Thursday, January 3, 2019

2019: Counting my blessings

Most of my plans for 2018 fell apart when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. 

I had to be still, be patient, be a patient, and just rest. This meant a lot of my plans and ideas were left unattended. I spent a lot of time couching it. I had to. 

So my main goals for 2018 of better health and consolidating my finances, were thrown completely out the window. Being sick is expensive...sigh...although thanks to Mr Whitlam and medicare not as expensive as it could have been!

Obviously I am hoping for a more healthy 2019 and I would say I am 80% there. I am feeling really great, but my legs and kidneys are still infected, my lungs are still so so, and I still get tired...although nowhere near as much.

And sadly sitting on my arse all year meant a little weight gain. But I am not going to be one of those douchbags talking about that 'journey'. I will do the best I can, when I can. One thing at a time.

It's funny having survived last year I keep thinking I should be tackling big things and throwing every second at life in a big way, but I don't think going down that path is right for me just now. 

So really I am just hoping for a simple year. Nothing too taxing, or out of the ordinary. No dramas, just basic and simple.

I am going to strive for a balance of Be Still/Flaneur.

Which means I need to ensure I get my rest and relax, that is to say, Be Still. This can be at home, under a tree looking at the clouds, at a cafe. Flaneur is a French word for wandering/exploring and observing the world. So heading to cities or suburbs, going for a walk, getting some exercise, and seeing what there is to be seen. I love doing that. Usually camera in hand.

More music is a given, this was my savior last year. Choir and singing for sure. Spending more time on my instruments, especially now I have a keyboard. And going to more live gigs.

So 2019 will be about the little things, and counting my blessings. I have been so lucky to have dodged the cancer bullet, I just want peace and happiness. I want to be there for everyone, like they were for me. I just want to potter around as I wish, with no stress and problems.

I will be keeping things simple, whilst taking any opportunity afforded to me, and staying still and zen.

The only big thing I wish for is a nice little holiday somewhere lovely, when I feel 100%, when I know things are back on track healthwise and with work, and when I can afford it. 

Of course, there is always my love life...huge sigh. I will be back dating at some point this year. I am a very strong, and independent feminist, but if this past year has taught me anything, it has taught me whilst I can do stuff solo and get through it a-ok, it would be really really nice to have someone there who always has your back. Without a doubt last year would have been infinitely easier if I had that. But no point looking back at disappointment, poor romantic choices and weak 'men', as I am all for looking forward to what may come.

So I am hoping 2019 will be all of this, but it may not work out that way. And that is ok too, last year has taught me more patience than I ever had and to realise that sometimes you just need to take the ride, take it a day at a time, and try not to overthink everything. You will get there!

So whatever happens, I am here to experience it, good, bad or otherwise. And that is such a magnificent thing, I can only smile.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019


These are my top 10 lists of favourites for the year of 2018. I always wait until the last minute cause you never know and this year was no exception with The Marvelous Mrs Maisel jumping right to the Number 1 slot at the very last minute. Some categories are not 10, TV was difficult to keep to the 20 + extras as there is so much great tele out there. Live Music was difficult as I didn't get out that much due to being sick, and podcasts is only 5 cause if I was listening to more than that I'd have no time to watch, listen, and read the others. I always split movies into Film (those watched on the big screen) and DVDs (a mix of new and old) and Documentaries.

I'd love to hear what you loved this year.


1. Insomniac City by Bill Hayes - New York, Oliver Sacks, love, being in the moment, self help, memoir, funny, sad, and everything in between. I read this when I was at my lowest whilst sick, it perked me up in ways I cannot begin to explain and it still sits with me and I even had a lovely little chat online with Bill about it.

2. Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - one of 2 fiction titles. It's a biggie and a few years old but the most extraordinary saga of a stolen painting, a young abandoned boy and his journey looking for love. Set in New York and Las Vegas, this spans decades and is beautifully written and a page turner at over 600 pages!

3. A Letter From Paris by Louisa Deasey - an unexpected gem about an Australian finding out more about her deceased father, the life he led in Paris and at home, family she didn't know about and his art.

4. Danger Music by Eddie Ayres - teaching children classical music in Afghanistan. Remarkable and moving.

5. Walk Through Walls by Marina Abramovich - An insight into the famous artist. If you were ever unsure about performance art, this will get you on the right path. Her life is nothing short of remarkable, she is enigmatic and charismatic and the most fascinating person.

6. Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales - beautifully written book on what happens on the worst day of your life and more importantly the day after the worst day of your life. More than self help, this is a life changing book.

7. The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein - a book about a woman who cleans up the worst messes; hoarders, murders etc which is fascinating in and of itself, but the really story lies within, about the woman herself. Completely unexpected and brilliant.

8. Calypso by David Sedaris - Sedaris just gets better with age, this is his funniest and his most dramatic book yet, as he writes about aging.

9. Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward - second fiction title, set in the South like all her books, this deals with an African American family on the brink, death, drugs, and jail, but ultimately uplifting. Her writing is outstanding.

10. Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris - This is also fiction but based so tightly on the truth I don't think of it as that. About a Jewish man who becomes the number tattooist for each prisoner at Auschwitz, and his remarkable life there and beyond.

Special Mention: The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose - This was my book of the year a couple of years ago when it first came out. Set around Marina Abramovich's The Artist is Present, it is about love, life, loss, art, and that crazy ole thing, The Muse. I re-read this for my book club this year and loved it even more the second time around. This book is perfect!


1. The Marvelous Mrs Maisel - the first episode is the most perfect piece of television I have ever seen. From the writer/directors of The Gilmore Girls, this is a quick witted, sassy piece of period tele. Set in the 50s about a separated housewife who tries her hand at stand-up comedy and is a natural. The set design, costumes, scripts are perfection, the music and the acting also. I love everything about this show, it is uplifting, funny, bawdy, sublime and swoonworthy. Cannot wait for S3.

1. Fleabag - this is an equal no.1 as it is an older program I discovered. One series (but a new one coming this year) about a charismatic gal in London, grieving the loss of her best friend, and navigating her love life and family life, quite dark in parts, but hilarious mostly. You will fall in love with Fleabag, I sure did!

2. Dectectorists - this is the best underrated show on tele. Very dry comedy about to hapless metal dectectorists. At first it seems like nothing is happening, but as you move along the scripts are so highly layered that their lives unfold before you. Masterful writing, hilarious acting, great cast. Includes Toby Jones, Mackenzie Crook (The British Office), and Diana Rigg. 

3. The Durrells - I grew up with these delightful books about the very real and eccentric Durrell family. Written by an older Gerald, he was a young boy when they lived on the idyllic island of Corfu. They move their after the death of their father. 4 fabulously outrageous children and a gorgeous English rose mother (perfectly played by the delightful Keeley Hawes). This is just one of those nice shows that isn't twee. Every shot is a postcard, it is hilarious and sweet. A true feel good show, that makes you want to pack up and live in a run down old mansion in Corfu!

4. Doctor Who -  I was very much done with The Doctor after such disappointment when my beloved Peter Capaldi quit. His time was awful, the writing was awful, it had jumped the shark big time. But the new female doctor is divine, funny, quirky, great sidekicks, great stories, powerful writing. I am hooked and in it should be!

5. Better Things - I love this funny and dramatic underrated show about a single Mum and her 3 girls. Nothing much happens, but everything happens, much like life and Pamela Adlon is everything.

6. Upstart Crow - Ben Elton writing Shakespeare gags...what more do you want!! David Mitchell is a hoot as The Bard and it's a genuinely funny show.

7. Counterpart - I've loved J.K. Simmons since Oz, he's a great actor and in this modern cold war drama he plays 2 characters. He plays Howard Silk, and works in Berlin at the UN. He finds out back in the 80s an experiment went wrong and an alternate world was made, the crossover is beneath the UN building and it appears both worlds are having a cold war. He meets his 'other' and they are completely different men, and his world is turned upside down. This is a great thriller, superb stories, whilst ultimately sci-fi light it works for reals, and his nuanced acting is brilliant! I'm busting for S2!!

8. Kidding - this went fairly unnoticed, it is niche, but brilliant. A Jim Carrey comedy, and whilst there are some great big laughs within, it is mostly a melancholy drama. The kind Carrey is a master at. He plays a beloved children's show host who has undergone great tragedy and is falling apart at the seams, but must hang on to his act. It gets a little bamboozled towards the end, but is just masterful and a delight.

