Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Blogging Meme

It's Sunday and I have jobs  - one of these jobs is get my blog done for the day. There are a load of jobs that I need to get done before tomorrow too. As always, the meme comes from Sunday Stealing.

(Job: Meatballs made)

What kind of blog do you have? 

This blog is a personal experience blog. I started it about five years ago when I was intending to blog my way along the path of training for a marathon. The marathon is still to be run, but I continue to blog. I've been a bit slack lately. Must get blogging - been knitting instead.

(Dishes done)

How many posts do you have? 

I'm up to post 603. Not sure how I've done that, but I am.

(Shoes put away)

How many blogs do you follow? 

Only a handful. The Plastic Mancunian. Keep Working Through It. Blurb from the Burbs. Sixth in Line. Magical M - and a few others sporadically. Should read more blogs.

(Ironing started)

How many followers do you have? 

Official followers, 37, though I have a number of friends who I know read my blog because I get the "I thought this was happening - I know this because I read about it.

(Put the world to rights with a friend)

How often do you change your theme? 

Rarely - I think I've changed it once in five years.

(knitted a few lines)

How often do you change your icon? 

Never. What's an icon?

(Done a question for the Cert IV topic I was supposed to finish today)

 Do you have any favorite blogs? 

I do like the Plastic Mancunian  - mainly because we're polar opposites. Rather fond of Mamamia at times too, though it does get a bit preachy. Helen Razer's blog is pretty good too, though I need to read it with a dictionary nearby.

(Started prepping the brownies)

Do you ever send anonymous messages to other people? 

Very rarely.

(Done the banking)

Do you ever get anon hate? 

Thank goodness, no, and long may that remain. Spam, yes, but I can deal with spam.

(More ironing)

Have you made any friends through your blog?

I call the Plastic Mancunian a friend of sorts, not that I've met hi, Elisabeth from Sixth in Line lives next door to my friend Teddy and I run into her every so often. I really should put more effort into my blog.

(Clothes out for tomorrow morning)

What’s your favorite thing about blogging?

I love knowing that I'm writing. I also like the outlet - getting myself and my writing out there to the big wide world.

(More ironing)

What’s your least favorite thing about blogging?

It often takes up time when I should be doing other things. And the guilt I feel when I run out of idea or just don't have the time to blog often.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Favourite Fictional Meme

Ah, here we go, the Sunday Meme, once again supplied by Sunday Stealing. Gives me something to think about when I'm doing my Sunday chores. I'm going to look to literature, cinema and television for my answers, so apologies if there are some people who haven't heard about my antipodean choices. 

1. Favorite fictional couple?  

There are so many to choose from, but I'm going to have to go with Noah and Allie from "The Notebook". I'm not a fan of Nicholas Sparks' work but there is something about The Notebook that gets me every time. I like to think that some people are destined to be together.

2. Favorite fictional character? 

Oh that's a hard one. There are so many I can think of, from minor characters like Jeffery Woo in "Jasper Jones" to Antonio Corelli in Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Lizzie Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, to television characters like Spike in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Josh Lyman in "The West Wing". I'll go with Josh Lyman for the moment - he made "The West Wing".

 3. Favorite fictional TV show? 

I learned everything I know about American Politics from "The West Wing". I can watch it again and again.

 4. Favorite fictional movie? 

Just for pure imagination - Brazil.

 5. Favorite fictional villain? 

Oh, easy, not that he's a villain. Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series.

 6. Favorite fictional hero? 

Mr Darcy, Pride and Prejudice. Who wouldn't want one like that? (Especially in the form of Colin Firth)

 7. Favorite fictional pet? 

There was a film  called 'Bright Star' out a few years ago. Was the story of John Keats and Fanny Brawne. They had the best cat in that film. Brilliant cat.

 8. Favorite fictional setting/universe? 

The world found in Kazuo Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go". Speculative fiction at its best.

