Did you hear that Rumble?

It’s that time of week again, where I drag my work-from-home butt into a real-life office and spend the day working alongside flesh and blood human beings.

One of the really good things about doing the trek into town (asides from seeing my work crew) is that it makes going out in the evening a much more realistic proposition.

This week I’ve got tickets to go and see the play The Haunting of Daniel Gartell, starring John Wood, Samuel Johnson and Marcella Russo, showing at Fortyfive Downstairs.

I’m as much looking forward to seeing the venue as I am the play itself, it sounds like quite an interesting space, often used for exhibitions and performances of different types. The play itself seems quite intriguing too, the write-up going a little like this:

Under an ochre sky something happened at Mt. Ragged. The incident inspired celebrated bush poet Daniel Gartrell’s (John Wood) most analysed piece of verse … a poem that’s final verse has never been published. Now an enigma, Gartrell lives as a recluse in the suburbs, his only contact is with his daughter, Sarah (Marcella Russo).

Gartrell is at home, thinking very oblique thoughts when an emerging actor from Bondi, Craig Catevich (Samuel Johnson), knocks on his door. The ambitious and optimistic Castervich has been cast to play Gartrell in a biographical movie, and in his research for the role, is ready for anything …or so he thinks
Words by: Fortyfive Downstairs

I’ll let you know my take on it in the coming days, but if you’d like to check it out for yourself it’s running until 12 June 2011. You can get tickets from Fortyfive Downstairs, and Rushcrowds have a discount offer for tomorrow night’s show, here.

If you’ve got a little listening time, can I suggest that you check out Rumble (Underground). Launched yesterday, Rumble (Underground) is essentially a place to go to find some really interesting stories. Over time, the site will house a collection of podcasts, documenting conversations with interesting people – characters living and creating wonderful things, be that music, stories, art or other.

They’ve launched with two podcasts, well worth a listen. I’ll have a bit more of a chat about these throughout the week, but you can check them out here and here.

Stay tuned, plenty more to come this week!


Mum-friendly kid treats

Very little time in front of the computer this weekend means that I’ve got a couple of things that I want to share today – a book, a gig, and an exhibition.

First up is a book that I meant to mention a little while ago, before I got a bit carried away with all this going-out-in-public stuff.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard that Lisa McCune has released a book, Hopscotch and Honey Joys. It’s essentially a cookbook, beautifully put together by Lisa and her good friend Di Thomas, but it is also much more than a collection of recipes. It’s been put together like a lovely, personal scrapbook of ideas…a Mum’s guide to lovely things for kids and kin.

Between them Lisa and Di have six children between the ages of four and nine, and as such the content is really helpful and fun for a pretty wide range of us, from those with really young kids as well as those whose kidlings are a little more grown up.

I’m thinking that Hopscotch and Honey Joys would be a really great gift for a new Mum, as it’s got some really great ‘basics’ in it, like tips for travelling with kids, party games, knowing your different types of potatoes, etc.

It’s an effective blend of tips and recipes, and I particularly like the fact that many of the recipe ideas would be great for cooking with the kids. I’m really finding that including Oscar in the cooking process is helping with his pathological dislike for anything not vegemite, so any ideas for kid-friendly cooking goes down really well with me.

My personal favourites; creamy rice pudding (yum, yum, winter fun), potato printing (might try this one this afternoon), shaving cream play (never mind the mess guys), and the carbonara gnocchi bake (my mouth is watering just thinking about it.) If you’re keen for a sneak peak, you check out a couple of pages here.

This is a really well put together book, with a wonderful balance of fun and function. Check it out.

Now, I’ve been doing a fair few outings on my own, which has been a very nice treat, but I was starting to feel a little guilty.  As such, I had a bit of a look around on Little Melbourne and found some great kid’s gigs coming up in June. I’ve picked out one for Evan, and one for Oscar and I’m looking forward to some nice one-to-one time with each of them.

I’ve just bought tickets to see Play School’s Big Jazz Adventure, running 12 and  13 June at Melbourne Town Hall. This caught my eye for obvious reasons (Play School + three-year old = happy) but also because I discovered last week that Oscar quite digs jazz. Let’s see if we can’t make him even cooler than he already is.

