Tuesday, March 2, 2021

FEBRUARY REVIEWS

What I've Been Reading

Sinning Across Spain: walking the old and new Camino by Ailsa Piper - I really enjoyed this travel/adventure book. I listened to it on talking book, read by the author herself. Ailsa has always been a walker, and has walked many trails. When it came time to walk the famous Camino in Spain she thought of the medieval walkers who were paid to carry other people’s sins on the walk. Not having many sins of her own, she turned to friends and acquaintances and asked for theirs. She received many and noted them to read on her journey. 

This is a fabulous travel adventure book of one woman on a trail contemplating life. She writes about the people she meets on the way, her fellow pilgrims. She writes about the hardships faced on the walk, the nature she sees, how she empties her mind, the music she listens to. She also philosophises about things such as sins, religion, and such. Highly recommend.

Brother and Sister: a memoir by Diane Keaton - this was a fascinating memoir about Keaton's brother. She never tells us what he suffered from, but it is obvious he had serious mental health issues. It is her early history as informed by this larger than life character that they her entire family loved but struggled with. There is not a lot of Hollywood stories within, except where she might mention she was headed to a set of a movie etc. It is a remarkable story of love and frustration, very un-hollywood and with a lot of heart and soul. 

Accidentally Wes Anderson by Wally Koval - Accidentally Wes Anderson is an instagram page with pics of places and buildings that you would think were straight out of a Wes Anderson film, showcasing a certain style and colour palate with a great lot of symmetry. Wes himself writes the intro and it is a glorious book to delve through.

Honeybee by Craig Silvey - this is the much awaited follow up to the instant Australian classic, Jasper Jones. I enjoyed this book very much but I didn't love it. It tackled a lot of themes and subject matter and some of it felt forced or I noticed it was added in. Great fiction adds such things in such subtle ways that you do not think you are learning as you read (that is the job of non-fiction not fiction), you may finish a book and realise this, but not as you are actually reading it. Some plot felt clunky and forced. 

I loved the relationship formed between the two unlikely main characters, Sam and Vic. Vic is a senior mourning the loss of his wife, and Sam is a teen boy who like to dress up as a girl. They meet during a dark spot in their life and they 'save' each other. Sam is pretty messed up from a violent family life and seeks some kind of normality with Vic. From therein on, many other adventures are added and whilst they were interesting, I felt some dragged and were unnecessary. It is still a good book, worth reading, I am just picky about fiction.

Reckless by Chrissie Hynde - this was a bit of a jumbled autobiography/memoir. I wanted more behind the scenes of The Pretenders and that wasn't really presented fully. There was a lot of depth to her early life and how she got into music etc but not a lot about fame, writing, performing etc. I did enjoy this, but I wanted so much more.

What I've Been Watching

Michael Palin: travels of lifetime
 - this is a great new series featuring the great Michael Palin looking back at all of his travels. Starting with Around the World in 80 days, others reflect on the impact of this ground breaking series. Michael chimes in, with thoughts and old audio and passages from his intensive diaries. It was lovely to see a much younger Palin enjoying himself and mixing it up beautifully with the locals. This was a warm, wonderful walk down memory lane. 

Timewarp: the greatest cult films of all time - was a great 3 part documentary on cult films. Taking in B-grade sci-fi, horror, comedy, camp and films like Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Big Lebowski, Rocky Horror, and so on. This was a glorious romp and so much fun.

Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll is a wonderful rock documentary from Taylor Hackford about Chuck Berry. It follows Chuck on tour in the late 80s and his practice into the lead up to a big tribute concert. The concert is being organised by Keith Richards and Chuck puts him through his paces in terms of the musicality of the show. Formidable but warm, serious but hilarious, Chuck was a pure delight to watch in all his glory. The documentary shows the concert throughout too, and everyone is beside themselves to play with Chuck. Truly the godfather of rock and roll, this man was made for rock and roll!

Score: a film music documentary - was a fascinating film about scoring film. From the big guns to the newbies, how they put music to a film, to enhance and showcase what is happening. What a wonderful artform.

Mrs America - this drama is based on the Equal Rights for Women group and the other group of women, led by the crazily named Phyllis Schlafly, who tried to stop them progressing. I had no idea such a group existed, let alone how they tried to stop feminism. I really enjoyed the story at first, fascinated by 9 hours was way too long, it needed a decent edit. That being said, I did love this, and felt it was an astonishingly amazing cast. Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan, Margo Martindale as Bella Azbug, Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm, and Rose Bryne as Gloria Steinem were particularly outstanding. Cate Blanchett worked a fine line as the almost comical Schlafly.

Chewing Gum - is the first series by Michaela Coel (I May Destroy You). Michaela plays Tracey, a 20 something, from an ultra religious family. She has been with her much older boyfriend for over 4 years without so much as a chaste kiss. Obsessed by Beyonce, all Tracey wants is to learn about and have sex. This is very funny, and has a great cast. Michaela is great at being out there and pushing the boundaries. I loved this so much, it made me laugh out loud and Tracey is completely adorable.