9. Atlanta - This year was better than last year, and that is saying something. This edgy comedy/drama by the brilliant Donald Glover is mesmerising. So many great episodes, so much diversity in each episode. 

10. Insecure - Based on Issa Rae's stand up, she writes, directs, and stars, and is fabulous as the hapless but absolutely joyful Issa, navigating her life with loves, and jobs, and where to live. I love this show so much, she is the bomb!

11. Broad City - these gals, such love and friendship, hilarious and brilliant. Ilana and Abbi play Ilana and Abbi, 2 friends making their way in New York. They are scrappy and real, feminists, and so very funny. This season took them to new heights of brilliance. A must see show.

12. Halt and Catch Fire - I binged the entire 4 seasons of this drama very quickly. Commencing in the 70s, about two guys and the computer biz in San Francisco, their ups and downs over the years. Compelling and wonderful.

13. The Americans - only half way through S2 and I can why all the buzz, two KGB agents posing as an American family infiltrating America in the 80s. This just sucks you in immediately, and you love these guys, even though they are the baddies and you know it cannot end well!

14. Mr Inbetween - great little Aussie comedy about  gun for hire and his softer side. Scott Ryan as the lead is great, charismatic and moves skillfully from comedy to drama in the flick of a wrist!

15. Wellington Paranormal - this is another great laugh out loud show from NZ. Plays like a doco where the camera follows Wellington's 2 best police - playing it straight - and their investigations which lead them into paranormal territory more times than not. Great special effects, and many laughs!

16. The Assassination of Gianni Versace - this was not really about Versace but the young guy that killed him, and many others. It was a fascinating exploration into a very deranged man and I was spellbound.

17. Pose - another interesting show, set in the 80s against the Pose scene of drag queens and such in New York. Showy and fun out front, but a seedy underbelly or crime and aids underneath. Great writing and acting.

18. A Very English Scandal - Hugh Grant just gets better with age! This 3 parter based on true story. Hugh plays a minister who tries to kill off his gay lover when the truth looks likely to get out. Bizarre, funny, and dramatic. 

19. Mystery Road - great aussie outback drama, with a superb cast.

20. Patrick Melrose - based on the popular books, Benedict Cumberbatch is wonderful as the nutjob Patrick, and as the series unravels you find out why he is such a nutjob. Great performance and superb cast.

Special Mentions:

1. Nanette - you've all seen it, you all know how brilliant it is, not a TV show but a one off thing, and the best I have seen. Really makes you think, and incredibly moving. Hannah Gadsby is a goddess, but I knew that anyway!

2. Bruce Springsteen on Broadway - same kind of thing, Bruce telling stories and singing his songs, utter brilliance, also incredibly moving.

3. Escape to the Chateau - my favourite reality series (I don't really do reality series), about an English couple doing up a French Chateau. I love them both, they are eccentric and amazing. The Chateau is sublime, I cannot get enough!

4. Travel Man - Richard Ayeode and another comedian spend 48 hours in a big city. Jon Hamm and Richard in Hong Kong was sheer brilliance, funny, swoon worthy, and interesting.

5. Gogglebox - OK, I will admit I got hooked on this guilty pleasure this year. I cannot explain it, people watching telly, I pooh poohed it for a long time, but caught an episode by accident and was hooked. I love these guys!!!


1. The Shape of Water - stunning fantasy about a mute woman who falls in love with an aquatic man/fish. Beautiful, romantic, stunning set design and music.

1. Intouchables - equal first but a few years old. Fabulous French comedy/drama about a rough around the edges dude who ends up with the job of looking after a rich paraplegic. Heart warming but not overly sentimental, hilarious and just an all round stunning film. You can see why it was voted France's favourite film ever!

2. Bohemian Rhapsody - yes, there are huge flaws, but ultimately this was just such a joyous film, how could it not be near the top of everyone's list!

3. Get Out - I STILL think about this crazy thriller, billed as horror, but not really. It is the story of a well to do white family and their daughter's black boyfriend. Totally unexpected storyline, totally jaw dropping, incredibly thought provoking. I was utterly blown away by this.

4. Three Billboards - Frances McDormand, doing what she does best, being a curmudgeonly crack pot, but with reason and you love her for it. Her character is mourning the disappearance of her daughter and annoyed with the seemingly lack of care by the local police she takes matters into her own hands.

