Tuesday, January 9, 2018


What I’ve Been Reading 
What I Loved – Siri Hustvedt - remarkable story of two men and their lives as friends. Both married with a young son the same age and living in the same apartment complex in New York. Their lives take a sliding doors turn when one of the sons dies young. The story follows the men over many decades and their intertwined lives in the New York Art World. Beautifully written.

Faberge’s Eggs: the extraordinary story of the masterpieces that outlived an empire by Tony Faber - this was a great historical piece about the Faberge Egg, which of course intertwined the history of the Romanovs. Fascinating.

Going Once: 250 years of Culture, Taste, and Collecting at Christie’s.  A great coffee table book full of pics and stories of the interesting pieces that have made their way through Christie's. To own one piece...sigh...

The Meaning of Michelle - small essays by writers and people of note, eg Roxane Gay, about why Michelle Obama is important. A great little read.

Workshy by Dave Graney - I loved Dave's 1001 Australian Nights about his life on the road early on in his career. This is the 'follow up' and it goes back to his childhood in Mount Gambier and then more recent touring. Dave is a storyteller, a great one in fact, as can be told by his lyrics. He is a voracious reader and loves noir, and this shows in his work. So many stories, dramatic and funny, he is definitely a duel writer. If you love Dave (I do) or are a musician, I am sure you will just love this!

Becoming Her: Meryl Streep - ok biography about Meryl's early career.

Martin Sharp: his life and times by Joyce Morgan -  I didn't think I knew much about Martin Sharp when I began this great biography and I realised I knew much about him, as he was very intertwined in many other things I knew. Sharp was a great artist in the 60s and 70s and is well known for his album covers and pics of Clapton and Dylan. He lived in London and knew many of the top musicians at that time. When he was back in Melbourne, he was under the wing of Mirka Mora and her family. He reinvented Arthur Stace's Eternity for Remo and designed pics and shirts (both of which I own without even realising he was behind it). He was a tortured soul, like many great artists, but lived the most remarkable life, dabbling in all sorts of art.  The intricacies of this story, which is as much of a history of Sydney and Melbourne and their art scene as much as Martin's life. This is a must read. Loved it.

The long and winding way to the top – Andrew P. Street – 50 aussie songs - Andrew had selected a range of various Austalian songs, some obvious, some not so much, from over the years and has written short essays about them. Was a good read.

Scratch: writers, money, and the art of making a living edited by Manjula Martin – Cheryl Strayed, Susan Orlean, Roxane Gay, NIck Hornby - great tales, from some of our favourite writers on when they started to make it (or not) and how to make a living (or not) being a writer. This is an honest and amusing take on writing as an occupation.

Life Moves Pretty Fast: the lessons we learned from eighties movies by Hadley Freeman - this was a lot of fun, each chapter about a section of 80s movies and what we learnt from them. Tongue-in-cheek but a fab read, the writer really knows these great films and it is a fun, nostalgic read.

The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith - great debut novel by Smith about a fictional Dutch painter, Sara De Vos and the seminal pieces that are many centuries later copied by an Australian painter in New York in her 20s and some decades later when she is asked by Sydney Art Gallery to curate an exhibition by De Vos, will her copy come back to haunt her. SO cleverly writtem, I stopped multiple time to google De Vos, each time to realise she doesn't exist. Written in easy to follow, interwoven three time periods, this is a fabulous read, especially for art lovers.

The Museum of Words by Georgia Blain - oh my, this was Georgia's last book before passing of brain disease way too young. The story is about words, her love of them, and what happens when (due to illness) you start to lose your words. Stunningly written, poignant, upsetting and yet also uplifting. I didn't want this book to end.

An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire - this has been getting a lot of applause in Australian awards etc, and is an unusual take on murder. Not really a murder novel, but more a novel about what happens to those left behind after a murder, especially within the media of a high profile murder. Fascinating and well written.

Birds Art Life Death by Kyo Maclear - Maclear was going through a lot of change, and had illness around her, and needed some clarity. She randomly met a young bird watcher, became friendly and started to join him on his watching. This is a book about her life at that time and how bird watching helped her unwind, and slow down. It emptied her full head and she found she could commence creating artisically again. This was a wonderful little gem, a lot of bird information, but that is ok, just an interesting take on slowing down.

The Thing about Prague by Rachael Weiss - I loved her first book about spending a year in Prague, this time she goes back to live. It's a great story about her time there, catching up with old friends, making new ones, trying to find a job and an apartment to buy and fitting in to the Prague way of things.

What I’ve Been Watching 
The Walking Dead S8.1 - I am starting to have a love/hate relationship with The Walking Dead, it is slowing up and getting a tad annoying, but I have stuck in so far, I will keep going.

Riviera - this was a good crime/thriller set in the French Riviera with Julia Stiles as the second and widowed wife of a man, who may have been up to no good crime wise. With the assistance of an old friend, his first wife (the always fantastic Lena Olin) and his kids, she is determined to get to the bottom of his death and what was going on. Written by Neil Jordan, this was a great ride, and beautiful to watch!

