Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sticks and stones can break them bones

I think one of the best things about my current working life is its flexibility. Take today for example. While I rushed into the office this morning – the real one, where there are other staff besides cats and I have to wear my bra – and got cracking by 9.15am it wasn’t long before I realised that things on the current issue of the mag weren’t quite where they needed to be so I couldn't do much of the on-screen editing work. I decided I’d be better off coming home and getting on with some website text that is now due and head back to the office on Monday.

Of course I stopped in at South Melbourne Market on the way through and picked up some fabbo ingredients to cook up home made pizza tonight and, of course, I dropped into the Prince Wine Store in South Melbourne and picked up something as similar to the Austrian drop that I discovered in Byron Bay on the weekend as I could find. Now I am blogging but you see … I will get to the website work.

Big problem now though is that, when I opened the letter box, the paperwork for the Crime and Justic Writing Festival – organised by Reader’s Feast - has just arrived and now I feel COMPELLED to have a big smooch through it and see what there is to attend.

I’m in full crime mode because, after finishing The People of the Book, I have turned to a a paperback I picked up in a three-for-$15 deal. Gotta love it! I don’t really read investigate/crime stuff too much anymore. I, like many, was an obsessive reader of Patricia Cornwell and the like in the 90s but I have tried to reduce the dose of crime fiction in recent years and broaden the old mind.

Anyhoo, I picked up Jack Kerley’s Death Collectors which I thought would be good for the airport. Within moments I was hooked and I remembered what made good crime writing so hard to put down. Kerley’s got a great turn of phrase, gives his male characters some fresh and honest feelings, emotions and reactions to things and he comes up with some fairly outrageous plot ideas. Love it. He’s as smooth as butter as a writer and this was only his second book (two more have followed I believe) but he has spent 20 years in advertising selling ice to eskimos should be bloody well able to see a story to me.

The People of the Book was a surprise. I guess I thought it would be a bit more of a challenge. I forgot that I had already read Geraldine Brook’s Year of Wonders which is about a young woman’s battle to save her family and her soul when the plague strikes her Derbyshire village in the 1600s. I didn’t mind that book but I remember it being very accessible. This skill of Ms Brooks is probably required when she tackles the huge job of tracing the journey of a rare illuminated Hebrew manuscript from (stealing from her website) “convivencia Spain to the ruins of Sarajevo, from the Silver Age of Venice to the sunburned rock faces of northern Australia”.

It can be tricky when an author introduces a number of different stories within a story because, if you end up getting entrenched in one set of characters and their lives, you can feel kind of disappointed when you're dragged out of that world and into another one. I’ve got to say though that I did learn a bit about theological writings, the fate of religious documents during times of war, the ever expanding catalogue of sins committed by the Nazis (was there ANY area they left untouched?) and, amazingly, the fate of family during war. I think the most important thing the book gave to me was time to pause to think about how one minute people can be living normal, very urban, very modern lives and the next moment bombs and bullets can be tearing through the streets and everything becomes surreal.

I want to find out more about Sarajevo now. I am shamefully unclear about the things that have happened there in the past two decades but any region where Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism peacefully coexisted throughout centuries is surely worth some attention.

I mean, did you know that, in 1914, Sarajevo was the site of the assassination that sparked World War I? I bloody well did not. God I am a dunce. Apparently the city is now recovering after the hideous Bosnian siege. Somewhere worth visiting I am thinking.


Talking about visiting … Mr & Mrs P in Austin have undergone a major trauma. Mr P fell off a truck while helping friends move house. The result? Broken leg – he’s got a rod in it – and a broken arm with FIVE!!! pins in it AND a fake elbow. Joisus!

We’ll see how things proceed but my thoughts are with them. Luckily they grow love like weeds wherever they go and, within two days of the accident, a benefit gig was held (it was to be Mr P’s first stand alone Benny & the Fly By Nighters gig) and money was raised to go towards medical costs. Impressive huh? The venue was the Continental Club
1315 S. Congress Austin TX . I am writing that here to remind me to visit just in the office chance the injured lovebirds fly the coup before October.

Don’t forget to send cheerios:

The Horton Bros in Austin continue to be legendary friends to the Ps and I believe a chap by the name of 'Bear' was also one of the performers. THANK YOU.

See Bobby Horton's blog at and see a review of a Bear album here:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Because I really should be concentrating on work today

I must point out that we have paid for our tickets to Austin. YAY YAY YAY

I am already working on my wardrobe. My inspiration is the following quote from Dolly Parton:" I look just like the girls next door... if you happen to live next door to an amusement park." I repeat, YAY YAY YAY

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My new chair - I have already fallen asleep reading in it

I confess I have converging deadlines this week - the magazine I edit plus a corporate book project plus some website text work. And I have a head cold. Ohhh boo hoo! So I dream of sitting in my new chair, bought from the most camp furniture dealer in Melbourne, sipping something tasty and, of course, writing my blog. None of the above will be happening.

I will say that, inspired by listening to him speak on a podcast I downloaded recently, I put down People of the Book and picked up Lisey's Story by Stephen King. Bad move. I have made yet another dire discovery about getting older. I cannot read creepy books before bed.

Let's just say, an hour after falling asleep I was dealing with a train station where, on a cold bleak night, trains kept coming and going but none of them were going to my destination and no one could tell me where to find mine. Then, in grassland near the tracks, I discovered a man's body, face down in the grass - looking pretty dead. Nearby stood a child wearing a hooded top. So small and isolated in the cold night. The child had its back turned from me.

