Saturday, March 31, 2018


What I’ve Been Watching
Here and Now  - family drama with Tim Robbins and Holly Hunter as the hippy/new age parents, a little mysticism. Started off with premise but going downhill fast.
Walking Dead – latest series, really dragging and was starting to lose faith in it, started reading the graphic novels and they are so much better. The most recent episode gave me hope, but something has to give.
Call the Midwife S7 – a shorter series than usual, with a lot of the main leads left, but it still continues with compelling and quality stories. An old faithful.
Victoria S1 – Gave this a second go, and didn’t mind it. More soap operay and light, but that’s ok. Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as lovely, and I really enjoyed the steam engine/progress back stories.
Brittannica S1 – the new Game of Thrones, well not really. Set in 43AB when Romans invaded Britain. Some great fight and mystical sequences, at times the plot is difficult to follow, but then I thought that with the original series of GoT. Def sticking around for S2, but at this point, good as it is, it falls short.
Billions S2 – this is a great cat and mouse drama. Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis) is a hedge fund owner who just manages to walk on a the thin line of good/bad...or does he. Chuck Rhoades is the US Attorney  trying to catch him and this season he gets closer and closer. Great performances from both men and Maggie Siff as the wife of Rhoades AND the psychiatrist/coach of Axelrod.
Better Call Saul  S3 – Love this show, characters well known in Breaking Bad – Gus and Mike – are starting to form. Jimmy and his brother are still at odds and the catalyst to his change to Saul starts to take place. Bob Odenkirk shines here, but really the entire cast is great.
Better Things S1 – Pamela Adlon is everything in this comedy/drama about Sam, a single Mum of three girls. Sam juggles the house, her girls, her friends, and her acting career while on the look out for a man. Hilarious, real, stunning. Not a lot happens, but everything does. Adlon shines in this, I dare not not to adore her. I do. One of the best shows on tv!
Divorce S2 – this season has a better balance of comedy and pathos, and you really do love both leads, Frances (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Robert (Thomas Haden Church). This season, the kids grow a little older and more angsty and difficult, Frances starts to date and Robert gets engaged! The supporting cast also shine, including Amy Sedaris as Robert’s bitch sister. The scene between Frances and her (good friends in real life) was one of the greatest fight scenes I have ever seen!
Upstart Crow S1 – Welcome back Ben Elton, a huge return to form after a few decades of non-funny. This is a great period drama – in the vein of Blackadder – about Shakespeare. Shakespeare (played brilliantly by David Mitchell) divides his time writing in the city and back home with his family in the country. You don’t have to be a huge fan of Shakespeare to enjoy this, but if you are – like me – you will absolutely love it. It is my favourite show at the moment and makes me laugh out loud, a rarity!!!!
Bargain Hunt – is my other favourite show. Two couples are given 300 pounds and an expert in antiques at an antique fair and are to find three pieces to auction. Couple to make the most money wins. SImple, interesting, loads of great – and not so great – antiques.
What I’ve Been Reading
Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell – this is Orwell’s first book, a memoir in fact. He tells of his time living on the poverty line in Paris in the late 20s and early 30s. Paris is fascinating, as he works in cafes and restaurants. London is more about who he meets as he travels about trying to get work and make money. It is an interesting look at life without much and I think helped shape his early style of writing.
Detours – Tim Rogers – this is a great(ish) memoir by You Am I frontman. Rogers can spin a tale, as you would know if you ever paid attention to his lyrics. Self confessed dilettante, raconteur, and flaneur, I loved so much of this book, which really is the inner being of this renaissance man. It divides each chapter into parts of his life, his family, loves, travelling, sport. Not that much rock’n’roll, and a little too much sport for my liking, the later (middle section) of the book needing some editing. But it is where he lets his heart open and tells his stories raw, I melted. I know he’s a bugger, but I love him so. His stories of his Dad, and his new love, The Hurricane, just made me smile. His stories of the women he likes to chat to when he is out and about also warmed my heart. In a bar full of women, he’ll be drawn to the less showy, more chubby, generally older women – cause you know she’s got stories – rather than the younger, more traditionally beautiful women. His anxiety is crippling, his love of the stage (and alcohol and drugs) the only thing to push it away. He’d happily stay inside his little apartment solo than head out and about. I imagine there are a few more books in Tim, and I cannot wait for more.
David Sedaris – I’m finally reading Theft by Finding, diaries Volume 1 and it stars slow, in the 70s with innocuous diary entries, once he leaves home things get a little more interesting and you start to see the Sedaris humour start to evolve. The diaries entries are selective and possibly polished, but mostly as they were. I decided to re-read all his other books as I read this. So I started with Barrel Fever, which is mostly fiction and whilst well written and at times funny, they feel forced and too much going for shock value. His style is yet to evolve, thought you can see bits of it in the few essays at the end of the book. Non-fiction is definitely his thing. Holidays on Ice is really the showcase for what I call the Sedaris gateway drug – The Santaland Diaries – if you love this, and most do, you will love Sedaris. This compilation contains holiday tales, all funny, but none are near the dizzy height of Santaland – the tales of Sedaris as an elf at Macys one Christmas. Naked is where Sedaris starts to form his style, with his childhood stories, equal parts devastating and hilarious. Not that’s a fine line, but he walks it well. Sedaris is one of the few writers that always makes me laugh out loud. I guess he’s not for everyone, but you’ll never know if you do not try. Start with Santaland and then Naked!
The Best Australian Essays 2017 – edited by Anna Goldsworthy – a lot of these I had read in The Monthly or The Saturday Paper, but there was a few new ones and ones I wanted to re-read. A lot of focus on the Australian environment thematically.
Planet Elephant – Tammie Matson – the follow up book to the spoken word the other month. Now married and with a small child, Tammie and her husband tag team their environmental responsibilities with childhood. Asia and Africa and back to Australia in between. Mostly about Tammie’s work with elephants and villages/people in Asia but so much more.
Nevermoor: the trials of Morrigan Crow – Jessica Townsend – this has just won the ABIA book of the year, first time a children’s book has done so. I have had a copy for ages, so figured I had better see what the fuss was about. It has been a huge deal before winning this and touted as the new Harry Potter. Many before have had this bestowed upon them and most did not deserve it. This – an Australian book – does deserve the title. Whilst a kids book, I think most teens and adults who love fantasy will love this. Follows the trials of Morrigan Crow, a young girl who is unfortunate enough to be born on a day that prophesises she will die on her 12th birthday. But she is rescued just in the nick of time by a strange man, who takes her to a realm never heard of. More fabulous and fantastic than the dismal world she lived in. There she has to go through some trials for her strange benefactor, who seems to be up to something and know something about her, but he doesn’t divulge. A little bit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a little bit Hunger Games, a little bit Harry Potter. This was a page turner, well written, with great characters – good and bad, an ever changing delightful world and a cool female lead!
What I’ve Been Listening to
Utopia – Bjork – really loved this, but then I always love Bjork!
Synthesis – Evanescence – new album but mostly reworked versions of older songs, a lot orchestrated and sounding lush. Excellent album.
Women of the Hour S2 – this is Lena Dunham’s podcast and she lines up a remarkable group of women to tell their stories in each hour. Loved!
Richard Fidler, Conversations -  I have a USB filled with heaps of Conversations I have been listening to in the car. Famous people, non famous people, they are all fascinating and have a story to tell. Fidler is the brainstrust here, his knowledge of seemingly everything is stunning. Outstanding listening and learning.

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