24 October 2009

Pitfalls for young readers

"Look at that view!"
"Yes, it's very picture-skew, isn't it?"

I don't know if this conversation ever happened when I was a child, but it could easily have. As with many kids who learn a lot of words through reading them rather than hearing them, I had a great vocabulary at a young age, but was often a bit off with the pronunciation.

I knew that "queue" was pronounced 'kyoo' (now how's that for unlikely pronunciation?), and was familiar with the word 'picture', so when I encountered the word 'picturesque' I heard it in my head as 'pikshaskyoo', and worked out that it meant 'pretty as a picture'.

And a tall, impressive, good-looking woman was 'statyooskyoo', meaning 'impressive like a statue'. If ever I want to write the word, I have to look 'statuesque' up in the dictionary to be sure of how to spell it - knowing that it's supposed to be pronounced 'statyooesk' doesn't tell me whether there are two 'e's in the middle (one for 'statue' and one for 'esque') or one, or none.

I don't have a clear memory of when I could first read words, but I do have a vivid memory (as well as remembering it as a story told in the family) of sitting in the drawing room with my mother (who was reading), my father (who was reading), and my older sister (who was reading), and being very frustrated because at not quite four I couldn't read yet. Fortunately I did learn to read soon after, first in English (Ant and Bee and Kind Dog) and then some French (Pierre Lapin - which is as far as I ever got).

I also remember being so absorbed in reading that I didn't hear Mum calling me. She thought I was deliberately ignoring her, but I really was deaf to the world - something that still happens now when I'm absorbed in reading, which is apparent to me when I come out of a book and hear that my iTunes has moved on through more than half an hour of a playlist without my hearing a thing.

These thoughts were inspired by reading this post, http://stilllifewithcat.blogspot.com/2009/07/help.html, which for some reason I can't link to.

22 October 2009

Weeds: Real and Metaphorical

Poetry Project #2

Weeds: Real and Metaphorical: poems celebrating the discarded and disregarded, the ugly and unloved

three low-lying hills
mark the boundary of a realm;
a dark cold lake of unknowable depth and beaten-metal surface
is ahead of me;
on an island in this lake,
an ancient tower suggests a history of wizards.
There are no dragons in the sky. Yet

Tim Roberts [part 1 of 'Daydreams and Detour Signs'. for part 2 see Tim's 'Notes' on Facebook]

A weed is a weed
when it's in the wrong place.
At home? It's nature.

Margaret Morgan

old tree--
what have you done to deserve
flowers like these?

Myron Lysenko

lost from the last relocation
boxes of flotsam
my first divorce papers;
goodbye letter from the musician
(his others, long ago, burned)
both my plait and my mother's
hers not so blonde, but longer

forgotten, moving, love relics

Kate Dellar-Evans [from Belated Unpacking]

a marriage break-up
she flirts
he flirts
they're tied up
in sexual knots
not learned
in scouts
or guides

wife watches them
and weeps
silent tears

at what was
destined to be

Carolyn Cordon

my old guitar
in the wardrobe
humming tunes
to itself

Steve Evans

my Dhaka friend
picks uncultivated plants
no farming
herbs greens fruit

the number economy
loved eaten

a chaos of plants
each one
adding to the fractal
quantum of food

pluck them
talk to them
nourish them
leave them be

Susan Hawthorne

Who is to say whether weed or willows
Who is to claim wasted tears or pillows
Who is the one whose work it became
To decide what is worthless
Who is to blame?

Jackie Hosking

The weeds grow here
The weeds grow there
Those dratted plants
grow everywhere.

I pull them up
I rip them out.
I turn around
and more will sprout

I mow them once
I mow them twice.
And back they come.
Not once ---- but thrice!!!

Trevor Hampel

Spare a thought for the hand-written letter
rare as those hen's teeth
shy as a red setter.
A relic of those olden times thought better
by those beneath
the hand-knitted sweater

Belinda Webster

I'd look at the runny blue letters
curved and flowing like waves
and I wouldn't be in the classroom
anymore ---
I'd be down at the beach.
One day it came
to an end.
Inkwells went out.
Biros came in.

John Malone [from 'Inkwells']

In the 50s
in the playground
in the gravel
we found little green weeds
and underneath their clover-like leaves
were little fruit
and even tinier seeds.
We called them "Plummies"
and ate them with gusto
(or relish if we preferred)

Judy Dally

Edited by John Malone, with Deborah Green assisting.