I went over to it, realising it must have been the child of the dead man. I touched its shoulder. It turned around but its face was a wizened thing - white, chalky, somehow featureless. Arghhhh. I woke up with my hear thumping like it was going to burst through my PJs and, I tell you, it took an hour of reading Architectural Digest to calm me enough to sleep. Nigh night Stephen!

It was all very Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland in 'Don't Look Now'. Haven't seen the film? Take a peep at

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Giving good quote

Last night, whilst making Dreamweaver’s Tuna casserole with fresh tuna, I had the USA TV show, The NEWSHOUR with Jim Lehrer (, on in the background. Good old Kofi Annan was being interviewed. I don’t know about those corruption stories surrounding his son etc from a while back but that man has grace; he should be the Captain on the Enterprise or the guy Obe One Kenobi turned to when he needed a mentor.

Anyhoo, he was discussing Robert Mugabe and the situation in Zimbabwe and, while everything was very grim and sombre he did pipe up with: “Zimbabwe used to be described as the bread basket of Africa, now it’s just a basket case.” Kofi made a funny!

And, as for a good quote about writing that I heard Stephen King give (yes I am broad in my tastes, not just my arse) his was something like (good, accurate reportage here): “Fiction is what you get when you bounce imagination against reality.” Anyway if I listen to the podcast again I’ll try and get it straight. Geesh.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sex and Southland

I confess I did it. I went and saw Sex and the City. I snuck out on Tuesday night to the 9.30pm session at Southland. I went all alone and God was I glad I did. It meant I didn’t have to sit amidst the throngs but got the lovely solo back-of-the-room seat (okay, it’s for people accompanying those in wheelchairs but was completely unneeded on the night!) so I could ooh and ahh in private. Oh the shame.

Darren Starr and Michael Patrick King really have created a chick phenomenon here. I actually almost welled up when the four besties appeared on the screen in the opening shot. As she who goes by the name ‘Dreamweaver’ when on the web ( described it, it was like seeing old friends arrive at the airport.

While Carrie sniffed her library book (I am an obsessive book sniffer) and decided New York Public Library was her dream wedding venue (I hulk my fat behind around the local track in my NYPC t-shirt and took about 800 photos of the light fittings when I was there last year) I realised what a Sex in the City tragic I was. Ah, to be part of the masses. I guess you have to think about it positively … concentrate on that sense of belonging.
Of course one does like to delve a little deeper to try and work out what makes this movie and series so popular. Besides all the obvious blah blah about the fact that 8 million women wish they looked/dressed/ate/drank/shopped/bonked etc like various characters in the show, there has always been the snappy dialogue to applaud and the regular insights into the pecadillos that make us, while still part of the masses, still our own individual little psychotic selves. (Hence, the book sniffing.)
Of course, because of early onset chronic memory loss syndrome (AKA too much booze as a teenager, young woman and verging on middle aged woman), I am not going to be able to wow you now with examples from the film but I cannot tell you how many times the following line from the series comes to my mind. It is linked to the period where Miranda - post baby - is going to weight watchers. She dates and sleeps with a fellow 'watcher' who has the disturbing habit of going down on her, coming up for air covered in (cover your ears) juices, and then wants to give her a nice big kiss on the lips. She is horrified. Carrie says, "She's going out with an overeater ... and he over ate her." Laugh! I nearly started.

And, further and last confession, I am going to see the film again when up in Byron Bay in a fortnight so Mrs R and I can moon over the Buddakan rehearsal dinner scene because, yes, we dined there. OK! Enough already.
PS: Fun website/blog to visit if you're into film and TV insider topics: - they're bitchy, be warned.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Reports of my death have been exaggerated

Okay it probably seems like I have lost interest in this blog. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact I have been caught between keeping the wolf from the door with plenty of commercial writing tasks as well as catching up – a lot – with long lost writing pals who I’ve met over recent years.

In a way I am looking for some inspiration – a bright light in these foggy Melbourne mornings – that will guide me to the best possible path for the second half of 2008.

I believe – Good lord willing and the creek don’t rise – that hay has been made in the warmer, earlier months of this year and soon some quieter times can be had where I can play around with words for my own amusement more than for invoice generation. We’ll see.

Even today I actually have ONE MILLION things I would like to blog about – a fabulous one hour conversation with the author of The Northern Lights (AKA the movie called The Golden Compass) that had me riveted not to mention numerous book purchases, interesting conversations overheard, topics on the telly and goodness knows what. Alas, they’ll have to wait for the long weekend. My creative juices are currently being siphoned into unravelling information about a custom made blind business in New Zealand and, more interestingly, an eight girl dinner party I am throwing on Friday night.

Thank God it will be me destroying someone else’s home by Sunday when Mr C throws what I know will be a divine house warming/new housemate warming party with, I hope, plenty of camp abandon.

So I look forward to Monday, the Queen’s Birthday after all (how appropriate Mr C), when I can put hungover fingers to keyboard to blog blog blog. And, at least, I have finally finished Anne Rice's The Feast of All Saints which was bloody long. I enjoyed it though. Not a vampire or anything vaguely supernatural in sight. And now I can get cracking with Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book which I started last night and am already enchanted by. YAY!