Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: the year that was!

2015 was a great year, the best I have had in a long time.
Of course with greatness, there is always darkness, my theory is the darkness helps you connect better with greatness!
So the darkness first, cause as much as I like to write about happy, it is equally important to write about the opposite. You gotta keep it real. So most of the darkness this year is pretty much everyone else’s darkness...boy the world got very intense and rather fukt! From Syria to Paris, the embarrassment of Tony Abutt, the state of politics and the rise of the far right (or reich, am I right!?!), the poor treatment of women, racism, sexism, misogyny, and war and hate and killing. Makes you want to make your own little republic and be very selective in who you let join you! With all of those atrocities came greatness, you see the beautiful, kind, and considerate people rise above the hatred, it felt like a minority (which is actually worse than the list itself) but at least these people were there, you and me - regular people hoping for a better world.

The other half of my darkness came from within, I started the year with a deep depression, but also incredible love, knowing people had my back and they loved and cared for me, it didn’t take long to break the chains of the black dog. So by the second half of the year I felt pretty much back to regular me. Yes this horrid disease lurks beneath the surface and rears it’s ugly head from time to time, but the bounce back is brief, which is all you can ask for. Within this depression, my old fiend, anxiety, also returned...bigger and better than ever. You gotta love that! A mix of depression and anxiety is pretty freaking awful I tell you, you feel like the push me, pull me creature from Doctor Doolittle, you just don’t know what the fuck is going on and it takes all your worth to put one foot in front of the other and get everyday things done. And I did, I got everyday things done, and I slept a lot and I cried a lot – and this may sound awful, and it is, but it is also important, life changing, and totally appropriate and necessary to move through such a period and reclaim greatness.
I am – surprising as it may seem – a very private person, believe me there is a lot about me I do not share. But I think it is important to talk about the bad, the dark, the horrid...because it is an equaliser. This I know, as the more I write and converse about such things, the more I have others engage with me about their own issues. And this is so very important and weirdly comforting. So I shall continue to share the realities of my life (to a certain extent) to assist whoever needs it and to make others uncomfortable, because talking about reality should not be an uncomfortable thing.
And you know, in the grand scheme of things, life wasn’t so bad, it could have been a hell of a lot worse.
And so onto the greatness.
2015 – I started the year with the following: focusing on positives and the ground work I laid for this year, live in the moment and do what I was meant to do, let fate and adventure take it’s course, and hope to meet someone...and I did all of that and more, ok I have not met ‘the one’ but I did meet a lot of new people!
I also planned to do my Project 42 for life and I have been following those little guides I set up a few years back and find they really keep my life on track, and I figure if I can be organised at work, why not at home too! Project Read – this I definitely did, I read so many great books this year, and finally Project Declutter, YES! I finished this too, although I look at both of these as ongoing projects. The key to all of this is set acceptable goals and projects that have meaning, you know you can achieve, but still push you without causing stress!
Work was great this year, if I may say so myself. My terrific team worked hard and we had a lot of fun doing our regular work on top of special projects and event. Proud of these guys and it’s my pleasure to work alongside of each and every one of them all year round. On a personal note I worked on a lot of special projects, was guest speaker for a few local groups, attended the IAML conference at APRA headquarters, helped establish the wonderful Share the Story with Carol Duncan, and ended the year on a high recruiting two new staff members for Swansea and receiving my 25 years of service.
Dating – yep I embraced online dating in the last quarter of the year. And that has been very interesting, challenging, heart breaking, and fun. But that’s life hey? And when you are looking for a life partner, I expect no less. I am in no hurry, geez I just turned 45, I have no internal clock (hurrah!!!) and I am after the right match for me. I’m happy to wade through toads to find him...wherever he may be!
Personal Stuff – I got glasses, a new car, and a new laptop. I decluttered my study and turned it into a room of tranquillity and inspiration. I holidayed in Melbourne. I turned 45 without too much drama!
Art – as always I soaked up a lot of Art. The Pop into Popism exhibit at NSW Gallery, Chuck Close at MCA, Archibald prize at Maitland Art Gallery, Midnight Oil exhibit at Newcastle Museum, David Bowie exhibit at ACMI, Catherine the Great exhibit at NGV, Hellenic Museum Melbourne, Orry Kelly exhibit ACMI, Frank Gehry building at UTS Sydney, and the Mambo Exhibit at Newcastle Art Gallery.
Culture including Books, Film, DVDs, Music  - I experienced a lot of great culture this year, stay tuned for my Top 10 lists! I loved this years Oscars. I had Ukulele lessons.
Festivals and Shows – Newcastle Writers Festival, Carriage Shed Film Festival, Absinthe, Go Elsewhere, APRA concert, French Film Festival, TRavelling Sydney Film Festival, Australian Ballet, Many great local theatre productions, The Lion King, Bell Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Fleetwood Mac, This is Not Art Festival, The Doubleclicks, Hunter Valley Gardens Lights, and Star Wars!
Interesting people I saw – Neil Gaiman, Peter Lewis, Lisa Heidke, Megan Washinton, Daniel Johns, Steve Smyth (three times), Jon Ronson, John Safran, Magda Szubanski, and Barry Morgan.
I also got out and about, ate out a lot, and walked and explored my neighbourhoods including the lake, beach, and inner suburbs. All the while documenting and diarising my life through my blog, photography, and other SM applications. I love sharing what I am up, but mostly it’s just a record for me, so that fact that others interact and enjoy my musings makes me happy.
And finally the most important aspect of my life are the people I share it with. Family and friends – you all know who you are. Without you, there would be no me. That’s the honest truth. You have my back, keep my head above water, keep me smiling, and let me know it’s ok to have bad days and are always around to share whatever life throughs at me. I love you all.
I will be posting my Top Tens and hopes for 2016 over the next day or so.



