Saturday, September 10, 2016


August was rough, I don’t mind saying. Work threw me some curveballs and I was mega busy juggling a lot more than I usually would. And I had a few personal things to deal with. Between the two I was almost down for the count. But I am a strong woman and I have even stronger friends, who I really don’t know how I would exist without! I just focused one day at a time and managed to keep the black dog away, in my sights for sure, but not quite taking me down. I was – as I say – on the run, for much of the month. Just trying to keep busy and not be left alone too much within my head. Of course you cannot keep running forever, so I did have moments of down time but I didn’t get too upset so that is good I guess.
Life is complex my friends. I wish I had the answers. I wish I could help all the people that so terribly need help – much more than I ever will. But all I can do is be there for others, be kind and considerate, and most importantly, look after myself. That’s all any of us can do.
Work has kept me busy managing two exciting projects on top of my regular work. I am looking after the Share The Story with Carol Duncan programs, and have high profile authors, Anita Heiss and WIlliam McInnes scheduled for the rest of the year and working on 2017. And I am working on a furniture refit for the entire library system with 2 of my lovely colleagues. This is a huge undertaking and will keep us busy for some time, but it is very exciting and loads of fun. We are also rearranging shelving and areas within Swansea Library, so that is a time consuming and physical activity, but should look amazing when finished. I also have a trainee to manage which is time consuming. Our Movie Night was Double Indemnity, always fab to see. And August is Book Week, always a huge month, and it has been a pleasure seeing my team really do brilliant things for the kids of our community.
I saw a few movies this month. Ab Fab the movie, which was loads of fun, especially experiencing it in Gold Class with my gals! I walked to Boolaroo and back – something I’ve wanted to do forever – to see Maggie’s Plan, which I loved! The walk is about 1.25 hours each way and it was a lovely warm day, and of course I get to sit in a cool cinema in the middle of it all! I also saw the fabulous documentary Hitchcock Truffant, based on their talk and the seminal book on Hitchcock and indeed movie making. And the French Friday film was Valley of Love with the incomparable Gerard Depardieu and Isabelle Huppert.

My Bestie C had her brother A out from Cyprus, so we did a lot of things out and about. A lovely lunch on a warm day at Merewether Surf House, always perfection, followed by dessert at Coco Mondo on Darby. I went to a family BBQ and we had a great vinyl evening. Also a sublime day at the vineyards with lunch at Wollombi pub.


We celebrated L’s birthday at Saigon Feast and A’s birthday at Mexican Cantina.

There was much excitement re-reading Salinger for Bookclub, you can read about that here. And as always I had much to review – you can read about that here!

I did my market thing as always and L and I headed to Lake Macquarie Art Gallery one sunny Sunday to see a Tantrum Theatre show/exhibit.

Had my regular breast check-up and all was a-ok thankfully.

And we were lucky enough to see the brilliant Nigel Milsom in conversation with the delightful Myf Warhurst at The Lock-Up, and of course the pleasure of viewing his amazing work within that exhibition.

So you know life isn’t that bad, especially when you have fabulous family and friends to help you navigate through.

And as always a few pics I took, no filters, all real, no fake when it comes to me!!!!

Friday, September 9, 2016


What I’ve Been Watching

Raised by Wolves  S1
This is my top pick of the month! Written by the divine Caitlin Moran and her sister about their childhood and growing up in a home schooled environment with the most unusual mother, Della. It is set in the now, is absolutely hilarious, and chock block of snappy one liners. Caitlin’s character is Germaine, wild and without filter, much to the annoyance of her older sister Aretha. There is also the shy Yoko, the tween and only male Wyatt, the sassy toddler (this chick has me, oh my) Mariah, and the babby, Cher. You get the picture. Rounding out the cast is Grampy, who is sooo wrong on so many levels, but in the most endearing way. This is the kind of show that has you laughing out loud throughout and that’s a rarity!

