What I've Been Watching
The Walking Dead S5.2 - This show just gets better. Loved this season, although it was unrelenting. Just when you think they have taken you as far as you can go, they turn it up a notch. Awesome writing, great characterisation, and superb acting! The new community they were taken too gave me the heebie jeebies, and it appears I may have been right to think that way. Just have to wait for S6 now.
Orphan Black S3 - Boy I love this show, high drama, fantasy, and humour with a great cast, specifically Tatiana Maslany as all the clones. Man she might be cooler than Buffy. If you loved Buffy, you will love this. Go check it out...now!!
Nashville 2.2 - Sure it's soap operay, but I love that. The music is great and we were left with multiple cliff hangers. Bring on S3.
American Horror Story Coven - this is probably the weakest season so far in terms of edge and horror, but it has been my favourite. A stunning all female cast, witches, and Stevie Nicks! What more could you want!? As always Jessica Lange was superb, and Lily Rabe Luminous (she should be in everything, I adore her). Add in Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, and Frances Conroy and you have an acting masterclass. Unfortunately the odd appearance of Stevie Nicks didn't work, she looked and sounded like a deer in the headlights, but it was still sort of cool.
Silicon Valley S1 - Comedy about a group of dudes with their start up business, Pied Piper. Took a few episodes to get into, but once it found it's groove it was hilarious.
Ida - the winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film this year and you can see why. Filmed in harsh black and white, it tells the story of Ida, a young orphan training to be a nun. Prior to her finishing, her aunt is tracked down and together they find out the truth about their mother and sister and what exactly happened during the war. Bleak and dour, yet stunning and uplifting, this is a great film.
What I've Been Reading
Wendy Whiteley and the Secret Garden by Janet Hawley - this is a stunning coffee table book full of crisp and ethereal photos from the garden itself. Janet Hawley tells the story of both Brett and Wendy, their love, the art, the house at Lavendar Bay, and of course the history of this beautiful garden. Janet, being an art writer and friend of the Whiteley's, nails all the subject matter as you would expect...perfectly. It's a great introduction to the Whiteley world and the generosity of Wendy. I've just read the government has extended the 'lease' on the land to the public for another 30 years with an additional 30 years. Incredibly deserving, this means in Wendy's lifetime it will remain as she wished.
Thrive - Arianna Huffington - I'm still unsure whether Arianna is a goddess and brilliant, or just a bit too clever for her own good. Either way the Huffington Post has made it's mark on the world. This book is basically a self help book and to be honest there is nothing new in there. However her main ideas and tips are ones we can always revisit, live well, be kind, sleep, meditate, and money isn't everything. The last made me laugh...ok Arianna, you can give away some of it them, I'm not greedy, just a few thousand.
The history of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs - Greil Marcus - this was loads of fun, but hit and miss. Firstly there were not exactly 10 songs mentioned. Each of the ten chapters begins with a seminal, yet not popular song, and then Greil riffs (as he does so well) off that one song with it's influences within similar songs or artists. It is an eccentric but incredibly interesting twisty tale of the formation of rock and roll. Don't expect to see your favourites here, expect to expand your knowledge and bring back some oldies you might not have heard in a while.
Paris at the end of the world: the city of light during the great war, 1914-1918 - John Baxter - Baxter, an Australian, loves and knows Paris well. He has written a lot about this subject and I am working my way through this. As always he takes you on a walk into his own life via the topic at hand, this time World War I and Paris. He tells stories of people and buildings and places and brings them back to the here and now. Always entertaining and fascinating.
A century of wisdom: lessons from the life of Alice Herz-Sommer - Caroline Stoessinger This was a beautiful biography come self-help book about Alice Herz-Sommer. Alice - at the time - was the longest living Holocaust survivor. Her entire life story was extraordinary. Alice was 108 when the book was written and passed two years later. A classical pianist, she (and her son) survived the war by playing music. She knew Kafka and was friends with Golda Meir. But really this is about her love of life, her understanding of living to the fullest every day and being young at heart through the wrinkles of time. Never sad or maudlin, this is an upbeat tale about an extraordinary woman.
The Wife drought - Annabel Crabb - this was a serious yet fun look at feminism and relationships. Annabel knows her stuff - as you would expect - and writes coherently about the history of women in the Australian workplace and the juggling act they need to do as mothers and wives. This is not a man bashing book, quite the opposite, just general observations of how things are, how they have changed (but not that much) and how they could be improved. The statistics of women in higher roles in the workforce is mind blowing, so what can be done? There is no real answer, but a load of information to work through and give us hope to keep pushing on the glass ceiling until it explodes.
Charlie Chaplin AND Alfred Hitchcock - Peter Ackroyd - I read these two shorter biographies back to back. Both Chaplin and Hitchcock are two of my favourite directors and to be honest there isn't much I don't know and Ackroyd presents their histories in a matter of a fact way. The basics are all there, no gossip or silliness that can occur in Hollywood type bios. These would be great entries into their world if you were a newbie. I enjoyed the freshening of information lost in my very full mind!
What I've Been Listening To
Stevie Wonder - I picked up a cheap, but perfect second hand copy of Original Musicarium, Vol 1 at my local supplier and have been blasting it ever since. A double best of that just hits those perfect beats. This is Stevie at his best, my god, you can't listen to this and not groove away. Plus I always get a thrill about placing side three and side four on a turntable. But I'm a nerd like that!
David Bowie - best of and Pin Ups - of course since returning from Melbourne I have been getting my Bowie on. Picked up Pip-Ups with Stevie, also great condition. So been spinning that and playing the best of on CD. Every song a gem, every song a memory, ever song resonates.
Essential Van Morrison - picked this double CD up on a whim leaving JB. I love Van so very much. But not really listened to him in years. Every single song is perfection, his gruff yet tender voice spilling out so much emotion and love, yet never sappy or saccharine. Rock blends with jazz blends with melody blends with religion. Van just makes it work. This has been on high rotation in the car.
There There - Megan Washington - it's not been all retro at Club Cathy, I've been playing Washington's latest and loving it. A mix of pop and ballads, her voice at it's best in a long time. I loved this instantly and been playing it a lot since seeing her live earlier this month.