Sunday, November 23, 2014

Oh this should be fun:

As always, the questions come from Sunday Stealing.

I might have to do a proper blog post after this one...

1. Are you celebrating Thanksgiving at home or elsewhere this year? With whom will you spend Thanksgiving Day? 

Um, I'm Australian. We don't have thanksgiving.

 2. What do you have for breakfast on Thanksgiving? 

Though vaguely aware of the concept, I'm not sure when thanksgiving is - other than it's on a Thursday(?) at the end of November which seems really inconvenient. So I will have my normal protein shake because it's a Thursday and that's what I have on weekday mornings.

 3. Do you go to a Thanksgiving parade or watch one on TV? 

What, they have parades for Thanksgiving. On a Thursday. Seems a bit decadent.

 4. Do you serve appetizers, lunch, or snacks during the day? 

Why would you? It's just a normal Thursday.

 5. What do you wear on Thanksgiving? 

It's a normal work day, so work clothes. No need to dress up - it's just a normal working week day in Australia.

 6. What's your Thanksgiving table like -- do you use special plates/silver/glasses, etc? Do you have a centerpiece? A color scheme? Candles? 

Sorry, no idea what you're talking about. This sounds like the things we do for Christmas.

 7. Do you serve buffet-style or family-style? What do you have to drink? 

It's just another Thursday. I'll be going to the gym to see my trainer. That's what I do on Thursday evenings. No special meal.

 8. Once you're at the table, do you say grace or a toast or does everyone go around and say what they're thankful for? 

I'll just be thankful if I make it to the gym on time.

 9. Do you have dessert right after the main meal or later on? 

Sometimes I have a small tub (single serve) of ice cream after the gym. Because it's just a Thursday.

 10. What do you do with your leftovers?

I still think you're talking about Christmas.Sounds like Christmas. Food. Family arguments. Leftovers. Yep, Christmas. Like Halloween, Thanksgiving has no place in Australian society. However, unlike Halloween, Thanksgiving isn't a something that's slowly encroaching on society.

I think I'd prefer to have Thanksgiving encroach on our society instead. Halloween - to me, appears to be a pointless affair that leads to diabetes and excess rubbish.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Taking Stock Meme

My study year is nearly over, my second to last tutorial paper for the year is in draft form and I'm in a good spot at the moment as my new job is treating me well. Having a bit of time on my hands, I can do my Sunday meme in peace. Ther questions of this Taking Stock Meme come from Sunday Stealing, as always.

So, what am I doing - let's take stock:

Making: I'm nearly finished crocheting a cat blanket for Maow Maow. I can't be the only person who makes things for a favourite cat.

Cooking: This week is mini-hell week so I won't be cooking much. I am planning to make apricot jam in the next few weeks in preparation for Christmas. 

Drinking: Currently sipping on a coconut and pineapple water with a bit of ice. Nice.

Reading: I'm trying to decide on a book. I've just read Richard Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" twice (end on end) and I'm sort of mourning it's finishing. Have been recommended something called "The Folded Man", though the second Rosie Project book could be good.. I'm a bit litted out at the moment.

Wanting: Six hours consistent sleep every night. I'm not making that at the moment.

Looking: Forward to studying next year.

Wishing: That somebody would get off his arse and come out to Australia. Sick of the talk fest.

Wasting: I really have to get into the habit of using all of the vegetables in my crisper. I'm sick of throwing half of them out at the end of the week.

Enjoying: Writing again, proper writing again. Thinking of getting into that novel over summer.

Waiting: For the gumption to start losing weight again. it's not too far away.

Liking: Richard Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North". The bed in the hotel I stayed in last night - Amazingly comfortable.

Wondering: How it is that that f*ckwit Abbott every got elected as Prime Minister of this nation. He's an absolute disgrace.

Loving: My new job. Great team, good location.

Listening: To Alt-J's first album.


Needing: More exercise. This will be remedied this week too.

Smelling: I put on Jo Malone's Red Roses fragrance this morning. So I smell like roses. Love that scent.