Ahh December you came around very fast this year!

Work usually slows down in December, but not for me this year. With staff vacancies, back to back recruitment, functions and the like it was go go go until Christmas Eve. But I also celebrated 25 years of working, which is pretty amazing.

My dating continued until I pulled the plug for a break early December after a couple of unpleasant experiences. I will return in the new year with changes and see how it goes.

I’ve been mostly in a positive frame of mind, which at this time of the year is pretty good. It’s hard to be a single gal navigating the terrain around the holidays but I have managed pretty well I think.

December is all about celebrations, so A and B and I celebrated at The Star Hotel, lunch with T at Caves Beach Hotel, the family celebrated Dad’s birthday at Rosina’s Italian, I had lunch at Momo Cafe with A, J, and S. I also enjoyed Thai and the markets with C, caught up with J at Morpeth, celebrated with V and N at Milanos, and had work Christmas party at Foghorn. I even entertained my gals at Club Cathy – a first for the year! In between all this I managed some shopping and a beautician’s appointment.

I saw the brilliant new Star Wars film, not once but twice – firstly with family and then for my birthday. Yes, my Birthday is Boxing Day, a shitty day to have a birthday, but it could be worse. We had a lovely family meal at the Royale Inn at Waratah. The family also hit Hunter Valley Gardens to see their lights spectacular! Family celebrations over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were also lovely.

In the final days of the year, J and I had dinner at the Wicko, and met A and L for a dance to Fish Fry and Pow Wow, both were excellent. Then my trusty laptop died and I did the run around for a new one, set up etc...not without some minor drama...cause this is me, nothing ever runs smoothly...sigh...but all fixed now for 2016.

I spent a lovely afternoon and evening at MoneyPenny catching up with M and having a quiet reflective final day of the year catching up on this blog and thinking towards 2016.

Happy New Year to everyone, stay tuned for 2015 musings and 2016 thoughts.
Here are December Reviews and some Photography:


What I’ve been Reading
Girl in a band by Kim Gordon
This is a great memoir about Kim and her life in and out of Sonic Youth. I enjoyed her writing style and stories. It begins with her final performance with Sonic Youth after finding her husband had been cheating on her for some time with a groupie. This paints a fascinating picture and shows her tenacity, shame on you Thurston!!! But it’s more than a break-up story, it’s about life being ‘that rock chick’ in a band, being a mother on the road, being a feminist, and all round interesting person. This book really kicks A and I loved it!
Paris in Style by Janelle McCulloch
Janelle puts together the most beautiful travel books, part travel guide, part memoir, part art book. This lovely one on Paris covers all of that and more. The perfect companion for the Francophile within.
Green Nomads by Bob Brown  - a lovely coffee table book of photos and musings about travelling in the country of our beloved land but the great Bob Brown
Sick in the Head: conversations about life and comedy by Judd Apatow – this is a fun book with conversations or interviews with a wide and varied range of comedians including Garry Shandling, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Albert Brooks, James L Brooks, Mike Nichols, Steve Martin etc.

Flesh Wounds by Richard Glover – I’ve been listening to this brilliant memoir in the car. Dry, funny, and heartbreaking, this is the story of Richard’s unusual family. Through his columns in the SMH, you get the idea his upbringing has not been ideal but until the story is laid out as he does in his own voice you just don’t grasp the severity of it. Yet he seems relatively unharmed, this is a great story and despite it’s weirdness and at times darkness, absolutely enjoyable.

