Sunday, December 19, 2010

just because it's over 300 years old doesn't mean it's useless

Some sanctimonious little twit wrote into the Herald a week or so ago, complaining that school hadn't taught him anything useful, just made him study Shakespeare. I wrote into the Herald, carefully illustrating how this twit was wrong. In hindsight (something I never subscribe to) I should perhaps have left out the phrase "sanctimonious little twit"


- If you have three daughters, be on your guard, and trust the good one (for reference, the good one will have the least stupid sounding name)
- Try not to fall in love with your father's mortal enemy's spawn
- If you're going to bite your thumb at someone, then commit to the action for the sake of expediency.
- If you think you kissed an ass, you're probably right
- If you are one half of a set of opposite gender twins, endeavour to have similar hair cuts and body builds. it will prove to be enormously helpful in the long run
- Don't trust a forest that wasn't there the night before
- Don't trust the political predictions of witches.
- Beware the Ides of March, which, for reference, occur on March 15, every year.
- Don't trust the timing of the almost death potion. Cosmic irony dictates that you won't wake up in time.
-Henry is a perfectly acceptable name to pass down through 8 or more generations.
-If you choose to become a playwright, people won't mind if you re-write history just please your monarch.
- You can also plagiarise from Plutarch and other sources!
-And recycle your jokes and plot lines!
- You can tell if your life is a comedy if you end up married, a tragedy if you (and everyone else) ends up dead, and a history if it is long and boring.
- Naming everyone Caesar is the cause of much unnecessary confusion. Don't do it.
- If, in your closet, he comes before you with his doublet all unlaced, then he's probably not worth it.
- If there is something suspicious happening in your family, then you can get to the bottom of it by staging a dummy show that informs everyone of your suspicions.
- Fortinbras is a good dude to call in a crisis.

I'm sure there are thousands more, but I took Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama two semesters ago, so I'm rusty.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


oh gods. i have a blog, right? apparently? you'd never ever think it. it feels like i only sign on to apologise for not ever signing on. how Beckett-ian of me.

truth is, i spent so much time staring at a computer screen this semester that now i'm on break, most days, i don't even turn my computer on. it's bliss. you oughtta try it. connectivity is overrated, and Moloch is eating you alive. Ginsberg would be so crushed if he knew how much time we spent staring at a screen, guys. do you want to upset Ginsberg?

i had a strange term - it was so so so much hard work, with over 30 books to read, not to mention all the extra reading, the american lit discussion board, major essays, minor essays, essays that i didn't need to write but wrote anyway. so much writing and reading, which is what i signed up for. so i probably shouldn't complain too much.

but now summer is here in all its muggy glory. which means i am spending my days in John Le Carre novels, fighting over the sofa with Lottie (who is not allowed on the sofa, no matter what she thinks), drinking copious amounts of Pimms&Lemonade&Cucumber and steadfastly not thinking about Christmas.

what i am thinking about is 2011. which seems, so far, like it is going to be awesome. my last year of undergrad classes, a european jaunt in feb, employment, housesitting and undoubtedly more forgetting to blog.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Lizzle and I just saw this:

And it was utterly wonderful.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

i am trying

I have just handed in my final essay for the term; in which I argued - very loosely - that the courtship art of conversation is the method Elizabeth Gaskell uses to educate her characters and readers in North and South. This was after an essay in which I argued - very loosely - that Kate Chopin's The Awakening and Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray paint pictures of dissatisfied fin-de-siecle sexual beings. Which came after I argued - very loosely - the the Whitlam Government changed my family history by handing out free education. And before that, I argued - very loosely - that sometimes Ginsberg and Dickinson freak people out because they approach poetry from a non traditional standpoint.

.........I sense a pattern that I don't want to acknowledge.

And I was going to do a long whiny post about how I have no idea what I want anymore except maybe a big bottle of Pimms and access to the British National Library and to be magically fluent in French, but instead I thought NON!

And that was about as far as I got before I got distracted by the books I have to read for tomorrow, which are kind of utterly miserable in a beautiful way. When I have started my own university, which is tentatively titled THE UNIVERSITY OF YOU'RE NOT INVITED in my daydreams, I'm going to teach a course on books that aren't utterly miserable. It will be called "Sometimes Stuff is Nice" and there will be complimentary ice cream.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

lamest post ever?

I am supposed to be reading Washington Square by Henry James and rereading Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf for class tomorrow, but I have had a brain melt and feel I need to do some shouting about how, sometimes, I do things other than read books.

Except I can't remember any of them. This concerns me. I think I went to an open poetry night, but I'm pretty sure I spent most of the time worrying about Ginsberg and Dickinson. And I went to see Bre's band play again, but I spent most of the night trying not to embarrass myself in front of a boy and some bongo players. I failed.

I do know, that I went to Roller Derby on Saturday and had so much fun that I am considering giving up everything to be a Derby player. I would be Mad the Bad and I would be awesome. I'd have broken limbs, but they would be broken in an awesome manner.

That's what I fantasize about at present, when I don't know how to write about Kate Chopin and Oscar Wilde, or Dickinson and Ginsberg, or Elizabeth Gaskell, or how the 70s were good for women. I think "Gosh, all that would have been better with Roller Derby."

......I'm very tired, by the by.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

womb-tomb of decadent closure

I recently discovered (...err, was forced to read) Emily Dickinson, Kate Chopin and Kathy Acker.
I sort of want to carry on this with "DUUUUUUUUUUDE. DUDE. SO. FREAKING. WONDERFUL." but that's not very classy or articulate.

So. Emily Dickinson. Why haven't I read you before? Why did I dismiss you as some sort of American Jane Austen prim princess when you are a masochistic, sadistic, death dancing, church hating, desirous wonder-babe? I have seen the error of my ways, and boy. I love being wrong about words. Dickinson is fantastic - she packs more into a four line poem than Wordsworth ever did. She's so quietly vicious, so uptight. Her poems are like being laced into a corset, they're like shouting in the middle of the night, they are pinpricks of perfection. She is so incredibly stealthy, you don't even notice the bodily language you're using until you read it back.

Of course, none of the boys in my American Literature class are willing to give her any credit. She was "locked away". She had no "life experience". She was "socially inept". Listen, there's a big difference between "locked away" and choosing to reject the world. There's a whole world, a new language in her work that Dickinson created that I (and you, smelly boy) could never have dreamed up. It's bodily metaphysics. And besides, Allen Ginsberg loved her, so you have her to thank for those three famous lines you know. Talk to me when you've read the rest of Howl.

Ahem. Sorry. The dismissive nature of the boys in some of my classes is beginning to get to me.

So. I am in love with Emily Dickinson's words. I have also been heavily influenced by Camille Paglia's work Sexual Persona which recasts Dickinson as a female Marquis de Sade. I cannot get enough of stuff like that.

The next woman that has recently entered my life is Kate Chopin. Another American, but from the South. We read The Awakening for Women's Lit, and the best way to describe it is the first of the unhappy married women who undergoes sexual awakening novels. Except that doesn't do it justice at all. It's a powerful novel, powerful and beautiful and warm, with New Orleans and Grand Isle so vivid you can taste the sun. Edna Pontellier, the anti-heroine, is amazing. Her politics of refusal, the way she says no and refuses to give reason, is breath taking. This book is the first fin-de-seicle/Decadent book I have ever read by a woman, and I want to know more. I want to devour all her beautiful words again and again, all that lace, all that choked breath, that female Oscar Wilde, the knowing outsider. It's naturalism, you can hear her Darwinian thinking, her Greek Decadence. I feel like I always say this, but The Awakening is one of the most perfect books I have ever read by a woman.

Kathy Acker. The third American. The pickpocket. The whore. The woman who took a look at authorship and told it to fuck off. There are no words to describe Kathy Acker and The Adult Life of Toulouse Lautrec by Herni Toulouse Lautrec apart from nightmare thievery. Like Dickinson, she's bodily. Like Chopin she's refusing. Like neither of them she's pushing her way into and through desire, to satisfaction and away from it again. It's a mindfuck, complete with Henry Kissinger. My family would all hate it. Acker cheats you, cheats you the way she was cheated. Makes you push your boundaries, says "if you're some stupid boy going through a James Dean phase, I'm going to take James Dean and make you rethink him completely without changing a fucking thing."

C'est Magnifique, these women. With their desire and their anger. I don't think I knew women wrote like that. They are so refreshing, so terrifying, so beautiful, so dangerous.

Nothing else happens in my life except reading at the moment. Oh, and I saw Inception twice. For the explosions.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


The only reason I picked up the book in the shop was because Joseph Gordon-Levitt was looking devastating on the cover. There, I said it. I didn't expect the book to be amazing. I had no hopes for the film.