We hope many people read this and add comments so the poets can receive some well deserved feedback.

No copyright infringement is intended with the use of these images; the photograph of the lake is by Slug; the painting of the old guitar is by Geoff Benzing.

The poems are each copyright by the writer.

21 October 2009

but who is Branwell? Voldemort?

A friend of mine posted this pic of a Harry Potter movie poster on her Facebook page recently. Looking at the composition, I was reminded of a group portrait with a similar gap between two of the three persons portrayed.

In the portrait of Anne, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, there is a column of light between Emily and Charlotte where the artist Branwell Bronte painted himself out.
In the poster for Order of the Phoenix, there is a column of dark cloud between in between Ron and Hermione.

So who was replaced by the dark cloud?
Voldemort, who really longed to be part of a group of cool nerds like Ron, Hermione and Harry?
Cedric, come back as a non-glittery ghost?
Or JK Rowling herself, the author of the book, and thus the artist behind this 'portrait'?

PS. my sister Rebecca suggests the dark cloud may represent the tension between Ron and Hermione - interesting thought...

04 October 2009

11 Ways of Looking at a Magpie

The Mag-Pie Poetry Project: a collaborative celebration of all things 'magpie', edited by John Malone and written by John and fellow writers on Facebook, in haiku or haiku-like verse.
These poems were collected over a period of only two days and appear in roughly the order in which they were received:

11 Ways of Looking at a Magpie

low-flying magpie
dips wings, changes direction;
watching child applauds.

deborah green

punch-drunk magpie: pounding his reflection

john malone

black and white;
surely brown and grey?
half there in yellow grass

abigail dunleavy

heat wave ---
a magpie looks up
at the closed tap

myron lysenko

sticky-beak --
a magpie flies away
with the cat's lunch

maya lyubenova

persistent begging
of baby magpie. Gaping
mouth worm-filled. Silence

trevor hampel

cracking dawn
black white flash of
magpie beak

susan hawthorne

evening worship
in the silence between chants
magpie carolling

lyn reeves

after the shouting
two magpies in the garden
keeping their distance

rob scott

The 'Pies are out of the finals.
He sits and scratches at
the Magpie on his chest
but it won't fly off.

andrew burke

spring morn; cycling
through smoggy traffic, skirting parks
with trees --- and magpies

amelia walker

thank you to John Malone for the concept and for editing; John thanks all the contributors for what was for him a first and an exciting project.

02 October 2009

if u liked it then u shoulda put a ring on it

having just seen the football team from William McKinley High give a truly wondrous interpretation of the original choreography for Beyoncé's Single Ladies, I'm moved to list my favourite videos for/about the song:

  • the bestest, for comedy, drama & dance skillz:
    the scene from Glee on the football field

  • the second bestest, for great chorey & dance skillz:
    Penny and Charlie dancing a futuristic vampire routine choreographed by Tiana Joubert (sorry about the fuzzy video clip)

  • third best for chorey (Open category), but first in the Toddler category:
    Cory, in Baby Dancing

  • fourth best for chorey & style (I'm not a fan of high heels), although best for singing: the original, Ms Beyoncé Knowles

  • fifth, not such a great dancer, but full points for courage & sense of humour: Joe Jonas

    and an honourable mention for Justin Timberlake as a backing dancer for Beyoncé in her parody of her own video

    please note: these are my personal preferences; I don't claim to be an expert in judging dance, choreography or video skills, just an enthusiastic amateur who did jazz ballet as a kid :-)

    so no flaming, please!

    but please feel free to respond with your own thoughts and feelings about this important question:
    Which is *your* favourite clip for Single Ladies?
  • 24 September 2009

    subjectivity - or why authors need good readers

    Now that I have vast hordes of people following my blog - eight at last count! - it seems like a good idea to post more often. hello, people! *waves*

    I'm reading My Favourite Poison by Anna Blundy - a rollicking crime/chick lit/dark comedy/spy story set in Egypt, featuring Faith Zanetti, a cynical English journalist who feels most at home in war zones and places where life is cheap and vodka is readily available. This is the fifth Faith novel, and they're all quite dark - suicides, wrongful imprisonment, the horrors of war, trafficking in children, mental illness, abandonment and grief - but have sufficient laugh lines scattered through the books to warrant being called 'rollicking' or 'darkly funny'. I've now bought four out of the five, having found the first (actually the fourth) in a dump-bin of discounted books, then the third, also on sale. apparently they don't sell well in Australia - we like wry or quirky humour, but maybe Blundy's plots are too grim and her jokes too Russian (see her novels for explanation if you are not familiar with the general tendency of Russian jokes to be really, really sad) for the average Australian reader. Blundy herself worked for many years as a journalist in Russia, the Middle East, Africa and America, and her father, also a journalist, was killed while working in El Salvador.