Mr Robot S3 - I am still not sure I can explain 100% what is going on in this show, but it's got me sucked in!

Once Upon a Time S6  - this is a guilty pleasure, loads of soap operay fairy tales intertwined in numerous worlds, but I felt it was starting to jump the shark this season, too much repetition. 

The Tunnel S2 - the second season of this French/UK drama sees our odd couple reunited to investigate a range of terrorist acts. Excellent storytelling and acting.

Silicon Valley S4 this show gets better and better, as always everytime they look likely to hit the big time, one of them accidentally (or not) sabotages their efforts.

Moone Boy S2/3 - finally caught up on the final 2 seasons of this delightful series. Set in the 80s and about Chris O'Dowd's childhood with his crazy family and imaginary friend (played by O'Dowd himself). This is laugh out loud funny, clever, in terms of jokes about the future and great soundtrack.

Catastophe S3 - this is one of my favourite shows starring the brilliant Sharon Horgan and the swoony Rob Delaney. The first two seasons showcases their backward romance, after falling pregnant over a week on one night stands they decide that in their late 30s maybe they should make a go of it and get married. It's  very dry, black comedy about relationships, this season shows them trying to get things back on track after a few issues and dealing with their ageing parents. Carrie Fisher plays Rob's mother, and she is wondrous, it was the final thing she shot. SO worth it for that, but ultimately it is one of the best shows on tele.

Search Party S2 - wow, this is one of the other best shows on tele, a little underrated gem. Season 1 was about a group of 4 friends looking for a girl they knew from college who has gone missing. Dory, the main character (Maebe from Arrested Development) is obssessed with finding her, but the obsession may change the course of all their lives. The series changes mid final act Season 1, and it is a gobsmacking change in direction. Season 2 follows this change, it is a dark comedy, but S2 even darker, but also even funnier. It ends up in the air, so I am guessing there is a third. I haven't disclosed the subject matter because it is so astonishing, you need to see it to believe it!

Travel Man - I love this little half hour travel show with the delightful Richard Ayoade. He takes a fellow comedian on a 48 hour trip to a city. He has had great guests, Jo Brand, Lena Dunham, Rebel Wilson, Adam Hills etc.

Inside the Actors Studio with James Lipton - a sprightly 91, this series only has a handful of episodes now, but Lipton still delivers. It was a short but great season with Ted Danson, Scarlett Johannson, The cast of Girls, Cuba Gooding Jnr, Viola Davis, and Jessica Chastain.

Loving -I missed this Oscar run earlier in the year. Great acting, and storytelling, but ultimately left me a little cold.

Sense of an Ending -  the movie adaptation of one of my favourite books, and it was not great, They tried, I can tell, but not hard enough.

Get Out - Oh my Goodness, I am STILL thinking about this movie. It was utterly brilliant, unexpected, clever, freaky and everything you can think of. A young man goes home to meet his girlfriend's family, but something is not quite right, and he cannot put his finger on it. He chats to his mate back home and they come up with some outrageous explanations, that may not be far from the truth. I cannot say any more, this is a movie about race, and a clever one. It is called a horror film and that it is, but not in the traditional sense of the word/film, more horrific but really a must see movie! Go now, before you find out what happens.

Jasper Jones  -  a sweet adaptation of the modern classic Australian novel. I read the book (shamefully) for the first time earlier in the year and saw the play not long after, the film is great, but after the book and play it pales. But worth checking out.

Biutiful -  I cannot believe I never saw Javier Bardem's Oscar winning peformance in this amazing film. Devastating and astonishing, about a man on the wrong side of tracks, dealing with a junkie wife and young kids, barely making it and he finds out he has cancer. He will do everything possible to ensure these kids are going to be ok. Tissues, you will need tissues, but such a powerhouse performance.

Brand New Testament -  a really interesting take on god and jesus, and a retelling of the testament through the eyes of God's daughter who isn't happy with how her Dad is doing the job. She escapes their house and sets off to make changes and find her brother, Jesus! Funny and strange, this is an odd one, but I quite enjoyed it.

The Hunger - another old film I cannot believe I have never seen. Bowie and Sarandon and Deneuve in a almost mild porn vampire film. Not a lot happens, but geez it looks good and is pretty sexy!

Julia - oh this is such a complex tale of the holocaust, writing, the US, and great acting by Redgrave, Fonda, Robards, Streep, Schell, and Halbrook. A classic for sure, and a huge Oscar winner.

What I’ve Been Listening To
Songs of Bob Dylan – Joan Osbourne - this was good, Joan has a great voice.

Melodrama by Lorde – this was ok, I get her and appreciate her, but ultimately she is  not for me.

Low Blows by Meg Mac - loved this

Paul McCartney -  no surprises it has been McCartney all the time this month!

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