Sometimes, I really really love being wrong.

I read Mysterious Skin in one night. I remember staying up and having my throat aching the way it does when I'm tired. It was hot, Sydney being indecisive in summer, as I read about Brian Lackey and Neil McCormick. It was heartbreaking. There's not really anything uplifting about this book, except the occasional beauty in the language. It's about trying to find out who you were, and how you were that person. It's growing up in the most awful awful way. And it was all the anger, all the confusion, all the fucking hormones that I had, tied up and presented messily. It was the most believable story about aliens and being an alien I've ever read.

And then there's the film. I hate film versions of books (especially wretched Merchant Ivory). But Gregg Araki's film was exactly what I wanted. The dreamy music, the hick town, Brady Corbett as darling Brian, trying to remember the summer he was eight years old. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as cutthroatfragile Neil, who can't forget that summer. Even Michelle Tratchenberg was awesome. The whole movie captures that knife edge, when you know you're not quite grown up, but you so desperately want to be (I feel like I've been on that edge since I was about 7), when life feels hyper-real and the towns feel too small. It's confronting and gut wrenching. Mysterious Skin is unforgettable.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


........I'm beginning to feel like maybe I have a real life beyond a computer screen. This is disconcerting, but not unwelcome. It's a like actually experiencing something, as opposed to wanting to. Of course, this does mean that I'm in a quandary over my position as a subject or an object, but I figure as long as I'm craving macaroons and a houseboat, I'm probably a subject.

I'm currently trying to analyse an utterly stupid passage from Richardson's Pamela. It's stupid, stupid and stupid and I feel stupid about it, which is also stupid. I alienated everyone in one of my tuts by accidentally letting slip the fact that sometimes, the way everyone is so obsessed with the sixties irritates me. But I didn't really explain myself. What I meant was, we go on and on about the sixties being free, and how good it was. We don't do anything to try and make our own sixties.

So clearly now, all the boys who think they're Bob Dylan won't talk to me. Which phases me not! For I was always a Mick Jagger girl! Even though these days I find it difficult to look at him!

Besides, who needs Dylan when you have Bre&Eva?? Bre is one of the most amazing people I know, and on Wednesday she and Eva played their first open mic night at a pub in Glebe. It was intimate and wonderful. They did a cover of Aqua's "Dr Jones" which was adorable, and a song in French about Grand Theft Auto. It was so lovely to watch people have fun, and to have fun myself.

I spent today having lots of fun. I was supposed to be at a funeral, but I didn't want to spend the day being sad and angry, so I danced around to KISS and thought of funny things. And refused to be guilty, which is what I feel funerals are. A big guilt party. Well, fuck that.

And on that poignant note, I better go finish this ridiculous English paper.

.............if I ever. EVER. look like I'm going to take three English subjects at once, hit me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

not dead yet

Lurching. That is the best way to describe me at present. Lurching. Possibly creaking, like my bones are made of very precariously patched together scrap metal.

This is after two weeks of university, so the thought that the first two weeks have been good fills me with a sort of British Dread, y'know the "oh dear. things are going badly well, it can only get worse" sort of feeling. Optimism does not run strongly in my family, despite my best efforts at morning affirmations, which usually go "you are alive! congratulations, special snowflake!" before I fall back to sleep and dream of giant boots chasing me while brandishing copies of the Yellow Pages.

So. Faux-Academics, the only thing we talk about here (apart from irritations vexations and agitations). I'm currently studying a course on 18th-19th Century Literature (not quite sure how Kipling's 'Kim' ended up in that one), American Literature (which, in typical American fashion, refuses to travel linearly), Women's Literature (which rants and raves) and an history course that I have renamed "Why the 20th Century is so depressing". It's all terrible fun - I have been swamped by my readings, heading to bed at 2am after writing reams on Whitman and Margaret Cavendish (who was amazing), listening to bootlegs of Ginsberg reading his poetry rushing around campus trying to be in the right place at the right time, reading the unfortunately named Northrop Frye, who name drops more than I do. It's not quite the academic dream I had in mind, because people still don't really want to talk about it, but I wear a beret on days I forget to brush my hair and think about how awesome my brain's potential is.

I spent tonight at home, ostensibly dog sitting although in reality I was reading about some guy who once met Thomas Pynchon during the 60s and has never quite recovered. I wanted to sneer at him but that would be like sneering at myself (I only do that on Tuesdays). So instead I read Tennyson, who's not even on any of my courses, but my brain was hammering out like Ginsberg the night he met Moloch and really, I have to start going out on Saturday nights.

...I went out last Saturday night. I did! My siblings took me to see Bill Bailey, who was witty and outraged and called Julia Gillard a Dalek. He's probably right, I've never seen her use a stair case (only an elevator). He played Eine Kleine Nachtmusik on clown horns. We're playing that in our quartet at the moment. His was more orderly. The best thing about Bailey's comedy, for me, was that it's a little meandering, sort of whimsical. He doesn't swear just to make people laugh. My sides hurt the next day, in a good way.

This week I have to read Pamela by Samuel Richardson, Oroonoko by Aphra Behn, Inherent Vice by Pynchon and some ghastly article about the why colonialism fell to bits. I'm seeing Inception tomorrow afternoon, and planning on eating lots of yoghurt.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


"If you were an Archibald prize entry, you'd be a perfect portrait of middle class guilt."

Jason, like me, is extra snarky when he's not being paid attention to. I figured this out about three minutes after I met him, and he probably worked out the same about me. The problem today is that I'm trying to make my bed, listen to his griping/advice, learn the entire Camera Obscura discography and re-read Moll Flanders.

It's the latter that's causing me the most grief. I've read it before, sure, but it's the first book we're supposed to read for the ominously titled "The Novel" course, and I want to make sure I've got a decent grasp on it. The fact that the book is currently lying on the floor under my phone suggests that there is no grasping. I got distracted by Jase and his rude comment about my hypothetical Archibald painting. Surely my hair's not that bad, I responded, and would his be any better? We're both from similar backgrounds, both irritated that we're hampered by class in a supposedly classless world, and are both attracted to prints over pastels.

Australia can be surprisingly class-centric. Currently our media is fixated on our new PM, a 10pound Pom (like my grandparents?) from Wales. The words "working class background" are tossed around like some sort of exotic salad. What does it mean? What if Gillard was a toff? Isn't she a toff anyway, being our PM and all? Can we say we're a classless society when we're turning people away from our country and always talking about those wretched baby boomers, who have ruined everything? How am I supposed to feel in all of that, when I'm the picture of the problem with our generation, unemployed and unrepentant? It gets under my skin and I can't express how I feel about my spot in life, except to say that I'm worried, probably for all the wrong reasons.

When I was thinking all of this, I got so worked up that I had to sit upside down for a bit. And then when I stopped being dizzy, I tried Moll Flanders again. The problem with Defoe is that he writes in first person, and I've never fully reconciled with first person, because there's always an annoying part of me that says "this isn't you. you wouldn't be doing this." The last book I can think of that was written in the first person that really grabbed me was The Elegance of the Hedgehog (I am looking forward, in my own anxious way, to seeing the movie)....oh! and A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr, which I read last week. It's a lovely little book about English summertime. But other than those two, I just don't 'get' first person. It's probably a middle class failing. I hope that my Archibald artist can capture that when they paint my portrait.

And that I can decline all telephone conversations until after midday.

When I'm not reading books, then I'm looking at them.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

bite me.

I woke up this morning to find that I had spent the night in bed with a copy of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Considering I'm not even reading this book at present, and it was on my bookshelf when I went to bed, I'm a little concerned. Well, not really, as I knew that I was going to spend today finishing off Twilight, so my subconscious was probably trying to suggest something else. Let me be very clear. I am not reading Twilight by choice. I am reading it because it is a required book for my Women's Lit course. Boo hiss.

I knew my plan of getting all my reading done during the holidays would come back to bite me. Ahem.

When I found out Twilight was on the reading list, I wasn't that irritated, because most of my irritation was directed at the fact American Lit wanted me to re-read Beloved by Toni Morrison. Then they decided that they'd rather we read A Mercy, and all of my rage fell upon Twilight.

