Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The first day of the rest of my life...

Ah, that's better. I've worked like buggery through a couple of my lists, and while I'm not through the woods, I can at least see the path again. Thank you to all the positive comments! I hate those low moods.

I like Tuesdays this year. No more Bored Tuesday posts, I hope! This is the day when I get to come into the art school and just be ME. I'm not working in any official capacity, I'm being a resident alumni artist. That's the official title, anyway. I get to tell people to go away, I'm not working today, and get on with my own projects.

My own project is the first of a series of hand-set fine-printed poetry volumes, with contributions by Australian artists. I mentioned this during National Poetry Week last year, and got no further than just mentioning it, thanks to overwhelming other commitments. This project is different from teaching book arts or making hand-made books to sell commercially. This is the beginning of what I want to think of as my life's work. Does that sound pretentious? I find it terribly exciting. I hope I get to achieve this.

I'm making a shelf series, which means they will all be the same size on your bookshelf, and look like they belong together. They won't have identical bindings, but they will be readily identifiable as my books. However, they will be quite different when you open them. Different paper, different typeface, and possibly different format. For example, the first book will incorporate embossings, so it needs to be on thick, soft paper. The second has many more poems and only two images, so it will be on thinner paper. The third is hopefully going to be a concertina book which will fall out at you when you open the covers (a long poem about a suicide by jumping off the Empire State Building). And so forth, depending on the subject matter. Each with hardcover bindings which complement the others as they progress through time and space.

I'm trying to use poets who make my spine tingle. That's the criteria for publication. And apart from the first volume, living poets. And living artists, both young and old. My first collaboration is with Jan Brown, a Canberra sculptor in her 80s, who learned to draw under Henry Moore at the Slade School. She's the same vintage as the poet, Nan McDonald (who died in the 1970s). I'm going to give her a mock-up of the book to draw directly into, then transform her pencil lines into embossed lines weaving through the pages. I'm hoping she gets to see the final product, so I have to get working!

I love the thought of my series. It sustains me when I'm busy obeying everyone else's wishes. I wake in the night and see the pages in front of me. It's not a ground-breaking idea. It's not cutting-edge contemporary art. But it's something that makes me remember to breathe. One book a year will keep me happy through the most arduous times. More than one a year will make me a very happy Duckie.

So today I'm working out the page size for the series. A momentous decision that I've been avoiding because it will affect everything, so I need to get it right. I'm such a procrastinator. (Heh. Writing a post. See?)

Time to work. [takes a breath]

[P.S. Best wishes to Zoe, getting her bionic ear today.]

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Trying to shut out the nagging voices

Ever had those times when you just can't think in a straight line? I try reely trooly hard to be happy and positive and focussed these days, but today is not one of them. I think it's because I haven't had a moment to scratch myself and everytime I sit down to have a rest a million things to do pop into my head. Sorry, lovely people, I know I've been whinging a lot lately about time and busyness but I've really hit the wall.

I just got home from fitball hoping that it would give me some energy, but of course it sapped everything. I have to make mini-lists to get me through the minutes. I've got a little timekeeper in my head chanting lists like 'toilet, lunch, shower, go to AP's house'. But then another little voice jumps in and starts fretting: 'but you haven't done this. and this. and this.'

I walk around the house, dodging piles of washing and fluffballs and empty glasses and newspapers and toys. That's at the end of the list. Housework always comes last, unfortunately.

I'm writing a post because it makes me sit down, and it distracts the warring voices. But then I feel guilty for wasting my time on the internet. Actually, I shouldn't, because I love blogging. It's like meditation.

There's one thing I have on my middle-of-the-night-brain-whizzing list which I can do right now:

THANK YOU to Lucy Tartan for the hugely entertaining bundle of posters received in the mail a few days ago. The rats are coming to work with me, to pin on the wall as a great example of simple colour printing. They need a public space. Bumblebee adores his Koala poster and the maps and meaty pics are going to be put to good use in the near future. I will be sending you one of the byproducts when they emerge!

Ahh, I feel better now. Toilet, lunch, AP's house.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A lack of solids

A quote from a post at Go Fug Yourself:

This feels like an especially dark time in the annals of Hollywood emaciation. Nobody is eating anything that requires chewing.

Does anybody else get the feeling that the second sentence in this quote sums up a lot more than just eating habits in today's society?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The rainbow connection

Thanks to the wonderwoman that is crazybrave, I not only caught up with Spicks and Specks and Little Britain tonight, but I got to take some pics of the mysterious rainbow stairs. Thanks for lending me your camera!

