Sunday, June 25, 2017


May continued to be busy, especially at work. Loads of things going on there. Plenty of meetings, training, courses, events. Library and Information Week is towards the end of May, we always invite the schools up for National Simultaneous Storytime and do a Biggest Morning Tea, this year we added a visit from the high school and we also had the 3D printer going. 

But the highlight was the amazing Doug Cunningham, Swansea local hero and 100 year old man. Doug was in conversation with Carol Duncan as part of our Share the Story program. We had a huge turn up and a lovely morning one Saturday late in May!

I tried out a new (to me) South American joint, Barcitos, on Beaumont Street. Amazing food, band, atmosphere and of course lovely friends and chatter.

I had my yearly eye check up and all a-ok, no changes, which is great!

I had dinner for one at Foghorn, before meeting A at The Towers for the Brett Whiteley doco. It was a good film, but didn't really tell you anything you didn't know already.

I saw my lovely niece play soccer at Speers Point, then headed up to Largs, to The Bushrangers Bar for lunch with J, we had an excellent meal and a great catch up. Afterwards I headed to Maitland Art Gallery to look at their always excellent collections and a little bit of afternoon tea on their back veranda.

Mid May also means Pint of Science and The Edwards, C and I had dinner then met a bunch of people for a scientific evening, including robotics, which was amazing.

J, L, and I headed into the Spiegletent in Civic Park to see Velvet. What a grand and joyous experience. Velvet was acrobatics, dance, disco, and the amazing Marcia Hines. 

The last weekend in May was crazy, I headed down to SWF on the Friday and had a great albeit rushed time. You can read about my day at the festival here.

I took a mid afternoon train back from Sydney to make it to the Symphony at Town Hall. The evening was Double Delight: The Sydney Symphony Orchestra plays Haydn and Mozart, and it was divine. I always go to the Symphony alone as no one ever seems interested, and that is ok by me. They don't know what they are missing out on. Live Classical music is possibly the most sublime musical experience you can have. Listening to that beautiful music is very therapeutic, relaxing, and zen.

After a big rest I headed to my Bibliotweeps Bookclub, where we discussed Helen Garner's Everywhere I Look.

That evening I headed to The Edwards with friends to see Tim Rogers. We had a wonderful meal, and then enjoyed the concert, which you can read about here.

And the month ended with the annual APIA Tour, with  E and C, which you can read about here.

Plus the usual reviews.

And some pics

Monday, June 19, 2017


My love for Tim Rogers knows no bounds.

I have always loved You Am I and especially adored his solo work.

And yet I have only seen Tim perform live once, you can read about that night here as it was something else!!

I have no idea why someone who sees as much live music as I do can say this, but stuff happens.

So Tim came to The Edwards for an intimate show, so we had to go.

Initially he was to be supported by the brilliant Steve Smyth, along with the great food of The Edwards, which made it to be an unmissable evening. Steve, for some unknown reason was no longer support, which was a shame but we survived.

This tour was supporting his latest solo album, An Actor Repairs.

So full from the most amazing slow cooked lamb and sides and wine, we awaited the main man.

He hit the stage with two girls accompanying him, Clio Renner (Rockwiz) on keyboards and Xani Kolac on violin, both adding harmonies to his lovely songs.

It was a great, sharp set with Tim playing up which is his usual schtick. He was funny and self deprecating, accommodating and sweet and sour.

He mostly played his new stuff, which was great, and added in a whole range of other songs from his career, including songs from his seminal album, What Rhymes with Cars and Girls.

This was unexpected as that album was from a rough time in his life and he rarely sang those songs live.

That album, is from a very rough period in my life, and I don't mind saying it saved me. It is one of my all time favourite albums, the melancholy and loss in that album matched exactly my own melancholy and loss and I played it over and over and over again. Those songs sung to me like no others have. It came along at the right time and was my therapy, my friend, my love, my everything during that time.

To hear him sing some of those songs live transported me directly back to those moments and left me in tears. Music has this wonderful way of bookmarking stages of your life, and can take you back in a heart beat.

I know Tim can be a bit (ok a lot) of a bugger and people get a little judgy about him, but honestly because of how that album helped me, he can do no wrong in my mind. I worry about his fragile soul and love his deepness that is as him as his cheekiness.

Seeing him live is always an experience, but this one was particularly special.


Every year in May, Cathy, Ed and I hit the Civic Theatre for the APIA Tour.

The APIA tour features older Australian artists, and it can be hit and miss, but is totally worth checking out.

This year the concert commenced with the divine Deborah Conway. I have worshipped at her alter since I was a teen grooving out to Do Re Mi. I fell in love with her sublime String of Pearls in my early 20s. She pretty much is the soundtrack of my life and I have seen her perform many times. I love her kick arse, feminist sensibilities and that amazingly large voice.

Her set was tight and amazing, sticking to newish songs, and only adding two hits, Alive and Brilliant and Man Overboard. But it didn't matter to me, as a fan, I knew each song back to front. She looked amazing and was having fun.