Wearing: My dressing gown. Going to bed soon.

Following: What happened at the G20 summit. And doing a lot of cringing because of it. England, please take back Tony Abbott. he appears not to have rescinded his British Citizenship, which voids him from being a Member of Parliament and Prime Minister. Anything to get the c*ckehead away from here. Can we swap you for David Cameron - he only seems mildly incompetent. And he appears to know that coal really isn't good for humanity.

Noticing: That the esteem in which Australia is held around the world is slipping by the day. mainly due to this effed up government.

Knowing: That once you know about Corporate Actions, you never really forget, unfortunately.

Thinking: Moving country might not be a bad idea if these idiots remain in power - where is a dismissal when you need it.

Feeling:  A bit sleepy

Bookmarking: I only bookmark boring industry sites at work.

Opening: Up to the possibility of becoming an author one day

Giggling: About nothing inparticular. That's normal.




Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Blue Meme

Stolen once again from Sunday Stealing, I'm just about to submit my major assignment for my course. Phew.

Anyway, I'm putting the final touches in my papers and doing this at the same time. The worst of the coursework is now over.

Yay. Thankfully the questions aren't too bad this week.


1) Are you happy with the person you've become?

Pretty much. it's taken a long time, but I like myself

2) What's a sound you hate; sound you love?

Sounds I love. Rain on tin roofs. Cats purring. The sea.
Sounds I hate: The freaking leaf blower used by the neighbour when I'm either trying to have a sleep in, have a day off or have a migraine.

3) What's your biggest "what if"?

I still wonder what would have happened if certain events in October 2007 had been different. A girl, a boy, ten minutes of silence in a car. It's best not to ponder that.

4) Do you believe in ghosts?

Yes. Have witnessed too much strange stuff not to believe in them.

5) How about aliens?

We're a huge universe. It seems very selfish to think that we have the place to ourselves. I'm open to other life forms out there.

6) What is the single best decision you have made in your life so far?

Taking up running at 40.

7) What's the worst place you have ever been to?

I wasn't enamoured with Naples when I visited 15 years ago. Thought I'd stepped into the Italian set of Goodfellas. I've never been so scared as I was then. It was the vibe.

8) Can insanity bring on more creativity?

I think it can help.

9) Most attractive actor of your opposite gender?

Clive Owen - who else is it going to be?

10) To you, what is the meaning of life?

Love, friends, laughter, poetry, music, food. In that order.

11) Define "Art".

Any format of creative expression that makes you feel something.

12) Do you believe in luck?

Yes and no. I believe that for the most part, you make your own luck. Then again, some people just appear to be lucky.

13) In your opinion, what makes a great relationship?

Hmm. As I've never been in a long term relationship (other than with friends) I really can't comment on that. Honesty, kindness and laughter seem like a good start.

14) What's a song that always makes you happy when you hear it?

It's an old Rolling Stones track. I always dance around to this. Love it.




15) Where were you yesterday?

Sitting in front of this blood computer preparing my assignment for submission. That's about all I've done this weekend.

16) What's the worst injury you've ever had?

That's a toss up between breaking my little toe and nearly snapping a calf muscle a few years ago. Both took forever to fix - but thankfully nothing too drastic either.

17) Do you have any obsessions right now?

Just the normal ice cream and books thing that I always have. Oh, and Clive Owen.

18) What's up?

Nothing. A bit more sleep would be nice.

19) Ever had a rumor spread about you?

Not to my knowledge - well not since high school and then it was nothing too bad.

20) Do you believe in real magic?

.Yes.

21) Do you ever hold grudges against people who have done you wrong?

With two exceptions. No. And I wouldn't call the grudges, grudges - more I avoid any contact with these people. That they're idiot blokes I used to go out with should jot be a surprise. But as a rule, I forgive and forget pretty quickly.

22) What's your favorite (non-pet) animal?

I love all animals, but I love elephants (cos they're cuddly and you can paint their toenails red and hide them in strawberry patches)

23) What is your secret weapon to get people to like you?