Given that I didn’t think that the Play School gig was really going to cut it with my ten-year old, I found something different for Evan. We’re thinking of getting along to see The Art of the Brick at Federation Square. I’ll admit, this is also a little self serving, as I’m a very big lego fan, but I do think that the boy will get into it as well. Should make for a nice day out regardless.

So here’s to hoping my energy holds out, it’s looking like June’s pretty packed too!

Frankly my dear…

I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with how words work, and how they can be used for better or worse to influence people. For this reason, Words that Hijack the Brain seemed right up my ally.  I was keen to hear some ideas that might shed some light on how those pesky little songs, nagging trends and clever jingles burrow themselves deeply into our brains and pass from person to person so readily.

The lecture was presented by Judi Menzies, the moderator of the Philosophy Group (an informal group that runs out of the library and meets to discuss the big questions) and she kindly presented the lecture as part of the 2011 Bayside Literary Festival.

Although the lecture itself didn’t hang together quite right, it introduced some really interesting ideas.  Not the least of which was the basic idea of Memes, a term used to describe “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” A meme is by definition self-replicating, and as Judi notes, is a little like a virus that spreads through a culture, most often harmlessly. Interestingly they can at times take on a more sinister shape.

I didn’t completely agree with everything that Judi put forward, and I think it might have been beneficial to hear more about her fear of the more negative, fundamental memes (statements of religious zeal, slogans of violence or revenge etc). Likewise, I would have liked her to venture a guess as to what it is that makes phrases like ‘Chick, chick, boom‘ or classic lines like ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn‘ strike such a cultural cord, taking root quickly and immovably. Is it that they’re particularly clever? Is it that they are annoying? Maybe it’s that they have a sing-song quality, making them easy to remember (or hard to forget)?

There’s no doubt, the ideas presented were very interesting and I might spend a little bit of time looking into this further.

Image: Nicky Johnston

The event was held at the Brighton Library, and so I got to check out Nicky Johnston’s art while I was there. It was really great to see a range of Nicky’s illustrations and scenic pieces.

Nicky is the author of two great kid’s book, Go Away, Mr Worrythoughts and Happy Thoughts are Everywhere written to help parent’s work with anxious kids, as Nicky says – their ‘little worriers.’ She’s also put together resource kits to further assist families for whom childhood mental health issues are presenting challenges. If you’d like to find out more about her books, you can check out further information at her website…

Before I go tonight, I’ve got to confess that against my better judgement June isn’t looking much quieter than May was. I’m very pleased to have picked up some tickets to see the play The Haunting of Daniel Gartell, starring John Wood, Samuel Johnson and Marcella Russo, showing at Fortyfive Downstairs. Check out discount tix here. I’m also pretty keen to get along to a couple of kids’ events in the next couple of weeks, which I’ll post about over the weekend.

As an aside, I’ve promised myself that I’ll get some reading done this weekend. I hope that you can put your feet up and steal a few reading moments for yourself this weekend.

You know, that type of song…

Yesterday I was sitting on the train, minding my own business when I noticed that I had my eyes closed.

I wasn’t napping, although I could probably have done with a little kip after a long day at the office. Rather, I was listening to my ipod and had almost forgotten where I was (only a little bit embarrassing on a crowded train.)  I had my music on shuffle, and Joni Mitchell’s Case of You was in my ears.  Without even realising it, my mood had changed. All of a sudden I was feeling much happier, or perhaps more accurately, more content.

It got me to thinking, what is it about those special songs that make the heart hum a little, that make the mind slow, and that seem almost impossible to listen to without shutting your eyes?

So here’s a few tracks that have that particularly effect on me.  I’d love for you to let me know which songs do this for you…

Firstly, I’ve got to mention Case of You, by Joni Mitchell. Joni in general tends to make me feel very cruisey, but this song more than most.

The original Beatles track is pretty wonderful, but I think Sarah McLachlan’s cover of Blackbird is particularly lovely.