I must admit I thought someone as indie as her to do such a commercial tour was odd, but I guess they money was worth it, and thank goodness for that!

Next up was Joe Camilleri with the fabulous Bull Sisters. Billed as the Black Sorrows, it was a mix of many songs, with Joe being the consummate performer but the girls being the stars of the show. 

I've said it many times before, those girls are National Treasures. The joy they exude singing and their voices could be bottled and save all the problems of the world I think!

After a break, Colin Hay took the stage, just him and a guitar. He started off telling some funny stories, I swear he could take that show on the road and make money there too. He's a very funny man. With each APIA show, their is always one performer I am most curious about and keen to hear and for this concert Colin was it.

And he was magnificent, I was beaming the whole time. Hearing him sing Overkill, one of my all time favourite songs was a sheer delight. That distinctive and strong voice was even better than when he was at the height of his fame. His new stuff was great, his old stuff better than it sounded back then. He stole the show.

Mental As Anything rounded out the night with their hits. Although when I say Mental As Anything I mean Greedy Smith with some dudes . It was a little sad and I realised for every great MAA song, there are about 3 bad ones. But it was a spirited performance.

The finale is all performers on stage, performing together with each of them doing a hit, and then coming together with a classic at the end, this time, Friday on my Mind.


What I've Been Reading
Nevertheless: a memoir by Alec Baldwin - I love Alec, he is very charismatic, intelligent guy, I had great expectations of his memoir, but was let down a little. It was well written and interesting, and mostly focused on his upbringing and family.

The view from the cheap seat: selected nonfiction by Neil Gaiman - I previously read this amazing book but when the talking book, read by Gaiman himself, came through at work, I knew I needed a second go. Listening to an author read their own work is something else. The first section were essays about Libraries and Literature, and hearing his gorgeous voice talk up my own profession was delectable. I drove around with a huge smile on my face. It is truly one of the best compilations I have read/listened to.

Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett and narrated by David Wenham - I 'discovered' Favel at the first NWF when she was on a panel about place with Bob Brown. Her descriptive turn of phrase haunted and hypnotised me. This is her first novel and about three young boys living in an isolated seaside fishing town. Their mother is absent, their father troubled. It's a lovely shortish novel, with haunting undertones, you are not quite sure what is going to happen. And David Wenham's voice was just perfection.

Only: a singular memoir by Caroline Baum - this is an amazing memoir. Caroline had the most extraordinary childhood in France and England with very strong parents. As an only child she had it all, but yet due to the personalities of her parents, lacked much. Her story is honest and raw, and quite heartbreaking at times. I was very moved by her story. As her parents age, her relationship with her parents grows more complicated. This is a really contemplative memoir, it makes you think, cry, and laugh. I was transfixed and highly recommend it. 

Orchid Fever by Eric Hansen - this was a short spoken word story I listened to about the height of the 'orchid wars' with people going into native jungles to steal rare orchids etc. It was a fascinating and rather amusing but weird tale.

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan - I had tried to read this when it first came out and won practically every award around, but I struggled. A talking book came through at work and I gave it a go. It is mostly about Bennie and Sasha, who worked in the music industry from the San Francisco scene and their lives and the people they are intertwined with leading up to a post 9/11 New York. It twists and turns, drops characters and comes back to them much later when you've almost forgotten about them. It is a difficult read/listen, but ultimately a very rewarding one. 

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay - this is Roxane's latest work of fiction. It is short stories about women. Some are funny, some are sad, and some are simply heart breaking. Roxane can write about anything, she is simply remarkable. This is a must read.

What I've Been Watching
Black Mirror S1/2 - I finally got around to watching this very meta series based on technology in the worst and very warped way. It is difficult to describe without spoiling. Each episode stands alone and will blow your mind and make you think. In one a princess has been kidnapped and the demand is the UK PM has to have sex with a pig on live TV for her release. It takes reality to the very base, is shocking and completely messed up. Yet utterly watchable.

Frankie and Grace - I wanted to love this soooo much. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as women whose husbands have fallen in love with each and leave them late in life. It seems a little cliched but with such solid actors it should be magnificent. BUt it is not, it is cliched and a little hokey. However, it is not bad and I stuck with it. It has it moments, usually to do with Tomlin's character. I'll give S2 a go, but not in a hurry.

Twin Peaks - this is the highlight of my month, my year, quite possibly my life. I guess when Twin Peaks was so roughly (but possibly rightfully) yanked from our screens without complete resolution all those years ago, I was pretty upset. Upon hearing about it's resurrection I was in two mind, but it has been nothing short of genius and perfection. Yay for Lynch letting his freak flag fly. I have written about it in more detail here. But it has got to be the single most satisfying television I have ever seen!

250th episode of Inside the Actors Studio - ITAS is one of my favourite shows, and this compilation of old clips and new interviews with actors looking back to their original interview with the fabulous James Lipton was outstanding.

