Friday, January 31, 2020

January Check Up - February Goals

Now for the January update and time to set the February goals.

This goal setting has been really good for me. You have a solid period of time to get things done and a deadline. I like deadlines. they work for me. And I've kicked a few goals.

So, here were my January goals and how I went with them.

1) Find a new job. 

Done. I start as a technical writer at one of the energy companies on 17 February. References are in, docs have been sighted. I'm just waiting for the paper contract, but I got a verbal offer this morning. So there's two more weeks of this sabbatical. I'm pleased that I've got a year's fixed term contract. This means, for the first time in ten years, holiday pay and sick pay. Yes, there's a bit of a financial hit, but I'm thankful for the security, and the fact I won't have to be at home over January.

2) Get the will done. 

Nearly done. I've spoken to the laywer. The details are in. I just have to get the physical thing and sign it - and I need to chase the lawyer to get this done. It's on the list for Monday.

3) Paint out the kitchen. 

Done. Finished painting the kitchen earlier this week. I did both the ceiling and the walls. It looks sooooo much better.

4) Tidy the spare room. 

Ah, not done. I've had a bit of a chuck out, but Jay and I are going to do a stall at Camberwell Market on the first week of April - I have a heap of her stuff in there ready to go to market. I'll have to try a bit more.

5) Transfer everything on this laptop over onto the new laptop I bought at the end of June.

Nearly done. I just have to find the initiative to configure Outlook with my bigpond mail - last time this took 5 hours on the phone to Telstra and a trip out to Reservoir where I paid a friend's husband a bottle of gin to sort it out. After the last time I did this, I'm busy girding my loins. It should be easy. It's not. The rest is fine. I can see it costing me another bottle of gin to get this sorted.m

I've also kept up with my promise to read, write and exercise for an hour a day. I've done well on this too. My star calendar is looking good. I get a star for each hour of writing, reading and exercising I do in a day. I'm quite proud of myself. I've written for an hour a day every day. It's been a good month.

And now for my February Goals:

1) Make note of everything I spend

I've had no real money coming in for the last two months. I'm not in a bad place, but I really need to buckle down and work out where money is going, save some money and work out what I'm spending.  Time to crack open the spreadsheets and work out where the money is going - and start budgeting.  I may be making less than what I was, but knowing how much is coming in each week / month / fortnight will make this okay.

2) Paint out the toilet and hallway

Another painting job - much smaller than the kitchen. I have two weeks to complete this. I have the paint. Just have to work out how to get to the fiddly bits in the loo.

3) Start mapping out that bloody novel, at last, ready for school in March

I need to get more clarity on the novel project I'll be working on in March. I have to get into novel mode.

4) Go swimming once a week. 

I love swimming. I need to do more of this. There is an olympic size pool nearby. I'm going to meet a friend at the beach wehn I'm in Adelaide next week. But I need to get in water. It's good for me.

5) Go gluten, dairy and sugar free (again)

About 18 months ago, under the supervision of a naturopath, I went gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol free for a couple of months. I've kept off the caffeine completely since then. I'm not a big drinker. But I have let the sugar, gluten and dairy slip. My house is now dairy and gluten free. Sugar is always a hard one for me as I have a pathological sweet tooth. But it's time to get the diet back right on track. I can do it. It suits me. (I'll also not be completely militant when I go out - but at home and where I can, this will be done.) I feel better for it. I'm not a coeliac or gluten intolerant, nor lactose intolerant, but I do run better with these.

Strangely, today in the supermarket, I was considering buying some consolation ice cream. A last gasp treat before going ice cream free for a month. I ran into my doctor as I was having a look. We smiled at each other. No ice cream for me. I bought the ingredients for chai pops instead. That and smooshed up lychees will have to do me for the next month.

6) See the following movies (along with the list of classics I never got to)
  • Parasite
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917

Today's song:

Thursday, January 30, 2020


It's just a bloody hot afternoon
In bloody Melbourne town,
The trams are out of action,
The lawns are going brown,
The weather just is quite horrid
But it could be bloody worse
It could be bloody humid
Which makes me bloody terse.

But when it's bloody hot outside
And you can't get bloody home,
You have to seek some shelter
As it's too hot outside to roam.
You do the air conditioning dance
From one arcade to another.
You search out trees and awnings,
But that can be a bother.

But for me when it is bloody hot
I take my sanctuary
In the bloody library reading room
To save looking like a cranberry.
It's cool and calm and very staid,
And people sit and cram.
But it's better than getting bloody heat stroke,
Waiting for the bloody tram.


I felt like poeting today.

It's bloody hot outside.

Yes, I am sitting here in the State Library Reading room while I wait for the planned industrial action for the trams to be over. The trams should be working again in an hour or so, but I had appointments today in town. A coffee with my old pimp and lunch with Raj.

Due to the timings, I caught an Uber into down. Had a lovely fellow drive me. We talked about India, what I had found in the North, how things are different in the South. His spotlessly clean Civic had a laughing Buddha on the dash along with a small shrine to Shiva and a couple of other gods. They were small and sweet. Nice fellow. We had a laugh. I've just checked and I still have my 4.8 passenger rating so I've been deemed a good passenger.

But then, after the coffee meeting and the lunch, it was a matter of how to get home. Of course, there is always the train - but that means a 15 minute walk in the heat home at the end. No thank you. So I planned ahead. Brought in my travel laptop with me and I've come here:

There is a grandeur to this building. I love the reading room. I tend to get a bit done when I come here - okay today it's the blog, but when I go back to school I could see myself coming here to write for a few hours before going home. It's that or ordering a jail cell at Melbourne Jail - the old one on Russell Street. They have cells where writers can go to write during the day.

But I am starting work on 10 February. I have better things to do than sit around in the old jail, with no air conditioning, in February, tapping away.

Just for the moment, I'll sit here in the reading room and read my book. Currently reading Peter Carey's The True History of the Kelly Gang. Although I can see the merit of the book, see the achievement, I get why he won the Booker for it - but I'm still slightly underwhelmed. It is wrong to no really adore Australian beloved authors? (I'm not that fond of Kate Grenville either... is this a hanging offence? And don't get me started on Matthew Reilly and Cathy Moriarty... there is soooo much better out there).

Actually I won't hang around. It's 3 pm, the trams will be back and there are a couple of Mormon blokes sitting next to me chatting. They don't smell that fresh. This is the silent area. Hmph. I don't feel like being asked about joining the Church of Latter Day Saints today.

The one thing I don't like about the library - it's near my favourite bubble tea place, where they do rose and lychee soda. It's bad for your but it's glorious. I don't need bubble tea, as much as I love the stuff.

So I'll be off.

Today's song: (in honour of the tram drivers. It may be a pain, but I support their cause.)

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Best Self Card: What are your views on religion?

It's 10.15 pm and I haven't done my hour of writing, so it's time to delve into the box of prompts.

Today's card: What are your views on religion?

Well, to paraphrase a wrongly quoted Violet Crawley of Downton Abbey, "Religion is like a penis. It's a perfectly fine thing for one to have and take pride in, but when one takes it out and waves it in my face we have a problem."

I am not religious. I am spiritual, Some say the difference between the down is spirituality is a solitary experience of the divine, while religion involves a group of people brought together by their common faith or beliefs about the divine. For me, I believe there's something bigger than us out there, but don't ask me what that is. I don't have to go to church/synagogue/temple/ mosque to celebrate this with others. I'm good on my own, thank you very much.

And this to me is the crux of the matter. My belief in the divine is my own. It really doesn't have much to do with anybody else, which is why organised religion turns me off completely. I tend to have a more polytheistic view - and I resonate with Hinduism and Buddhism more than I do Christianity. Part of me thinks I'd make a good Jew. I like that the former two religions are a bit more opt in, hands on, quiet and introspective on a daily basis. I get some joy from Islam - well, the Muslims I know are are all glorious people, and a religion that gave us Rumi can't be that bad....

However, religion has a place in some people's lives, and so may it be - but as I said, don't wave it around in my face.

I'm happy to have open, honest and inquiring conversations about religion. In one of my last jobs I sat next to this wonderful fellow who's Muslim. We talked all the time about our beliefs - both of us interested in what the other believed and thought, but without any disrespect or animosity. It was great. It was a joy to find out more about what he believed, some of the things done in devotion and all manner of things I would never know - and he asked questions in kind, normally about Freemasonry, but the conversation went both ways. We found out so much. I love talking to people like this.