Flight Attendant - I loved this so much and cannot wait for S1. Kaley Cuoco (Big Bang Theory) plays an alcoholic flight attendant with a boyfriend or lover at every stopover. After a night with a rich good looking man goes wrong, she finds herself in a panic on the run. The is funny, dark, a thriller, a whodunit, and had me hooked. Also a superb supporting cast with Zosia Mamet, Michelle Gomez, and TR Knight.

What I've Been Listening To

Push the Blues Away by Josh Teskey and Ash Grunwald – excellent blues, very catchy and listenable

Disco – Kylie – ok album, but too much autotune which is quite awful, but there are some good tracks.

Metrobolist aka the man who sold the world by David Bowie - this is a remastered version under the original titles Bowie wanted to call the album. It is fabulous and sounds even better.

The Modern Medieval by Something for Kate - this was lovely and listenable as all of SFK's albums are.

Letter to you by Bruce Springsteen featuring the E-Street Band - this is one of his best albums to date, with some stunning reworkings of older songs.

Unreleased 1998-2010 by Powderfinger - not a bad selection of offcuts, very listenabled and anthematic as they tend towards.    

Delicate sounds of thunder by Pink Floyd - this is a remastered copy of the classic live album and it sounds amazing. Always thrilling to listen to Pink Floyd, this is a must!

Upon my Wicked Son by Andy Prieboy  - I loved this album back in the day. I was a big Wall of Voodoo fan and just loved the mix on this one. A real mix of rock, 90s indie, and pop. Finding this brand new copy but second hand was a real gift and when I opened it the vinyl was gold...indeed!!

The Ramones by The Ramones - all time classic punk and rock album. I love it so much, it never dates and always makes me smile. Kick Arse!!!

The Great Destroyer by Low - I had never heard of Low until recently. An indie American pop rock band and they are glorious. This is their 7th album and I immediately loved it. It reminded me of a mix of Teenage Fanclub and early REM. The person that choose this gift knows me well!

Sunday, February 21, 2021

JANUARY DIARY

 What a wonderful start to the year!

I celebrated NYE for the first time in decades with a boyfriend!

This sounds sadder than it actually is...as such.

I spent most of my 20s in a defacto relationship that went terribly sour, he really did not treat me well. This is another story for another day, but it left me so very damaged that I spent the better part of a decade single, happily so...sort of. I just didn't want another experience like that and needed time to heal. I call them my lost years. So I have been dating since my mid 30s and I am now 50, so that is a long time and so very tiring! I have met many lovely men, with many types of relationships, but really none that stuck. I seemed to attract a lot of idiots, boys, and users. I did the online thing, and for every great guy, there was 9 total dicks. So I have searched high and low for my Mr Right for me and I believe I have finally found him, just when I had pretty much given up too! He is lovely and sweet, intelligent and funny, and feels like he has been my boyfriend forever, and I mean that in the best possible way. He is easy going and easy to be with, not hard work and he treats be beautifully.

I am in heaven, and I will stop, because there is nothing worse than someone raving on about such things.

Also after 3 years in the vortex and feeling stressed and anxious with health and work issues it is nice to start a new year feeling relaxed and unhindered. I know we still have the COVID reality to deal with, but that is a walk in  the park compared to other stuff I have been through!

So January was great.

Work is going well, in my  new position at Belmont Library, I am loving the work, the team, and the community. We work hard, have fun, and have much we want to achieve this year. YAY!!!

It was a mostly quiet month, just chilling really.

Here are the things I watched, read, listened to.

We had a fabulous day in the city mid month. Brunch at The Autumn Rooms, which I cannot recommend highly enough.



Then a wander and shop on Darby, followed by the Backstage Pass exhibition at The Art Gallery.




Next we hit Newcastle Baths, where I sat and read and people watched and A took pics and videos.








A late late lunch or early dinner at Scotties was a must, you can never go wrong eating there.





The day was capped off by a wander at the top of King Edward Park and Shepherd's Hill.


More brunch at the end of the month at Table 1 Espresso, Warners Bay and a walk near the lake, then Fish Fry and Pow Wow with friends at The Gallipoli Club.





I did my usual markets of course.






And some photography...










Monday, February 15, 2021

JANUARY REVIEWS

What I've Been Reading

Wow, no thank you: essays by Samantha Irby - Samantha is the new, more accessible Roxane Gay. A young gay African American comedic essay writer. This collection tackles being 'married' and in a long-term relationship and is she even up to it. She also gets a dream gig writing with Lindy West on her adaptation of Shrill. Loads of behind the scenes from there. This is a wild ride and fabulous laugh out loud book.