I talk to anybody and I'm friendly. That disarms most people.

24) Where is your best friend?

At home with her kids. It's Sunday night after all.

25) What do you think is Satan's last name?

Either Murdoch or Abbott or Morrison - probably the former.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Music Meme

Plastic Mancunian - you might like this one! I'm trying to write a major paper as well as finish a tute paper and clean the flat, but as it is Sunday, I like to do my blog post as well. It breaks up the day.

Questions, as always, are from Sunday Stealing.


1. Which bands/artist do you own the most albums by? 

I have everything that The Pixies have put out and most of the Hoodoo Guru's albums. I reckon most people who are reading these from out of Australia will never have heard of The Hoodoo Gurus - and they probably haven't heard of The Pixies. The Pixies are God. The Hoodoo Gurus are just wonderful fun. I give you one of my many favourite songs by the Hoodoo Gurus.



2. What was the last song you listened to? 

I saw the film "Pride" yesterday, which I can't recommend highly enough. The story about a group of gays and lesbians who supported the Miner's during their strike action in the 80's. Brilliant, life-affirming film and well worth a look. The soundtrack took me back to high school - and the last song of the film was an old Billy Bragg favourite - and yes, I can sing along with it easily. My politics are showing.



 3. What’s in your CD player right now? 

You mean what's on my iPhone? A mix of of alternative music that I can work to - Damian Rice, Alt-J, Laura Marling, Nick Cave, the Amelie soundtrack and lots of Philip Glass. Yes, I know, ecletic.

Here is a bit of Philip Glass that I use to wake myself up when working on dull documents.



 4. What was the last show you attended? 

Oh, this is taking me back. I think it was when I went to see The Pixies with Alice and Dougall a few years ago. I left my run to see Sixto Rodriguez to late. The Pixies, as always, were superlative and they did the Doolittle album from cover to cover.

I give you The Pixies:



 5. What was the greatest show you've ever been to? 

Oh, that one has to go to David Byrne from Talking Heads playing at the Brixton Academy with a 45 piece mariachi band back in the early 90's. Fan-effing-tastic. As a lover of Talking Heads, how could you go wrong. Also saw Hunters and Collectors at the Tivoli in Adelaide in 1991 - I still remember that show. Brilliant. The Pixies at the V Festival on the Gold Coast were brilliant - especially as they had never played in Australia before.

See, more foreign music for those out of the country. Here's one of Hunters and Collectors finest.


 6. What’s the worst show you've ever been to? 

Thankfully I haven't been to many bad shows. Nothing stands out. Mind you, it's been ages since I've been to a show.

 7. What’s the most musically involved you have ever been? 

I did music all through school and played the flute. Does this count?

 8. What show are you looking forward to? 

The return of Rodriguez - and I reckon in Alt-J were to come out, I'd be there. I've really got into Alt-J but I don't think they do concerts somehow.

 9. What is your favorite band shirt? 

I scored a pink t-shirt from a Jason Mraz concert with the word "Geek" on it. Love that t-shirt.



 10. What musician would you like to hang out with for a day? 

I'd really love to see how Philip Glass works. Incredible composer.

 11. Who is one musician or group you wish would make a comeback? 

I miss The Police. And Sting. Used to love them.



 12. Who is one band/artist you've never seen live but always wanted to? 

Rodriquez. If he comes out again, I'm there. He's amazing.



 13. What was your last musical “phase” before you wisened up? 

I don't think I've ever had a musical phase. However, I did stop owning up to liking Phil Collins for many years. Now he's retro and it's okay to like him once again.



 14. How many music related videos/DVDs do you own? 

I have no idea - somewhere in the 200-300 region. Most if it is digitised now.

 15. How many concerts/shows have you been to, total? 

In my lifetime, somewhere around 50 I reckon. My memory is a bit vague on this, but this seems right.

