Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Hooray! I managed to get Mr Padge into the Infinite Cat Project! I tried to get both cats involved, but I don't have the luxury of plopping a laptop in front of my lounging cat, and the little buggers just wouldn't perform. Wait until they spot my dress-up box...
Monday, May 30, 2005
5.73 GB (wow, I’m staggered. Must do a clean-up)
The last cd I bought
Madeleine Peyroux, “Careless Love”. Do yourself a favour, especially if you have jazz leanings.
Song playing right now
Machine Translations, “A Most Peculiar Place”. It’s in every ‘favourites' mix I make. I’ll exclude it from the five below as I've just mentioned it, and why repeat myself? Just add it as my sixth track.
Five songs that I listen to a lot…
OK. I’ll let itunes make this decision for me, from my top 25 favourites. Cause if I do it any other way I’ll go mad. I listen to lots of jazz and blues from the 30s onwards, plus movie soundtracks. Please bear in mind that my computer music collection has absolutely nothing to do with my CD collection -- it’s determined by what I can find at the local library and in friends’ collections, but I’ll treat this as a purely computer music meme.
"Big City" – Vince Jones
Anything by Vince Jones is ok by me.
"Wicked Little Town" (and the reprise) – John Cameron Mitchell, from the “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” Soundtrack
Love this soundtrack, way more than the movie.
“Kooks”, David Bowie
My manifesto for bringing up baby.
“Wildwood” by Paul Weller, mixed by Portishead
Lovely, just lovely.
“Cloudbusting”, Kate Bush
This is the most publicly palatable of my daggy music folder. Nuff said.
Passing baton to:
Laura at Sorrow at Sill's Bend and Steevie (because he should have more time to blog by now? yes? no? oh bugger it, just take ten minutes and do the meme).
Sunday, May 29, 2005
What is the point of burdening a children's animation with an overload of celebrities?
I just took Bumblebee and his latest friend-who-happens-to-be-a-girl-NOT-my-girlfriend to the excellent ANU Film Group to see Shark Tale. I didn't catch it the first time, and hadn't heard much about it apart from the promotional 'carwash' filmclip.
Best Beloved says that the celebrities were there to attract the parents, but there MUST be more to it. Animation studios are perfectly capable of making good movies with total unknowns, keeping the parents interested by the good use of double entendres. Yes, I know that those sorts of movies are few and far between, but I found Shark Tale OTT, slapping me in the face with masses of Hollywood 'personalities', gossip and insider jokes. Basically, there wasn't much left for the kids, which made me think that maybe Hollywood execs have started thinking that modern children would actually know and relate to these people. Am I supposed to be reading my kid Who magazine at bedtime? Is that what American children get for bedtime reading?
Which got me thinking about Sesame Street (and, when it was on, the Muppets). I've always had a problem with the way that the latest celebrity is brought onto these shows and feted as if the kids would have a clue who these people are. I'd have no problem with Celine Dion or Meg Ryan or some other Hollywood/sport/music star going on the show quietly as one of the incidental characters, but when they are introduced as themselves and a three-year old is expected to know that they are special, I start to get cranky. We all know that they want to be there to show their own kids that they are stars and can do cool things, but do the rest of our kids have to join in??!!
I know I'm ranting, but I'm allowed. It's my blog.
I. Don't. Like. It. I read the gossip mags and I enjoy a bit of Hollywood, mainly in a mocking sort of way, but on my own time. I don't like this 'get them while they're young' bullshit. Leave the kids alone. Let them be young, for frigg's sake.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Here is an excerpt:
Your sleeping attitudes are as important as your waking ones, which means that you can actually continue the work of keeping your people besotted even while you are resting. The fact is, the way we sleep---either curled up in a bundle or squared with our paws tucked beneath us, or flat upon our flank with paws outstretched, or even twisted on our backs with paws hanging limp---is relaxing to people, and when they look at us, it makes them feel good. A very effective bit is one paw over the nose or both paws over the eyes. Another to be recommended is the head resting upon one forefoot. On the back, upside down, never fails to elicit enthusiasm, particularly when on their laps.
For your waking attitudes and poses, consider your backgrounds. It isn't all catnip and cream, this taking over of a house and family, and I have never said it was, or that you don't have to do some work, or if not work then at least use the brains for which you were born. There are dozens of backgrounds against which you will look enchanting: a colored rug, a mirror, an open staircase, the branches of a tree, framed in a window, enclosed in a niche, against a cushion, on a mantelpiece, amongst ornaments, on a fur coat of a contrasting shade, or in a doorway. It is up to you to learn them, find them, and make use of them.
I'm surprised he didn't write a chapter on the wearing of clothes by cats... or is that a modern phenomenon?
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
That was the point at which I looked forward and saw a dawdle of ducks on the path in front of me.
No feathers lost, and the ducks and I shared a moment in time just looking at each other. Nice critters, but in no hurry at all. I, on the other hand, had to try to get to After School Care before they sent my child into foster care. So regretfully I dinged my bell and they toddled off into the darkness. It does get dark early these days, doesn't it?
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Note the extremely classy and expensive cat bed, unlike Laura's Japanese-kimono-silk luxury floor cushions. Mind you, what these two are lying on inside the box is a pink genuine 1960s vintage knitted poncho. My mum would kill me if she knew. But pink just isn't my colour.
1. The couple who had lots of experience individually but had only been dancing together for a few weeks. She was already sick of him, he was extremely arrogant. I picked very early on that they had no connection; they might as well have been in different rooms! I guffawed when he said to the camera (in some sort of germanic accent), "I have something about me that gets me further than all the others." Hah! Not this time, possum. His face got blacker with every failed round. I hope someone whisked his dancing partner away before he took it out on her.
2. The couple who wanted to prove to their friends that they could dance. And boy, they tried hard, but no banana. I mean, someone always has to come last, I mean, third, but they came LAST. I would have given them extra points in the X factor just for being nicer than the youth in couple 1.
3. The young couple who just loved dancing. They were good looking (which helps, of course), but most of all, they moved well together as a pair. They genuinely liked each other and were there for the fun, and that always wins my vote. She was very together, keeping her cool and rhythym even when he fell over in front of her. The clincher for me was when he dropped her, and later grinned at the camera to say "I didn't drop her, I just didn't catch her." The judges agreed with me, and despite those two HUGE gaffs, they won, to Bumblebee's delight.
Bumblebee's dad, the Albatross, doesn't let him watch Strictly Dancing. I haven't bothered to check the tv program to see what the alternative is, but no doubt it's something manly. He reminds me of that King in The Holy Grail who has a son who... just... wants... to... sing... [music swells]. I haven't told him that B is having singing lessons this year. No doubt B hasn't told him either!
Saturday, May 21, 2005
As you may know (if not, scroll down a tad), I flew to Perth last week for my Grandad’s funeral. It was held on Friday 13th, or 'Black Friday' as it was most refreshingly dubbed by the Perth media the next day. I would have called it 'Wet Friday' myself. It started with rain and ended with floods, but not from the clouds – from a water main that burst next to the freeway (have a blank mind about the name; the one that crosses The Narrows bridge and connects north and south Perth). Apparently the amount of water that covered the south-bound lane was the equivalent of two Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Anyway, we all got to the funeral before this startling event and had a jolly good time weeping and moaning and gnashing our teeth. Of course, I exaggerate there. It was a lovely, sedate, respectful funeral that incorporated an RSL component to celebrate Grandad's time in the Navy. We didn't have too much preachiness, no singing to embarrass the old fella, and played his favorite tune, Acker Bilk's Stranger on the Shore (which is also one of my favorite tunes, I was pleased to note. We did, in the end, have some sort of connection).
After we were kicked out of the reception area to make way for the next funeral (they whip them through every 45 minutes), everyone jumped in their cars to go to the wake, which was to be held in south Perth at a pub owned by someone's in-laws. We all knew that $2500 had been put aside from Grandad's estate for the bar tab, we all knew it took about 30 minutes to get to the pub from the cemetery in north Perth. None of us knew, at first, that the water main had burst and that Perth was gridlocked. As usual, none of my family were listening to the local radio stations; they were probably all crooning to Roy Orbison or listening to the Sports channel. I was driving with my dad in our hire car, debriefing about the funeral (he’s ex-army, I'm used to it). Suddenly we were stuck in traffic, going nowhere. We could see other family cars around us among the general public. Not too desperate to get anywhere, we kept dissecting the things we’d seen and heard at the funeral.