Circus Oz was fantastic. They had a mishap on the weekend, as you may have heard, in which one of the cast members was injured in a cannon incident. We saw the reworked show last night. Apparently they took on 3 new people to cover the tracks of the one obviously talented injured person, and quickly rehearsed lots of new bits. Not having seen the old show, I can't make a comparison, but the new show is excellent. I'm enthralled with Christa, the cabaret singer. Her voice is amazing. At one point I ignored what was happening in centre ring (a strong-person type balancing act) to give her my full attention, because she was belting out some really good stuff. If you go (and I highly recommend it), I think Christa and Scott steal the show. Scott dresses like a bogan, with huge black mullet cut and cut-off flannel shirts, and rides a stunt BMX like nothing you've ever seen. His bullfight scene was my scene.

Turns out Best Beloved knows Scott, and we had a chat after the show, which is how I know about the reworked bits. I didn't know BB was so well-connected! No photos allowed in the show, unfortunately, so I can't show you anything. I was disappointed by that, not so much to capture the performances, but because I collect circus shadow photos, and they would have provided some beauties.

Anyhoo, this is where I'm being busy. Here is what the art school looks like:
art school in Canberra

See the clocktower? I've been working up there. When you walk along the top floor, you walk past an open door, and this is what you see:
stairs 3

Very few people venture up the stairs; they're intriguing, but not inviting. The few times I've been up there I felt a bit like I'd walked into some Secret Club.

It's very hard to turn the corner and take another photo up, so here's the corner from above:
stairs 1

And this is what it's like from the very top:
stairs 2

And at the top, where I'm standing, is the office of a certain art journal. And you can see why they don't have a photocopier. Can you imagine carrying one up those stairs? All the furniture is collapsible and all the equipment is small! Heh.

It's a lovely place to work, in a physical sense. And the people are lovely. But it's been a hell of a week, because I'm on a steep learning curve, and so is the Guest Editor. Which does not make a swift combination! I'm hoping we'll get it to the printer tomorrow, only a day late. Otherwise I'll be tearing my hair out like a madwoman in the clocktower.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Fitting the pieces together

I'm having an extra-busy week this week, being the emergency designer for an Australian art journal. Their last designer has moved on to bigger and better things, and they needed someone to do this month's issue while they find a replacement. I didn't want to apply for the job because it's a combined position, advertising manager and designer. I figure I've got enough jobs in my life at the moment, and I don't want to be stuck in one office ringing up clients about advertisements; however, if they outsourced the layout to me every month I'd do it happily. That would leave me time to make the handset books I've got planned this year. Anyway, I think they've found a replacement.

I've set out many publications in my time: journals, books, brochures, flyers, cards, newsletters, but never a proper magazine. It's fun! Like a big jigsaw. Quite addictive. I forget to have breaks because I'm too busy thinking whether the colours in this ad will clash with the illustration for that article.

The best part of the job is climbing the rainbow stairs to the office, which is up in the clocktower of the art school. We sit underneath the clock, with the windows open looking out onto Canberra. No aircon, just nice clean ACT air.

It's also first week of the art school term; today I get to meet the new printmedia students. I'm doing half a day as Technical Officer, then I have to run up the rainbow stairs (oh, for my camera!) and keep jiggling the pages. And tonight we're going to see Circus Oz! What fun. But what I'm really looking forward to is sleeping in on the weekend.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I love Dante

I couldn't resist this ... ta muchly to A Cunning Plan.

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to the First Level of Hell - Limbo!

First Level of Hell - Limbo

Charon ushers you across the river Acheron, and you find yourself upon the brink of grief's abysmal valley. You are in Limbo, a place of sorrow without torment. You encounter a seven-walled castle, and within those walls you find rolling fresh meadows illuminated by the light of reason, whereabout many shades dwell. These are the virtuous pagans, the great philosophers and authors, unbaptised children, and others unfit to enter the kingdom of heaven. You share company with Caesar, Homer, Virgil, Socrates, and Aristotle. There is no punishment here, and the atmosphere is peaceful, yet sad.

Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very High
Level 2 (Lustful)Low
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)High
Level 7 (Violent)Low
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Low
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A day at the Show

Best Beloved was hoping to find the jam judging at the Show a bit like a Maggie and Judy sketch, but we missed out on the actual tasting session and so only saw the results, not the action. Next time we'll try to be there, to see if it is fraught with personality conflicts. As it was, my parent's next-door neighbour swept the field, along with someone else we don't know. Nearly every major section had their names written on it. But not the Novice section! BB won a First for his blackberry jam.
Clever puss!

We spent a whole day at the Show. Here are some highlights:

All locked away so that no-one can run away with the precious things...

I don't know what this centre one is meant to be, but I know what it looks like (and when I gave it the file name of "Phallic_vegies" in flickr, it had 1 view within a second!)

I love this one's toothy grin

vegie heads
The bottom one looks like it belongs with the Valkyries

These don't have faces, but they sure have presence

This was the expression on my Nana's face whenever I left the house without wearing a bra. I like the inclusion of a cat in the display

I wasn't sure if this was a doll or a scarecrow. It was a weird, freaky height


Helpful signage

BS sign
Threatening signage (At the Dodgem Cars -- we didn't know they came with Eject buttons)

Confused signage (I'm pretty sure they're gloves)

Overwhelming signage (she was the tiniest chook)


The winningest chook doing a double-take at all the attention

another cockscomb
Such a handsome comb!


I call this one 'Beyonce'


The woodchop. I watched this for hours, waiting for a foot to come off or an eye to come out. It rocked. In this picture, the chopper on the right is a woman, and she kicked ass

The wrestling. IWA Pro-wrestling always makes me laugh. It's so pathetic! My 9-yo loved it, and I guess he's the right age to think it's all real. At one point he was hissing at the 'baddy' and giving him two hands of 'rude finger' when the baddy jumped out of the ring and headed his way. Bumblebee nearly shat himself. I laughed till I wept. No harm done, of course. The guy just leered at the little boys and went back to the ring. But I noticed B was a lot quieter after that! (He's the one in the rainbow t-shirt)

Street performers. This is Bumblebee, finally called out as a volunteer (his dream come true), about to experience a very scary stunt. He was very brave -- a personal milestone!

The secnd, scarier and more dangerous stunt. Bumblebee is at the front of the line to be jumped over. He did great. The guy at the back reminded me a lot of byrd -- same style, same words


The little dog says it all for me

This is one of the two little boys above. They were dressed in identical army greens, with black caps that read 'SWAT', and carried (with one hand) showbags containing guns bigger than themselves. The other hand held a pistol. I feel like I should report them to the Terrorist hotline

Local lovelies practicing their cat's-bum mouths

This young lad kept wandering around with his mates during the wrestling, bellowing 'POOFTERS!' at the wrestlers. What amused me was the fact that he kept his hands firmly in his pockets, wriggling nonstop. I think this photo catches the action beautifully. I'd say he likes the thought of men writhing around together on the ground... what do you think?


I reckon they should have had a comb-over competition. I saw lots of very inventive solutions to baldness during the day. But if they had, this man would have won hands-down. It was immaculate, with the 'fringe' trimmed nicely, and it didn't move in even the stiffest breeze. I'd like to know the secrets of his product use.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


This is probably the last chance I'll get to post before Sunday night. We're travelling down the Snowy Mountains Highway tomorrow to stay with my folks in Numbugga (real place!). Taking the cats, of course. They'd never forgive us if we came home smelling of the farm without taking them. They love having a few acres to roam (only during the day, of course. The feral cats would tear them to bits at night).

We're also going to the Bega Show, and while I very much doubt I'll be able to match the glory of Zoe's show tales, I hope to report back in my own humble way... especially since Best Beloved has entered about 4 of his jams* in the Homemakers Novice section! What a hoot. I hope he gets a ribbon. It would make his lovely chest puff out charmingly. It's stiff competition, however. Unfortunately we won't be there at the judging tomorrow, but I'm sure there'll be a few competitors fluttering around the tables throughout the weekend. I'll borrow me mam's camera to capture the tension.

Just to get you in the mood, here's Best Beloved, on a scorching summer's sunday, making plum sauce in his boxers:
Shhh... don't tell him I blogged it. He's vewy, vewy shy. And he Never. Reads. My. Blog. Not from disapproval on his part or censorship on mine. He just doesn't. I think he's scared that if he starts reading blogs, he'll never stop. And then when would he find the time to cook? It's also a nice view of our custom kitchen, our wedding present to ourselves. Note the Dalek kitchen glove. That's my Mother's Day present from Bumblebee.

So see you in a few days, hopefully with an encouragement ribbon!

