Sunday, April 29, 2012

in pictures

cute puppies are cute 

the primary school village green preservation society is out in force on green st, richmond 

a guinness cake for a departing frenchman

the rag and bone man literary salon gets its kate bush interpretive dance on

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

anzacs and ANZAC Day

To celebrate ANZAC Day, I finished Michelle Cooper's The FitzOsbornes At War. And cried when the unexpected thing happened. Why, Michelle, why????? Also, I ate the rest of the ANZAC biscuits I made the other day.*

Days like this make me wonder - ever so navelgazingly - about being so fascinated by war and war stories and being a pacifist. At primary school we learned to sing Eric Bogle's song And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda. I can picture us sitting in the little weatherboard house that was our school library and I first (I think) heard about Gallipoli, about Suvla Bay, and carried the image of damaged and disfigured men returning from the war to people in my mind, and how the crowd waiting for the returned soldiers didn't know how to react to it. Then in high school we watched Peter Weir's film Gallipoli. I read Rilla of Ingleside, Goodnight Mister Tom, A Little Love Song, The Diary of Anne Frank, A Farewell to Arms and all the war poets. I studied history at uni and took all the 20th century war classes. More recently I read Salinger's stories, The Montmaray Journals, The Pursuit of Love, The Quiet American. The trenches, the Blitz, Hiroshima, the concentration camps, the French resistance, silk stockings and Dig for Victory, the Kokoda trail, the Cold War, Vietnam, the first Gulf war, and the second. It's so ugly and tragic but I suppose there's a kind of macabre romance to it, which is food for all those stories I just can't put down, or put away.

Steven Herrick has written a post on visiting Gallipoli here.
Folksinger John McCutcheon sings Christmas in the Trenches, a beautiful song that tells the story of the 1914 Christmas armistice.

Here is my absolute favourite war poem:
  Dulce et decorum est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
  Wilfred Owen

*I also saw The Avengers. It was amazing. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

the dying leaves are dancing off the trees

If you couldn't tell by the radio silence, the old blog is going through an existential crisis. But I want it TO BE, so I'm thinking of this more like a Whovian regeneration. You never know, we could end up with David Tennant around here.*

As far as Comedy Festy goes, Background Check were okay and The Musical of Musicals: The Musical was H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S.

Day to day I make barcodes and read all kinds of manuscripts and check that the ebooks aren't wonky onscreen and drink coffee. It is very fun. The other day I got to read some frenchy picture books and do some translation. I was shocked to realise how bad my French has become.

Night to night I scribble. The mad folk over at The Rag and Bone Man Press published a Very Silly Story of mine, over on their website.  They're looking for stories, if you have any to give. 

And I read. Recently I reread Karen Cushman's 1996 Newbery Medal winning The Midwife's Apprentice, a gorgeous little story (just 116 pages) about a poor orphan girl in England in the middle ages whose life changes forever when she is hauled from the dung heap by a cranky village midwife.
The comb was hers. Beetle stood breathless for fear someone would snatch it back. Never had she owned anything except for her raggedy clothes and occasional turnips, and now the comb with the cat was hers. The wink and the comment about her curls, though Beetle didn't know it, were also gifts from the generous merchant, and they nestled into Beetle's heart and stayed there.
And as for the title of this post?

*a girl can dream...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

lately ...

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is in town, where I've ...
  • had MANY chuckles watching Television's Lawrence Leung talk about fan fiction, Colin Firth and being a slender, effeminate Asian man (in joke, go see the show)
  • had fewer chuckles, but still a good time, watching Sophie Miller
  • had an absolute hoot and ball watching Kate McLennan as she told us all about the year she spent living back with her parents. One of the best shows of the festival, surely!
I have trundled off to Readings bookstore in Carlton twice in the past week to grab a copy of The FitzOsbornes at War but they don't have it. A POX ON THEM! I SHALL NEVER STRAY FROM THE SUN BOOKSHOP EVER, EVER AGAIN.

Then, out of town this weekend at the musical love-fest that was Fishypalooza, I basked in this:

And patted these:

Monday, April 2, 2012


we interrupt this sporadic bookish-canine-caffeine love-fest to inform you that for the next few weeks bean there, read that will also host COMEDY! for this writer-for-hire is reviewing the melbourne international comedy festival for rhum. i'll link to my reviews over there so you know what i am up to.

but here is one for free:

penny tangey, author of clara in washington and loving richard feynman, is performing in a very funny show called chalk and talk with her friend christina adams. in chalk and talk, these two hilarious women throw us in the classroom and all the joy that entails. miss! miss! do you have a boyfriend? miss! you drive a girl's car! then there's lesson plans, vels, weird speaking-in-mixed-metaphors principals, and informative and misguided presentations. it's a terrific show.