Reckoning by Magda Szubanski – this is divine, the most stunning story, told eloquently and uniquely in beautiful prose in a dramatic way with shades of humour. Mostly about her family and upbringing and only tipping around the edges of her fame, this is one of the best reads of the year. Highly recommended

M Train by Patti Smith  - I am almost finished this remarkable book and plan to by days end. It is as good, if not better, than Just Kids, and that is saying something. Musings on her life, inner thoughts, he love for her late husband, poetry, crime shows, dreams, favourite cafes and so on, you feel like you are part of her inner world, her head, her thoughts and this is the most divine thing. Patti is a goddess amongst goddesses, the queen of modern poetry and punk, someone to look up at and to. There is something serene and meditative about her writing that I find calming, intuitive, and inspirational. I cannot wait for what comes next.

What I’ve Been Watching
2 Autumns, 3 Winters –  a sweet little French film about three young Parisians and their interactions, including love and loss, over 2 Autumns and 3 Winters.
Sex, love and therapy – a very French comedy, about a recovering sex addict (Patrick Bruel) who becomes a marriage counsellor and becomes infatuated with his lovely assistant (Sophie Marceau). This was a lot of fun.
Two days, one night – as always Marion Cotillard is stunning in this dramatic film about a young worker who has been off on stress leave from her factory job. She finds out her co-workers have taken a pay rise in exchange for her job, and has weekend to convince them to change their stance. This would be a boring movie if not for the stunning performance by Cotillard, who I believe is the greatest working actress today.
Living is easy with eyes closed – this is a great Spanish film about a school teacher who is a Beatles fan and finds out John Lennon will be shooting a film across the country. He goes on a road trip and picks up two young adults along the way. This is essentially a coming of age story/road trip story, but is funny and dramatic and beautifully filmed.
Going Clear – doco about the craziness of Scientology as told by those from the upper echelon who are no longer within. Fascinating, haunting, and unbelievable!
Dior and I –   a gripping documentary about Raf Simons, the new head designer at Christian Dior Fashion House, and his first Haute Couture collection. Raf is a genius but also part shy and part diva which makes for fascinating viewing. But really it’s about that stunning Dior style.
Love is strange – I really wanted to love this melancholy little film but found it dreary. It is a weird premise about an older couple, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina who due to Molina being outed at his school is sacked and they can no longer afford to live in their NY rent controlled apartment. The move into separate places with family and friends (which makes no sense) and they are sad. I’m just not sure why and what the movie was trying to do.
Unbroken – the extraordinary story of an Olympic athlete who survived atrocities during WWII including 47 days on a raft before being captured and placed in a Japanese POW camp. A beautifully written story (The Coen Brothers) and sublime direction from Angelina Jolie. This deserved more attention.
Adult Beginners – sweet, little indie about a young guys who loses everything after his start up company crashes. He returns home to live with his sister and her young family with the realisation he needs to grow up.
Woman in Gold – this is the true story of Maria Altmann, who tries to recover a famous Klimt painting of her aunt that was plundered by the Nazis. Helen Mirren is stunning as Maria and Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) is luminous as a younger Maria.
Age of Adaline – a sweet little story about Adaline who has a car accident when she is young and never ages. Blake Lively is perfect as the ageless old soul, Adaline, and it’s a simple story. No great shakes, but sweet.
Cake – is a dreary movie about a drug addict, Jennifer Aniston. As the movie unfolds you find there is more to Aniston’s character that meets the eye, it’s heartbreaking. This movie is nothing new but it worth looking at, though I think it lacks the depth it needed, possibly Aniston did not have the chops to pull it off.
Spy – this is my movie of the month. Oh, how I loved this movie. Melissa McCarthy is brilliant and sassy in her first decent lead role. Thank goodness. I have loved McCarthy since Gilmore Girls, but found the work she has been given has never lived up to the brilliance of her role on that beloved show. This let’s her goddess shine through and is genuinely funny. Add in Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Miranda Hart, and Peter Serafinowizc with great comedic turns too. This is pure entertainment and funny, which comedies these days rarely are!
Castle S6 – I love Castle, mostly because I love Nathan Fillion. It’s a basic crime of the week cop show set in Manhattan, but the humour and charm Fillion brings to the show makes it better than the rest. This season sees the lead up to the wedding between Castle and Beckett, and it looks like the pairing of the leads will not mess with the charm of the show.
Brooklyn 99 S2- great ensemble cast, funny show, quick witted script, loveable and silly in the best possible ways. If you’ve not checked out Brooklyn 99 – a cop show with a difference – you must. It will make you smile.
Utopia S2 – where do they get these scripts from? Freakingly spot on, scaringly much so that watching it made me a bit stabby and agitated. Too clsoe to home, but still brilliant and clever. Rob Sitch is a National Treasure.
What I’ve Been Listening To
The Hoops – The Rubens –  I do love The Rubens and this sublime laid back album
25 – Adele – it’s everything you imagine, I don’t normally get into best selling artists, not my thing...but Adele breaks all the rules. She’s a goddess, beautiful, a voice of perfection, great songwriter and kicks A. I love her and this album does not disappoint.
Album Deux – Baby et Lulu – sublime French duets from Abby Dobson and Lana Goodridge, their voices harmonise perfectly. This is a sexy album!
Songs in the dark – The Wainwright Sisters  - speaking of harmonies, the first album collaboration by Lucy and Martha, and wow! A mix of folk and ballads, this is stunning.
Transmutant – Katie Noonan – boy there are some amazing female singers out there and Noonan’s operatic voice is right up there. This is an avant guarde album but still beautiful. Always love listening to Katie, this is a must hear!
If I can Dream – Elvis Presley with the Philharmonic Orchestra – OK, this is a remastered piece, with the Philharmonic Orchestra added to key Elvis songs. They are a mix of songs chosen by Priscilla that Elvis loved performing and are seminal recordings of his sublime voice. He often performed with some orchestration but never a full Orchestra, it was his dream and this is that dream realised and it is supremely brilliant. As soon as the first song begins, Burning Love (a personal favourite) you get shivers up your spine, the sounds is out of the world. This is for fans only I guess, but if you are, go get this now, and crank up the volume. (Points lost for adding a stupid duet with Michael Bubble...oh gah, how gross)