    I've read all five (well, still reading the fifth) but have declined to buy the second because it's so unhappy; war orphans being sold into sex slavery is horrific, Faith's best friend committing suicide was devastating, but Faith herself having a nervous breakdown was just too much for me - maybe something to do with the first person narrative.

    Anyways, I'd ordered My Favourite Poison and waited weeks for it, started it eagerly a couple of days ago, but was disgruntled because it just wasn't funny. Tonight, however, I'm chortling away at Faith's idea that she could disguise herself by wearing a red t-shirt instead of her usual white one (she's not entirely serious about that working).

    So is the writing better at this point in the novel? I think it's pretty consistent, actually, and the reason I'm chuckling now is because I had a good talk this arvo with someone who asked me what I was so peeved about, and now that I've aired my grievances with sundry persons who have done Bad Things such as a) bill me more than they should have, b) be outrageously busy with other clients and not have time to fit me in for an appointment, and c) be cheerful when I'm feeling grumpy, I'm feeling quite relaxed and ready to enjoy Faith's travails.

    Which confirms my theory (well, other people's too, but no way am I going to cite sources in this blog, unless I really feel like it, so for the purposes of this blog right now it's mine) that a novel is co-created by the reader, or at least, that an individual reader's experience is co-created by that reader - by the layers of cultural and literary knowledge they bring to it, their understanding of the genre, their understanding of individual words (or not), and, not least, their state of being and mood at the time.

    my sister's fab new dolls' house

    Rebecca's Collections: The Battlement House has arrived - now, where do I put it?

    16 September 2009

    bad science, great faces

    possible SPOILERS if you watch Fringe

    watching Fringe is such a pleasure. I could quite happily just gaze at Anna Torv's face for the whole hour, with the other characters simply being voices from off screen, so it's a bonus that she brings acting skill to the role of Agent Olivia Dunham, and that several of the other actors are also greatly gaze-worthy (and good actors).

    John Noble's sweetly craggy features are perfect for his mad-scientist role, the lovely, loony Walter Bishop. I do hope, however, that the scriptwriters ease up on the running gag of Walter's 'important requests', which made me laugh the first few times: Do you need anything while you conduct this experiment, Walter? Yes, I must have some cotton candy; blue, not pink. At the crime scene (a diner) Fed: What do you need? Walter: Could I have a bowl of this onion soup? Oh, and bring these two bodies back to my lab. now that I'm expecting each appearance of the gag it's a little less amusing.

    and there's Kirk Acevedo, with an awful haircut (excusable I suppose by his character being FBI) detracting only slightly from his watchability. he looks just fine, even without the dashing, self-inflicted scar that he had slashed across his cheek as Miguel Alvarez in Oz. I do wish he'd smile more, though.

    Joshua Jackson is reassuringly 'normal' looking as Walter's son Peter, Lance Reddick does a great 'serious' look as Olivia's boss Agent Broyles, and Jasika Nicole is very cute as the hapless (but probably very competent when she's not being co-opted as assistant to a mad scientist) Asterisk - sorry, Astrid.

    the stories are a nice mix of conspiracy theories, emotive rescues of helpless victims, and really nasty bad guys, with some weird and wonderful 'science' thrown in.

    sometimes it's the little things that irk me the most, not the outrageously bizarre 'stuff' that is the flabotnum (sp? phlibotnem? that word that Joss Whedon & his writing team used when talking about Buffy and Angel, meaning the hi-tech gizmo, spell, or alien force that did whatever they needed it to do as a plot device, without needing any annoying exposition) of the episode.

    tonight's episode featured women who'd been abducted (oh, what a surprise! occasionally it's a man, sometimes a child, but most often women who are abducted) and injected with some drug that would interact with medical treatment they were having to make them highly radioactive and turn their heads into killer microwave ovens that could slaughter a roomful of people. I'm happy to go with that - reading SF since I was a kid has given me a high tolerance for weird science, as long as it has internal consistency.