 9. Least favorite fictional couple? 

I could never quite get why Walter and Skylar White were together, this is not to say I don't like them, but they do fight a lot.

 10. Least favorite fictional character? 

Any character that Will Ferrell portrays, other than Ron Burgundy. I just don't like Will Ferrell - but Ron Burgundy is okay...

 11. Least favorite fictional TV show? 

You have to admit, Revenge is a pretty lame television show.

 12. Least favorite fictional movie? 

Sin City - walked out of it. Horrific.

 13. Least favorite fictional villain? 

Syndrome from The Incredibles was pretty lame.

 14. Least favorite fictional hero? 

I'm not into the new Marvel stable of heros that's coming out. Captain America holds no appeal what so ever.

 15. Least favorite fictional pet? 

Was "The Thing" from the Addams Family a pet? Thing always creeped me out.

 16. Least favorite fictional setting/universe?

Post apocalyptic Tatooine was never a nice place.

That was a hard one.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Would You Meme

I normally do the Meme on Sunday afternoon, but as of 9 pm my time yesterday, there was no new meme questions on Sunday Stealing’s blog, so I went blogless. This morning I arose and found that the questions had been posted – fine for the American Sunday afternoon, but not so great for we Australians who are 17 hours ahead of the United States and nor in the depths of Monday morning.

So I’m doing this in my lunch break at work.

Here we go. Let’s see what we would, and wouldn't do.

Would you ever cheat on someone if they cheated on you?

I don’t see the point of tit-for-tat retribution, so if somebody cheated on my, I very much doubt I would cheat on them back – what is the point of that. I’d be hurt and angry, but there is no point cheating on somebody to get back at them. Also, being somebody who’s not completely comfortable with the concept of ultimate monogamy, this might be a moot point. But that’s not to be discussed on this blog. Just saying.

Would you ever consider becoming a teacher?

I have considered becoming a teacher. About ten years ago I went back to university to upgrade my English degree from a minor to a major, with the goal to then go and do my Diploma of Education to become a high school teacher. Life got in the way and I never did the Dip Ed. However I’ve done a lot of tutoring and mentoring in my time and by day, I working Training and Development, so in some ways, I’m teaching already. Just not teaching children.

Would you ever give a hitch-hiker a ride somewhere?

Unless I knew the hitch hiker, no, I’d not give somebody a lift.

Would you ever try fasting for a whole week?

This is something I would do. Check myself into a clinic in Bali and go on a huge detox. I can see myself doing this.

Would you ever try to quit one of your addictions?

I don’t really have addictions – bad habits, yes, but not addictions. I managed to stop sucking my thumb at the age of 33 with the help of a rather good psychologist. I've manage to give up caffeinated coffee in the last few months – that was a bit of a struggle. If I put my mind on something I can normally do it. Just don’t ask me to give up ice cream entirely. That would be a bad thing.

Would you ever dye your hair purple?

If it was temporary – yes, I have no problem with that. I dye my hair red anyway, it’s not that much of a stretch.

Would you ever spend $100 for the best tasting hamburger in the world?

This one is a no. Other than I’m off red meat at the moment, there are plenty of other $100 meals about the place that I’d rather enjoy – there are plenty of hamburgers around that you can get for a tenth of the price which are great. Would I spend $100 on the ultimate dessert – that is another questions.

Would you rather chew gum off the ground or kill a squirrel?

I’m glad that this is a hypothetical question, but I think I’d rather kill the squirrel – as long as it could be a humane way of killing it – a clean kill in whatever happens – and the squirrel is then put to good use. I could never chew gum from the road. Like eww.

Would you rather play Monopoly or Operation?

Both have their good points. As much as I like Monopoly, I’ve always had a soft spot for Operation. Used to love that game as a kid.

Would you rather eat chocolate or fruity candies?

Again, a hard one as it depends on the mood. I’m going to go with the fruit candies and I find chocolate a bit much most of the time – a little bit now and then, but I could eat fruit flavoured sweets daily given the desire and the fact that my blood sugars are still in good working order. Then again, if I was to eat too much sugar over time my blood sugars and weight would not be in such a good state.

