Saturday, May 14, 2016


April was fabulous, I got lots done, work was crazy busy, and I had fun.
I finally framed some of my art and hung them in my place!

Work was full of training, me working with our new trainee, all of us doing this marvellous strength training and various side projects relating to it. I did plenty of stock work, we had great school holiday programs, and all the usual stuff! We also headed out for a team dinner at Parry Street Garage, excellent meal! I am lucky to have such a great job, I really know it. I have moments of frustration, but that’s because I love what I do and want perfection and wonderful and to get that you need to trample through mud to get that. But you know, mostly my time at work, makes me smile and feel content and for that I am grateful.

I finally succumbed to the NBN, which after some initial annoyance is working wonderfully and as part of the deal got Foxtel installed. Trialling it for free for a few months, so loving having access to some things, especially Game of Thrones live! This was rather time consuming and annoying to get moving, but glad I kept pushing through as it is great, saving me money, and adding a little extra couch surfing to my life, lol!

I spent a late Saturday walking around the beaches in Newcastle and witnesses the most spectacular sunset at Nobbys. I really cherish living in an amazing town where I can do such things, be with my own thoughts, take some photos, daydream, and be me.

I got to meet National Treasure, Tom Keneally and his lovely daughter at the latest Share the Story with Carol Duncan at Belmont Library.

I saw the latest David Williamson play at The Civic with M and P, which was good but not great.

I spent time with the wonderful A and also the gorgeous J, I think you guys – separately – save me and make me a better person!
We celebrated my sister’s birthday with a family gathering and a great Italian meal at El Nonnos.
I looked after myself with a flushot, hair and beautician appointments, and purchasing some essential oils at a lovely afternoon workshop with my wonderful friends A and B.
And ended the month with my gals, A, J, and L, eating, drinking, chatting, and laughing at our French Night!

As always there was markets and sunsets and bookclub and my reviews on books, cds, dvds etc.


Monday, May 9, 2016


What I’ve Been Reading
Walking Free by Munjed Al Muderis and Patrick Weaver – Munjed fled Iraq in the midst of a war via a boat and then spent time in a WA detention before being able to walk free as an Australian citizen. Munjed tells the story of his upbringing and the tragedy of war and how he needed to escape. His story is tragic nad awful but ultimately uplifting. He is now a renowned surgeon helping amputees with state of the art prosthetics, my brother-in-law being one of his patients. This is not for the faint hearted, the things Munjed saw and suffered under Sadam Hussein and then his own extraordinary journey of escape, no one should have to experience. He is also the perfect example of why we should not persecute refugees, and what excellence he can bring to our country.
Good Mourning by Elizabeth Meyer – I enjoyed this memoir about Elizabeth Meyer and her time working at Crawford Funeral Home, one of the best in Manhattan. Elizabeth was in her 20s when her father died and found her socialite existence wasn’t quite where she wanted to be anymore. Fascinated by the funeral home she decided to ask for work there. This shocked her family and high flying friends. But Elizabeth was determined to make a go of it and found she was quite the natural when dealing with people at their very worst moments. The book tells many amusing, and sad tales of working in a funeral home, from the mundane to the physicality to the extraordinary. Well worth reading.
Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: my life by Sophia Loren – a lovely biography about Sofia’s rise to fame and becoming Sophia Loren the star. The men she met along the way, the movies she acted in, the stars she acted with.
Ransacking Paris: a year with Montaigne and Friends by Patti Miller – I saw Patti speak at the Newcastle Writers Festival and realised I had this book in my reading pile. It is about a year she spent in Paris writing a book about a friend who had passed. She moved to Montmarte with her husband and spent the year exploring the city, writing, and also reading her favourite French authors including Montaigne. I loved the little things Patti noticed about the area she lived in and the things she tried to do to fit in and learn the language better, eg joining a choir. Well worth reading this interesting memoir/travel book.
Gudinksi: the godfather of Australian Rock ‘n’ Roll by Stuart Coupe  - I admit I know a fair bit about Gudinksi and I am not a fan of him as a person, although he has bought great things to our country and discovered and helped many a great artist. This was nothing new or any great shakes, but a decent enough read.
Carole King: a natural woman, a memoir by Carole King – I love Carole and I guess reading this I realised I knew a lot more about her than I realised. I thought this would be a great enlightened book for me, but really I didn’t learnt anything much I didn’t know. Having said that is was well written,  ripping read and a great insight into the writing process, her amazing musical mind, and the great life she has lead. Highly recommend.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – this is the first volume in a trilogy of fantasy book, possibly aimed at teens. It begins with a young boy and his grandfather. Odd things have happened in this young boys life and he wonders whether they really did happen or it was make believe. His grandfather is ill and passes and the odd things begin to escalate. On his deathbed his grandfather told him some very strange stories and now the boy is determined to get to the bottom of it all. He makes the journey to his grandfather’s childhood stomping ground and begins to find some other very odd things and people. There is a lot of lead up to the reveal in this book, but hang in there if it feels a little slow, things start happening in the most wonderful ways. It reminds me of Harry Potter in some ways, and then nothing you’ve ever read in other ways. It is to be made into a film by Tim Burton, so I am eager to see what he does with this mystical and magical book. Yes, I have deliberately not written about what is found, that is up to you to discover!
The Natural way of things by Charlotte Wood – I struggled with this award winner, I found it clunky and try hard. I knew nothing about the story going in, bar it had something to do with misogyny. I think knowing a little may have helped me digest it better, but I am reticent to say a lot here. It begins with two women transported to some sort of ‘camp’ and they don’t know why and you as the reader do not either. There are other women there and they are not treated well. I went through many theories of what was happening as I read until things slowly revealed themselves. By that time I was a bit over the premise I must admit, and it seemed like the author deliberately wanted you to think of every situation, sometimes it felt like this, sometimes that. I found that distracting and too much. The subject matter is dark and disturbing. I can see what she is trying to do, but I didn’t care and the ending left me cold.
Tiny Beautiful things by Cheryl Strayed – This was a collection of Cheryl’s advice columns before she became well known. I like her tell it like it is style, and found the book interesting as it revealed much of her own life as it did giving advice.
The Autobiography of Eric Clapton as read by Bill Nighy – this was a great read, not long, but interesting and capturing the key points in Eric’s career and personal life. It was a little discombobulating being read by Nighy as his voice is so distinctive that sometimes you forgot it was about Clapton and not him. I do love talking books though, so it was lovely company back and forth to work for a week or so.
More Fool Me: a memoir – read by Stephen Fry – I fear my ‘love affair’ with Mr Fry is on the wan. This, his third, biography, featured some of the things I have loved most about Fry. Covering the 80s into the early 90s, it talks about Blackadder, Fry and Laurie, other TV shows and the movies her made over this time. It included the most amazing stable of friends and acquaintances from Ken and Em, to Hugh Laurie, The Royals and everyone in between. It was also the time of his huge cocaine habit. I enjoyed his stories, but found he came across too pompous at times, too much, too post. This got up my nose, I do think he was a bit of a twat during that time due to his coke habit and I possibly this was what he was trying to put forth, but that made him seem even more twatty. I didn’t hate this, it is a fascinating autobiography, just a bit much at times, possibly due to him reading it himself.
What I’ve Been Watching
Force Majeure  - is a Swedish film about a Swedish family on holidays in the French Alps. During a pleasant lunch an avalanche hits and rocks their world. How the family react to this almost but not quite tragedy will change their lives forever. This was a really interesting but possibly little bit too long film. The reactions to the avalanche take a while to hit the surface, though you see them festering, and once they do the comedy turns to drama. It is an interesting film, about human reaction.
Tangerines – this is a great little Estonian/Georgian/Russian film. Set in Georgia at the height of the Georgian/Estonian war in the early 90s, two elderly men remain in the village whereas everyone else has fled. Ivo is helping Margus harvest his large tangerine crop. A small conflict breaks out in their village and only two men survive, both wounded and both from each side. Ivo takes them in and assists them to recover and whilst initially tense and lovely bond between the group forms, despite all being on differing sides of the war. Tangerines is a simple but really touching film. It shows the futility of war and how tiring and upsetting it is for everyone, and that both sides are equally as confused and upset about it all.
Girlhood – a gritty but in parts cute comedy drama about teens in rougher parts of outer Paris. One girl is a bit of a loner, no friends, inward, and shy but meets a group of sassier girls and you watch her blossom, sometimes not for the better.
Danny Collins – oh what has happened to Pacino, he deserves better than this drivel. He plays a singer/songwriter down on his luck and estranged from his family and trying to make it all better. No no no no no! and let’s leave it there.
Big Eyes – I enjoyed this Tim Burton film based on a true story. Amy Adams is perfect as Margaret Keene, a painter and single mum, struggling to make it on her own. She meets Walter, played wonderfully by Christoph Waltz, who sweeps her off her feet and changes her life. When he decides it is better to sell her unusual paintings of people with extra large eyes by saying he painted them himself, this is the beginning of a complete relationship breakdown. Quite a fascinating story.
Holding The Man – oh what a beautiful Australian film this is. A great and compelling story, with exceptional acting. The true story of a beautiful relationship between two men who meet as young boys at school in the early 70s and the resistance and homophobia they fight along the way. A great supporting cast of Australian who’s who are included, but it is the two main performances from the young men that grab you and take your breath away. I cannot recommend this glorious film highly enough. Be warned, it is very sad, so make sure you have sufficient tissues.
Welcome to me – this was a very odd film, about a mentally disturbed woman, off her meds, who wins millions in the lottery. She decides she wants to have her own TV show, like Oprah, to bring attention to her life and her mental struggles and those that have done her wrong. This is a dark dark comedy, that is more jaw droppingly odd than funny, although there are laughs within. Kristen Wigg is great as the melancholy lead, but I found it a little too disturbing in parts.
David Hockney: a bigger picture – a fascinating documentary on Hockney and the style of painting/art he is taking on in his later life. Involving landscapes and photography we follow him around the English countryside, painting and taking photos and incorporating the two into the most magnificent and huge pieces of art. Remarkable insight into the mind of a great artist.
Salt of the Earth – A Wim Wenders documentary about Sebastiao Salgado, a photographer who has spent most of his life documenting hidden and third world communities. These are the people in the world suffering the most despair and his photos show that. Wenders and Sebastiao’s son follow the great man around filming him and gaining his insights on life, his art, and what he captures and learns. Stunningly shot, Salgado’s photos are astonishing, and the documentary is beautiful, shot in black and white with many still photographs and also glorious close-ups on Salgado’s old, weathered, and enlightened face. This is must see for every human!
Empire S1 – this is a bit of a soap opera story, set to the background of a music empire. Definitely not my type of music and most of the characters are abhorrent, yet it sucked me in. Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson are stand outs.
iZombie S1 – I loved this light zombie comedy very much in the vein of Buffy. Olivia is a great doctor with a perfect life who goes reluctantly to a party one night and gets turned into a zombie. Unsure what to do, she dumps her fiancee, gets a job in the morgue with the one person who knows she is a zombie and tries to pretend she is not a zombie. Her job leads her to the local police, and she assists them as a ‘psychic’, whereas the truth is, she eats the brains of the dead which allows her to take on their persona and help solve their murder. It’s kind of a crime a week show, but with great humour, zombies, and Olivia’s friends and families trying to work out what on earth is wrong with her.