    the bits that bugged me where when evil scientist #2 (a pretty Asian American woman who we first saw wearing full hazchem/radioactivity-proof suit, who then revealed her feminine beauty by taking off the ugly great protective helmet/mask/hood thingy and shaking out her lovely long hair) was about to inject the 'bad stuff' into a drip solution that was feeding into the poor abducted woman. evil scientist #2 held up the syringe and flicked it to get the air bubbles out before injecting it into the drip solution - but the 'bad stuff' was about a centimetre below the top of the syringe! there was no point flicking to get tiny air bubbles out when she hadn't yet pushed the plunger far enough to get the liquid up to the needle. silly evil scientist!
    (it was probably so that we could see there was some brightly coloured bad stuff in the syringe, it wasn't just a groovy red syringe with nothing in it)

    the other bit that bugged me (and I'm probably just being picky here) was when the 'good stuff' cooked up by our lovely mad scientist saved the second abducted woman by massively reducing the level of radioactivity in her body within a second or so. a bit unfair of me, really - it did make for a lovely dramatic denouement, and if I'm going to buy the delayed release radiotherapy nano-capsules the women were being treated with, and Walter's mad genius overall, then why not accept an anti-radioactivity drug that acts faster than Narcan?

    I did feel sorry for the poor little bald rat who was used to test the second abducted woman's killer microwaves. at least they blew its head up while it was hiding under her medical gown - Fringe is tactful like that, we see exploding heads only indirectly, even when it's a rat's head.

    10 September 2009

    books that shaped me

    Some people object to lists, but I looove lists of good books (that's why I bought Nancy Pearl's "Book Lust"). And this "shopping list" post certainly fits the theme of my blog - my life as a reader/audience.

    These books are all ones that I love, by authors & illustrators that I admire; some were also childhood favourites. I decided to do a list of 100, which meant having to exclude lots, so when a book is part of a series, I have usually put just the first book, or my favourite, to represent them all (in most cases I love the whole series).

    Mostly I've listed books that were published at least five years ago (except for Let the Right One In, which I made an exception for cos it's a) brilliant and b) such a good example of cross-genre writing), to give enough time to judge how much the books have stayed with me.

    I've also aimed to avoid having more than one book by the same author in the same category (although some authors are included in more than one genre), cos otherwise my children's books could've been all Joan Aiken, for example, and I wanted to include as many authors as possible.

    They're grouped by genre/audience/format cos I wanted to have a representative range of the books that I love and that have contributed to my world view. I started reading crime, SF and general adult fiction when I was a kid, and still read kids' books now.

    Young Adult:
    1. My Heartbeat, Garret Freymann-Weyr
    2. Saving Francesca, Melina Marchetta
    3. Boy Meets Boy, David Levithan
    4. Sky Legs, Irini Savvides
    5. Tomorrow, When the War Began, John Marsden
    6. The Sterkarm Handshake, Susan Price
    7. Lockie Leonard, Human Torpedo, Tim Winton
    8. Tex, S.E. Hinton
    9. Pagan's Vows, Catherine Jinks
    10. Finding Cassie Crazy, Jaclyn Moriarty

    11. Justice, Faye Kellerman
    12. Shakespeare's Champion, Charlaine Harris
    13. Cut to the Quick, Kate Ross
    14. Seeing a Large Cat, Elizabeth Peters
    15. The Embroidered Sunset, Joan Aiken
    16. A Running Duck, Paula Gosling
    17. The Franchise Affair, Josephine Tey
    18. Peepshow, Leigh Redhead
    19. Busman's Honeymoon, Dorothy L. Sayers
    20. For the Defense, Kate Wilhelm

    21. Darwin's Radio, Greg Bear
    22. The October Country, Ray Bradbury
    23. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany, Jr
    24. Welcome, Chaos, Kate Wilhelm
    25. Insomnia, Stephen King
    26. Hunting Party, Elizabeth Moon
    27. Body of Glass, Marge Piercy
    28. Beauty, Sheri S. Tepper
    29. The Autumn Castle, Kim Wilkins
    30. Always Coming Home, Ursula K. Le Guin

    Picture books:
    31. I Hate My Teddy Bear, David McKee
    32. Eloise, Kay Thompson & Hilary Knight
    33. Goodnight, Moon, Margaret Wise Brown & Clement Hurd
    34. My Place, Nadia Wheatley & Donna Rawlins
    35. Fungus the Bogeyman, Raymond Briggs
    36. Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
    37. Just One Apple, Janosch
    38. Tip-Tip, Marcelle Vérité
    39. The Waterhole, Graeme Base
    40. Grandpa, John Burningham

    41. The Load of Unicorn, Cynthia Harnett
    42. Black Hearts in Battersea, Joan Aiken
    43. The Horse & His Boy, C.S. Lewis
    44. The Wind on the Moon, Eric Linklater
    45. The Borrowers, Mary Norton
    46. Handles, Jan Mark
    47. The Ice is Coming, Patricia Wrightson
    48. The Children of Green Knowe, Lucy M. Boston
    49. White Boots, Noel Streatfield
    50. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norman Juster

    General fiction:
    51. A Spot of Bother, Mark Haddon
    52. 26a, Diana Evans
    53. The Spell, Alan Hollinghurst
    54. Not That Sort of Girl, Mary Wesley
    55. Dirt Music, Tim Winton
    56. The Infernal Optimist, Linda Jaivin
    57. God on the Rocks, Jane Gardam
    58. Three Dog Night, Peter Goldsworthy
    59. I for Isobel, Amy Witting
    60. The Bat Tattoo, Russell Hoban

    Historical novels:
    61. Gone to Soldiers, Marge Piercy
    62. The Vizard Mask, Diana Norman
    63. The Gentleman's Garden, Catherine Jinks
    64. An Infamous Army, Georgette Heyer
    65. Jane Fairfax, Joan Aiken
    66. These Is My Words, Nancy Turner
    67. Queen of the Lightning, Kathleen Herbert
    68. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier
    69. Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks
    70. Small Gains, K.M. Peyton

    Graphic novels:
    71. Sandman, Neil Gaiman & Kieth/Dringenberg/Klein, et al.
    72. Y: Last Man, Brian K. Vaughn & Pia Guerra
    73. Tales of the Slayers: Presumption, Jane Espenson & Russell/Kindzierski/Showman
    74. The Adventuress, Audrey Niffenegger
    75. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel
    76. Persepolis 1 & 2, Marjane Satrapi
    77. Blankets, Craig Thompson
    78. 99 Ways to Tell a Story, Matt Madden
    79. Black Orchid, Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean
    80. Buddha, Osamu Tezuka

    Classics (and ones that should be):
    81. Persuasion, Jane Austen
    82. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
    83. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
    84. Vanity Fair, W.M. Thackeray
    85. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
    86. Maurice, E.M. Forster
    87. Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
    88. Living Alone, Stella Benson
    89. At the Back of the North Wind, George MacDonald
    90. Sing For Your Supper, Pamela Frankau

    Cross-genre & other favourites:
    91. Drums of Autumn, Diana Gabaldon
    92. Dead Until Dark, Charlaine Harris
    93. Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman
    94. The Underdog, Markus Zusak
    95. The Puppy Sister, S.E. Hinton
    96. How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
    97. Sabriel, Garth Nix
    98. Emma Tupper's Diary, Peter Dickinson
    99. Cold Tom, Sally Price
    100. Let the Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist

    31 July 2009

    remember the days of the high school yard

    If high school was the happiest time of my life, I'd be dead by now.
    fortunately, it wasn't. in fact, the year I was at high school was among the unhappiest I've had.

    I only had one year of high school, thank God. I left at the end of year 7 (shortly before turning 13), because I loathed the place, and mum thought both my education and my sanity would be better served by “home-schooling”.

    I put “home schooling” in inverted commas because we mostly just made up a curriculum and then I’d get on with reading all the fiction, history, travel, pop science, etc, that I wanted to anyway. I also was a volunteer at a child care centre, a women’s refuge, and as a Lifeline telephone counsellor, was a student then a tutor at the local Youth Theatre, and sat in on college classes (the same college where my mum worked, and where I later did my first degree).

    this post started life as a Facebook questionnaire Notes thingy, so it's in Q & A form, and includes questions I probably wouldn't have thought to ask myself, and Americanisms, which I'll leave as they are cos it'd be a bit rude to change them, given I'm not even crediting the original (unknown to me) writer of the quiz.

