Saturday, December 17, 2016


What I’ve been Reading

Full Bore by Wlliam McInnes - I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through popular culture of the past. Suburbia, joking around with mates, television shows, games, drinking coffee and much more. William tells a few tales of his childhood and how life was different then. Humourous and laconic, this was a fun read.

The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke – This is one of the most compelling and fascinating memoirs I have read in a long time. It tells the story of Maxine’s childhood and teen years – growing up as a dark-skinned girl in Sydney suburbia. I was mortified but not surprised by the way young Maxine was treated by her peers. The names and the brutality were shocking. As a young child, she was aware of her heritage and had a love/hate relationship with it herself. Immensely proud and yet simultaneously deeply embarrassed of her skin colour and was desperate to fit in. As she grew into a more confidant teen she found her voice in debating and began to show characteristics of the amazing woman and unique voice that she holds today.

Pictures of Italy by Charles Dickens  - yes, that Charles Dickens, this is a travel book of France and Italy from 1844! Dickens was a journalist prior to being a novelist. It follows a long trip he took from Paris down to Marseilles, across the French and then Italian Riviera, then up into Venice, Rome, Florence etc. He is travelling by cart and horse and occasionally by boat with a large group and they such a descriptive writer as we know yet this is very different to his fiction. He was also doing the same trip that I did except in reverse and you know the things that took his fancy in each city or town are what still takes our fancy today. This doesn’t feel that dated despite being over 150 years old and is truly one of the best books I have read recently.

Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford – whilst I used to be a big fan of Ford, I have backed away a little in recent years as I have found her a little bit too overpowering or aggressive online. However, reading this book took my back to the Ford of years past. This is a great kick-arse feminist read covering a whole range of subjects. Written with conviction and compassion and little bit of humour. I loved her chapter on clothing for women, when will someone resolve this. I devoured this quickly nodding and agreeing with almost everything she wrote. Welcome back Clementine!

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson - this is my third or fourth read of this seminal book by travel and odd bods writer Bill Bryson. I ‘discovered’ Bill about 20 years ago and read everything by him and loved them all. He has a dry sense of humour, doesn’t take himself seriously, and has a delight for the offbeat details. A Walk in the Woods is his best, following him on a hike through the Appalachian Trail in the US, with an old mate he has not seen in a while. This is a funny and observant book, and this time I listened to Bill read it and that heightened the experience.

Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson -  a fun and interesting read. Filled with stories of Rainn’s interesting upbringing, how he got into television and movies with behind the scenes stories.

The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion – is the third novel by the humorous Australian writer of The Rosie Project. This was an ok read, about an ex musician living with his wife in the UK but bored and when an ex lover from his music days in Australia contacts him things go a little haywire. I found this a little clunky and obvious read, but for a summer read at the beach it is not too bad.

What I’ve Been Watching

Amy Schumer S3 and S4 – a great fun feminist escape as always.

Broad City S3 – the girls out and about in New York, causing chaos and having a blast. I love these gals so much.

Toast of London S1 and S2 – I have never seen this hilarious comedy starring Matt Berry (IT Crowd and Mighty Boosch) as Steven Toast, an older actor who just cannot seem to make a go of it! And I loved it!

Aquarius S1 – about a detective (David Duchovny) in LA in the 60s with Charles Manson and his cult as the backdrop. I didn’t mind this, but it didn’t grab me that much either. Felt like it dragged without much happening.

Veep S5 – wow, this is the best yet. Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Tony Hale are simply perfection, hilarious, physical comedy at its very best. This season is clever and on pointe. The entire cast shines, as Selina tried to win the presidency for real!

Divorce – been loving this new dark comedy with Sarah-Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church as a couple going through a divorce. It is a slow burn but by episode 3 you are hooked, or at least I was.

Please Like Me S4 – a little darker this season, but this show continues to peel back the layers and impress. One of the best  Australian comedies of all time.

Rosehaven – lovely new Australian comedy set in Tasmania starring the delightful Celia Pacquola and the awkward but hilarious Luke McGregor. I love seeing the pair together on screen as purely best friends. This simply shines!

Westworld – still unsure about this one, but I am plunging on.

The Walking Dead S7 – holy shit, talk about pushing viewers to the very edge. The season opener to this fave show was the most horrendous, grotesque, and heart breaking hour of television I have ever seen. I screamed and sobbed my way through and almost didn’t make it. This was trying for fans and the screams were held all over the online communities. And so I have kept up with it and it has pulled back but only a little. This season is the test for viewers, let’s hope it is all worthwhile.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – this war dramedy has been apparently been much maligned but I quite enjoyed it. Tina Fey was affable and believable as a reporter sent to the Middle East despite not having experienced such things before.

The Jungle Book – I very much enjoyed this new adaptation of the classic book. The visuals were stunning and it was well paced and fun.

Labyrinth of Lies – an intense film about Nazis starting to pay for their crimes in 60s Germany.

The Belier Family – I finally caught up with this marvellous feel-good French film about a gifted young girl from a deaf family who is asked to try out for a singing school in Paris. This film is sentimental but without being tacky, it is feel good without making you feel like an idiot and the music is spectacular. Funny and heart-warming, this is definitely a must see film!

Youth- this is my film of the month. A stunning turn by the director of The Great Beauty starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel in some sort of retreat in the Swiss Alps. Caine is a retired famous Maestro so is trying to avoid the world. Keitel is working on his final film. Caine’s daughter (Rachel Weisz) is married to Keitel’s son and their marriage breaks down, Caine’s ex-wife is dying and Keitel has a run in with his muse (Jane Fonda in a small but outstanding role). And yet so much more than all this happens, against the most stunning cinematography you will see. Everyone shines, themes are complex but a more divine film you won’t see.

What I’ve Been Listening To

Dolly at Glastonbury – this was sheer delight, in a crowd that could have eaten her alive, she was cherished and worshipped – as she well should. And she sounded amazing! Go Dolly!

70s Radio – I am just loving my 70s Radio on Fox. My area of expertise has always been odd songs from the 70s (and classics of course), things I heard on Casey Kasem or Countdown back from my childhood. It’s funny how these songs stick. You may not have heard them in years, but as soon as they come on, you know every word and who the obscure artist singing them is!

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