Halfway into December writing this and November seems to be very long ago. It was a month of ups and downs, highs and lows. I was also convalescing from Wisdom Tooth removal (all 4) so had plenty of down time towards the beginning of the month. But I still managed to pack in a huge amount of fun!
Let's see how I went with my 42 things first:
1. Finish sorting my holiday photos
Yes, I may even get this complete by the end of the year. It's been a big job, as there are a LOT of photos and being the good Librarian I am, I am being very precise in my labeling of them, which given my awful memory means a lot of research identifying things, which I find fascinating.
3. Have one night a week where I turn off all electronics and read
Oh boy, did I do this, mostly due to my convalescing, see my reading list below, and that is only the really good stuff!!!
4. Walk more and explore my own surroundings...there is so much I haven't seen in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and other areas nearby
See 3 above and my list below!
Plus our November Bibliotweeps Book Club title was The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, a signed copy no less, from his author talk earlier in the year at Charlestown Library.
6. More live music - the very poor list above is very abnormal for me. I'm open to pretty much anything, though snooty about venues!
Bahahaha, well I tempted fate and went to see Leonard Cohen at the Vineyards, something I was always very snooty about...read my review here:
8. Don't let the things that usually bother me, irritate me too much
I had a lot of stuff out of my hands while I was recovering, and was in the most relaxed state, it was wonderful...mind you, that could have been the painkillers!
9. Go on a picnic, cannot remember the last one I had
I had a lovely impromptu picnic with my friend L at Leonard Cohen.
14. Whip my little backyard back into shape
I spent time at the beginning and end of the month gardening, very good for the soul. Is it in shape? I highly doubt it, but it helps keep me in sorta shape and good for my soul.
19. Eat and drink out more/20. Get through my list of local restaurants and cafes
After a couple of weeks on mash, and jelly and custard I was thrilled to tempt my taste buds again! I did manage a few very bad places like Coco Monde, and Euro on Darby. I also had a fabulous seafood platter at Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club for my BIL, M's birthday. Dined at the Morpeth Creperie with T and L, and celebrated C's birthday with Thai. Lunched on Pork Belly at The Royal Inn with J, and Fish and Chips at Murray's Beach Cafe with R and R. Our bookclub had dinner at our Bookclub venue, Talulahs, wow what divine food and cocktails.
22. Wash my car more often
I did this at the beginning of the month, woo hoo for me!
33. Go to lots of fun social events
Despite being housebound for a few weeks, I really made up for it the rest of the month! Morning teas, lunches and dinner with friends at all the above cafes and restaurants. Birthday and family celebrations.
The final French Friday for the year was a great film, called, Poupoudidou (Nobody else but you). When A young woman who believes she is the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe turns up dead in a remote French town during winter, a crime novelist, Rousseau, stumbles across the story of a lifetime. The ruling is suicide, but as Rousseau investigates all sorts of intrigue unravels. I really enjoyed this film, which I admit was very different to most other French films.
J and I also saw Enough Said at the movies, a lovely mature aged romantic comedy starring the late James Gandalfini and the luminous Julia Louis-Dreyfus. They both lit up the big screen, with humour and drama, so lovely to see an intelligent film about romance.
L and I attend the Civic Theatre Subscription launch, a well attended affair with a decent program, much improved on last year, but still not hugely inspiring. Though there will be enough to make a sub from, so that is good.
I celebrated the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary with C, A and her family. We saw the Day of the Doctor in 3D on the big screen and it was wonderful.
L, A, D and I were dazzled by the performers at Empire in The Spiegeltent at Wheeler Place. A fun, adult, and astonishing circus type show in the round, hard to describe really, but the most wonderful evening. Jaw dropping acts and loads of laughs.
36. Take time to do nothing and daydream more often
During my convalesence I had plenty of time to sit, be still and daydream and it was wonderful. I slept a lot, sat and did nothing, read heaps and watched lots of DVDs, not much else I could do, and whilst I was pleased when it all ended and I could get moving again, I really enjoyed the down time. Good for the soul
Icons on vintage fashion: definitive designer classics at auction 1900-2000 by Penelope Blanckaert and Angele Rincheval Hernu. A stunning coffee table book with hundreds and hundreds of amazing frocks and ensembles over the years. Totally swoon worthy.
