Saturday, June 8, 2019


What I've Been Reading

Boy Swallows Universe - Possibly the most amazing book I've ever read. Or at least in recent years, based on his extraordinary life, Trent Dalton has written a modern day masterpiece. Eli is a young boy with a lot of challenges. His mother is a drug dealer, he doesn't really know his father, his brother chooses to be mute, their babysitter is a notorious criminal. He wants to be a writer, he wants a better life for his family. This books is about Eli and his family and soooo much more, it is a romance, a thriller, a love letter to the 80s in Brisbane, a love letter to life and making the most of it. It has unexpected twists and turns and left me completely and utterly speechless and in tears at the beauty of what I had taken in. His writing is glorious and you can see clearly everything he describes. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, the first 100 pages or so a a little rough to get into, but hang in there, you will be rewarded so magnificently it is worth it! 

An Island Parish: a summer on Scilly by Nigel Farrell
Nigel reads his story about visiting and living in the isle of Scilly off the Cornish coast. A small village with their quaint ways removed a little from the modern world, this was a lovely and amusing story.

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby – Barbara Parker wants to be like Lucille Ball, so she moves from Blackpool to London and changes her name to Sophie Straw. She lands a job on a 60s sitcom with groundbreaking comedy writers and it becomes a hit. And Sophie is immediately famous and beloved. But then things just do not go according to plan. The book deals with the behind the scenes life of Sophie, her colleagues, and her work. I love Nick Hornby, he is one of my favourite writers, and one of the very few authors who makes me laugh. This did not. I listened to it on talking book, so it possibly was the reader. But for a book called Funny Girl and a book based on comedy writing and television, it amused at times but that was it. Even the story itself was dull in parts. I can see what he was trying to do, but feel he fell short. Maybe I need to read the actual book.

No Country Woman by Zoya Patel
Zoya is an Indian woman whose family migrated to Fiji before she was born. And then to Australia when she was young. She has always been unsure of her heritage and in her 20s decided to look back and find out about it all.
No Country Woman is memoir packed with complex thoughts on race, religion, and feminism. It is an intelligent and fascinating read about growing up looking different but not really feeling that different. Highly recommend.

In Miniature: how small things illuminate the world by Simon Garfield
Interesting little book about items that are small, like furniture in dolls houses, replica cities in miniature, mini Eiffel Tower, flea circuses, model railways etc etc.
It is a quirky and eclectic mix of stories about people who put these things together and a potted history about them.

On Identity by Stan Grant – this is a series of teeny essay style books on various subjects. Stan writes about his family and their background and their identity and the difficulties. He concentrates on the boxes you are asked to tick, and the fact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is always a separate box, and with mixed race, what does he tick? And if he ticks one does it mean he is not the other. A fascinating read that referenced a lot of foreign authors who write about similar things.

Fashion House: illustrated interiors from the icons of style by Megan Hess – Megan delights again with her delightful illustrations, this time in interior design, specifically the interior design behind some of the big names in fashion. It is always lovely to escape into her world.

What I've Been Watching

Game of Thrones – final season -  I want to do a separate full review of this season, possibly the best show I have ever watched, later. 6 episodes, and they were magnificent, the first 5 just built and built and built and had you on the edge of your seat. They were thrilling, exciting, funny, entertaining, and everything I could wish for. The final episode had a lot to live up to, but it fell a little flat compared to the 5 that went prior. I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it, but it made sense and went where it was meant to go I think. I am unsure what I would change. No spoilers here though, I’ll save that for the full post. I loved that show so much, I want to watch the final season again back to back, and then I’ll do the entire show!!! And then I’ll read the books, lol!!

Veep – final season – this show!!! It is just brilliant. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is superb, that’s a given, but Tony Hale as her assistant Gary is utterly magnificent. His comic timing is perfect, he is not given enough credit for this. The first episode was full of so many fabulous on-liners, I had to keep pausing and re-watching so as not to miss anything. The entire cast is brilliant and Jonah also in the running for president is the gift that keeps on giving. The final episode was pure genius, satisfying and ultimately bittersweet. No spoilers, but one particular character arc, just killed me! Think I’d like to go back and watch this all again! 

Killing Eve S2 - S2 is great and builds beautifully towards a shocking end. With Villenelle firmly in their sights, S2 lacked the thrill of the cat and mouse chase that was S1. Also Phoebe Waller-Bridge was no longer writing for the show, and there is something lacking in S2 and I think that is what it is. Having said that, it is still easily one of the best shows on tele, firmly feminist and exquisitely presented. The two female leads are just stunning! Cannot wait for S3. 
Better Things S3 – This is such a great show, totally underrated. Pamela Adlon is everything in this. About a single Mum, Sam Fox, an actress, raising her 3 girls with an interesting cast of friends and family. Not a great deal actually happens, but everything happens…this is about life and it’s finer detail. It is a comedy, but also dramatic. The kids are also brilliant. Max, the eldest moves out for college, Frankie continues to be interesting and challenging (the actress that plays her is excellent) and young Duke continues to see things that others do not. This season also introduces Matthew Broderick (swoon) as Sam’s therapist.