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Is it just me or did November come earlier than usual this year?

And flew by just as quick?

I always say once we are celebrating my brother-in-law's birthday (very early in Nov) it's all down-hill to Christmas!

November was hectic at work, with my 2ic being transferred to another branch and the staff member temporarily doing her jobs on holidays, I found myself juggling all three jobs with the fabulous assistance of my part-timers. I did pre-school visits - something I've not done in years - storytelling and puppeting and loving every minute of it...even though I was totally exhausted at the end of each day. I entertained schools, I was guest speaker at Caves Beach View Club, helped celebrate Star Wars, and began the recruitment of the 2ic position, all on top of my regular jobs. I'm still here to tell the story...just!

And in addition to all of that we launched what will be our top-line library program - Share the Story with Carol Duncan, our first event being Carol interviewing - as only she does best - the interesting Mark Tedeschi QC. It was a well attended afternoon at our Belmont Library, and with Wendy Whiteley as one of our guest early in the new year, a program that will continue to grow and shine.

I am still on my online dating thing, which is equal parts fun, amusing, terrifying, and a complete other words, every thing I thought it would be and more, lol. Look, I have no expectations and ever the romantic hope I meet someone IRL, as that is truly a better story, and I'm all about good stories! But hey, if I meet someone via an app, who cares, and in the meantime I have many other types of stories to write about....soooooo many stories!!!! Plus at my old age, I am picky, and in no hurry to find just anyone, this person is going to be (or at least I bloody hope so) the last one, so they had better be freaking good!!!!

So due to that and the festive period I ate out a lot, Verde Luna, Foghorn, Talulah, Eurobar, East End Hub (twice - their breakfasts are to die for!), Murrays beach Cafe, Das Haus Hund, The Lass, and sat for a bit at Peg's before I realised I had sorta kinda been stood up (one of those other types of stories!)

We celebrated the fabulous Ms A's birthday at The Movies - seeing the superb The Dressmaker, The Lass, AND Moneypenny!! Birthdays should be celebrated over a week, yes??

I did my usual market thing, at my regular - Speers Point, and at Broadmeadow, I also indulged myself with a Pedi, and did some actual shopping for Christmas etc.

I stayed at Js, not once but twice...always a delight, caught up R and C for their birthdays. And had C visit from Sydney.

That was for out Twitter Christmas Party at The Lass, and then there was The Mambo opening night!

I also sat still - surprisingly - and caught my breath, because all this rushing about is a recipe for bad mental health, and whilst I had my moments, I was a-ok.

The beach and lake are always great places for breath-catching, or on my lounge with a book.

You can read about what I have been reading, listening to, and watching here.

And I started a new project within this blog, Perfect Songs.

Oh, and I decorated Club Cathy for Christmas.

As always some photos from round and about.

Monday, December 7, 2015


What I've been Watching

Paddington - this kids movie is actually pretty good. With Nicole Kidman as the villain, Sally Hawkins, and Hugh Bonneville as the humans who rescue him from Paddington Station. Ben Whishaw is his voice, amongst a cast of great British actors in small parts. It's witty, clever, and fun for all ages.

Boychoir -  was as sappy and miscast as the trailers for it looked, I didn't finish watching it. Fingernails down a chalkboard and I think I fell asleep.

