Lovely Lisa

I’ve just gotten hold of a couple more pieces from the upcoming Mt Zero Cabin 1 at the Grampians exhibition, this time by the lovely Lisa Sewards…

An another…

And one more special treat…

Not only am I now looking forward to the exhibition, but I’ve got the most incredible hankering for a weekend in the Grampians.

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Tickled pink by not so cross buns…

Today saw hot crossed buns replaced by pink buns at Bakers Delight.

Between the 28 April and 18 May 2011 Bakers Delight is participating in The Pink Bun Campaign and will be selling pink buns and pink lady cut-outs with 100% of proceeds going to Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA).

BCNA do amazing work supporting women and their families throughout their diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, with practical and emotion advice and support.  I can personally vouch for the incredible assistance this support offers, for a start I would have been absolutely lost without their My Journey Personal Record.

So if you like sweet buns (giggle…) and worthy causes as much as I do, I’d suggest a quick visit to your local Bakers Delight and enjoy a yummy treat without the guilt.

A sneak peak

As promised, I’m pleased to be able to share with you a sneak peak at a couple of works that are going to be shown in the Mt Zero Cabin 1 at the Grampians exhibition coming up 11 May 2011 at the Firestation Print Studio.

These two pieces are by artist Trudy Rice, and are a wonderful example of the talent which will be on show.  Firstly, a piece perfectly in keeping with the amazing Autumn that is setting into Melbourne at the moment…

And secondly, a piece that reminds me very much of weeks spent camping as a teenager in Halls Gap:

If you’d like to find out a bit more about Trudy and her work, you might like to have a look around her site.

The Grampians are one of my favourite places, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing this exhibition. Definitely one for the diary.

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A little bit of luck, with a dash of guilt

I’ve got to admit…I feel a little bit dirty, at the very least, a little bit cheap.

I gave in to temptation today and went and had a look at one of those book clearance places, not really expecting to find myself anything of much interest. To my surprise, I walked out with a large armful of novels.

Most of these titles are a few years old now but I’ve not read any of them, so I’m happy to add them to the collection pretty cheaply.  I’m especially excited about Laura Esquivel’s novel (kisses and hugs in store I’m sure)  and the preface to Alex Garland’s Coma is pretty frightening. Overall, I think this is a pretty eclectic mix of titles, but I’m looking forward to each one.

Anyone want to pick which one I should read first?

Who doesn’t like the Easter Bunny?

It’s been a long while since I’ve gone to see a Christmas movie, and even longer since I’ve seen an Easter one.  Hang on a minute…I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Easter movie.  In fact, I can’t think of another Easter movie, unless you count the Sunday School classics from my childhood.

So, because I needed another way to hype up the kids’ need for chocolate (not to mention my own insane hankering for eggs, eggs, eggs) I took them to see the movie Hop this morning.  I thought we’d be some of the last to see it, but apparently a lot of families have left their Easter viewing until the last minute as the cinema was pretty full.

Hop is entertaining and delivers a few laughs.  The storyline is a little bit cheesy, but it’s really fabulous to look at – as you can see from the poster, the colours used in the film are beautiful and the candy and chocolate are positively mouthwatering.  Russell Brand is great as EB and Hugh Laurie is pretty good as Easter Bunny Senior (although probably not his best work.) I wasn’t impressed with James Marsden, but the kids didn’t seem to mind his slightly hammy performance.

Although it might be a little out of date after Easter, I did notice that it is still showing for a while after the big day.

The movie was just the start of a day of nice discoveries.

Being off the coffee bean at the moment (no mean feat, believe me) I thought I’d treat myself to a new tea.  Popped into T2 and found a yummy sounding brew called Creme Brulee.  A nice change from the usual dull old tea-bags that I’ve been ‘enjoying’ since making the change from coffee to tea. I tried a cup as soon as I got home, and I’ve got to say, it’s as yummy as it sounds! With a dash of milk and some manuka honey, it’s almost a dessert.

Once I got home, I put my feet up and caught up on a few weekend magazines from The Age (I had some from last weekend to catch up on) and I came across a review for a great looking Fiction podcast from The New Yorker.  It’s a series of podcasts featuring authors reading the work of other authors, most often of their own choice. And it’s free, so bonus!  I also subscribed to their DVD of the Week podcasts as well, so I’ve got plenty of listening ahead.

So, no guesses what I’ll be doing tomorrow night.  With any luck, I’ll be eating chocolate, drinking tea and listening to Mary Gaitskill reading Vladimir Nabokov. Nice.

Quietly violent

I’ve long been fascinated by Japan, its style, its art, and most particularly its people, so when Tim suggested that I might enjoy Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle I accepted his recommendation and promptly moved the tome to the top of my reading pile.

Not that it was necessary, Tim further tempted me with the promise that Murakami’s novel was the closest he’d come to reading a David Lynch film. Being more than a little partial to Lynch’s films, this sealed the deal.

Magical from the outset, Murakami’s description of his dreamscape liaison could be equally applied to the novel itself…

“‘You and I joined our bodies together in my mind.’ When I heard myself speaking these words, I felt as if I had just hung a bold surrealist painting on a white wall”

Interestingly, what makes this story so effective is the white of the wall.  The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is bizarre, but it is made all the more intriguing by the ordinary, unobtrusive background against which it occurs.

I appreciate that surrealism as a genre isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and it can sometime make a novel quite dense, but Murakami avoids this skilfully.  I found this quite an easy read, it’s narrative was still linear and characters were beautifully developed. It, for its dark and often violent themes is also quite calm and quiet in pace, almost soothing.  It has been translated from Japanese poetically.