5. Black Panther - this was great fun, and also an incredibly important film. An almost all black cast, with kick arse storylines, the usual marvel amazing, but up a notch or five. 

6. Lady Bird - such a beautiful whimsical coming of age story with a great script, and stunning performances. 

7. The Big Sick - an unexpected hit, a comedy about a young man who falls in love and then out of love with a woman, just before she succombs to a life threatening illness. Doesn't sound funny, but it is. You will laugh and cry and never for a minute feel manipulated!

8. Fantastic Beasts - This was magical and brilliant, and Jude Law as a young Dumbledore (HELLO!!). The story takes you way back in the beginning of Harry Potter. Written by the great JK Rowling herself, I look forward to more of these great films!

9. I Tonya - we all remember this crazy piece of history, here is Tonya Harding's version of things. Quite a remarkable biopic. Both female leads are astonishing. Quite funny, although unintentionally you would think. Bonus, Ice skating and 80s soundtrack!

10. Oceans 8 - a sleep fun filled chick film. Highly stylised, set around The MEt Gala, great costumes, and jewels. Loads of fun, amazing cast.


1. Call Me By Your Name - divine, beautifully shot, and just a beautiful film. Timothee Chalamet should have won Best Actor.

2. Lucky - Harry Dean Stanton's last film, a beautiful film about a man in his 90s and how he lives his life.

3. Isle of Dogs - Fabulous animated Dog film from Wes Anderson. Say no more!

4. Paddington 2 - this was just a delight, hilarious, cute, and fun. Plus Hugh Grant overacting and being very funny.

5. Ideal Home - Steve Coogan and Paul Judd as a couple who take in Coogan's grandson when he has nowhere else to go. Hilarious and poignant.

6. Love Simon - cute teen romance.

7. Avengers: Infinity War - just loads of fun, but a shocker of an ending.

8. The Mountain Between Us - Kate Winslet and Idris Elba left high and dry on a snowy mountain. Brilliant thriller.

9. Battle of the Sexes - fun biopic about Billie-Jean King.

10. The Greatest Showman - I love a good musical and this is one, Hugh Jackman, circuses, music.


1. The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling - stunning and over 4 hours. So very funny, and also really touching. I loved Garry so anything like this is gold to me, but this was really well done.

2. Wrecking Crew - about the session musicians in the 50s to 70s. Amazing!

3. Mavis - all about Mavis Staples, what a woman, what a singer!

4. Marina Abramovich, the artist is present - brilliant documentary about Marina, her life, and the exhibit in New York.

5. Faces Places - an elderly French photographer and artist, Agnes Varda teams up with young hip artist JR to put together some art and also trace Agnes' history. Inspiring.

6. Jane Fonda in 5 Acts - great doco about the great lady!

7. Gurrumul - stunning and moving doco about the late musician.

8. Come Inside My Mind - wonderful and sad insight into Robin Williams

9. Batman and Bill - remarkable film about the real name behind Batman, and the fight to see him recognised.

10. Tea with the Dames - Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, Joan Plowright, and Maggie Smith meet regularly for tea, this films some of their meetings. Great and interesting conversations about their lives, loves, and work.


1. Lady and the unicorn (NSW Art Gallery) - a handful of large tapestries from 14th Century Paris. Hours of delight taking it all in. Mesmerising.

2. MONA (NGV) - whilst I had seen much of these in the actual MOMA, it was still a great exhibit to see.

3. Robert Mapplethorpe (NSW Art Gallery) - huge collection of his photos. The Master!

4. Australian Music Vault (VIC Arts Centre) -loads of great memorabilia from Australian Music, costumes, instruments, clips, pics, loads of Countdown. 

5. Olsen/Ormandy: a creative force (Newcastle Art Gallery) - such a great use of colour and size from the the creative force behind Dinosaur Designs. Absolutely loved this!

6. Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age (NSW ART Gallery) - not my favourite era of art, but some very impressive paintings within.

7. Alice in Wonderland (ACMI) - such fun! Loads of pieces and clips of Alice over the ears, interactivity.

8. Rosemary Valadon: Textures of Desire (Maitland Art Gallery) Stunning canvases of lush dinner settings full of food and flowers and 30s style dames, what a collection! 