The Kettering Incident
This is my next top pick, an Aussie drama that is hard to peg or describe.  A young woman, Anna, returns to her small Tasmanian home-town of Kettering from London where she is a successful doctor. But she is having black outs and is unsure why medically, although she suspects they are connected to an incident that happened when she was much younger. An incident where her step sister disappeared. When another young girl disappears, Anna now becomes the suspect. What happened to these two girls, did Anna murder them both, what are the flashing lights and unexplained phenomena that happens, did UFOs take the girls, or is it something completely different. This 8 part series has you changing your mind constantly in a town full of people who are not what they seem. Brilliant Australian cast, stunning cinematography in Tasmania, and a great script that leaves you guessing until the very last minute.

Broad City S2
I love these girls, trying to avoid work and have as much fun as they can. Besties forever, with a great supporting cast. Laughs all round and great physical comedy.

Him and Her S3
Him and Her are Steve and Becky, who live together in a small UK bedsit with a variety of visitors. This season focuses on Steve trying, very unsuccessfully to propose to Becky. This is English dry comedy at it’s very best.

Silicon Valley S2
S2 commences with Pied Piper – the start up company of the group – in demand with many firms offering them money. This takes them to dizzy heights with much sabotage along the way as the boys are not content to just roll with the victories.

The small mini series from the Christos Tsiolkas book about a young male swimmer who has the Olympics in his sights, until things go very wrong. The series pretty much followed the book, although it did tone down some of the more challenging subject matter.

The Night Of
I loved this drama from the get go. Basically a murder procedural, which is normally not my thing. The first episode follows a young Muslim man through a night in the city. He picks up a young woman and goes back to her apartment, and when he wakes in the morning find her stabbed multiple times and dead. There is more to it than that, it is very detailed and through a series of absurd turns finds himself arrested immediately. AS a viewer you are sure he is innocent, but all evidence points his way and nowhere else. The remainder of the series takes you on twist and turns for a resolution you will never expect. Starring the wonderful John Turturro as his goofy but clever lawyer. Turturro is outstanding,  but the rest of the cast of relatively unknowns are also great. This is must see tv!

The Intern
I admit I am way over De Niro and his attempts at comedy, I cannot remember the last film I saw him in anything that impressed me. So I had low expectations for this. It wasn’t great but it was better than I thought it would be. Anne Hathaway manages a start up biz that has taken off online and is not coping. The biz takes on interns but uses seniors instead. De Niro obviously uses his age to assist Hathaway in some life decisions.

I love Rocky, it is one of my all time fave films. And I didn’t mind the sequels either, although they were not a patch on the original. Donnie is the son of Apollo Creed, spending his younger years in jail, he decides to take up boxing and asks Rocky Balboa to train him. This is a lovely bookend to the series, though you can see they left it open for more.

Loads of fun about a young boy who moves in next door to mysterious house with an odd man and his daughter living there. The odd man, Jack Black, is RL Stine, author of the Goosebumps series. When the young boy and his friend sneak into the house they find the entire series of books locked up, when they accidentally unlock one of the books, they set off a train of unbelievable events as characters from the books are unleashed. This was loads of fun!

Big Stone Gap
A pale imitation of the successful southern novels by Adriana Trigiani. The trilogy was a mix of humour, melancholy, drama, and family saga. BY condensing all three books into one movie distilled the charm of the books and made them seem dour. A shame!

Straight Outta Compton
Loved this excellent music biopic about N.W.A. It is my movie pic of the month. With a cracking story and even better soundtrack, it tell the story of their rise to fame with great performances. Paul Giamatti (can he be in every film?) is also excellent as their manager.

5 Flights Up
I still don’t know about this film, It is always lovely to see Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton on screen but I felt this was walk through kinda film for them and surely they don’t need the money. They play an older couple who decide to sell their Manhattan apartment for something easier for them to grow older in, yet neither really seem sold on the idea. Predictable and yawn worthy!   