Nicholas on Holidays -  a cute family French film, about a young boy on holidays with his family. Set in the 50s (but a modern movie) it has borrowed a little from Mr. Hulot's Holiday and at times is Felliniesque. Shenanigans on the beach and Italian film sets and incredibly funny.

Strangerland - an Australian film with Nicole Kidman and Jpseph Fiennes as parents of a young family who have moved to an outback town under odd circumstances. Their young children go missing, and they enlist local cop (Hugo Weaving) to assist finding them. This is a very unsettling film and is well presented and acted, it'll have you guessing! Def my pick of the month.

Devil's Play ground - 1977 movie and new mini series - both were well constructed and acted, and around the awful backdrop of child molestation and the Catholic Church. Harrowing at times, and surely shows how nothing much has changed over the year, except we're onto the carry on now. Shame on them!

Homeland S4 - it took me a while to get into this and I thought it had well and truly jumped the shark, but the action get moving about 2/3 the way through and is edge of your seat stuff with fine acting from all as usual. The ending lacked severely, and whilst I think it is nowhere near the heady heights of the first 2 seasons I guess I will watch S5 at some point!

Big Bang S8 - a guilty pleasure, I love the nerdy stuff, critics say the laughs are at the boys not with them, I'm not sure and that it is misogynistic, this is possibly true, but you know it is a good escape so I try not to overthink it too much.

Kitchen Cabinet with Annabel Crabb
I only caught some of these when they were on TV so watched Seasons 1-4 and just loved them. Annabel is so refreshingly and kind and feisty and intelligent with a wardrobe to kill for and a dessert playlist that defies imagination.

I want to be her when I grow up.

Every single episode is interesting and compelling, even the spine chilling ones like Abbott, Pyne, and Palmer. 

Grand Designs with Kevin McCloud
I do love this series and it’s saucy host, there is something about Kevin! Up to S12 and fascinating as always, especially the house built on the water and the round house, I do love curves in architecture.

What I've been reading

Barracuda - by Christos Tsiolkas, this was our bookclub choice to end the year, and what a ripper read it was. About a young Olympic hopeful, whose life is made at the pool every day, yet he just does not fit into his surrounds, school, etc. Set in two timelines, before the Olympics and after, and you know something terrible has happened somewhere in there and the timelines will collide at some point and all will be revealed. It's a great plot device and works well, builds the tension, helps turns the pages. There are many layers to the book, relationships, teen behaviour, Australians, racism, family, love, violence, expectations and more. Probably Christos' most accessible book to date and maybe, just maybe, there is a little but of Thorpie in the lead character...but yo'd need to read it to agree.

The Dressmaker - by Rosalie Ham. Having seen the movie I wanted to read the book. it is a great book, but extremely flawed, by god they had a superb screenwriter to pull out the script they did. It is mostly the same as the book but far more coherent and with less characters and more deeply drawn ones at that. Some of the timelines are played with slightly and that is also for the better. But the essence of the movie is on the page, totally worth a read.

There Goes Gravity - by Lisa Robinson. Lisa is the music editor for Vanity Fair, so I have been reading her bits for years. She started young writing in the late 60s for music mags. SHe toured with Led Zeppelin and then The Rolling Stones and is on a first name basis with many many rock stars. She introduced Lou Reed to David Bowie, in fact knew Lou and Laurie very well. The spent a lot of time with The Clash and that crowd, and also assisted people like Annie Leibovitz on her famous music shoots for VF. It is a memoir of sorts and an interesting one, certainly a huge name dropper but it is very much all over the shop and snippets of this leading to snippets of that. Easy to dip in out of but not so easy to read cover to cover. Enjoyable all the same.

Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink - by Elvis Costello. This by far was the highlight of my intake this month. I listened to it on Audiobook in the car, lent generously to me by my very good friend V. Elvis reading his own words, I cannot begin to tell you how delectable this is. His voice which ranges from low to high, gravely, to amusing, and just plain old sexy was a revelation to listen to.  His words even better, listen to his lyrics and you know the man can write, the book itself is prose of the highest order, very poetic and always lyrical, with a glint of humour and a hint of rhythm. And so much heart and soul I was bursting with every emotion you can think of the entire time I listened to it, but mostly I was smiling.

This is a book of details, the angry young man who says nothing persona has been swiped clear over the years and the stories of those times (and more) coming spilling out. But not in a linear way, he delivers those stories the way a comedian delivers a good stand up show. He starts at one point and goes off in logical tangents until he weaves his way back...sometimes chapters later. And it works so beautifully. He also places little bits of history, music and regular, throughout the book to provide a backdrop to the stories he is telling.

The stories about his father are by far the best, he was a jazz and swing musician, in the 50s when Big Bands were king and a star in his own right. these are intertwined throughout the book, and they feed into his own personal stories beautifully. The parts where his father is dying as the most moving I've read (listened to) and had me in tears.