I feel this rage is justified. For I am not a reader of trashy novels. I get no joy out of reading works that rely heavily on dodgy punctuation and overusing the thesaurus. Vampires and werewolves are boring, as are passive-aggressive chiseled male love interests. But you've heard all of that already. The world is divided, after all, into people who love Twilight and people who loathe it. I was surprised that it was worse than I expected. The section in which Bella Swan takes her shabby copy of the Complete Austen outside to read, but then can't read because Sense & Sensibility has someone called Edward in it, and then Mansfield Park has an Edmund and it's all too much because it reminds her of nutjob Edward Cullen was just painful. The whole book is painful. Like having a tooth drilled - you're sort of numb from anesthetic but you know it's going to hurt later. And all the Wuthering Heights rubbish. Urgh. I can't even explain my repulsion for Heathcliffe and Cathy. My sister once commented (screamed from a rooftop) that the only way Wuthering Heights would be any good was if it had guns. I have to stop writing about these two books, with their wetfish females who don't like anything at all except the emotionally abusive, physically stupid male love interests and tendency to live in desolate landscapes. Bah.

There are lots of fun Twilight criticisms out there, much funnier and more astute than me. Two of my favourites are Cleolinda and Alex Reads Twilight.


To something nicer: I'm also reading Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South which is waaaaaaaaaaay better than I thought it would be (and also better than the two mentioned above) . The books on the reading lists aren't really that bad, although I've already read half of them. I'm enjoying rereading them and thinking about why they've been picked for the courses I'm taking, what makes them special (or not). I hadn't been into a bookstore for months, and then all of a sudden I found myself in Abbeys and whoa. I must look like a big snob, as I'm mostly buying Oxford World Classics. This morning I went out to buy new shoes and came home with Les Grandes Meaulnes and Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky. I'm also powerless to resist literary journals like Brick and Zoetrope. In the face of Etsy's zine section, I'm like Napoleon at Waterloo. that pathetic?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

go on, go on

I often think about methods of repetition, and how my life goes in circles, like Lottie chasing her tail. And I think about how the days bleed into one another, making Thursday the same as Monday. And then I think about Endgame which is my favourite play ever, and how bleakly awesome the human condition is. And now, after Wednesday night when I went to the theatre and saw Ian McKellen and Roger Rees in Waiting For Godot I think about how funny the bleakness of human existence is. That's what Beckett is all about, examining why we go on, even when we can't go on, and should we go on - what's there to do if we don't go on? No, we must go on, because going on is all there is to do. One of the things that makes Beckett accessible to me is that my entire life, my mother has (perhaps unconsciously) spoken like one of his characters. He writes in a language I understand, with his jokes satisfying my immature side. Theatre, no, Art is supposed to make you think, and I will challenge anyone who comes out of a Beckett play not thinking about their existence and motivations. Especially the current Waiting For Godot production - it's mesmerising and awesome, from the heartbeats in the music, to the ridiculous Potso, to the relationship between Vladimir and Estragon, although I admit I was mildly concerned by how old and tired Rees and McKellen looked, until they started dancing. Their movements are those of tiredly cheeky old men, and there's an element of The Goon Show in Beckett, some of Spike Milligan's sadness. If you've never seen a Beckett play, run out and go to the first one you can find.

And if you've never heard The Goon Show then really, you aren't a human being. My dad played me tapes of this radio show when I was a kid, and I've never quite recovered. Libby and I used to sit around reading the scripts together, hooting with laughter. Napoleon's Piano and The Flea were two particular favourites. The show consists of the adventures of Ned Seagoon, voiced by Harry Secombe, and his encounters with Gryptype-Thynne and Count Moriarty (voiced by Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan respectively). There's also the hilarious brown-paper trousers Bluebottle (Sellers) and the less-than-half-wit Eccles (Milligan). The show is surreal, absurd, ridiculous and fantastic, all in one, with bizarre plot lines that make no sense. They used to play it very early in the morning on ABC radio and when I couldn't sleep, I'd listen to it and be in a good mood all day. Now you can buy the cds. I presume it's on you-tube somewhere. Prince Charles is also a big fan. Libby and I used to try to get out of PE with the excuse that we had "The Lurgi", and blowing raspberries ala Bluebottle is common place in my household. I wish there was a radio programme like this on these days. Or just anything decent on the radio, really.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Oh dear. Just a scant week after term finishes, and I've already gotten my self prepped for my exam, had my birthday and a haircut, been violently ill for three days, read all the books I borrowed from the library, exhausted my dvd collection and become terribly bored.

It seems I've been terribly busy without being busy.

Part of the problem is that I am (gosh,this is pathetic) so desperate for next term to start, and also a wee bit lonely. Any attempts to make friends with people last term sort of...fizzled. I must be very scary, due to the fact that in two of my classes I was the only person who wasn't studying education. And possibly because I had to explain who Horatio Nelson was, and people don't like it when you tell them that the telescope was invented before WW1. I don't know, really, it just felt like a weird and lonely term. So I read a lot and learned a lot and thought a lot. Nothing very profound, or if it was profound, I forgot about when some wag nearly knocked me off the train on the way home. The moment they work out a safe non sweaty route from my house to university, I'll be bike riding every day. Even in the rain. That's how much I detest the late running over crowded train ride home.

Often the train is so crowded, I can't even get my book out to read. Because the books I've been reading are very thick, or have covers with naked people on, stupid classical art, like the biography of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester that I'm blearily making my way through. It's ridiculously awesome in its detail, but sort of heavy going. So I've my concession to the World Cup, a copy of Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals, which is about wizards who try to play football. I don't mind admitting that I'd quite like to be the Librarian from Unseen University, even though I'm not that fond of bananas.

And that's it, really. No profound thoughts or ranting. Just one tired litle pickle of a girl who's worried that the net four weeks are going to be interminably boring.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

not exactly

from Jezebel

"Doctor Who script writer Gareth Roberts would like for Lady Gaga to be on the show! "She is no stranger to dressing up and would be more than a match for the Doctor." (NYPost)



I have absolutely nothing against Lady Gaga, I'd just like her to stay away from the Doctor. As far as I'm concerned, she makes above average pop music that has been super hyped by her costume and staging. The woman is clearly very clever and aware of how fame works, but the thought of her on Doctor Who is a little cringe worthy, mostly because I'm not sure Gaga can step out of her persona, become an alien and let the Doctor save the day. It wouldn't be an episode of Doctor Who, it'd be an episode of Lady Gaga.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I turned my computer off last Tuesday, and didn't turn it on again till this evening. I did the same with my phone.

And spent the weekend with my mind on Eurovision.

There are guarantees with Eurovision - the Greeks always wear white, the Eastern European entries are particularly bizarre, the wind machines get over worked, the commentators that SBS sends to Europe are awful and snarky. France enters the same song every year and everyone pretends not to notice. Oh, and the English entry will be dreadful.

This year though, the English entry's dreadfulness was surpassed by Cyprus. Or Wales, depending how you look at it. For some reason, the songwriters who wrote the Cypriot entry couldn't find one decent singer in the country, which numbers 862.434. According to Google, so that's probably wrong. But still. So they went looking and found a Welshman. There's something about this that seems very dubious. The Welshman in question pulled his shirt up to reveal "I Love You Mum" had been written on his stomach before the performance. Which was, musically and Eurovisionally, a bit woeful.

Most of the entries that made it to the finals were woeful, come to think of it. There was the Ukraine's entry, which was an Evanescence meets Kylie apocalypse type song. Belarus did something operatic about butterflies. The highlight of Azerbaijan's entry was Jeremy and I trying to work out how to do the dance move that symbolised a "drip drop drip drop" (you make a figure eight, horizontally and then a dismissive gesture). The English entry, while an improvement on last years Andrew Lloyd Weber fiasco, was still pathetic and confusing. Iceland should have sung about volcanoes, but instead chose to sing in French. There were too many ballads, which made the Romanian duelling piano number twice as exciting as it really is (plus the male singer looked like my cello teacher). Moldova had some thrusting saxophones, Serbia sang about the Baltic-ness, but we were mesmerized by how the singer's hair surpassed Justin Beibers for hilarity. Turkey was just plain weird. The German number, which won, was very cute but needed more oomph.

The whole thing was made much more "oomphy" by the addition of a bottle of peach schnapps we found in the pantry, but the fact is, Eurovision was lacking for us this year. This was partly because of the overload of ballads, but also because LITHUANIA WAS ROBBED.


We're still a bit sore about that. I mean really, Lithuania had the Eurovision package - their song was upbeat, had totally insane lyrics, inflatable instruments, an great costume reveal (plaid pants to sparkly hotpants) and was totally kitsch. Which is what Eurovision was all about. Sadly, Lithuania didn't make it past the 2nd Semi-final. My siblings and I rediscovered our (tenuous) Lithuanian heritage and threatened war.