*The 4 flavours are: Seville Orange Marmalade, Orange & Rhubarb Jam, Blackberry & Apple Jam and Cumquat Marmalade. Mmmmm... we're also eating Crab-apple jelly on our toast at the moment. He made that the day before yesterday. Right now he's brewing up pickled garlic. How good is he?!

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How lucky was I?

Wonderful thunderstorm in Canberra last night, and I have a policy of never working on the computer if there's any skerrick of thunder or lightning, no matter how urgent the job.

And it just happened to coincide with the return of Adam Hills! All those memes over Xmas asking me what tv shows I watched, and I had forgotten about the Sacred Half Hour on Wednesdays. Sigh. Happy.

Also had a chance to read the papers from the last week or so and scoff at Australia's latest outbreak of Mad Cow Disease, among other laughable events.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Remember to breathe

I love papercuts. Not the type that hurt like fuck and never bleed, but paper cut into patterns. Traditional Asian papercutting is a spectacular artform, usually carried out by a wizened old man in the corner of a shabby paper shop using a simple stanley knife on a cheap gummed pad of paper. Simple papercuts are often pasted on to the front of Japanese-bound ledger books. Other, more elaborate ones, are strung up for holidays and other special occasions.

I've noticed papercuts are becoming increasingly popular in a contemporary art context. I was discussing this with someone the other day, and they later sent me the following images. Neither of us know who the artist is. If anyone can help identify the work, I'd love to know. They are a wonderful use of paper, both in a papercut sense and also as origami.

Object and space, finding beauty in what is made, and what remains behind. Enjoy.

papercut snow
papercut tower
papercut bird
papercut treasure chest
papercut ladder

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Stare-downs of a Geisha defeated by randy cowboys

Best Beloved and I took advantage of a child-free weekend to go to a late movie last night. We went to separate movies, because I wasn't too keen on the idea of a Speilberg-directed comment on Israel and he wasn't keen on a gorgeous Japanese/Hollywood chickflick. So off he went to Munich, and off I went to Japan. Neither of us came out on fire.

Having read the book (by Arthur Golden) years ago, I wasn't expecting much in the way of plot. I went for the visuals, and I wasn't disappointed. Lush. Lush, lush and really lush. Scrummy, even. But I found myself getting really cranky at hamfisted American writers and directors.

OK, the whole premise of the story is that Sayuri has blue eyes like water, and of course, they are extremely unusual for a Japanese person. So she is a pearl beyond price. I got the point within the first half hour, and so did the rest of the audience. But they made the poor actress play the part staring wildly all the time, zooming in close to her face to capture the blue irises, which backfired because at too close a range they were cheapened, and quite obvious contact lenses. If they had just had a couple of dramatic blue-eyed shots and then let her strangeness just embed quietly to match the feel of the film, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. She was a stunning girl, but they made her look like a wide-eyed fool.

I had much more joy from Brokeback Mountain. Lush, meaningful and packed with eye-candy. I'd read the short story (by E. Annie Proulx) so long ago that I'd forgotten the ending, and was caught short for a moment, which I guess was the point. I thought Heath Ledger perfectly captured an uneducated laconic country boy, unable to express himself emotionally. The whole film evoked such memories of reading Proulx so well that I'm about to embark on a big re-read of everything I have of hers. I may change my mind when I experience the real thing!

I recommend seeing both on the big screen, the former only because the settings deserve it and the latter because it's a powerful experience worthy of dark rooms and Dolby sound. I can't speak for Munich because I didn't see it, but BB gave it a 6/10.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Domestic bliss

I've just spent the last hour making a huge batch of tomato pasta sauce to bottle and preserve for winter, making the most of our current tomato glut. Best Beloved is usually the person who makes our preserves, but he is a stick-to-the-recipe-with- no-variations sort of guy, and gets very nervous at the thought of improvising.

I volunteered to make the sauce because every recipe he found for pasta sauce was vetoed by me as being insipid and unworthy of our tastebuds. He didn't want to make something up.

'It's like art,' I told him. 'You never know what you're going to get, even if you start with a firm idea in mind. In fact, if you end up with your first idea, it doesn't work. There's no freshness. You have to play, to take risks.'