Second Best: the amazing histories of the greatest runners-up by Ben Pobjie - this is a fun book, that I listened to on talking book about people who came second in history. Buzz Aldrin, sporting and politcal runners-ups, and many others get to showcase their skills. 

Dolly Parton Songteller: my life in lyrics by Dolly Parton with Robert Oermann - This is a glorious coffee table style book with the lyrics of Dolly's favourite songs and the stories behind them. It also features pictures of Dolly and Dolly memorabilia. I loved this book, it was like a big warm hug from the woman herself!

Right place, right time: the life of a rock and roll photographer by Bob Gruen - this is the memoir of classic rock photographer Bob Gruen including the stories behind his most famous photos. It begins when his mother, an amateur photography, gives him her old camera and he zips around his neighbourhood taking pics and ends up with a front page photo on the local newspaper after an apartment fire. He sees Ike and Tina Turner perform and his life changes, he takes pictures of Tina twirling about on stage and gives them to her. Ike approves, and he goes on tour with them, get introduced to other rock luminaries and a stellar career is made. His relationship with Lennon and Yoko brings him into genius mode. His pics of Lennon in NYC in the early 70s are stunning. This book is fabulous and tells all these stories and many more. Plus it includes many of the pics within.

Un-cook yourself: a ratbags rules for life by Nat’s What I Reckon - this is a wonderful book by Nat of the Youtube cooking sensation. It covers all of the things he does, as a comedian, online and much more. Nat, for those who have not seen him online, is a heavily tattooed and pierced dude with stunning long hair and a lovely gentle demeanor. He is a bit sweary, hilariously funny, and gives great cooking instruction online. It this world of cookie cutter boring, he stands out as an unique individual with decency and authenticity. The book is part memoir, part self-help, Nat suffers from mental health issues and like to hold a mirror up to masculine culture. In between each chapter is a small graphic novel and recipe showcasing his popular online recipes. The book has depth, is interesting, inspiring, genuine, and funny. Highly recommend.

Peas and Queues the minefield of modern manners by Sandy Toksvig - read by Toksvig herself, this is a great and hilariously dry look at manners today, including technology, dating, child rearing, eating and so much more. I actually learnt a lot amongst the laughs, Sandy has a distinctive voice, and this is all hers. A total delight.

What I've Been Watching

His Dark Materials S1 - absolutely hypnotised by this fantasy series. Two young children from different worlds meet via a piercing in the world's universe. They are both on a quest to find their absent parents, but begin to realise they are destined for more. The worlds are stunningly portrayed, a mix of fantasy, 40s, steampunk and more. The cast is superb, the children themselves holding their own and then some. The show is intense with solid comedic sections. Highly recommend.

The Third Day - this is complex to describe without giving away plot points. Jude Law, stumbles across a young girl in a forest trying to commit suicide. He saves her and drives her home, across to an island that only has access when the tides are low. He finds the small community on the island perplexing, something is not quite right and despite urgent matters he needs to return to at home, he ends up getting caught up in matter on the island. Halfway through the story recommences with a mother an 2 daughters going to stay on the island for a holiday, but they find a community in ruin. What is going on, they find themselves stuck on the island. Will the 2 stories overlap or not. What is with this island. I was sucked in by this story, but felt it let me down in part and yet I cannot stop thinking about it. Great cast, and acting, mysterious story, great scenery, but it bugged me a little. One for you to decide.

The Prado Museum - documentary of behind the scenes of the Prado Museum, in Madrid, Spain. Stunning art and architecture.

The House of Cardin - documentary on the life of Pierre Cardin, his personal life and his art and clothes. Quite a long movie, needed an edit here and there, but ultimately really good.

Doctor Who: revolution of the Daleks - the New Years special was a fun romp including Daleks. Things get grim with the reappearance of Chris Noth, selling his soul unknowingly to the Daleks to take over the UK as robot surveillance. But our friends with the help of the fabulous Captain Jack won't let him get away with it, or can they!!??

Joanna Lumley travels - I love Joanna Lumley travelogues and this is a best of and outtakes selection. Joanna is delightful fubbing lines, being hilarious and showing a little bit of Patsy at times. She goes behind the facade and shows the other side of what you see, not always glamourous, but always fascinating. 

Travel Man best of - another lockdown series with Travel Man (Richard Aoyade) slicing up the episodes into various subjects like outdoors, transportation, food etc. I love this show, so will take it anyway it is presented to me. 

Escape to the Chateau best of - a three piece run with Dick and Angel looking back on their accomplishments so far. This show is always a delight, and I love the chemistry between this pair. Such fun, such envy!

Comedians -  only one series of this show was made and you can see why. Billy Crystal and Josh Gad play fictionalised versions on themselves making a yet-to-be aired comedy sketch show. At times they work well together, but mostly they clash, with the older star indulging the younger one too much and making himself cranky for doing so. There are extremely funny moments within but unfortunately far more moments of cringe. This was ok.

