Saturday, June 02, 2012
Ultimately, he is a happy little boy.
A very demanding, volatile and assertive little boy, but a happy one nonetheless!
A little something in another something. Quayle Street, Sandy Bay. January 2012.
I had the privilege of taking the full group of kids out for their warm up jog at Auskick training yesterday afternoon/ evening. I consider my rigorous training methods a success, given that I had a good fifteen or so 5 and 6 year old kids reduced to wheezing lumps prostrate on the turf afterwards! Henry, of course, was spritely and smiling, having had the good fortune to have undergone a brutal, systematic, Soviet-style training regime since he was six weeks old.
If only he could kick...
Sad Steps, Philip Larkin
Groping back to bed after a piss
I part thick curtains, and am startled by
The rapid clouds, the moon's cleanliness.
Four o'clock: wedge-shadowed gardens lie
Under a cavernous, a wind-picked sky.
There's something laughable about this,
The way the moon dashes through clouds that blow
Loosely as cannon-smoke to stand apart
(Stone-coloured light sharpening the roofs below)
High and preposterous and separate -
Lozenge of love! Medallion of art!
O wolves of memory! Immensements! No,
One shivers slightly, looking up there.
The hardness and the brightness and the plain
Far-reaching singleness of that wide stare
Is a reminder of the strength and pain
Of being young; that it can't come again,
But is for others undiminished somewhere.
Friday, June 01, 2012
Yum! Mayfair Plaza Car Park, Sandy Bay. December 2011.
Three books this week, all quite good. First up is the brand new one from Toni Morrison, Home. Set in the 1950s, Home follows the return of a black Korean War veteran who has recently left the newly desegregated army. The country he returns to is no Leave It To Beaver idyll though, it’s one inhabited by damaged people, racial tension and power imbalances (inequities of race, gender and class).
At 81, I suspect that Morrison’s best days (skill-wise) are behind her. This reads like a – admittedly quite good – imitation of her best novels. It compresses many recurrent themes of memory, love and loss, uprooting and homecoming. The text flows in jazzy rhythms, but the narrative moves a little too quickly to my mind.
This is not a bad read by any stretch, but I have to admit that is not one of her stronger works. If you’re looking for something quick that will give you a taste of her work, this is not a bad starting point. I’d delved deeper and get to the really good stuff though, if I were you.
Second up is a short novel (or perhaps long short story) Pale Horse, Pale Rider, by Katherine Anne Porter that was first published in 1939. The plot revolves around the relationship between a young female journalist and a soldier during the influenza epidemic of 1918. The war hangs heavy in the story, and the narrative inevitably takes us towards death (as the title hints at).
The story itself presents an exceptional depiction of the suffering caused by the epidemic, and its relationship to the war, for that alone it is worth a look. Recommended.
Last up is a novel that a enjoyed immensely, Property by Valerie Martin. This one is a brutally honest portrait of life on a slave plantation in the mid-19th Century. The narrator is a young woman trapped in a loveless marriage to a boorish, vicious plantation-owner. This facet of the story explores the reality of matrimonial subjugation, and our narrator’s plight does engender some sympathy, and the feminist struggle is one that the modern eye can immediately recognise. However, she is utterly incapable of applying the same logic of the unequal power dynamic between women and men to the greater injustice of slavery, whose propriety she never questions.
The relationship between the plantation's owner’s wife, her husband, and slave house girl given as a wedding present plays out against the backdrop of civil unrest and slave rebellion. The art in the text is how it explores relationships of power, ‘property’ and ownership among people living in a system that is manifestly evil. Yet these people are ordinary, often good people. Their system demeans and damages them (Martin subtly illustrates this), and yet they never question it.
In this sense, the author has pulled off a great feat. There is a great moral heart here, but one that is found through the gaps, what is left unsaid, rather than said. This distinction is an important one, as too often literary fiction that revisits past eras too often apply an unrealistic modern lens to characters to whom that lens would be utterly incomprehensible. Property does not make this mistake.
I’m sure that this book irritates many who might be looking for a tale of redemption and resolution, but the very point of great historical injustices that there is rarely any fairy-tale ending, and if the perpetrators of those crimes – especially if they extend to every strata of society – could readily sense the unfairness of life they would unlikely continue to lead such lives.
This is a great read. Moving, exhausting and at points quite depressing. Well worth your time, I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
I don't ever wanna feel like I did that day. Take me to the place I love, take me all the way. Under the [Tasman] Bridge, Hobart. February 2012.
We all scream?
For... ICE CREAM?
Me, I'm more of a sorbet man myself.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Like every other good thing in this world, leisure and culture have to be paid for. However, it is not the leisured and the cultured who have to pay.
The end of the race. Victoria Esplanade, Bellerive. February 2012.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
So not only has Henry found a kangaroo, Exra has FOUR of them!
[Note the joey in the pouch on the left.]
I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.
Patterns. Little Howrah Beach. February 2012.
This week, another stolen Q and A from Sunday Stealing, The Get Out of Jail Free Meme, Part One!
As ever, the invite to contribute questions for me to answer remains open to all!