    So a) there’s not much material from one year (although it seemed an eternity of pain at the time), and b) it’s a bit traumatic remembering all that shit. So I’ve included some stuff from after I left high school, but while I was still in my early-to-mid teens.

    1. What stereotype would you characterize yourself in high school? (Nerd, Jock, Artsy, Stoner etc)
    nerd, then artsy nerd.

    2. Who was your fave teacher and why?
    my maths teacher (can’t remember his name), cos I liked maths and he gave me extra work when I’d finished stuff early. At college, when I was 14 or so, one of the English lecturers with whom I did Women in Lit – heaps of fun!

    3.What was your worst high school moment?
    too many to choose:
    being asked on my first day if I was a virgin (I should bloody well hope so! I was 11 going on 12);
    being pushed down a flight of stairs;
    being told by an English teacher (who I’d previously respected) that my response to a poem was ‘wrong’;
    being asked by a guy (who I wasn’t interested in, but still) if I’d ‘go with’ him (i.e. be his gf), then before I answered, he and his mates all laughed and said ‘sucked in’.

    4.What was your best high school moment?
    - HS: getting home at the end of each day.
    - Best college-during-my-early-teens moment: talking about the Romantic poets (Shelley, Byron, Clare, Keats), and about Virginia Woolf, in a class of people who were actually interested and had read them.

    5. What music most reminds you of high school?
    ABBA might, but fortunately I have much more positive associations with ABBA now. Mamma Mia, here I go again - lovely Meryl Streep, and dancing to Dancing Queen at Conflux 2 - we had a great DJ at the masquerade ball!

    6. What class would you like to take again if you had the chance?
    none! Never want to go to a high school again, unless –
    if I was the teacher, and the kids actually wanted to be there, then English, history, civics, drama – anything where I could rabbit on a bit, get them to do fun and challenging stuff and hopefully inspire them.
    I would like to do high-school level maths and science, cos I missed most of that, but not at an actual high-school.

    7. Who did you hang out with most in high school?
    my sister, except we weren’t s’posed to talk to each other because year 7s and year 10s were s’posed to be in different parts of the playground. Stupid bureaucracy.

    8. What is something you miss the most about high school?
    absolutely nothing. Say it again – school – what is it good for? Huh! Absolutely nothing.

    9. What do you miss the least?
    Being bullied, rushing from one horrible stupid class to another carrying tons of heavy books (we didn’t have lockers - are there lockers in Australian high schools now?).

    10. Who did you date or have a crush on?
    - no one at school. Immature dickheads, most of them.
    - at college while in early teens – lots of people, probably the earliest was a comms student called Jen (I think) who was in They Shoot Horses Don’t They? (or maybe she did lighting – I forget the details, just that I thought she was so cool, and wished I had the courage to talk with her)

    11. What is something really funny that happened?
    more eye-rollingly stupid, but I got into an argument with my science teacher about the ethics of Australia mining uranium and selling it to other countries, e.g France, who then used it in nuclear weapons that they tested, above ground, in the Pacific. My science teacher said that if we didn’t sell it to the French, another country would. I said that by that reasoning, it would be okay for him to sell me heroin because if he didn’t someone else would. His only answer was ‘but you’re not a heroin addict’, then ‘get back to work on identifying the sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks’. Blah.

    Lots of funny things happened at college-before-I-enrolled. Can I remember a good anecdote? Sorry, nothing specific.

    12. Did you ever get in trouble in high school?
    ha! I was so 'good', until the last month of the last term, when I was so fed up, and after mostly getting As I failed a test – shock! horror! My form teacher (the science teacher, poor fool) had a Serious Talk with me. I just glowered at him.

    13. What were you really into back then?
    writing angst-filled poems, reading and watching SF and detective fiction, playing in the garden with our cats.

    14. Where did you hang out?
    - during HS: during the school day, wherever I hoped no one would find me; in my bedroom (James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Buster Keaton and Elvis posters on the wall) while at home.
    - during college-in-early-teens: in the college Union eating hot chips, at Youth Theatre, in the community radio’s student broadcasting studio…

    15. What was your proudest accomplishment?
    - HS: surviving
    - in-mid-teens: getting a job as drama tutor; training as a Lifeline counsellor

    16. If you could go back and change something, what would it be?
    it’d be great to go back and tell myself “it will get better”, and to not internalise all the shit that the bullies told me

    17. Who influenced you most?
    - at HS: the bullies, probably
    - at c-in-mid-ts: women at the refuge – workers and residents; English lecturers at college (before I enrolled, and a History lecturer afterwards); drama tutors at youth theatre; other volunteers at Lifeline (most of whom were practising Christians, and I was then an atheist).