Then my brother fell in love with the adorable Lena from Germany and defected. Traitor. Claudia got fed up with the annoying commentary from the SBS people, and I became interested in whether you could track a country's alliances/historical enmity through their Eurovision votes. Turns out you can. The French and English still hate one another, all the Scandinavian countries love each other and Georgia and Russia aren't talking.

Eurovision. It's kind of like the United Nations, except that they achieve stuff (hilarity and breaking of wind machines, mostly) and everyone else isn't invited.


Romania (watch the official video clip, it's hilarious)

Germany - I love Lena's pronunciation, but I wish she'd been more glittery.


Two days of term left, and then I can finally, finally, finally, sit down and do some reading. And clean my room. And the Film Festival starts tomorrow!

Oh, and it's my birthday in a week.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

anyone's ghost

My nose is always the first thing to freeze, and there was a morning where Claudia and I plotted making nose warmers out of felt and string that always makes me smile. Nowadays we talk about the Revolution, and how irritating it is that the world turns on money, not smiles.

The second thing to freeze is my toes, and I know that winter is making a valiant attempt when I wear stockings for more than a week and find myself washing them in the bathroom sink. Lottie is a jumping dog, so I've had to invest in thick stockings that she can't destroy. I caught her trying to pull them off the washing line.

And then the mornings are cold all the way through to the afternoon.


I read Coleridge and Foucault and Byron and Woolfe and Stein today, while listening to the National's new album. I ducked in and out of a greener land and tried not to think about how David Cameron might ruin my plans of studying in the UK, thinking instead about how terrible Oscar Wilde and I could have been, ripping through the young men of London before Alan dropped his Physics textbook on my leg, demanding I explain David Malouf.

The really rotten thing about being a Literature-History fanatic is that there's always this bloody wall between you and the things you love. It's beyond frustrating, trying to learn from the past when you can't ask questions of the people who wrote things. But only if you're an idiot, I might add. The thing that's so wonderful about being a Literature-History fanatic is that there's always this bloody wall between you and the things you love. I have spent the past two weeks thinking about E.M Forster and Radclyffe Hall and all the things they did in the name of love and education. I have been thinking, using my brain, doing the work for all the lazy idiots in my classes who are studying to be teachers but can't be bothered to think independently. I am a terrible snob, but one who is worried about the future of education in Australia. Not worried enough to become a teacher and force children to listen to me, but worried all the same.

There's a section in Orwell's 1984 which talks about how they're going to distill Shakespeare and Wordsworth, and all words until there's just one word. What if that happens?

I'll be a dinosaur.


i have to be careful to read things written recently otherwise the tone of my voice turns into toffery and people think i'm awful.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar

I have opened a bag of Clinkers, and of the three I've eaten so far, they've all been banana flavoured. This sort of sums up my week. Banana flavoured lollies are gross.

I'm reading a biography of Oscar Wilde when I should be writing an assignment about the French Revolution, because I find procrastination to be far less stressful than actually working. Apparently Wilde took this approach also, and considering he churned out The Importance Of Being Earnest in three weeks, I feel confident that I can produce 2500 words of passable tripe on the French for Monday morning.

It's that point in the term, when suddenly there are 8 assignments, plus the looming threat of exams, and absolutely no light in the tunnel except for the glare of the computer screen as one tries to find something, anything that makes the smallest amount of sense that can be paraphrased and placed neatly within the confines of an argument that probably doesn't have a real argument at it's heart. The British election process makes more sense than I do at this point. At least they have people who may or may not be in charge. All I have is a packet of Clinkers and a worrying sense that the future will see me turning into my mother. This is not a bad thing, per se, (scads better than turning into my European History teacher, who is a moron) but means I will spend too much time worrying about my work, think that theatre that involves lots of shouting is "brave" and become addicted to True Blood.

And the Freud will come and hit me with a stick, whilst telling me about the symbolism of the stick. I will respond by saying "sometimes a Clinker is just a Clinker" and he will be incomprehensibly Austrian at me. We looked at Freud this week, and while the silent majority of my class (everyone except me. they must all have lockjaw) seemed to take a very very quiet academic approach to him, I just felt worried by reading Lecture 33, in which he discusses Feminine Sexuality. It worried me because it seems so prescriptive, like one must pass through the Oral, Anal, pre-Oedipal, and Oedipal stages in order to be considered a normal female. That we have to be normal. The most worrying thing of all was the way that the Freudian approach to Feminine Sexuality - which is to approach it in terms of way is pleasurable for a man - has remained the dominant ideology in popular culture's thinking of sex. We can talk about how modern we are until the cows come home, but pick up any woman's magazine, and Freud is there, waving his cigar at you.

I had a very loud conversation about this on the train home, and a little old woman kept giving us filthy looks. A few men looked decidedly uncomfortable, but when the conversation degenerated into cries of "a banana is just a banana!" "a newspaper is just a newspaper!" "communism is just communism!" and so on, people looked a little relieved.

Wouldn't do for one short literature fanatic and one tall physics genius to undo several decades of thought whilst on a late running train, would it?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

minor irritants

Alan is intently trying to explain the Large Hadron Collider to me, using three pencils, two cigarettes (origins unknown, neither of us smoke) a straw, a usb stick and a pencil sharpener. I have had two hours sleep and am trying desperately to understand why everyone thinks the LHC is so dangerously wonderful when he breaks off and says
"Whatever happened to that blog of yours?"'
I mutter something about Lillian Faderman and Lytton Strachley and Marston and stupid religious reforms before hurling my usb stick towards the pencil sharpener. Nothing happens except they stop moving, and we both pause. Clearly the Swiss have a better set up than we do.
"Perhaps we'd get a more realistic reaction if we used glitter."


I am growing used to Sydneysiders and their terrible behaviour on public transport. I have had my bottom pinched by lecherous old men in the crowds at peak hour, my pudgy upper arm pinched by a cranky woman who wanted to be standing where I was. I have had things thrown at me by idiot youths. I once had to endure a very smelly man providing the entire carriage with a running commentary about how bad my posture was.
But Wednesday just about had me learning to drive.
Sydney trains come in about four varieties, all dated from 1826. The train I was on had a bench seat that seated three, then an aisle, then a bench seat for two. I boarded this train at 8.42am at Ashfield. It was nearly full, and one thing people in Sydney hate is other people. Especially on trains. I agree with this line of thinking, but it was early and I wanted to sit down. So I politely squeezed past the tiny girl who was sitting on the aisle side of a three-seater. She though this was a bit rude, and let out a giant sigh. And threw her bag over the remainder of the seat.
I let out an equally huge sigh, and put my bag on top of hers, (it couldn't go in my lap, I had three chapters of Faderman to read before 10am).
It was a long journey, this time even longer because this girl would not stop sighing. Clearly I was an affront to decency by daring to sit near her.
When we got to Redfern, the two-seater across the aisle became free. She stood up and moved towards it, taking her bag. And mine.
"That is taking it a bit too far" I thought. So I politely, and loudly asked
"Sorry, do you mind if I have my bag back?"
She let out another huge sigh, as if this was a terrible thing for me to have asked her, and I snatched my bag back. I then stormed up into the vestibule, waiting for Central (next after Redfern). Idiot girl got out at Central too, and I was determined not to have to deal with her on the bus to uni.
She pushed in front of me in the bus queue.
By the time I got to university, I had calmed down a bit, grabbed a coffee and was nearly finished with my Faderman. I sat in the sun, slowly defrosting (mornings are cold here!) and ignoring my watch.
When I finally bothered to check the time, I realised I was two minutes late for my lecture, so I ambled off (past the continually sighing girl who was no doubt bitching about me to all her friends. unsw is a small small place sometimes). And was confronted with a sign that said
"Dear H.O.S. Students, in case you haven't checked your email, the lecture is cancelled today as Z is sick."

I went home, feeling curiously defeated by life. If I had checked my email, then I wouldn't have put myself and that girl in a bad mood.

But I still think Sydney public transport users should learn some manners. Its that or facing me on the roads.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

more faux academia...

Me (thought): Do you think that perhaps reason we start to see more of an awareness of the problems inherent in Othello when we attempt to place it in a modern setting, and that maybe race isn't really the crux of it, not in ways we 21st century beings conceive of it anyway. And couldn't we argue that Iago isn't a sociopath or psychopath, that he's instead displaying some sort of repression crisis emblematic of the stifling society Shakespeare lived in?

Me (out loud): Oh god. Othello hurts my head. Oh look, I need new socks.

I wish my brain had a better connection to my mouth.

I do have an issue with people "diagnosing" Iago though. I think it's stupid. When people say "Iago's a sociopath" what they mean is "I watch SVU religiously and therefore have a deep understanding of mental illness". Iago is a nasty person, beset with jealousy and insecurity. End. Shakespeare didn't put thoughts of mental illness into his characters. I'm sure someone has written a convincing paper about how Iago is a sufferer of mental illness, but until I read that, I'm sticking with my Professor's viewpoint, which is "think not what you think of Shakespeare, but what Shakespeare thought of Shakespeare", reason being, that viewpoint lets me be a hellion during class, allowing me some sort of revenge for not originally following the viewpoint in the first test. Because apparently Shakespeare didn't have a deep understanding of mental illness, but he had a deep understanding of how important youth apprentices were in his portrayal of women.



We finally got to watch the first episode of the new Doctor Who. I'm impressed, but I'm slightly underwhelmed. More explosions would have been good. Matt Smith certainly has energy (and custard and bow ties!!), and it's a different energy to Tennant's. I'm reserving judgment until at least Episode 3, but I've got my fingers crossed that Eleven doesn't turn out to be as sentimental as Ten. I may be the only person who was irritated by Ten's last few episodes, muttering "get on with it" as my mother sniffled over his angst torn face.
I fully expect legions of Tennant fans to garrote me tomorrow morning.


Even after spending too much time drinking Coopers last night, talking about the politics of Lady Gaga, singing along to Bon Jovi and Joy Division (god help me), in the back of my mind I was still thinking about this essay I'm writing for History of Sexuality. Normally, if this happens, it's because I know I should be home working, but last night it was because I'm actually really excited about writing this essay. It's only a few thousand words, but I'm looking at the emergence of gay and lesbian Literary Subcultures in the early 1900s, which means looking at the Bloomsbury set (Woolfe, Isherwood, Forster) and The Americans (Stein and Radclyffe Hall). It's completely awesome that during a period when national identity was being fully shaped, literary people began to move their manuscripts out of the closet. Anyway, all that probably solves the mystery of this morning: "Why I woke up with the words check antiquity chapter and climb state library written on my hand.

For a moment there I thought I was planning a heist, but when the morning fog cleared, I realised that no, no I was drunkenly planning to visit the State Library. Because I have no consistent social life to distract me from becoming emotionally invested in my work.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I have a love hate relationship with libraries. I love that they are free, full of books and that there's always one stereotypical snarky librarian. But I intensely dislike that all the books are hardbound so they look the same, half the books seem to be missing because other people have the audacity to borrow them, these 'learning spaces' keep popping up which disturbs the quiet peace of the library, they make me sneeze and everything is electronic.

So I was mildly surprised to discover that the library had the book I wanted. I was slightly surprsied when the only version of it on the shelves was written in French. (This happens a lot at my library.) But I was positively shocked when a librarian walked past and asked me if I was looking for anything. When I explained, she looked over her cart, and presented me with the book I was looking for. I had a brief duel with the self-borrowing machine, and went home, surprised at my success.

Now I just have to read the damn thing.

Friday, April 2, 2010

five hundred in twenties

It felt slightly sacrilegious, but I spent Good Friday writing about Onanism and Early Christian Sex, but there you go. It's not like I'm particularly attached to religious convention or thought anyway. But we live two doors from a very loud church that always seems to have bad music coming out of it. So while they were Crooning for Christ, I was writing about Onanism, and that people just couldn't stop desire. It's all so silly, how scared of desire people were...are, even. I want to be able to talk about these things, about why we're so scared of our bodies when nowadays science has largely explained them to us. But the people in my tutorial just want to talk about how they've had sexual encounters in art galleries.


"It's like, they couldn't see, y'know, how the Church was like, taking away their like, freedoms and like the concept of like human rights was like, totally alien. Y'know?"

I've started counting how many times people say "like" and "y'know" when they open their mouths in tutorials, because that's far easier than trying to work out if they're saying anything or just Valley Girl-ing.


And everything here is the usual drama-that-isn't-really-drama. My Grandparents are on the mend, and the Gray's Anatomy vibe that's been hanging about is ebbing away. Liz and the Beard are abandoning me, sorry, heading off on a European Adventure tomorrow morning. Lottie is bigger everyday and is terrified of ducks. I am trying to write an Analysis of the so-called "Crises" of the 17th Century, an essay+annotated bibliography on Freud and Dora and an essay on Othello/Antony+Cleopatra/Sex. I'm moving into the library next week, and I'll be dropping breadcrumbs behind me, otherwise you'll never hear from me again

Monday, March 29, 2010


Some people, when presented with a crisis, will stand up and take control in a calm, sensitive manner. Others act like total tits. Some people will try and centre anything on themselves, and others will cry in corners for weeks. Some people, like my dad, will be bastions of self-control and concern, up until the point where they can't resist making some sort of joke. Others, like my brother, will be charming and cheerful. And some people, like me, get quietly angry (at goodness knows what) and have the urge to knit, because goodness knows they can't do anything else to help.

I've been thinking about all of this, partly because I'm interested in trauma culture but mostly because on Saturday evening my grandparents Gill and Phil were in a terrible car accident. They're both in pretty bad shape, but should be fine (in a few months). My brother and I spent most of yesterday in RNS Hospital with Rob, our step uncle, waiting and waiting and waiting until we could see them. When we did see them, they were both pretty out of it. And because I couldn't do anything, I fidgeted. Which is where my desire to knit came from, presumably. And I thought about how we deal with trauma, and as my mind is wont to do when I think about trauma, and trauma culture and memory culture and all these things I've read about but never actually studied, I ended up at what is considered the Heart of Australian Identity, ANZAC Day, and had to go breathe into a paper bag for a bit.

Perhaps I am one of those people who makes everything about them.

I can't begin to describe how relieved our family is that they're alive. (and making rude jokes about nurses)


And when mum and dad got to the hospital (they'd driven for four hours from Orange) suddenly everything got a whole lot more real. Everyone looked tired and older than usual. Watching Dad was bizarre, and I think I probably haven't processed all of this, so I shouldn't really be thinking about it. Phil did lots of silly morphine talk.


Sunday morning saw Lottie and I going on our daily walk, wherein she drags me around for an hour and I trip over things and wonder why I'm awake at 6.30, when it's still dark. At that time of day, it's as if nothing bad has ever happened. Lottie snuffles and mumbles to herself and is just so dear that I feel we could spend all day walking.

Monday, March 22, 2010

with eyes that had gone intensely blue

I have spent all afternoon trying to write something about how wonderful E.M. Forster's Maurice is. It's a beautiful book on so many levels - the story, of Maurice Hall and his awakenings & growth - mostly sexual, but also spiritual, political - the rejection of urban England and civilisation - the love between Maurice and Clive and Alec - Maurice's heartbreak, which is so very devastating, like every first heartbreak is - the writing itself which is so tense, so perfect -the sense of change in the air -the way you can see Forster in the story - that, (according to Leavitt in the intro essay in the penguin 2005ed) Forster writes himself out of the story -the ending, which is so dearly vague as to let you think that maybe, maybe happy endings exist.

I loved this book. I've read it five times in the past week, which is not a massive thing because it's only 214 pages, but there's so much there. This is the best criticism of English culture I have ever read. This is the best gay novel I have read, because I think it's one of the best real love novels. The fact that this is a gay novel, written in 1914, is essential to what makes it great . I could go on and on and on about Maurice. But instead I think I'll cross my fingers and hope you love it as much as I do.

His mind had cleared, and he felt that they were against the whole world, that not only Mr Borenius and the field but the audience in the shed and all England were closing around the wickets. They played for the sake of each other and of their fragile relationship - if one fell the other would follow. They intended no harm to the world, but so long as it attacked, they must punish, they must stand wary, they must show that when two are gathered together majorities shall not triumph. And, as the game proceeded, it connected with the night, and interpreted it.
-page178-8, Maurice, E.M. Forster, Penguin 2005ed.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

seven hundred billion stairs

The first two weeks of term are always draining and raining. I spent the first week in a daze with "buy notebooks" on my hand, trying to remember the names of people I'm sure I've met. There are lots of orange tanned people. None of my lecturers can work the projection system. There's standing in the massive line at the bookstore to spend over $200 on textbooks, then another hour in the second hand bookstore to spend far too much on Shakespeare and books that I don't need for school, but want to read anyway. The stairs still steal my breath. The bus line gets longer every year, and they still haven't realised that they need more than one bus at midday.

It's good to be back.

Although I feel a little out of place, like someone is going to tap me on the shoulder and ask me where my mummy is. Like I've been let into second year by mistake, and the computers haven't noticed yet.