Richard Jewell - great Clint Eastwood biopic about the man supposedly behind the Atlanta Olympics bombings. Great cast with Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm, and Olivia Wilde. Even though you know the story, I was entranced by this film, really well done.

Bill and Ted Face the Music - this was not great. Simple premise, Bill and Ted wanted to make music that changed the world, and have not. So they give it a go and fail miserably. Step in their cool daughters, who give it a go themselves. The girls are easily the best thing about this movie. But really, I wish they had let it be.

What I've Been Listening To

Sunset in the Blue by Melody Gardot -  I love Melody and this was a lovely listen, but not as compelling as previous albums.

Live Anthology by Glenn Campbell - put together from live recordings from 1972 to 2001, this is a great collection of Campbell at his best. It not only showcases his versatile voice, but his exceptional guitar playing. On top of his own hits, he tackles a Beach Boys Medley, plus Mull of Kintyre and Amazing Grace.

Batflowers by Megan Washington - this is an excellent return to form with a range of musical stylings. The usual powerful songs her exquisite voice does best, but also some rock and pop.

Hermitage by Ron Sexsmith - I really loved this album, it felt like I knew it instantly as I heard it. Great albums always do it. It is really uplifting in style and the songs are strong and addictive. I can hear McCartney, Wainwright, and many others within. Totally worth a listen

Tea for the Tillerman 2 by Cat Stevens - reworking of father and son and others. Absolutely magnificent!

Infinite Things - Paloma Faith - I love Paloma's voice and her quirky style of music. This album lacked both in parts, the stronger songs were the ones that took advantage of her voice and quirky, but some sounded very Katy Perry and that sort of 'music' which I really don't care for. This one was a bit hit and miss.

Apart together - Tim Minchin - I do love Tim's genius, but in small doses. I find a small amount goes a long way. This wasn't too bad, some very clever stories and lyrics within.

Return to Greendale by Neil Young and Crazy Horse –  a mix of bluesy 60s and a little indulgent but it is Neil, so worth a listen to this double album.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Good riddance to 2020 and Hello 2021

Well, what is there to say about 2020 that hasn't been said before!!??

Not a lot!

Shitshow and unprecedented seem to be popular words, I prefer Susan Orlean's "Circumstances of the moment".

2020 showed us the Earth and our surrounds are really fragile. I guess we knew that, or should have known that but maybe took it for granted. But it also showed us how resilient we actually are. And whilst COVID was truly awful, soooo many deaths, I do hope it made us look at ourselves and our lives, and see what we can do better. I think we did brilliant to get through such a rough year!

The extreme weather at the beginning of 2020 left me terrified then and more for our future. And I was really not effected badly at all. 

I took COVID very seriously from the get go, I cut my holidays short to get home and self isolated before isolating became a 'thing'. I was horrified by the dimwits that did not take it seriously...I still am. Working during COVID was challenging, especially with those that refused to do the right thing, but it was mostly wonderful with people being truly grateful for the service. Let's face it reading and books were quite the winner this year...once we got our reading mojo sorted.

Like most, I suffered from lost reading mojo on and off during the year. It was painful and annoying, but when it came back I was on fire!

I know people really suffered great losses this year and I send each and every one of them love. I was one of the lucky ones. My only major worry was my sister stuck in lockdown in her home in St Kilda, Melbourne. She did it rough and we worried we wouldn't see her for Christmas. But due to the brilliant job done by Dan Andrews we did, although it was cut short by NSW not learning the lesson well enough. 

2020 did continue to be stressful for me, not due to COVID, but due to continued work restructures and some minor health issues. COVID, of course, enhanced all of that. My anxiety was not great this year. But support from those that really love me helped me through these times and I cannot be thankful enough to be surrounded by beautiful, kind, and generous people.

And despite all of that, there was a lot to be thankful for.

Here are some of my highlights.

WOMAD and my trip to Adelaide - what a great time I had. Two weeks in Adelaide and 4 days soaking up World Music, Arts, and Culture at WOMAD. I was in heaven.

Despite a LOT of cancelled cultural plans, I did manage some: Fleabag the play, Chats 10, Looks 3 Live including meeting Annabel and Leigh, Yes Commissioner, Gin High Tea at Babylon, Daniel Champagne at Lizottes, Fishfry and Pow Wow, Friday on Mind launch with JPY, visits to local art galleries, and a mini holiday to Forster.

I also managed a couple of movies, dinners out, and some picnics at King Edward Park.

And then there was online!

My bookclub moved online and possibly worked better than in person! NWF was online, Trent Dalton and Richard Fidler book launches, Jimmy Barnes at Lizottes online, and I completed 2 art courses via the NGV. But like everyone, I missed live experiences, regular eating out, and travel.