 16. What’s your “guilty pleasure” that you hate to admit to liking? 

My trainer, Slap, has the bad habit of playing really dodgy 90's boy band music when we train. Really, I should not like it, but it makes me dance. Here are two of his dodgy collection that had us dancing in the gym on Thursday (I best take my Pixies mix in to get my street cred back). In my defence, I will dance along, but not sing along. Slap likes to sing along to the Kriss Cross... baaaaaddd.



and



 17. What is your favourite movie soundtrack? 

There are so many to choose from. Pulp Fiction, Bull Durham, Pretty in Pink, The Graduate, Almost Famous, Magnolia - all great sound tracks.

However, only because it was on television last night, I am giving this one to Beetlejuice. Just because you can never get too much Harry Belafonte.




Friday, October 31, 2014

The Summation

Well, I set myself a few challenges at the start of the month. With an hour to go before All Saints Day and the end of that pseudo holiday, Halloween, I thought it was a good chance to check in and do a reset.

So, the challenges:

1) Save $300 a week. Done. My tuition fund for the first subject of next year is nearly there. Very pleased about this.

2) The Abs Challenge. Made it to day 17 - which is  a lot further than last  time I tried.

3) Throw out five things a day - Made it to day 20. The place is feeling somewhat less cluttered, but there is still a way to go,

4) Have a veggie juice a day - call this 75% done. I'm pretty happy with that - the nutribullet is being used four or five times a week.

So, this month, I'll attempt the same challenges - the throw out challenge might get a bit hard, but we can only try.

I've also got ten days before my major assignments are due in. Thankfully I'm in a good place - the story is at third draft stage, the research journey document is planned out and I'm up to date with my tutorials.The next couple of weekends will be spent polishing the turds, but hopefully I'll get through. (Plastic Mancunian - I encourage you to enroll in a subject or two at the Open University - even undergrad stuff - it certainly makes you hone the craft.

While I'm here, please find attached my last tute paper, of which I am quite proud. I was asked to discuss whether I would write for Young Adults. Of course I would  - but they don't need to know this :) Went down a treat with my tute group.

This piece was presented with academic references  - which have been taken out.

Would you write for Young Adults?  - A Response

Would you write for young adults? The question was asked.
The intrepid student was up to the task.
Like Lemony Snicket and Artemis Fowl,
Harry, Hermione, Ron and the Owl
Could she find the right person to carry the plot?
And keep the books going ‘til the themes were forgot.
Could she weave in the backdrop of dystopia found?
Or work gamification into lives all around?  
Could she find the right language to engage the child? 
Would she keep the love action acceptably mild?

For writing for children is incredibly hard,
And talented writers are all in the yard.

To research the psyche of the changing rug rat
Is a venture that leaves this writer quite flat.
They read over their ages and under pump,
And like to hear stories of things at the dump.

Of course children like poems and riddles and rhymes,
But who can be bothered with these withering chimes. 
Of course know your children and what makes them tick, 
Is far too much hard work for this grumpy old chick.

What of Horrible Histories and “Off with their heads!”
And stories that make kids hide under their beds?
The research component could be rather fun
But would the kid’s attention be finally won? 

How do you make the simple the very complex? 
This conundrum continues to ever perplex.
For children need challenges up to their mark
And writing this genre is no walk in the park.

Then there are the series that the children so love:
Tonnes of material and backstories to shove,
And themes age eternal (there’s no need to invent),
Of honour and courage and energies spent.
These themes that all children can see in themselves,
Are themes that will forever keep books on the shelves.

But I wonder what happens when all books go away
And the tablet takes over as the object of play.
How do you write for this fast-changing field?
Do you keep up with the Joneses or quietly yield?
The challenge at hand is to mix, match and grow 
And  hope that your ideas continue to flow.

Would I write for young adults? The answer is no.
It’s tricky and sticky and there’s no place to go.

Would I write for young adults? Ah, what’s the use!

I just hope in my next life I will be Dr Seuss.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Nerd Alert Book Blog

Finally, Sunday Stealing has posted a cracker to answer - just my cup of tea. A book blog - what more could I want? Somebody to grub out my first draft of my short story. Somebody to do my ironing? Somebody to vacuum the lounge...