Game of Thrones S5 – oh my, this show just gets better and better. I loved this season, dragons and zombies and deaths – it had it all. Brienne of Tarth is fast becoming my favourite character above Daenerys and Tyrion which is saying something. I don’t like to say too much as I am well aware many are not caught up and I hate spoilers, so shan’t to that to others. But the set design, huge cast and epic stories just get better with each season. If you are not watching Game of Thrones, you must get with the program!
Nurse Jackie S7 – this was the final season to a show I once loved but has been dragging it’s feet for some time. It was an ok tie up of event, but this great show deserved better and should have been

The Blacklist S2 – oh how I love this show, really it is all about Red, played with delicious insight by the wonderful James Spader. We get closer and closer to what Red is up to this season, and his young Protegee, Lizzie, falls more and more down his rabbit hole. It is difficult to describe this show. But it is totally worth watching, if only for Spader, He holds your attention whenever he is on screen, he just has that kind of presence.
Derek S2 and special – my love for Ricky Gervais is high and I know Derek is not for everyone. Gervais plays Derek a young man, who is a little simpler in his needs than others. Gervais walks a fine line with Derek but in my opinion he gets it just right. The show, and indeed the character, is more melancholy and even dramatic than comic, though there are moment of hilarity. I like how he places his own life insights and beliefs into this lovely character and subtly showcases what he really thinks of the world. And how can that be harmful? If you have been unsure about Derek, give it a go, it will win you heart as it has mine.
The Leftovers – based on Tom Perrotta’s book, this astonishing series has left me gobsmacked and wanting more. Set in a small town of Mapleton, New York, it follows the remaining town members three years after a tragic world event. The event similar to a ‘rapture’ had 2% of the world’s population disappear in a moment, never to be seen again. This is a significant amount of people with almost every family in the world effected. There is no knowledge of what happened or where they went. The series doesn’t really go into why but how those that are left behind survive and interact with each other. It is not pleasant, many cults form, and people work against each other. Terror is heightened and every one is on edge. Justin Theroux is the superb lead, The town’s chief police officer with way too much trauma on his plate. Looking after his wayward town, and rebellious teenage daughter, his Dad – the former chief police officer - is in a mental institution, his step-son nowhere to be found as he took to the road, and his wife has joined the main cult. He holds it all together with a great supporting cast including Christopher Eccleston as the local priest, Liv Tyler as a confused young woman who joins the cult, and many more. This show has gripped unlike a show has in a long time, it is dark, weird, funny, sad, addictive, thrilling, and absolutely fascinating. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
What I’ve Been Listening to

Here’s the thing podcasts by Alec Baldwin – been catching up on these including Amy Schumer, Jimmy Fallon, Mickey Rourke, and Molly Ringwald.

Supertramp –  I know they are a bit daggy, but I don’t care, I have been enjoying there best of in the car.

Songs to play by Robert Forster – easy listening, laid back pop as you would expect from Forster, really enjoyable.

Saskwatch – bought the new album and also been replaying the old one, cool groove, I’ve really got to see them live.

Sarah Blasko – love her new album, bought it earlier in the year and been sitting in my pile. Her voice is like little angels blowing angel dust into the air.

Prince –  of course, I have been listening to lots of Prince after his untimely death, makes you realise how great he was and what we are going to miss!