Poet in New York
A sweet little independent film about Dylan Thomas and his visits to New York. Quite intriguing with a fine performance by the male lead and by Essie Davis as his long suffering wife.

Rowan Atkinson plays the famous French detective, Maigret, in this first movie length feature. Young women are being murdered and Maigret is called upon to find out what is going on. Very lovely and sweet.

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict
I loved this sooo much. I am a huge fan of Peggy and her fabulous life, and it is one of my regrets I did not get to see her art collection whilst in Venice, but I will be back. It traces the story of her remarkable life, who she befriended and her wonderful collection of modern art. This is a great doco, a must see for art lovers or lovers of history.

Agnetha Doco
This was a sweet doco about the blonde gal from Abba, her rise to fame and what happened thereafter. She still looks amazing today and her voice still stunning.

Paul McCartney/Beatles Docos
Foxtel had a Beatles month with a myriad of Beatles, Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr docos. My favourite was a black and white doco of McCartney in NY not long after 9/11 and getting together his concert for NY. He was on a grounded plane that day, and could see it all unfolding outside his plane window and it upset him deeply. He wanted to help and did what he knew best, wrote some new music, and gathered some friends to play a concert. The film follows him in the weeks leading to the concert, chatting to fellow musicians, and doing a media blitz. It shows him in quite a vulnerable state. He is an old hand, but the media circus obviously gets up his nose. He likes to wander the streets and chat to people, and mostly people are respectful, but you can see how things get out of hand and he handles them well but with gravity if needed. One particular interview got to me, asked if The Beatles would ever reform (probably for the one zillionth time in his life), he simply said to the interviewer in a jovial but actually utterly heartbreaking way: ‘No, I would look to me side and he wouldn’t be there, you know.’ oh boy, talk about bring tears to your eyes.

Joni Mitchell Doco
This was a lovely doco about the life and music of Ms Mitchell. A sheer delight and class act!

Queen Docos 
Another Fox special, a whole afternoon of Queen and Freddie docos, concerts, and clips. Heavenly!!!!!

What I’ve Been Reading

In My Skin – Kate Holden
I never really get into books that are hyped up or oversold (yeah yeah I am a book snob!) and this was one I had avoided for those reasons. But I saw Kate on a panel at the Newcastle Writers Festival and was sold, so I gave it a go and really loved it. It is of course not for the faint hearted, what a horrid life she was living, but what a great recall of it and beautifully real in it’s execution.

The Romantics – Kate Holden
This is Kate’s follow up, where she disappears to Italy to reinvent herself after In My Skin. Not as salacious at the former, and showing a lack of restraint you would have thought from her previous escapades. It was still a great read, but not a patch on the earlier.

Buddhism for busy people : finding happiness in an uncertain world by David Michie
This was a lovely spoken word I listened to, with many great ideas and thoughts in terms of living a peaceful and more zen life.

The Early Stories of Truman Capote
Some early short stories by the great man, lacking his sharp wit which was obviously developed over time, they are still worthy of a read.

Men We Reaped – Jesmyn Ward
This award winning history/biography about post Katrina and how people were treated. Specifically men, men of colour, and a handful of men close to the author. Eye-opening, corruption, hatred, racism, and pure sadness. This is worth reading as a social history.

Searching for Schindler
This is another spoken word and my pick for the month (after Salinger). What a remarkable story! It tells how Thomas Keneally came across, by accident, the story of Schindler looking for a new brief case in a handbag store in California. It follows the journey of him meeting key characters, getting the story written, and sold almost immediately to film but taking many many years to become a film. Keneally weaves a wonderful yarn about how a story is told and the creative process behind it. I was in heaven!

Rare Books Uncovered – Rebecca Barry
Short essay type true stories about various rare books and how they were found. Sometimes in second-hand book stores, sometimes in old attics, sometimes in the most unusual of places. This was a fascinating read.

All the Buildings in Sydney: that I’ve drawn so far – James Hancock
This is a lovely book with crude but detailed hand drawn pics of Sydney buildings!