Toru Okada, the protagonist is almost faultless in his stoicism whilst being engaged in the most unreal and disconcerting of endeavours.  May Kasahara, a young lady who acts as both help and hinderance to Okada, describes him well…

“…you’re such a super-normal guy, but you do such unnormal things.”

It is this constant, quiet contradiction that worked so well to hold my interest throughout.  The story is put together artfully, providing extreme detail in places…detailed accounts of wartime atrocities, regional surrender and the horrors of prisoners of war.

Dreams are described intricately, and relationships are analysed to within an inch. At the same time, there is room for the reader’s imagination to move. The mystery of Kumiko and Okada is well hidden, and I was kept guessing until the very end. The many stories found within the novel are intertwined, but exactly how they relate is at times left up to the reader to decide.

I found this book very rewarding, and would recommend it, even if you’ve not gotten into magic realism before. Be patient, go along for the ride, you will be rewarded.

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Happy Easter all

Nothing quite like putting the kids to work on a public holiday.   This afternoon they’ve been hard at work making Easter cards, a most lovely way to spend a bit of family time.

Wishing you all a Happy Easter, and I hope you have a chance to put your feet up and read a good book for a bit.

Cheers, Mandi J

Hilltop inspiration

One thing I’m really loving at the moment is the ready availability of small, niche exhibitions featuring local artists.  It’s a great way to get out of the house for a couple of hours, with or without the kids.  One such show coming up next month is Mt Zero Cabin 1 at the Grampians.

Last month, Lisa Sewards (of Pink Lady fame) and a number of other inspired individuals spent a week in the Grampians. During their time away, Lisa and others in her cabin produced some stunning works, inspired by the fine company and the hilltop air.

As a result, Cabin 1 are having a small exhibition of the works created that week. Many are works on paper, using a variety of mediums although the show also includes a selection of oils paintings.

For the diary, opening night is 12 May 2011, and the exhibition runs from 11 May – 22 May 2011 at the Firestation Print Studio. I for one can’t wait, I’m really looking forward to this show – the Grampians is one of my favourite places and as I’ve mentioned before I’m very partial to works on paper. Stay tuned here too, hopefully I’ll be able to show off a few samples of included works in the weeks to come.

A couple of goodies coming up shortly on TBYL…
I’ve finally finished Wind-up Bird Chronicle and am working on putting down my many thoughts on this amazing novel.

Also, I’m doing a little experiment on Brainwashing al la Elmo…all will be revealed in due course so watch this space.

Keep an eye out too for a feature on photographer Christopher Rimmer, coming soon.

Photo: Christopher Rimmer

Hope you’re all looking forward to a wonderful Easter break, and that you get the chance to get out and about to some lovely things during the break.   Equally I hope you have a bit of book-time, put your feet up and read away.

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An institution

If you’ve got a few spare minutes, can I suggest that you have a listen to Jon Faine’s radio show from a couple of days ago. Jon was lucky enough to be able to pick the brains of a great man, Alex Morton.

Brian Nankervis, Bjorn Richie Lob, Alex Morton (Samantha Stayner - ABC Local Radio)

Alex is my dear friend Hannah’s Dad, a guy who I’ve been in awe of since I was at High School.  Owner of The Last Record Store in Collingwood, Alex has been working hard to keep the dream alive. It’s fitting that he’d have a few things to say about Independent Record Store Day (Saturday last, 16 April).

You can listen to the show here…

I’m sad to say that The Last Record Store is actually closing it’s doors quite soon, but by the same token, I was happy to hear that this is NOT because of market pressure, economic changes, technology etc…It is just a change of pace for dear Alex and his lovely wife Helen. Good luck guys, and all the best for your next adventure (I hope you catch a big fish.)

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Thank goodness for Paul (aka Not quite the day I expected)

The day started off nicely enough, a most beautiful Autumn Sunday. I suspect that the warm sun and the cool breeze was made all the sweeter thanks to the enjoyment of a (child-free) yummy brunch of eggs, bagels and tea with Matt.  A lovely, all too rare, weekend treat.

And then the day turned a little pear shaped, as they say…best laid plans.

After a failed attempt to see Frankenstein at the Nova (don’t ask, really…) and bit of a tantrum on my part, we made the best of a disappointing situation and turned tale to Southland, bought treats and tickets to see Paul.

And can I just say – thank goodness for Paul and for Simon (Pegg) and Nick (Frost). I can always rely on you guys to lift my spirits.

Just as with Sean of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Simon and Nick’s latest offering is clever and quite hilarious. Paul is of course a tribute to science fiction films past and present, but I’m pleased to say that it doesn’t fall into the trap of parody.

Before seeing the film, I had heard that the sci fi references were a little obvious, somewhat self conscious.  I totally disagree with this, I thought the call-outs were generally pretty subtle and any borrowed lines were worked into the dialogue pretty seamlessly.  I honestly believe that the film would easily stand up with or without the element of homage.

At the end of the day, Paul is funny.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still has enough substance to avoid total frivolity.  It’s a well put together film, effects-wise…Paul’s existence is entirely convincing, and voiced by Seth Rogen he’s terribly likeable.

I reckon this would make a pretty good date movie, especially if you’re a little over the holiday kids-flicks.  I’d not say it’s great for the kids, if for no other reason but that it includes a fair bit of swearing.  The curse-age is completely in context, and very entertaining, but might be a little hard to explain to an 8 year old…

In short – love it, and can’t wait to see it again. and again. and again.

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