Monday, June 30, 2008

because there hasn't been enough making on this blog...'s a preview of the book Byrd and I just collaboratively submitted to an exhibition called Into The Fold, opening at Artisan Books (Gertrude St, Melbourne) in August:

Snatches 6

Snatches 5

Snatches 4

Snatches 3

Snatches 1

It's called

SNATCHES: a mystery in six parts.

Letterpress (using bits of 20 years worth of un-dissed hell type) and ink drawings on this funky polyester cover sheeting that I discovered and have been hoarding.

Not bad for a weekend's work, eh?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ask the universe

I need to find two people, and maybe someone out there can help.


1. A home hairdresser (i.e. someone who will come to your home and do old-lady perms, sets and cuts) who does not call an elderly client 'luv' or 'darl'.


2. A bookkeeper who will not scoff at a numerically dyslexic and completely disorganised artistic type. And has room on their books for one more hopeless client.

Anyone know anyone in the Canberra vicinity? If so, email me (ampersandduck doing the gmail thing).

I'd be ever so grateful.

Or, if you're not local, feel free to share your own hairdressing / accountancy problems.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Take a walk in my shoes

Thanks to the magic of seeing Lorraine Crescent in action, I'm giving you a sample of what I've been listening to on my shuffle. Some of my fav songs aren't available, sadly (like Eleni Mandell's 'Taking you out', which is highly recommended for any women who (a) like Hothead Paisan or (b) have the shits with men in general), but this is a pretty good cross-section.

[For anyone interested, the Billy Joel song is what I'm having played at my funeral. Don't laugh. Or do, I don't care.]

Anyway, I hope you enjoy. I haven't set it to start automatically; I decided to give you the choice of pressing the play button :)

PS: if you decide to make on of these yourself, check the songs carefully before you put them on your playlist. I've had to edit this a couple of times, the first because a couple of songs were running at double time, and once because it was a completely different song, even though it has said the correct artist and track name! Sheesh.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Remember to Breathe

It's Zoe's birthday! She's feeling the strain of nursing sick kids (including big kids) for weeks on end, so how about you pop over to either of her blogs and tell her how wonderful she is.

In the immortal words of the Bard:

Love's in need
Of love today
Don't delay,
Send yours in right away...
(doo doo do do doo doo)

(WTF? itz my birfday)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wintery wonders

It's really winter, at last. Yesterday Bumblebee and I were riding to school, swathed in knitted headwear, wind-proof jackets and thick gloves. He looked at me and said How much longer is winter? with a big cloud of fog leaving his mouth as he said it. All I could say is A lot longer; this is only the first month. To his credit, he kept riding stoically.

Glebe Park

I've spent the last two days over at the Canberra Institute of Technology, sitting on an assessment panel for their art and design diploma students. I've been riding my bike there, and on the way I ride through the above park, next to Civic. This photo was taken at 9am this morning.

There's a calm about Canberra at certain times of the year (and day) that really appeals to me. I love feeling like the only person left roaming the earth... this morning was one of those moments. Usually I only get that sensation on a Sunday night at about 9pm, or in the wee small hours of any Canberra morning. This morning there was a light mist in the air, and I felt like I was moving under water. The trees were stretching up, the same way I'd been stretching up in yoga the night before, trying to remember to keep my shoulder-blades down and my side ribs up.

winter sky

They didn't look naked, or shivering, or thin, like so many winter trees do. They were reaching, breathing, and loving the cool damp air as much as I was.

I've been embracing the cold, enjoying the chance to make comfort food (tonight we had our favorite beetroot risotto followed by a wonderful nutty quince cake that BB made yesterday) and reading good books (in my nice warm bed, of course).

I was very excited a few weeks ago to discover that Joan London had released another novel, a long time after her amazing first book, Gilgamesh. I adored Gilgamesh because it was so dense with layers and thoughts and yet seemed so simple. It was anchored to outback WA, yet roamed into exotic territory in Europe and the Middle East. Her latest effort, The Good Parents, again has its roots firmly in rural WA, and again roams, but this time she doesn't leave Australia's shores, and instead of being set in the past, she stays firmly in a contemporary scenario. She still explores issues of loss and intimacy, but it's a tighter circle. It seems deceptively simple, but I think when I revisit it (I like a gap of about 12 months for words to lie fallow) I'll find similar archetypal layering to the first novel.