As always, a paragraph gets degrubbed and a little housework is completed, I'll get through this tonight. There is a lot to do - after my jaunt down to Tasmania means that everything is a bit behind today. So here we go.

1. Favorite childhood book? 

I was an Enid Blyton fan when I was a kid and the Magic Faraway Tree was a firm favourite. I was also into the Little Golden Books and I remember that The Saggy Baggy Elephant and Mickey and Minnie go on a Picnic were read to me on a daily basis.

2. What are you reading right now? 

I have two books on the go. I started "The Folded Man" by Matt Hill on the recommendation of a friend, but I finished Richard Flanagan's masterpiece "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" yesterday and I've picked it up and started to read it again. It's one of the few books that I've read twice, back to back (up there with "The Book Thief" and "Captain Corelli's Mandolin".

3. What books do you have on request at the library?

I've only got a library card with my university library, but I've not reserved any items. Thankfully most of the journals I require are available online.

4. Bad book habit?

Probably reading to page thirty, getting bored, throwing the book against the wall and picking it up and putting it away when I clean. Some of the books that this has happened to include "The Hobbit" (still haven't read it) and "The Great Gatsby" (finally got through this last year).

I have a tendency to buy books rather than borrow too. Dymocks have  two for three sales regularly. This used to equate to six books for nine... I'm slowly breaking this habit.

5. What do you currently have checked out at the library?

Nothing.

6. Do you have an e-reader? 

Yes, and I love my kindle.

7. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once? 

I normally read one book at a a time, but I will have a couple of references books around the place for a bit of interest. I can do one fiction and one non-fiction at the same time, but I still prefer just going one at a time.

Term time I will have a couple of reference books on the go, but term time doesn't count.

8. Have your reading habits changed since starting a blog?

No.

9. Least favourite book you've read this year (so far)? 

We did something called "The Shock of the Fall" by Nathan Filer which was okay - not great. Read it for book group and we had a run of books about mental illness / autism/ Aspergers. Although it's a great topic I was rather over it by then.

10. Favorite book you've read this year?

This has to be a toss up between Hannah Kent's "Burial Rites" and Richard Flanagan's "The Narrow Road to the Deep North". Strangely, both written by Australian authors. Both are phenomenal books.

11. How often do you read out of your comfort zone? 

Probably not often enough. I rarely read science fiction or crime novels. I have nothing against the latter, but the former I've never had much of a inkling to read - mind you, I've started the Game of Thrones series recently.

12. What is your reading comfort zone? 

Literary fiction and humorous popular fiction (up market Chick Lit - like Caitlin Moran's "How to Build a Girl".

13. Can you read on the bus? 

I do a lot of reading on the tram - but I must be facing forward. I can read on the train and on plains, but I can't read in the car.

14. Favorite place to read? 

Lying on my bed.

15. What is your policy on book lending?  

I will lend books to friends - and normally I'm not fussed if I get it back - there are some books that are loaned out but with the firm word, "I do want this back at some stage." I'm still mad at whoever has my original copy of "The Book Thief". My book group are great at returning books.

16. Do you ever dog-ear books? 

Again, depends on the book. I'm getting better at not turning over corners and using a bookmark. The kindle helps with this one.

17. Do you ever write in the margins of your books?

Only in university text books and only in pencil. My copy of Dorian Grey is littered with pencil comments.

18. Not even with text books? 

I just admitted to that in the last question.

19. A book you didn't expect to like but did? 

Three come to mind. After hearing so much about "American Psycho" I thought I would hate it. I LOVED it. Brilliant book. Parody at it's best. In the same light, Christos Tsiolkas's "Dead Europe" was phenomenal. The rest of the book group thought it dreadful, but I loved its rawness. We read something called "Foal's Bread" which grew on me like warts. I keep thinking about it - sign of a good book even though I struggled through it

20. What makes you love a book? 

Great writing, great characters, unseen plot points. But mainly brilliant writing (a la Flanagan)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Let's Talk Travel Meme

I want to try and finish the first draft of my short story tonight. I have about 1200 words to work with before I get this off to my study buddy. I have until 10 November to get it in as good a shape as possible for grading, along with a "Research Journey" paper,which won't be as harrore.