BFG - a very sweet and faithful adaptation to the Roald Dahl book

A Month of Sundays - Anthony LaPaglia is a divorced real estate agent who is stuck. He starts to get phone calls from his deceased mother and things start to turn around. Of course the phone calls are not actually from his mother, but open him up to a chance to restart his failing life. This is a lovely Australian film also starring the great John Clarke in one of his last big screen roles, also the lovely Justine Clarke and the gorgeous Julia Blake.

Casablanas: the man who loved women - interesting doco about John Casablancas, his life and his modelling agency. 

Francofonia: a film by Alexander Sokurov - this documentary by Russian Ark director is the remarkable true story of the Louvre under Nazi occupation and the men who saved the collection. It tells the history of the building, the art, and of course the war. Drawing from still pictures and some video, this is put together in a clever way.

What I've Been Listening To
70s Radio - mostly been listening to this.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Sydney Writer's Festival 2017

I love going to the SWF, there is always a great buzz in the air and I've had the most wonderful experiences there over the years.

This year due to other commitments I could only go down on the Friday, so I took an annual leave day, got up at 5.30am and caught the Shitkansen down.

I love arriving by train at Circular Quay, you always get those fabulous views from the station. Knowing I'd be busy once I arrived at the festival and that I had to leave promptly to get home for the Symphony, I took time prior to have brunch at Rossini's.

After some people watching at the Quay, and feeling satisfied from the feed, I headed around to Walsh Bay. It's a great walk, with stunning views of the harbour, Opera House, and the bridge. You're also walking on the edge of The Rocks, and see those great old buildings against newer architecture.

I had time for a little wander and work out where I would be seeing my sessions before lining up for my first session. 

It was right next to the green room, so I did a bit of celeb spotting - and writers are my kind of celeb - I saw Wendy Whiteley, Richard Fidler, and Caroline Baum.

Finally we were seated for Fictional Truths. This panel featured Heather Rose, who wrote my latest favourite book, The Museum of Modern Love, and Chris Kraus, a seminal NY feminist writer. 

They both spoke about adding real life and history to fiction and how to marry the two. 

Heather spoke about her idea of intertwining art and love into her story and she wanted to use Marina Abramovic. She worked on the story for 10 years and when she commenced Marina had not held her The Artist is Present exhibition, which was used within the book. Although Heather had ideas about using Marina at a table and people confronting her. She worked on the story on and off, and at the same time Marina and her art were becoming more popular, culminating in that exhibition which Heather attended. She spent a lot of time at the MOMA, and 'sat' with Marina 4 times. She eventually wrote to Marina and asked permission to us her in the book, and was granted permission. She has never spoken to Marina as such though.

Chris was less structured, her seminal book, I Love Dick, was about an affair with a man whilst she was married and she never really hid the fact, nor did she ask him permission. He got a bit upset, and for the most part she ignored him. Chris is in her 60s now, a very Jewish New Yorker, my kind of gal, unapologetic and hilarious. I had heard of her but never read anything by her.

After the session I headed to the bookstore, I had allotted myself ONE book and had already chosen it, but now I felt I needed to by I Love Dick, and I did and got Chris to sign it, being very deaf, we had a clumsy short conversation, but was still cool.

Then I saw Heather sitting by herself, surely she would have a huge line of people wanting their books signed. I had read her book, loved it, but did't have my own copy. I was so drawn to the book, her ideas, Marina etc, I went an bought myself a copy and headed over. She was a sheer delight and here is why writer's festivals are so great, you get access to the minds of books you love. The ultimate thrill. Heather and I spoke for about 10 minutes about the book, her experiences with Marina. I told her about my own experiences at The Artist is Present here in Sydney a few years back. She asked me what I liked the most, and we spoke about widening perspective. We also spoke generally about art and books. It was a deep, thrilling conversation. My day was pretty much made. 

I moved on to my other session, lining up. This was Tragedy plus time and featured the stars of the show, Paul Beatty and Roxane Gay. I have been a huge fan of Gay since I read Bad Feminist, I fell in love, what wit, what intelligence, I wish! ANd I was halfway through Beatty's, The Sellout, the winner of the Man Booker prize this year.

I was lucky to sit in the front row and was mesmerised by these great writer's talking about their craft, their upbringing, and humour. Both are very funny, Gay, intentionally so, although her fiction is far more dramatic. Beatty doesn't mean to be funny, it is just his style. Gay worships humour yet looks like such a serious gal, and Beatty is nonplussed about humour yet has this laughter switched on face. They were fascinating people to watch, let alone listen to.

After it finished, I grabbed a cab and made my train which gave me just enough time to get to the Symphony.

On the train ride home I reflected on the 2 amazing talks and 4 brilliant authors and was sad I couldn't take more in. There were so many more amazing sessions. Next year I really should block out the 4 days and stay in Sydney!