Other online excitement were the Twins reaction videos, Sam Neill, Annie Lennox, Tim Rogers, Jimmy Barnes, The Bull Sister's Sunday Sessions. Nat's What I Reckon, Robbie Williams' Coronaoke, and much more. I found all this additional entertainment wonderful yet overwhelming. Sooo much!

I got new ducted air at Club Cathy which was a relief. I finished another round of decluttering. My bank account was healthier due to not going out as much!

I also started as the stand-in for Rosemarie Milson on 1233 ABC radio on Saturdays doing book reviews with Craig Hamilton, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I finally finished cataloguing all my vinyl, which was quite the undertaking. My vinyl and my music - as always - saved me. 

And as always the markets were always there, and my reviews of Books, movies, television, podcasts, and music. My Lists of favourites for the year can be found here.

I also enjoyed slowing down. Due to the continued stress of work and health during the past 3 years I have been slowing down anyway. So COVID was business as usual for this introvert. I have always enjoyed being still and contemplating 'stuff' and I continued to hone these skills during 2020. This helped me get through the tougher periods of the year. 

And in the last few weeks of the year things started to turn around! I kept full time work and was transferred to our Belmont Branch. I am still not a Librarian, but I am very grateful for continued employment in a job I love during these challenging times economically. 

But my highlight of the year is easily dating and love!

What, I hear you say!!??

I dated through COVID, this was interesting and challenging but mostly fun. But when things got messy (health and work) in the later part of the year I decided to give dating a miss, despite 50 looming. I had no patience for online dating when other things were taking up my headspace. 

However, I had swiped on someone interesting prior to all this and he swiped on me after my decision to temporarily give up, and an unexpected match was made. It has been 3 months and I deleted my Tinder app yesterday. I have kept it all fairly close and quiet as my track record isn't great. But I have lucked out with A, he is lovely and kind and fun. He also is a huge music fan and a High School History and Geography teacher, so super intelligent, and we have much to chat about and connect over. I knew he was the one almost immediately. The night we talked on the phone about The Beatles (he loves them too, phew!) for over 2 hours, I had a shower and cried tears of joy. I have been seemingly waiting half my life for someone like him. The connection we have is very different to anything else I have experienced, and I feel so very much at home in his presence. We feel really lucky our paths have crossed, and I am very happy and very much in love.

So 2021!!!!

I do not think we are anywhere near over the COVID BS. I didn't think we were prior to the NSW clusterfuck, and I certainly don't think it now. It seems we still have much to learn from COVID. I do think things will improve, but I also think we will never really see the end of it or other strains similar to it. We've made a bit of a mess of our world and Mother Earth is understandably pissed off!

My hopes for 2021 is that we all learn how to appreciate what we have in our lives. We enjoy being still and taking in the nature around us. If you haven't read Phosphoresence by Julia Baird, you simply must, it will help you acclimatise to our new world. Despite being written and published prior to COVID, it is the book for our times, it is a beautiful book about enjoying nature and being yourself, and I found it a very peaceful and zen book to read, comforting too.

I am looking forward to a productive and fun year at work.

I am looking forward to my health continuing to improve.

I am really content with what I have in my life, the people I know, the things I like to do. So I want more of that, more of the good things that happened - due to COVID and staying put.

I finished 2020 turning 50! And the mess that was my life prior miraculously tidied itself up just in time. I had grand plans for a big party, but that was never going to happen under COVID. I celebrated with my nearest and dearest and I am hoping to continue celebrating through 2021 - my year of 50. If you want to celebrate with me, give me a call. 

And I commenced 2021 in the company of my lovely boyfriend. I feel blessed, happy, and confident that we will continue through this year with love and happiness. Because that will keep us moving through whatever 2021 will throw at us. Who knows what will happen this year, I think we need to be prepared for anything. But we got through 2020 and that means we can get through anything.

I wish all my friends and readers strength and resilience to get through whatever burdens you have or come across. Don't think about what you cannot do, but what you can do! May you be creative and free, enjoy the beautiful world around you, take time to smell the roses, watch the clouds and be still, dream big dreams, and embrace those that you love every day.


BEST OF LISTS FOR 2020

Greetings!!!

I love a best of list, I know some don't, but if that is you, you don't have to read them!

BOOKS and READING

My reading was hit and miss this year with big gaps of nothing at some points.  But I did have moments when I was on fire!

I read 106 books.

43 were male authors, 49 were female, and 14 had multiple authors.

I read 8 LGBTQIA, 15 POC, 11 Foreign (not UK or US), and 33 Australian authors.

I read 23 Fiction, 53 Non-Fiction, and 30 Biographies.

I have always preferred Non-Fiction to Fiction, and this year it really showed.

Here are the best of the 106!