Next up I’ll include Fire and Rain, by James Taylor. A little daggy maybe, but this song always makes me think of a dear little River Phoenix.

And lastly is The Lighthouse Song, by Josh Pyke. I remember when I first heard this song, listening to the radio on the way to work. It hadn’t finished by the time I reached the office, so I walked around the block so that I could hear it through to the end. I was late for work.

So which songs make you hum a little, make the hairs standup on the back of your neck, give you goosebumps?

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A little look-see

After a little bit of art on Saturday, Sunday saw me ponder a while on writing. This seemed a charming combination and it was made all the sweeter for the fact that I was running early to the Bayside Literary Festival event, and as such got to sneak in a little walk along Brighton Beach.

After my stroll, I was fortunate to hear June Loves speak about the book that she has termed her ‘Hen-Lit’ novel. She kindly gave us a little look-see into what it is to write a novel like Shelly Beach Writers Group, and how it is to re-write and re-work until you have a story which resonates with its audience.

Although June and I are of different generations, I found that I could easily relate to her writing story and although the sea-change theme of her life and novel might be a few years off in my case, I certainly identified with her experience of ‘life in segments’.  The description of her path to authorship included many steps, changes and pauses along the way, something I’m sure that many women experience as they put on (and sometimes quickly take back off) hats of various descriptions…student, career-women, wife, mother, artist, house/dog-sitters etc.

June chose to write in her most recent ‘segment’ for many reasons, but not least of which was the fact that it was an economical and quiet pastime, and one which was relatively easy to slot into the existing familial requirements. She moved away from her journalist beginnings, on through her non-fiction work and into fictional story-telling – creating Gina, in all her fallen glory.  I was most interested to hear about her transition from non-fiction to fiction, as to me this is a most difficult shift. Interestingly, June actually went back to school to learn the craft of novel writing, and she also emphasised the importance of reading, reading, and more reading…

I also found it quite interesting that there was a really obvious structural approach that carried on from Loves’ more encyclopaedic works, through to her novel…working with dates, diary entries and so on, June was able to apply a structure to her work which I would have to think would make creating the work more familiar in process that it might otherwise be.

I really enjoyed June’s words on Sunday, and am looking forward to hearing more of Gina’s adventures in Shelly Beach. I was pleased to be able to pick up a nice new copy of Shelly Beach Writers Group at the event, courtesy of Ulysses Bookstore who were selling at the event.

Further, I’ve got another Bayside outing this week, when I pop into the Brighton Library to attend ‘Words That Hijack the Brain,‘ an intriguing lecture on how words, catchphrases, ideas and songs burrow themselves into our collective psyche. You can find further details about this event here. I’ll try and shed some light on why that damn song gets stuck in your head in a post later in the week.

Discovering new delights

Well, I think I’ve almost caught my breath after a pretty busy weekend of doing, seeing and thinking. I must admit, I don’t quite have the stamina I used to for a day on my feet, thanks to those delightful rounds of chemo last year. But, I am feeling very pleased with myself, and with how much I’ve managed to get along to this last week. I do feel I’m making up for lost time rather nicely.

And so, Saturday the boys set off for the footy, and I wandered off to the Royal Exhibition Building to see Art Melbourne. It’s an amazing venue, and the exhibitors filled the space most impressively.

It took me a little while to get my bearings, but once I did I started to work my way up and down the aisles so as not to miss anything. To start with I wasn’t so sure that I’d find anything that took my fancy… there seemed to be a bit of a glut of oil paintings (not my favourite medium) and a bit of the work seemed to come across as a little ‘decorative’. Nonetheless, after I paused for a few minutes to watch a printing demonstration by Basil Hall, of Basil Hall Editions in Darwin, my head stopped spinning from the sensory overload that had hit me when I first walked in and I started to be able to sift through the same-y work, to find the brilliant pieces.

I could have loitered around the display by Urban Uprising all afternoon, so taken was I by the works they had chosen to show – Shepard Fairey (famous for that Obama poster), Marsha Meredith and Banksy. Urban Uprising is a Sydney-based gallery, and you might like to check out their website for some samples of their work. They’re in the process of moving from their Darlinghurst address, so keep an eye on the site for their new address.

