Saturday, June 6, 2020


What I've Been Reading

I'm A Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson - the third in the talking book format I have been listening to, read by the author himself. This time Bill has returned to the US after living in the UK for 20 years. Returning to his home country, he found a lot had changed, and a lot had not. This is his discoveries, it is astute and very funny and delivered in his lovely wry wit.

Greek to Me: adventures of the comma queen by Mary Norris - this is Mary's second memoir. The first was about her brilliant job at The New Yorker as a copy editor. This one is about her love of the Greek language and Greece. It is a glorious mix of language, history and travel, along with interesting antecdotes from her life. I really enjoyed this.

The Constant Hum by Alice Bishop - this is a newish book of short stories based on the aftermath the Black Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009. The range in size from a few lines to a few pages, and offer subject matter from the mundane to the upsetting. This is very readable without being too traumatic.

On Tyranny - twenty lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder, On Fairness - Sally McManus, On Us - Mark Scott, On Hate -Tim Soutphommasane - been working through a lot of these little essay titles by well known people in the media on varying subjects. Fascinating and easy to whip through.

The Innocent Reader: reflections on reading and writing by Debra Adelaide  - book of essays on reading, writing and everything in between. I enjoyed this book but wanted more. There are a lot of these books about and as much as they are enjoyable I always finish them wanting more. I have ideas, maybe I need to work on my own. 

What I've Been Watching

Better Things S4 - this show, it is one of my favourites. I have a lot of stuff I call favourites, but this, this is up there!!! It is so beautifully written and presented. If you haven't watched it, try and find it. Sam Fox - played beautifully by the utterly brilliant Pamela Adlon, is an actress and single Mum to 3 daughters. Her ageing mother lives next door. Nothing happens and yet everything happens, cause the show is about life. It is about the interactions between the main family of characters and their friends. It is inclusive and full of love. It is essentially a comedy with dramatic moments. The acting in it - especially the 5 female leads - is exceptional. Watching the 3 girls grow up over the series in phenomenal, I love Frankie, the middle daughter, incredibly special actress. This season has a few minor arcs, one is a documentary series Sam is making about women, and it is thing of beauty. This show is such a feminist show, so many amazing women in it. It is a difficult one to explain, but it is thoroughly worthwhile and just been renewed for S5! Yes!

Breeders - This irritated me at first, but I hung in there 'cause Martin Freeman. it is about a couple with 2 young children, a realistic look at parenting and being a family. A black comedy. Freeman's character struggles with parenting. I didn't really get into this until twist 1 (there are 2) which totally turned the show on it's head. The twists are very very dark - so be warned. I really don't know what to think about this show. I don't know how to explain it without giving away the plot.

Run/High Fidelity/Insecure - been watching and LOVING these, but still in the middle of them all, reviews next month!

Crikey! It's The Irwins - Ok, I was a huge Steve Irwin fan and was totally devastated when he died. I know he wasn't everyone's cuppa tea, however I love passion. I love people who have a passion and follow it and shine. He was all that and more. Plus, animals! I love animals. His philosophies, despite a bit of madness within, were sound. I've been aware of this show for a little while and finally succumbed to watching it. And it is freakin' awesome!! 

It is basically a behind the scenes at a zoo show, but Australia Zoo is unlike any zoo. It is quite a remarkable place. Conservation and breeding of disappearing animals. It is taking Steve's philosophies and love of animals and conservation and just knocking it out the park. I am not a huge fan of zoos, however there are some zoos around the world that - for the most part - have similar ideologies. I do find some aspects of zoos confronting but I am willing to let that go if they are mostly saving and breeding animals and putting them back out into the wild and Australia Zoo does that. 

The show is also about the Irwin family and there is a lot to love there too. AND the star is young Robert. At 16 years of age he is his father's son and then some, which is really saying something. He has maturity way beyond his years and yet is still your average teenage boy. He is less 'crazy' than his Dad but definitely has his passion. His way with animals is something to be seen. This kid is pure magic. He was so young when his father died, and boy, he has me in tears watching him sometimes. He's very wise beyond his years and talks about his Dad a lot. Watching with any animal, he is at one and in heaven. Wes, Steve's best friend, pretty much runs the zoo and mentors Robert and that is also a thing of beauty. In fact all the employees at the zoo work with Robert (and Bindi and Terri) and they all have this reverence that is lovely.

I binged all 2 series this month and they were a real source of comfort to me when the world felt like it was all too much. I saw many babies born, other animals put to sleep, animals being saved and put back into the wild and Bindi being married. It is a great family show, and one that is easy to watch and love. 

Zoos/snakes -
following on from The Irwins, I have found a few other zoo shows which I have also enjoyed. These are my feel good shows. And Snakes in the City which if you know me is a weird one. I am terrified of snakes yet oddly drawn to this crazy show. Set in Joburg, it follows a couple who capture snakes who have made their way into people's homes or business and release them back to the wild. Mostly highly dangerous snakes, they are a little bit nuts but love their job. I found the tenseness of this show loosens the tension I have being out and about in the world and then got hooked, so whilst I don't feel as tense out and about I am still watching the show...go figure!

Flash Gordon - I have never watched this and it was a hoot. IT reminded me a lot of old Doctor Who, with dodgy sets and bad acting. The music, mostly Queen, was brilliant of course. I had a lot of fun watching this.

What We Do In The Shadows movie - with S2 coming very soon, I had a re-watch of the original movie. It is so good and so funny. I do think the TV series is better though. For those who do not know, you are really missing out, it is a modern day mockumentary about vampires house sharing in Wellington. It is from Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and they both play 2 of the vampires. If you are a fan of Wellington Paranormal you will see characters from that show in this film too. It is very clever and presented so very well, and it is hilarious. 

Toni Erdman - this is a long but fabulous German movie about a man who is released from a stint in jail trying to make good with his daughter. She is very uptight and working tirelessly for a company. He is loose and funny and wreckless and has no filter. He follows her to Bulgaria on a business trip and they are struggling to get on. He leaves but misses his plane so decides to take on the persona of Toni Erdman, with a wig and false teeth etc, and starts turning up wherever she is. She goes along with it despite being quite angry with him and they start to connect. This was such a lovely film, very funny and really really odd!

Nigella Lawson in conversation with Meave Mara  - this was a live recording from the Sydney Opera House and delightful. Nigella talking all things Nigella - get me the smelling salts!

Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind interesting documentary produced by her family, it traces Natalie's career as a child actress into a leading lady. Her love life and life off camera and of course, her untimely events. Loads of interviews with key people and it is lovely but ultimately doesn't answer any of the questions or it hard hitting.

Quilty: painting the shadows - I am such a fan of Ben Quilty and this documentary follows his rise and shows his unique painting style. With interviews from family, friends, and contemporaries, we get a lovely insight into his world. 

Tim Rogers and Rhys Muldoon - I stumbled across an instrgram post from Rhys, who I have followed for years, and found out he had been hosting a late night talk show and that particular night it was Tim Rogers. They are both close friends, which i did not know, and a delightful chat was showcased. They talked about music, writing, melancholy vs depression, books, and all things of beauty. I was in awe and happy, I love stuff like this.

Love in Lockdown - cute little 6 part online romcom. Each episode is about 7mins and about a couple who meet over an online ukulele lessons. Absolutely worth your time, on youtube, so go and check it out!!!

What I've Been Listening To

The Cure - Been listening to my older Cure albums on vinyl, loving it and forget how brilliant they are.

WTF with Marc Maron  - oh vey, Marc is a depressive character and I have been worried about him during Covid as his cat has been unwell but when his new girlfriend dropped dead unexpectedly I was super worried. He is doing ok, but listening to him talk about his grief on his podcast was too much, but beautiful.

Strong Songs - I am still getting into this great podcast, stand outs were Think by Aretha Franklin and Like A Prayer by Madonna. Kirk knows his stuff and unpicks great songs musically. You always learn something and it is great to really break down favourite songs.

Pineapple Project with Jan Fran on death The Pineapple Project has been taken over by the fabulous Jan Fran, and the topic was death. It was really fascinating and enlightening.

A Podcast of one's own with Julia Gillard - how did I not know this!?! Julia has her own podcast, and the title is a riff on Virginia Woolf as she works in the Virginia Woolf building at King's College in London. I cannot tell you how much I loved typing that sentence!!!!!!! I have only listened to a couple and they are everything. About women and feminism and are super intelligent and also lovely and funny and easy to listen to. I cannot wait to listen to more.

Televisionaries- this is another new podcast, and Australia led one about television and it is really good. they tackle one new show and one classic plus snippets of tele news and a quiz in between.

Rumble - Mother's day- Rumble is Michael Moore's podcast and is very political as you can imagine. But this episode for Mother's Day focuses on his own Mother and his upbringing and it was utterly beautiful!!!

Helen Garner's Diaries from Sydney - recorded in Angel Place last November ( I had been thinking of heading down but it was too difficult so late in the year). This is a lovely chat about Helen's new book and full of delightful stories from Helen. I could listen to my favourite author talk all day and this was just perfect.

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