The subjects I'm taking are mostly history based, so as I've been doing the readings, I've managed to forget that there's this thing called the Internet. Really. When reading about trade routes or city walls in 15th Century Europe, or sex hierarchies in Ancient Greece, I'm sort of amused and awed by the way people found something to do with their lives other than post comments on Facebook. Which is what every student with a laptop is doing during lectures.

While I'm still managing to make an idiot of myself in tutorials, my lectures are interesting (so far) - my Modern Europe; Renaissance to Revolutions lecturer managed to make city walls almost as interesting as the awful things people used to do to one another (reigniting my interest in Heloise & Abelard). My History of Sexuality class isn't so much about sex, as it is about what people think of sex, identity and the relation between the two. And the two subjects link quite nicely with one another, as does my third class (yes, I'm being lazy and doing 3 classes. I couldn't find a fourth one I liked)

I did run away from Creative Writing, but it was more of a considered retreat. I found myself sitting in the first lecture being ridiculously worried by the number of people wearing berets. I myself own two berets, but had forgotten to wear one that day. I then realised that I would spend the entire semester in a ridiculous state of self derision and judgment, which would result in much unneeded angst and bad writing. So I enrolled in Shakespeare & Renaissance Drama, and couldn't be happier. The lecturer is brilliant, and the fact that we get to study other playwrights from Shakespeare's era is awesome, because the sex-violence-nexus focus of the time is fascinatingly dangerous, scintillating and so very clever.

I don't think I really wanted to be a writer anyway - a creative writer at least. I don't like the word "creative" as it simultaneously says "what we do is better than academic writing" and "this isn't real work". The idea of there being a correct way to write is also unnerving. But what terrified me most was having to share my work every week. I don't like having to explain my choices to people, and will often attempt to blind you with library science and intertextuality if you ask me to justify myself. "If Marcel Proust did it, so can I!". Why I'm trying to justify my choice to drop Creative Writing is beyond me. I'm happier writing papers with an academic edge, working on developing my own voice in essays. Is that nerdy? I don't really care.

Back to Shakespeare. We're currently studying Romeo & Juliet. I once saw a production of R&J done by girls from my school and boys from the local private. The concept somehow involved Bruce Springsteen songs as musical interludes performed by ex-students. The masquerade scene had Lady Capulet dressed as a naughty Red Riding Hood. Having never read the play until now, I was quietly pleased that it's much much funnier and bawdier than any school production is ever allowed to be.

And while the stories Shakespeare told are old hat to us, I think it's important to remember that at the time, this was new - it was fresh. The tale of Romeo and Juliet went against all social conventions, and today still forces a judgment of the characters. Richard the 3rd (one of my dear favourite plays) is amazing political propaganda for the Tudor family, as is Henry VIII. The plays also saw the invention of phrases that are still in use "beast with two backs" and "forgone conclusion" being but two. My highschool English teacher, when asked why we had to study Hamlet, placed her hands to her expansive bosom and sighed. "Because, my darlings, are we not all, in some way, Hamlet?" What she lacked in clarity, she made up in gravitas.

I suppose I could have just said "I took Shakespeare because it fit in my timetable" instead of waxing lyrical, but waxing lyrical about things is what I'm best at, and what this blog is all about.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

i think too loudly

UM. I think if you added up all the words I wrote in February and did some sort of mathematical thing with them, then you'd find that I did write about 25 words a day. Just not on every day. What happened was that real life got in the way. Insomuch as I have a life. I got sick, my computer got sick, my dog needed lots of walking and there were lots of books to read . (and my merlin series two dvd arrived, so there was lots of laughing to be done). But now I'm back at university, and thinking more than I do in the summer.

I've been thinking about misanthropy, and how it's becoming something we like in ourselves - most of our conversations are complaining, we actively deride the mainstream, nothing is ever good enough. It's beginning to worry me, but I'm counteracting it by looking at pictures of puppies, people with tattoos and making faces at babies - that's one of my favourite things to do, make a funny face at a small new person, and seeing their reaction. Most babies grin with delight at getting attention, some look confused. When I was working for CullaChange, a woman was having a very serious discussion with my coworker Dee, while I poked my tongue out at her baby. When they finished talking and the woman looked at her baby again, the baby stuck its tongue out. The mother said "Where did you learn to do that?!?". One of my more awesome moments, I think.

I've had non awesome moments recently. Sometimes I am a nasty person. I have a competitive streak that never found a sporting activity to keep it quiet. So I measure myself up against everyone else, and find myself wanting, every. single. time. It's getting boring. I also hate admitting that I'm wrong. All this leads to inarticulate stomping around. I know what's wrong, but I can't get it out, because I feel stupid. (And also, I feel like in this post-therapy culture where everyone's fucked up, we're becoming more cynical about people having bad days.) So the past few weeks saw me stomping around because I can't have what I want, but someone else can, but I don't want to get what they have the same way they did, I want to do it all on my own. Does that make any sense at all? Probably not.

This all culminates in me having to have an awkward talk with my father. My parents and I aren't talkers. It's awkward. I never got the sex talk all my friends did, my mother and I don't have heart to hearts. We talk about books or theories more than we talk about our feelings. Anyway, the awkward talk about what's wrong with me (because it is nearly always me) involves a clarinet, a hyperactive puppy and three tissues. I admit that I am not a nice person, but that I would like to be. My dad says possibly the best thing he's ever said to me (however cheesy it renders on here)

"So you aren't a nice person. But you want to be. That's the most important thing. You want to be good, and you try."

And then he compared me to Lancelot*, and things went back to being academic.

*people think Lancelot was the bravest knight. But he was always the most scared, and had to work the hardest at not running away. It doesn't seem as important when you learn that Thomas Malory based Lancelot on his perception of himself.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

canada's greatest export

"All the disparates of the world, the different wings of the paradox, coin-faces of problem, petal-pulling questions, scissor-shaped conscience, all the polarities, things and their images and things which cast no shadow, and just the everyday explosions on the street, this face and that, house and a toothache, explosions which merely have different letters in their names, my needle pierces it all, and I myself, my greedy fantasies, everything which has existed and does exist, we are part of a necklace of incomparable beauty and unmeaning."

- Leonard Cohen Beautiful Losers Vintage Books 1966, page 17.

My head always spins when I read Beautiful Losers. Having the Winter Olympics on in the background doesn't seem to make much difference, although the Luge terrifies me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

skip this

Today was a manky day. You know, one of those days where everything seems slightly off and irritating and you don't really know why, nor do you know what you want to be doing. today was manky, and steamy and rainy and dull. My A string kept going flat, and this new Haydn piece we're playing in Quintet is boring - bloody wind instruments get all the interesting parts, and the two cellos don't get anything challenging because the other cellist doesn't like to over exert herself. Hrrmph. This wretched TinTin book I'm trying to read has such potential, but is so bland. Everything on telly is about some giant sporting event in Vancouver, my cooking is still an utter disaster (if the recipe says sunflower oil, don't use olive oil, your cupcakes will sweat) and really, this whole "blogeverydaytogetreadyforcreativewriting" business was a silly idea.

I hope tomorrow is not manky.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I really have to start making more of an effort to go out on Friday nights - otherwise I stay home watching Silent Witness, wishing I was a forensic pathologist and had Dr Nikki Alexander's wardrobe.

The cricket has been rained/thunderstormed out, which makes me feel better about not going. Lottie came home from being "fixed" today and celebrated by chewing on the TinTin novel I'm trying to read. I suspect that was some sort of cultural commentary. The book - TinTin In The New World is weird, but I can't work out if it's due to translation problems or Belgian uppityness.

Have a swell weekend!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

every word, every word

"Like any form of Art, literature's mission is to make the fulfillment of our essential duties more bearable. For a creature such as man, who must forge his destiny by means of thought and reflexivity, the knowledge gained from this will perforce be unbearably lucid. We know that we are beasts who have this weapon for survival and that we are not gods creating a world with our own thoughts, and something has to make our wisdom bearable, something has to save us from the woeful eternal fever of biological destiny."

- from page 244 of The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (Gallic 2008 English Edition)

I am going to have this printed on to small cards so that when people ask me why I so desperately love literature and so desperately believe in authors who are the opposite of Dan Brown, I can give them a card, smile smugly and return to my book.