Another friend who's a committed Christian and I have similar conversations. We have polar opposite beliefs on some matters, but can discuss things rationally, respecting each other's opinions, but knowing that we won't agree on some things - and that is fine. Abortion and euthanasia being the big ticket sticking points. But we both came to the agreement that we liked each other as people - and we're both good eggs, and want the best for people - so all is well. We can be friends. And we are.

Other friends do things for religions. Raj, a Hindu, is vegetarian on Tuesdays and Thursday because of God. He's never really explained which god or why, but it makes him happy - and he has no aspersions that others have to do what he does. And all is well.

In all these cases, the penis adage comes into play. All of my friends are religious in their own way. We know it. It's an intrinsic part of them. But it's not seen. It's just there tucked away in the background.

I do shake my head at doing religious things for the reasons which seem to have no merit. A couple of cases in point. A friend of mine had her children baptised in the Greek Church, mostly as her husband willed it so. She's an atheist. I remember the day only for the stress everybody was put through.

My friend Blarney is Roman Catholic - she's Irish, it's part of who you are. We also have some great discussions - a lot of them have her incredulous over my beliefs - such as I don't believe in sin, I'm not up on evil, and I certainly don't believe in the sanctity of Jesus Christ. (She once old me that you don't need to believe in Jesus Christ to be a Christian.... ah yeah....) I know she's looking to have her boys do their first communion later in the year, with a big party. That's her perogative. I don't quite understand it, but if it makes her happy - so be it. It's not hurting anybody unless somebody breaks a limb on the bouncy castle after the confirmation ceremony.

I get that these markers, the baptisms, marriages, confirmations, and other ritual are there as markers. So be it. If it makes people happy, go ahead.

But there are things that really make me angry about religion.

I truly believe that religion has ABSOLUTELY NO PART in deciding how we are governed. I wish somebody would tell this to our current federal government. Separation of Church and State are essential.

The tax free status of religions I reckon needs reviewing. Sure, if you can account for where the money is going to charitable acts, sure. But when you're making money like a corporation, and none of this is seen in good deeds for the community, they yeah, cough up some coffers. If you want to be part of the community, pay your way. Maybe start paying some land tax. Our Freemasons' temple has to at a reduced rate.Why can't all religious buildings?

Another thing. Just because you're religious doesn't mean you're automatically a good person. Case in point, our current Prime Minister. Pentacostal Christian. Right douchebag.

Oh, and we say we're a secular nation, but we still celebrate Easter and Christmas on a national level - but not Ramadan, Eid, Diwali, Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah. That seems a bit unfair.

As a spiritual agnostic (or a wiccan kabbalist - depends on the day) I get a lot of peace from places of worship. I love religious buildings, particularly old ones. I adore the vibe they give off - it's like bearing witness to hundreds of years of prayers. England was good for old churches. I get a buzz from placing a hand on nave columns - I love the vibes.

But organised religions - for me, no thanks. I'm good.

Strangely, I went to Sunday School until I was about sixteen - then I worked out that what they wanted me to believe was a pile of bollox. I was christened as a baby, but never confirmed. Thank goodness for that. I have a lot of religious folk in my family. One cousin is married to an Anglican minister. He's the bloke I used to bum cigarettes off of at family functions.

And I'm fine with people being religious as long as their views are not paraded in front of me to take up.

Like willies, it's okay to know you have one. Just keep it out of the way.

Today's Song:

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Bad Bit

Job hunting is a pain in the butt. But one thing that sucks more than doing the actual job hunting is tracking down your referees and asking for a reference.

talking heads GIF

As a contractor, it's something you may have to do a few times a year. It means calling up people who you like, trust, but have invariably lost contact with, to see if they will speak up for you.

It's something I don't like in the slightest, but it has to be done.

Many years ago I got burned by a mediocre reference. This was many, many years ago while I was in London. The reference turned my then boss against me, it affected any progression in the company and generally made life very difficult until I transferred out the the department into somewhere where the boss rewarded me for the work I was doing and things got back on track.

But 25 years on, the memory of that event has stuck in my head, and I'm still always wary. Will they remember all the good work you did, or will they remember the one time you had a minor hissy fit over something small?  People are talking about you. It plays into every one if my insecurities.  I don't have to have these foibles, but it's the way it feels. It also helps that it's illegal to give a bad reference. But still, an element of trust is required.

Thankfully I've got a number of people I can call on. I use different referees for different jobs, depending on the skill set / job description and the industry where the new job is found. That's the joy of being a generalist. You use your tech writing referees for tech writing jobs, instructional design referees for the Learning and Development roles. It makes sense.

These are people I trust and people who I try and make sure are bought coffee / lunch for the favour. It's a pain, but we all have to do it. It's just as a contractor, you have to do it a little more often than not.

So today, in between finishing off the painting in the kitchen, wondering when I could wash my smeggy painting clothes and giving the kitchen a good clean, floors included, I got the call. It appears I have a job, pending a reference check, starting on 10 February.

It's in a sector in which I like working, the pay is good, it's a year's fixed term contract, so that means I get a bit of security as well as holiday and sick pay and it's doing what I like - technology instructions on a large transformation project. The new office is very central and I know a few people around the traps. All good. It means I have just over ten days to enjoy the last of this sabbatical - which has been brilliant.

I'm ready to go back to work now. The walls of the flat are starting to cave in. As much as I love going to lunch with people, it's money I don't need or want to spend and I'm a bit tired of my own company.

So fingers crossed, I'll get some emails back from these people and get the reference checking on the road.

It just feels good not to have to look for work any more (and I get to cancel the interview scheduled for Thursday - I don't have to go out in the heat when a tram strike is on the cards)

Today's song:

Monday, January 27, 2020

Film Review: Just Mercy

Film Number: 7
Stars: 3.5

I find miscarriages of justice very hard to stomach. When these injustices occur at systemic level it's even worse.

I have an acquaintance, a friend of a friend, who has served 17 years for murder. He's out now, living a quiet, law-abiding life. But he never confessed to the crime, and has always vehemently professed his innocence, He adamantly denied any involvement in the event. Despite three trials over a number of years - the first two being thrown out of court, despite many inconsistencies in the evidence , which was all circumstantial, he was found guilty. He served out his sentence, finally being let out with a lot of time off for good behaviour - he would have been let out five years earlier if he admitted to the crime. If It's sickening. Knowing many gay men were arrested for many a trumped up charge even twenty years ago makes me shake with rage.

(I think something else about this case that gets me is that he and I are the same age - where I was travelling off to London finding a life, his nightmare had just started. But this is by the by)

But these injustices are nothing compared to those found in the deep South of America . Some could stay it still goes on.

There's a big difference between what went on in  with gay men in 1990's Melbourne and black men in 1980's Alabama.

There is no death penalty in Australia. The stakes are slightly lower.

Thank goodness.

Just Mercy is based on the true story of Bryan Stevenson (Michael B Jordan), a Harvard educated lawyer, a man of colour from the East Coast, who goes to Alabama to defend men of colour on death row in Alabama.

He meets with Walter "Johnnie Dee" McMillan (Jamie Foxx), a man on death row, convicted on the flimsiest of trumped up evidence in Alabama. The more you hear about the case, the angrier you feel. Blind Freddie could see Walter was innocent, but this is Alabama in the early nineties.

For every move Bryan makes to help McMillan find justice, he comes up against brick walls. He's bullied, harassed and told to leave it. But he doesn't.

What Just Mercy does is highlight the injustices and inequalities of the system. If you're white, privileged, monied, you can buy your way out of trouble. If you're black, poor and not-entitled, good luck playing the system. Crappy defense, stacked juries and the view that you're guilty until proven innocent appear to be par for the course. Knowing this is based on a true story makes it all the more gut wrenching.

Michael B. Jordan is solid as Bryan Stevenson, playing the earnest and steadfast lawyer with grace. There are some hard scenes for him to navigate. My ire was stirred when he was subjected to a strip search when he first visited the prison. He is followed and harassed by the police, subjected to all sorts of indignites and rebuffs, but he continues.

Jamie Foxx is great as Walter, the condemned man, wrongly accused and found guilty. His performance is pared back, as he goes from being a happy-go-lucky tree feller to the cautious, trampled prisoner.

Other wonderful performances come from Rafe Spall as the sleazy district attorney, Bree Larson as Eva, Bryan's colleague and Tim Blake Nelson, the man whose dodgy evidence sentenced McMillan to his fate.