Would you rather listen to one CD forever or become deaf?

Give me the one CD option. At least you can turn it down. Deafness is permanent. The only proviso to this is the album is not Meatloaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” album. I think if I end up in purgatory, this will be playing. I heard the album end on end for about two years and just the first few bars of “I Can See Paradise From the Dashboard Light” is enough to send me running very fast in the other direction.

Would you rather be deaf or blind?

I can live without music and can learn to read lips. I can’t live without reading. Deaf it is.

Would you rather text or talk on the phone?

I’m a texter, but there are times when I would rather talk on the phone. I’m wise enough to pick up the phone when more than a line or two is required to get the message across.

Would you rather spend a day with Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus?

Lady Gaga. She appears to be batshit crazy and I reckon that would make her fun. I think I’d end up lecturing Miley Cyrus on the virtues of keeping your tongue in your mouth.

Would you rather learn to play piano or guitar?

I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano.

Would you rather have a stomach-ache or headache?

Tummy aches and headaches are both debilitating, but I’m going to go with the stomach ache here. As somebody who gets the occasional migraine, at least with stomach aches they are normally over pretty quickly, and the drugs don’t make you drowsy.

Would you rather be overly interesting or overly dull?

Much prefer to be overly dull. I reckon my friends would find me quite dull anyway, but being overly interesting would mean a big pressure to remain that way. You can always become more interesting if you’re dull. May as well set the bar low.

Would you rather be too loud or too quiet?

A very hard question for a Leo as we have the tendency to be both loud and quiet all at the same time. I think I’d rather be too quiet, as I really find being loud a bit draining.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Film Review - Calvary

4.5 Stars

I love seeing films where I know that I’m going to find the whole thing uncomfortable. It was always going to be a toss up as to whether I saw this or not. In the end, with Sam and Teddy in tow, we went off to see Calvary the other night.

Easily the best movie I've seen all year.

I’d be surprised it Brendan Gleeson doesn't get an Oscar nomination for this film – he is absolutely superlative as the conflicted priest, putting his life in order before what appears to be a pointless, but inevitable conclusion. You can’t help but love  Father James, a man who has had a life, who became a priest after leading a full life. You have to love a man who loves his dog (Oh, Bruno) and his daughter (Yes, he has a daughter) Living on Ireland’s rugged West Coast, you get to see some of the most incredible scenery in this ancient country.

See, Father James is a good man, and a good priest, in a community that appears to have lost its way. You meet the characters early – at mass. Chris O’Dowd’s gormless butcher, Aiden Gillen’s creepy doctor, Dylan Moran’s narcissist, the writer, the mechanic, the publican and the local battered wife all have a big part to play as Father James faces his own Calvary – or walk to his death. Nobody is perfect. Nobody is happy. Everybody is after something or somebody – and Father James must live amongst this.

I can’t give too much away. I said before that this is one of the most powerful films you will ever see as it investigates a man on his own personal road to Golgotha.

Most striking for me – the first and last scenes in the film will haunt you for days. The first line of the film is one of the most powerful you will ever hear. The last scene, just as brutally shocking, more for what is not said that the lack of words. 

The cinema sat silent well into the credits.

Calvary is not an easy film to watch. The humour is as black as Turkish coffee and the acting superlative. It's a very important film, thought provoking and full of clear sight for those in awful predicaments. 

Definitely worth a view.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

O Captain, My Captain

You grow up with people. And then they go. You’re fondest memories are connected with them. Then they are no longer with us.

I see myself as a ten-year-old glued to the television. We used to watch “Happy Days” religiously. It was on before the news, this was back in the day when the news started at 6.30 and I had no interest in it at all. There was this episode, a time after Fonzie had “Jumped the Shark”, where the “Happy Days” crew introduced us to this alien. Mork from Ork.

A star was born.

You look back at the manic energy of Robin Williams during those years and think two things. Genius. And cocaine. He introduced a bog standard Jewish blessing into the mainstream as “Nanoo Nanoo”  - I’m sure that there are rabbis out there who have to stop themselves saying it. There was the strange gestures, the turning everything on its head for a laugh – never cruel, always kind.

And there was always a sadness behind his eyes. Always.

This the actor I contribute with aiding my love of literature, poetry and life. Who didn’t want him as a teacher? Somebody who challenges you to seize the day, make the most of every minute, thrill to the joy of truth, beauty and love. I’ve seen the film many, many times over. It still makes me laugh, and cry. Okay, there is a part of me who wishes that I came from privileged folk and lived in New England where the snow falls softly and life appeared to be far less complex than it is now. You wanted to be taught about by a man who seemed to suck the marrow out of life, who saw the tragedies, the comedies, the histories and knew that they were all wrapped into one. John Keating is the English teacher that we all wish for – the quintessential teacher who teaches you that language is more than words.

He was the one who stood his class in front of a trophy cabinet and whispered, “Carpe Diem. Seize the day. Because, Believe it or not each and every one of us… is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold and die.”

It was Williams’ character who asked of the boys to address him as “O’ Captain, My Captain”.  Looking at Whitman’s poem, penned about the death of Abraham Lincoln, it pains a haunting picture.

Much of his work was tinged with tragedy and sadness. Deeply, deeply moving, through provoking work. I’m thinking of “Good Will Hunting” and “Patch Adams”. Williams was good at playing flawed characters – intelligent beyond their time, never quite fitting in. He was wonderful in “The Fisher King” and “The World According the Garp”. In later years, he did a great job playing creeps and weirdos. He also managed some great light comedy – “The Birdcage”, “Licence to Wed”, “Night at the Museum.”

It still strikes me that every time I looked at Robin Williams, there was a sadness behind his eyes. A haunted look – no matter what the role. It never left.

At the moment, all I feel like doing is stand on my desk and cry that barbaric yawp. I want to do this because I know that somebody very, very special has passed.

I just hope he’s somewhere, along with Philip Seymour Hoffman, in a place where there is no pain.

For all the joy he has provided, he deserves that.

Whitman's poem is even more chilling now.

Vale Robin Williams.

O' Captain, My Captain    by Walt Whitman

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            The arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The 13 Things Meme

Is Sunday, therefore it is meme day. As always, questions are courtesy of Sunday Stealing. These are too bad questions, thank goodness.

1) Outside my window...

Are a lot of planes. I'm at Sydney airport waiting to catch a flight back to Melbourne after completing the City to Surf this morning.

2) I am thankful...

That my nearly 46 year old body can walk 14 kms in under 2.5 hours (official time 2:26:24 - bloody good for limited training) that I have the funds to do things like this and the toddler sitting behind me has stopped screaming in my ear. Said child was about to get thrown out the window mentioned in question one.

3) In the kitchen...

There will be sitting a very stroppy Maow Maow waiting for his dinner and a litter tray that needs cleaning. Fun, eh?

4) I am wearing...

A purple tunic dress, long sleeved blue t-shirt, black leggings and boots. Travelling clothes.

5) I'm creating:...

My blog post. At home I'm creating a baby blanket for Millie and good karma that will allow me to get on with this Masters programme without having a nervous breakdown.

6) I'm going...

Home to Melbourne after a lovely weekend up here in Sydney.

7)  I'm reading...

Nathan Filer's "The Shock of the Fall". Just finished Tara Moss' "The Fictional Woman". This is a must read and a very important book.

8) I'm learning...

To like Sydney. Sydney will never be my favourite place in the world, but it is growing on me. Like warts. A good City to Surf has helped foster this bonhomie.

9) I'm pondering...

A lot of things. Lachlan. Whether I go batshit crazy feminist during this first Master's Module, what I might be doing after my current work contract ends, taking the cat home to Blarney when I get home, what do with my parents next weekend. Brain always goes 1000 miles an hour.

10)  A favourite quote...

Here are a few;

"The lunatic, the lover and the poet are of imagination all compact."  Shakespeare

"Not my circus, not my monkeys". Polish adage.

Steve Job's "Here's to the crazy ones ..." speech.

11) One of my favourite things...

Hitting the top of a perfect creme brulee with the back of a spoon. Kissing. Fresh pineapple.

12) A few plans for the rest of the week...

Week starts tomorrow, but it's crazy week. Work, play, gym, sleep, return the cat at some stage.

13)  A peek into my day...

I met a really lovely lady named Helen on the walk. We talked and walked for the last 2 kilometres of today's race. My walk was faster than her shuffle. We saw each other over the finish line. That was really special. It's great to give other runners a bit of support.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Blog Tour Blog

Elizabeth at Sixth in Line has challenged me to the do Blog Tour. The thing is the challenge fellow bloggers to blog about the following four questions and then nominate three or four other bloggers to write about this stuff.

Always up for a challenge I'll give this a go:

The questions are:

1) What am I working on?
2) How does my work differ from others in its genre?
3) Why do I write what I do?
4) How does my writing process work?

And I'm nominating JK from Keep Working Through It, Dave the Plastic Mancunian, Magical M and Fletcher Beaver to give this a try. Drop me a comment when it is done.

So, here I go. 1) What am I working on?

Well, I'm about to start my Masters in a few weeks and I have a feeling that this will be instrumental on the whole of my writing process.

I have a few strings to my bow. I'm a poet and publish on my other website, Trellawney Tom . I've two novels, on young adult novel, "Rainbow Robertson and the Adventures at Hippy Corner" as well as a semi-autobiographical novel on the point - both novels are about 20,000 words in - not really enough, but the ideas are bedding down.

Thing is, I have a feeling that this research project will change a heap of things. I know I have a hankering to research some pretty meaty women's issues and write about them - abortion, miscarriage, the Comfort Women in WW2, domestic violence... why - they're topics that need a voice, a woman's voice. A rational, woman's voice. May as well write about something I'm interested in. My poetry is of a feminist bent most of the time. We will see where the research project leads me.

2) How does my work differ from other's in the genre?

Well the poetry - which is tainted by a love of GM Hopkins, TS Eliot and Carol Ann Duffy is of a women-centric bent - not that that is an unusual thing. I work with archetypes and historical figures a bit - I enjoy that.

No much young Adult writing is set in rural South Australia. Spose that makes it different.

And writing literary fiction - well, does literary fiction every change - again, other than mainly writing from a woman's perspective - an older, unmarried, childless woman's perspective.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Writing has been my voice for ever. I've felt so silent for so long, this is how I get my point across most of the time. Whether it be the deeper stuff found in poetry or literature, or the crap with which I populate this blog.

4) How does my writing process work?

Normally things get stuck in my head then they have to get out. They need a voice - particularly with poetry, which needs to be blurted out. I never spend more than 10 minutes writing a poem - a few words might get refined after, but it's like  a vomit of words comes out of me. It's a strange state of being.

Same with longer fiction. Get an idea and get it out. Then refine, and refine some more.

Non fiction - that's a different kettle of fish. I've had a few non-fiction articles published over the years, when I send articles to The Age for publication editors write back quickly, normally rejecting my work, but also saying, you can write, keep it going - I see that a a good thing. If editors don't like stuff, they don't write back at all. Non-fiction is reseached, planned, written, refined then sent off.

Same goes for the stuff that I write for work. Research, plan, write, refine. You get okay at it as time goes on.

So there you go.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sunday Meme: The Fun Fifteen

It's Sunday, which means it's blog and chore day. This means it's meme time, with chores and jobs.

As always, Sunday Stealing has provided the questions. I have a bit to do today. Let see what jobs I can get done.

