Saturday, July 28, 2012
Gute Nacht Mond. As seen from Sandy Bay. July 2012.
Lord Byron was a filthy bugger. Even through he liked a swim, he never could wash that stink out...
She walks in beauty, like the night, Lord Byron
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o'er her face,
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek and o'er the brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.
Friday, July 27, 2012
This is the point at which Ezra decided that wearing shorts to a winter's morning stroll in South Hobart was an idea that he could not endorse any more.
We turned back.
If you never ask yourself any questions about the meaning of a passage, you cannot expect the book to give you any insight you do not already possess.
Morning arrives at Salamanca. Shed No. 1, Salamanca Place. May 2012.
Two books this week, both Australian.
The first is Helen Garner’s odd short novel-plus-two-short-story collection from 1992, Cosmo Cosmolino. Set in Jeff Kennett’s Melbourne, the chaotic communes and share-houses of the 1970s now contain bitter middle-aged people, uncomfortable in the individualistic and capitalist world they find themselves in. Drifting in and out are younger transients less tolerant of the collective temperament of the 70s. It is a tricky book, quite bleak, but never completely without hope.
It’s not perfect by any stretch, but as a capture of a specific time and place that now seems long ago (despite being only twenty years old), it does a very nice job. Recommended.
Second up is a book that was a real revelation to me. At the time of its release – 1976 - The Glass Canoe by David Ireland was a Miles Franklin Award-winner and widely acclaimed. Time though seems to have diminished the esteem in which Ireland’s work is held, to the extent that his name sparks only mild recognition among readers today.
Reading the book today, I can see why people prefer to avoid thinking about Ireland’s vision of Australia. This is a book infused with class, filled with ideas seemingly unfashionable to today’s audience. However, this is class without ideological rigidity, expressed in more expressionist tones rather than social realism.
This is an incredibly vivid, brutal book. Yet it constantly astounds the reader with scenes of real lyrical beauty. He does so with a great deal of honesty about a side of Australia that rarely features in our popular notion of ourselves. There is no political correctness in the depictions of men, booze, language and attitude. What makes all this even more startling is the stylistic expression: brief vignettes that experiment with form and narrative structure.
The introduction to this most recent edition (released only a couple of months ago after spending a few decades out of print) sums it up nicely:
It's art, not entertainment; action, not plot. It's the lurking dark beast of fear and beauty at the core of Australian life. It is all we know, and all we seek to put behind us, and all the literary world has struggled to evade and overcome.I agree with this, which is itself a sad indictment of modern publishing. The Glass Canoe is the least judgmental of books. It depicts horror and beauty. It casts the world of rootin’ and fightin’ every Saturday night into poetry and records it for prosperity.
It is almost unthinkable that a modern publisher would dare to send The Glass Canoe, stuffed as it is with words of sexism, with prejudice and with brutal, escalating unending violence, out into the world of literary festivals and promotion tours.
What I like most about it is the attempt to give literary voice to a certain tribe of Australians. A tribe in a certain time and place that is oft denied or overlooked. Alky Jack – the homeless drunkard with a Socialist heart - lectures the bar,
‘Never be ashamed of being an Australian,’ he'd say. ‘There's plenty just as bad as us in the world.’ ‘Anything can happen. We started off in chains, we do our best when we're not pushed, we pay back a good turn, say no to authority and upstarts, we're casual, we like makeshift things, we're ingenious, practical, self-reliant, good in emergencies, think we're as good as anyone in the world, and always sympathise with the underdog.’Ireland captures this view, allows the reader to savour it, and subverts it straight away. There is love and irony in almost every word, and for those of us with some experience of the Australia captured in the book it's hard not to feel that there is something of Australia is in your hands. Perhaps it’s an old Australia, an Australia that we might well like to see the back of (although if you know anything of the drinking culture in this country I wouldn’t be certain of writing the obituary just yet).
This book will not be to everyone’s taste. The casual sexism and racism will deter many, to their loss. I couldn’t recommend it more highly myself.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
Henry takes Ezra's new umbrella for a stroll.
I won't comment on the lad's supremely-wise decision to wear his Essendon FC jumper to last Friday's casual dress day...
I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm.
ANOTHER brick in the wall? Retaining wall, Royal Botanical Gardens, Hobart. April 2012.
associations links acquaintances agents allies associates contacts.
go-betweens intermediaries mentors messengers networks.
correlation correspondence intercourse nexus partnership relationships.
Everything is CONNECTed.
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
View from casino. Wrest Point, Sandy Bay. June 2012.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
It isn't sufficient just to want - you've got to ask yourself what you are going to do to get the things you want.
The gang's all here. Spring Beach, Orford. July 2012.
It's a challenging Q and A for a bloke that has barely watched a movie in the past ten years with the glory that is The Movie Time Meme, once again stolen from Sunday Stealing.
Thankfully, a large portion of my life pre-children was dedicated to watching films!
1. What is your all-time favourite movie costume?
John Hurt’s get-up in The Elephant Man is pretty good.
2. What classic film would you nominate for a remake?
If a film is a ‘classic’, it seems rather pointless to ‘remake’ it, wouldn’t you think? Watch the original!
3. Name your favourite femme fatale.
4. Name the best movie title.
I like the simplicity of Jaws. That said, I have some time for the expansive The Assassination of Jesse James...