On the weekend I started Sophie Cunningham's latest novel, Bird. I found it very hard to put down, and last night found myself unable to turn out the light as I was trapped in Leningrad under the most horrific circumstances. I can't praise this book highly enough; it just kept me rapt the whole way through, and I learned -- ingested -- more about Buddhism during the course of the book than I have from flipping through countless 'Buddhism for dummies'-type volumes over the years. Which is not to say it's a boringly didactic book. No, it's an international romp with sparkle, depth and feeling. I read a review that praised Sophie's ability to maintain such distinct voices for her characters, and it's true.

Now I've started her first book, Geography, which I know is the wrong way around, but I have a habit of wanting to read batches of books by the same author, and Bird just looked too luscious to wait for. I know the third novel is about Leonard and Virginia Woolf, which excites me greatly, and may I just say here, Sophie, that if you want a glossary of printing terminologies (I heard you fumbling around for 'printing metal' today on The Book Show) to add authenticity to Leonard's voice, I'm your girl. Of course, you may be thoroughly well-researched, and just had a blank moment this morning :)

By the way, that Book Show link was about the latest Meanjin, if you missed it. Good stuff.

I'm not sure which direction I'll head when I've finished Geography. Either it will send me somewhere I need to go, or I'll do my usual re-reading of something classic until inspiration hits me. I may need to go back to Mansfield Park, just to reassure myself that Jane really did know best.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Delights of the Day

1. Going to the farmer's market and buying my first bunch of poppies for the year (and lovely smelly jonquils for only $3.50 a bunch!).

2. Walking Bumblebee across the Lyneham ovals for his tennis make-up lesson, enjoying the cool morning and thanking the universe that he doesn't play regular and randomly time-tabled weekend sport like all the poor buggers who were playing netball and footy nearby.

3. Going to see the latest Indiana Jones movie with Bumblebee and thoroughly enjoying the many in-jokes that he wasn't getting due to lack of age and experience.

4. Taking Bumblebee to a local sushi cafe and using the little sushi conveyor belt for his first time.

5. Spending the rest of the afternoon guillotining paper until my arm nearly fell off, then arriving home to find Best Beloved preparing a roast chook (with lemon and herbs under the skin) for tea.

6. Having BB show me what looked like a fans-only nostalgia trip on YouTube about Mike Willesee mocking Dr Who fans for flocking to interview the director (circa 1984), a clip which dragged on and on until suddenly BB froze it and pointed out himself in the front row.

Dr Who nerdling
he made sure to tell me that Jeannie Little was just out of camera shot. This is one of his major memories of the occasion. I'm sure he thought she was a character in full costume or something.

Heh. My lovely nerd-in-training, complete, if you'll note, with looooong Dr Who scarf. Now that he's grown, he's passing on the costuming bug to Bumblebee (not that he's EVER needed encouragement), who has been cultivating his David Tennant look, wearing a black duffel coat with white gym boots and striking poses with the only BFG I will let him have (one of those highly coloured plastic supersoaker thingies), and more often a weird lego thingy that is the sonic screwdriver. We are a Doctor-loving household, and now that BB has the hots for The Catherine Tate Show, I'm sure we'll be glued to the next Dr Who series (I'm resisting -- very hard -- the temptation to download it, because my last visual downloading adventure blew my allowance to shreds).

7. The memory of yesterday's Jan Brown opening. Not only was it delightful to see Jan get her dues, complete with speeches, flowers and general all-round adoration, and equally delightful to see a lot of people I haven't caught up with in ages, but I was tickled pink to discover that I was represented in the exhibition in a few ways -- my Transmigration volume is there (open at my least favorite page spread, unfortunately), and also the Icarus volume that I helped produce (by printing both the text and images. It's in the bottom righthand corner of this page), and I'm also the subject of about three life drawings! I modelled for Jan for many years, up to and including when I was pregnant with Bumblebee. Jan gave me the pregnancy drawings, but it was fun to see some of the others up on the gallery walls.

I *highly recommend* this show. It's elegant, spacious and breathtaking. Jan's work is beautifully presented, as is her due as one of Canberra's most community-spirited and well-loved artists.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


...there are always things in the interwebs to not so much cheer us, but at least distract us.

Like Miss Universe rundowns.

And LOLtrek.

And intelligent thoughts on LOLcats.

And of course, plain LOLcats.


Thanks for all the nice feedback. Sometimes I just need to get stuff out of my head before I forget it, especially if I don't want to forget it.

Sleep well.

Intersection (ii)

I am riding along the bicycle path. I have just said goodbye to my one and only child, the child who was clutching his chest in pain and fear a couple of days ago, and who was fine only minutes later. He is riding across the oval to his school. I have only said goodbye for the day. I hope. No, I know.

I am riding along the bicycle path. As he rode away I put my Shuffle earpieces in my ears and switched on. Let's Dance to Joy Division started, loud and clear. I stopped, paused the music, and called this out to my boy, who laughed joyfully and started singing it aloud as he bumped over the grass. It's his favorite song. I started again and rode, hard, pumping my feet to the beat of the song. I feel the upbeat edge of the music, enjoy the damp misty coolness of the grey morning.

I reach where the bicycle path crosses the road, and the pedestrian lights are just about to change in my favour. There is a woman with a dog, about to take a chance against the traffic, not knowing that the lights are orange. I sweep past her in the middle of the road when something about the side of her face makes me glance back. It is someone I haven't seen for years, but have thought about constantly.

Across the road I stop and say her name. She looks at me properly and we recognise each other, happily. We stand off to one side of the path, and start to chat. Last time I saw her she had moved a long way north, about as north as you can go, almost. She was fast-tracked for success in the art world, with her amazing paintings. I ask her about her art, how it's going.

She answers blithely, telling me that she hasn't done much for about two years, how she's re-prioritising her life. I listen to her, and I know that she's trying not to say out loud what I already know -- that two years ago she lost her child at the moment of birth. I read it in the paper at the time, heard it from mutual friends, and didn't know how to get in touch with her. I cried then for her, couldn't imagine going through nine months of joy to end in such a way, wondered how to convey this to her, and then -- typical -- got caught up in my own life.

I can't let her struggle to find non-committal things to say. I tell her that I heard about her baby, and how sorry I am about it. Suddenly the bicycle path and everything on it disappears. We are in a bubble of relief, sorrow and truth. We swap stories about miscarriages, bastard doctors and helplessness. We tear up, we hug. I pat the dog, who looks as though she can listen compassionately forever.

The art has stopped. Time has stopped. She is gardening, all she can bring herself to do. Her partner, a very good man, suffers as well, but carries on. I can only guess he feels helpless and work keeps him on track. I tell her that I've had enough, I've drawn a line in the sand, that I've decided to disengage with my body and get on with stuff; she looks at me sadly and says that she's not quite ready for that yet. I can see that she has unfinished business, that she won't be free of it until she either gets resolution or someone else draws a line for her. All I can do is wish her peace, whichever way it goes.

We sense that much time has passed. We start making excuses; we don't make too many promises to catch up, but it's good to know we both exist now in the same city. We will see each other, and each time will be good and meaningful. It is hard to move away from her, I'm so there in the moment. But eventually I break out of the bubble, put the earpieces back in, and resume pedalling. Suddenly I don't feel the upbeat, it's the words that hit me.

Let's dance to Joy Division,
And celebrate the irony,
Everything is going wrong,
But we're so happy,
Let's dance to Joy Division,
And raise our glass to the ceiling,
'Cos this could all go so wrong,
But we're so happy,
Yeah we're so happy,
So happy,
Yeah we're so happy,
So happy,
Yeah we're so happy.

I turn it up, to drown out the thoughts, and ride.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Snort du Jour ii

Whilst typesetting (on the computer, of course) an English translation of a Spanish academic tome on philosophy and semiotics and experimenting with various ways to hyphenate 'phenomenological', I noticed that I was humming this (using the word 'phenomena'):

I love this early version. I used to yearn for those vast empty spaces that certain muppets lived in...

Time for a geeky re-shoot? Maybe using freaky weather in the background.

OMFG Postscript

Mummy Crit is the Queen of Henson knowledge! Look what she found for me! You rawk, MC!

(I knew I wouldn't be alone in such an obvious word play :) )

Snort du jour

A fresh way of looking at the world...

Back in the saddle


Best Beloved turned out to have an infected root canal, which is going to cost an arm and a leg to fix. Still, the nice dentist drained it all yesterday (much to the distaste of the poor gagging assistant) and he is today riding his bike to work again, albeit a sadder and sorrier bear.

Bumblebee has come back from an extended weekend with The Albatross, having been drifting along the Georges river in a vessel and bumping into bridges. For some reason that puts a large smile on my face, despite my initial alarm at the thought of mixing boats with children.

I myself am counting the hours until Friday, when I will be queuing up at Paperchain to make the acquaintance of Garth Nix and hopefully get a signed hot fresh copy of Superior Saturday. I am under strict orders from his mother, a friend and fabulous papermaker, to make myself known to him, since she and I will be working on a little handmade book next year using one of his short stories.

Also on Friday, straight after the meeting of Garth, is the opening of sculptor Jan Brown's retrospective exhibition at Canberra Museums & Galleries (CMAG). More than twenty years of her good work (including my new book if you're interested in seeing it for yourself). More birds than you can poke a stick at, and she does wonderful, deceptively simple drawings. It's about time her work was presented on such a large scale. I'm really looking forward to it.

OK, time to get out of the jim jams and wend my way to work -- on my bicycle. Actually, I'm staying home today. Bumblebee just woke up all pale and snuffly. He had quite a severe and scary chest pain last night around dinnertime that scared the bejeesus out of him (and me, just quietly) so I think we're going to have a Mental Health Day today and stay in our pyjamas and watch old movies etc. No-one's going to miss us.

*snaps to Morbid Anatomy for the image (the original caption is 'nude on a bike'). I seriously love that blog, but it's not for the faint-hearted...

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Actually, I'm house-ignoring, because there's a sick man inside mine, and it's always a good idea to stay clear. BB, bless his fuzzy little ipod-giving heart, picked up a dental infection in Norfolk Island (serves you right for leaving home, I told him) and is lying in bed with one side of his face blown up. It's not so bad that he needs nursing; he's always happier being sick alone, and I'm always happier leaving him alone when he's grumpy. As long as I get home in time to make him a delicious -- mushy -- dinner, he'll amuse himself with audio books and his crackberry. And thus a happy marriage progresses.

So I just thought I'd bring a few dot points together before they get overwhelmed by the busy-ness of next week.

-- I visited Mummy Crit on Friday, who has cleverly doubled her mumminess. Took her some smelly flowers and little yummy things, and had a cuddle of the lovely little new animal. I love the mewling noises and wriggles of newborns. Felt very proud of myself for not going home and getting emotional, as has been my habit with newborns for the last few years. (Not that the visit was a personal test or anything; just realised that night that I seem to be coping better with the reality of other people's babes in arms.) He's a lovely little baby, and I hope that you get a good night's sleep before too long, Crit :)

-- I went to the life drawing group yesterday, and had a fabulous female model who had lots of bulk and knew how to drape it in interesting ways. I mentioned in my last drawing post that

if C was a short, round woman, I would have packed the soft lush black charcoal. If tall, male and boney, it would have been the 2B pencil.

But it didn't work that way. I pulled out the soft charcoal, but it was so broad that I felt that I was missing out on all the interesting bits, and also felt like I was drawing a cartoon character. So out came the hard pencil, and I LOOKED. She had such great angles, even though most of her body was round. I haven't got the scanner or sketchbook next to me (I'm at the Bookstud), so I'll try to put a picture up tonight. It blew all my notions of models needing set materials completely out the window. I quite enjoy changing my mind about things.

As promised. Apologies again for the split image, it's a large sketchbook! This was a 15 minute pose, and I got so obsessed with the body that I forgot her head, something I hate doing. Come on, Jahteh, you could fit on my page, couldn't you?! ;)

-- One of the students (I always want to type studnets, and it would work, wouldn't it?) here has launched a new drawing website called The Flat City. He's been working with this drawing structure for a while, and is very excited about this project. Go in and have a play -- and if you submit your drawing in the next couple of weeks, you'll get to be part of an artist's book. I like the colour palette choices, especially the wood panelling. The launch was on friday night, in the art school gallery, with huge computer projections and other such interactivity, and cheap beer. Apparently it went off, and only finished when the security guards kicked them out.

-- I saw The Painted Veil last night (by myself, of course, BB being wurty), and thoroughly enjoyed it. I've always been a big fan of Somerset Maugham. He was trying to tell people in the 1930s that they really shouldn't be so hung up on the material things of life, that there are better values and approaches to take to life, and he tried to pass that message on in a non-preachy, very popularist way. I think that the gist of what he was trying to say in broad brush strokes is very relevant today. It's about being *useful* on a personal level, about caring less about what is 'in' and whether you're keeping up with fads. And Ed Norton looked fabulously authentic, with his funny-shaped head and high pants. I think he's a marvellous actor. And oh, the scenery! That was the real star of the movie.

OK, time to get printing. Have a good day y'all.

Friday, June 13, 2008


My true love went to Norfolk Island. He went for 2 days in order to attend a 2-hour meeting. He came back tonight with 3 enormous bottles of booze and one of these for me:

which I am SO over the moon about. It's little, only 1GB (I've filled it already) but by golly I'm going to enjoy it. For one thing, I won't be able to hear the press squeaking as I work. And I won't annoy my silence-loving colleague as we print together. And I'll be able to do the housework with Led Zeppelin blaring in my ears and it won't annoy my true love, who finds the energy-injecting goodness of the Zep a bit much. Tuh.

Ah, the simple pleasure of something small to allow me to lose the world. I know I sound terribly out of touch, but I've managed to not have a personal music player for years (apart from the radio in my phone, and my bike chomped through its headphones a couple of months ago). It's not for lack of desire. It's because there's always been more important things to buy and no-one -- up to now -- has bought me one. And there's not been something so affordable and attractive. I love this little ipod. I'm thinking of it as a tiny portable mix tape. Sigh. I can't even begin to tell you how happy this makes me. Happy! I tells ya. Happy.

BTW, Norfolk Island sounds weird. They get to make up their own rules. Did you know that they don't have to wear seatbelts? And they are allowed to drink and drive... and cows are unfenced and constantly wander onto the roads. It was BB's worst nightmare, because he's a nervous driver at the best of times. They were laughing at him for putting his seatbelt on. But he's back alive, so who's laughing now, eh? He brought home a copy of the Norfolk Island telephone directory, which is very amusing, with little homilies scattered throughout and even a short-cut directory of nicknames at the front. And the mobile phone numbers are only 5 digits long! It sounds like something out of Gulliver's Travels.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oh, souper!

If you've never been to Progressive Dinner Party because you need someone to hold your hand -- come on, take mine. I'm serving soup. Both meat-eaters and vegos catered for, 'cause I'm a Libran.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday needs more cats


Owlcat would never have got involved with these shenanigans, but he's enjoying the latest fall-out...

[snaps to Dean for the link]

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Feeding frenzy

Tonight, out with the In-laws, we had the opposite dining experience to last night; M-i-L insisted upon eating a huge dessert even though she's a diabetic, so we went to the local Italian for coffee and luscious cakes.

Chatting away merrily, Bumblebee taking photos of us all with Grandma's camera, when a couple next to us suddenly erupted into globs of molten outrage, hissing at the young waitress in disgust about hearing from lawyers, and stalked off, leaving a table with two half-glasses of wine, and a garlic bread with two slices on plates with one bite out of each.

All of us nearby were mystified, having missed the initial inflammatory situation. Best Beloved made a joke out loud that their forks had been placed on the wrong side, and the group at the table next to us turned and said 'REALLY?!' which made us laugh.

We asked the waitress (after she'd composed herself) and it turned out to be as pathetic as if the forks HAD been on the wrong side: she'd forgotten to bring their bread until just before the hissy fit, and he'd said that if the bread was on the table at the same time as the meal he'd be walking out. I think she'd just come out to tell him that, sorry, their meals *were* imminent, and he'd erupted.

I should be addressing this question to the Devil Drink at Progressive Dinner Party. Is such a situation really so bad as to stalk off? I secretly suspect he'd discovered that he'd left his wallet at home or some such thing.

A squeak and a snarl

I had to stop. The squeak of the press defeated me. Damned Martini! So good! So bad!

I had to solve a lot of problems today, one of which was whether I could print on spun polymer (yes), another being: if you make an imposition mistake on a page in an earlier print run, do you adjust the framework of the second side of the page to attempt to hide it, or do you just decide to live with the mistake as an oddity of the page? I went with the latter decision, because trying to hide the problem would have thrown the problem further along the book, and I might as well have an honest mistake in every book to please the jealous gods. It's not a huge problem, just a slightly wandering title and page number level. And thar be the vagaries of hand-printed pages.

Once I'd solved these issues, I started editioning the page in question. But I only got 50 pages done (out of 250) when every squeak and thud of the press started to pierce my brain like a dentist's drill. Here's a taste, and this is with very bad sound (taped last year):

So I did myself a favour, cleaned up the press (the Crisco almost made me vomit) and went out for an instant fat-and-sugar hit in the form of a soft drink and hot chips. Now I am home and about to lie in a very hot bubble bath before I have to go out with my parents-in-law... what a day.

But not before I vent my poor spleen about David Stratton's review of Prince Caspian in yesterday's Australian.

I quite like David on the whole, but he has moments when he just. doesn't. get. it.

Get this:

The human-like Telmarine (who for some reason speak with Italian accents) are led by Miraz and his loyal commander, General Glozelle (Pierfrancesco Favino), and they have been waging war on the Narnians, a colourful mixture of creatures, to the point where they are almost extinct.

Where do I start? Let me start by saying it's an ACE movie. If you're a fan of Narnia, you won't be disappointed. It's grand, rich and true to the text. Obviously David has never read the book, but even so, the movie makes it quite clear (and this is a mini-spoiler) that the Telmarines are not only human ('human-like'! Tuh!) but from the same world as the Pevensie children.

The second TUH! is that it is also quite obvious to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of European history and costuming, that the Telmarines are being presented as if Spanish Conquistadors, with their dark beardy faces, flashing dark eyes, rounded helmets and Spanish accents. It not only supports the information given to us by Aslan about them evolving from European gypsies and sailors, but also sets up a lovely subtext about ideological clashes (Church of England v. Catholicism) and Colonialism (the Spanish and the 'savages' of South America).

I can't believe David missed this completely. I'm sure Margaret hasn't.

It really is a very good movie. It's got an 'M' rating, presumably for all the violence, because it's wall-to-wall war, but there's not a drop of blood to be seen, except in one scene where you see blood, but it doesn't drop :)

In our family, a movie's worth increases if there's a cat in it, and this one got full marks for cat-centred humour. Reepicheep the Mouse didn't disappoint; he's my favorite character from the whole book series. I'm looking forward to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (due 2010), where he gets much more screen time.

Anyhoo, time to smooth this ruffled and aching brow with a bit of a bath. Hooroo.

Keating! The musical we had to see

Last night a posse of true believers (and me) went to teh Canberra Theatre to see Keating! The Musical.

A small selection of us had a quick dinner in a Thai restaurant in Civic, who told us when we tried to order dessert, that 'the kitchen was too busy to make desserts', even though there was a fab dessert section on the menu. Well, puck you too, we thought. Let's just go to the theatre a bit early and have an alcoholic dessert whilst we await the others. I've never had a restaurant refuse things like that before. How rude was that?

I loved Keating! It's spare and clever stagecraft was excellent, and the ensemble were brilliant -- and I totally include the band in that statement.

My favorite song sequence was this one (although this is a an abridged and uncostumed version):

Oh, how we roared.

And this happened. True story.

Afterwards we hitched a ride in a very clarsy car back to Chez Crazybrave for cocktails. I had one of Owen's fabulous martinis and woke up like this:


I guess all the wines and bubblies didn't help either.

And now I'm trying to make the nice prints but my head still hurts.

ow. ow. ow.

Totally worth it.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The classiest of company

Have you seen the latest edition of Meanjin? Just asking, because I'm in it, and I'm completely chuffed about it.

I was nervous at first, because the new editor (Sarsaparillian Sophie Cunningham) has transplanted my blog post about The Lost Dog into hard copy pretty much unchanged, and I wasn't sure about
[a] the informality of the writing in such an esteemed literary arena; and
[b] whether I've flogged a lost dog -- I mean, let's face it, many people do what I did with that book on a daily basis, and get far less attention for it.

But Sophie seems to have her finger on the pulse of things, and she had absolute serendipity with TLD winning a major prize the week before the journal hit the shelves, so I guess my post still has legs after all this time.

And what company I'm in! I wasn't told who else would be in the issue, and I'm so delighted to find myself in the company of people I admire a lot: our own Laura Carroll, writing about Jane Austen (my favorite quote from the whole journal so far: Both films ask the same narrow set of questions about Austen: how did she write as she did about love without being a lover herself? Why didn't she get married? Was she unlovable? Was she sad? (Did she smell?) Was she lonely? Was she ashamed of being single? That bracketed line is pure Lucy Tartan.); Mandy Ord, with a very touching piece of graphic fiction/autobiography about Australian History; Robert Drewe; Geoff Page; Luke Davies; and a terrific piece by Wayne Macauley on independent publishing.

They're only the names I recognise or know; there's plenty more in this issue that I'm working my way through and enjoying thoroughly. And I love the cover of the journal itself, which for my money sits very comfortably in Meanjin's proud lineage of cover art.* It suits the formal yet informal feel of the contents, being hand-drawn and colourful, but utilising a formal gridding of the elements.

So congratulations to Sophie for her first issue, a job well done!

As an Australian Lit graduate, I just can't begin to tell you how chuffed the sight of this issue of the journal makes me feel. There's more on the way, as well, with another favorite literary journal, Heat, for whom I'm substantially changing one of my blog posts to make (I think) a bit more user-friendly. And the latest issue of that journal features Pavlov's Cat... gosh, this all tickles my whiskers immensely. Hooray!

*I'm amused that the version of the cover above (which is on the MUP site) is the older version of the cover, with my real name on it. I chose to change that back to my blog/print/press pseudonym because I made a decision a year or so ago just to do everything under that umbrella. It's not hiding -- it's a refusal to split myself into different parts (high art, low art, online, offline, literary, bloggy). And most people get my real name wrong one way or another (both first and last names), so it's often easier to be Duckie. So the version you'll see on the shelves says Ampersand Duck.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Making us ink

I'm a big fan of graphic novels that use their imagery to tell stories that need to be told. That's not to say that pure fantasy GN aren't interesting, but sometimes, when people don't dig things like novels, paintings or art movies, or even history books and the news, GN are the perfect portal to reach them.

I've talked before about Barefoot Gen, which deals with Hiroshima from a Japanese perpective. There's also Art Spiegelman's Maus, which talks about the Holocaust (Spiegelman also drew a graphic novel about 9/11, called In the Shadow of No Towers). And there's also Marjane Satrapi's fabulous GNs about being a woman in Iran during the Iranian Revolution and beyond. I have her Chicken and Plums, and her Persepolis is about to be released as a movie.

That's just a short list of the most obvious political graphic novels. If you're interested, get thee down to the local (good) comic shop and ask what else they have. Or share in the comments if you have a personal favorite.

Today, whilst doing my early-morning blogsphere cruise, I followed a Hoyden link to a very immediate graphic response to the Chinese earthquakes. Go there, but with a box of tissues. These excellent drawings do more to bring the suffering home than any number of news stories. They evoke compassion and even, in some cases, raise a smile. Highly recommended, especially for 'whatever' teenagers.

Monday, June 02, 2008


I wasn't tagged for this meme, but I'm going to do it anyway, because I feel like it. So there. A simple post to mount at the end of a long day to move things along a tad.

What was I doing 10 years ago?
Regaining my equilibrium after a shocking 1997. Psyching myself up to go back to art school. Enjoying my healthy baby. Enjoying being single. Healing. It was a pretty good year, really.

Five snacks I enjoy in a perfect, non weight-gaining world

1. Cadbury's dairy milk chocolate with cashews.

2. Lemon Meringue pie.

3. Hot buttery mashed potato with lashings salt & pepper.

4. A bottle of very nice white wine.

5. Salt and vinegar chips (Friend of the Potato, me)

Five snacks I enjoy in the real world:

6. See 1-5 above

7. Mersey valley pepper cheese

8. Sourdough bread with goat curd and fresh tomato

9. cashew nuts

10. soft black liquorice

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:

1. Buy a complete family of type, brand spanking new, imported from the US or UK. Oh bugger it, two complete typefaces, I'm a billionaire.

2. Fund a few international soup kitchens or some such worthy non-righteous helping cause.

3. Have a live-in masseuse.

4. Start a bicycle commuting service, with depots all around the city, allowing people to just grab a bike and use it, dropping it at the nearest depot to their destination.

5. Buy a house near a seaside cliff, complete with huge lavish studio. Never work for anyone ever again.

Five jobs that I have had:

1. Life Model

2. Taxi Driver

3. Coathanger turner (actually a minion in a women's clothing retail outlet, but this seemed to be the predominant duty)

4. David Jones chick

5. Grand Poobah of my own ultra-mini microbusiness empire

Three of my habits:

1. humming out loud when I remember something embarrassing I've said or done

2. dancing with my cat

3. taking my usual earrings out to wear something sparkly then forgetting to put anything back in my earlobes for months

Five places I have lived:

1. Victoria Barracks, Sydney

2. On the cusp of three counties in the UK

3. Kirwan, Townsville

4. Bend 4, Mt Nelson, Hobart

5. Toad Hall, ANU, Canberra

Not doing the tag thing. Follow your dreams.

(nabbed from The View from Elsewhere)