    18. What were some of your fave TV shows from that era?
    Blake’s 7, Starksy & Hutch, Dr Who (depending on which Doctor), Countdown, Welcome Back Kotter

    19. Fave movies?
    Star Wars, Ordinary People, CE3K (Close Encounters), Gallipoli, Scanners, Mad Max 2, Gregory’s Girl

    20. Is there anything you would like to say that you never had the chance to say to someone?
    - to all the bullies: I hope you’ve grown up to be decent people
    - to the lecturers at college-in-my-mid-teens: thanks for restoring my faith in adults and in formal education
    - to my mum: thank you!
    - to my sister: we made it out alive!

    travelling in Europe with my older sister when we were in our teens was way better education than being at high school.

    29 June 2009

    living and blogging

    being fairly new to blogging, and also going through a health crisis, I'm not sure whether it's possible to do stuff and still have time & energy to blog about it. (half-joking here)
    one possible solution would be to not do anything, and simply blog about what's going on in my mind, but that could get a bit stale, so I'll probably just do occasional posts, and in between the more detailed posts, give a summary of the interesting things I could've blogged about, if I hadn't been so busy doing them.

    in the last week I've:
    * read a fascinating YA novel called Beast, by Ally Kennen
    * weeded some of my pot plants on the balcony
    * shared thoughts with friends on FB - a great solace, joy and inspiration
    * wondered what I'd be doing now if I'd had more self-confidence in my 20s and 30s
    * and played I Spy with a couple of preschoolers while we (and many others of various ages and ethnic backgrounds) were all waiting for an hour or so to see a doctor at the medical centre

    more about Beast later, and about the tantalising "what if"s that may even now be fulfilled by alternate versions of me in parallel universes...

    27 June 2009

    amusing things to do indoors

    pic of paired socks (with colour-coordinated pegs) taken on a sunny day, quite unlike today.

    I was disgruntled by how chill, grey and overcast it was this morning, but pottering around at home can be so relaxing. I started out with no particular plans or expectations, and have had a lovely indoor day. have done a small load of washing & hung it on the balcony (the forecast showers haven't eventuated, but may yet), some vacuuming (!!), and some clothes- and paper-sorting.

    matching socks is very satisfying - a dozen random single socks, some washed today, some previously, have now found their partners - yay! Not that there's anything wrong with being single, nor do I have anything against wearing odd socks, but it's nice to have the choice to wear matching socks - a choice that becomes difficult to put into action if the only socks available are lacking a partner. I also threw out (or rather, put into a bag) any socks or knickers that were holey or had dead elastic, and put into another bag a few nice, wearable clothes which I'd just washed but don't really fit into any more. the wearable clothes can go to one of the op shops nearby, but for the other bag I'll have to find a charity that accepts torn clothes and sells them for industrial rags.

    Quentin Crisp said that after the first three years of letting it accumulate, you no longer notice the dust - it doesn't get any thicker and it drifts into areas that you don't use. I'm not game to leave it long enough to verify that theory, having a fear that I might get lost in the drifts and die of dust inhalation, like a poor little dessicated lizard curled up behind a bookcase. but I do tend to leave it a good while, so it was a thrill to do some vacuuming today. I used the little round brushy attachment to do papers on my desk (prior to uncovering and moving my 'in-tray'), my mediation shawl (sad to let something so precious get so dusty), the armchair that my dolls, bears, etc, sit on, and edges of bookcases. my poor bears and frog were a different colour once they'd been vacuumed. I didn't dare vacuum any of the dolls - they're too vulnerable, and have monetary or sentimental value.

    Bambina, pictured here, was my maternal grandmother's doll, and I lovingly wipe her with a soft, dry cloth, never vacuum.