This is why I never stick to a recipe. I've never attempted to write down my spaghetti sauce recipe because it's different every time, just like my mother taught me. When I was growing up she let me help with the sauce, and the policy was to fling stuff in until it tasted good. Mum's habit is to read recipe books as if they were novels (she reads them in bed! So does BB) and then cook her version. It was a great apprenticeship and it taught me that once you know your flavours, you can't really go wrong. Well, you can, but that's pretty rare. I think I've only cooked one inedible meal in my life, but lots of unusual ones.

Anyway, it was quite fun chopping and stirring. I played some records, and rediscovered my favorite Talking Heads song, a paean to loving where you are:


Home, is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me round
I feel numb - burn with a weak heart
(so I) guess I must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It's ok I know nothing’s wrong ... nothing

Hi yo I got plenty of time
Hi yo you got light in your eyes
And you're standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money
Always for love
Cover up and say goodnight . . . say goodnight

Home - is where I want to be
But I guess I’m already there
I come home - she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place
I can't tell one from another
Did I find you, or you find me?
There was a time before we were born
If someone asks, this where I'll be . . . where I'll be

Hi yo we drift in and out
Hi yo sing into my mouth
Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
I'm just an animal looking for a home
Share the same space for a minute or two
And you love me till my heart stops
Love me till I'm dead
Eyes that light up, eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head ah ooh

So now we have 9 lovely jars of tomato pasta sauce with mushrooms, silverbeet and capsicum, lots of garlic, masses of fresh basil, oregano and thyme, and hints of anchovy and balsamic vinegar, among other things. Best Beloved is operating the Vaccola as I type. Yum!

Postscript: This sounds like I'm dissing BB for being unadventurous. I sort of am, because he held his own this morning when I took him to Fitball with me. He's a juggler, so he's hip to the concept of balance, and the bastard was kneeling on his ball on his first time, whereas I am still trying to feel where my centre of gravity is (my mental picture of myself has a much smaller arse). So I need to be good at something today.

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Changing the subject...

Weight loss + age + dressing too young + numerous facial interventions

= scraggy old scary-looking hag

Sorry, but every year she loses it more for me. She's trying way too hard. Such a Material Girl, despite her attempts to go all spiritual...

Photo credit to GFY, my daily bread.


A nice surprise

Hooray for the Senate! One step closer to letting us make up our own friggin' minds.

Crazybrave, a much more politically proactive citizen than I, urges us to thank the people involved and urge the upcoming voters to do the right thing. I will be doing so.

I've probably mentioned this a number of times, I'll say it again. In my personal experience, anything that allows women to choose not to be poked by sharp knives when they HAVE to have their uterus cleared out is probably a good thing. I'm not talking about killing babies, peoples. I'm talking about pregnancies that have not thrived, that won't abort by themselves. They're called missed miscarriages, and they're very common. I had one at the end of 2004, and in the process of being D&C'd to get the blighted foetus out, my poor old uterus was perforated 3 times. Hence I had to let the poor organ heal for about 8 months before trying to get pregnant again, and I'm not getting any younger. Taking RU-846 may have been a better solution in that scenario.

That's only one slant on the issue. There's probably millions of other perspectives, as many as there are women who need to have the choice about abortion. Choice. Not prohibition.

Thank you, Senate, for a lovely surprise. I didn't think you'd do it. It's restored my faith in the System.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006


Buying merchandise from Christians is a lifelong commitment, because you are forever on their mailing lists in the hope that if you are not one of them, then you may be wooed by their sincerity.

I woke this morning to find that Tim Todd,* uber-evangelist and creative genius of the Troof for Yoof Bible has sent me an email raising his concerns that another youth group has been using his trademarked name for their evil purposes. I know he is worried, because he uses capital letters a lot, a sure sign that he wants his readers to pay attention:

Revival Fires INTERNATIONAL, LOCATED IN WEST MONROE, LA, discovered that pLANNED PARENTHOODS use of the REGISTERED trademark “Truth for Youth” IN MEDFORD, OREGON, in conjunction with A campaign to teach students about the use of contraceptives, was not an isolated incident. Planned Parenthood of Indiana has also been using “Truth for Youth” to promote A SIMILAR sex EDUCATION CURRICULUM. According to Planned Parenthood’s website, The ‘Truth for Youth Indiana’ promotes a comprehensive curriculum to be taught in Indiana Public Schools that would teach students about anatomy, body image, contraceptives, disease prevention, gender issues, pregnancy, relationships, and sexual development. “Truth for Youth Indiana” IS MADE UP OF A COALITION OF ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS: Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, FEMINISTS MAJORITY LEADERSHIP ALLIANCE, FORT WAYNE FEMINISTS, INDIANA NATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR WOMEN AND the Indiana Civil Liberties Union.

