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.