Friday, October 23, 2020


What I've Been Reading

Face It by Debbie Harry - and written by Sylvie Sims as told to in recent conversation. This was a great memoir. Obviously Debbie didn’t write every word, but it really feels like her and that gives this great authenticity. It goes into just the right amount of her childhood, adopted into a New Jersey family, which I found fascinating and a great insight into her character. She was always drawn to New York and moved there in the mid 60s at 20. She had various odd jobs in those early years, mostly in late night bars and got to know a lot of important people in the NY Scene, Warhol, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and many more. After forming a girl group, she met Chris Stein and brought him in as their guitarist, but they ended up breaking away and forming what would become Blondie.

It was an interesting read, so much detail of some events, and then she glosses over other events. She mentions memory and drugs occasionally throughout, so possibly it is that, or she like to continue to be ambiguous. Chris Stein features heavily and wrote the introduction, so whilst they are no longer together it is obvious they have a close relationship still. Two of my favourite stories (and there are so many) in the book are about her meeting and knowing a lot of the Method actors and learning about The Method from them and she said she always sings in The Method, that is she is the song or the lyrics she is singing, which she feels gives her the added edge. The other is about becoming great friends with Tom and Alannah from The Thompson Twins and they wrote I Want That Man for her. Alannah added the Harry Dean (Stanton) line as she loved him, but didn’t realise Debbie did too. They got to meet Harry Dean sometime later and he thought Debbie really did want him, and asked her out, she said yes and they dated for a while. I had heard this story, but wasn’t sure it was real and had no idea The Thompson Twins wrote the song, love it!

Not only was it a great read, but visually gorgeous. It was styled like an arty coffee table book, with paintings, photos, fan art, and even a comic strip within. I think anyone would enjoy this read, but fans will love it.

Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: and other lessons in life by Michael Caine.
I listened to this on audio book and it was read by the author himself, what a treat!

Caine has such a distinct voice, this was just a great experience.

This is a follow-up to his best selling memoir, The Elephant to Hollywood, and is more of a self-help type of book using stories from his life in movies. It is honest and open and funny.

He will talk about learning scripts, showing up on time, not losing your temper and match it to stories of his own experience or things he has seen on the movie set. With career as large as his, he has so many stories.

He also explains why he doesn’t regret any of his film choices which was refreshing and interesting. He is a hilarious name-dropper and his stories are great. This was so entertaining, listening to the timbre of his voice, that unique phrasing of his, I cannot recommend this enough.

Back from the Break - Osher Gunsberg - this is the memoir of Osher and how he got through a mental breakdown. It goes into his earlier life and how he was always tripping on the edge of mental health issues but ignoring them. We also get a little on pop culture he was involved with, Australian Idol, The Bachelor etc. An honest and interesting read.

The Glad Shout by Alice Robinson – The book commences with a young couple and their toddler daughter entering a stadium filled with tragedy and seemingly refugees. We soon find out we are in Melbourne in the near distance future, and whilst not mentioned the stadium is probably the MCG. Climate change has led to wild storms and a super storm has pretty much demolished the Melbourne coast. Isobel is strong and determined to protect her daughter at any cost, her husband is teetering on breakdown. The next chapter takes you back to Isobel’s childhood, growing up with her brother, her mother, and her grandmother. Whilst living a fairly happy and easy-going life, the relationship between Isobel and her mother and indeed her mother with her own mother is fraught. Robinson takes us through these two storylines chapter by chapter until the paths collide. Whilst set against a traumatic and horrid backdrop of this storm and indeed about climate change, the book is actually about relationships between mothers and daughters. Not just the main characters but other smaller characters we meet in the stadium and beyond. This was beautifully written and whilst obviously an uneasy subject matter it doesn’t really get too heart-wrenching until the last couple of chapters.  

What I've Been Watching

Younger S6 - Set behind the scenes of a NY publishing company with a nod to Sex and the City and Dynasty. S6 has the fall out of Charles and Liza's affair with Kelsey taking over the company. There's romance, swindling, books deals, pregnancy, and as usual secrets. This is a light show, so leave your brain at the door, but always entertaining. 

