Thursday, November 30, 2023

Nothing much to say

It's one of those nights where I have nothing much to say:

I could talk about the fact that I need to wash the mat outside the kitchen door because the cat has left skid marks on it (actually, I'll do that now - short hot wash will get rid of them).

I could talk about how the cat was making a pillow fort on my reading chair today. That was really cute. 

The face of the boy who leaves skid marks on the kitchen mat.

I could talk about the fact that I'm made it to the gym three times this week. I feel virtuous. Nobody needs to see me gloat. 

I could relate how I didn't mind the last season of The Crown. A lot of critics are quite scathing of it. Living in Britain when all this was going on, they have a lot of the outside historical facts correct. I still remember being told about Diana's death by one of my downstairs neighbours, who was distraught. I took her in, gave her a cup of tea and turned on the telly. She was right. And yes, Dominic West is too handsome to play Charles (Josh O'Connor was about right) and Elizabeth Debicki is way too skinny. But I've committed to this series and I will see it through when the last part drops in December. 

I could talk about the Bruce Lehrmann defamation trial (his mother must be proud) but I did that yesterday. 

I could talk about how useless some courier companies can be, but it's late and I don't feel like getting angry. 

I could talk about the book I've just finished, but it wasn't that great. I'll talk more about Clementine Ford's I Don't when I've finished it. She's a remarkable writer. 

Instead, I'm going to find something on Netflix for the next half hour then go to bed. 

See, you can get a blog post out of nearly anything. 

Today's song:

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Can you spell schadenfreude?

Part of the workday was spent keeping an eye on the Guardian newspaper, in particular, the events of the Bruce Lehrmann defamation trial. It's trainwreck journalism. Not so much that the rather odious Mr Lehrmann seems to be being flayed within an inch of his life - that's the good bit. That and what used to be Twitter makes for interesting reading. 

Schadenfreude, much?

It might be. It might not be. 

It's unfortunate that this has become like a sport. That the case has gone forward is one thing. That Brittany Higgins is relaying her story of being raped in the office of Linda Reynolds in Parliament House after a drunken night out is another. We know how her trial went. 

We're hearing how Channel Seven have been paying the rent for Mr Lehrmann for the last year. Like, this smells of something wonderful. 

It's all horrid stuff. 

Not that Bruce Lehrmann is having the blowtorch applied to his perineum. That bit's fine. 

But in a place where 80% of women will endure some sort of sexual harassment in their life and where around 90% of rapes go unreported and in the last fortnight nine women have died at the hands of their partners, you have to applaud this entitled arsehole's discomfort. (We won't say anything about the fact that Lehrmann is facing rape charges in Queensland. Seems he has form with this. )

It feels like I'm baying for blood. 

I'm angry at how Brittany Higgins was treated by the then government. Just as angry as when I heard the details during the trial. 

I'm angry that this self-righteous twat is tying up the courts. Boo hoo, I can't get a job. Yeah.

On my phone is Clementine Ford's new book, I Don't. I've read all of Ford's books. This is excellent. Exquisitely researched, wonderfully written, and enlightening. 

Maybe it's just that I'm over how women are treated and to see this bloke flayed by the court of public opinion feels good. 

Yes, it's schadenfreude. 

It's warranted. 

Today's song:

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Trip to Coles

Walking around Coles after the gym tonight, looking for oat milk and something to nibble on, I kept an ear out for Coles Radio. 

For me, Coles Radio should be played on an FM radio and it will out play Gold FM - radio station of champions. I've only just found out you can stream it on your laptop or phone - which I might just do. Coles, for a mob of bastards, has great music.

Anyway, tonight, as I perused the bachelor's handbags (roast chickens) and what was left in the gluten-free bread, my ear tuned into a song I hadn't heard in years. Spandau Ballet. Round and Round. I mean, when was the last time I heard that?

Music has the ability to take you places. In my case, I was transported to year eleven at high school. How do the kids of the day get through their schooling without Spandau Ballet? I mean, they're one of the best bands in the world? Didn't every heterosexual woman want to be Tony Hadley's girlfriend? Okay, you might have been into John Taylor or Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran, or Roger Taylor from Queen. 

But me, it was Tony Hadley all the way - even though, as I found out much later, he's got a full on North London accent, which is a touch off-putting. 

Regardless, I found my oat milk, a small packet of Doritos and made my way out of Coles, still pondering what the students do at their formals today. How you do slow dance to any song but "True"?

I'm glad I was a teenager of the 80s. 

And I will look into streaming Coles Radio. It's naff, but it's normally my kind of music. 

Today's song: 

Monday, November 27, 2023

The Book Group Long List

 Every year I write this post. Every year, I will make my decision a day or so before the meeting. What am I going to put up for book group?

Yes, this is my current big dilemma. Everybody else has managed to get their book group books in - and this year's list is fantastic, but this doesn't help me. I have to find my books to champion. Two fiction books which are easy to get a hold of, preferably under 500 pages, of literary or very good popular fiction standard and preferably under 500 pages so people have a chance to read the book in the designated month. 

It's harder than you think it's going to be. I take inventory of my to be read pile as well as the books I've read over the last year, pondering what I might want to put up. I also know what the rest of the group are submitting, being the book bitch, or the one who checks to see there's no double ups. This year, we did well. only two people chose the same books. 

Anyway, here is my list of books I'm thinking about putting up. I have all of these in my TBR pile. I'll also give the pros and cons of each book. I have two weeks to decide. 

Strangely, this is one of the hardest decisions I have to make in any given year. 

1) Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens by Shankari Chandran

358 Pages. Family Saga. Sri Lanka. Australian Author.  Woman Author. Goodreads Rating: 4.26

Pro: It won the Miles Franklin award this year. We have read the author before. The blurb on the back says that the book is about family and memory. 

Con: We read her other book Song of the Sun God this year and it wasn't received that well. Mind you, that one didn't win the Miles Franklin. 

2) Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh

304 pages. Historican Fiction. Button pushing. Woman Author. Shortlisted for the Booker. Goodreads Rating: 3.53

Pro: It looks like it might be confronting from the reviews. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Con: It looks like it might be confronting from the reviews. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize. 

I'm really curious about this one, but I'm not sure what the group will think. 

3) Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

449 pages. Literary Fiction. Feminist. Literary. Booker Prize Winner (with Margaret Atwood's The Testaments) Goodreads Rating: 4.30

Pro: I have read this one - listening to it as an audio book. It is incredible. This book is incredible and I want to share it. It's an ambitious book, but it is SOOOOOO rewarding. 

Con: The split focus of the book may not be well received by one or two of our members. 

4) Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward

305 pages. Literary Fiction. Historical Fiction. American Fiction. Woman Author. Goodreads Rating: 3.87

Pro: This is a book about the slavery and the American South. Dipping into the pages, the language is sumptuous. 

Con: We've read a bit about Slavery in the South and it can be a little bit trauma porny. 

5) Small Things Like These / Foster by Claire Keegan

118 and 51 pages respectively. Irish Literature. Woman Author. Booker Prize Shortlisted. Goodreads ratings: 4.20 / 4.33

Pro: Claire Keegan is the absolute bomb. Both books are very short but they pack a punch. As both books are so small, I'd put them up together. They look closely at life in Ireland in the 70s and 80s. 

Con: The book group might not take too well do doing two books, even though both are very short. 

Both of these books are incredible. 

6) Hagseed by Margaret Atwood

292 pages. Literary Fiction. Woman Author. Goodreads Rating: 3.81

Pro: It's Margaret Atwood and she is amazing. It's also based around Shakespeare's The Tempest

Con: After reading Learwife this year, I'm not sure how another retelling of Shakespeare, especially one that is not that well known, will go down. 

7) The Yield by Tara June Winch

340 pages. Literary Fiction. Miles Franklin Winner. Woman Author. Indigenous Content. Goodreads Rating: 4.12

Pro: It's topical and very well reviewed. 

Con: It will depend on what other indigenous content is on this year's list. As it is now a few years old, some people may have read it already. 

8) Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

433 pages. Historical Fiction, Pulitzer Prize winning author. American Fiction. Woman Author. Goodreads Rating: 3.62

Pro: It looks interesting. A different part of America. 

Con: It looks a bit big and perceptions are everything. 

9) The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

337 pages. Literature. American Author. Woman Author. Dysfunctional Families. Goodreads Rating: 4.10

Pro: Ann Patchett is incredible - and not overly controversial. 

Con: She can be a little slow for some. She's a delicate, thoughtful writer, but some see that as lacking punch. 

10) Alone With You in the Ether by Olivie Blake

281 pages. American Author. Different. Goodreads Rating: 3.88

Pro: This has had next to no press over here. It looks interesting, that's all. 

Con: This has had next to no press over here. With an unknown author, it's a gamble. 

Can you see how hard this decision can be. 

I might choose one or two of these books, I might keep on with my search. 

Comments welcome. 

Today's song:

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Driving Ms Dorothy

 The Freemasons and technology are basically mutually exclusive. Now that the banks are all but banning cheques, dragging the order into the realms of internet banking has been difficult. The lodge I'm in finally got it a few years ago - others are battling the system. We'll get there. 

Today's meeting started late. Our Grand Poobah, Dorothy. (Masonic term thanks to the Flintstones) and her sister Rosemary, aged 86 and 87 respectively, were let down when the taxi they ordered failed to show. They had to beg a lift from one of their grandchildren. They arrived about 45 minutes late from the Middle Southern suburbs. Both women were a little discombobulated after being let down by their lack of a ride. 

After the meeting, I asked Dorothy how they were getting home. 

"We'll get a taxi," the more change averse of the two told me. 

"Do you really want to do that? Why don't you get an Uber?" I asked. 

"I don't like Ubers," she told me.

"Why not?"

"They aren't taxis. I can't use my senior's card."

"But you might get an okay fare. Just don't book them during a surge."

"What's a surge."

I didn't have the energy to explain. 

I catch both ubers and taxis, not so regularly here, but they are handy. Ubers are good for planned rides, cabs are better when coming home from town. Cabs have upped their game since the invention ride-share. I also find that ubers smell better and you've got a better chance of a chatty driver. 

After a bit, I asked the other sister, Rosemary, how the two were going to get home down the Nepean Highway. 

"I'm not sure, love. After being let down by the taxis, it might be good to give an uber a try."

"Would you like me to put you in an uber?"

"That might be nice."

"But how will we pay the driver?" 

"I'll pay the driver. You can pay me. They're a bit more reliable than a cab at this time of day."

"Don't they take cash?"

"No, it will go through on my accounts. You can pay me."

Which they did. It was a bit more than the senior card taxi, but not too much more. 

So, the uber was booked. The driver had a 4.95 rating, and a Camry. Preferred Uber Driver car. 

He turned up in the allotted five minutes. 

"Are you Pandora?" he asked as he pulled up. 

"Yep. Takashibu?"


"You'll be taking these two ratbags home." Rosemary and Dorothy smiled at him. 

"See ladies, a nice driver and a nice car." I stuck my head in the open window. It had that nice car tree smell."

"Oh, yes." Takashibu placed their bags in the boot and we got them settled in. 

"Now don't let these women give you any rubbish. I don't want them ruining my good uber rating. Five stars if you get them home safely."

"I think we'll be right," he replied. 

Looking into the back seat, I watched my two friends, both white-haired little old ladies, buckled in like children, and I pondered just how far technology and the internet have come, and how isolating it must be when you don't have access to it. 

Today's song:

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Sunday Stealing: Surveys

 Today's community service activity was donating some plasma, which meant a trip into town to the blood bank, chewing on a number of antacids to stop any metallic tastes coming from the use of the anti-coagulants, and a feed of party sausage rolls once the process was over. All is well. Of course all is well. They even got my vein first time. 

Good questions this week, thanks to Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. How long was your last phone conversation?

I spoke to my mother for about ten minutes this morning. We talk most weekends. She's going to be busy bottling wine tomorrow, so she rang today. 

2. Have you ever dyed your hair?

I've been dyeing my hair since I was around 15. I don't have much of an idea as to what my natural hair colour is, but I'm sure it's not too far off the mid-brown my hairdresser keeps putting on my head. I was a redhead for a long time. I've never gone fully blonde but have had blonde streaks over the years. 

3. What do you have on your feet?

At the moment, nothing. Earlier, when I was out and about, I had my Birkenstock Mayaris on my feet. Love them. 

4. Do people ever mispronounce your name?

Not really. It's a bit hard to bugger up as it's a phonetic name - I mean - Pan-dor-a. It's not hard. My surname occasionally has an errant A left out, but that can be quickly corrected. Telemarketers are the only ones who stuff that up. 

5. Where did you get the shirt you are wearing?

I'm currently wearing a dress that I wore out last night. I found it on one of my writing retreat trading tables. We all bring along clothes that are too good to give away and we sell them on, proceeds going to charity. I've found some great stuff over the retreats. This was a good buy for $20. 

6. Does any part of your body hurt right now?

Not really. I've got a few niggles in my legs from doing some deadlifts with the trap bar. I'm just getting back to the gym after being ill - it's bound to happen, and it's just a few niggles. 

7. Do you drink hard liquor?

Yes. I do like the odd gin and tonic, or sip of single-malt whisky. And rum... and vodka. I like spirits, but they need to be imbibed in moderation. 

8. Have you ever read a book in one sitting?

Yes. Plenty of them. I think I got through a number of the Harry Potter books by spending a day in bed. 

9. Do you like cats?  Why or why not?

I love cats. I own a cat (or he owns me, I am his slave). They are wonderful, independent souls with funny personalities. Adore them. 

10. Do you like the ocean?

Yes, I love the sea. I like being near it, paddling in it, watching it. I'm okay swimming in it as long as it isn't too rough. 

11. Ever think you might have seen a UFO?

No, never seen one of those. I've watched satellites in the sky, saw Halley's comet and even witness the Aurora Australis, but no UFOs. 

12. Do you type fast?

Fairly fast. I reckon I'm up around the 60-80 words a minute speed. I touch type, which makes this doable. I've been typing for long enough. 

13. How long are you usually in the shower for?

Depends on which end of the day. My evening shower is a rinse off the day event, and I'm only under the water for about two minutes. In the morning, I'm a bit more thorough. I'm in the shower for about five minutes - a bit longer if I have to wash my hair. 

14. Chinese food or Mexican food?

Both - and depending on the mood, the day, who I'm with and how hungry I am. I had Chinese last night, but thinking about Mexican, I might have to make fajitas tomorrow. I need to do my food shopping tomorrow. 

15. Do you read and believe your horoscope?

I dabble in astrology, but don't put much credence in astrologers. Some are better than others. Jonathan Cainer used to be amazingly accurate. But astrology needs to be done on a personal level, or read, then taken with a grain of salt. 

Today's song: 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Tay Tay Tribute

Alternative Title: What I learned at the Taylor Swift Tribute Show. 

Last night, I went to Taylor Made, a tribute to Taylor Swift at the Northcote Theatre, a local event, put on by some of the best of Australia's female artists as a consolation to all of those who could not get Taylor Swift tickets. Great idea. Great acts. Great vibe. Just when you're a bit tired from seeing Robbie Williams the night before and after a busy day at work, and you're not that into Taylor Swift, it's not going to go down that well. 

Surrounded by a throng of people who all adore the Tay Tay, happily singing along to performers like Clare Bowditch, Alex the Astronaut, Charley, Clem Ford, Lisa Mitchell (who I came for) and Em Rusciano and her daughter, Marcella (who were the highlight of the acts I saw) was cool. But it wasn't for me. I'd come with a friend, and we agreed, leaving at the intermission was the way to go. We said our goodbyes and went and found a cheeky Chinese down Victoria Street. And it was good. I'd gone, I'd witnessed, I'd enjoyed what I saw, but I'd had sufficient. 

I spent some time with my friends. Even better. 

But I learned some stuff last night. Good stuff. 

1) Attending to your sensory needs keeps you on track

Something the psychologist helped me with earlier in the year. Pay attention to when you know you're going to feel uncomfortable and do something about it early. As a group, we'd got to the theatre a bit early. As the crowd was building, I slipped in my earplugs. These live in a little case attached to my wallet. The Loop Engage earplugs take the ambient noise around you down about 15-20 decibels. They also let you hear conversations clearly. I wore them at the Robbie Williams concert the night before and had no ringing in my ears afterwards. Brilliant. I did the same here, noting the sound meter in the sound box was regularly hitting 90-100 dBs. I was comfortable. 