I was very pleased to get to catch up with Joi Murugavell and her whimsical Oodlies. You’ve already heard about how much I like Joi’s work, but I’ll say it again anyway. If you ask me (which I’m assuming you are) Joi’s work really was a stand-out on the day. It had so much more life to it than much of the other work and it’s originality was drawing crowds. Oodlies are full of colour, boldly presented on the page and are at times delightfully naughty. I loved the hand-drawn chairs, and the shoes were being very well received.

Image: Joi Murugavell

Last to catch my eye was a really unassuming little stand featuring works by Alana Aphoy Photography. Her original photography, worked with photoshop to construct new and mesmerising images really fascinated me. Her shots would have been great works in their unworked form, but the work done to them has created a new, rich landscape. If you like photography that’s a little left of centre, check out the artist’s site here…

Image: Alana Aphoy

As you can see, I ended up finding a few great collections of work to which I took a shine and although I left the hall a little worse for wear, needing a good sit down, I think it was a most worthwhile day out. Thanks to Rushcrowds for making it so easy for me to get along on the day.

Stay tuned…
Tomorrow, I’ll put together a few thoughts about  June Loves’ chat about ‘Hen-Lit!’ The Shelly Beach Writers’ Group‘ part of the Bayside Literary Festival.

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2011 Bayside Literary Festival

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post,  the 2011 Bayside Literary Festival kicks of tonight and runs until 27 May 2011.

As promised, I’ve picked out a few events that I think look pretty interesting.

First up, this Saturday, 21 May 2011 at 1pm – 2.30pm Karen Martini is presenting a session on ‘What’s Cooking‘ in Sandringham.  As a chef, restaurateur, writer and TV presenter, Karen Martini will no doubt have many insights to share about food and about the words used to describe food, in her conversation with Carmel Shute. Tickets are just $10, and you can book here…

The day after, Sunday, 22 May 2011 at 3pm – 4.30pm June Loves will be presenting ‘Hen-Lit!’ The Shelly Beach Writers’ Group‘ at the Brighton Savoy.  It’ll be quite a treat to hear from an author of some 100 non-fiction books, written for both children and adults – I’m particularly interested in hearing her thoughts on the difference, the transition I suppose, between non-fiction and fiction (her latest work being the novel The Shelly Beach Writers’ Group). Again, tickets are on $10, and you can book here…

At the start of next week, Monday, 23 May 2011 at 2.30pm – 5pm you’ll be able to hear from four local authors in an event entitled ‘15 Minutes of Fame.’  Hear Carolyn Angelin, Leah Kaminsky, Joel Magarey and David Worley share the stories behind their published works. This is a free event, but you still need to book, which you can do here…

And finally, on Thursday, 26 May 2011, 12.30pm – 2pm the session ‘Words That Hijack the Brain‘ promises an intriguing lecture on how words, catchphrases, ideas and songs burrow themselves into our collective psyche.  I am particularly looking forward to this one…I love hearing about how words work.  Again, this is a free event, but bookings are still needed, you can do that here…

This is only my little sample, and there are plenty of other great people sharing their ideas through-out the program, full details of which you can find here.

If you’re in the area, I hope you can make it along to something that takes your fancy.


I almost fell over in a swoon when I saw this shot this afternoon – I just had to share it (click pic for bigger and better)…

I wonder what it says about me that this is pure joy? One thing’s for sure, it has inspired me to go and work on organising my own crazy bookshelves.

P.S. If you’d like to see more such wonderful Penguin images, please pop over to A Penguin a Week for pics and review of all Karyn’s most fabulous collection.

May your May be very busy…

The day has wizzed by me I’m afraid, and I’ve only gotten a fraction of the jobs done that I’d hoped to. I am now miles behind myself, which probably serves me right for galavanting around town this week.

Despite this, I’m pleased to say that I’ve not learnt my lesson, and that I’ve got more than a few outings on the cards for the next couple of weeks. May is certainly turning out to be a busy month.