Schitts Creek S5 -  this is possibly the best season yet and the funniest. The Rose family are growing and it is heart-warming to watch. Relationships are solidifying, and Moira is back acting on The Crow III, filming in Bosnia with hilarious consequences. I love this show so much, it has so much heart, it never pokes fun of anyone, it is very inclusive, and never makes a fuss of that. The Rose family are all brilliant, I love each member but David has special place in my heart. All the supporting actors are also great, and this season really get a chance to shine. The final episode of the season – which is around the community version of Cabaret - is stunning! It made me laugh and cry! Only one more season to go…sob.

Women on the Verge -  british black comedy about 3 x 40 something women flailing at life. I didn't mind this show, it wasn't bad, but it wasn't great.

Modern Family final season  - and so all good things must come to an end. I loved the freshness and inclusivity of Modern Family from the very start. A great ensemble cast with some really great laugh out loud moments and a lot of well done physical comedy. Things could have gone very wrong when the kids started to grow up and take on bigger roles, but the actors behind them were as great as the adults. 11 seasons did feel too long, and it kind of went out on a simper, but it still had it’s moments. My favourite character was always Phil, his geeky, clumsy, kind nature appealed to me and made me laugh the most.

The Gentleman – I loved this cockney caper from Guy Ritchie, with an all-star cast including Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Colin Farrell, and Hugh Grant. McConaughey is a high profile pot dealer who is about to get out of the business, and everyone around him is plotting to overturn, double cross, triple cross and so forth. Very funny, and action packed, this is a great ride. Huge hats off to Hugh Grant for playing a formidable and hilarious crime boss, his accent and appearance will astound you.

Mother  - a film by Bong Joon Ho (The Host, Snowpiercer, Parasite) about a boy and his mother and everything she will do for her son when he is arrested for suspected murder. This needs a bit of an edit in the middle, but really winds it up for the last section. Leaves you hanging on until the end.

Finding Fela - the story of Fela Kuit, a Nigerian singer and activist. Fela founded the musical style of Afrobeat, and was well ahead of his times musically and politically. The doco itself is a bit clunky but was interesting enough to sustain me. 

Punk - Iggy Pop's 4 part documentary series is outstanding. It is a clean and wonderful look at the rise and 'fall' of punk over the decades and what came out of the punk scene. What makes this better than your average doco is the amount of musicians from the original scene willing to sit on the couch and talk about their experiences and who they looked up to within the scene. Some look smarter and cleaner than they ever were and some, not so much. But their personalities are as punk and strong as ever. Their stories will open your eyes, expand your brain, and make you laugh. And then there's the music...which is, of course, the best part of the series. This is not just for fans of punk, but for fans of docos and music generally.

Freeman - I wrote a piece about this magnificent documentary.

What I've Been Listening To

Pick Me Up Off the Floor – Norah Jones – lovely as ever, a nice return to her jazzy roots. Very easy listening, her voice is sublime.

Our two skins – Gordi – this is Gordi’s second album after a long break, and it is great. Very laid back and folksy as you would imagine. Well worth the wait.

Every Night the Same Dream and Good Mood – Ball Park Music – I recently saw these guys on The Sound and liked their vibe. So I ordered a couple of their older albums from work to listen to. Great mix of pop rock, really enjoyed them. Upbeat, light, and breezy.  Good mood is a very apt title.

Monday, October 5, 2020


Every month or at least every couple of months I write up my Round Up or my diary of the month, I have not being doing that since Covid as - like most of us - I simply have not been doing much. But six months in, I figured I must have enough to share. So this is what I have been up to during Covid!

First up, I wrote this thing about Covid, how I coped or not, and you can read that here.

March started with me in Adelaide and Melbourne briefly. This was meant to be my treat - finally - for surviving cancer and a whole lot of trauma with the work restructure. Well, I got 2 weeks in. But I'm gonna need a whole do-over when this fiasco is done!!! My leave got extended so I did have a month at home. But I didn't really do much. I floundered on the couch, napped and watch tele, and ate too much.

Once I got back to work I mostly had a lot of quiet times, reading, watching tele, listening to podcasts and music, cataloguing my vinyl, writing, zooming, and doing my usual online stuff.

In fact, at times I got quite overwhelmed by how much extra online content there was. I just couldn't take it all in. I did love posts from Richard E. Grant, Judi Dench, Annie Lennox, Jack Black, Robbie Williams, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, and many others, distracting me from it all. Also my podcast list doubled, Sydney Opera House had a lot of amazing streaming, and a lot of online literary events too. It might have been the worst of times, but it sure was the best of times online.

The markets still happened every fortnight, so I got my breakfast Gozlemes and a walk in, and maintained a small sense of normality there.

My health has been pretty good. Like everyone, I have had the odd mental health moment. Covid is a wild ride, and I think we are all rolling on the waves of it emotionally. I had been meaning to get a few good massages on my legs after all the issues over the past few years, and my Osteo people put me onto an amazing guy. His process is a mix of massage, osteo, soft tissue therapy and a few other technique pulled together, so I spent a couple of months back and forth getting them back on track. I succumbed to a throat infection (from a sinus infection) later in the piece. I was off work longer than you would usually be because of Covid. I was worried my legs would play up again, so fingers crossed, all a-ok there.

We celebrated all the usual celebrations. Mother's Day, Easter, Birthdays. With my sister stuck in Melbourne, she usually appeared via video on an ipad at the head of table which is not the same, but better than not there at all.

I am missing a lot of things. No choir, no singing, no One Song Sing, no Wuthering Heights Day, no concerts, no theatre, no film society, no soccer, no Newcastle Writers Festival. Worst of all, no hugs! I'm a hugger, oh boy, I'll be going mad when we can touch people again...if we ever can...

There was a NWF online weekend, and it was fantastic. I even featured in their promos, lol! You can read about Day 1 here and Day 2 here.

I did manage a few events out over the past 6 months.

A lovely brunch on Darby and day of shopping with C.

Gin High Tea at Babylon with my gals. We dressed up and ate yummy delicacies,and tasted gin cocktails. It was a great escape earlier on during Covid.

I met J for brunch at Welsh Blacks in Cooks Hill.

A and I had a wander at the beach, and then afternoon tea at Son of a Gun on Beaumont.

A had her 50th, and we had a lovely soiree one evening for her.

I popped into the beach and King Edward park a few times for a walk, see pics below.

And drove up to Morpeth for a little escape.

I had my old air con replaced with a much better, new model. Better environmentally and economically!

I did a fair bit of online shopping, and when heading out was more desirable, I got back into my vinyl collecting!

My Bookclub thrived via Zoom so that was a bonus! And my reading mojo went off the charts. I was also asked to fill in for the amazing Rosemarie Milsom on 1233 ABC radio doing book reviews. It is an occasional gig, filling in when she is unwell or cannot make the spot. I chat with Craig Hamilton for about 10mins and it is sheer joy. I get a bit nervous prior, but once we are chatting, I feel fine and the time flies. It is mostly live via phone (due to Covid) and Craig makes me feel comfortable and we have a nice banter.

My reviews for this period can be read here: March, April, May, June, July, August.

I have also been dating through this time. I had a first date with a lovely guy just before I went away pre-Covid, and we continued to stay in touch and 'date' during Covid. It was a challenging time to date but he was lovely company, mostly online, phone, messages, videos, but in time in person distancing. Strange Times. Whilst we got on well, and he was a nice person, there were a few things that just did not align with my philosophies and would not make a good long term partner for me, so I had to let him go. We still chat, he is not a bad person, just not right for me. There was someone else recently who looked like a much much better match. I was really excited, it is rare to meet interesting, cerebral, creative, cultural men and he was one. But just as we were organising to meet, he misconstrued something simple I said and called the date off. I was quite shocked and upset over this. I did try to explain my intent, but he wouldn't have a bar of it. As a few people said to me, if he is triggered over something so insignificant, imagine how unsupportive he would be during actual serious problems. Who knows, possible I guess, maybe another bullet dodged. I'm just really sad it happened. I refuse to give up, but I am taking a break. Online dating is freaking exhausting, especially during these times.  

So, like everyone, it has been a roller coaster of a ride, these past 6 months. But there was some beauty within. I have had some really low moments for sure, but I always managed to pick myself up and look towards the positives

Here are some extra pics: