Monday, December 6, 2021

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER DIARY

 August has us going into lockdown a few days in, where we stayed for a couple of months. 

During this time, I worked from home and worked behind closed doors. Working in a library without customers feels odd, but also gave us a great - once in a lifetime - opportunity to really give everything a go over. Collections were rearranged, culled, tidied. Cool books were pulled out for displays, cupboards were tidied, filing cabinets cleared, admin on top of, and heaps of forward and strategic planning with heaps of amazing ideas and programs and events we are working on. Also loads of staff training. We also commenced a click and collect, before opening back up. Opening back up has been challenging, following health orders and keeping people safe, not everyone in the community liked this. But luckily most have, and were grateful and happy to be back in our hallowed halls, as were we to see them back!

I was also studying, studying, studying during this time. So most of my free time went to my course. 

And no Andrew during this time either, which was pretty shit!

Soccer games were missed bar that first one we got to in early August, family events went to zoom, events and concerts postponed, friends were also missed and catch ups via zoom for drinkies. Bookclub also went to zoom...I think we all got a little bit sick of zoom!



I managed to get my breast check up in, albeit a bit later than normal and am thrilled to say I am now 3 and a half years free of cancer. The further away I am from it, the more worried I get at each check up. Please go and get your boobs checked, it is not scary and I will always be here to come with if you need me.

And, most importantly, I got vaccinated!!!

I watched a few online author talks, John Safran, Lily Brett, David Sedaris, Fran Lebowitz and Anita Heiss joined our bookclub to talk about her extraordinary book, Bila Yarrudhanggalangdhuray.




The lovely Jayne organised a trivia night for us and our families which, whilst on zoom, was a lot of fun.

And then, just like that, we opened back up again. We had a family dinner. Linda and I made it to a French Friday to see the wonderful film, Eiffel, about Gustave Eiffel and his amazing constructions. Birthdays were celebrated in person. We even had a picnic.











The markets, as always, were my constant.














There was a little more time to view, but my reading mojo was all over the shop, here are my reviews for that time:

August/September

October

ANd the usual pics:













Tuesday, November 30, 2021

OCTOBER REVIEWS

 What I've Been Reading

Lily's Little Flower Shop by Lisa Darcy - enjoyed this light romantic comedy. Lily gives up the big job in Sydney to open up a flower shop in a small seaside town. Out of her depth but feeling free for the first time in years, Lily learns the business, get to know the quirky characters, and slowly enjoys this new life. She gets to know the community through births, deaths, marriages, birthdays and all the other life events flowers are ordered for and maybe she might even fall in love. This was just the book I needed to get me out of my reading mojo, not too heavy, not too light.

A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing by Jessie Tu - Jena was a child prodigy, touring the world and playing the violin. After a break down she leaves the musical world behind only to try and regain her place in her early 20s. In the years prior to that she has filled the void left from music and attention with sex. She has a relationship with a much older man. But when she gets a temporary gig with the New York Philharmonic things really change for her. New York not only gives her the opportunity to regain her form in the music world but opens up a lot of options sexually, and lets her live out the fantasy of her favourite film Frances Ha (I too love this film and its references really added to the story). Will she mess up the music with her other escapades or can she juggle both, and what of her life back in Sydney that she has to return to when the gig is up? This was a sheer delight, fresh and fun, interesting and sexy. I loved all the behind the scenes of the classical musical world, it felt real. I loved her open sexuality and the Frances Ha links. She could be a challenging character, but my god she was interesting! I cannot recommend this book enough.

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery - this was the most fascinating book. The author, Sy, was on 'friendly' terms with a lovely Octopus called Athena, and wrote an article about this that went viral. Shocked at the attention, she decided to immerse herself in all things Octopus and find out why people are drawn to them. This is the book of her research. Firstly, whilst this does contain a load of factual information about Octopuses, Octopi, Octopodes (yes, all three terms are correct), it is never dry or boring. Sy's love of these alien-like creatures comes across beautifully in the book. And additionally to the information is Sy's own story of her travel and research and her passion shines through. Like me, I am certain you will hang on her every word. I was fascinated with this story. The intellect of an Octopus was outstanding, the things she witnessed, their humour, their sadness, their kindness. They remembered certain people and even joked around with them. She travelled far and wide with her research, but it was always grounded with her local aquarium, where she met Athena and many more Octopi. These stories grabbed me the most, as you fell in love with these sea characters. I really don't know what else to say except I loved it, and am still thinking about it.

Last Chance Texaco - Rickie Lee Jones- a fascinating insight into the early life of Rickie Lee Jones. Usually I am not a huge fan of autobiographies delving into early years with the amount of detail she did. However her early life was a huge catalyst for her music. If, like me, you have ever listened to her debut album and wondered where she got those amazing stories and lyrics (and music) from at such a young age, this book will tell you. That old beyond her years life is totally blown open here. It also covers this early period in detail, Tom Waits, Chuck E, Dr John etc. She is such a great storyteller and fascinating character. I delighted in the detail and the characters she met along the way. Her hard work, that fabulous debut album and all the attention that came after. This is a brilliant autobiography.

What I've Been Watching

Too Soon: comedy after 9/11 - this was a great documentary about comedy and when it is ok to tell a joke about something not so funny, eg 9/11. With interviews from a whole range of comedians, covering those that took to comedy after 9/11 and uplifted everyone, to those that did not get it right. That fine line is investigated with humour and is absolutely fascinating!

Write Around the World with Richard E Grant- what a bloody delight this was. A way too short series, where Grant heads to Spain, Italy, and France with some of his favourite books that were written in those countries and visits what may have inspired those authors. Grant is such an upbeat, loveable guy, he makes this already amazing series an absolute treat. His easy ability has him conversing with locals and eating their food and savouring their landscape as he reads passages from these amazing books. I want more!!!!

Succession S1/2 - been rewatching these in anticipation of S3. I think this is my favourite show at the moment, it is delicious and fast paced. No one is likeable, but everyone is thoroughly entertaining, and it is funny. Laugh out loud funny, darkly funny, and amusing, which is difficult to pull off in what is essentially a drama based on a wealthy media family that is in danger of folding. Bring on S3.

GoGos - this documentary was quite the revelation to me! I enjoyed We got the Beat and Our Lips are Sealed and a few others, but never really knew this band. So this documentary educated me on their kick arse punk background, my mind was completely blown. They were fucking amazing. After a few band changes, the line up was settled and they started to slow a few of their songs down and realised the punk turned into perfect pop, thanks to the brilliant song writing of Kathy, their bass player. They became famous (after years and years of hard slog) and ended up on a tour with The Police, where their album eclipsed The Police on the Top 40 and was insanely popular. Of course, what goes up, must come down. But what groundbreakers they were, and all girl band that writes their own material, no Svengali, just original girl power. The doco ends with the lament of why they have not been entered into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, and I am pleased to say it must have worked as they recently have!


What I've Been Listening To

Man-Machine - Kraftwerk -  classic album, never dates or goes out of style. 

Solid Gold Hits - Beastie Boys - this was a great vinyl find and a lot of fun.

24 Karat Gold: songs from the vault - Stevie Nicks - newish album, of songs Stevie has written over the years but never released...until now and they are gold standard!

Dusty in Memphis - Dusty Springfield - classic live album, sounds as fresh as the year it was released,

Nevermind - Nirvana - 30 years - what is there is say, instant classic and still holds up. My copy is a beautiful blue vinyl!

Swinging on nothing - Swing'n Sidewalks - They were the houseband for the Big Gig, great vinyl find, great big brassy sound. Bouncy and uplifting.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER REVIEWS

 What I've Been Reading

The Believer: encounters with love, death and faith - Sarah Krasnostein - this the follow up book to The Trauma Cleaner. Sarah follows a range of interesting people who have firm beliefs. She explores what it means to believe. To believe in things others may not believe in, the paranormal, ghosts, UFOS. To believe in other things, how to have a good death. This was my favourite story of the compilation: the beautiful Buddhist, who is a death doula, has many stories about death to share, haunting, hilarious, and powerful. Krasnostein writes beautifully and without judgement, she queries things but ultimately presents. The stories are intertwined, utterly compelling and sometimes completely bizarre. But it is a cracking read and one I highly recommend.

How we live now: scenes from the pandemic by Bill Hayes - this is the follow up book to Insomniac City, which was my book of the year for 2018. Every one that has read that book loves it, so you will love this one too. My only issue with it is at not quite 200 pages it is far too short!!! Written in the same, easy-to-read, style as Insomniac City, this picks up a few years later and just before the pandemic hits New York. In his affable style Bill describes the city as it starts to fall prey to COVID, how it feels, what it looks like, how it affects everyone, but especially his neighbourhood. The book stops just before things get out of hand. Whilst it sounds dour, it is not, it is as uplifting and joyous as the other and you feel completely immersed in the city and his life. I loved this book, but I really wanted more!

The Time of Our Lives by Robert Dessaix - I listened to this on talking book, but not narrated by Dessaix which was a great shame. This is a narrative/memoir on ageing, the delights and the downfalls. It is witty and honest, albeit at times rambling in some kind of stream of consciousness. Niche reading, but entertaining all the same.

The Comfort Book By Matt Haig - latest 'self-help' by Haig. Loads of chapters, small and readable, full of ideas about comfort. From lists of movies and music, to stories of people and ways to be calm and comforted. This is a book for our times.

What I've Been Watching

White Lotus - this is everything you have read and then some. Superb cast, tight acting, especially from Jennifer Coolidge and Australian, Murray Bartlett. Set in an Hawaiian exclusive resort it is ultimately about rich white people and how awful they are. The set is stunning, the music palpable and almost another cast member. The stories are tasty. You are watching it, knowing something is going to unravel badly, but what!!?? Easily one of the best things I have seen this year, just do yourself a favour and watch it!!!

War of the Worlds S1/2 - I really enjoyed this new take on WOTW, once I got into the swing of it. Great cast headed up by Gabriel Byrne as a scientist who may be able to work out how to erradicate these evil aliens. Anything more is spoilers, but this is pretty excellent sci fi viewing.

The Duchess - this was a load of fun, based around comedian, Katherine Ryan. She is a single Mum to a precocious pre-teen and is deciding whether to have another child with her ex, who she loathes. This was a lot of fun, even though most of the characters were not exactly likeable.

Modern Love S1 - finally got around to catching up with this! Single episodes about love in NYC, funny, poignant, sad, clever, with a fabulous cast. To say anymore would be giving it all away.

Arrested Development S5 - to say I worship this show is an understatement. BUt S4 and S5 just were not up to the high bar set by the original 3 series. Having said this S5 was far better than S4. This show works best as an ensemble and for that to work you need all the characters working off each other. Of course since the original 3 pretty much every actor has become a big star so I guess wrangling them is more difficult. I still got deep laughs out of this (mostly from the brilliant Tony Hale as Buster) and some of the stories still made me smile but disappointing when you think about what went before it.

In Treatment -  this is a rejig of the fabulous drama starring Gabriel Bryne. 5 episodes a week about a therapist, the first 4 show the therapy and the final showed him in therapy. This series stars the brilliant Uzo Aduba as the therapist with a lot of issues herself. Only 4 a week with her various clients and no actual therapy. She is in limbo and her therapist keeps calling her but she is avoiding him. She calls him Paul, so you presume that is Gabriel Bryne as his character was Paul. Clever. It is as good as the original, and her acting top notch. Totally worth checking out.

Brooklyn 99 - final series of this beloved show. I love these guys and the humour but I found it a little forced this season, so probably time to end. Having said that it is said to see them go, but hey, I can always rewatch the whole thing!

Newsreader- this was a great Australian short series (way too short, I really hope they do more) about a news room in the 80s in Melbourne. The great thing about this show, whilst fictitious, they used real Australian or International news items to report on, eg Lindy Chamberlain, AIDS, Chernobyl, Royal Weddings, Russell Street Bombing etc. The cast was fabulous, with a big nod to William McInnes as the news chief, always cracking his shit and looking like he is going to stroke out. But everyone was really great, and the attention to detail in set design and costumes and music etc was superb. If you didn't watch this you are missing out big time, see if it is on iview!

How to Talk to Girls at Parties - this is a screenplay by John Cameron Mitchell based on a short story by Neil Gaiman and it is utterly bizarre but good-ish. A alien lands in Croydon circa 70s and gets caught up in the punk/goth scene. A lot of cameos as other aliens trying to lure their stray alien back along with some humans. Nicole Kidman is the doyen of the scene (desperately channelling Bowie and possibly miscast lol but it did amuse me). This is odd, but also oddly compelling.

Into the Night - An unknown (to me) Jeff Goldblum film from 1985 directed by Jojn Landis with Michelle Pfeiffer. Look it is not great, but it isn't bad either. Jeff's character is down on his luck and he is in his car in the carpark of an airport thinking about just jumping on a plan and getting away when an attractive woman jumps into his car, enter Pfeiffer. She is on the run from a gang and he finds himself caught up in it all and falling in love...of course. It is funny, it does have action, the cast are great, but the sum of the parts don't quite make it.

The Goldfinch - I loved this book so very much, it is up there as an all-time favourite. When they said they were going to make it into a movie I was confounded. This is a multi decade, sprawling film with a lot going on, a lot of characters, and a lot of internal thought. They are never going to nail it was my strongest thought, but what if they do was my Pollyanna side coming through.

Sadly, they did not nail it, a lot was edited out or stripped back and the movie is just lacklustre. The casting should have been brilliant, it was a great cast, but somehow it didn't work. This should have been a mini series, to give it the depth it needs. I mean if they can stretch out trashy crap like Liane Moriarty, they really should offer similar to a writer like Donna Tartt, who got THE PULITZER PRIZE for The Goldfinch!!!  OK off the soap box!

Travels with my Father - Jack and Michael Whitehall - I cannot recommend this highly enough, especially if you like a laugh. I find most things that are supposedly comedy may amuse me but rarely make me laugh out loud, this does and regularly. Jack Whitehall is an English comedian, in his 30s, and rather attractive and posh. His father is much much older than him, in his late 70s and incredibly posh and snooty. They are definitely an odd couple and Jack is constantly trying to push his father into awkward situations AND get closer to him and gain his approval and love. The series is Jack taking his father away on trips, quite often well out of Michael's comfort zone. His reactions are priceless and the thing is as time goes on, whilst he is being genuine you can tell he is loving every minute of it, especially if he can manage to get his son back in some awkward way. This is the odd couple situation but heightened. Plus it is a great travel show. I was so said when I got through all the series, but I can always go back and watch them again. There is one set in Australia which is hilarious. His mother often turns up and she is a crack up, and a real daredevil which ups the ante big time and then there is Winston, Jack's adopted younger brother, one of the funniest jokes of the entire series, but to say more would be spoilers!!!

Ms Represented - this was phenomenal, a 4 part mini series about females in Australian politics. Annabel Crabb did a grand job presenting this history with most of those still alive to tell their story. I had no idea about the earlier women and how hard they worked to get things close to what they are now. What utter guts and brilliance, then there were a whole load of names of women I knew but maybe didn't know their whole story. I learnt so much, it made me feel so very proud and so very very pissed off. The latter being at how poorly women have been treated, even up until today. Now I guess I knew a lot of it, but to have it presented so beautifully and compactly and directly really brought it all home. This is stunning, and if you have not seen it you owe it to yourself to have a look, I am sure it is still on iview.

The Parisian Agency - fabulous real estate show set in Paris amongst the richer than rich. Stunning houses, fabulous family dynamics behind the real estate agency, and loads of Paris...what more could you want!!??

Inside the Met - fabulous series about behind the scenes of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, a magnificent and sprawling gallery. It is during the time of COVID and shows how the gallery managed. Fascinating, especially as I have been to that museum or rather swooned through it in one afternoon!

9/11: One day in America - this is a National Geographic mini series that was made for the 20th anniversary. It was very full on and went through the whole day piece by piece with a lot of unprecedented footage. Sometimes i felt like a thriller that had you hanging on and other times pure horror and I had to take a break. Ultimately I was totally worth watching.

Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers - a live concert in a small theatre from 2015 where they played Sticky Fingers in it's entirety with some additional songs thrown in. They still kick arse and there are little interview every now and then.

Happy Birthday Me Bean - 30 years of Mr Bean in one documentary and it was pure joy. Focusing on the lead up to the TV show and all the players, this showed how much hard work and skill and quite frankly, genius went into this show. Recent interviews with everyone reminiscing were wonderful plus a few other comedians talking about how much they loved it. They go into the behind the scenes of a lot of the skits too. This is really worth watching.

Agatha Christie Code - Joanna Lumley and some researchers look at Agatha's books scientifically by looking at words, sentence structure, story area, poisons, red herring clues and so forth. This research and scientific evidence show how similar each book actually was yet never felt repetitive. Interesting!

Firestarter: the story of Bangarra - this was a wonderful documentary about the Page Brothers and Bangarra Dance Company. What a remarkable family, if you already know their history, you know there are some sad parts to it. Amazing theatre and dance and plenty of back story. This is a must.

Dubboo: life of a songman - this documentary was about David Page and a melancholy companion piece to Firestarter. Again what a talent, and what a sad story. Again, a must.

Jim and Andy - this is possibly one of the most remarkable documentaries I have ever seen. I read about it a few years back and it took a while to track it down, and I was worried it would not live up to expectations. But it did and then some. So when Jim Carrey did the movie about Andy Kaufman, The Man on the Moon, he allowed someone to film a lot of the behind the scenes. He also went full rogue/method and pretty much became Andy. Which is equal parts thrilling and equal parts frightening. 

I am a huge Andy Kaufman fan and loved the movie, Jim was exceptional. He fought hard to get the role and I think Milos Forman wondered why he gave it to him on more than one occasion. Jim did become Andy, and a lot of the Taxi actors came back to play themselves, and they were all doing double takes. There is a lot of Jim at the time of putting the documentary together looking back at the filming. When viewing a lot of the footage, he has no recollection and freely admits he had serious mental health issues at the time and because of his role in that film. 

I guess this is for fans only or those interested in acting. i was transfixed by this, it does give you a potted history of Andy AND of Jim. You can see the appeal of both men, both of whom I do adore. There is a lot of amazing footage, some of it truly cringeworthy (usually when Jim was playing Andy as Tony Clifton, which is as meta as it can be). But it is wonderful.

What I've Been Listening To

SWF: Great Expectations, Margaret and David return - David and Margaret return for the SWF this year and the session was taped! They discuss books made in to film (mostly Australian) including Candy, The Great Gatsby, Breath, The Dry, Ladies in Black and Picnic at Hanging Rock. Absolutely joyful, like popping on a comfy old cardi. I miss their views and their chatter, and Margaret's laugh and David's snark. National treasures, I wanted more!

Ms Represented - a 6 part podcast to go with the series, thoroughly enjoyable. It covers the key points from the TV series and then goes into some stories that didn't make it to air. Absolutely necessary!

Smartless with Daniel Riciardo - Smartless is Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes. it is exactly as you imagine, their interview with Riciardo was hilarious and informative.

You Am I - later albums - love this band, and spending a bit of time with their later catalogue, always great.

Bleach - Nirvana -  got a lovely new copy on vinyl. What more can I say, brilliant!

Johnny Cash - American Recordings - there is so much to say, first of all I scored all 6 on vinyl and they are a thing of beauty. Every track brings you to your knees, his voice is better than it ever was. The covers are amazing. If you haven't listened to this, you simply must!

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Live  - this just made me mad I have never seen Petty live, and never will. It is a great album.

Peter Gabriel 1 and 2- picked up these 2 earlier Gabriel albums and they are great. Nice atmospheric touch of Genesis with some pop sensibility and a little hint at the world music he will morph into.

Jimmy and the Boys - Not like everybody else - punk caberet band Jimmy and the Boys had a few hits and were often on Countdown in the early days. I was always drawn to the obscure and odd, even as a young kid. The song I Am Not Like Everybody Else really sung to me, even way back then. Of course, the band and their music were highly sexualised and that went over my young head but it was great to pick this album up second hand and give it a spin. Holds up really well.

Greenfields: The Gibb Brother’s Songbook, Vol. 1 - this is a compilation album featuring the last Gibb brother, Barry, and a handful of musicians he choose to redo some of his greatest hits with. Keith Urban, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crowe, and Olivia Newton John are some of the artists featured. And most of the songs sound great.


Sunday, September 12, 2021

JULY DIARY

 I spent most of July on holidays. It was a well needed break after a busy time at work and studying and everything but due to lockdown it was not quite the break I had planned. I was not in lockdown but Andrew, living in Sydney, was and out break to Port Macquarie had to be cancelled. It was pretty upsetting, but that is life in the time of COVID. I haven't really had a proper holiday away since I was sick 3 years ago and it was to be our first holiday away together, but we will get there, at some point!

So my holidays started with a lovely lunch at Morpeth with my dear friend Jen. We had to wear masks when we were not eating, but it didn't matter. It was so nice to catch up. I went for a little drive after and took a few pics around the glory that is Morpeth.









I mostly stayed at home and studied and read and watched tele while I was off. I also did a springclean of Club Cathy, bar the study (that is like a months worth of work). These things didn't ease the pain of no actual holiday but they kept me going and I did need a break. I do like a staycation, but with the threat of covid near the area I didn't like to go out too much.

I did catch up with Alice for morning tea at the Common Circus at Hamilton. 

Have lunch with Mum and Dad at The Burwood, I had never been there and had an amazing steak sandwich.

Headed to the movies for French Friday with the gals, we saw a film called Delicieaux about the first French cafe/restaurant. It was funny and dramatic but full of amazing food. Good thing we had eaten at the French Market prior to the movie!


I had a huge day out solo, where I parked at the beach end of Darby and walked up to the cafe end, doing some shopping and photography. I then headed over the Honeysuckle to the Museum to see the Castanet Club exhibition which was every bit as colourful and zany as you can imagine. What joy. I wandered the regular exhibition before heading back across the park to the Art Gallery and War War - the Art of Torres Strait. What an amazing exhibition. I had afternoon tea at Coco Mondo after a little shop at Cooks Hill Books. I love days like that, made it back to the car just as it started to spit rain.






















I managed to score a copy of The Dee Gees (Foo Fighters doing The Bee Gees) album and invited the girls over for a Disco Night and catch up. We listened to a range of my disco vinyl, and snacked. I had found out about a new French Bakery, the same people who cater French Fridays, so had managed to get a selection of sweets for us also. Yummo!




I ended the month with a lovely walk at Green Point, been ages since I was there. I sat on the hill and soaked up the sun and views before walking back. So lovely.








There was the usual markets.





Reviews

And photography