As I’m not good in crowds, I found a place near the front of the balcony where I wouldn't get shoved about as much. 

And when intermission came, I turned to my mate, got the nod, said goodbye to the others, and left. It's okay to say you've had enough. 

It's taken a lot to get to this point. And my anxiety stayed in check. Result. 

2) Fuck it, just wear it

Looking at my wardrobe for the evening, I was a bit perplexed. It was a Taylor Swift tribute. Melbourne black was not going to cut it. I needed to find a bit of colour. Hmm. Looking through my wardrobe, which is consists of a lot of black, navy, grey and bit of red for good measure, I found this little dress in a bright print. It has those open sleeves. It goes to the knees. It's a polyester material, but who cares. I put it on. I reckoned it was about half a size too small, but not in a bad way. I wore it. 

Turned up to meet the group and was complimented on the dress, comments being made that I wasn't in my normal black. "Yeah, I got this for $10 off the Gunnas Retreat trading table. Nice to think it's been recycled, and the money has gone to charity. Nice to think people thing this frightfully colourful dress suits me. 

3) You're either into country music or rock music - you can't be happily into both

Stick me in front of a rock band, or even better, an alternative rock band and I'm happy. I can do pop music - Robbie Williams is pop. Elton John is pop. Okay, Adele and Ed Sheeran are stretching the friendship, but they're okay - I'd choose not to go to their concerts as I'd be taking the ticket of somebody who adores them.

Taylor Swift started out as a country singer, and a lot of her songs verge on country songs. It's that 'woe-is-me-my-bloke-has-left-me-and-he's a cretin' type songs. Sure, there are some songs which are great. But others, nah - no thanks.

And this too, is okay. 

So, it was worth the price of the ticket to learn these things. If you're a Taylor Swift fan you'd love the night. If you like country music and want to see a different take on some of her songs, go - it's worth it to see the line up.

Me, I was at my happiest last night sharing some prawn spring rolls and drunken noodles at my favourite dodgy Chinese restaurant (which made The Age Good Food guide a few weeks ago - Bastards - that's my secret place.)

Today's song:

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Robbie Williams

I am Peter Pan. I’m a likely lad. I’m an imperfect human being. I am me. You don’t like it, tough.

Robbie Williams screams this with every fibre of his being. And we love him for it.

Sitting up in the nosebleed section of AAMI Park last night, berated myself for not dipping into Robbie Williams’ music more often. Williams is a show man, an entertainer. Okay, he doesn’t have the angst of The Pixies or the cerebral undertones of Talking Heads, but he puts on a bloody good show, he, his backup band and dancers are all on point and they are all fantastic. He’s also chatty, so you get a run down about him and his life is like, what he thinks about Take That, and a whole lot of other things, love, life, family…

I think of Robbie Williams, and I am immediately taken back to North London, Holmdale Road, where Angels is playing in the kitchen on repeat. I takes me back to Lehman Brothers, when it was a company housed by Liverpool Street Station. It takes me back to easier, yet more difficult times in England.

And yeah, as last night proved, I can sing along to his first three albums without an issue. He’s Robbie Freaking Williams. I was in my twenties in London. Of course, I can sing along with him.

Robbie Williams is a middle-aged man. He admits to this. The bum you see in the first Take That clip, is not the bum of a 49-year-old man. He admits that his arse is going south. Thankfully, his life, and his energy, are not. Thankfully too, his middle-aged bum stayed in his trousers. His love of life, his love of music, and his love of the audience shine through.

Starting off with Let Me Entertain You, an ebullient Williams took us through his back catalogue, with a couple of Take That songs thrown in for good measure. Kids, Rock DJ, Betterman, Strong, a couple of swing standards, which he does such a good job of. Robbie Williams is pure entertainment. It’s who he is.

After a quick break, he came out wearing an Australian Cricket shirt, spouted his love for Shane Warne, sang the John Farnham classic, You’re the Voice, and finished up with Angels, which is still one of the best songs ever written.

And that was that. It was over. And like the rest of the full stadium, we were sad it was over. Two hours of excellent entertainment. 

The wave of people tried to make their way home.

As a stadium concert, I couldn’t fault it. Fun. A little edgy. Funny. On point. Just wonderful. 

And though I'm not Robbie's biggest fan, I'd go again in a heartbeat. I loved going to a concert where I could sing along to every track. 

Today's song: 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

It's all in the way you look at it

 Tonight's trip out to deepest, darkest Carlton to see Stop Making Sense has been postponed, which when the news came though, I was rather pleased. There's two big nights of entertainment ahead, a night in was not going to hurt. 

I meandered home after work, taking the time to get my eyebrows done at Myer, taking in the very strange Christmas windows, collecting my mail, having some dinner, and then home. 

Listening to Matthew Perry's book on my phone, I get a lot about what he's saying. We shared a birthday, although he was a year younger and I've got my addictive tendencies under control. It's a sad book in many ways. We've just got to the part where he's auditioning for Friends. Listening to him read his book. it's like having Chander tell the tale.

Anyway, I get home. I do some housework. I feed the cat. I have a read. And a nap on the couch. 

And it comes the time to sit down and do some writing. Lucifer is asleep on my office chair. This is a normal thing. 

I pick him up and carry him into the bedroom. No reason to have him be uncomfortable. 

The light is turned on and I look to put him down on the bed. He looks and feels a bit guilty

Little bugger has yacked up a furball on the duvet.


But we have to look at the good things in this tale of woe. 