All Salinger, all the month – you can read here about my musings on Salinger and his published works.

My Salinger Year – Joanna Rakoff
This was an absolute delight to read. Less about Salinger and more about publishing in the late 90s and just fascinating. Rakoff, a wannabe writer, lands in New York to work at a small publishing firm. The year is 1996 and the world is moving fast electronically, but not this firm. As she commences work she realises the firm looks after one reclusive J.D.Salinger. What this mostly means is they receive many many fan letters for the great author, and it is Rakoff’s job to read them and send a form letter in return. The memoir is more than Salinger, it is surviving in New York, the dawn of the electronic age, change in the publishing industry and more.

What I’ve Been Listening To

Stranger to Stranger – Paul Simon – new album, and not bad at all

Detour – Cyndi Lauper – this is Cyndi does Country and blues and boy does it suit her. She sounds amazing. This was a great album, completely unexpected

Passenger Concert – Hammersmith 2014 – fabulous live concert featuring everything you want to hear and more.

Salinger: re-reading your teen fave or can you go back in time?

I first read Catcher In The Rye was I was 14 or 15, I cannot remember exactly, but I do remember I loved it and read it over and over again. And then never read it again until recently!
I decided after a conversation with a friend to schedule for the bookclub I am in. See if it still sung to me after all these years, ahem, 30 years in fact.
So why did I love it back then, a small novel about an obnoxious teen written in the early 50s. Well firstly, Holden at times comes across obnoxious but he is anything but. I loved his character and felt he was kindred to me even though I didn’t really know what a kindred soul was back then. I could see he was smart, but thought differently to others, had trouble communicating with his peers and didn’t really fit in although he tried his hardest to do so. This was me back then. No matter how well I did in school, there was no pleasing my parents. I felt like the world calibrated differently and no one really got me. I was miserable but tried to keep up appearances, so as not to upset anyone and mostly to try and fit in. Which I know I did a crappy job of. And despite these appearances he was quite a straight kinda guy underneath. It was like parts of Holden were me. How bizarre!?!
Who was this JD Salinger and how did he know people like he did!?
Of course all these years later discussing this very book in a bookclub full of wonderful friends, I find out they all felt quite similarly. If only I could go back in time and tell 15 year old me not to fear I would find kindred spirits that would get me some day. And here we were, drawn from all over town,  but friends nonetheless and similar creatures.
The other thing I loved about Catcher In The Rye was his meandering around New York City. I loved the idea of him on a train, walking the streets observing people and lamenting his life going back over stuff. How was I to know at the time I would go to NYC and walk the streets and take things in, and love long train journeys anywhere. It all seemed so romanticised and wonderful, exploring a large city by yourself. It is my most favourite thing to do now.
And yes, re-reading a favourite like Catcher In The Rye is an absolute must, You fall in love with the book, Holden and everything about it all over again but in a different, deeper way and it was magnificent.
And timeless.
And this is the beauty of Salinger, he just knew how to turn a phrase, describe a moment, or flesh out a character. He was sparse, succinct, and just knew people!
So I decided to re-read everything by the great man, an author I have loved and called a fave for many decades.
I had read the rest of his catalogue in my early 20s, all short stories, and loved the eccentricity of The Glass Family and they won out over Holden. For years I hailed them my favourite Salinger.
Until the re-read.
I still loved all the short stories on the re-read, and there was a lovely booklet of three new ones released since his death. But I realised it was indeed Catcher In The Rye I loved the best. It took me back to a time when I was someone altogether different and yet I still related to it, even more so, now. It’s sharp turn of phrase, which I thought would seem dated, seemed ever as sharp.
How did Salinger do it?
I guess we’ll never know. He was refined, he only published the gold, and every single word in print by him in this world is gold. That’s remarkable. Timeless gold.
They say you can never go back again, and I guess they – whoever they are – are correct, but for a brief little moment I did and that was pretty special.