watched Leaving Las Vegas. I must have grown up a lot since last watching it. I remember wanting him to stop drinking and be safe; wanting him to love her the way she obviously deserved it. This time, however, I was mesmerised and moved by the tender way she gave him the space, gave him what he wanted. Even that freaking hipflask, after the orange shirt. The scene where he gives a laugh, in a bar, drunk. It's like some tragic Peter Pan call, where he flips his head up and drops it, and his voice has trilled. I remember that from the first time, remembered being amazed. Had he workshopped that in front of a mirror? Amazing stuff.

And before that, somewhere on some random obscure Internet page, I came across a list of the top ten movies (can't remember if they were scary/horror?) I don't like horror so I don't think it was that... anyway, Irreversible. Don't watch it if you haven't already, I'm not recommending it. BUT if you have seen it, how was that opening scene? I almost turned it off. It wasn't the tension or the violence (thought I couldn't look during the head>pulp scene) it was the swirling camera work. And then the rape scene that goes for 9 minutes: horrible. But overall it was compelling. I think. The Funny Games - a weird Austrian horror. Again. Horrible but made an impression. All I could think was 'why hasn't anybody said anything about the gloves?' Then the original Vanishing. Fan-bloody-tastic. And then Requiem for a Dream - and you know what? I can't even remember. Let me look it up.

Ah that's right. Kind of okay. A very emaciated Jared Leto and a quite beautiful Jennifer Connelly. But yeah, drugs drugs, addiction. Was okay but not as good as the other three.

So, what is going on with blogger? I couldn't use the url link function. Do I need to update or something? Weird.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

So look at me

Two posts in one day. I have revamped my side bar. Now I have a new blogroll (I don't think I've had one for more than 2 years.)


The blogroll indicates my new'ish direction. Some of the blogs on there I don't read much and I just had at some point saved them into my favourites folder, so I'll try and read them more frequently and delete any that I don't want. This is a long-winded way of saying: don't blame me if you waste your time on any of them because I'm not exactly sure how quality they are.

I've included a few literary agent blogs. They are fascinating and generally far less self-indulgent than writer blogs. Can't stand most writer blogs. Probably including my own.

So that's it. Don't hold your breath for anything fabulous but I am trying.

PS Please let me know if any links not working. I'm too lazy to go through them all.

Some godly readings

So I finished 'The Book of Rachael' flicking through the last pages. It was a struggle to finish and I particularly disliked the sex scenes between Rachael and Judah (the Judas character.) Sex in literature. Hmmm. Another topic for another time I reckon.

*

Have also just finished Philip Pullman's book 'The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.' I loved it, it was clever and original and so simple to read in its pared-down form. Absolutely no description, not an adjective in the whole thing (well maybe a few, but you know what I mean.) Even Hemingway was not so bald and nubby.

It's a short book with large print, organised into tiny wee chapters with headings that follow the new testament events concerning Jesus's life. It follows faithfully. Apart from the part where Jesus has a twin brother called Christ who is the one at the end to betray Jesus, and who has also become the secret agent of some dark force (this stranger towards the end says something like 'I'm not Satan, if that's what you're thinking.')

All the Bible folk are there. The disciples, the Mary's. And all the significant moments. From the turning over of the money-changers' tables in the temple right up to the crucifixion. Alot of the dialogue reminded me of 'Life of Brian' and it is clear to me now how biblically accurate that movie was.

Perhaps my favourite bit was when Mary became pregnant. This is how my version of the bible tells it (the Good News, must get a copy of the King James, it's better no?):

Matthew 1: This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately. While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus - because he will save his people from their sins.

Pullman's version: The Conception of Jesus. At that time, Mary was about sixteen years old, and Joseph had never touched her. One night in her bedroom she heard a whisper through her window. 'Mary, do you know how beautiful you are? You are the most lovely of all women. The Lord must have favoured you especially, to be so sweet and so gracious, to have such eyes and such lips...' She was confused, and said 'Who are you?' 'I am an angel,' said the voice. 'Let me in and I shall tell you a secret that only you must know.' She opened the window and let him in. In order not to frighten her, he had assumed the appearance of a young man, just like one of the young men who spoke to her by the well. 'What is the secret?' she said. 'You are going to conceive a child,' said the angel. Mary was bewildered. 'But my husband is away,' she said. 'Ah, the Lord wants this to happen at once. I have come from him especially to bring it about. Mary, you are blessed among women, that this should come to you! You must give thanks to the Lord.' And that very night she conceived a child, just as the angel foretold.

Don't you love it?

Just for some balance, this is how the Koran tells the story:

S. III 42-49

42 Behold! the angels said:
'O Mary! God hath chosen thee
And purified thee - chosen thee
Above the women of all nations.

43 O Mary! worship
Thy Lord devoutly;
Prostrate thyself
And bow down (in prayer)
With those who bow down.'

45 Behold! the angels said:
'O Mary! God giveth thee
Glad tidings of a Word
From Him: his name
Will be Christ Jesus,
The son of Mary, held in honour
In this world and the Hereafter
And of (the company of) those
Nearest to God;

46 'He shall speak to the people
In childhood and in maturity.
And he shall be (of the company)
Of the righteous.'

47 She said: 'O my Lord!
How shall I have a son
When no man hath touched me?'
He said: 'Even so:
God creatheth
What he willeth:
When He hath decreed
A Plan, He but saith
To it, 'Be' and it is!

48 'And God will teach him
The Book and Wisdom,
The Law and the Gospel,

49 'And (appoint him)
An apostle to the Children
Of Israel, (with this message):
" I have come to you,
With a Sign from your Lord,
In that I make for you
Out of clay, as it were,
The figure of a bird,
And breathe into it,
And it becomes a bird*
By God's leave...'


*

Now we come to James Frey's 'The Final Testament of the Holy Bible' which I have just started reading. It's rare to begin a book and love it from the first page. I have known of Frey's controversy (his first novel was presented as non-fiction and a memoir of his life and it was endorsed to the max by Oprah W. Then when it was revealed to be complete fiction, she reviled him publicly and he was in the poo. To the max. He has, it seems, recovered though I don't know what his reputation is like today. On the back of the copy of The Final Testament that I have here, this is written:

He's been called a liar. A cheat. A revolutionary. A genius. He's been sued by readers. Dropped by publishers. He's also a bestselling phenomenon. Beloved by readers around the world. - Time Magazine.

Wiki details the story and the annihilation of him by Oprah and the offer of RandomHouse to refund people their money if they wanted. People had bought the book under the impression it was a memoir when it turned out that much of it was fabricated. I wonder whether this has helped to reinforce the genre of 'creative non-fiction.' Apparently many publishers rejected the manuscript in its former guise of fiction, so obviously he reinvented it as memoir to get a contract.

*

Also, I need to finish a weird, posthumously-produced Hemingway, 'Garden of Eden.' I've stalled with this one but thus far we have a newly-married couple spending inordinate amount of time on the Riviera, and the wife has disclosed that she would like to be a boy. 'At least some of the time.' So she's cut her hair short and apparently does things to the husband in bed that are different, and he is not a little unsettled by all this.









* the chapter of Pullman's book titled The Childhood of Jesus talks about Jesus and Christ as children, Jesus is the more normal, naughty, ordinary of the two (while Christ can make strange things happen). On the Sabbath Jesus has made some figures of sparrows out of mud by a stream, and when it looks like he will get into trouble for breaking the Sabbath, Christ makes the sparrows come alive and they fly away, to stop the people punishing his brother.