9. Judy Sharpe (Maitland Art Gallery) Love Judy's collection of small prints and large self portraits, a wink of the eye and great use of colour.

10. Sculptures at Warners Bay - I really love the sculptures added to the foreshore at Warners Bay. A mix of quirky and poignant.

Live Music

1. Bob Dylan (Newcastle Entertainment Centre) - what can I say, the master, my hero, a second time, it was brilliant, he sang my favourite song.

2. John Paul Young (Toronto Hotel) - such joy, JPY is the consummate performer and just delivers. His Vanda Young show is perfection, full of hits, no misses, and that cute smile.

3. The White Album Concert (Civic Theatre) - I had my doubts but this delivered beautifully. Tim Rogers, Josh Pyke, Chris Cheney, and Phil Jamison performed the entire White Album (and then some) in order and it was magnificent!

4. Belle and Sebastian (Sydney Opera House) - After years of missing them, I finally saw my favourite pop group, and they did not disappoint.  The addition of Robert Forster for a few songs, added to the excitement.

5. Kate Miller-Heidke (Speilgeltent, Civic Park) - Another singer I kept missing, and what a thrill to finally see her. What a talent, what a voice, those songs of hers cut through you to the heart and bone. Outstanding.

6. Tex Perkins (Lizottes) Tex solo on the intimate stage at Lizottes, swoon worthy and brilliant.

7. Steve Smyth (48 Watt Street) At the height of my recovery from surgery Jayne busted me out to see this great show. Front row and as always mesmerising. This guy just has it, anyone who has seen him live will concur.

8. Fish Fry (Wicko Hotel) - always a blast, their jazz/blues/swing standards area great fun and always uplifting!


1. The Capitol Studio Session by Jeff Goldblu, and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra - fabulous light and breezy reworks of jazz classics, along with some great humour.

2. Remain in Light - Angelique Kidjo - this was an unexpected joy. I love Angelique's voice and she reinterprets Talking Heads seminal album. And it is magnificent, the original album had a lovely African undertone but she takes it all the way. So funky.

3. Uptopia by Bjork - more of Bjork and her beats, she is remarkable and I always love her stuff!

4. The Architect by Paloma Faith - such a personality, and what a voice, this is probably her best album.

5. Egypt Station by Paul McCartney  - he just continues to rejuvenate, this is his best album for a long while, full of catchy titles.

6. Depth of Field by Sarah Blasko - Like Bjork, Blasko never disappoints. Blasko's voice is that of angels, and this is just lovely.

7. Versatile by Van Morrison  - Van continues to pump them out and his albums are always great. But this album of jazz really shines.

8. Muriel's Wedding Soundtrack by Kate Miller-Heidke - quirky and heart wrenching, sad and funny, Muriel and KMH are a perfect match, the ST is divine.

9. Between You and Me by Lior - lovely, lilting Irish music, swoonworthy.

10. Mass Education by St Vincent - I love Annie and her pop, championed early on by Byrne, she needs to such help these days. Great fun.

Additional Shout Out - to the fabulous music store, The Mosh Pit and their exceptional collection of vinyl, where I spent a LOT of money this year, got some great titles, too many to mention.


1. Conversations with Richard Fidler* - I cannot see how any other podcast can top Fidler. I am currently going way back and catching up on older ones, I listen to them in the car. Although now I am working closer to home I am not getting through them as quickly! Fidler is without a doubt the best interviewer in Australia, and so incredibly intelligent and yet it is always about the interviewee. 

* I drove him in my car once!!!!

2. Chat 10 Looks 3- this fab podcast with Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales does come very close to Conversations. These great intelligent women have the best friendship and chat about the books, movies, tv, music etc they have consumed, along with fragments of their day job, politics. Always entertaining and intellectual, and freaking hilarious!

3. Unspooled - this is a new fave. Paul Scheer is a film buff and Amy Nicholson is a film critic. Together they are going through the AFI Top 100 films and dissecting them. At over an hour, it could do with a little edit, but fascinating.

4. Here's the Thing - Alec Baldwin continues to interview fascinating people, his golden smooth voice ups the ante in presentation.

5. Broadcasts from The Wheeler Centre - technically not a podcast, but videos of talks from the great Wheeler Centre in VIC. Some really great stuff there. I tend to play it in the background like a podcast.