What makes this film all the more heart-rending is discovering how closely the film stuck to the facts. The last fact provided in the credits is that one in nine death row cases in Alabama are overturned completely. I walked out shaking my head in horror and disgust - how can people be treated so badly? Why does it have to be like this?

This is no Mississippi Burning or A Time to Kill, but it's certainly not bad either.

Just Mercy sheds a light on systemic in justice in a place where there appears little justice for some is found. It's worth a look, as uncomfortable and unsettling the content can be. 

Today's song:

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Winter Questions

I'm procrastinating before having to get back up a ladder. I'm painting out the kitchen and toilet. The kitchen, in particular, has been in need of a paint for years. Getting up ladders is not my favourite things. I have another coat of the ceiling to do today. Ergh.

We also have a public holiday this weekend. It's Invasion Day, also known as Australia Day. I'm very much for celebrating our country, but selecting to commemorate the day which a group of convicts and His Majesty's officers came to overtake tens of thousands of years of history - maybe now. I'd be a lot happier if Australia became a republic and we celebrated that day instead. I keep these feelings fairly quiet. There has to be a better day to commemorate Australia - not a day which to many represents oppression, anger, grief, humiliation and genocide.

It's also the middle of summer here - so doing questions about Winter feels a bit strange.

Ah well. Questions, as always, supplied and stolen by Bev at Sunday Stealing.

  How do you get past the gray skies during winter?

I don't. I like winter - it's my favourite season along with Autumn. I love not having to wear sunscreen. I love the low light. I like knowing I can have lots of bedclothes on at night. I love open fires. Winter is great.

    Do you like snow? Why or why not?

I like snow, only because it's a novelty. We never get snow in Melbourne. Once every few years we get a dusting in the hills around the place, but it's rare. But when I get to be in snow it's wonderful.

    What are your favorite activities to do during the winter?

Winter is footy season. The Australian Rules Football season runs from March to September. I also like to read, and do quiet things at home.

    What does a perfect winter day look like to you?

Ah, that would be get up, maybe go to the gym, go out somewhere decadent for brunch. Maybe then do some cooking and reading, then have friends around for dinner after. If there is an open fire and a good movie on the telly, all the better. Simple stuff. Maybe throw in go to a gallery visit for good measure too.

    What are your favorite meals/food you enjoy eating during the winter?

Roast dinners, followed by some sort of pudding. If it's Mum's roast lamb, even better.

    What is your favorite winter holiday and why?

The only holiday we have in winter is the Queen's birthday - which is held on the second weekend in June. Daft thing is it celebrates Queen Victoria's birthday, not Queen Elizabeth II. We also have a day off for the Australian Rules Grand Final, but that is in September, so technically, that's Spring.

    What is your favorite pizza flavor and toppings.

I will normally order a Mexican Hot or a Barbeque Chicken Pizza, if I get pizza, which is rare. I had an awesome Harissa Chicken pizza the other night at Shakespeare in the Park. It was very good.

    What are some items in your daily bag / backpack.

I could live for a year with what you find in my backpack or handbag. But here are some things that are every present:

  • Phone
  • Wallet
  • Book/kindle
  • Handcream
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Pens
  • Notebook
  • Tissues both used and unused
  • Old lanyards
  • My Myki card (public transport card)
  • A blue ganesha keyring
  • Old receipts
  • Charging cables
  • Plug for the charging cable
  • The odd flyer
  • Small tube of toothpaste
  • Mints
  • Keep cup for coffee
  • A millilitre of frankincense
  • Stray earrings
  • Loose change
  • Ibuprofen / paracetamol (Tylenol/Advil)
    Your favorite snacks.

Almond protein balls or salt and vinegar chips.

    Some foreign countries that you would like to visit

I feel another list coming on as I won't count the countries I've been to:
  • Japan
  • Cambodia
  • South Africa
  • Egypt
  • Morocco
  • Portugal
  • China
  • Iceland
  • Canada
  • Argentina
  • Uruguay
  • Chile
  • Peru
  • Colombia
  • Nepal
    What things that remind you of home

Rolling hills, green grass (but not too green) The smell of pine trees mixed with gum trees. Fresh air. Long, clean beaches.

    If you have one, some items from your Amazon Wishlist

I don't have an Amazon Wishlist, and I only use Amazon for kindle e-books. So lets say my wishlist would have new release novels and the odd classic.

    What was your favorite Christmas gift?

I seem to get books and vouchers now, so anything that isn't a book or a voucher is awesome. I received a lovely plate with an Oscar Wilde quote on it this year from a wonderful friend. It's jut adorable.

Today's song:

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Film Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Film: 6

I'd only ever heard of Mr Rogers through American television shows where he's held up as a paragon of old fashioned, corn-fed, middle America, so I went into A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood with a bit of trepidation. All I knew about Mr Rogers was that he was a children's television presenter in the sixties and seventies and rightly or wrongly was seen as an old-fashioned fuddy duddy.

I'd knew nothing about this film other than Tom Hanks had scored a Best Supporting Actor nomination for the rose of Mr Rogers. I really went into this film blind.

I'm so glad I went to see this. It's a beautiful, glorious film, which carries a huge punch, even with the PG rating.

The film is based on Tom Junod's 1998 Esquire Article, Can You Say... Hero?  The article is worth a read after you see the film, as a juxtaposition to what you see on screen. A lot of the article is found in the film, both being based on the real life friendship between the journalist and the interviewee.

In a nutshell, Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is a cynical journalist sent to interview Mr Rogers. Lloyd has his issues - a new father, a man with family difficulties and problems expressing emotion, he has to face a lot of challenges in interviewing the somewhat whimsical Mr Rogers - who is nothing like anybody expected. Mr Rogers, the beloved children's television presenter challenges Lloyd's world view using empathy, kindness and decency to help release Lloyd from his demons.

I don't need to say much more than this, it's all you need to know about the plot. Chris Cooper is great as Lloyd's father, adding more gravitas to the film.

Matthew Rhys is perfect as Lloyd, the conflicted man searching for some peace in a life that has never been peaceful.

Tom Hanks is deserving of this Oscar nod as Mr Rogers. His performance is all internal. Subtle, at times charmless, at times, ethereal. He encapsulates Fred Rogers, a simple, spiritual man who brings the messages of hope and clarity to children. Mr Rogers never shied away from discussing hard topics with kids - death, divorce, bullying, separation, sibling rivalry, illness.

The one thing I came away with from the film is how much the world could use a Mr Rogers now. A seemingly simple man, he was present for everybody he met. It's not something you see all that often these days.

Marielle Heller's direction is settled and assured, mixing tableaus from Mr Rogers original series, with a definitive nineties feel. Both Rhys and Hanks put in career best performances and I'm sure her direction would have her at least considered for an Oscar, even if the nod never came.

My only word or warning for this film. Take tissues. You'll need them. In particular, the last scene in the movie is breathtaking in its simplicity and clout.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood is an unexpected gem of a film. It helps restore a bit of our faith in humanity.

See it.

Today's Song:

Friday, January 24, 2020

Best Self Card: List 50 things that make you smile

I'm supposed to be looking for work and prepping my kitchen and loo for painting. Instead I'm getting my hour of writing out of the way first, while doing some other things. Then I will get prepping and job hunting. It's the day before the long weekend. Nobody is going to doing much today on the job front. And it wont take me too long to sugar soap the walls. Clearing the kitchen is going to be the bigger job.

So I pulled a card from my Best Self box. List 50 things that make me smile.

This might be harder than I thought.