Regardless, Bud Weiser of Sunday Stealing fame has provided the questions.

100 words of the story. A question. Easy - yes?

Ok let’s talk travel, do you like to travel? 

I love travelling. If I won the lottery I reckon I'd travel six months of the year. Love it. I work to travel, as my coffee mug says. Though at the moment I feel like I work to pay my tuition.

Where have you been?

I've been lucky. I've visited over the years  - Indonesia (three times), Thailand, The United States (twice) The United Kingdom, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand on multiple occasions.

Next place you want to go? 

There are too many places I want to go. India and Japan are on the list (though after the reading I've been doing for the last few weeks, I might have to leave Japan for a bit. There might be a trip to Thailand or Bali if I can find the cash sometime in the new year. I'm overdue for a trip back to England too - it's nearly been five years. Time to go again.

What is something you MUST take with you when you travel? 

A charged up Kindle. I like to read on holidays. A bath plug is also really handy - so many hotel rooms don't have them. Wonderful when you need to wash out your smalls.

How do you like to travel? (mode of transportation)

I'm pretty happy on most modes of transport, but I really love boats. I'm happy on the Manly ferry or a boat around the Greek Island or on a punt down the Cam River in Cambridge. Love boats.

With someone, or alone? 

I travel alone. Nobody to travel with me. (Or not interested in going to places my friends want to go and vice versa)

Do you dance in your car when there are other people with you? 

Sometimes.

If you're quiet what does it mean? 

It means I'm quiet. Sometimes it means I'm thinking. Sometimes it means I'm a bit stressed (though I tend to sing when I'm stressed). Sometimes it means I'm a bit blue. But generally it means that I'm just being quiet and there is nothing wrong with that - especially as I'm an introvert.

Favorite scent?  

Does there need to be just one. Up there, roast lamb, baking bread, dogs paws, Stella McCartney perfume (not that it appears to be being made at the moment) fresh sheets, fresh coffee.

Favorite store? 

My witch shit shop in the Royal Arcade. It's a home away from home. (www.spellbox.com.au)

Say you wanted coffee.. what kind is your favorite?  

My current standard order is a large, skinny, decaf cappuccino. Unfortunately I've been made to swear off caffeine.

Favorite kind of pizza? 

Anything with hot salami, lots of cheese and anchovies.

Do you get embarrassed easily? 

Yes and no - depends on he situation.

Do you mind people asking you personal questions? 

Most of the time, no. There are some things I just don't talk about and I'll happily keep these boundaries.

You have a tank of gas, $50, and the day off… what do you do? 

Drive down to the Mornington Peninsula and spend the day at the Hot Springs. Bliss.

Favorite tv show? 

The only show I watch religiously at the moment is "Masters of Sex". It's a great period piece.

Song you turn the volume up all the way to listen to? 

The Master's Apprenticies, "Turn Up Your Radio". If you don't come from Australia, you won't know it, so here it is.



Something you keep in your car? 

My friend Sam gave me a toy rat - Scabbers from Harry Potter to be precise. He lives in my glove box.

 Highlight of your day? 

Both of Blarney's boys gave me a cuddle - without being asked. And I have 2300 words of my rough draft done.

 Something you do everyday that you wish you didn’t have to do? 

Wake up alone.

 Do you mind if people just show up at your house unannounced? 

Yes. I like to have at least tidied the place before they come, but I'm getting better at this one. Few people come to my flat.

What do you do when you disagree with someone? 

I rarely fight with people I disagree with. Normally I can't be bothered. Only if I respect the person and their point of view will I put up a fight. Normally I'll agree to disagree.

Do you enjoy rain? 

Love it.

Who’s your favorite person in the whole world… besides me?

Now that would be telling....