Wednesday, December 31, 2014


What I've been reading

Burning Man: art on fire by Jennifer Raiser - an amazing coffee table book full of the best pieces of art from Burning Man and a history of the event and regular artists.

Only in New York - Lily Brett - Lily is one of my all time favourite authors and her latest is a book of essays and thoughts on NYC. Her writing is sharp and spare, her stories take me straight back to the streets and I can visualise them in my mind. She is a keen observer of people, and a lover of cooking and food. It just made me smile.

Gerard Durrell - I am still power housing through his stories on Spoken Word. They are mostly amazing and funny, especially those of his childhood on Corfu.

This house of grief - Helen Garner - I don't read a lot of True Crime, never gravitated towards it. However some writers are so eloquent and perfect, I will just read anything by them. Helen Garner is one. Her writing is superb, easily Australia's finest writer. She is also sharp and spare (these are qualities I look for in books), and a keen observer. Her humility and kindness always shines through, even in the darkest of darkest. And this book is dark. 

It is about Helen following the trial of Robert Farquharson over the alleged murder of his three children from drowning in a dam when his car went off the road back in 2005. Helen never strays from the reality and the harsh truth, yet she writes in a way that somehow lessons the impact. She never takes 'sides' but simply writes empathetically of all involved and never tries to make sense of what happened because how can you. It's obvious she feels great compassion for Robert, because how can you not. Whether he is guilty or not, his lot in life now is heavy and awful. And this is why I will always read Garner, because whilst honest and to the point, she is humane and considerate...almost to a fault.

The Sun also rises - Ernest Hemingway - I have been carrying this little classic around with me for months, delving into it at every chance, but also trying to lengthen it's reading. Cause when I read a great book, I always want it to last. Written in 1926, it begins in Paris and ends in Pamplona for the running of the bulls. It is very masculine, as you would imagine, but it's his ways with words that will always suck me in, despite some of the 'behaviour'. Oh Papa, you were a naughty man! This is fiction, but knowing Hemingway, you know most of it happened to him or someone he knew. The middle section fascinated me, fishing in the Pyrenees. Something that should not fascinate me at all, but it was so beautifully written, it almost made me want to take up fishing...almost!

The Holy or the broken: Leonard Cohen , Jeff Buckley and the unlikely ascent of "Hallelujah" - Alan Light - this was a fabulous little book about the song Hallelujah. It spends some time on Leonard and how he came to write the classic. It took him years, 4, 5, or more depending on which story Leonard wants to tell, lol! And supposedly 80 verses, many discarded. And then is moved from how the song was received to why and how cover it. For a long while the Cale version was the definitive version. But then Buckley came away and almost took the song from Cohen himself...almost. Many more covered it, k.d. lang and Rufus Wainwright being the most revered after Buckley. It's a great little book full of titbits and stories. But really the song belongs to Leonard, as anyone who has had the pleasure of hearing him sing it will concur. I can tick that off my holy grail of music, hearing him sing this classic live, brought me to my knees and tears to my eyes.

Everything I need to know I learned from a little Golden Book - Diane Muldrew - this is a cute little book in the guise of a Golden Book itself. Loads of pictures from classic Golden Books with tips of living life added. It was a joy to look at and read, and amusing too. One for every bibliophile.

What I've been Watching

How I met your mother final season - I wouldn't call myself a fan of this show, but I have watched it on and off over the years. I watched this against my better judgement and really enjoyed it. I liked there the storyline went, and maybe because I hadn't invested anything in it, thought the ending was superb.

Walking Dead - ok I binged S4 and S5.1 in less than 2 weeks! I find this show puts me on edge and gives me mild anxiety and because I had actually been on edge and suffering proper anxiety in real life, I found the show over-rode that!! Which was most unexpected and marvelous!  Life huh! Anyways, the show just gets better and better. A friend says he feels like he needs a shower after each episode as it gets grosser and grosser...he's right! I love the characters and their many dynamics, depending on the situations they get into or are trying to get out of. 

