Saturday, December 31, 2016


What I've Been Reading

Art as Therapy by Alain de Bottom  - This was a lovely philosophical look at art, how one can use it in life, not just to look at and appreciate but to help us, make us feel better, or any type of emotion. It was beautifully put together and a lovely read.

The Odd Woman and The City - Vivian Gornick - this was a slim but an exceptional read by Gornick. It is little vignettes of her life living in New York. She tells her stories with the wisdom of age and the humour that only a seasoned New Yorker can.

Special Deluxe - Neil Young - this was a memoir of Young and his cars, which is very different. Neil has loved cars and had many, so this was an unusual walk down memory lane.

Give me the excess of it - Richard Gill - a great memoir about the quirky maestro of Australian Opera and Classical music. Funny and poignant, I loved this story.

The Paper House - Anna Spargo-Ryan - this is the debut novel from this Australian author. The female character delivers a still born child and her life is torn apart. She was in the middle of moving house when this happens and finds her new place a source of comfort and pain as she delves into the deepest of emotions. I found this mostly a sweet book to read, but at times I felt the emotive elements were a little forced and too much. But this is her first novel, so an author to watch out for possibly.

The Strays - Emily Bitto - This was a great piece of fiction about a woman looking back at her life. As a young girl she ended up living with her best friend and their extended family. The friend's parents were artists and lived in a commune with other artists. The story of their intertwined lives was tempestuous and fascinating.

Princess Diarist - Carrie Fisher - it's a little difficult to write about this given I read it while she was still alive. Like her previous memoir, it is bits and pieces which at times is in need of clarity and at times is sheer brilliance. This is her mind. A lot of the book is dedicated to her 'relationship' with Harrison Ford and yet really doesn't divulge as you would think. It is snippets of this and that and is simply honest and you would imagine.

Travelling Companion - Ian Rankin - this is a cute little mini mystery about a Scot travelling in Paris and residing at Shakespeare and Co. To say anymore would be to give away the plot, but when the Scot - a Robert Louis Stevenson fan - is sent on an errand by George (owner of Shakespeare and Co) he encounters a mysterious old man and things start to go awry.

Everywhere I look - Helen Garner - This is a remarkable collection of essays and diary entries by our country's finest author. I worship Helen and her precise and spare way of writing. She sees it all and writes about it in the most unique and outstanding way. This collection is full of beauty and wonder, her take on the world. Her diary entries and mixed and fascinating.  Her essays cover movies, ageing, Russell Crowe, Dawn Service, chance encounters, and memories from yester-years. This is one of the best books I have read this year.

The View From the Cheap Seats - Neil Gaiman - this is an huge tome, full on Neil's NF writing. From literature to libraries, gender, writing, his favourite writers, Science Fiction, film, comedy, music, and fairy tales. These are specially written for other publications, or speeches, or stories from his spoken word shows. A lot will be familiar but a lot are not. He has such a brilliant mind, you just grin and feel good inside reading these pieces. Again, one of the best books I have read this year.

The Dark Net: inside the digital underworld  - Jamie Bartlett - this was a fascinating spoken word book about the underbelly of the net. Horrifyind and amusing equally.

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay - Elena Ferrante - I have no idea why I am still listening to these awful spoken word books but I guess I want to know what happened. It's the story of two 'friends' and I use that term lightly. Not a single redeeming character, misogyny, and poorly written, I will never figure out why these are popular!?!

What I Have Been Listening To

Civil Dusk by Bernard Fanning -  this is a solid solo outing from the Powderfinger frontman. Enjoyable but not as good as his first album.

Hell Breaks Loose - Shane Nicholson - I enjoy Nicholson's alt country music, and this was no exception. Worth listening to.

American Tunes - Allen Toussaint - this is a lovely jazzy album of early blues and jazz tunes. As always Toussaint is in fine form.

Earth - Neil Young - this is a new live album, and, of course, excellent!

In The Now - Barry Gibb - this is a new solo album from the remaining Bee Gee and it is excellent. He is in fine form and has written many of the songs with his son. Worth a listen.

Rain Crow - Tony Joe White - you are never disappointed in anything by Tony Joe White, Swampy blues and alt country, this album has it all, White just gets better with age!

Human - Katy Steele  - this is a good solo album from the Little Birdy lead. the songs are more poppier and rockier than Little Birdy but still with her distinctive voice.

In Winter - Katie Melua - very sweet, very jazzy, very Katie.

Porridge and Hot Sauce - You Am I - this is a great kick-arse album as you would expect with some lovely melodic pop also!