How sneaky! Dirty liberals mounting 'A [sic] campaign' under the same name! Rapture! A bit further down, the capitals start getting more random:


But wait! There's more! Eventually the capitals TAKE OVER THE WORLD...


A brilliant scheme. I think there should be more co-opting of right-wing names for devious but worthy purposes. Any suggestions?

* Would you buy a bible from this man?

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Team Australia

I was going to post my Australia Day tale closer to the actual day, but I was a bit intimidated by the quality of Austday posting in other blogs. I almost gave up on this story, but it's a bit boring having no camera, so I'll start using some older images and see if I can't keep myself amused until I can get a new camera.

Anyway, on Australia Day I went with my two lads, large and small, to Commonwealth Park, where there was no end of entertainment for the kiddies. The event we enjoyed the most, especially now that Bumblebee is old enough to tell real Wiggles from fake ones, was the Flyball display. Do you know what flyball is? Probably more than me. Hang on, I'll google it...

Oh! Apparently the event we saw was called Bark in the Park 2006. Cute. This is what the Australian Flyball Association say:

Flyball is a relay race between two teams of four dogs. Racing side by side, one dog from each team must go over four hurdles, trigger a flyball box pedal, catch (retrieve) a ball and then return over all four hurdles to the start/finish line where the next dog eagerly awaits.

Flyball is a team sport. Each team consists of four dogs racing in each heat, plus up to two reserves. Reserves can be interchanged after each heat. There are between three and five heats to a race, and a team has to win a majority to win the race.

It was terrific. There were all types of dogs, from yappy little things to huge hairy ones.

good start
This one started well...

scraping in
but seemed to develop an itchy bum on the way back.

One team absolutely fascinated me. They had sleek, slim, energetic BUFF dogs, raring to go and win. But each and every person in the team was overweight and puffing.
team spirit
Meet the team.

Now, I'm not fond of making fun of physical attributes, especially those belonging to women, but I have to show you this. If I were on this team, I would want to kill whoever designed their uniform. My eye was caught especially by
flyball brunhilda
Flyball Brunhilda. No idea what is in that pink bag on her front. It looked like a backwards bum bag, but it gave the impression that a large piece of her was hanging loose.

I mean to say, bicycle shorts?
brunhilda bum
It's just cruel.

buff dogs
These people must spend their time sitting with a stopwatch in their hands, egging the dogs on.

The dogs were hot to trot, or maybe just excited at the prospect of their owners moving a little!

This guy had the keenest dog. He was a smart puppy. He didn't see why he had to go over the hurdles, so he'd go around the side, and herd them a bit. This, of course, was instant disqualification. And his owner, the sharp-looking backward hat guy, got really, really mad. I thought he was going to hit the dog at one point. If he had the crowd would have jumped him and ripped him to shreds. I decided to keep walking around the park at this point.

Later on, I wandered back past in time to see a little Jack Russell scurry along, just clearing the hurdles. Very small, very keen. He ran up, hit the board, got the ball, ran back, and passed the baton to
an enormous Irish Wolf Hound. This guy loped along, barely breaking out of a mosey, stepping quietly over each hurdle, maintaining a huge amount of dignity.

He got to the backboard, stood on it for a moment, dipped his head and casually picked up the ball. Then he turned, looked at his owner, and seemed to sigh. Resigned to his fate, he started the slow, graceful lope again back to the start.

As he perambulated, someone announced over the loudspeaker that there is only one wolfhound in the world who has reached that level of flyball, and we just watched him do it.

The crowd roared in appreciation and applauded. After all, isn't that what Australia is all about? Carn the underdogs. We love a bit of pace.


I had a dream last night...

...well, this morning probably. Anyway, it was so vivid that I wrote it down as soon as I woke.

I dreamed that I went to Casa Sorrow at Sill's Bend. Lucy Tartan was hosting a huge blogger's meet. We were greeted at the door by a well-dressed cat, who hustled us through to the living room. There was a large host of people milling about, a number of whom were cats. You were there, and you, and you.

The room was very modern, glaringly white, with lots of fur trimmings. There were many sunken areas, rimmed with couches. Each sunken area had entertainment qualities -- ie, one would have a sound system, another a visual system, another just games. Each was full of people.

Lucy herself turned out to be a large woman of medium height, in her 60s, dressed in a High Victorian mourning dress of glossy black silk taffeta. Her glossy black hair was piled high on her head. Very raven-like. She had an enormous shelf-like bosom and a huge bustle at the back, so she took up a lot of room as she moved around, greeting people.

There were three very old men sitting in the first sunken area. They turned out to be Lucy's brothers, one of whom was called Dorian. They referred to Lucy as The Sister all the time, as in 'I don't see The Sister, do you?', 'The Sister will be here soon, don't worry.' They ignored all the people, just fretting querulously to each other throughout the event.

Lucy was bustling around, constantly pulling out interesting things for everyone to do. The cats kept up the refreshments. Everyone was having a terrific time. I took lots of photos, only to find towards the end that my memory disk was faulty and that none of them had actually worked. And the phone kept ringing, and it was always for me -- clients, wanting their design work done NOW. So I kept missing out on the really good stuff.

But you -- and you, and even you -- looked as though you were having the time of your life.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Brave New (filthy) World

Running on the spot at the speed of light, that's how my life feels at the moment. And typical of me, I spent my only day of leisure upgrading the blog! I'm glad, though, because I need a bit of neat and fresh these days.

It's lunchtime, and I'm sitting amongst piles of rubbish and bags of paper for recycling. I'm at art school, and I'm surveying my new domain. Ms Brent* has left, taken a voluntary redundancy, and I have been given the keys to the studio** and a looooong leash. Still dogsbody, but independent dogsbody, with room to move, breathe and work at my own pace and make changes as I want (within budgetary constraints).

My new boss, who works downstairs, is efficient, literate (she likes the same literature as I do, whereas Ms Brent is not a book reader), straightforward, and as generous as being overworked and underfunded can allow her to be. She has moments of being scary, but I think that's a good quality in a superior, because then you don't get tempted to take advantage of them. And she's actively encouraging me to get involved with the printmaking students and to be part of the staff 'team', something Ms B actively discouraged. No more skulking through the corridors through groups of students I don't know.

Happy! Well, I'll be a lot happier once I've cleaned up the mess that Ms Brent left behind. I have to do a physical clean-up, then stocktake all leftover materials and artworks, making an archive of some of the latter and returning the rest to their respective artists. I have to finish a couple of printing projects, and then I can start a fresh page, so to speak.

So here I am, chucking shite, sweeping, scraping her name off the door and humming merrily to myself because she took the bloody stereo with her. It feels like a divorce. She comes in after hours and takes her stuff, and I come in next morning to find it gone. Lots of undercurrents and negotiations. So sweep! sweep! shred! chuck! Out with the old! Make it something new! huzzar!

[coughing from all the dust]

*Real names, of course, can't be used, but she reminds me (as I'm mentioned before) so much of David Brent (platitudes, mangled metaphors and even a CD of her singing bad covers) that this shall be her tag. Better than 'ex boss'.
**The studio is a lovely space where books and editioned prints are made. I will call it the 'BS' from now on because if I write it longhand, it makes the name of the space, and I don't really want to be too obvious about this. After fighting for independence over the last ten years, the space has now reverted back to being part of a bigger department, whilst maintaining its purpose and identity. I don't think it's a bad thing, which is why I'm sticking around.

Postscript: I feel, after sleeping on it, that I should explain a bit more about my relationship with Ms Brent. It's a bit complicated, in that I like her in many ways. She's a brilliant artist, and will be known one day as one of Australia's best and most innovative printmakers. She's a good friend when she wants to be. She would be the first to admit that she's a total workaholic, and this is what will send her all the way to the top. But like all driven people, she expects a lot from her workers, her family, her friends and her art. I've spent the last three years giving her my best, and I know she appreciates this. She just drives me nuts, and this separation of our working and personal relationship is tricky. But exciting. We are still working together on a catalogue at the moment, so there's three levels existing at the same time: breaking off a relationship of boss/underling, continuing work as client/service provider, and maintenance of friendship with many shared experiences. Is it any wonder I'm confused?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Friday, February 03, 2006

Comic Relief

Finally, finally, FINALLY...

Things start working out right. Deadlines have been met. Appreciation has been expressed. Ex Boss at art school now formally handed over to New Boss, who has promised me everything I have asked for. Next week I start printing like crazy to get one last lingering artist's project finished and then I start a new, interesting, not-much-quieter-but-more-spiritually-fulfilling work regime. With my own office! Hooray! And hopefully I will get to blog interesting things about letterpress and book arts (the way I planned to when I started this blog) because I will be doing them on a regular basis. Double hooray!