Whilst it is true Rick (the superb Andrew Lincoln) or Egg as I still like to call him (if you need to ask why, we simply cannot be friends!) is the star of the show, it is Daryl I love the most. Norman Reedus is superb and the layers of intensity and character he peels is awe-inspiring. During these shows we lose some favourites, some in the most upsetting and chilling of ways. There was a double loss in S4 that had me very unstuck. Beautifully written, acted, and filmed, but horrific unlike anything I had seen on the show thus far. And of course some great new characters. I am eager for 5.2!!!

Girls S3 - I love this show so much. Mostly because it is written so very well, some of the dialogue is perfect. The girls, however, are not, and that can be very frustrating and annoying to watch as they self destruct or implode with stupid decisions. But I think because the writing is so very mature, we forget the 'girls' are in their early 20s, and none of us were that smart back then. Our 20s are for making mistakes, and forming our lives, and working out how we are. This is what they are doing. I loved the addition of Richard E Grant and others this season. And as always, very keen to see where Adam fits into Hannah's life.

The Newsroom final season - only six episodes, but six great ones. Under-rated and under appreciated, yes it's not as good as The West Wing, or Mad Men, but it is stunning. Jeff Daniels is great, the entire cast is. I love seeing Jane Fonda, in a small role, knock every one dead with every single word she utters. I am sad it ended, but everything must at some point I guess.

Under the skin - oh my, I really do not know what to say about this very dark film. Scarlett Johansson is outstanding as the alien going through men like it's no-ones business. It is a dark, sexual, and confronting film. I am not even sure I understood half of it. I need to watch it again, I cannot stop thinking about it. I read some of the scenes were improvised with the men not knowing what was happening (eg it was going to be a film) which is very disturbing. It was amazing, mesmerising, and beautiful. I really loved this film, but it's not for everyone.

Labor Day - I somehow missed this superb drama with Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. Winslet is an unstable mother, who barely leaves the house after her husband leaves her. She leaves the house once a month to accompany her young son grocery shopping. This is where they meet Brolin, on the run after escaping jail. He holds up in their house for a weekend and she falls in love with him. But the story is more than that, it is also a coming of age story for the son. The small cast hold your attention well, the intensity and heat is palpable. She really is something else, always has been and just gets better with age. If you missed this, go and find it, it's very good.

Head - The Monkees - I have wanted to see this for a long, long time. It was really weird, I knew this going in, but how weird, well that I didn't realise. I think I needed some heavy drugs, lol. It was of it's time and I didn't realise Jack Nicholson wrote part of it! But you know, the boys look great (and goofy) and the songs featured are brilliant. Micky Dolenz is my fave.

At The Movies with Margaret and David - this institution ended during the month and I am still beside myself about it. For 28 years, and over half my life I have worshipped and loved these beautiful movie reviewers. I did not always agree with them, but their opinion and thoughts on movies were the only ones that matter to me. The were real, seemingly unscripted (I am sure there was a script, but they always spoke like it came from the heart, not a teleprompter) and just delightful. We loved it when they argued, and even more when they agreed. We knew their foibles and loves. And in the last few years they introduced a new section, classic films, which I loved more than the new reviews. To hear such dedicated lovers of film talk about films of the past, whether true classics from the golden age of Hollywood or newer classics, just made my heart and soul sing. They will be missed, and when David grabbed Margaret's hand and walked her out of the studio at the end of the final episode I wept like a baby. We'll never see their likes again.

What I've been listening to

Songs that made me - Katie Noonan and friends - a lovely compilation of varied tunes as interpreted by Katie, Deb Conway, Mia Dyson, Angie Hart, Renee Geyer and many more.

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga - This was great, an album of duets, showcasing Gaga's actual voice, which is stunning!

New U2 - I actually bought this!! Yes I did, and I really like it, which I know is not a popular thing to say. But it's the first U2 album in a while that I immediately liked when I first listening to it!

Prince - the 2 new albums. Prince has always been an overachiever. I adore him, and these two albums are both equally brilliant. Love them both and have them on high rotation. Don't make me choose between them because I cannot!!!

Kate Miller-Heidke - O Vertigo - I love her voice so very much and her mix of unique and classic pop. Stunning, I must see her live soon.

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