1. When you're home alone, do you still close the door when you use the restroom?
‘Restroom’? That’s even worse that ‘bathroom’! No, I don’t close the door when I am home alone and use the toilet.
2. If you have to go grocery shopping, would you rather go alone or with someone?
I prefer to do it online these days! If forced, I’d rather go alone.
3. It's your best friend’s birthday, would you buy them a gift even though they didn't buy you one for yours
Probably not. I wouldn’t expect it in the first place though.
4. You win the lottery. Lump sum or small payments over a period of time? Why?
How small are these payments? Is there a significant tax loss if I go lump sum? I’ll need more detail before I can decide on this one, although whatever happens I will be allowing myself a regular ‘allowance’ that means I don’t have to work a day job any more.
5. Do you like your music loud or at a reasonable level?
These days I need a reasonable level.
6. Are you a beach person or a snowy mountain person?
I don’t mind the odd jaunt up a snowy mountain but I am a beach boy at heart.
7. When do you brush your teeth?
In the morning and again at night.
8. Can you watch scary movies alone?
If I wanted to, I can. Can’t say that I have much call for it these days though.
9. Soft bed or firm? And in fantasy land, who's in it with you?
I prefer a firm mattress. In fantasy land, I’d have the misses fired up and ready to go!
10. Would you rather stay home all day, or be out and about?
If it’s a nice day I like to get out and take advantage of the day. The kids go a bit stir crazy stuck at home.
11. What's one of your worst memories (that you are comfortable sharing)?
Even my very ‘worst’ memories seem very trite when I think about the entire gamut of human society. I dunno, I remember one particular time that I realised – upon reflection – that I was actually rather lonely. It came as a bit of a shock really.
12. Do you like to keep the peace or be confrontational?
I never go into anything looking to start a fight, but if there is one brewing, I have been known to stand my ground (well, aggressively target and argue my opponent into the dust). In the interest of peace, of course.
13. Are you more likely to be with a large group of people or a few close friends?
With a couple of kids. Or on my own.
14. What are your plans for October?
That’s a long way away. There will no doubt be a birthday party for Henry on the 23rd, so I shall be planning the cake.
15. If money were not a problem, where would you like to live?
Somewhere right by the beach.
16. What is your ideal profession?
Idler, layabout and general all round dilettante.
17. Are you (or were you) close to your Mom and Dad?
Not particularly. I was a distant child.
18. What is one fear that you can't seem to overcome?
The fear if irrelevance.
19. Are you good at math?
I believe that you mean maths. The word “mathematics” is both a singular and as a plural noun – hence the s on the end. Thus, most people would say “mathematics is my best subject” and not “mathematics are my best subject”. The shortened form “maths”, then, makes sense because the word is still a plural noun and so should still have the “s” on the end. Am I any good at maths? I have a solid grasp of the fundamentals and know my way around a calculator, so I get by.
Monday, May 28, 2012
A fence near a bridge. The Intercity Cycleway, near Tasman Bridge. January 2012.
The Internet is a wonderful place filled with the rich and varied treasures of the world holds (as well as some dodgy politics.) The following are some things that I've had a look at in the last week. I call this: a Compendium of Click-throughs for Monday Morning..
- A wonderful collection of London’s top brutalist buildings…
- A discussion of one of the World’s most respected (but oft preposterous) awards, the Nobel Peace Prize…
- How might one go about raising a baby using science? Personally, I think that it is more of an art form…
- I love an eviscerating art review. Even better, it’s about one of my pet loathes: the odious Damien Hirst!
- The answer to the question that we all have been asking: How the Chicken Conquered the World!
- On matters most fowl… Portraits of chickens dressed like Napoleon, Einstein and other historical figures…
- On the importance of questions… Given their significance, maybe we should take the trouble to figure out how they work…
- Now HERE is a question: Why aren't cities littered with dead pigeons?
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Word is that a fox has been sighted in the Geilston Bay/ Lindisfarne area.
Somebody call the task force!
Evil magpie. Our front yard. East Derwent Highway, Geilston Bay. December 2011.
Sunday Top Five again and today I venture somewhat into a self help territory: The Top Five Things That My Life Is Far Too Short For Me To Tolerate!
- People who bring me down. There are an awful lot of people in the world, so I don’t really understand people who waste their time with poisonous people. Relationships should be enjoyable, not painful. Find people who you get on with, who entertain you, not drag you down.
- A career that I hate. There are limits to this, as you have to keep paying the bills. Nevertheless, if the opportunity arises, I don’t see the point on settling on a job I’m not keen on. Keep looking, that’s what I’m doing!
- Unnecessary miscommunication. I can’t apologise for this one. I say what I mean and mean what you say. If we’re conversing, please speak clearly and frankly. Ask questions. Clarify things until you understand them. Life is too short for games.
- Unhealthy habits. There is some control here. In many respects, health is in your hands. Eat right, exercise and avoid doing things that are no good for you. This one is a simple one.
- Debt. Always live slightly below your means. You don’t have to buy stuff you don’t need. Save for the big purchases when they are truly necessary. Have an idea of your budget and stick to it.