  1. Kittens
  2. Puppies
  3. Cats
  4. Dogs
  5. Most baby animals (maybe not reptiles, but the fluffy ones, hells yeah)
  6. Most animals if I can pat them (not reptiles however - don't like snakes)
  7. Getting a seat on the train/tram during rush hour and the person next to you is not too smelly/mad/ranting. 
  8. Finishing an assignment.
  9. Doing well on that assignment
  10. Meeting up with friends.
  11. Ice cream on a hot day
  12. A job well done.
  13. Cat videos
  14. Monty Python
  15. The Young Ones
  16. Finishing a hard workout
  17. Singing loudly and badly
  18. Driving really fast
  19. The turn of a beautiful sentence
  20. Dry wit
  21. That feeling when you toes hit the water down the beach
  22. Swimming
  23. Seeing my friends happy
  24. That first bite of a choc top at the movies
  25. Getting on a plane
  26. Getting off a long flight
  27. Cuddles
  28. The smell of clean, naked men (I'm human)
  29. The smell of good decaf coffee
  30. The smell of freshly baked bread
  31. The smell of freshly cut grass
  32. Lying on the grass watching the clouds go by
  33. The sight of stars outside of the city
  34. Red Dwarf
  35. Well constructed children's literature
  36. The Princess Bride
  37. Watching ultra-conservative politicians get their comeuppance (Yeah, I know, I can spell schadenfreude...)
  38. Rain (Love rain, I grew up in the country - rain makes people happy)
  39. Babies
  40. Waking up next to a warm body - bloke / cat / dog, all good. 
  41. Marvel films
  42. Seeing old friends after a long time
  43. Sunsets
  44. Sunrises
  45. Running - a surprising one, but I used to love running - lots of endorphins, always ran with a smile on my face.
  46. Mum's roast lamb with mint sauce (preferably the one you make yourself)
  47. Taking photographs
  48. The smell of Chanel 5.
  49. Lying down in the afternoon to read a book. 
  50. Open fires
There. Done it. Better get sugar soaping the kitchen. Joy. 

Today's song: 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Gone, but not forgotten

I have been a Monty Python fan for a number of decades. A bit late to the show, I got into them at uni. Their silliness always synchs in with my sense of humour. It always has, it always will.

I mean, how can you not giggle at this?

Monty Python has always made me laugh. It always will. I'm sure there will be Monty Python (and Young Ones) quotes at my funeral. It's a part of me. 

Hearing of Terry Jones' passing just as I was going to bed left me saddened, but the second thing to go through my mind was so eloquently said by John Cleese moments later on Twitter.

I expect nothing less from Cleese. I'd expect the same from Palin, Gilliam, and Idle too. 

It's what you do when your mates slip away, as Terry Jones has done.

Terry Jones was a big personality in a very loud mob. The short one. The one with the infectious giggle. Somebody you knew would be fun to go down the pub and have a giggle with. The one who didn't take himself too seriously. He loved frocking up. I mean, hell, he was Brian's Mum in the Life of Brian, one of the most quoted people on the planet. ("He's not the messiah - he's a very naughty boy... Now go away.")

Back in the noughties, he came to the Melbourne Writers Festival and spoke for an hour to a small group. He wasn't on holidays. If I remember correctly, he was in Australia on holidays and made time to do this. I just remember being a humble and very funny man. 

He talked a bit about Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book. A lovely book. In some ways a kid's book. You see, Lady Cottington wanted to prove there were fairies in the garden behind the potting shed, so she went out with a big book and trapped the fairies within the pages of the book. 

This is the result:

Yep, it's basically a book of squashed fairies. 

It is awesome.

I bought a copy and lined up to get it signed.

So I got the meet the man. 

Unlike Richard Flanagan and Louis De Bernieres, where I went full fan girl, I presented the book to him with some confidence. 

"And what's your name?" he asked.
"Panda." (Well most of my friends call me Panda - Monty Python is an old friend - why not?)
"Panda. It's short for Princess Panda from Myponga. Panda will do." I told him.

He tittered and signed my book, handing it back with a wry smile.

This is one of my favourite memories and one of my most treasured possessions.

Vale, Terry Jones. Thank you for all the giggles over the many years. 

We've lost Clive James and Terry Jones this year. Who next? I feel like a little bit more of my formative years has slipped away. 

Today's Song: 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The Trip to Bunnings

Today's big job had me go to Bunnings.

I don't like going to Bunnings very often. I avoid it if I'm really honest about it. It's the smell. As a young child, my father owned a small hardware shop. Bunnings smells like his shop. I remember the paint mixer (I still only ever use Dulux paint). There were packets of nuts, bolts and screws. He sold tools, bits and bobs - all sorts of things. There  was a dragster bike in the shop that was there forever, which I eventually received for Christmas when I was about eight. Out the back were bags of fertiliser (Blood and Bone)  and cement and other things like that. I can't walk into Bunnings without thinking about this - just as I can't walk into a butcher shop and sense my Grandfather about the place.

Dad only had the shop until I was eight. He had health issues. Also, at the time, the Mitre 10s were taking over the hardware retail space. The local hardware store was soon to be a thing of the past. He got out. We moved to the country. The hardware store was never spoken of again.

Even as an adult, I walk into these hardware giants - the Bunnings and Mitre 10s of the country, and have these residual feelings arise. I think I'd freak out a bit if I could smell the taint of Benson and Hedges Special Milds and Juicy Fruit chewing gum - those, along with the scents of Brilliantine and Old Spice and I can conjure up my father with ease.

But sometimes, you just have to go to Bunnings. The last time I was there was to buy acetone. I had a bad accident with some nail polish. I needed a lot of acetone. I'm set for the next five years for nail polish remover.

Today, I had to go for paint.

The kitchen is in need of a paint. As I said in my January goals, this is one of the jobs I want to get done by the end of January, of which there are eight days left. I need to get a wriggle on.

Thankfully, Jonella has loaned me most of the materials. A roller, a brush, sugar soap, a tray and a roller handle for doing the ceiling. I hate doing ceilings, but looking at the kitchen ceiling, this needs to be done. I'm just going to have to suck it up. It's not going to be too hot. It's a long weekend. It's time.

My other thing with Bunnings. Only get what you need. I don't need a leaf blower or another NutriBullet. I don't need garden gnomes or birdseed. I don't need any tools - I have enough tools in the second draw down with my kitchen implements (much to the chagrin of my chef mate). There is a way to survive Bunnings. Know what you want. Go in. Buy the stuff. Get out. Go on a weekday so you aren't tempted by the sausage sizzle and the charity muggers.

It's just like Ikea. I use the same ethos there, however, I find it hard to go past the one dollar hot dogs which are just next to the tills.

I hardened my resolve. I girded my loins. After picking up the painting accouterments from Thom, Jonella's partner, I went into a foreign Bunnings - not my normal one at Collingwood - the one that is in what used to be the redundant Kodak building - like my father's shop, there is not much need for personal film development.  Collingwood Bunnings is a strange Bunnings with the ghosts of many film photographers floating around the space..

I went to the Bunnings down the Nepean Highway near Jonella's place. A huge man-shed of a man-shed. After parking, I made my way in. Thankfully the paint section was near the door. You can get lost for hours if you don't know where you're going. That's when you end up with a leaf blower in your trolley...

I looked at the colours. I made my selections. Lexicon for the kitchen. Whisper White for the loo / hallway. And a pot if ceiling white. This took all of five minutes. White paint is white paint is white paint when you live in a rental. (And I'm pretty sure it what Whisper White I used twelve years ago when I painted out the flat.

It took about five minutes for the man to come to the paint station. The paint was mixed and shaken. I made sure the lids were taped down - especially after having an accident with four litres of white gloss coming  to mischief in the foot well of my car some twelve years ago.

The paint was paid for, put in boxes, taken out to the car and driven home, thankfully without incident.

I was in Bunnings for all of twenty minutes. I felt relief as I made my way home - The Pixies were cranked up on the sound system.

I won't have to go back to Bunnings for a long time with any luck. It always leaves me a little unbalanced after I go in there. Okay, it's great that you can take your dog into the shop. They have to be on a lead or in the trolley, but you can take your dog - great, especially on hot days. My sister takes her dog all the time. See below.

No photo description available.

(Roxy at Bunnings - she looks too cute to be there - I see it more of a place for Kelpies and Rotties, not girlie Spoodles)

The other things I quite like about Bunnings - you can cop a view of the hot tradies.

Oops, did I say that out loud?

I'm just glad it's over. Tomorrow I'll start sugar soaping and taping up the skirting boards and door frames. Won't that be fun!

As I said, I'm ready to go back to work.

Today's Song:

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Best Self Card: What would selling out look like in your life

I like this box of cards with their writing prompts.

The cards are good when you don't have anything front of mind when you sit down to write. As I've got no movie reviews banked up, I've had a job interview today and I'm not due at book group until 6.30, the washing is done and I've hit job boards. I'm nine series down on Grey's Anatomy. The interview went well, but if I don't get the job, and I have to view it that I don't have the job, I have to keep onto the job boards. Such is life.

I've also been in contact with the real estate agency. They were demanding money off me for the delta on the rent. I informed them the rent is not going up until March. I had proof. I was right. Sometimes its good being right.