My grandfather had 6 children, 4 boys and 2 girls. Apart from my dad, all the other kids and their partners like a drink or five. As do their kids and their partners, and their cousins and their partners. So there were a lot of people desperate for a free drink, stuck in traffic, all imagining that everyone else were arriving at the pub before them, eroding that magical bar tab. There was a bit of road rage developing until Dad and I turned on the radio, heard about the water main, and started the mobile phone grapevine letting the others know that they were all in the same situation. Except, we found out later, for the bright spark who got his wife to drop him at the nearest railway station and caught a train to the Carlyle pub, which was right next to Carlyle Station. He had a head start, and by the end of the evening it showed.
It took over an hour and a half to get to the pub, and everyone made up for lost time. It was fun to sit back and watch, with about five cider stubbies queued up in front of me (I don't drink beer!) because people kept thinking they’d get me a drink while they were up. I couldn't stop drinking at any point because the peer pressure would have been intense, and besides, how often does your crusty old Grandad die? Grandad's brother, who had never got along with him, was shocked to discover that Grandad, whom he described as 'a tight old c—t', was paying for the whole shebang. He made sure he had a few more drinks after that.
We drank the whole tab, between about 50 of us, and had $130 left over. Ace.
We went back to my cousin’s place afterwards and I remember falling out of the car when the door was opened for me, but thankfully I fell onto soft but scratchy couch grass. Next morning I went out and found all my makeup and pens on the grass where they'd fallen out of my handbag. Luckily from that point I could just drink water without anyone noticing, otherwise I'd have been talking to Grandad on the Great White Telephone that night. The next day was fairly rough, but the following breakfast got me through the pain:
While we're on the topic of photos, this is what we drove through coming from Bunbury to Perth (well, we were in the middle of it, so it didn't look this picturesque. A friend sent me these later. Aren't they wonderful?)
And the crane that hit Bunbury's ABC building? I was there only hours before! Here's the proof. I was taking some research photos of the Bunbury Regional Gallery for our proposed Travelling Exhibition, and you can see the crane in the background. This was Sunday. Before:
After (this is a media photo):
And finally, speaking of ears, I went to see my Grandad at the funeral parlour before the funeral. He had been completely ravaged by the cancer, even more so than by the booze and cigarettes. I'm certainly never lighting up again (still want to booze but). He looked so different, thin and smooth. The only thing that looked like him was his ears. So I took a photo of his ear, because it reminds me of him more than anything else they talked about at the funeral:
And I think that's quite enough for your delicate stomachs.
Friday, May 20, 2005
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Time almost over. I'll tell a better tale when I'm back in the Bosom of Sanity.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Of course, I'm very sad about my old Grandad, but relieved as well, because he died far more peacefully than we'd all imagined. Last month he was told that his prostate cancer was far more aggressive than he'd realised and it had spread to his already-fucked-up lungs (very heavy smoker) so he only had a month or two to live. He (my grandad) was very angry about this, especially when he realised that his six kids had known this for a fair while, but hadn't told him about it. It had been the subject of a fairly heated family debate, to inform or to leave in ignorance. I could see both sides -- let him know, for his own sake, so that he could enjoy his last few months fully; or leave him ignorant so that he could just live normally to the end? Thinking back on it, I think they did the right thing in not telling him, as he probably lived longer not knowing. My Grandad was never a positive thinker. Anyway, he died last night, in his sleep, with his headphones on, probably dozing and listening to the latest race results. The best way out.
My Grandad was one of those salt-of-the-earth sort of people, very rough but with a heart of gold. I have a photo of him when he joined the navy in WWII, at the ripe age of 16. He is GORGEOUS, with blond hair and twinkly blue eyes, and clear skin. After the war he met my Nana, wooing her with his motorbike and suave charm (the sort that lasts until the third beer). The family story goes that he took Nana to a local ball in Perth, and she wore a fabulous rainbow-tulle dress. He sat her on the back of the motorbike and took off very fast. 'How's that, Annie?' he called back to her. When there was no answer, he looked back, and saw her sitting in the gutter having fallen off the back of the bike when he revved, with a big tear up the side of her dress. She still married him, and they had 6 kids. He took them to Kalgoorlie and became a gold and nickel miner. He reckons that if our family got one Pub share for every beer they bought, we'd own all the pubs in town by now. I used to look at his face and think about that young, fresh photo. After sixty years of smoking, drinking and mining, he was rough, red, bloated, and every pore on his face was pitted with black. I think it took a lot of guts to be a miner; he would take me underground on some of my visits, and I have to say outright, I prefer the surface. Definitely. One of the reasons why I love the book Birdsong by Sebastian Faulk.
I have to say though, Grandad was a racist, sexist, homophobic old bastard, with a soft spot only for anyone with the right qualities. I was very happy when his favorite grandson came out as a gay man, because Grandad had to choose whether to cut this man from his family, or accept him, sexuality and all. When he not only accepted him, but also accepted his long-term partner, I was very proud, as it was a huge step in the right direction, and he seemed to mellow about a lot of issues as a result.
The main regret I have is that Grandad had the best vocabulary of the Australian vernacular I have ever come across. I have no memory for dialogue, and have always wanted to record a conversation with him with my dictaphone, because he'd have me in stitches for hours, and then I'd come away and forget everything. Now it's gone forever. Mind you, we'll be having a right proper wake for him at his favorite Perth pub on Friday, and I'm sure if I take my notebook I'll be able to catch a few beauties from his kids, grandkids and friends. Oh, but I'm not looking forward to that damned Red-eye Special.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
First on the list is a little number called Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach. I did a course during my studies called 'Utopias and Dystopias' which absolutely rocked, firing up my reading for a number of years, spinning off into a personal exploration of women's sci fi and speculative fiction writing. The premise of Ecotopia is that two US states (Washington and the other little one next to it north of California) break away from the rest of the USA to form an environmentally sustainable society and manage to survive the economic and military attacks that ensue from the rest of the oiks. Can't remember if it all ends in tears or not but I do remember really enjoying it, lending it to someone and of course never getting it back. Have ordered a new copy through Abebooks which cheers me immensely, as it is quite hard to find in Australia. When I have re-read it I will let you know what happens.
I also thought about J.P. Martin's Uncle series which I read at primary school. No one I know except my ex-husband has read these books, and even that wasn't enough to hold the marriage together. Illustrated by Quentin Blake, they are very odd and very funny books about an elephant who lives in a surreally enormous castle called Homeward with his friends The Old Monkey and The One-Armed Badger. He tries to have a good, kind life looking after all the strange people who inhabit his home, constantly finding new areas he's never been to, but is forced to defend himself against the Badfort Crowd, led by Beaver Hateman with such characters as Hitmouse, Flabskin and Hootman. It's a bit of a parody of the Gormenghast trilogy, but I didn't work this out until I discovered one of the books a few years ago at a local charity stall (Uncle and His Detective). The nice ladies said I could have the book for 20c, but I was so chuffed at finding it that I gave them $1 for it. Then I went home, all inspired, and checked the internet to see if I could find any more in the series. It turned out that there had only ever been one edition published, and the next most affordable copy was US$200! Holy shit. I still check out every charity stall, second-hand shop and garage sale for the distinctive covers, but no luck so far. I mean, my primary school library had them all, as did the ACT Library system, but all got sold off through the years to allow them to buy fancier children's books. Sigh.
Having mentioned Patrick Susskind's Perfume in the meme, I don't think I actually own a copy at the moment. I keep buying it whenever I see it, and lend it to the next person who wants something good to read, but then never seem to have one in the house. I guess I'd better buy another one if I'm ever thinking about flying over the South Pacific, just in case...
Finished my Sherri S. Tepper book, The Visitor. It picked up pace about 3/4 through, and I found by the end I was loath to put it down, grunting at Best Beloved whenever he tried to get me off the bed to go out for dinner (only seem to be able to read on the bed these days, otherwise there is always seems to be something more urgent in a room to do). So it all ended well, but it isn't a patch on Beauty, which I highly recommend to anyone who like fairy tales and/or sci fi. A dystopian take on Sleeping Beauty, it involves time travel between fairytale past and speculative future.