Book of the year: Phosphoresence by Julia Baird

The book we all really needed this year, despite being published pre-COVID. The book comes from the stillness Julia had to learn while moving through 3 bouts of Cancer. Her descriptions of having cancer are the closest I have read to how I felt during my own Cancer experience. But this book is about appreciating what you have, and what you have around you that can make you feel better. Nature, stillness, meditation, friends, inner beauty, feminism, and so much more is covered in this book that simply made me feel calm and peaceful.

Fiction

1. All our Shimmering Skies - Trent Dalton  - Australian, Girl's journey in the outback whilst escaping the bombing of Darwin.

2. The Yield - Tara June Winch - Australian. Indigenous story of family, including history and language.

3. There was Still Love - Favel Parrett - Australian, love letter to grandparents, set in Prague and Melbourne in the 1980s. 

4. Rodham - Curtis Sittenfeld - American, what if Hillary never married Bill?

5. The Loudness of Things unsaid - Hilde Hinton -  Australian debut, female coming of age in Melbourne with a single father.

6. You think it, I'll say it - Curtis Sittenfeld - American, political and feminist short stories.

7. My year of rest and relaxation - Ottessa Moshfegh  - American, a young woman decides to reset her messy life by sleeping for a year.

8. The Friend - Sigrid Nunez - American, a older woman inherits her ex-lover's dog.

9. On earth we're briefly gorgeous - Ocean Vuong - Asian American, love letter to his dying mother about his life.

10. A Constant Hum - Alice Bishop - Australian, short stories about the aftermath of fire.

10. The Shepherd's Hut - Tim Winton  - Australian, young boy on the run in the outback.

Honorable Mention: On the road - Jack Kerouac -  American beat poet, his life story hidden in fiction, brilliant.

Non-Fiction

1. More than a Woman - Caitlin Moran - feminist essays on women and life.

2. Face it - Debbie Harry -  autobiography of Debbie Harry from Blondie.

3. Bill Bailey's remarkable guide to happiness - Bill Bailey - Essays on the things that make Bill happy and laugh.

4. The Erratics - Vicki Laveau-Harvie - memoir of Vicki's reunion with her very odd family.

5. Triumph: Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics - Jeremy Schaap - retelling of the Jesse Owens story and that particular Olympics.

6. Blowing the bloody doors off - Michael Caine - Life lessons Caine learnt from being an actor.

7. To hell and back - Niki Lauda - Autobiography of the F1 racing driver, and  airline magnet.

8. The Witches are Coming - Lindy West - feminist essays and follow up to Shrill.

9. Growing up Gay - edited by Benjamin Law-  collection of stories of gay Australians.

10. Greek to me - Mary Norris - New Yorker copy writer on her love of Greece and the Greek language.

11. Writer's Paris - Erix Maisel - a book about Paris, Writing, and Writing in Paris.

12. The Love that remains - Susan Francis - memoir about  a crazy period in Susan's life

13. The Durrells of Corfu by Michael Haag -  memoir of the fabulous Durrell family

14. Fake - Stephanie Wood - memoir of a man Stephanie met online who was not what he said he was.

15. Close to home - Alice Pung - Memoir of Alice's Asian family.

16. We are never meeting in real life - Samantha Irby - feminist essays, hilarious.

17. The Beautiful Ones - Prince - writings from Prince over the years with fabulous photos and memorabilia.

18. Wham: George Michael and Me - Andrew Ridgeley - lovely love letter from one friend to another.

19. Growing up African - edited by Maxine Beneba Clarke - collection of stories about African Australians.

20. She wants it - Jill Soloway - memoir of Jill's family that the series Transparent was based on.

Honorable Mention: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S Thompson - always a great read, Hunter on his drug addled time in Vegas.

TELEVISION AND WATCHING

Television was my savoir this year and there was much to watch and much to catch up on. This was difficult with so much to choose from

Television of the year: Schitt's Creek

This was the little show that could. I had seen the dvds float in and out at work but not paid much attention to them. I know I tried to watch them but they kept getting reservations on them and I wasn't that fussed with what I saw. But later I gave them another go and they clicked and I binged the entire series back to back. The show was hilarious but also nice and kind. The characters - the Rose family, initially irritating, grew on me and I saw the character development and realised this was part of their intent. Who can forget Moira, her wigs, her clothes, her babees, and the crows!? David and his facial expressions, and his growing love that drove the entire show. Alexis, her fashion, her loves, her little bit Alexis, and her considerable growth as a human. And Johnny, so decent, so kind, so loving, holding the family together. Then there were the supporting cast, perfect, each and every one of them. The music, the town, and the inclusivity and non-judgement. It really was the perfect show for 2020

Fiction

1. I May Destroy You - outstanding drama about a year in the life of a woman who was raped.

2. Succession 1/2 - both seasons about an uber rich media family who may or may not be based on the Murdochs.

3. The New Pope - the follow up to The Young Pope with Jude Law and John Malkovich, funny and dramatic.

4. Staged -  hilarious comedy about David Tennant and Michael Sheen in lockdown.

5. Better Things S4 - Pamela Adlon's fictional take on her family. A mix of drama and comedy from a feminist point of view.