Tomorrow, I need to go to Bunnings to get paint to paint out the kitchen and toilet over the long weekend. Won't that be fun.

Around the place, the kombucha is brewing and the nuts are activating in the kitchen. I've started Peter Carey's The True History of the Kelly Gang and I should be starting to re-plot the novel I'm putting forward for school in a few weeks.

The cabin fever is starting to hit. I'm ready to go back to work. And school. It's time.

But today's card asked me to writing about what selling out would look like in my life.

Selling out would be me not backing myself.

Thing is, many think that I have sold out already - or I've been selling out for years. I normally work for larger corporations - in other words, I can be perceived to be a corporate prostitute. I sell my services for money. But isn't that what work is when it all come down to it. In a way, I am. But I choose to work where I work for many reasons. Corporates are a valid place to earn a living. Like everybody, I need to work to make money. I seem to get on well bein
g a little fish in a big pond. I can navigate the waters. I'm good at this. Years of practice.

Selling out would be working for mining or gambling companies - they're not industries I'd be comfortable working for.

To me, selling out would be giving up on my dreams and giving up on myself.

I can't see my life without writing. It's something I love to do. It makes me whole. It sorts my head out. It gives me wings.

So this is why I'm backing myself and going back to school. School makes me work harder. School is a place where I like to try to excel and to take myself to the next level.

Giving up on my dreams would be a sell out.

As would trying to climb the corporate ladder. I've done well in my career - but I don't want or need to go much higher. I'm not a corporate high flyer - never have been, never will be.

Selling out for me would also involve not enjoying the things I love. Movies, theatre, reading, exercising, friends. Having to forgo these things would be a  sell out. They make me what I am.

I'd make a crappy housewife. I'd probably be a terrible mother. I have trust and commitment issues. I'm always late on weekends. I should give more to charity. I'm a hopeless romantic. I'm a bleeding heart, environmentally aware leftie. I'm addicted to decaffeinated coffee. I love a lot of tomato sauce on my eggs. I'd rather talk to animals than humans. I get bolshie when I'm tired. 

But I'm human. I'm me. I'm flawed.

Trying to change these tings would be a sell out too.

Today's song:

Monday, January 20, 2020

Film Review: Bombshell

Film Number: 5
Stars: 4

Love it or loathe it. Fox News is a polarising television network. Personally, I avoid it like the plague, as I do the Australian equivalent, Sky News, but this personal bias has not stopped me from keeping in touch with what went in 2016 when the head of the Fox News Network, Roger Ailes, was dumped from his job, along with news anchor Bill O'Reilly for sexual misconduct. In these post "Me Too" times, this movie was always going to be made.

For those who don't know about Fox News, Jess Carr (Kate McKinnon) describes working there as follows, " You have to adopt the mentality of an Irish street cop: the world is a bad place, people are lazy morons, minorities are criminals, sex is sick but interesting. Ask yourself, what would scare my grandmother or piss off my grandfather? And that's a Fox story."

If you're in Australia, think Sky News. Got it. Yeah.

Bombshell looks at three different stories which merge in the middle.

Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) is the news anchor who's starting to buck the system. While trying to make the network a little more women friendly, she runs foul of Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) who wants none of her demands. She's basically told to sit down, shut up and be a good girl. Something Carlson does not put up with and she takes her well founded complaints to the lawyers.

It appears that most complaints of this nature at Fox News Network were dealt with internally, the victims paid off after signing an iron clad non-disclosure agreement.

Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) around the same time, is drawn in to a Twitter brawl with Donald Trump. Nasty stuff, which played over the airwaves for weeks. She takes the high road through the event, refusing to back down or stoop to Trump's level. She also refuses to refute the allegations against Ailes.

Then there is the story of Kayla (Margot Robbie), one character based on the testimony of Ailes' other victims. The young ingenue rises up the ranks from Gretchen Carlson's team to that of Bill O'Reilly. Young, beautiful and ambitious, she is taken in to see Ailes for a private meeting. Kayla is a fictitious character, an amalgam of many other women who had reported sexual harassment at the hands of Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes.

There are a number of smaller characters and cameos which are also brilliant. Malcolm McDowell as Rupert Murdoch, being one of these. Kate McKinnon's Jess brings an interesting slant to the newsroom, though how a Democrat voting lesbian would survive at the Fox Network is beyond me.

Look at any of the award shows and you'll see the names Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman sitting there in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories for their work on this movie. All deserve these accolades.

This film is well made, brilliantly scripted and the make up department deserves every award they get. John Lithgow and Charlize Theron are nearly unrecognisable.

As a biopic, this movie stands out. It's not comfortable viewing in some places. There is one scene in particular which is gutting. Some of the best acting of last year.

As a movie about these 'Me Too' times, some dis-ease may be felt. In the dog-eat-dog world of news broadcasting, women have never had a great time of things. Some could argue that both Carlson and Kelly were paid enough to shut up. I don't see this that way.

What Bombshell brings to the table is a view of the institutionalised sexual harassment in a place where it is, for want of a better word, expected to happen, and how this was resolved.

For me, the most telling part of the film was in its closing minutes. The Fox News Network paid out around 50 million dollars to all of the complainants for the sexual harassment cases.

Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes received payouts amounting to over 65 million dollars.

And there's the rub.

It's not going to be everybody's cup of vitriol, but I enjoyed Bombshell.

Today's song:

Sunday, January 19, 2020

The High School Meme

This one is sort of apt seeing I'm going back to school in March. I've been accepted to do a novel writing course which is held by one of the publishers. The opportunity is too good to pass up. It's also at the standard of doing two Masters subjects - so it's a good addition to my skill set.

But first I need to find a job. I've got an interview on Tuesday - and the phone calls are coming in, so hopefully it won't be too long before all this comes together.

It's going to be interesting answering these questions as the Australian high school experience is very different to the American one. But we're used to this. Questions, as always were sourced by Bev at Sunday Stealing.

Your high school graduation class of: 1985

1. Did you marry your high school sweetheart? 

Hell no.

2. Type of car?

I drove a 1966 EJ Holden called Edna. It was this colour too.

3. What kind of job?

I worked at the local general store in the school holidays

4. Where did you live?

Myponga, South Australia

5. Were you popular in school?

Absolutely not.

6. Were you in choir/band?

I was in the band in the earlier years. We didn't have a marching band - no such thing in Australia at the time, but we did have a very ordinary concert band.

7. Ever get suspended?

No. Too obedient for that.

8. If you could would you go back? 

Hell, no,

9. Still talk to the person that you went to prom with?

We didn't have a prom culture - although in today's schools it appears to be happening. We had dances, but you just turned up - no dates (or getting dressed up or anything) required.

10. Did you skip School ?

No. It was also hard to skip school as 1) I lived 15 miles away from the school and the only way there was by school bus and 2) The school was in a town called Willunga and there is nothing to do there anyway.

11. Go to all the football games?

Again, no organised sport after school. I think we might have had an inter-school competition once a year, but these were played in school hours.

12. Favorite subjects?

English, French, Chemistry and Maths. I was a nerd.

13. Do you still have your yearbook?

No, not that it was worth keeping anyway.

14. Did you follow the "original" career path?

Nope. When I left school I wanted to be a French teacher. That went nowhere.

15. Do you still have your class ring?

American thing. No school jewellery to be seen ever. Some of the posh private schools might have something like that - a pin or a tie - but no school rings to be seen here in Australia.

16. Favorite teacher? 

My French teacher for the last two years was awesome.

17. What was your style?

Weirdo nerdy type. I relate to the Ally Sheedy character in The Breakfast Club.
the breakfast club dancing GIF

18. Favorite Shoes?

Oh the food fashions. Squeaky sandals in summer, desert boots in winter. You'd never find them on my feet now.

19. Favorite thing to eat for lunch?

Oh, Mrs Keane's (Tuck shop manager) double cut salad rolls that you bought at the tuck shop. These are a real Australian thing. A white crusty role, double cut with cheese, salad, gherkins. They were sublime.

20. Favorite band?

Australian Crawl.Oh 80s music was the best. Still is.

21. High School Hair?

Pretty much what I have now, just a bit longer and a bit redder. I rocked a Farrah Flick from year eight to year ten. (we had seven years of primary school and five years of high school where I come from - no such thing as middle school in Australia).

22. How old when you graduated?


Today's song: 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Sound Healing and the Trouble with Wings

People who know me well are aware of my spiritual bent - the me that reads tarot, does yin yoga, sits in a dream group and all sorts of other 'witchy shit' as some know it. I prefer to think of it as another side of me that needs to be nurtured now and then. I'm a healer. I've been a healer for a long time.