5. Describe the worst performance by a child actor that you’ve ever seen.
It’s not really a short list, is it? Generally I would opt for any child with bright red hair that is aiming for ‘cute’. Whoever played Annie in that dreadful version in the early-1980s is an excellent case in point.
6. Who gets your vote for most tragic movie monster?
Someone like Henry is Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is a pretty tragic case of a movie monster, as he is utterly irredeemable.
7. What is the one Western that you would recommend to anybody?
I enjoy a good Western. It’s a nice vehicle for all of those juicy themes that make a movie interesting. It is probably a cliché these days, but it hard to beat The Unforgiven.
8. Who is your ideal movie-viewing partner?
Someone very quiet.
9. Has a film ever made you want to change your life? If so, what was the film?
Lots of things act as a spur to change aspects of your life, personality or approach, but I would never be so dramatic to ascribe a massive shift to something like watching a film. A good movie for me though is one that gets me to reflect on things. That might get me to change. Kieślowski’s The Dekalogue is a good example of that.
10. Think of one performer that you truly love. Now think of one scene/ movie/ performance of theirs that is too uncomfortable for you to watch.
I’m not certain that I ‘truly love’ any given performer. I don’t mind Sean Connery, but the notion of him getting intimate with Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment even though he was – what, 120 years old – just gave me the creeps.
11. On the flip side, think of one really good scene/performance/movie from a performer that you truly loathe.
Jim Carry was very good in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
12. What is your favourite romantic comedy?
There is Something About Mary. That was romantic.
13. What is your favourite drama?
I do like Au Revoir, les Enfants a lot.
14. Worst film you've seen?
(Much) more often than not, I’ll not bother pursuing with a film if it is rubbish, so there are a whole bunch that I wouldn’t nominate as I “haven’t seen (all of) it”. One that I watched right way through and truly loathed is Life is Beautiful, an atrocity in its own right.
15. How do you feel about the majority of romantic films being labelled "chick flicks"?
I can’t say that I feel anything about that particular turn of phrase. It does seem a little disdainful.
16. Favourite on-screen couple?
I suspect that I might be the wrong person to fill out this Q and A... I can’t say that I have a favourite on-screen couple. If pushed, I’d probably nominate Irene Jacob in The Double Life of Veronique. What a pair they were! [ahem]
17. Favourite off-screen couple?
Pass. Actors bore me.
18. Best kiss in a movie?
The bit in Godfather Part II when Michael kisses Fredo. “I know it was you. You broke my heart, Fredo.”
19. Favourite scene?
I love that section in Raiders Of The Lost Ark where the bloke does all of the elaborate sword waving and Indiana Jones just pulls out his gun and shoots him dead is a good one.
20. Who are two film characters you wished had gotten together, but never did?
People really are obsessed with the whole romance angle, aren’t they. If it wasn’t meant to be it wasn’t meant to be!
21. Two actors you think would have great chemistry, but have never done a film together?
Puss in Boots and Buzz Lightyear.
22. Favourite song in a film (doesn't have to be from a musical)?
The extended play of the Doors’ The End right at the beginning of Apocalypse Now is memorable.
23. Best score from a film?
I thought that Trainspotting had a good selection.
24. Best film quote?
[Charlie:] Look, kid, I - how much you weigh, son? When you weighed one hundred and sixty-eight pounds you were beautiful. You coulda been another Billy Conn, and that skunk we got you for a manager, he brought you along too fast.
[Terry:] It wasn't him, Charley, it was you. Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, "Kid, this ain't your night. We're going for the price on Wilson." You remember that? "This ain't your night"! My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn't have to take them dives for the short-end money.
[Charlie:] Oh I had some bets down for you. You saw some money.
[Terry:] You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let's face it. It was you, Charley.
25. A film you'd recommend that is a "Must See" for us to watch?
I’ve referenced it already, but everyone should watch Krzysztof Kieślowski’s The Dekalogue at least once in their lives.
Monday, July 23, 2012
A drum. Just out of Brighton, the Tasmanian Southern Midlands. June 2012.
As you know, the Internet is a wonderful place filled with the rich and varied treasures of the world holds (as well as a lot of very lonely people.) 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 good overview of just how we might go about creating good schools.
- A fascinating look at disputed and false memories. How is it that you can start to believe someone else's memory is your own? And why is it so straightforward to give people memories of events they never actually experienced?
- Kate Beeton (of the Hark! A Vagrant webcomic fame) nails the culture of media commentary on female politicians.
- Where the Buffalo No Longer Roamed. The tale of how the wild west was won and where it got America.
- "Protracted depression is making life ever harder and disillusioning for those, and their children, trapped at the bottom—while making those at the top ever more robust about looking after themselves and their own". Born poor? Bad luck, you have won last prize in the lottery of life.
- To understand intelligence, maybe we should look not for what creates it, but for what destroys it. Fresh thinking and a great example of why scientists should blog...
- Hating Ms. Maisy: The Joy, Sorrow and Neurotic Rage of Reading to Your Children.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
Happy birthday Ezra! The kitchen, Geilston Bay. July 2012.
This Sunday we give you - the world - a chance to see this year's entry in the wonderful world of children's birthday cakes that I have made! Yes, it is the Mr Happy cake.
Ez has originally nominated Mr Tickle as his subject of choice, but after numerous hours of planning and head-scratching, and finding no solution to the wiggly arms conundrum, I whether or not a Mr Happy cake might just be what he really wanted...
He seems to have been convinced.
Which leads me too: My Top Five Cakes!