Hopelessness - Anohni - this is the new album from the artist formerly known as Antony Hegarty and it is simply stunning. Anohni's voice is simply divine as is shown here. Highly recommend.

What I Have Been Watching

Nashville S3 and S4  - this is pure soap opera set to the backdrop of Nashville and country music. But I do enjoy it, great characters and most importantly great music, with real production values.

House of Cards S3 - Great season with the president trying to stay one step ahead of everyone. Spacey is deviously great but Wright makes him look like nothing, she is that superb.

Silicon Valley S3 - I loved S1 but thought S2 was meh, this was better than S1. Hilarious, great writing. Must see!

Walking Dead S7.1 and Talking Dead - I wasn't sure how I would proceed with this fave after the deadly horrendous opening episode of the season. But I did cause the writing is so freaking good. The characters and the stories just keep revealing layer upon layer and I am drawn to it as I always have been and having Fox also lets me see it's companion piece, Talking Dead, a show about the show! How Meta, how wonderful!!!!

Westworld S1 - this fantasy series had me confused, I struggled to keep up and every week was going to give it up. Until I read an article spoiling or revealing the series' secret. I was gobsmacked and felt completely stupid, once you know the reveal the show is something else all together. So now I need to go back and watch it again!!!

Blacklist S3 - started with a bang with Red and Keen on the run, got little boring in the middle section and the boom heated up in the second half. I've said this before it si Spader that makes this show, he is superb.

Please Like Me S4 -  oh my, this lovely little Aussie comedy/drama just gets better and better. A stunning episode with Josh and his parents in a fancy restaurant was unlike anything you've ever seen on television. Funny, honest and heart warming. The episode that follows sucker punches you so hard I thought I wouldn't make it through. I have never been so sidelined by a plot twist nor upset. Fuck, this show, it delivers and then some. With exceptional acting and the most stunning and realistic writing. I wonder whether there will be a S5, I hope so, and if not, the first 4 series are perfection anyway. IF you haven't seen this show, just go now!

Divorce - the new Sarah Jessica Parker Series with the fabulous Thomas Haden Church is outstanding. Sharon Horgan (Catastophe) created and writes for this, so it has fine pedigree. It took a few shows to get into and what I really love about this as the layers are peeled back, you just don't know who you like better. Him or her, then her, then him, then them both, they you hate them both, it's clever, sharp and well written. I guess it is not for everyone, but def worth checking out.

Vinyl - this could have been so good, but it lacked something, unsure what. About a record company in the 70s created by Scorsese and Jagger, it should have been better. Bobby Cannavale was, as always outstanding, and the music divine, but the storylines lacked and hence no S2.

Parks and Recreations, final season - I love this show, but felt this was one season too many. It was disjointed and lacked the warmth of previous seasons. Still it was fun and worth watching.

One of Us - a superb British thriller. A young couple are killed on their honeymoon, and a strange man turns up at their families (who live next door to each other) farm. The night is stormy and the man is injured in a car accident, the families take him in but soon realise he is the killer of their children. They lock him up until morning when the police will arrive. WHen they wake up he has been killed, but by whom, only someone in the family. This twists and turns until the big reveal. Oh my!

Love Nina - is a cute UK mini series with Helena Bonham Carter as a single mum in the 70s and the nanny she gets to look after her children. Sweet and funny, based on a true story, worth checking out!

The People Vs OJ Simpson:American Crime Story - wow this was superb. Great cast, great story, unbelieveable outcomes!

Joanna Lumley in Japan  - a lovely three parter with Lumley being her divine self, Japan looks pretty good too!

Gerard Depardieu Bon Appetit- this is a hilarious (though unsure it is exactly meant to be that funny!) romp through Europe with Depardieu sourcing the freshest food (even if he has to shoot or pick it himself!) and getting local chefs to cook it for him and a friend. 

Cyndi Lauper, Still So Unusual - this was a one off reality show following Cyndi around as she does her thing. So good.

Son of Saul - highly rewarded Hungarian film set in Auschwitz about a young man working the ovens and saves the body of a young dead boy he believes is his own son. He goes to great lengths to get the boy a proper burial. Heart breaking but outstanding. 

Little Girl Blue, Janis Joplin - outstanding documentary about her life and music.

Sinatra at Madison Square Gardens, 1974 -  wow, this is Frank at his height, every song a killer!

Sing Street - this is a great film set in the 80s following a young band intent on making their own music but in the style of the times. Heart warming, gritty, funny, and a superb soundtrack!

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