Brett Whiteley: art and life. Fabulous coffee table book with a few essays on his work, and Q and A with Wendy and LOTS of wonderful paintings arranged chronologically. Glorious!
Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger - a short story with divine illustrations about a Postman who falls in love with a Raven. Total fantasy but fantastic!
George Clooney's haircut and other cries for help by Richard Glover - A collection of his columns, interesting and humourous perspectives from a male point of view. It was an easy and fun read.
Sincerely: further adventures in the art of correspondence from Women of Letters created by Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire. Book 2 of these remarkable letters. For those that do not know, Marieke and Michaela invite women (and sometimes men) to write a letter and read them out on stage with literary salon in mind. This is a compilation of these letters, funny, sad, whimsical, and always fascinating. My favourites were Libbi Gorr's To my most treasured possession, her iphone and KK Juggy's To the moment I knew it was time to go home, about touring with Kiss. I loved Kate Miller-Heidke's love letter to her 12 year old self, and Patience Hodgson's to New York. Of the men, writing To the woman who changed my life, George Negus's letter to JB was stunning (JB = Jennifer Byrne), And Rhys Muldoon's was very sexy. Catherine Deveny's Apology letter was unapologetic as you can imagine. Angie Hart's heartbreaking but uplifting letter to her ex husband, was To the best decision I ever made, Deborah Conway's same was much funnier and about the bulldog her family made her buy. Helen Garner, spare as ever, wrote To the person I misjudged, a school teacher. But my favourite of all and the most surprising of subject matter was my hero, Ita Buttrose, writing To the life I could have lived...as an opera singer. Yes, Ita can sing opera, now that's something I'd love to hear!
Life is a gift: the zen of Bennett by Tony Bennett. This is an lovely and easy read with tales from Tony's life about music, performing, art and the people he met along the way and the lessons he has learned. A generous soul who seems to draw the most interesting people into his atmosphere, this is a great read and also includes his amazing drawings.
Cyndi Lauper: a memoir by Cyndi Lauper with Jancee Dunn. This is a great read, Cyndi's wit and strength shine through in her tales. A sassy chic with a supreme talent, Cyndi tells the stories of her life before, during and after fame. An easy but fun read, this tells all about her ride and the people she met along the way.
What came between by Patrick Cullen. Older novella, set in Newcastle between the earthquake and BHP closing, a lovely spare tale of melancholy, longing and loss between 3 very different couples living near each other on Laman Street. Evocative prose and knowingly real.
Me and Rory Macbeath - Richard Beasley - excellent coming of age story set in Adelaide in 1977 about a Scottish family who come to live in young Jake's street and the life changing events that follow. It had a great sense of place, person and children during that era, very evocative!
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. I was lucky enough to meet Graeme at a book reading at Charlestown Library earlier in the year, on Valentine's Day no less. This was only moments before The Rosie Project hit it big. It was the most fascinating evening with him being a gracious, quirky and interesting speaker. It has taken me this long to read the book, unsure why, I have the signed copy I bought on the night. I saved it for the final Bibliotweeps Book Club of the year and just love it. It is an easy read, a page turner, yet it stays with you and makes you think think think about those around you and what they may be feeling or suffering and how they appear. Let us not judge, but love. It is a story of a man in his late 30s in search of a wife, he has issues, it is never really said what, though he is likely a candidate for aspergers. He, Don, creates a survey that he feels will bring him the perfect wife but life doesn't always go to plan no matter how meticulously you plan it. I shall say not more, ultimately a romance story, but that is purely the backdrop, this book is much smarter than that. Just do yourself a favour and go and read The Rosie Project, it's the best thing you'll do all year!
In the car I've been listening to Bill Bryson's One Summer which I made an early call on for my book of the year, read here about it:
Music - DVDs
10cc in Concert, recorded I think in 2007 and wonderful. They sound amazing! I loved the section in the middle of the concert where they play songs Graham Gouldman wrote for others in the 60s. I think I did know this, but had forgotten, his versions of Bus Stop, No Milk Today, and For Your Love were wonderful. But the show stopper for me was I'm Not In Love, this sounded exactly like the original recording, a surefire example of talent not sliding, it brought tears to my eyes as it always does! They ended with a solid rocking of Rubber Bullets, brilliant!
ELO - Out of the Blue, Live at Wembley. Filmed in 1978 at their height, this was an awesome display of lights, lasers, satin, white suits, big hair and beards, and flamboyant string playing! At times some of the songs didn't quite play out as well as the record, I guess they were tightly produced. But the one, two, three of Sweet Talkin' Woman, Mr Blue Sky and Do Ya towards the end of the show was quite simply perfection!
Pink Floyd: the story of Wish You Were Here - this is a great doco on the making of this seminal album. With interviews of all the key players and special time devoted to their absent friend, Syd. Not only are songs and music dissected but the album cover and history of the band. A must see for fans.
DVDS - television
Choccywoccydoodah S 1 & 2- I am not a fan of reality TV and certainly not cooking ones, however this amazing show about behind the scenes of the most amazing chocolate cake shop in Brighton is pure addiction! The 30min episodes revolve around usually 2 cakes, often for celebrities or special events and the talented artists cooking and decorating these masterpieces. Love!
Power Games - finally caught up with this as I missed it on television. Great mini series about the Packer Murdoch wars. Patrick Brammall and Lachy Hulme as Murdoch and Packer were outstanding!
Hemingway and Gellhorn - this was only ok, I struggled, Kidman annoyed me and Clive Owen looked like Tom Hanks with glasses, I adore Hemingway, or at least his writing and this fell short...severely.
Charley Boorman's extreme frontiers: South Africa. Charley is off on his motorcycle again and this time in South Africa. I do like his natural charm and ability to chat to anyone about anything, this is a great journey showing the beauty and horror of South Africa.
Call the midwife S2 - dare I say, this was better than S1. An utterly delightful and beautifully produced series about Midwives working in the London suburbs in the 1950s. Not normally my type of subject matter, but this is outstanding drama and highly addictive. S1 is being replayed at present, check it out if you haven't seen it.
The walking dead S3 - Holy Crap, this up the ante and then some this season. One of the grossest (those walkers are getting so bad a friend said he feels like he needs a shower after watching them!) yet most compelling shows around. Fabulous and endearing characters and brilliant writing, if you can get your head around the zombies, this is why they invented the phrase, "must see TV".
House of Cards S1 - Wow, this is brilliant. I have always loved Kevin Spacey and when he plays bad he is the best and this show about his stepped over senator and all he will do to get on in Washington is Machiavellian and compelling. Robin Wright as his stoic above all wife also creepy. Again, must see TV, cannot wait for S2.
DVDs - movies
Performance - this was a magnificent drama about a string quartet about to celebrate their 25th anniversary. But everything falls apart around them when their 'leader" and celloist Christopher Walken (whom I just adore!) is diagnosed with possible Parkinsons. The other three, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener, a couple, and Mark Ivanir also have their own dramas and the quartet looks likely to implode. This brilliant drama is backdropped by Winter in New York and the most wonderful classical tunes. The performances in Performance were stellar and I loved the movie. Highly recommend!
An education - I loved this film so much, I cannot believe it has taken me this long to see it. Carey Mulligan is an absolute star in this, the tale of a smart school girl swept off her feet but an older and charming man. She has to decide between an education with him, so beguiling and classical, or an education traditionally by schooling. I was so drawn in by this and so guarded in what I thought she should do. Surely this was all to good to be true, without giving away the ending, it is a stunning story with heartbreak and beauty. An absolute must see.
I've been listening to the new Franz Ferdinand and Birdie, both which I loved and the album by Eddie Perfect and Tripod redoing classics was really good.
The new Paul McCartney called New is outstanding, coming in at No 4 on Rolling Stone's albums of the year is no surprise if you have listened to it. A return to form with Beatle and Wings like tracks, a youngish sound and quite simply, great tracks all round.