But where does the healer go to get put back on track?

One of my favourite modalities is Sound Healing. I gelled with it the first time I encountered it in Bali ten year ago at the yoga barn. Shervin Boolorian is the Tama-Do sound healer who works out Ubud and he is phenomenal. He's earth bound angel. I've written about him before.

The universe is a strange and wonderful place, and he has brought Shervin back to Melbourne again. Okay, they send him out to Taylors Lakes - a suburb which is outside of my 20 minute radius of knowledge. I had large fights with Shirley my GPS device most of the way there. The stupid thing tried to get me to go half way to Bendigo to get there. I rather like fighting with Shirley the GPS.

Sound healing sessions are amazing. It's incredibly relaxing, as if the sound is massaging you. The different levels of sound gets into different places  - physical, spiritual, emotional and ethereal.

For me, sound healing is an all over therapy - and easily the most effective treatment for general stress and malaise I've encountered.

The other great thing about sound healing is it opens up places that don't normally get accessed.

So I'm lying there, on my yoga mat, head on my pillow, letting the sound wash over me. Didgeridoos, drums, gongs, bells, hungs, flutes... you name it. If it's a natural instrument, it gets used. I resonate with the deeper instruments. There is something most wonderful about having a didgeridoo sounding at close range. It calms the heart and soothes the nerves.

I could wax lyrical about this session, but you get the gist. It's something I wish everybody could experience.

On the deeper level, I got to go in further - seeing things, go on a journey. Visit places outside of this world. My guides came as soon as the gongs sounded. I won't say too much. You'd think I'm a bit nuts - but if you've ever come for a healing session with me, you may feel them in the room.

The last time I had a one on one session with Shervin, the journey brought me in contact with a Blue Ganesha. It was all a bit head spinny, but the Blue Ganesha has remained a constant. Friends have given me Blue Ganeshas over the years. I have a Blue Ganesha key ring which lives in my handbag. It's my talisman.

This time around, something different happened. While I was out for the count during the session, something a bit mad happened.

I sprouted wings.

Told you it was a bit mad.

But somehow, for some reason, in my head, I got my wings. Big, white, feathering wings. I felt them unfurl. I don't know why I got them, but I did.

The problem is, some six hours later, I can still feel the wings. They're still there, surrounding me, waving about my back like they're semaphoring in a ship. I'm not quite sure how to tuck them away. I was reticent to drive home after the session, partly because I didn't want to lose the feeling, and partly because they felt so real. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with them.

It's a strange one.

Maybe I've been watching a bit too much Lucifer of late.

I've no idea why I have wings. I can feel them. I can see them if I use my sensory eyes (Use those for healing work - a friend has said when I use them, it looks like I go away and another takes over my soul for a bit).

Off to bed in a minute. I wonder if they will be there in the morning.

Today's song:

Theatre Review: Hamlet

Production: The Australian Shakespeare Company - Hamlet

Melbourne Botanical Gardens - Until 9 February

Melbourne and summer means one thing. Shakespeare in the Botanical Gardens.

From December to March, the Australian Shakespeare Company, a ragtag bunch of players takes residence in the bat-blown theatre space near The Shrine.

And they are wonderful.

This is theatre in the garden. It's not perfect. It's not cerebral. It never is. It's not supposed to be. But it is always very entertaining, and Shakespeare is always better when you have a gin and tonic in your hand and hot pizza, delivered by Uber Eats half an hour before curtain up. This a picnic races version of Shakespeare. It's there to be enjoyed, not ruminated over.

The Australian Shakespeare Company didn't disappoint - although comparing this with last year's really good Macbeth, it's didn't quite make the same standard - but I'm still not complaining. As a self-described Shakespeare boffin I can be critical. I won't criticise this performance. It does what it sets out to do - entertain.

See, for me, the thing with performances of Hamlet, the devil is in the detail. I've seen barking mad Hamlets (Benedict Cumberbatch at the RSC - wow) , I've seen cunning Hamlets (Stephen Dinnane in London about 25 years ago was amazing), I've seen good, solid Hamlets (Mel Gibson's film version comes into this trope) and then the full, well rounded Hamlets (think the four hour film version done by Kenneth Brannagh.) And of course there;s the alternative Hamlets - Brannagh's In the Bleak Midwinter and Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead are both magical.

Then there are the Hamlets who take your breath away. Here's Andrew Scott. This gives me chills every time I watch it.

This version is a fine, basic, starter Hamlet. Andre de Vanny does a good job as the gloomy Dane. It's not a delicately refined performance, but he's not bad either. He's not somebody you warm to immediately, coming across in the early scenes as a petulant and spoiled brat, but his performance deepens as the play goes on.

There were some good performances. Emily Goddard was great as Ophelia - her mad scenes were believable and affecting. Brian Lipson's Polonius was touching and nuanced. He made what is often an annoying character incredibly sympathetic - which can be very hard. He was one of the best things about the show.

Alison Whyte's Gertrude was slightly underwhelming. After seeing her Lady Macbeth last year, she was a little too subdued to give the role the gravitas it deserved, however, she is very aware of her worth. The bedroom scene was uncomfortable in places - a sign the director and actors are doing their job.

Andrew Coshan's Laertes and Matthew Connell's Horatio were also really solid.

Thanks to a reasonable breeze, there were a few issues with the sound. Nothing major, but you forgive these sorts of things because you're sitting on a picnic blanket with a drink in your hand.

Also, the play has been abridged. The major speeches are there, but some scenes have been cut short or dropped completely. For the boffins, you know where the gaps are, but they've done a good job keeping the flow of the play.

In all, this is a good basic Hamlet. It's one to take the kids to, with a picnic and take it all in. As always, the Australian Shakespeare Company has done good. They know their market and their setting.

I'm looking forward to Twelfth Night in a few weeks time if I can score a ticket.

Today's Song:

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Academy

Good things happen sometimes which make your head spin a bit. Things that you don't see coming. Things which could change the course of your life if you allow them to happen.

Something good, but completely mind-blowing happened yesterday and I'm still reeling from this.

4th of july party GIF by Lucifer

And no, I didn't find Tom Ellis in budgie smugglers in my flat.

Just after Christmas, I put in a submission to the Faber Writing Academy.  This was done on a bit of a whim. I have one novel which is nearly finished, one that is about 20000 words, which I started in the last year of my Masters. They wanted to see your writing history, a synopsis of your work and 1500 words of your writing. This took me an evening to do. Wrote it up, took the first two chapters of the novel and sent it off.

Three weeks later I get this in my email:

From: Allen and Unwin Faber Writing Academy

To: Pandora Behr

Dear Pandora,

We are absolutely thrilled to inform that you have been accepted into Faber Writing Academy’s Writing a Novel: Stage 1 & Stage 2 courses in Melbourne next year.

Toni Jordan and Paddy O’Reilly, our course directors, assessed your application against an incredibly competitive field and, like us, are excited to welcome you into the program.

Writing a Novel: Stage 1 commences on Tuesday 3 March in 2020. In order to secure your place in the course, you will need to pay a deposit by Tuesday 11 February.


I know I want to take my writing further. I can't not do this.

The course can be viewed as two Masters subjects in novel writing. It's industry based. It puts you nearer to publishers, agents and people who have written novels, which is an art in itself.

Paddy O'Reilly taught me when I was doing a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing in the early noughties. She was one of the best teachers I've ever had.

On the not so good side of things, the course costs near on six grand. Thankfully it can be payed in installments. And I should have a new job in a few weeks.

It's also on a Tuesday night in East Melbourne. Thankfully I normally don't have much on Tuesdays, but I might have to forgo book group for six months. This is not something I want, but with 12 week terms, I can't not go to a class.

And if I do this, I'll have to go back into study mode and throw my everything into writing this novel.

But it is too good an opportunity to turn down.

Yet, there goes my free evenings and weekends for the rest of the year from March.

Ah, the things we do for our art.

On the other good sides of things, I've got an interview at an energy company on Tuesday and calls are coming in. The job will come.

It has to. I have school fees to pay.

I've also discovered Lizzo. She grows on you.

Today's song:

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Review: My Dad Wrote a Porno

Show: My Dad Wrote a Porno

Palais Theatre, St Kilda

Image result for my dad wrote a porno

Podcasts. Either you do them or you don't. 

For those not in the know, My Dad Wrote a Porno is a podcast that runs over five seasons.

The premise of the podcast is three British Broadcasting types, Jamie, James and Alice, get together to discuss Jamie's Dad's home grown erotica, which is for sale on Amazon for very little. The books, called Belinda Blinked, are the 'erotic' tales of one Belinda Blumenthal, a sales manager at Steeles Pot and Pans.

The first line of the first book reads, 'Belinda blinked, it wasn't a dream, the job interviewer had just asked her to remove her jacket and silk blouse...'

The best thing about My Dad Wrote a Porno is it's a complete piss take. It is some of the worst porn you're ever likely to encounter. The books are dreadfully written and the writer, Jamie's Dad, has absolutely no idea about female genitalia, among other things. Part erotic novel, part business manual, part heaven knows what, the intrepid three read out a chapter of the books, per podcast. They are wrong, slightly deviant soft core porn novellas, definitely not politically correct and terrible in every which was. The books are also very, very badly written, and exceptional fodder for one of the funniest podcasts out there.

Anybody who can come up with lines like,  "Her tits hung freely, like pomegranates, " and " Her nipples were like rivets on that ill-fated ship, the Titanic."deserves this sort of fame. 

If you haven't listened to the podcasts, I encourage you to have a look. Just don't listen to them while you're driving. Many an accident has been blamed on the podcast series.

Tonight, Jamie, Alice and James sold out the 2800 seat Palais Theatre in St Kilda in different format, 

I can't say much about what went on, other than they read from a new book, a choose your own adventure on the subject of Belinda's 30th birthday. At various points, the audience, or members of the audience, got to choose the way forward.. 

What proceeded was two and a half hours of hilarity. I can't remember the last time I laughed so long or so hard. Some of this will be my sick and twisted sense of humour.

There was some minimal audience participation. Jamie, Alice and James were all humble and very true to their podcast personae.

I will never look at the conga line with the same eyes.

Part of the joy is Jamie's character accents. Belinda, Bella (oh, Bella...), Des Martin, The Duchess, Toffee Apple Chew... most of the characters return for this big birthday party, which, thanks to two locations given to the audience to decide, are equally as ridiculous as the other.

The show is only for fans of the podcasts. It's pretty much expected you know most of the characters, and the audience lapped it all up with sodden tongues.

This was brilliant fun. Exceptional, albeit very wrong, entertainment.

Today's song:

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Scatter Gun Approach

(Or how to find a professional contracting job in Melbourne in 2020)

Today was a day of job hunting - and lunching - which is never a bad thing. The latter, not the former that is.

Job hunting sucks. It sucks up there with doing the hoovering and cleaning out the shower drains or scrubbing out the wheelie bins. It's not fun - but you have to make it that way to get through it.

Job hunting is one of those tasks that I take on as a game - like Cards Against Humanity. It takes a sick sense of humour and some strategy and a bit of tenacity. It will all come good in the end, but while you're looking, you need to stack your cards, sit back, take your time and wait for everything to come together.And when the time comes, you'll get to play your cards and all will be well with the world and you won't have to look for work until the next time you look for work.

Also, just because you have an interview doesn't mean you stop job hunting. You keep going. You keep going until you have a signed contract in your hand - so just because I had an interview yesterday, which I think when quite well doesn't mean you stop applying for roles.

When it comes to putting in applications, I use a scatter gun approach. There was a course that I went on once which was about summoning the universe. You have to let the universe know you're open to opportunities - which means applying for things, everything, giving yourself a chance to find something. Jobs, unfortunately, don't normally come to you.

If you shoot often enough, something will hit the target eventually.

Some other elements of job hunting that has to be done in the hiatus period a bit more bearable.

1. Make sure you get out of the house and have a conversation with somebody once a day. I have the gym for this, but I also make sure I go and meet friends for lunch / coffee regularly. Don't make job hunting the only thing you do with your time off. Have a life while your looking.

2. Loyalty to one recruitment agency is not a good thing - even if they say otherwise. Recruitment consultants, when it all comes down to it, are just glorified pimps - albeit legal, well paid, not overly threatening pimps. They sell on your services for a lot of money. Isn't that the definition of a pimp?
 When you're looking for work, the only thing you need to do is let them know that 1) you're actively looking. 2) inform them if you have any interviews or offers on the table and 3) promise them transparency. You need a job. You can't rely on one company.

After today's lunch with Glen Waverley, I bumped into an old colleague. We had a chat about recruitment consultants. We're of the same opinion. They are not your friend. Often they are millenials who have little clue and fewer phone manners. When you find a good one, and often they're the ones who've been at the game for a while, stick to them. They are like gemstones and unicorn droppings. The really good ones will call you. The good ones will take your calls and have coffee with you even if you're not working for them. The good ones give you a call when they have something, even though they know you're working for somebody else.

3) Call up your old contacts.  You can't burn bridges as a contractor. When you do, you'll have a VERY good reason as to why you have no contact with the person. Keeping in touch with people is necessary. You never know when something will come up and somebody might want you back. You never know when somebody hears of something going with your skill set and they think of you. It means being a bit sociable and feeling a bit grovelly.

4) Limit your time on the hunt. Job hunting  be a marathon, not a sprint. If you're lucky, you won't have to be hunting for too long, but in the mean time, set your job hunting times. It's not something you can do all day. An hour or so is all you need. Set your time, check out LinkedIn and, put in your applications, get on with your day.

5) Unless you're applying straight to a company or have been asked for one, don't bother with a cover letter. A generic, Dear XXXX, I would love the opportunity to discuss the advertised role or roles like it with you. I believe I've got the skill set you require. Best regards, Me.

Don't waste your time, don't waste theirs - unless they ask for one.

6) For government jobs, where you have to address a lot of criteria, do it well. Be thorough. I'm not good at this - probably why I've never worked in government.

7) If you end up gaining more than one role, go with your gut. Which one is the better fit? It's not always about the money.

8) But saying that, don't devalue yourself. Know your worth. Stick with your worth. Know your bottom line. There is no reason to deviate from that.

9) Keep remembering, it's all a numbers game. Use the scatter gun. Go with your gut, and find a reason to smile.

Just like Cards Against Humanity, the right combination of cards will come.

Today's song:

Monday, January 13, 2020

Best Self Card: 10 Things on the Bucket List

Today was a strange one. I was at home for the day, but I had a job interview, in my lounge room, over the computer. So between 2.30 and 3.30 I was talking to three people in Sydney about a job - which could be good if I get it, but seeing this is the second week of job hunting, if I don't get it, that's fine too. But they seemed like nice people - and it was a pretty rigorous interview.

Once the interview was over, I immediately took of my make up, got back into my active wear and went out for a coffee. It was all a bit surreal.

In line with my doing an hour of writing a day, I had nothing to write about - so I delved into the box - the Best Self Wordsmith box.

I pulled the card. "Write down 10 things on your bucket list."

Not a bad thing to write about.

So here, in no definite order, is my bucket list. This is a bit ironic as I have a meeting with the lawyer about my will tomorrow.

1. Write those books and get them published

Yes, yes, I know. The drafts are under way. One book is at 90000 words, the other at 20000 words. I need to get some priorities around this. But there is a bit of me that thinks I can write something as good as anything else out there that's published. It just has to be done. I'd rather be an author than an instructional designer/technical writer/process analyst, but I am a pragmatist and I like a roof over my head.

2. Walk the Camino Santiago de Compostella

Yes, I really, really want to take myself to the bottom of France and walk the 800 kilometres over to Santiago on the West coast of Spain. It will take a few weeks. It's a long haul thing. It will take planning. I'll probably take the wusses way out and have somebody haul my luggage. But I LOVE this idea. Now my leg has healed after corking my thigh, this is back in my sights.

3. Get a cat or two

I am told I have commitment issues. Okay, I do have commitment issues. But maybe one day I will overcome these and get my own cat - or two. I just travel too much to not feel guilty about having a cat.

4. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

This place looks fascinating. It is also bloody hot and in the middle of nowhere in Cambodia - so yeah, Angkor Wat is on the list.

5. Spend a month or two in New York

I've only been in New York for stopovers - just a few days at a time. I want to get to know this city that I've loved on film and television since I was a child. This also needs coin. Maybe find a job that takes me to New York. Become a famous writer who gets taken to New York for book launches.... we can dream. It's a great city. I can also pop back to Boston and some other places while I'm over there.

6. Piano Lessons

I was deprived of piano lessons as a child. I am quite musical and I played the flute at school, stopping lessons after year 10. I wish I could play the piano. I know it's something you can learn as an adult.

7. The PhD

Not supposed to talk about this, but I think I'd be an okay PhD candidate - something along the lines of working on a topic involving dystopian tropes and the zeitgeist in the creative writing field - praxis and exegesis (or somebody once called it exit Jesus... who know). It's in the back of my mind. I like a challenge, even if it may send me loopy in practice.

8. Get Married

I know. I've been terminally single all my life, but there is something that appeals to me about getting married - or at least shacking up with somebody. It's not that I don't like being single, I love it - but it would be wonderful to share my live with somebody, have somebody to travel with, share the cooking... I just like the idea of it. I don't need the big party or the frilly dress. I'd just like somebody to share my life with.

9. Live in England again

Inside, I'm a Pom. I've always been a Pom on the inside. I fit well in Britain. They accept eccentricities with far more grace over there. They don't put sales tax on books. The beer is more diverse, the pubs better, the chocolate more edible, there is a heap of old stuff to be explored, the documented history is older than 250 years, the weather suits me better even if the politics are on par to here. I just loved living there and I'd love to live there again - but this time legally.

10. Travel to the following place

Apart from New York, Spain and England, some places I'd like to visit:

  • Japan
  • Vietnam
  • France - and do more than Paris
  • Portugal
  • Egypt
  • Turkey
  • Colorado - to see Reindert
  • The Bungle Bungles and the Kimberlies
  • Uluru and KataTjuta (They used to be called Ayre's Rock and The Olgas)
  • More of the Northern Territory
  • Robe, South Australia
  • India again - next time Mumbai (Bombay), Rajasthan and more places down South. 
  • Mexico
  • Argentina and Uraguay
  • Israel
  • Morocco
  • South Africa - to see the animals and to eat Cap Malay curry and sosarties
  • New Zealand - again
  • Colombia
  • Iceland
  • Wilson's Promontory
  • Byron Bay
  • Ubud, Bali - it's my spiritual homeland
There are more places, but I love to travel - just a matter of making it happen.

Today's Song:

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Food Meme

I am supposed to be prepping for an interview tomorrow. The interview is taking place over a video conferencing platform at home - which means I have to get news readered up, and make the top half of me look professional - you know, hair, make up, dress. Down the bottom I'll probably be in Birkenstocks and shorts. Ah well. But I have to do some prep. Instead, I'll get this out the way and then get on with the prep. I ran what I've got in my head over with a friend - he things I'm on the right track. We'll see how we go. It's early days. Keeps the brain busy.

Questions, as always, come from Bev at Sunday Stealing.

I make no apologies for being a foodie. In Australia we have a great food culture - where fresh is best, interesting is wonderful and choice is plentiful - so if I'm a bit disparaging, please understand, we have plenty of options, multicultural influences and we're not beholden to the corn lobby. The less sugar in stuff the better.


Umm, cheese, just - as I'm not really a chocolate person. But I'm not supposed to eat cheese - it makes my blood pressure go up.



03. COFFEE or TEA? 

Both. I don't drink caffeine any more, so my standard coffee is a decaf latte with almond milk. But I also drink tea. Also remember, coming from Melbourne, we have one of the most active coffee cultures in the world. Your barista gets Christmas presents. I front up to my coffee shop with my keep cup and it gets filled without a word. It's fun.


English Muffin


If the French Toast is from Cafe Delish in Caulfield where they use challah bread (Jewish egg bread)  then it's French Toast. If not, it's pancakes, but with lemon juice and sugar.


Both are good. Cream cheese for bagels, yoghurt for most other things. Greek yoghurt, even better. Greek yoghurt from the local yuppy food shop, even better. Must be full fat. The only way to have it.

07. RICE or PASTA?

Probably rice, as I have to eat the gluten free pasta - they are getting better, but it's still not the same.

08. CAKE or PIE?

Probably cake, unless it's my Mum's blackberry pie, which is phenomenal - and the blackberries are grown contraband on the property - blackberries are seen as a noxious weed where I'm from.


Oh, you mean mince. Probably beef. I don't use it much. Chicken mince is good for san choi bao and chicken meatballs, but that is about it. Beef mince is better for everything else. Beef and pork mince are the only way to make home made sausage rolls - and Australia staple.


Hamburgers. The gourmet kind. Though I have a soft spot for IKEA hotdogs.  Saying that, the best hotdogs ever are found at the Keith Roadhouse halfway between Adelaide and Melbourne - where the bun is toasted and then filled with butter, tomato sauce (ketchup) and the sausage. They're awesome.


We call jelly jam. If I can get apricot jam, then it's jam. But I'm very fond of marmalade too - Rose's Lime Marmalade is the bomb.


Ew, neither. Both have their place, but if I think I want cheese I think of a decent soft blue or a good aged cheddar, or heaven forbid I can find it here, ginger stilton - Waitrose in England has it. It's awesome. There are so many cheeses out there, why would you stick to either Swiss or American?


No soda. I live on soda water / fizzy mineral water. Diet soda is filled with chemicals that put holes in your brain.  (Also given up on caffeine - avoiding diet soda takes this out of the equation.)


Lemonade. But again, where does it come from, what's in it, who made it. Iced tea is not bad, but it all comes out of plastic bottles around here. I brew my own kombucha - does that count?


I like both. Only get cherries at Christmas around here.


Chocolate Quik. But American's don't have Milo. Milo is a malted chocolate drink around here which is the bomb.

There are three types of teaspoon in Australia. The level teaspoon, the heaped teaspoon and the milo teaspoon. This is a universal standard.


Waffles, not that you get them very often. Waffle irons are hard to find.


Wholegrain bread - but again, it's best when you get it form some small bakery. If I can get it, sourdough is even better. You can even find good gluten free bread from time to time.


Carrots. Just don't overcook them. Best raw.


I think this is American crap we don't get (thank goodness). If you need something in a put then I'd go decent rice putting or chocolate mousse. Fruit flavoured gelatin? Do you mean jelly? You only get that in hospital or in trifle.


Cold cereal.


Ketchup, or as we call it, tomato sauce. I'm a bogan (redneck). Tomato sauce is a necessary evil.


Mayonnaise - but mustard is wonderful, and it comes in so many ways. I love Dijon mustard, French mustard and for fresh ham sandwiches, hot English mustard. The yellow American stuff is only for IKEA hot dogs. (actually, at IKEA here, they have French mustard for their hot dogs.)


Ketchup - or tomato sauce as we call it. Though mayo has it's place. Both on chips is a decadent option.


Both are good. Kalamata olives, fresh from the deli are the best. I couldn't really tell the difference if my eyes were closed.


Both have their place.


More American stuff. We have our own barbeque culture around here. It's well defined. We don't do the ribs thing unless you're in a specialty American restaurant place. Barbeques to your average Australian is steak, sausages and or chicken on the grill, with salads.

The best barbeques are held at Bunnings on weekend mornings.

This is what an Australian barbeque looks like. Note, the bread should be very fresh and very white, and there should be some crispy bits on the onion. And lashings of tomato sauce. (ketchup).


Scrambled eggs, but I prefer my eggs medium poached - not too runny, not too hard.


Egg replacements? What the hell are egg replacements? Yuck.

The best eggs come from chooks (Chickens / hens - we call 'em chooks) that run around people's back yards. Free range eggs from the supermarket will get bought at a push.


Meat - but veggies are needed with the meat.


Ah, both have their place. For me, take out comes from the local Vietnamese - or Mexican


Good sushi. Really fresh sushi is great. But a good deli sandwich is a good thing too - it depends on the mood.


American thing - no idea. Didn't know there were red and white clams.

If you asked me to choose between a Thai Green Curry and a Thai Red Curry I could give you an answer (Green curry all the way).


Lemon meringue pie. From what I can see, key lime pie is just lime cheesecake. Again the former is an American thing.

A more Australian question would be pavlova or trifle. Pavlova wins easily. I'm not into trifle.


More American things. You don't need ice cream with cake - you do with pie, so pie and ice cream - and clotted cream.


We don't have a canned whip cream culture here. To make whipped cream, you get a carton of cream, a bit of sugar and get the beaters onto it. But I'm a sucker for cake icing - especially cream cheese icing on carrot cake.


Good maple syrup is one of life's joy, but then again so is real honey.

Today's song: