Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lest I forget

This is an image of my Anzac Day. I was going to do all sorts of nice things with my boys and then a huge pile of Mary Gilmore Volume 2 landed on me.

A whole day of typing and tweaking and PDFing and tweaking some more and I think we're ready to send it to the printers and me to the doghouse. And I'm only one of the team that has suffered to bring the world this Very Important Book. I hate working on public holidays. It makes me feel like John Howard has WON. But that's the life of a freelancer, kids.*

Note to self: say NO occasionally!

And judging from my failed attempts to find Best Beloved a birthday gift on ebay, the rest of Australia was bidding on things for their Anzac Day afternoon. The ebay website was nigh-on impossible to access until about 7.30pm. What does that say about us as a nation?

* Ahem. To that nice motivational speaker person who emailed to tell me that I'm on a list of Very Positive Australian Blogs, thanks, I'm pleased. But I don't have to be cheery all the time do I? Working my guts out on a public holiday whilst being premenstrual doesn't make a bright and cheery duck. And never will.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Haul (breathe, breathe)

I have a bloated feeling from the Lifeline Book Fair, and I only spent a few hours there. It's because I went on Saturday and bought what for me is a moderate amount of books, and then I went back on Sunday for the last half hour when they charge $10 for all you can fit into a green bag, and I gorged myself, mostly on poetry books that no-one else seemed to want except me.

Blimey, if I thought I had no room for my books before, now the situation is utterly ridiculous. But I can justify each purchase, truly! Well, I can justify it to myself, anyway. But now the piles of books teetering around my home office are even higher...

Here's the list.

-- Angela Carter (ed), Wayward Girls & Wicked Women, (replacing a copy I once lent and never got back)
-- Angela Carter, Fireworks: nine stories in various disguises
-- Dymphna Cusack, The Half-Burnt Tree
-- Dymphna Cusack, Black Lightning (no, Bernice, I didn't have it. But I do now)
-- Dymphna Cusack, Say No to Death (I already have a copy of this, but this one has a pristine dustjacket)
-- Harold Bell Wright, That Printer of Udell's (1903, seems to be a novel about a letterpress-printing family in the American mid-west)
-- William Morris, A Dream of John Ball
-- The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (1 volume, always wanted one of these, and it's a nice old one with glossaries of characters, etc. Happy Birthday, Bill)
-- Roger McDonald, 1915
-- David Whish-Wilson, The Summons
-- James Bailey, Man, Interrupted
-- Emma Tennant, The Bad Sister
-- Charmian Clift/George Johnson, Strong-man from Pireaus and other stories (hardback)
-- Lionel Shriver, The Female of the Species
-- Zoe Fairbairns, Benefits (dystopian feminist novel, highly recommended, and I've got a copy, but this one has a better cover)
-- Peter Draffin, Pop: A Novelty, with illustrations (everywhere!) by Martin Sharp
-- Kerryn Goldsworthy (ed), Australian Short Stories (not only a good selection, but a killer photo on the back :) )

-- Style Manual for authors, editor & printers, 3rd Edition. (I seem to have a collection of editions now)
-- J.G. Cone, Cone's Book of Handicrafts (1961, with sone fabulous low-tech fun, including how to make the panoramic drawing frame featured in last week's Collectors)
-- Esther Hautzig, Let's Make Presents: 100 Inexpensive Gifts (1964, packed with good blogposts)
-- J. Hagan, Printers and Politics: A History of the Australian Printing Unions 1850-1950)
-- Charmian Clift, Images in Aspic (1st edition paperback)
-- Laurence Whistler, Rex Whistler, his life and drawings (This book is a definite blogpost in itself)

-- Denise Levertov, The Freeing of the Dust
-- Catherine Reilly (ed), Scars Upon My Heart (a collection of WWI poetry & verse by women. Really happy about this one.)
-- Penguin Modern Poets 8: Edwin Brock, Geoffrey Hill, Stevie Smith (LOVE Stevie Smith)
-- Vivian Smith, Selected Poems
-- Jon Foulcher, Convertible
-- Jon Foulcher, New and Selected poems
-- David Holbrook (ed), Iron Honey Gold, 4 vols of anthology.
-- Lily Brett, In her Strapless Dresses
-- Lily Brett, Mud in my Tears
-- Stephen Spender, Poems
-- Martin Johnston, Selected Poems and Prose
-- ANU Staff Centre Poet's Luncheon Menu, 29 November 1977, with poems by Rosemary Dobson, David Campbell, Geoff Page, Roger McDonald, RF Brissinden, and AD Hope, SIGNED BY ALL and was only 50c in the pamphlet section. Bonus!
-- Les Murray, New Selected Poems
-- Derek Walcott, The Bounty
-- e.e. cummings, selected poems 1923-1958 (lost my other copy)
-- Deborah Westbury, Flying Blind
-- Robert Graves, Love Respelt (I actually bought this as one of my design 'warning' books, as it is a dreadful one-section, machine-stitched binding, which ruins the careful layout of the text. Such a shame.)

-- Larry Pickering, A decade of Pickering (now I can let my individual copies for each year lie fallow)
-- Stan Lee, The Amazing Spiderman (1979 anthology)
-- The Completely MAD Don Martin (one of the only things I like in MAD comics)
-- Northbourne and Glory Bound (a Canberra comic anthology from 2000. This is an ex-library copy that I can read and keep my other copy nice)

-- Roget's Thesaurus (a copy for the Book Stud, because I'm always wishing I had one)
-- Collin's Australian Pocket English Dictionary (ditto)
-- Collin's Authors' and Printers' Dictionary (I think this is my 3rd copy now, but this one has a FABULOUS bookplate, so I'll cast off one of my other copies. Anyone want one?

As far as the weirdest one I saw, I think this takes the cake:

try for dry

When I saw it, my first thought was a polemic about drier types of white wine (it's a nice bit of typesetting), or maybe even alcoholism, or maybe growing a cactus garden. But no, it's "a commonsense approach to the problem of Urinary Incontinence". Heh.

No, I didn't buy it. I don't need THAT many books.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Rant du jour

Heh. This is too good not to share as well.

Some of you may have read in The Australian or elsewhere that Canberra Liberal MLA Steve Pratt has been taking matters into his own hands about that social scourge, GRAFFITI. Quake in your boots, kids.

Steve decided to pull a media stunt and call a few journos together to document his Courage and Wisdom as he put on some rubber gloves and scrubbed off some apparently offending matter under a bridge near the Woden Cemetery. Since then the media have been having a fun time exposing that the offending piece was actually a legitimate piece of community art.

I will add to the fun by adding that the artist in question was our blogging comrade, byrd, whose graffiti skills are pretty damn special. Unfortunately at the moment his site seems not to have its archives intact, so I can't check to see if he's got a pic of the offending mural.

Actually, I just checked again then, but I can't really tell which is the one. What I do know is that byrd got permission to have regular spaces around Canberra, and he used them well. Here is one of my favorite blog posts, showing an underpass in Kaleen:


He does a design and then plays with it over time, like in this case where he changes the tattoo on the girl's arm regularly.

byrd's been living in Qld for the last 18 months, but he is on his way back to live in Canberra, so maybe we can stage a media stunt to reinstate the piece. Great exposure for his work!

At the moment Pratt (it's such a great name, isn't it? Does all the work for us) is doing everything he can to weasel out of the media spotlight, including having a dummyspit about the fact that he researched the spot with one government department -- roads and bridges -- and not another -- community art. Well, as far as I'm concerned, that is the root of the problem, because people like Pratt and his ilk [a] can't tell good spray from bad and [b] don't consider anything out of a frame art. It's sheer bad judgement on his part, and there's really no way around that fact. I mean, does this (what you can see under SP's scrubbing) look like a mosh of tags to you?


Apparently he will be charged with vandalism of public art. I say HOORAY to that. Especially when you see part of the grossly offensive original (thanks to Zoe, who went through the byrd archives with a fine-tooth comb):

*update* Local debates/commentary about it here and here.

[cross-posted at Sarsaparilla]

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Book time's a-coming!

Reading Laura's latest post (highly-anticipated and excellent) reminded me to check up on Joel Veitch, something I forget to do on a regular basis. And I found this, which is too good not to share:

But that's not what I posted for. TJ reminded me to tell you that it's LIFELINE BOOK FAIR this weekend! And yes, the challenge is on for young and old (in Canberra) (or for those who want to make a trip for the occasion) to find the most bloggable book... weird, wacky or just downright revolting. Go nuts.*

Details: Canberra Exhibition Park (EPIC), starts Friday morning with the usual long queue waiting for war history books, and goes through to sunday:

Friday 10am-6pm
Saturday 10am-5pm
Sunday 10am-4pm

There's also a dedicated Rare Books Room that has its own opening times.


*And because I've been unable to roam very widely around blogosphere thanks to work commitments, drop me a line if you do blog about Lifeline finds. I'd like to see them!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Driving along today with Bumblebee and his two cousins, C1 (7-yo boy) and C2 (6-yo girl), we were discussing superheroes and whether they needed capes or not, i.e., were capes a help or a hindrance.

B: Superman has his own powers, he doesn't need a cape.

&D: Batman, on the other hand, DOES need a cape, because he's just muscles and gadgets.

C2: Spiderman doesn't have a cape, and he hasn't got special powers!

C1 and B: YES HE DOES! He was bitten by a radioactive spider. [joint 'tuh!']

--- pause for thought ---

C1: Well, there's that woman with the great bommiknockers, has she got a cape?

B: well, I'm not sure, but she has special powers, so maybe she doesn't need one...

&D: Which woman? What bommiknockers?

B: WONDER woman.

&D: BOMMIKNOCKERS? That's a pretty weird word for them.

C1: They have great spikes on them, boy, they can do some damage.

C2: Yeah, I want some bommiknockers like that when I'm a woman.

&D: Hang on, SPIKES?

B: Yeah, she swings them around, with one on each end of the rope. Deadly cool.

&D: [blush] Oh, bommiknockers. Cool. [double blush].

--- pause to clean up thoughts ---

wonder woman

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Prince for a day lifetime

This is going to be short. We're all completely rooted, in the non-sexual Australian sense. I'll let a few pictures do most of the talking, because my parents did a fantastic job of making Bumblebee feel really special for his birthday (which isn't really until tomorrow).

The original plan was that instead of a birthday party, B could take a friend down to his grandparent's farm for the weekend. Then Colonel and Lady Duck decided to invite some of the local kids over for a bash, and then it sort of grew into a full-blown birthday party, complete with pinata, limbo competition, treasure hunt, bonfire and marshmallows, sparklers and glowsticks, with a vague Dr Who theme. Combine that with lashings of food, a cool cake and plenty of alcohol for the parents, and a damn good time was had by all, out in the cleaned-up cow paddock:

Dalek cake
The Dalek cake! Layers of spongecake and plum jelly, with an icing and blueberry outer, and a few kitkats and a decorated marshmallow. One of Lady Duck's classic birthday cakes. We always had good ones. The plate of gingerbread men in the foreground are all 'Doctors', with jelly snake scarves around their necks!

Tardis pinata
Colonel Duck's Tardis pinata! A thing of beauty, with a plywood top and base, and papier mache surrounds. There is even a little flashing light on top, powered by a 9-volt battery! The inside was, of course, stuffed with lollies, a true act of grandparent-hood (stuff them with sugar and give them back).

pinata line
The pinata in situ, with prince-for-a-day Bumblebee and his posse waiting patiently for something to bash it with. (Colonel Duck's wonderful schoolteacher neighbour is a consumate op-shopper, and it's a tradition that she finds a wonderful hat for Bumblebee. This is this year's effort, and he adores it. He's wearing it in bed as I type.) Colonel Duck is a very smart planner (not for nothing was he a logistics manager in the army) and he gave the kids a soft foam bat for the first wave of bashing, so that everyone got a go. On the second round he replaced the bat with a piece of dowling, and then finally he gave the biggest kid a wooden hurling stick* to finish it off. Finally there was just a swarm of kids crawling over the ground picking up lollies!

*Not a vomiting stick, but a Hurling bat we picked up in Ireland a long tim ago. Very handy thing.

Every kid loves sparklers, and quite a few adults too...

glowsticks at night
Colonel Duck gave out a lot of glowsticks; I'm not fond of these because they're VERY bad for the environment once they've finished glowing. But I promised Colonel Duck I'd sit back and shut up while the kids enjoyed themselves, so I did. I love this photo. It makes me think of an ABC television promotional ad. Laaa daaa daaaaaa....

I'm very grateful to my parents. They put a lot of work into the weekend, and it was such fun. If I'm this wiped out now, I can't imagine how buggered they are. Barnaby's invited friend was a girl who always seems a bit starved of affection as her parents battle their way through a nasty breakup, and she seemed to really enjoy hanging out with us, and enjoyed calling my parents 'nanny and granddad', taking every opportunity to do so and to be hugged.

I'll leave you with a lovely image of the Colonel wandering through his orchard to put up some balloons, and Lucky the wonderdog torn between following him, his adored master or coming back to me, his original Mummy:

Colonel Duck

I just told Bumblebee to go to sleep 9 and wake up 10. Probably a mistake, because he'll lie awake all excited. Heh. No, I just checked. He's out like a light. As I will be in about half an hour. Goodnight.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I did but see her passing by...

There I was, standing outside my favorite noodle-box restaurant in Dickson, feeling like crap, buying takeaway because it's been a big week and I'm still sick and Best Beloved is coming down with it as well -- another week in hell, guaranteed, gotta hate sick men -- and about to head over to the bottl-o to buy another bottle of whiskey to kill the germs, when a car came past me in the laneway between me and Chucky Fried, and sitting in the passenger seat was the glamorous Miss Fits.

I was pretty sure it was her, having seen her on the ABC an' all, so to test my theory I yelled out 'Miss Fits!' at the car, at which she popped her head out and said 'Yes?!'. 'Ampersand Duck!' I yelled happily back whilst waving, and then ducked away as I am wont to do when I am shy and happy and looking like poo on a plate. I heard her interested squeal as they turned a corner, and it made my night.

Then I came home and checked, and yes, she is meant to be in Canberra tonight. I know she's here for something really exciting that I'd love to witness (but probably not this or this, god Canberra rawks), but I'm too sick to find out what, and I'm leaving town tomorrow for a night so that my parents can throw the birthday party for Bumblebee that I'm too tired to organise.

Snaps to Bernice Balconey, who whipped into town last night and not only took Bumblebee to the movies with her excellent and laconic 10-y-old son but woke up at dawn's crack this morning and took them both to the Canberra Balloon Festival Fiesta and the Castle while I went to school and hard-bound a batch of artist's books without. making. a. single. mistake. Go me. :)

So tonight turned out to be way more exciting than I expected, spotting blog royalty like that. Hooray!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sick My Way

Well, the mood this Easter was FULLY SICK. Not the Folk Festival, just me. Sick as the proverbial dog, with a bad head cold thingy. So I spent a little bit of time at the Festival, a bigger bit of time nursing myself with whiskey and chocolate and the company of my sister-outlaw Naomi, who is camping in my back yard with her common-law spouse (BB's big brother) and child, and a lot of time nursing myself in front of the computer with even more whiskey and chocolate, working on my commitments. I'm feeling much better now, but I've gained a few kilos in the process.

One of the things that has made me feel much better is my special Sick Soup. I eat it once a day when I'm coldy or fluey. You know how people tell you to eat lots of ginger and garlic and lemon and chilli? I worked out MY best way to do it. It's a bit low-brow, but by gum it works. Here's how it goes:

SICK SOUP (for 1 person)

-- 1 pkt Trident Thai Hot & Spicy instant noodles (this particular flavour is very important).
-- At least 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped in half.
-- A 5mm thick slice of ginger, peeled and grated.
-- A variety of vegetables, chopped and or sliced, about a good handful of them altogether. My staples are: carrot, cabbage, broad beans (frozen), broccoli, capsicum, peas (usually frozen, but I'll use fresh if I've got them, of course) and snow peas or baby spinach.
-- You can add tofu or chicken if you want, but they're totally optional.
-- The juice of one whole lemon, a really juicy one.


1. Use a small to medium saucepan, fill with as much water as the quantity of soup you want.
2. Add contents of soup flavour packets, and don't forget to use the chilli packet. Add garlic and ginger. Bring it to a simmer.
3. Add the hard vegies like carrot, cabbage and broad beans. Let it all simmer for ten minutes.
4. Add the softer vegies -- except broccoli and snow peas. let simmer for a few minutes.
5. Add the noodles from the packet, make sure they're covered by the liquid, place the broccoli and snow peas gently on top without stirring through, and cover the saucepan. Turn the heat down so the soup doesn't boil over. Leave for three minutes.
6. Remove the lid, turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir through.
7. If you're Nice, you can tip the soup into a large deep bowl and sit at a table to eat it. If you're sick and couldn't be bothered washing up something extra, like me, take the saucepan and a heatproof mat and eat the whole lot from the saucepan in front of the tv. Have a glass of cold juice and a box of tissues nearby.

You'll sweat for the next half hour after eating that, but it'll do the job.

Naomi went around to visit Zoe yesterday; I didn't because I didn't want to spread the Lurgy like a plague rat. But I did lend her my brand new copy of the first series of Love My Way that BB bought me the other day (yours is coming home soon, Sach sweetie).

Zoe's having a lovely weekend, just her & Jethro, as her other boys are campin' and fishin'. I got a text message from her this afternoon:

LMW awful! Floods of tears + I blame you

Yeah, I was like that for days the first time I watched it. It's a truly amazing Australian drama. Not quite a soapie, unless the soap was something really classy and fragrant, something you could buy from a soap shop like LUSH.

I got another text from Zoe a few minutes ago:

omg do u have season 2?

No I don't, and I'm hanging out to see it (and then season 3) too. We just conferred on the phone and decided to get it/them ASAP and share them. If anyone can help us in this matter we'd be very grateful.

ANYHOO, a marvellous and relevant thing happened to me today, the sort of thing that blogging is made for. Just listen to this.

At the Folk Festival, as I mentioned on Friday, they have been conducting their annual tribute competition, and this year the theme is The Sound of Music. Perfect -- Nazis, nuns, love, children, goats: all stuff folkies love to love and hate. It's been quite hilarious, and it's a wonderful way to get a taste of the different acts at the Festival on a level playing field, so to speak (or should that be a steep mountain side?). The winner in my mind was festival regular (and Woodford breakfast co-presenter) John Thompson, who dressed as a nun and sang 'Climb Every Mountain' loud and proud in the most stunning tenor falsetto any of us as likely ever to hear in our lives. It rang around the walls of the huge venue! Marvellous. But he only got a Very Highly Commended. The official winners were Shortis & Simpson, a Canberra cabaret institution, who were admittedly very good, and deserved to finally win after 5 years of missing out with great performances. They did a ribald cabaret medley of the showtunes using Marlene Deitrich as the performer.

Between heats the presenter would pull children onto the stage to perform actions to a crowd-sung 'Do Re Mi'; my nephew was the first to volunteer on Friday, along with a very cute little girl who looked very familiar. I thought she went to Bumblebee's school, she was that familiar.

Over the last three days Nephew and Cutie were the first on stage, and were joined by various other youngsters. Yesterday I taped a snatch of them:

My nephew is 3rd from the left, Cutie is at the far right (since she was the smallest). As usual it's crappy quality, because I was standing a fair way back and the taping was very spontaneous, just wanting a snatch of it to prove to Nephew's mother (not Naomi, another sister-in-law) that he was up there.

Today, I took Bumblebee with me to the finals of the competition. When the kids jumped up on stage to perform for the last time, I asked B if he knew Cutie... nope, never seen her before, was the reply. So why did she look so familiar? I puzzled over it for a while, and then suddenly it jumped into my head, as remembered things tend to do these days (like masked men with guns crashing into a room): she was the little girl from the first series of Love My Way!!!