First on the cards is Art Melbourne, the affordable art show which is being held at the Royal Exhibition Building this weekend.  It opens tonight (I’m fairly sure tickets are still available through their website), and the show continues until Sunday. I’m hoping to get there myself on the weekend, and I can’t wait to check out some of the artistic talents around, local and otherwise who are looking to spruik their wares.

I’ll be especially on the look out for Joi’s Oodlies, which’ll be at stand S19, and I’m keen to see local gallery Suburban Gallery in stand C19.

If you’re keen on coming along at some stage, tickets are available online or at the door.  If you don’t get there, I’ll be sure to share a few of the stand-outs next week.

Next up is the 2011 Bayside Literary Festival which opens tomorrow night and runs until 27 May 2011. It’s a pretty jam-packed program featuring a really great range of authors, illustrators, experts and thinkers.  You’ll find the program here and I’ll have a bit more of a chat about a few of the events in tomorrow’s blog post.  In addition, if you’re in Brighton or Beaumaris, you might like to pop in to their libraries’ as they’re featuring art by Nicky Johnston and Pete Pascoe (Nicky at Brighton, Pete at Beaumaris) to complement the festival.

Finally, as a bookish aside, I bought Evan a new book today. He needed a book for on the bus when he goes on camp, and so I thought I’d better just take a punt and buy him something today (although normally I’d make sure he was there to help choose.)  Anyway, hoping for the best, I got him a copy of a book call Olaf the Viking, by Martin Conway. It looks to be pitched about right, and seems to have a bit of humour about it.  Stay tuned to hear Ev’s verdict.

In short, May may be very busy, but most certainly it’ll be full of fun.

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A little bit cheeky.

I’m not quite sure where to start with my thoughts on How to Kill Your Husband… should I first mention the story, the talent, the orchestra or the general naughtiness of the show?

Maybe I’ll just start by marvelling at the fact that I have made it to two events in under a week. Now that’s a record. Much thanks to @fionak for making an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Photo: Uni of Melb Alumni

But enough self congratulations, it’s time to move on to the show itself. As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve never been to an opera before, and How to Kill Your Husband did not disappoint as a suitable introduction.  Victorian Opera have bravely taken on a popular, modern source (Kathy Lette’s best-selling novel of the same name, published in 2007) and transformed it into a irreverent, yet slightly earnest operatic tale of two women in marital crisis.  From the outset the show has Jazz and Cass struggling to regain control of their unsatisfying, house-wifey lives, helped in no small part by Angel’s handy hints and cheeky intervention. Their husbands are unlikable in the most part, which of course is the point, although it is nice to see that Rory is somewhat redeemed by the end of the performance.

The talents in How to Kill Your Husband were most impressive.  I’m no expert in this style (not by a very long shot) but I did think that the casual operatic styling, quite heavily peppered with cabaret worked a treat.  Angel, played by Melissa Langton was outstanding, her cabaret voice the star of the show.  The casting of counter-tenor, Tobias Cole in the role of Studz (a particularly despicable character) was quite transfixing.  His incredibly high voice created a rather obvious contrast to the mysoginest, matcho role, adding a real sense of irony to his story. This was quite an intriguing element to the preformance.  A further, extra-special treat was the appearance of Christa Hughes as Bianca the sex therapist.  Her bawdiness made me both giggle and cringe, and her casting in this role made perfect sense.

As a little aside, I really enjoyed the fact that the Victorian Opera Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Richard Gill was positioned centre stage. It gave a kind of ‘big band’ feel to the performance, fitting as they were fronted by the huge voice of Langton.

I’d recommend How to Kill Your Husband as a great girls night out, although I’m sure the boys out there would enjoy it too providing they don’t take themselves or the show too seriously.  Similarly, I’d recommend this show as a really suitable introduction to opera…Victorian Opera should be commended.

The show is on at the Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne until 29 May 2011, and for an extra affordable evening out Rushcrowds have half-price tickets for this Thursday, 19 May 2011.  Click here for details and go along for the ride.

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