Job: Go gym.

1. You have been awarded the time off from work and an all-expenses paid week anywhere in the United States. The catch is that it must be somewhere you have not been before. Where do you choose to visit?

Why must it be the United States? Why cant't it be somewhere else? Okay, if I was to have a week in the States I'd like to go to San Francisco and Seattle. I've done a little bit of the East Coast but none of the West Coast, Good coffee and culture are a must and both of these places seem to have these in buckets, Also San Francisco as a friend of mine is just moving over, taking on a job at Google - he's promised me a tour of the place if I come over.

Job: Load of Washing

 2. Name your guilty pleasures.

Ice cream, eggs with tomato sauce, vegemite toast with lashings if butter, expensive perfume, Pandora charms, Dr Blake, film and theatre. I'm not sure that all of these are guilty pleasures but they do make life far more fun.

Job: Hang out the washing

 3. The best kind of milkshake is:

Vanilla malted. Failing that, anything that is made in a road house with full fat milk and ice cream and served in a tin cup.

Job, Printed out tax stuff to take to the accountants soon.

 4. What do you value most in other people?

Honesty, kindness, a sense of adventure and a sense of fun. Intelligence is a bonus too.

Job: Print out work forms and sign them ready for tomorrow

 5. Be honest. Do you sneak some raw cookie dough when you’re baking cookies?

Of course. Uncooked cookie dough and cake batter is the best - normally I leave it until I get to lick the bowl and the beaters after.

Job: Make bed

 6. Have you ever looked back at your life and realized that something you thought was a bad thing was actually a blessing in disguise?

Yes. An number of times. I remember having a huge argument with somebody once. Broke my heart at the time. The best thing was it got him out of my system, put some boundaries in place and now we're friends, just as we're supposed to be. Getting made redundant a few years ago was the best thing to have ever happened to me too. Sounds like a cop out, but it made me find my stride.

Job: Sign and send on paperwork for tomorrow's start

 7. What is the most beautiful place you have ever visited?

I've been to many beautiful places in my time, both man made and natural. Today I'm going to nominate the Lady Chapel at Ely Cathedral. It's all to do with the light. It's stunning.

Job: Clean teeth

 8. Are you more of a thinker or a feeler?

Definitely a feeler. I'm reasonably good at thinking, but I like to rely on my instincts to get around in the world. Has never let me down.

Job: Tidy up

 9. Name three things you are thankful for right now.

1) My health

2) The fact I'm employable and pick up work easily
3) That there is a cat asleep on the couch - he's kept me warm these last few nights

Job: Dishes done
 10. Have you ever participated in a three-legged race?

Yes, but I think I was about nine-years-old at the time.

Job: Start ironing

 11. When you are at an event that plays the National Anthem, do you place your hand over your heart?

As an Australian, you struggle to get us to stand up for the National Anthem at times. We do, but it is a struggle. So I place my hand over my heart when it plays? No. I feel more and I want to put my hand over my heart when I hear The Last Post more often than not.

Job: Apply make up

 12. Have you ever been on the wrong side of the law?

Yes. Thankfully I've never been caught. now and then I go over the speed limit. That counts, doesn't it?

Job: Continue ironing

 13. When was the last time you unintentionally surprised someone else?

A few people were surprised that I'm embarking on this Masters in Writing course which starts in a few weeks. 

Job: Feed Cat

 14. When was the last time you deliberately surprised someone else?

It was many years ago, but I surprised my sister when I came back from London - turned up a day early. She was cranky with me for a while as she said that there house wasn't cleaned... typical for my family.

Job: Put away the ironing

 15. What was the last really funny movie you watched? 

That goes to "The Grand Budapest Hotel" which was one of the silliest and funniest films I've seen in years. For pure spit takes, I also reckon that "The Trip to Italy" was pretty good. Can't say "Where do you stand on Michael Buble?" without giggling.

(Where do I stand on Michael Buble? His wind pipe is the answer....)