Barry S2 – this started off a little slow but built beautifully as the season proceeds. It is so very funny, sometimes in the normal way and often in a black way. We are talking about murder here. Bill Hader is fabulous as the assassin for hire who wants to give it all up to be an actor. The supporting cast are great, but Henry Winkler shines, as Barry's acting coach who unaware is caught up in the other side of Barry.

What We Do in the Shadows – I love this show so very much, probably the funniest show on tele at the moment. Based on the film of the same name, we follow three vampires sharing a house on Staten Island, filmed similarly like a documentary with nods to the camera etc. They are all hilarious, with the brilliant Matt Berry as Laszlo a vampire who likes to shape hedges as his favourite vulvas. Also sharing the house – itself a character on the series, it is amazing – is Colin, who is an emotional vampire, that is he bores everyone to death with his inane chatter. I love this so very much, we all know a Colin! The special effects are sophisticated and also funny. Additional characters, mostly other vampires and sometimes werewolves, come and go. One particular episode see our trio up against the vampire tribunal for a crime they cannot remember if they committed or not. And the tribunal are all actors who have played vampires in other movies or tv, Tilda Swinton, Danny Trejo, Evan Rachel Wood, Paul Reubens, Wesley Snipes, and other vampires from the original What We Do in the Shadows movie. I cannot begin to say how funny this is, with loads of vampire in-jokes and references to all the movies etc and other ‘vampires’ who are unable to attend the tribunal! This is so great, don’t miss it!
The Clinton Affair – 6 part documentary series going through the ‘scandal’ 20 years later. It interviews most of the players, Clintons excepted of course, and is fascinating to hear their takes on it now. I have conflicted feelings about the whole thing. I do think Lewinsky was hard done by and taken advantage of, but she was also an adult who knew what she was doing, but then he did too. Either way, it would be interesting to see it played out today, but then again, look at what Trump gets away with, far worse than Clinton ever did. Anyway, it was a great series, worth checking out. My favourite bits were rewatching Clinton being asked all those questions and blatantly lying, his facial and body language is so telling. It’s not really funny, but it amused!

Anh Do’s Brush With Fame – this show is so very good, every guest enlightening and magnificent. I was really enthralled by the Lindy Chamberlain one and loved the brilliant Leah Purcell one. Anh is a National Treasure, his art sublime, his heart and soul beautiful. I cannot get enough of this!

You Can’t Say That – Aunty is shining with her documentaries at the moment. This is another must-see one, a simple premise, people talking to someone off screen and answering questions off cards. The kind of questions you should ask alcoholics, Circus performers, Deaf people, disaster survivors and so forth. You l
earn so much from these remarkable everyday people. Everyone should watch this!

Mary Poppins Returns – what a lovely film, it brought back beautiful memories from childhood watching the original and singing the songs with my grandmother. Emily Blunt was everything as Mary Poppins. Every actor was note perfect, the design, the colour, the music, the animation. It had me in tears of joy. This is a delight for everyone, young and old. I really loved it.

Spiderman: into the Spider-verse – Oscar winning animation and it is great. In this film anyone could be Spiderman, Spiderman himself is having issues and as always there are villains to fight. Very funny and clever and well animated.

What I've Been Listening To

Patty Griffin – Self Titled -  Lovely country style folk, with exceptional guitar within.

In the end  - The Cranberries – this is their final album and a really bittersweet one. Delores’ voice never sounded better. Her voice was always that of an angel, but this album really showcases it. It was really difficult to listen to without tears in my eyes. But don’t let that put you off, this is a great album!!!!

Nigeria 70 – the definitive story of 1970’s funky lagos. Pretty cool laid back double album of funky music from the 70s era in Lagos, Nigeria. I really enjoyed this upbeat and cool record.

REM - I've been listening to a lot of REM lately, no real reason, just because I love them.

Van Morrison - Always lovely listening and good background music!

wtf With Marc Maron - this is my new favourite podcast, Marc has an unique voice and is a pop culture guru, he interviews everyone frmo Paul McCartney and John Cleese to Amy and David Sedaris. He's hilarious and neurotic and fascinating. 

Unspooled - Amy and Paul continue to work their way through the Top 100 films from the American Film Institute. I really love this podcast, it makes me look at old favourites in a fresh way.

Clear and Vivid with Alan Alda - This is a great podcast about clear and concise communication, specifically in Science, but really in all forms of interest. Alda has such a dynamic mind and his guests range from the famous to the experts.

Chats 10 looks 3 - Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales continue to delight with their mis-mash of politics, books, movies, television, and pop culture.

Here's the thing -  Alec Baldwin interviews interesting people, New Yorkers, actors, musicians, politicians, activists. This was my first podcast, and it still delights!

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