6. Insecure S4 - African American in LA, love, life, and work. Very funny and incredible clever.

7. Shrill 2 -   based on Lindy West's hilarious feminist essays.

8. Upright - Tim Minchin meets a young teen as he is hauling his upright piano across Australia. Comedy Drama.

9. Curb Your Enthusiasm S10 - Larry David's best series yet, comedy.

10. What We DO in the Shadows S2 -  vampires in a share house on Long Island, comedy.

11. Difficult People - 2 comedians trying to make it in NY, comedy.

12. High Fidelity - remake of the book and movie in TV format with some of the roles flipped.

13. Mrs Maisel S3 - Mrs Maisel on the road, glorious sets and costumes as usual.

14. The Crown S3 - Olivia Coleman takes over as The Queen.

15. Broad City S5 - final season for our gals, the usual crazy in NY.

16. Stateless - Australian drama about refugees kept in detention.

17. Akwafina is Nora from QUeens - comedy with Asian comedian Akwafina.

18. Outnumbered complete- english comedy about a fmaily with 3 outspoken kids.

19. Philharmonic - French drama about a possible murder in the Paris Philharmonic.

20. Everything's gonna be ok - Josh Thomas's follow up to Please Like Me, comedy.

Honorable Mentions: Devs, Run, Deadwater Fall, Perry Mason, The Undoing, Search Party 3 

Documentary

1. My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman - Letterman interviews big names.

2. Gogglebox -   Fabulous cross section of Australian society watching popular television.

3. Crikey It’s the Irwins -  behind the scenes at Australia Zoo with the Irwin family. Pure and utter joy.

4. Escape to the Chateau - following an English family who have brought an old Chateau in France.

5. I’ll be gone in the dark - series about Michelle McNamara's investigation into a serial killer/rapist.

6. Country Music- Ken Burns. History of Country Music in America.

7. PUNK - Iggy Pop's mini series on Punk Music.

8. Secrets of the Museum - looking at some of the items in the British Museum.

9. You Can’t Ask That - interview show with unusual subject matter.

10. Anh Do’s Brush with Fame - Anh Do interviews and paints heroic Australians.

Honorable Mention: Hillary, Zoo Quest

FILM AND WATCHING

I saw a few films at the movies this year and the rest were DVDs. Mostly Documentaries and a few older rewatches.

Film of the Year: Freeman - this was a stunning biographical documentary about Cathy Freeman's Olympics. 

Film

1. Marriage Story - American, Bambauch, the breakdown of a marriage.

2. The Gentlemen -  Action comedy with a bunch of crooks.

3. Jo Jo Rabbit -  war film about a young child finding his way during a difficult time.

4. The Truth - French drama about a doyene of film starring Catherine Deneuve.

5. Edmond - French comedy about the man who put Cyrano on the stage.

6. Trip to Greece -  Comedy with Steve Coogan and ROb Brydon playing themselves whilst travelling through Greece.

7. The Joker - Joker 'origin' story.

8. Ford Vs Ferrari -  based on a famous car race.

9. Emma - remake of Austen novel, period comedy.

10. 1917 - war film in real time.

Honorable mentions: Toni Erdman, Ride Like A Girl, Top End Wedding, Wonder Woman 1984

Also: Precious, Hairdresser's Husband, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Documentaries

1. Brillo Box - brilliant story of the history of a Warhol piece.

2. Vinyl Nationi -  vinyl collecting.

3. Bookseller - rare booksellers in NY.

4. Ali and Cavett: the tale of the tapes -  based on this famous part of ALi's life.

5. Suzi Q -  on the life of Suzie Quatro.

6. Leunig Fragments - memoir doco on Leunig.

7. Quilty: painting in the shadows - doco about the Austalian painter, Ben Quilty.

8. Brock: over the top - About racing car driver, Peter Brock.

9. 9/11: Inside Airforce one - fascinating insight into Airforce One and the president on 9/11.

10. Showbiz Kids - about kids in Showbusiness.

Honorable Mentions: I Am Patrick Swayze, Laurel Canyon, The Gospel according to Andre

MUSIC AND LISTENING

Album of the Year: Rough and Rowdy Ways - Bob Dylan - outstanding double album from the great Bob Dylan. Great tunes, great sounds, great stories.