And I must buy another copy of Angela Carter's edited collection Wayward Girls and Wicked Women, speaking of someone who liked a fairytale or two. I lent it to a friend to take travelling (years ago) and she committed the sin of swapping it on her travels for something else to read, and not buying me a replacement copy later. Last time I lent anything in print to her, I tell you. Mmm. Glad I remembered that. Time to go back to Abebooks.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Right, let's roll up the sleeves and get on with it...
You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be saved?
Ow gawd, this is the hardest question for someone with an inability to let books out of her sight. I'd like to say Pride and Prejudice. I'd also like to say The Complete Adventures of Hothead Paisan, or George Orwell's 1984. Or Fahrenheit 451 itself, just to be able to say "I told you so". You can't make me choose. I'm a Libran.
Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Can I trackback this? I just participated in a comments session on this very topic. Pretty much every male hero in Austen, plus a Lizzie or two.
The last book you bought was...?
Today I bought The Bad Book by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, but that was for my son. The last book I bought for me was (dare I confess?) Georgette Heyer's Regency Buck. I love even typing that title.
The last book you read was...?
Margaret Barbalet's The Presence of Angels. Slightly underwhelmed by it, wish I could report something fancier.
What are you currently reading?
Sherri Tepper's The Visitor. Again, a bit underwhelmed, but I did a research paper on women's science fiction for my English MA years ago, and held onto a loyalty for her writing, prompted by my enjoyment of her book Beauty. Dunno why, everything since then's been a bit obscure. I've got another Georgette queued up next. Giving my brain a rest at the moment...
Five books you would take to a desert island...
Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (better than a vibrator, would while away lots of time)
Perfume, Patrick Susskind (just keep going back to it)
Adolf Hitler, My Part in His Downfall, Spike Milligan (much better than looking at palm trees, and funnier too)
Birdsong, Sebastian Faulk (beautiful)
I Claudius, Robert Graves (both for the sense of history and the memory of Derek Jacobi's voice)
Again, this was a very hard list. I'll regret it in the morning.
Who are you passing this stick on to and why?
When Crustaceans Attack, because he goes into such great flights of fantasy that I want to see what feeds them...
byrdsong (if he has time to read books), for the same reason.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Why am I on this track? Must remember to regenerate those missing braincells. Oh yes, Stephen [fucking] Fry.
Now, I'm the first to admit that Stephen Fry has a brilliant ability to narrate. He also has a very nice voice. I thought he was a good choice for The Book in the lastest Hitchhiker's movie, in the absence of the venerable Peter Jones. He has done a great job of narrating all the Harry Potter books on audio book. But there comes a time when I have to say enough. Enough Stephen Fry. Why? We own all five Harry Potter books on cd. I listened to them all once, which was terrific. Book five got us to Woodford and back in the car. Fabbo! But both Best Beloved and Bumblebee seem to need to listen to Harry Potter ad nauseum. Over breakfast. While ironing. In bed going to sleep. In the car on trips. And now Bumblebee has his very own cd-player in his bedroom (thanks, nanny and grandad). Today I walked up the corridor to my office (which is the spare room) and heard Stephen Fry's voice coming out of every other room. Two strands of the same voice, reading different words. It's like living in an audio Escher drawing.
Maybe it's JK Rowling I should be hating. Funnily enough, I don't dislike what I'm hearing, which is lucky because the Harry Potter silly season starts up again in just over a month ('Should we buy two copies of the new book?' BB asked anxiously. 'Why?' says I. 'Well, who gets to read it first?' he says. 'Darling,' I say, 'You do. Because you give a shit.' And because he'll take day 1 off work to read it and I know I'll get it by day 2). I'm just resenting the fact that Stephen Fry seems to be yet another man in the house I have to tiptoe around while we're sick. I'm thinking seriously of writing him a letter. Maybe he'd write back. It would be refreshing to read something by him for a change.
This bloody lurgy is slowly lifting from my body, but it has settled deeply into Best Beloved. Has anyone got a cure for the humourlessness of sick men? Sheesh, Stephen Fry can have him in this mood! The only upside is that his normally deep voice has gone ever lower and huskier. Very sexy, but I can't do anything about it while Stephen is in the room as well...