I was a bit suspicious of Barbery's book, because I am a snob who would prefer to read something no one else has read so I can be all snobby about it. It's a habit I picked up from an undesirable acquaintance and a habit I'm trying to get rid of. When Amanda recommended The Elegance of the Hedgehog I realised that I had to get over myself. I handed over my $25 (what is the deal with rising book prices, dear government, do you want to encourage boorishness?) and curled up with Lottie (who likes to gnaw everything, including the remote, whatever book I'm reading and her own tail). I was pleasantly surprised. While some of the writing style seems a little heavy, there's such intelligence within that you can forgive that. The autodidact concierge Renee and the anti-bourgeois teenager Paloma are delightful. I wish I'd been as intelligent as Paloma when I was twelve - the way that Barbery has written is mischievously world-weary, if one can be such a thing, without being cynically pretentious. And Renee is the sort of woman that I would like to have tea with. Self taught, secretly smarter than the people she has to work for, she's just delightful. The ebb and flow of the two women's voices is lovely, the way their thoughts intertwine and their lives begin to move closer together.

What I enjoyed most though, was the appreciation of little moments that Barbery and her characters have, whether it's watching owners try to separate their dogs or defending Grammar or watching rose petals, there is a feel that, as Paloma says (on page269) "beauty consists of its own passing, just as we reach for it....Maybe that's what being alive is all about: so we can track down those moments that are dying." You might find that morbid, but I think in this busy modern world where we worry about our superannuation when we're only 21, we need to find those dying moments, those things that will never happen again. If only so that we don't feel like beasts.


Dearest Cricket Australia,
It has been a summer of lots of cricket, hasn't it? And you're not finished yet, not by a long shot! I understand your desire to promote your sport and make as much money as possible, but I have one or two issues to raise with you. Firstly, there is too much cricket happening. We, the viewers, are bored. We are turning off the television, having stomached more than enough of Channel 9's abysmal excuse for a commentary team, we are staying away from the cricket grounds. Might I suggest that whatever you have planned for the 2010-2011 season, you cut in half. Yes, in half. Yes, I know this means the Ashes tour will be shorter, but really, unless the English cricket team can promise that all its players will be fit, in a competitive mood, then watching Australia beat the Poms 5 test matches in a row is going to be very very dull. Even if they do win back that little pot of ashes. So shall we say 3 tests instead of 5, half the number of one-day matches, and for goodness sake, don't schedule any Twenty20s. They are boring, bogan cricket and make Bill Lawry wet his pants. There is barely any tension in Test cricket, let alone one-dayers and Twenty20. Tension is the whole point of cricket. It is a gentleman's game, it's supposed to be full of barely restrained fury, twirly mustaches and cries of "jolly good show!". Not Bill Lawry's nasal cries of whatever it is he goes on about. While we're at it, new commentary team please. Perhaps with a woman or two involved - I'm sure I'd be fabulous at it.
My next issue with you, dear Cricket Australia, is your ticket prices. My brother and I were all set to help your declining audience numbers tomorrow at the one day match between the West Indies and Australia. At $50 for a Bronze ticket, which would put us two lily livered pasty pants out in the scorching sun for the majority of the match, I have to regretfully tell you to get stuffed, and lower your ticket prices. It's not worth it - not when the result of the match is practically a foregone conclusion. Which brings me to my final point - Until there is a team willing to get their act together and offer the Australians some decent competition, the Australian team must play not with 11 members, but 10. They must also bat with their less dominant hand and during batting power plays, at least 6 of the fielders must have a hand tied behind their backs. I say this not as someone proud of her national team, but as someone very very very very bored with Australia winning all the time. It's boring. And they are so ungracious about that. Someone get Jerome K. Jerome back from the dead, I'm sure he could teach them how a gentleman should play cricket.
So, dearest Cricket Australia, don't let me down. I (and probably all the other viewers who have turned off the teev) am counting on you.
P.S. If you could get Channel 9 to stop going to the news at 6 o'clock if the team that isn't Australia is batting, that'd be great. I wrote them a rude letter about the colonial racist undertones and double standards, but they haven't replied. Pip-pip!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


{Loud sighs of happiness}
Reasons for the awesomeness of Shakespeare pub:
-it might be the only pub in Sydney that doesn't play music - or if it does, it's not so loud that your eardrums bleed.
- it's also the only place in Sydney where I don't feel embarrassed for being a Pimms drinker.
- watching ten grown men being told the pub has no shot glasses, and seeing them do shots from tumblers of whiskey - and seeing their faces afterward.
- all the people there who don't drink to get drunk.

I have the hiccups.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


There are some people whose guilty reading pleasure is Harlequins. But for me, re-reading the Harry Potter series will always cheer me up (like yesterday, when I spent the day reading books 1 though 5 and missed posting). Even though I know my letter from Hogwarts is never coming.

Sometimes though, I wonder what my patronus would be (and secretly want it to be a fox or a bear)- ever done that?

Sunday, February 7, 2010


isn't the point of civil service and servants to be civil-minded? not just with their manners, but with regards to their intentions - they should have the city and its inhabitants in mind? not just their bank balance and superannuation fund? doesn't the basic definition of civil servants cover not just government officials, red tape loving bureaucrats but teachers, doctors, nurses, public transport operators?

sorry, i'm just crabby because they closed my train line this weekend, but haven't done any work because of the rain. and they hiked my ticket price up. and had the audacity to tell me "be patient, we have your interests at heart".

if my interests were at the heart of civil servant operations, books would be a hell of a lot cheaper, and my university would have a train station.

i wish we could have some sort of bloodless coup in NSW.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

more of a response than a review

I didn't blog yesterday. I had good reasons! My computer was being crabby, and I was a bit exhausted.

Yesterday though, I went to see Precious

It broke my heart.

I knew it was going to, and that made it worse.

I don't want to write too much about the story line of the film, but the basic story line is such: Clareese Precious Jones is 16, pregnant with her second child by her father, abused by her mother. She lives in Harlem, and gets the chance to go to an alternative school and really learn.

There is always something weird about saying I "liked"/"enjoyed" a movie like Precious. It's a horrible story, it's bleak, it's humanity at its worst. But it was one of the best films I have ever seen. ever. It was perfectly acted, perfectly filmed, perfectly scored. Gabourey Sidibe as Precious was radiant, devastating. Paula Patton as her teacher Ms Rain was so patient, so gentle. Mariah Carey was so so so not Mariah Carey like, and made me cry when I thought I'd run out of tears. And Mo'Nique was fucking terrifying and heartbreaking. They all deserve Academy Awards.

Any film that deals with violence, rape and poverty risks being a caricatured farce. any actor that attempts these things risks being a caricature, not a character. We laugh when we're uncomfortable, and any movie that attempts to deal with the things Precious deals with risks that. I think that's what I was most worried about in seeing this film. But there was none of that. Not once did I want to laugh at Precious. I laughed with her, and I cried with her, for her. I was terrified of her mother to the point of physically curling in on myself every time she was on screen. There was nothing funny about any of the violence or sexual abuse, just dull bile on the back of my tongue.

This is not a comfortable film or a sentimental film, despite the basic undertone that anything is possible. This is a film about doing things yourself, putting yourself first. It's quite possibly one of the most important films I've ever seen. I could talk like the women who sat behind me* about how lucky I am, how lucky Precious was to get a chance to turn her life around. I could be all colonial and talk about skin colour, except making assumptions based on skin colour is the stupidest thing ever. But what I want to say is that I know people like Precious are worth the effort. Most humans, apart from politicians, are worth the effort. We forget that. We get comfortable, and then we talk about how there shouldn't be movies that make us uncomfortable. That's bullshit. You need to feel uncomfortable every now and then, even if it only makes you feel lucky. But, if like me, you feel the need to do something, then you can get off your fat behind and donate some time, some money, a smile, to making everyone feel loved, to making everyone feel precious.

*if there is a god, please don't let me turn into an abominable lady who lunches and talks through movies about carpet.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


burnt my toast this morning, set off the smoke alarm, which is too high for me to reach. don't tell anyone that i clambered on top of the piano to turn it off.
have decided to stick to bananas for breakfast.


have planned a very busy schedule for the next few days in order to get my brain to work again. this lazy summer holiday nonsense is turning me into pudding.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

they tell me my cupcakes are nice

Yesterday I made a cake that exploded and covered the oven in ginger goo.
Today I made a bowl of muesli explode and cover the inside of the microwave in goo and nuts.
I think tomorrow I'll have toast.


It is February, the time of the great wet torrential rain in Sydney.
Normally people rejoice about this.
My grandma is grousing because she can't do the washing.
Lottie seems to like mud.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

easily swayed

have you ever picked up a book that you had been reading, but left off for a bit? and when you sat down to read that book, you felt inexplicably lost, but you couldn't have been, because you're sure you got this far, after all, that's where the bookmark is, right? you must have been up to page 263, unless....

unless someone moved the bookmark.

i'm not sure whether i should feel silly for thinking i was losing my memory, or for thinking that i'd plowed through more of The Last Cavalier than i had, or for trusting that a book left on our kitchen table for two weeks would go untampered with.

Monday, February 1, 2010


It has been too hot to blog. Also, my inexplicable dislike of the word "blog" sometimes turns me off. Someone fix this please, and while you're at it, do something about the words "lubricant" and "moist". Those words make my skin crawl.

(I'm watching my sister organise my books into alphabetical order. It's kind of bizarre, and vaguely slave-labour-esque. Still, she was the one who wanted to do it. I now have two bookcases, one for fiction and one for non-fiction. I was pleasantly surprised by how much non-fiction I own, although most of it is travel and music related. Or educational. At any rate, this is the most organised my books (and I) have ever been. Claudia predicts it will last a month before I knock something over.)

As it's February now, and my summer is slipping away, university looming closer like a big scary thing, I feel I should try and get back into blogging. As much as the word disgusts me. So I apologise in advance, but I've challenged myself to write a twenty five word minimum entry per day for the entirety of this month. I'm an over-talker by nature, so this should be easy. I'm apologising in case its boring. I think the problem with my blogging is that I've never been sure exactly what to write about - and when I do find something, it never comes out right.

Someone very drunk once told me that you can't ever be right, you just have to be consistent. Which makes absolutely no sense, but you know, drunk people don't have to make sense. I think perhaps what he meant is that you just have to be doing something, and that sometimes repetition is kind of helpful.

The same person also asked me to try to be more cultured.
So I've made some Bircher museli, and am waiting for the culture to set in.

No, no, seriously, some real culture for you: I'm reading A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot, which is the novel the movie was based on. As is often the case with these things, the book is almost completely unrecognisable to the movie. The main characters, Mathilde and Manech are dealt a much harder hand than they are in the movie. You get a sense though of how World War One left no one untouched, from the stories Mathilde collects as she tries to find Manech. I haven't finished it yet, but I'm hoping the ending is similar (or better) than the movie.

I dragged Claudia to see The Princess and the Frog on Friday. Best Disney movie in years. Really. Better than Mulan and Aladdin, on par with Beauty and the Beast. There's a fully formed world, with awesome jazz and blues music, jokes on every level for everyone, a decent story line and characters who do more than wait around for fate to be nice to them. The Alligator, Louis, is awesome. And the food! I think I've talked about how much I love Southern USA food. I was drooling, and this is a cartoon. I have to convince my family we need a deep fryer so I can make beignets. Go and see it. I'll come, and bring pecan pie.

Um, all that was way more than 25 words.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

all the walls in your house (a very boring entry)

The past few weeks have been utterly mad, in that way that isn't really mad, but feels so. And the list of things to do is still not done!!! It keeps getting longer!!! Yet again I'm reminded of my tendency to be a total sook and a complete quitter. Fortunately my mother is Iron Woman who threatens me with early mornings if I don't do what she says immediately. When I point out that I am twenty one and therefore not a child, she gently points out that I am twenty one, still living at home and once again unemployed. And then I do as she says, whilst scouting the job ads.

All this is vaguely humiliating and made worse that it all happened whilst I was wearing an unflattering pair of short shorts, an old shirt three sizes too big and several layers of paint.

We've repainted my room. I wish I had photos to share, but my camera is packed away in a box somewhere, as is my usual computer. It was a mammoth undertaking that began about six months ago, when my mother pointed out (as she does every time she enters my room) that it was a bit of a swamp, with manky walls. I responded that maybe we should paint it, she agreed and then we probably had an argument about my tendency to leave everything everywhere. I should perhaps note that this tendency spawned as a result of my wardrobe door breaking about 8 years ago when I hid in it, for reasons forgotten.

Then I decided (probably drunkenly) that 2010 would be "the year that I did all the things I say I'll do but never get around to doing" starting with revamping my room from its pink and green with white rose trim little girliness. My mother also must have been intoxicated, because we got the ball rolling quite quickly. We had an inspiration trip to Ikea, where I bought the LameLamp and lamented that I couldn't have a sled bed. We traipsed to our local hardware store to pick paint colours, and I decided I wanted barely there colours.

This was a mistake.

Barely there colours used to be the bane of my existence when I worked for Culla Change . North Shore dwellers with their expensive silk shirts would appear at my desk and say "I'm after a colour that's sort of eggshell, but y'know, lighter." or the woman who demanded "Latte" and told me "No, that's not Latte, that's Cappuccino." I thought I had sworn never to become one of those women, until I found myself looking at paint samples. All of the whites had too much yellow in them, the creams were just gross, the pinks looked like pigs innards, red "wouldn't fit with the house" (Nippan do an awesome red called Redcoat that I am going to use one day.) and I knew I didn't want purple. I am not a purple person.

That left me with blue and green. Green was vetoed, because when we moved in here (15 years ago) the walls were sickly green. So that left blue.

I picked Taubmans' Orchid Dew and City Lights. Last Monday Mum and I undercoated my room, which was a giant hassle because I am 147cm and my room is nearly 3500cm high. I sort of had to charge the walls with my paint roller. Then we put the samples on the wall. Orchid Dew looks like a faded purple bruise and City Lights is the colour of London sky when it can't decide if it wants to rain. But you wouldn't think that if you looked at the little cards you get at the paint shop.

Annoyed, we trudged back to the paint shop on Tuesday, where we spent nearly TWO HOURS trying to pick a colour. Most of my choices were made in frustration and shot down, as apparently our 170year old house has a tone that needs to be maintained or the people from the historical society will come beat us with spoons. Curse my parents. Finally I grabbed what looked like a nice pale blue called Chalkdust. As I was charging to the counter, I noticed something called Angora Blue. (I want to be one of the people who names paint colours) which looked like a sort of washed out sky blue. My mother bought me a Mars bar to stop me grizzling, and we went home.

The Chalkdust looked like the London sky does when its just decided to rain because it knows you didn't bring your umbrella. Gross. Angora blue however, would do. It's crisp and fresh and not sodding purple. Mum threw her hands up in relief and went back to the paint shop. I had a nap on the sofa, where I'd slept the past two nights.

I hate sleeping on sofas. People assume I don't mind sofas, because I'm little. But I am, as previously explained, a weird sleeper. I need a little bit of space. Our sofa is kind of narrow. And the back of it curves out slightly. I don't know, its fine for naps during the day, but a whole night is a bit much.

The other part about sleeping on the sofa is Lottie. Little Lottie is not that little anymore, at 18kgs. And every morning, when she's let in, she tears around the kitchen to the lounge room and jumps on the sofa. This is bad. It's also bloody painful when you're fast asleep and a canine cannonball jumps on you and tries to lick your face off. After two mornings like that, I was a bit tired. So naturally, I fell asleep on the sofa. And Lottie jumped on me. And licked my face.

Once we got painting though, it wasn't too bad. Idlewild turns out to be the best music to paint to, even if I had a bit of an embarrassing moment during The Space Between All Things because Roddy Woomble always sounds a bit sneery when he sings "all the walls in your house were painted in deep blue/you're at that indecisive age to choose colours that reflect you." but Mum dripped paint on my head and I got over it.

On Wednesday morning while Lottie was busy sleeping on my stomach, Mum painted my floorboards. Then we went to the theatre, which I've written a post about, but it needs rethinking as I'm probably being too rude about religion. I spent Wednesday night on the sofa again.

Thursday morning we went to Ikea. I'd done my research, and thought we could just pop in and pick up the new wardrobe, table, chair and underbedthingforshoes that I wanted. I reckoned without my mother, who is like a small puppy when presented with stores like Ikea. We left with the things I had wanted, but also a cutlery holder (that is now a pen holder), a wooden plate thing, two packets of napkins, a door mat, two new garbage bins, two storage boxes, a standing mirror and a stuffed toy mouse. I have no idea how that happened.

My silly thinking continued - I was under the impression Ikea furniture would be easy to put together. Mum and Jeremy made jokes about losing the Allen key whilst hauling the stuff upstairs. I tackled the chair, and got half way before cursing the Swedes. Turns out Ikea furniture is not made with Left handed people in mind. By the time we got to putting the table together, I was sent away and told I was useless. The Right Handed people continued without me.

It took until Saturday to get everything together. I'm back in my own bed now, and all that's left to do is paint my bookcases from pink to white and then reorganise my books. There was a lot of shouting, and my room smells a bit like paint. My mother claims I'm going to have to keep everything tidy, and I'm thinking that as good as mother-daughter bonding is, we've had enough to last us the rest of 2010.

And for all my siblings jokes about not losing the Allen key, I have to admit I've got no clue where it is now.