Music

1. Child in reverse - Kate Miller-Heidke -  always fabulous, what a voice.

2. Icehouse plays Flowers live - Icehouse -  Live version of their seminal album

3. The Makarratta project - Midnight Oil -  first album in many years, brilliant.

4. Black Pumas - Black Pumas -  new discovery, blues and soul, great voice.

5. American Uptopia - David Byrne - live album from his stage show.

6. Respect all Lifeforms - Custard - first album in years, still great pop and irreverent humour.

7. Dangerous Age - Kate Ceberano, Steve Kilbey -  sublime collaboration.

8. Song Machine - Gorillaz -  fun album with guest soloists, including Robert Smith and Beck.

9. Valve bone Woe - Chrissie Hynde- Chrissie does Jazz and it works!

10. Don't waste your anger - Smith Street Band -  love these guys and their rock pop.

Honorable Mentions: Is Thomas Calloway - Cee Lo Green, Every night the same dream and the good mood - Ballpark Music, Alicia - Alicia Keys, Three Chords and the Truth - Van Morrison.

PODCASTS AND LISTENING

Podcast of the Year: Strong Songs -  this was quite the revelation this year. Host, Kirk Hamilton picks famous songs apart showing us how they are put together musically.

Podcasts

1. David Tennant Does a Podcast -  Tennant interviews really interesting people including Neil Gaiman, Dan Levy, Judi Dench and many more.

2. Televisionaries -  Australian tv reviewers on new and old tv.

3. Unspooled -  American reviewers count down the American Top 100 films.

4. Chats 10, Looks 3 - Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales talk about their favourite films, tv, books, music etc.

5. WTF with Marc Maron - the original podcast Marc has had a crazy year with death and COVID, but he also interviews amazing people.

6. Marlon and Jake Read it Forward - Marlon James and his editor attack the cannon!

7. A podcast of One's Own - Julia Gillard interviews impressive women.

8. Jon Ronson's Butterfly Effect  - Jon Ronson and the porn industry.

9. The PLot Thickens: Peter Bogdanovich - the history of Bogdanovich and film.

10. Dolly Parton's America - all about Dolly.

Honorable Mentions: Michael Moore's Rumble, Smartless, Rob Brydon &.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

DECEMBER DIARY

 Well December, you were the best of times and the worst of times.

I was on tender-hooks those first few weeks of December, and I was not in a good way. I was waiting to hear if I still had a job after having to apply for my own job during another part of this long long restructure. AND I had to head into hospital for 2 small procedures, nothing too major and all routine stuff, but when you've had the health problems I have had over the past few years anything health related sends my anxiety sky high, so add in the work stuff and well, you can imagine.

Also my 50th and Christmas was looming, and with my life in such a mess that last thing I felt like was celebrating. Which is really wrong, because as a friend so beautifully told me, Cathy, you are here and alive, and you have been through so much, you HAVE to celebrate. 

And so, like those movies from the 40s that I love so much, my life turned around just with a few weeks to spare. I kept my job, transferring permanently to our Belmont Branch, and procedures went well. It was crazy, I had a day to clear out of Windale and then commenced at Belmont mid month. I work with a wonderful team, and the community are lovely, and there is much to do. It was awfully bittersweet as so many colleagues are no longer with us. But all I can do is move forward and enjoy myself and do my very best, which I will.

Things went fast once I commenced at Belmont, it was busy and there was much to do. We had some amazing displays put up mid month too, so come on down and check them out!








During this I did manage to do a little bit of out and about. I had my final radio gig of the year at ABC, doing the book reviews. And for the first time in the studio, as Covid restrictions had lifted.


Chrissie headed up from Sydney and we had a lovely picnic in King Edward Park, and a night out at the Junction Inn Hotel.






I also caught up with some ALIA friends at The Kent.

We also celebrated Dad's birthday with a huge surprise of my sister from Melbourne coming home earlier than expected. So wonderful, and another Christmas miracle, it would not have been the same without her.

We also headed to the pub on Dad's actual birthday for more celebrations.

And Choir headed back to Wednesday nights, but outdoors. What joy to sing with others again, if only once! It was a stunning evening at the foreshore.







I even fitted in a hair cut and colour, and went a bit short and red!


Jayne was a super star at a special event at Lizottes, so I headed along to this evening for women. It was great and Jayne was exceptional, talking about her specialty, sexuality. So was professional and knowledgeable, cute and sexy. The rest of the evening was fun too.






I caught up with my gals for Christmas at Son of a Gun Diner.

Because I had been largely ignoring Christmas, I then had to squeeze in some decorating of Club Cathy along with shopping and wrapping, but I got there!






Christmas was wonderful, spending Christmas Eve and Day at my sister's property with the entire family.










And I turned 50 and it felt fabulous. I had a lovely lunch at the Newcastle Yacht Club with the family and Thai and Wonder Woman 1984 with friends that night. I am planning more celebrations for 2021, the year of 50 lol...COVID pending!!









I caught up with Jayne twice, once for Breakfast at the Autumn Rooms - amazing and highly recommend - and lunch at Hippos.





The time in between Christmas and New Year was very quiet which was great. Plenty of rest time, reading, catching up on little projects and I finally finished cataloguing my vinyl.

I of course continued to read, listen, watch etc, my reviews for December are here.

And the usual markets.







And photography.