    I also sorted through papers in the living room, mostly in hopes of finding an address I'd jotted on something a day or two ago, and also to make sure there weren't any of mum's bills lying around waiting for me to pay them (there was one that needed paying, down the side of the armchair that I use, and one that my sister had paid, in a pile of 'to do' papers). still haven't found the address, but tossed out some bits of newspaper I'd been keeping for the crosswords (now done) or the pretty pictures (which I probably won't use, specially now I'm doing more with digital images than paper), and put all current 'to do' documents for me & mum into the in-tray recovered from my desk.

    being on Facebook and photoblog has inspired me to go through lots of old photo albums and scan pictures to post online, and in some cases I want to go through & scan all the photos in an album so I can save them on my desktop's hard drive, on a data stick, and eventually in an online storage service. both seeing other people's beautiful old photos in their blogs, and seeing how many people on FB answered 'photo albums & negatives' to the question 'what would I grab if my house was on fire?', prompted me to scan & save, scan, resize & post.

    and in between all this, just mucking around on Facebook - doing quizzes, posting status updates, sending congratulations and commiserations to friends, looking at photos - and playing music and talks through iTunes and YouTube.

    hope you're having a good week/end.

    25 June 2009

    an actual entry in my blog

    don't remember exactly when I created this blog, or why - did I intend to witter on about nothing? share profound thoughts? just have an ID so I wouldn't be 'anonymous' when commenting on my friends' blogs?

    when I created it, I was writing a journal regularly and writing fiction sporadically, and didn't really have any urge to put words into a blog, talking to an unknown (and possibly non-existent) audience, when I had an eager audience for my journal (me, especially when bored or avoiding something - and it was in convenient form to re-read) and a supportive audience for my fiction (my writing group, particularly my buddies with whom I had a mutual pact to be an honest, constructive and committed reader).

    but now I rarely get to my writing group, write tiny amounts of fiction once in a blue moon, and think about writing in my (paper) journal occasionally but don't often do it. most of my writing now occurs on Facebook, so I could just as well blether on here as on FB. except that I have a bunch of very interesting FB friends, who start their own discussion threads, contribute to others', and comment on mine - very stimulating.

    hmm, maybe I can make some bloggy friends, too.


    so anyway, I was just looking for a video cassette* which has my film school video You Can't Find Me on it (based on a story I wrote, script by Michelle Harrison with input by me, directed by Pauline Chan, 'produced' by me - but it was Pauline's student budget that funded it), mostly to see if there were any other bits of video on it, like my student piece from Theatre/Media at Mitchell C.A.E., that I could upload to YouTube. Not sure if I have the right to upload You Can't Find Me to YouTube, cos it's copyright AFTRS. (must ring and ask)

    despite the title, I did find the video cassette, so will shortly check and see what else is on it.

    while hunting for said cassette, I sorted through other videos and DVDs that are stored in the unit (which used to be my bedside table/nightstand). My lovely widescreen telly sits on top (usually covered by a nice leaf-green on cream batik cloth, so it doesn't get dusty), the VCR/DVD player is in the top shelf, and the dvds and video cassettes are underneath (they don't get covered with a cloth, and are thus rather dusty). fascinating what I had in there: videos of movies that I now have on dvd (and so will sell or give away); videos of films that I don't have on dvd and wouldn't mind watching some time, but had totally forgotten I had (like Buster Keaton's The General, Gill Armstrong's Last Days of Chez Nous, a doco about 60s Girl Groups and Motown...); and time-shifted tv on tapes so old they're probably disintegrating (but at least time-shifting is legal now. although there may be a limit on how long is considered 'time-shifting'. 15 years sounds okay to me).

    now I've rearranged the videos, and resorted the dvds that were in front of them (my dvd bookcase is overfull, so the TV-on-DVD SF or fantasy dvds are on the nightstand instead of alphabetically shelved with the feature films, docos and non-SF/fantasy TV-on-DVD on the bookcase). and I might even watch some of the videos. after I finish this blog entry, and check my AFTRS tape, and see what's happening on Facebook, and maybe go and buy some groceries, cos I'm out of milk and bananas (two of my staple foods).

    nice chatting to you folk/s, and I'll let you know what I find on the AFTRS tape (and whether I can upload my student video to YouTube).


    *for the info of anyone born after 1990: you may have seen them, they're like a dvd, only not a flat disk - more like an audio cassette, but with pictures. an encased reel-to-reel magnetic tape, with sound and image track. playable in a VCR. there used to be two formats, but the Beta one died.