Poo bum to the fact that my camera doesn't work. I'll have to start photoshopping some drawings to make some visuals until I can resolve the camera problem by either [1] waking up one morning to find it working or [2] saving some newly-earned money and buying a new one. Being a realist, I am about to start looking at Choice reviews of digicams and dusting off the piggybank.

Have I ever mentioned that when I was young and lithe I collected comics? Not the kind that are chockablock with muscles and magical powers, but the type that had names like Dirty Plotte (Julie Doucet), Naughty Bits (Roberta Gregory -- loved her 'Bitchy Bitch' and 'Butchy Butch' characters), Slutburger (Mary Fleener) and Self-loathing Comics (Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Robert Crumb's partner). Most of these and others I found were published by the excellent Fantagraphics Books. I also collected local output, like Fruity Murmurs (collated by Mandy Ord and Kirrily Schell), Bump and Snore (Bruce Taylor, Mandy Ord & others), Wilnot (Mandy Ord) and Ink (Matt Taylor and friends). I didn't collect consistently, only when I had a bit of expendable cash and when there was time to browse the local comic shops and markets. I'm dating myself, I suspect, by the comics I'm naming.

Needless to say, I haven't had a lot of comic action in the last ten years, apart for finding a graphic novel here & there or falling upon little treasures at market stalls occasionally. But Bumblebee is now the right age to appreciate comics, and there's no better way to get a boy actively reading... so I have an excuse to go back to haunting the local comic shop Impact Comics.

I got him hooked last year by buying some old Superman and Casper comics at some secondhand bookshop. Once he got the idea of how comics work, I took him up the exotically shabby steps to Impact and let him snuffle around. He quite quickly discovered Star Wars comics, and I can now let him read happily in a corner while I do some of my own snuffling. Not as much expendable income these days, but enough to buy local comics and see who is on the scene.

Ben Hutchings is still around, which is great to see. I highly recommend checking out his entry in the 2005 24-Hour Comic Challenge. Today I bought #2 of his joint comic (with Glenn Smith) Glenjamin. I would have bought the more recent #3, but the shop was all out. I also bought David Blumenstein's Herman the Legal Labrador (with some artwork also by Glenn Smith). I haven't read it yet, but it looks fun, with a by-line that reads ' Cute Doggie. Faithful Pet. World-class defence Lawyer.'

I also found a ripper of a little anthology called Pirates, which is Australian, multi-talented and ... about Pirates! The dudes who sold it to me paused and checked that I wasn't buying it for Bumblebee. I assured them that the white texta'd sticker they'd put on the front saying 'probably not for little kids' had been effective and yes, I was only buying it for myself. Not that we mind, they said, just don't bring it back complaining about the content. I won't! The content is great, in parts. But that's the way of comic anthologies. Some strong bits, some weak, but all worth supporting. Older names keep reappearing -- last year I found a recent comic by Mandy Ord called Dirty Little Creep. I love her stuff. I think she's in Melbourne now. I have one of her original drawings in a frame somewhere in the house. Browsing just then, I found a website, but I don't think it's recent. What is there is really good, but!

I treated myself to an archive box and some dividers today to make my small but loved collection look special. It's going to take me a day or so to sort them out and add the new ones whilst re-reading the old (they've been in a cardboard box under a tall pile of cardboard boxes), but I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate a change of [s]pace...

And Bumblebee? His horizons have broadened immeasurably in the past two weeks. He wakes up in the morning and reaches for his pile of comics. We've been mainly buying old back issues of things, but this morning we discovered a new Star Wars comic series called Knights of the Old Republic, hot off the press. It's based nearly 4,000 years before the birth of Luke Skywalker, and we bought the first issue. He's now got a standing order for it, and I'm looking forward to him eagerly awaiting his copy every month.

The grand lads at Impact also let him hold (and swing about) the nearest thing to a real lightsabre he's ever seen -- $230 worth of simulated lightsabre which, when switched on, glows eerily and hums like the real thing, varying the hum realistically when you swing it, using motion sensors. It blew his mind. I think that's all he's going to talk about when he gets back to school, despite everything else he's done these holidays (including an hilarious conversation with Harry et al from For Battle! about sword-fighting that kept him starry-eyed for days)! And why not? You're only a Star-Wars-obsessed boy once.

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