Then there is his musical knowledge, I knew he was up on all sorts of music from all eras, but what he knows and holds in his heart and head is nothing short of amazing. I was constantly geeking out on the very intricate musical details. This is what all good music memoirs must contain, so many don't.

He doesn't spend a huge amount of time on the loves of his lives, but he writes so beautifully about them with detail albeit swiftly, you cannot help but wish you were one of them, even those that didn't come off as well as his current wife, Diana Krall (who I adored long before he hooked up with her, now I just wish I was her, not least for her unique jazz delivery, but for being the one who soothed this savage beast!).

And then there are the musicians he worked with, he is a name dropper in the humblest of ways.  Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Joe Strummer, Van Morrison, and Johnny Cash feature the most on and off in the book. I adore each and every one of them, and the stories are remarkable and quite often laugh out loud funny, especially those with Van and Bob.

Elvis also takes up through in some detail a lot of his hits or favourite songs, how they came to be, how he wrote them, and what they meant to him. Complete and utter genius. Even if you are not a fan - I am and even more so now - and you just love music, this book is so worth listening to or reading, you will not be disappointed. I am fairly certain it will be my book of the year!

What I've been Listening to

Grace by Jeff Buckley  - one of my favourite albums, I just pulled it out as sometimes you need Grace! It's perfection, every single song, and haunting. I wrote about Last Goodbye in my new series about Perfect Songs on my blog.

The Waifs new album - love, love, love, how can you not!!!

Roy Orbison - Elvis Costello wrote about appearing in this magical and special concert, so I pulled out my old DVD copy of it and watched it over and over, because it is brilliant. From there I wrote about Crying and why it hit the top three songs of all time for me!

George Harrison - been spinning the vinyl of the best of Georgie, and writing about What is Life.

Elvis Costello - also been listening to a lot of Elvis, funnily enough...

Sunday, December 6, 2015


I love Christmas and I love Music, but Christmas Music can be a bit insipid.

My lovely friend and fellow music lover, Athena, has been posting her favourite Christmas song everyday on facebook and asking people what they like. It's been fabulous.
This got me thinking, I've made a few Christmas compilations over the years and collect obscure Christmas albums.
I grew up with Bing Crosby and the classic Christmas tunes and in my mind, nothing really comes close to those classics. I do love jazz and swing versions of Christmas Songs, so anything the Ratpack, Crosby, Diana Krall, Harry Connick Jnr, and Tony Bennett sing will always draw me in. 

One of my favourite albums is called Christmas Cocktails, from the Ultra Swing Lounge compilations - it's so cool you can hear the ice clinking in the cocktails! Then there are swooners like Elvis and Chris Isaak, their voice smooth and sexy singing classic songs. 

My favourite Christmas albums are James Brown Funked Up Christmas followed Christmas the heart by Bob Dylan - mostly as they are such a ridiculous concept with a mix of actually good and godsmackingly bad tunes you can't help but smile!
Here are my top ten songs, or at least the ones I will never tire of hearing. (note. If I wrote this last week or next week the top 10 would mostly likely change, I am not great naming favourites)
1. Happy Christmas (war is over) - John Lennon and Yoko Ono

2. White Christmas - Bing Crosby

3. Santa Baby - Eartha Kitt

4. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley

5. Merry Christmas Baby - Bruce Springsteen

6. Winter Wonderland - Tony Bennett

7. Christmas (Baby please come home) - Darlene Love

8. It's beginning to look like Christmas - Harry Connick Jnr

9. Have yourself a merry little Christmas - Judy Garland

10. Do they know it's Christmas - Band Aid

Honorable mentions to :

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer - Ringo Starr
Jingle Bells - Diana Krall
Sleigh Ride - She and Him
Santa's beard - Beach Boys
O Holy Night - Ella Fitzgerald
I'll be home for Christmas - Sarah McLachlan
2000 Miles - The Pretenders
Fairytale of New York - The Pogue
Christmas card from a hooker in Minneapolis - Tom Waits
I want a hippopotamus for Christmas - Anya Marina
Little Drummer Boy - David Bowie and Bing Crosby
Sock it to me Santa - Bob Seger
The Nutcracker (Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy) Tchaikovsky
Feliz Navidad - by anyone

I also really love the song All I want for Christmas is you - but I loathe Pariah Carey, so I have a conundrum there!

But really, it's all about the spirit of Christmas, and to be honest, if you're in the spirit, almost any song will do!

Have I left out your favourite or included one you don't like. Come on, don't by shy, tell me about your Christmas faves!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Perfect Songs: Crying - Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison's Crying is my third favourite song of all time and the third song in my Perfect Songs series.
I only have a top three when it comes to songs, after that just favourites...plenty of them and they vary. Maybe one day I'll work towards a top 5, 10 or 20...or maybe not.
So Crying...
I've always loved this song, but in 1987 Roy re-recorded it as a duet with k.d lang, and it won a Grammy, and the same duet charted again in 1992. I love the harmonies of that duet and by that age, 21, I was well versed in the sentiment of unrequited love (quite frankly a recurring theme in my life!) and the song just got me, or rather I just got the song!

You know that thing when you've known a song pretty much all your life and then suddenly you get it!?! It takes it up to a whole other level. That's Crying for me.
Roy's voice is perfection in it, well, let's face it Roy's voice IS perfection, those high angelic notes and deeper alto lines, his range is terrific, but when he hits those high notes, you get chills, the hair raises on the back of you neck, and it brings a tear to your eye...always! And he makes it all look effortless too. The thing about Roy's voice is the melancholy and longing in it, coupled with the fact his life wasn't exactly sunshine and roses, and that adds an additional element to the sound.
And on top of that, he is so freaking cool, all black, the dark sun glasses, the stillness of his guitar playing, his strong barely moving stance with just a hint of rhythm within his body or moreso his wrist, and that stoic face. He'd give Johnny Cash a run for his money with his I don't give a shit attitude...until he opens his mouth...I love the juxtaposition of it all.
The song itself is a simple melancholy melody, almost with a country twang...almost. It pauses and stops and starts with the emotion, and the harmonies roar and shine and build bringing in Roy's falsetto beautifully, at that point where he lifts it at You don't love me...the pain in that line kills me every time.
The words perfectly describe that moment when you see a lost love that you haven't quite forgotten. Whether it be lost or unrequited love, and that sinking feeling that overcomes you, be it a look, a touch of your hand, and that devastation you feel. A feeling you thought was gone and buried, but it rises to the surface so swiftly it takes your breath away and wounds you simultaneously. We've all been there, and I think that's what strikes the chord, a simple yet universal story backed by a simple yet solid melody.
I was all right for a while
I could smile for a while
but I saw you last night
Three simple lines...but so much meaning and depth
I thought that I was over you
but it's true so true
I love you even more
than I did before 
Oh boy, that sinking feeling, that depth of misery, that hopeful feeling that deep down you know is unfounded.
Crying simply is for anyone who has shed tears over a loved one, or appreciates a singer with complete control over his instrument.
Here's the original version followed by the duet with k.d. lang. Her harmonies take an already perfect song to a whole other level.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Perfect Songs: What is Life - George Harrison

The next perfect song is George Harrison's What is Life. 

Taken from the brilliant, All Things Must Pass, this is an upbeat, sixties soul style song. Co-produced by George and Phil Spector, it is one of the Wall of Sound songs.

Essentially a simple song, repetitive and uplifting, it's one of those songs you can't turn away from that makes you want to groove.

It begins with a great guitar riff, with a funkier guitar (played Eric Clapton), brass, and percussion overlay coming in. Funnily enough it is like the perfect pop The Beatles used to turn out, but maybe with a little more sophistication. 

The introduction screeches to a halt to let George sing. And he sounds lovely and clear, earnest and sweet. The verse builds until the joyous chorus and repeats until the end. A simply built song, that George said did not take long to write.

What I feel, I can't say
But my love is there for you any time of day
But if it's not love that you need
Then I'll try my best to make everything succeed.

Tell me, what is my life without your love?
And tell me, who am I without you, by my side?

And what's it really about? Proclaiming love - for a woman or for life itself, that is the question? A lot of people have spent many a long article working through this universal theme of love and life, turning it into something grand and philosophical. And that's great, I think it can be all of those things.

But mostly I think it's quite simply about love and how that makes life shine. That moment when you are surrendered to someone, the way they love you and the fact they are your life, in the best possible way. It's that universal feeling we all are searching for, some of us even lucky to have found. Pure and utter joy, sunshine and happiness, the feeling of perfection.

So this perfect song has that great beat, sheer joy, simple meaning and lyrics, and it goes straight to my heart...this song is one I really want to sing one day because I am experiencing that very feeling!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Well to say I was uber busy during October would be an understatement!!

I had everything going on and I think it's a tribute to how well I am doing with my mental health that I can sit here calmly and write all about it all.

Firstly work was crazy busy, I had a lot of Social Media one on one lessons scheduled as a follow up to last month's overview. And we embarked on Rocktober, a month of music in the library. It was a lot of work and mostly things were successful. Unfortunately the Open Mic Nights we wanted to run were a failure. The people who had promised to assist just didn't deliver and as much as we tried without their help the nights just didn't work. This was extremely upsetting and annoying, but not everything in life goes according to plan and not everyone in life is trustworthy. This was to become a theme of my month! However we did schedule a lot of School Musical Showcases and they were extremely successful with fun performances within the library that were very well attended. And at the last minute I came across a worthy collaborator for future musical endeavours, so not down and out, we shall try something different in the new year. This was on top of regular work, meetings, starting to organise two separate staffing recruits and the awful news that it looks likely we will amalgamate with Newcastle Council resulting in about 130 lost jobs.

In the middle of all of this I decided that my dwindling field of possibilities romantically needed to be broadened! Well actually that decision was made last month, it was this month that saw things get moving. I guess I don't talk much about all of this, there are some things you gotta keep to yourself. I do date but yet to meet, you know, the one. Or at least the one who feels mutually about that, lol! But in between these dates can be what I call dry periods. Anyway, I love my life and for the most part don't actually get too down about being single, it would just be nice to share those special moments with someone that is all. At my age there is no hurry, no ticking clock, and I know what I want, so it's kind of refreshing really. Having said that I do have moments of despair and longing...cause you know, I'm human! 

So the broadening of my net so to speak unleashed, well, a range of situations that I initially struggled to navigate. Far out, it's a nightmare out there, I thought I knew that, but I had no idea really. It's a wonder the world continues to populate itself with so many idiots out there I can tell you. I have had some very awful experiences this month, one in particular that still has me scratching my head, but I do think I dodged a bullet by getting out of that fairly early, but not without great upset. You would think by the time we get to my age, we'd be grown up and done with games but apparently not. Anyway, I have had good experiences that more than made up for the bad, and the amusement of observing some of the dreadful behaviour is sadly entertaining and given me MUCH material to write about, lol! No, I haven't found the one yet, but it's been interesting and kind of fun. And as I write I feel less anxious than I did at the beginning of the month. Huge shout out to my lovely close circle of friends who look after my wellbeing and love me, in particular C and J, who are my constants and sounding boards.

And if all of that was not enough, boy I got some socialising in!!!

The month started in Sydney for a Music Librarians Conference I was thrilled to take part in. I felt like a rockstar Librarian as I entered the APRA HQ where the conference was held. I mingled with proper Music Librarians, and other interesting related people like The Brandenburg Orchestra, ABC etc. Afterwards I finally checked out the Gehry at the UTS which I absolutely loved of course.

The October long weekend is the This Is Not Art (TINA) and National Young Writers Festival and we had a long day listening to loads of interesting people talk about a range of subject matter. We also checked out the premiere of a local filmmaker's movie, filmed in Newcastle and Transylvania at The Towers. 

There was a crazy night in Newcastle where A, L, & I double booked ourselves (purposely) to see Magda Szubanski and Barry Morgan on the same night. Squeezing in Bookclub and a meal prior we were on fire!

Magda was here to be interviewed by the wonderful Rosemarie Milsom about her memoir. It was an hour of sheer delight, we got to see Magda and what a beautiful soul she is. She spoke mostly about her upbringing, her father who was a sniper during the war, and her struggles with her weight and sexuality. She was intelligent, well spoken, and just a fascinating person. Yes she dipped into her comedy and told a few fab stories, but it was the other that had me - and I suspect the entire audience - in the palm of her hands. I could have listened to her all night. I've always thought of her as a national treasure, but now more so.

As soon as that finished we hightailed it to the Carrington Bowlo for Barry Morgan. We'd only missed a small amount of his show which was hilarious and camp, as you would expect. If you don't know who Barry is, google him, he's another national treasure. I've loved his shtick since I first saw him on Spicks and Specks years ago. He entertained the very full audience, with songs, tales, double entendres, and divine organ playing. Gosh we loved Barry's organ. It was one of those nights of laughing until your cheeks hurt.

I also saw two plays this month, one an amateur production of a hospital farce at St Matthews Hall at Georgetown with H, featuring some of her family and with superb catering by the talented J. The other at The Playhouse with A, after a lovely meal at The Clarendon, called Between Two Waves, about a climate scientist whose life is falling apart around him. Clever staging encompassing relationships, climate change, politics, and mental health. I enjoyed both plays.

L and I were also privileged to be part of a small group of people who were lucky enough to see The Doubleclicks, a cool duo from Portland, who sing geeky songs about Dinosaurs, Cats, being an introvert, and sci-fi amongst other very cool things. Huge thanks to S for pulling this together. Definitely a fan now!

I also managed to head to a small Tweet Up at The Lass, attend an ALIA meeting at The Press Book House Cafe, check out Newcastle Gallery, do a lot of second hand book and clothes shopping, celebrate my nephew's 13th birthday at Foghorn, and catch up with D at Qs.

And as always some random photos: