Monday, November 29, 2010

children make terrible pets

children make terrible pets, peter brown (little, brown)

i loved peter brown's 2009 the curious garden (inspired by the new york highline, a disused railway now a community garden) and this newie children make terrible pets is just as charming. lucy the bear is just lalala-ing through the forest, practicing her twirls when she comes across a little boy. instantly enamoured, she sweeps him up and takes him home. 'squeaker' she calls him, for he makes a funny squeaking noise. lucy's mum does not think children make good pets at all, but lucy is determined to keep squeaker. there are gorgeous double page illustrations, kind of retro and sepia-toned, and full of energy. lovelovelove.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

leonard cohen at hanging rock

the beautiful hanging rock

what a crowd! (i felt very young, it was like being at PFFF - excellent!)

dan sultan's sexy sultry snarl (they ought to have turned his mic up and let him sing more than five songs!)

the magnifique full moon (and fairy lights)

the wonderful man himself. he promised to give us everything he had and surely he did. he was humble and spritely and generous and magic. the best day i've had in a long time.*


-our picnic
-how quick it was to get a beer
-hanging rock itself
-leonard skipping off stage
-leonard looking so dapper
-the back-up singers, the webb sisters (especially their cartwheels and them singing if it be your will)
-suzanne, so long marianne and the future - hells, all the songs were my favourite.

*i know a lot of people had trouble getting out of the venue at the end of the night and they are very cranky now. there were fights on the train back to melbourne too, apparently. (one teenager i spoke with on monday said she was so ashamed and thought "what would leonard think of us?!") we didn't have these probs as i was with someone who had a disabled parking ticket and we were outta there in 20mins, max. i hope people still remember how amazing the show was in spite of the loooooong exit strategy.

UPDATE: so i've been observing my stats this morning (not euphemism)...dear people who are getting here via some facebook site, where are you coming from?! leave me a comment. it is tres bizarre.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

coffee : geelong train station

coming home after a visit to mama and papa bear (very environmentally friendly on the train) i bought a skinny latte from the wee cafe at the station (very environmentally unfriendly because i forgot my keep cup) and it was pretty gross (not bitter, just not very tasty coffee, made with a dirty filter or something maybe?), but once i added a sugar to it and put a lid on it so i could pretend i got it from, say, the east brunswick project or a minor place - it wasn't the worst thing i've drunk. it resembled coffee and prevented a caffeine withdrawal headache and, to be honest, who really expects delicious coffee from geelong - err - i mean from a train station?

p.s. if anyone from geelong can tell me where to get a good coffee in those there parts, please let me know. really. i will travel down there just to give it a go.
p.p.s. poor old geelong. if you've driven through the main drag in recent times you'll realise it's something of a ghost town. beautiful old buildings looking all worn and ugly and cheap stores, or empty shopfronts. it's really sad. tell you what - close the horrible waurn ponds deakin campus and bring it into town. liven it up a bit. yes. that's what we should do.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

review : rosie black chronicles - genesis

Rosie Black Chronicles: Genesis, Lara Morgan (Walker)

Rosie Black is a gutsy young woman from Newperth. She forages for salvage from the past that she is able to swap for luxuries, such as vegetables. She comes across an interesting piece of salvage and, with her friend Juli, unwittingly sets off a serious chain of events that could lead to the deaths of many. Not only this, but Rosie soon finds herself pursued by a strange, yet enigmatic, Feral called Pip.

While what exactly has happened to the world we knew is not explained explicitly but the reader gleans enough to know that water levels have risen, causing lower lying parts of the city to become flooded—there are references to floating markets—and a particularly deadly strain of malaria has emerged (called MalX), magnified by the marshy, damp areas inhabited by the poorer members of society, such as the Bankers and Ferals. Those who can afford to live on higher ground (the Centrals) are more fortunate. The world created, and the novel’s premise, is great; the post-apocalyptic world, clear division of class systems, renewable energies, inter-planetary travel and the fear of deadly, engineered disease all make for an interesting story. The important plot points are very obvious though – the significance of the pendant, for example.

Less interesting things: how the baddy is the only Asian. Or in other words, how the only character with an obviously Asian name is the baddy. He’s also the only one whose appearance is described like this: ‘caramel brown skin, his natural colour though, not tanned.’ This was all I could think about as I read on and, to be honest, I was shocked. (I think Juli may also have been Asian, but let's not talk about what happens there).

The book is quite simple, the character development is pretty stunted and formulaic – the “romantic” stuff between Rosie and Pip is boring. Characters are often just mediums for an information dump. Rosie’s story would have been stronger if told from a first-person perspective. As it is, the reader is removed unnecessarily from any chance of emotional action.

Given the language and the plot I would usually recommend this sort of story to a 10 or 11 year old reader. But then there are torture scenes (ok sure, they don’t have anything on Patrick Ness but they are torture nonetheless) and at the end one of the characters gets shot point blank. So I would hesitate in recommending it to younger readers and I don't think Genesis is sophisticated enough for older readers, I don't think they will bother. Though reluctant older readers might - maybe - so maybe that is who it’s for.

Many people, including people I actually know, have really enjoyed this book so please, as usual, do not take my word as gospel or to deter you from reading it. Morgan’s prose is solid and the story moves at a good pace. For readers 12+ (but please note torture and potential racism)

I would like to open discussion on the interwebs about books, rather than just posting. If you have read Rosie Black please please let me know what you thought and why.

I received this book to review from Magpies magazine and my official review can be read in the current (November 2010) edition.

Monday, November 22, 2010

punter's club reunion show

check it out!

before it was called bimbos and served cheap pizzas to the drunken masses (hey, before brunswick street was gentrified and filled with colour-by-numbers hipsters and tourists) the building that sits on the corner of brunswick and rose streets was an excellent live music venue called the punters club. when it closed, people were sad. but now there's a couple of nights for nostalgia and tribute and hopefully much drunkenness and music.

and so, in tribute, (as always) THE LUCKSMITHS:

Requiem for the Punter's Club

Have you been drinking?
'Cause it's not too late to start
There's still a week
Before they come and pull the place apart
And I was thinking
I have sorrows to be drowned
Too complete to contemplate
Without a friend around

On Brunswick Street the bits of broken glass
Sparkle brighter than the six or seven stars

And I'm reminded
Of a Sunday afternoon
How the sunlight caught the cigarette smoke
Curling through the room
And you behind it
Your hair in rubber bands
One more for the footpath
And we walked home holding hands

Like the weekenders and window-shoppers do
We were happier than either of us knew

So act surprised
It's been a while since I came calling
I know it's late
But old times' sake and all that junk
I'll be alright
We'll make tonight tomorrow morning

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows you're drunk

review : the keepers - the museum of thieves

the keepers: the musuem of thieves, lian tanner (A&U)

the kids of jewel are not wrapped in cotton wool, they are kept chained to their parents or to the blessed guardians who are their teachers during the day. goldie roth - our heroine - is an uncharacteristically bold child, frustrated by her shackles and desperate to be 'separated'...and her separation day is approaching! but poor goldie, midway through her separation ceremony (she is connected only by a ribbon to her fretting mother) a bombing on the town's outskirts freaks the bejeezus out of the adults and they hastily decide they've been too hasty at letting the children off their chains. chain them back up!

goldie is not having a bar of it, she's had enough. with a secret pair of scissors secreted about her person (pinched from one of the blessed guardians) she cuts her ribbon and pegs it out the door. the wide, wild world frightens goldie - once so full of bravado she becomes so terrified by, and ignorant of, everything to the point of almost being run over by a road train and potentially savaged by a brizzlehound - and she starts to regret her actions pretty quickly. but there is no going back and she winds up being taken in by the strange but friendly folk at the tres bizarre museum of dunt (the only place in jewel not policed by the blessed guardians) where goldie finds a haven - albeit a rather dangerous haven where her complete inability to do anything practical soon changes under the guidance of the commandering olga ciavolga, the lovely sinew, herro dan and, more reluctantly, by toadspit who is a runaway like goldie herself.

goldie's 'education' was a particular joy to read - and how i wish i could master some of her accomplishments. particularly the talent of fading into invisibility and camouflage. the museum of dunt is spectacular. it's magic, with shifting rooms that create a maze for those who don't understand the museum's charms - and protect a terrible, horrible, dangerous dangerous force that lies behind a pair of gates at the museum's heart. a dangerous force that is champing at the bit thanks to the nefarious plans of the evil fugleman of jewel...

this one reminded me of sally rippin's fairly recent post about childhood freedom - read it here. and i recalled the day i was allowed to walk to school by myself (we only lived about 800 metres straight up the road) and i must have been in grade two or three and i remember feeling gleeful and proud and rawther free. i feel like i remember my parents telling me a few years later that, in actual fact, my dad followed me at a clandestine distance to ensure i was not katenapped or roadkilled. this put a damper on my glee a bit.

reading this from an adult perspective, the keepers really does explore quite sophisticated ideas, such as terrorism, the police state and fear. i really want to hear a child's perspective on this one. i love the germanic folk tale feel to it (definitely german influences in there: herro dan, frow oster) and it's a beautiful and exciting read. i think goldie and tensy farlow would get along damn well.

lian tanner's interweb home is here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

a teapot hat

oh damn. you meant a hat LIKE a teapot. oops.

couldn't get the image out of my head. so i got it onto my head. thanks for this post, jo.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

comes with barrier-breaking feminist vision!

the hilarious anna over at excellent hipster-doofus greeting card able and game posted this.

"the joke's on you, narrow-minded cur!"

Friday, November 12, 2010

review : love is the higher law

love is the higher law, david levithan (knopf)
this one came out in australia a year ago, apparently, as a hardback. i completely missed it, but now it's back and in paperback and only $14.95.

love is the higher law has one of the most spectacular first chapters of any book i have read in recent times. what comes after is also excellent, classic levithan and very, very moving. but the first chapter is magnificent and if i could give it a prize, i would. the story begins on september 11, 2001 and spans the entire year that follows. claire, jasper and peter are the protagonists and reveal the story in alternating chapters; the three characters all have a mutual acquaintance but before now have not been friends, really - jasper and peter were supposed to go on a date the night of september 11, peter and claire go to school together.

claire starts this story, with the planes hitting the world trade centre as she sits in homeroom. claire's thoughts are on her mother - what if she had headed home to their apartment ten blocks from the towers instead of going uptown to work? she is also thinking about her little brother sammy; and so, with another girl from her class, goes across the road to the primary school to collect him.

people are arriving from downtown by this stage, people covered in chalky dust, ragged from their escapes; the towers are burning above the city. levithan's descriptions are understated but still somehow loaded with imagery. it's clear that claire's life has changed when she realises that she can't take sammy back to their apartment. she says: "i've never in my life said those words before. there's nowhere for us to go. I feel it." there's the craziness of not knowing what's going on, and trying to keep calm for the little kids in the classroom, waiting for their parents to come and pick them up. shop keepers are handing out free water and free shoes; people are pulling together and respecting one another in a way that claire has never experienced before.

these descriptions are the descriptions of one who was there, most definitely. the scene where jasper goes to give blood is another highlight. claire's vigil in union square is moving, but is one of the times when i think it was laid on a little thick for me (though i admit to crying) and i felt less like i was part of the story and more like a voyeur, exploiting the grief of these new yorkers from afar. the strongest thing about this book is the authenticity of the experiences of this event and its aftermath. so often i read books about calamitous events, serious and awful happenings and while they are good, they don't have the impact that this had - i think due to the author's own experience of 9/11, as well as his brilliant prose here which is (mostly) so careful and restrained. it would appear he took chekhov's "be cold" advice.

love is the higher law is a story full of hope and sadness and kindness...and some regret. as claire says: "i thought we were going to be better...after what happened. as a country."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

launch of the reader

volume 2 of the reader was launched last night at horse bazaar in the city by editor aden rolfe, accompanied by two readings from the journal. such a sultry night required an icy beer, which was thusly acquired. aden rolfe spoke about the emerging writers' festival and the reader, and the relationship between the two - less strange bedfellows, more passionate lovers (this is my metaphor, please forgive me), he talked about community, discussion and conversation.

sean m whelan read aloud his piece the pitfalls of public speaking, or how to lose friends, alienate an audience and never get invited back. he spoke very well, within a reasonable time limit, with lots of eye contact, respect for the microphone and no apologies.

then lou sanz treated us to your literary career: choose your own adventure. while she chose our adventures for us (started a blog, applied for a grant, recorded a spoken word cover of mandy moore's 'crush') but she really got me laughing - in a kind of spit-out-your-beer, gasping, shocked kind of way - when listing the necessities for life as a writer...and came to: 'it would also do you good to develop an irreverance to augusten burroughs (eg. he's just like me, but i'm not gay, he's the symbolic cock in the arse of my life)...'

in the reader you'll find fiction, non-fiction, poetry, sci-fi erotica,'s a cornucopia, nay, a farrago of writerly stuffs. go out and get yourself a copy. it's totally worth it.

support emerging writers!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

peripatetic at large

hannah mae is the inkling.

she is also one of my friends in real life and now she has her own blog. we were students together, studying literature and creative writing of all sorts; we parleyed francais and ordered many a drink from plush fish.

in 2005 while i was slaving over the final year of my Bachelor of fuckAll, hannah mae was ahead of us all, and logged on and tuned in. she had a blog and i didn't even know what a blog was. because i didn't read it then it's very exciting to go back and read it now, some five years later . i note with amusement that at some point in 2005 she commented that she doesn't really like coffee that much. bahaha. how times change.

she is a:

"seller of books, student of words, protector of copyright, lover of all things edible, coffee addict, peripatetic at large."

i had to look this one up: peripatetic is someone who travels around working and living in various places, an itinerant soul.

and she sends great postcards from her wayward travels:

Friday, November 5, 2010

kiss this book

reading megan's post the other day about lending books and then getting them back (when you get them back at all) in less-than-perfect condition, i certainly understand where she's coming from. i think for me, though, i'd prefer to have my damaged copy back rather than a new one that might not be the same as my original. the original is sometimes special - an early reader's copy, a gift, something sentimental...perhaps a reason it shouldn't have been lent in the first place (but how can you not? i want everyone to read my favourites! i thrust it upon them!)

it made me think about how i treat my books. i basically love them to death. i loved it the other month when marieke hardy came out with lipstick kisses all over the book (was it catcher in the rye?) on the first tuesday book club. i kiss my books.

here's a poem (not by me):

I kiss this book
with coffee-rings
and greasy thumbs.

I kiss this book
with butter dripped
from my toast.

I kiss this book
with dog-ears
and bath-steam.

I kiss this book
and make it mine.

--adam ford, from not quite the man for the job.

here are two other ways i love my books:

dog-ears to mark interesting bits.
and underlining, so i can remember the interesting bits later on, when i've forgotten them.

and i could only laugh this morning when i got out my well-loved copy of the messenger (markus zusak) to show you all to what extent i love my books, only for this to happen:
pages 6 through to 57 all over the floor. it doesn't matter, really, i have two more (whole) copies - how does this happen, i have multiples everywhere...sorry mama bear they probably belong to you - but it did hurt my heart a little to see the story explode. it's ok. i have sticky tape.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

monthly monday milf meeeem

MMM is a meeeem created by The Dugong Lady and kate.o.d in celebration of those who lurk handsomely in the background. we want you between our pages.

and this month's winner (aka hot lover) is fonsie from circle of friends*.

fonsie (alphonsus) is gorgeous: an irish-italian teddy boy in drainpipe trousers and winkle-pickers, awesome jackets and he sometimes wears velvet (this is awesome, not weird). he's naughty, totally cool and edgy with awesome taste in music. and fonsie runs the chip shop with his uncle mario - not only runs it but over the course of the book he REVOLUTIONISES IT with a jukebox and other ace stuff...making it the place to be at night (in the tiny town of knockglen where the book is set). plus, he can jive.

so he's enterprising, a dancer, awesomely cool...and irish. hot. i would definitely go there. plus, i am a heathen so no catholic guilt for me! bonus!

unfortunately i do have a feisty opponent for fonsie's affections in clodagh pine: "she had her long legs exposed for all to view in a ridiculously short skirt. She wore a lime-green dress with a black jacket over it, a pink scarf, and her earrings, which were long and dangly, were precisely the same green as her dress, and her very obviously tinted hair was held up with two black combs."

*so i know this exposes me as a total maeve binchy tragic. but i don't care. and though i think, technically, fonsie rates as almost a main character, he doesn't appear in the film at all, so booya! MILF!
**teddy boy photo from

coffee : green refectory

had a coffee this morning at green on sydney road and it tasted grainy and a little bit like dirt. made me think of the scene in 48 shades of brown (by nick earls) where dan makes pesto. i'm sorry green, usually your coffee is quite nice but today i think it contained "actual soil".