Her name is Alex Cook (I have a dreadful memory for author and actor names, so it didn't click when she introduced herself as Alex) and she played Lou:


As soon as I realised, I had an overwhelming urge to run up to her, take her in my arms and give her the hugest cuddle I had in me, and anyone who has seen the show will know why. If you don't know why, I won't say, because you need to see it for yourself, goddamit. But I didn't, because the poor child probably gets scared by people like me on a daily basis, or did a couple of years ago, anyway. Still, even though I know that actors AREN'T their characters, la-de-la-la, I'm still feeling hugely relieved and content. It was a lovely moment, and I can stop being haunted by her face.*

Right now I have an extra 5 people in my tiny house for the night, camping out the back and sprawled on the floors. They just watched The Sound of Music and sang along, which provides another kind of closure for the weekend. And I just have a leetle bit of tweaking to go on the things that are due tomorrow, and then my Easter is over.

Did I mention that Bumblebee turns 10 in a week? Eek!

* It's even more understandable when you know Bumblebee's history. SPOILER ALERT! ONLY GO TO THIS LINK IF YOU KNOW (OR DON'T CARE ABOUT) WHAT HAPPENS IN LOVE MY WAY.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Time to get folked, good & proper

Bumblebee, after listening very intently to my explanation of what Easter is, asked 'why do they call it GOOD Friday? it should be BLACK Friday or SAD Friday or BLOOD Friday or something.' Not having listened very hard in Sunday School (more mindful of all the yummies being laid out on the nearby table), I had no answer for him. It is a bit weird, since it's really a Deathday celebration. Can someone tell us why? I'd rather hear it from you than Google the answer.

Then I had an argument a discussion with Best Beloved about the fact that Woollies is closed on Good Friday; he found it inconvenient, and I supported the closure... not on religious grounds, but because if we're going to have a public holiday then it should be for EVERYBODY and I don't see why some poor 16 year old has to be outside of the term 'public'. We should, I argued, live a few days a year without shopping, and should plan our lives accordingly.

Half an hour later I really wanted to eat something specific and found myself thinking 'I'll just nip down to Woolies'. DOH! Still, I stand by my stand, so to speak. I'll just have to not eat that thing.

Something which never stops for Easter is the National Folk Festival, folking madly as I type, down the road a wee bit at Canberra's EPIC (the showgrounds). I love this time of year because I can just jump on my bike and within ten minutes I can immerse myself in all that is weird and wonderful in today's alternate minorities. Because I have a few things due on Tuesday, I have decided to work by morning, festival by afternoon. And because I live close by, that is a very realistic goal.

I've probably said this before, but I actually go to very few concerts at festivals. I'll catch a few familiar gigs by old favorites like Totally Gourdgeous, Frencham Smith and the annual 'Infinite Song Competition' (a daily round of themed covers by Festival participants. So far they've done ABBA, Queen, Bob Dylan, etc. This year it's The Sound of Music.); and I'll try to get to names that intrigue me, like The Dolls (3 cowgirls combining country, hillbilly, blues and cabaret), Nester Lou and the Slim Knackers Show, and The Transylvaniacs. If anyone out there knows of something hot coming to the Festival that I have to catch, please let me know.

Otherwise, I spend most of my time in the festival streets, checking out the beards, the costumes, the impromptu jams around oil drum fires. It's a great time of year, and the temperature is dropping every minute, so hooray for jumpers and mulled wine!

Have a great Easter/holiday, whatever you find yourself doing.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Triangly circle fold book

This post is for TimT, who wanted to know how Bernadette Crockford's beautiful Concrete Poetry book was made (it's on all the SLV promo stuff for the E+ABS touring exhibition).

Well, here you go:
triangle circle book
image credit to Na Rae Kim, Korean Bookarts Academy, Seoul.

It's really simple; the main thing is to ensure your squares are exactly square before you start. Once compiled, you can make triangular covers (with ties, if you so desire) and attach them to each end. As you fold, press each seam down flat with a bone folder (every book artist's best friend!).

Hint: fold your diagonal folds towards you, and your horizontal fold away from you (or vice versa). Then it should slip into the shape you need quite easily.

So that's the form... now go give it some CONTENT.