  • It's only one furball. 
  • I'm home to change the bedding and soak the duvet cover in soaker, ready for washing tomorrow. 
  • Tomorrow is going to be a good drying day. 
  • I get clean sheets tonight. Love clean sheet night. 
  • I didn't find said cat yak as I was going to bed. 
  • And the cat is fine.
Cats puke periodically. They generally vomit in places which are very inconvenient - like on the duvet. They are still cheaper to keep and less smelly and expensive than children. And they don't answer back, even if they give you side-eye.

It's all in the way you look at it. 

Today's song: 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

The Best Cover

 Find below one of the most magnificent covers I've ever heard. 

It's one of my favourite Pixies songs. 

And Postmodern Jukebox are just amazing. 

I've had a big night. Gym and book group. 

No writing tonight.

Just enjoy the music. 

Today's song:

Monday, November 20, 2023

Tap Dance Recitals and other Joys

 This is my week of music, and it started on the weekend. 

It's going from the ridiculous to the sublime. 

Friday there's a Taylor Swift Tribute concert in Northcote. I'm not Taylor Swift's greatest fan, I don't mind her stuff, but it's a bit poppy for me, Regardless, the acts that are playing - Alex the Astronaut, Kate Miller-Heidke, Lisa Miller... Australian artists I like, I'll go for that. Plus, it's a night out with the girls from the retreats - always good value. 

Thursday is Robbie Williams at AAMI Park. I've never been into AAMI Park, but I do like Robbie Williams. It will take me back to the 90s, probably like everybody else in the audience. I'm told he puts on a great show.  I'm taking over a ticket that Jay's friend forgot about before booking a ticket to Bali. 

Wednesday is going to be great. Another Talking Heads tragic and I are heading to the Nova to see Jonathan Demme's Stop Making Sense. I've seen many clips from this, but never the whole movie. I can't wait. Stop Making Sense is one of my most favourite albums. Seminal album from a stellar band. (and yes, I can sing the whole thing - my friend has been warned.)

Tomorrow night is book group. 

Tonight, I'm having a nice, quiet one. 

Yesterday, was support a friend day. My darling cat sitter is in a choir. She talks about it a lot and yesterday, they were putting on a recital at the Brunswick Ballroom. I've had demos of a lot of the songs from her over the last year, and being a supportive friend, I made my way out to Sydney Road for the concert. 

They were really good. Sure, it's a mob of boomers singing, but they were happy boomers, and they were in tune. I know a couple of other choir members. Another friend of friends and an old workmate. They had a blast. And the songs were great. I was keen to see what they were going to do with Lou Reed - and they did a great version of Satellite of Love, although they didn't have to wear the 3D glasses to be effective. I also loved how they put Julia Gillard's Misogyny Speech to Donna Summer's I Will Survive

My friend has been at me to join the choir. I can't sing. Not worth the trouble. Another funny moment came when she introduced me to some other choir members. I was introduced as "Lucifer's Mum." She'd told them all about my funny little black cat who was sitting in her cupboard. 

Lucifer's Mum. Phah!

Then there was the tap dancing. 

I went on spec. 

I went because I wanted to catch up with a friend. 

I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into. If I'd know that this was an all-ages tap dance school in the end of year show

There is a reason why people tap dance. I think it has something to do with the fact that it's just a little ridiculous. I mean, you go out there in noisy shoes and dance in unison to old songs. 

It didn't go on for long. 

People were enjoying themselves - that's the main thing.

And it didn't go on for long. 

But some marijuana would have helped. 

Today's song: 

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Sunday Stealing: Thanksgiving

 It's the start of what I will call Musical week, so I might have to make this brief, and there are lots of things to go to. 

Something else. Thanksgiving is not a thing in Australia. The only time you will go to a Thanksgiving bash is when you have American friends or family who insist on doing something, normally on the weekend after the designated Thursday. This is the only reason why I know I like sweet potatoes and marshmallow - to the Australian palate this sounds gross, but it's actually quite nice. 

Questions, as always, have been provided by Bev at Sunday Stealing

1.  People I'd like to thank and why?

First and foremost, I really want to thank my old French teacher for instilling me with the ability to learn another language. She was instrumental in me learning how learn and absorb languages. I should drop her a line over Facebook. I doubt she'll remember me, but it would be nice to say thank you. I owe here a lot. 

2. Something I rebelled against as a kid.

PE, Physical Education, Sport - what ever you want to call it, I hated it at school. Strange thing is now I love exercise and hate when I don't get exercise in. 

3. What I need to accomplish before the end of the year.

I don't need to do this, but I would like to get 20,000 words of my novel down by the end of the year. I've sucked at NaNoWriMo, but I'd like to do some writing for me, not just work writing or this blog.

4. Guilty pleasures right now.

I have discovered Red Rock Deli Honey Mustard potato chips. They are grouse. I'm also binging Lessons in Chemistry on Apple TV+. I loved the book and I'm loving the show, even though there are some differences. 

5. Local landmarks.

The Skipping Girl Vinegar sign which is up the road. She was one of the first neon signs in Melbourne and she still skips her way into the night. 

6. Cause or purpose I deeply believe in.

This is probably contentious for the American audience, but I am very passionate about abortion rights. It's a woman's body, it's a woman's choice. Full stop. Period. It should be seen as a medical procedure. Sure, there need to be checks and balances, but it is a very necessary procedure and it's nobody's business but that of the woman and her doctor. Nuff said. 

7. Things I never learned to do.

Things I have never done or learned to do (as yet):

  • Be married
  • Water ski
  • Ride a motorbike
  • Speak German
  • Fly a plane
  • Cook a roast dinner
  • Completely understand rugby union
  • Kill fish after I've caught them.

8. Seasonal traditions I’m always excited for.

We are going into summer. I don't like summer that much but I do like spending time in beer gardens in the evening over Summer. Beer gardens, with a light meal and beer and some friends - great way to spend a balmy evening. I'm also looking forward to three weeks off work. Not looking forward to the no pay, but a few weeks off will be great. That and playing beach cricket. 

9. Something I’d like to be mentored on

I would love a novel mentor. Somebody to whom I can show pages, get some critical feedback and somebody to shove a boot up my arse now and then. Writing is such a lonely pursuit at times.

10. Exotic animals I wish I could keep as pets

Can I have a red panda please. Lucifer won't like it, but I think they're cute.

11. Something normal to me, that might be odd to others

Ironing. I love ironing. Nobody else does, but I find it relaxing. 

12. The last book I quit reading and why

I quit very few books. I will normally persevere. I have never bothered going back to The Hobbit after 40 years. It's boring. I've not read the Narnia books for the same reason. 

13. Right now, I appreciate...

Quiet time. My cat. Calling my cat Lucifer, then being introduced at an event as Lucifer's Mother. I thought that was quite cute. 

14. When “the holiday season” starts for me

When I turn off my work computer for the last time before going on a break. Remember, it's summer here. It's not a time to hunker down, keep warmm light a fire and all that. Just being off with a drink in my hand in somebody else's back yard in enough. 

15. Holiday foods and treats I love the most

Prawns. And cassata. I love prawns and we have a lot of them over Christmas. And I make a very good cassata in honor of my aunt who is no longer with us. She had a birthday on Christmas Day and we always made her one of these as her birthday cake. 

16. “Terrible” movies that I actually like

Some would say that The Princess Bride is an awful movie, but I love it. The Room is astoundingly awful, but it's a good laugh. Many people don't like baseball movies, but I love them. 

17. Cooking all day for holiday dinner vs. ordering carry-out

Ah, I've never cooked a full Christmas dinner, although at Blarney's place, I'm in charge of glazing the ham any given year. But I still like a home cooked meal on Christmas Day. 

18. If I were trapped in a holiday movie, I’d pick...

Possibly Love, Actually, if only to tear Alan Rickman a new one for messing about on Emma Thompson. That film makes me smile.

19. Which holiday tradition I wish lasted all year long

I love this tradition you find in Iceland (or one of the Scandinavian Countries) where books are given for Christmas and people, after dinner, can go off an read those books. Sounds like heaven. 

20. Favorite books, music, tv, movies and music this month

Favourite Books of the month. I'm currently reading Paddy O'Reilly's Other Houses, which is a treat, as well as listening to David Grann's Killers of the Flower Moon, which is also excellent. 

Favourite Music: I'm boning up on Taylor Swift for a tribute concert on Friday. I can take or leave Tay Tay, but it's fun. I'm going because I like the artists who are doing the tributing. 

Favourite TV: I'll keep going on about Lessons in Chemistry, which is streaming on Apple +. Superb television. 

Favourite movies: I saw Saltburn yesterday. Loved it. Just my cup of tea. 

Today's song:

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Movie Review: Saltburn

 Movie Number 38 of 2023

The Movie: Saltburn

The Cinema: Hoyts Victoria Gardens

Stars: 4

I love a good retelling of a story, and Saltburn does a great job of retelling two English favourites - Brideshead Revisited and The Talented Mr Ripley, both in equal measure and in nature. I was keen to see it after hearing that the film was written and directed by Emerald Fennell, who did the same with the remarkable Promising Young Woman. 

This film was a hoot, although it did slightly lose its way in places, but not for long and not often.

The film tells the story Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan), a scholarship kid at Oxford who is having a hard time fitting in. Making matters worse, his tutorial partner, Farleigh (Ashleigh Madekwe) is a rich twat who doesn't make things any easier for him. Oliver is drawn to Felix (Jacob Elordi), who after a seeming act of kindness takes him under his wing, eventually inviting him home to the family pile, Saltburn, for the summer. There we meet his aristocratic and frankly barmy family, father Sir James (Richard E.Grant - wonderful seeing him act again), mother Elspeth (another great turn by Rosamund Pike), Poor Dear Pamela (Carey Mulligan an a fantastic cameo), his fragile sister Venetia ( and a scary butler, Duncan (Paul Rhys)

But the best way to describe this is that this is a mix of Brideshead Revisited and The Talented Mr Ripley, becoming a bit more unhinged as the film goes on. What I loved about this is that Emerald Fennell, an Oxford Scholar herself, was a part of this world at one stage, and she appears to know it well. She also said that in writing Saltburn, she wanted the audience to feel some sympathies for some very unlikeable characters. She succeeds in this. 

There's a lot to love about this film. Not only are Fennell's writing and direction up to her previous high standards, the cinematography is awesome. Linus Sandgren has filmed this in an untraditional 1.33:1 ratio, making it feel like you're peeping in on the action, rather that having it all out there. 

The scenes at the country estate were filmed at Drayton House in Northamptonshire, one that has never been used as a film set before. The house is only available for viewing by appointment, and its glorious house and grounds make for the perfect location. Not being filmed before adds to the charm. 

This film, however, belongs to Barry Keoghan and Jacob Elordi. The former, who won an Oscar for The Banshees of Inisherin, is perfect as the shy, awkward Oliver, while Jacob Elordi personifies the easy charm of the beloved rich kid. The will they/wont they sentiments and the fact that you will not see a lot of what happens coming put Saltburn in the easy thriller category. 

It's definintely worth a look, especially if you like your films English and a little unhinged. Oh, and after seeing this you will never look at Sophie Ellis-Bextor's Murder on the Dancefloor in the same light. 

Today's song: 

Friday, November 17, 2023


I equate the airport before 9 a.m. on any given weekday akin to that John Brack painting, Collins Street, 5 p.m. 

Gone are the pork pie and fedora hats, only to be replaced by black suits, crisp white shirts and work trainers, the ones that don't see the outside other than footpaths between work and the station. Briefcases are now laptop bags and back packs. Nobody speaks to one another, unless they are colleagues, or the odd family who has strayed onto one of these early flights. They stick out like a pimple on a pumpkin. 

I was one of these people this morning, as I stumbled off the red-eye from Darwin at 6.45 this morning. I was in my best Melbourne summer black. A loose black t-shirt and a pair of black, wide-legged linen trousers, my feet in Birkenstocks. My white trainers were in my suitcase, hopefully making it onto my next flight. This felt a little incongruous, as I left Darwin, where it was 30 degrees and muggy at midnight, while Sydney was an overcast, damp 15 degrees.  

You see, Qantas, in their infinite wisdom, have fucked up the flights to Melbourne. Gone is the wet season red eye direct back from Melbourne - instead their only direct flights are during the day (which doesn't fit with work) or there are flights that leave after work, but it means getting home around 1 a.m. My only other option was to do the double hop and pop in at Sydney for 45 minutes to change planes. 

It's strange being back in a place that I once knew so intimately. At one stage I was up there once a month. They're trying to gentrify the place. Gone is the redundant travellator. The shops are now more high-end. The post office has gone, replaced by yet another glitzy boutique. The food concessions remain tragic filled with underwhelming brown food. The Krispy Kreme shop always has a queue in front of it. I've no idea why. The Victoria's Secret shop has gone, replaced with a high end perfumerie. There appears to be two Mecca Cosmeticas. And there's the book shop, which sells more than just airport novels. 

It's the high-end nature of the shops that puts me off a bit. Really, at 7 am, the terminal is just a glorified bus or train station. Part of me wishes there was a better, less expensive convenience shop. (There is a good one in Darwin, but its expensive, and the only thing open at midnight other than the bar). 

Like the Melbourne Qantas terminal, there's plenty of building work around the place. Lots of wooden screens hiding a multitude of sins. We'll see what comes of it.

Then it comes time to board the plane. It's ten past seven. There are no announcements. They just open the gates and the black clad, backpack sporting people silently made their way onto the plane in an orderly fashion, just as if they were catching a bus or a train. 

It's a bit different to the 8 p.m. regular flight to Darwin which has been dubbed the FIFO Express. These flights are just shuttles for business people, like myself, to get from city to city. 

The romance of air travel has gone. 

Today's song: 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

The Night Off

It's not really a night off as I'm getting on the Red Eye to Sydney at 1 a.m. but tonight, before getting into the Uber to go the airport, I get to spend some time relaxing, packing and generally not having to talk to people for an evening. It's never a bad thing. 

I've a few things to do. 
  • Write this
  • Put my recycling in the recycling bin on the fourth floor
  • Watch Bridesmaids - because it still makes me laugh and it's the only decent thing on terrestrial telly at the moment (note to self, bring my chromecast next time so I can watch Netflix on the big screen here)
  • Finish packing
  • Do a few more lines of knitting
  • Get Uber Eats for dinner instead of going out
  • Do some stretching with my trusty resistance band
Then, just after eleven, I'll get my Uber to the airport. I keep checking the Qantas app to make sure the plane isn't late or cancelled. So far, so good. They let us keep the room for the day if we're taking the red eye in case something happens. 

We've got this Darwin thing to a fine art, though there was a part of me, this afternoon, who would love to drive up here one day. Yes, I know it's three- or four-days drive. Yes, I know it's boring. But cruising down the Stuart Highway this afternoon in the comfortable work car, there was the temptation to keep on going. There's something rather romantic about a road trip. 

I better throw the last of my things in my bag, clean my teeth and pray I get some sleep on the plane.

The Comfort of Randoms

 As contractors here in Darwin, we have a rule. Do not go out alone on the streets after 8 p.m.

There is safety in numbers. 

Although Darwin is not inherently dangerous, there are different dangers here of which you need to be aware. There are more itinerant people per capita roaming the empty streets at night. In larger cities you don't see it as much as there are more people around the place. And just as I don't go down Victoria Street, Richmond alone after about 8 p.m. Chances are nothing is going to happen, but you never know. Also, after some nasty violent occurrences and the odd dodgy run in, it's a rule we tend to stick to. Sure, if you're in a group you're fine, just as you are catching a taxi or Uber. You just need to be a little more aware of your surroundings. 

I'm writing this as the lights of a divvy van flash outside the Woolies on Cavanagh Street. It's 10 p.m. This happens regularly. 

Tonight, my team walked back from the wharf after taking a sunset dinner cruise. Other than the prevalence of rude boomers, we had a lovely night. The meal was great. There were lots of prawns and oysters. The sunset was gorgeous. It was all good. And walking back into the city, there were plenty of people about. No drama at all. 

On the boat, we managed to pick up a random, as is the custom in Darwin. Her name was Jenny, who had just got off the Ghan, a midwife from Melbourne. She was sitting by herself. We invited her to join us and she made for pleasant company. The addition of a random also stopped us from talking work. 

After the cruise, we made our way back into town. We talked about Darwin at night. She wasn't aware of being in town after dark. I'm a bit surprised her hotel didn't warn her about a few places. (Our hotel will often give us the lay of the land speech on check in.)

We were joined by another random, Peter from Quebec. An older gentleman, we'd had a chat at the buffet on the boat and he knew Jenny from the Ghan. Nice fellow. 

"You know, you can really feel the intent on the street. I'm glad I'm walking back with a group."

"So am I."

"It's a wonderful place, but it feels off at night."

"You've got it."

A sixty-something gent has picked it up. It feels a bit strange after dark on the streets. He went off to his hotel in the other direction after five minutes. 

My colleagues wanted to kick on after the boat. I needed to get back home, start packing and have some time out. It was a 200 metre well-lit walk to the hotel from the bar where the crew were going. 

"I'm going to be alright." I told them. 

And I was. 

But I stood a bit closer to a nice fellow with his takeaway dinner - he looked like an accountant, as I was crossing Cavenagh Street. 

And I picked up some Dutch tourists going to the hotel for the last hundred metres of the walk. We were staying at the same place. 

It's not that I felt unsafe. It just felt more comfortable walking with the randoms. 

And on the good side, most people feel the same. And they are friendly. I was given a mango on the way home tonight. A couple in the lift had a tray of them and they offered me one. People strike up conversations in all sorts of places. It's worse than being on a bus in Adelaide, where everybody talks to you. People are genuinely nice. 

But you still don't wander the streets alone after dark if you can help it. 

Today's song: 

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Good Steak

 Steak isn't something I have that often. I like it, but it's a sometimes food. I don't mind cooking it, and when I do, I tend to get a small piece of Porterhouse and cook it with onions and mushrooms and it's wonderful. Steak isn't something I get at pubs or restaurants, it's too expensive. 

Except when I'm in Darwin. 

Tonight, a friend and I went to the Cavanagh Hotel. 

The Cav is a bit of a legendary place. It's where I've run into Merv Hughes on a number of occasions. It's where you'll find me with a pint of alcoholic ginger beer in my hand (because why not, it's that or Hard Solo). It's where my project team will go on a Monday night as a rite of passage. 

Tonight, I went with a friend to the Cav. 

I was going to have the chicken salad. I was talking about the Bang Bang Chicken Salad until I got to the cash register, where I said, "Hmm, Bang Bang Chicken Salad or Steak."

The block behind the cash register was in and ebullient mood. "Of course, you're having steak, dahhhling. This is the Cav."

He's right, the steak at the Cav is legendary. 

I ordered the smallest steak I could see. $45 for a small Scotch Fillet. Cooked rare with chimichurri sauce, some chips and salad. 

It's sort of healthy. I don't do it very often. 

It wasn't a massive steak. 

It was cooked to perfection. 

The knife slid through it like butter. It was juicy. It was seared over a flame on the grill - we could see that from the open kitchen. 

It tasted amazing. 

And yes, it is worthwhile going to a place that is known for its steaks to have it done well. 

It doesn't necessarily have to be big. A 300 gram Scotch Fillet is just enough when you're hungry, but it's not like your eyes are bigger than your stomach. They have much bigger T-bone steaks which could feed a family of six quite easily (or one Merv Hughes). They have other pub classics. 

But dinner was good tonight. Once every so often, a good steak is a good thing. 

Today's song: 

Monday, November 13, 2023

The Hair Pin

 I bought two things for myself in France, or more pointedly, the South of France. A pair of ceramic poppy earrings and a hair pin, a simple arrangement, made from wrought iron, about six inches long. I loved both of these items. I adore poppies and I love bringing home simple items, like hair pins. Hair pins are something I use, as my long curly hair keeps them well. I loved the earrings too. Simple, glazed, made from fired terracotta. Loved them. I say loved them as I have not been able to find them. I've looked everywhere for them. Gone through pockets and bags and suitcases. I can't find them. Disappeared into the ether like my gorgeous holiday. 

And as for the hair pin, this simple bit of wrought iron, well that got confiscated at the airport yesterday. 

Not happy, Jan. 

And yes, this was my own stupid fault. I knew in the back of my mind that a semi-sharp, artisan hairpin, with a loop like Mr Curly's hair at the end of it, made of iron, might set off the metal detectors. I thought I'd put it in my toiletries bag which was then placed in my suitcase which went into checked luggage. Instead, it found its way into my make up bag, which was placed in my backpack, along with two laptops, two books and various other stuff that goes with me in my cabin bag. I also had my knitting in this bag, as you do. It's good to have a beanie on a set of circular needles. 

Needless to say, I my bag set off the metal detectors at the airport. 

The bag was scanned and scanned again. 

The Little Hitlers at the gate asked to inspect this errant object, along with my knitting. 

They held up the hair pin.

"You can't take this on board," they told me. 

"It's a hair pin."

"It's metal. It still can't go on board. You can check it through in that bag," they told me pointing at my backpack.

"My back pack has two laptops in it. I can't check that in." Would you trust your laptops to Qantas baggage handlers? I think not. 

"Well, you can't take this on board." The security officer held it between her fingers like it was a dead rat. 

"Can I post it back to myself. It has some sentimental value."


"So, you will let me take my knitting through, but not a steel hair pin?"

"It's metal, that's the rules."

I did want to point out the absurdity of the fact that I could you do just as much damage with a pair of aluminium knitting needles than I could with a six-inch piece of slightly-rusted iron. You don't make a fuss. You don't argue more than this. I let them throw my lovely hair pin into the confiscated bin, ready to be destroyed with the nail scissors, files, pocketknives and whatever else they decide to take off people. I didn't want to chance my arm. They let my knitting through - though again, what is the difference between aluminium and wrought iron, other than one was attached to a half-done beanie and ball of wool. 

With sadness, I made my way to the gate, miffed, knowing that I will need to go back to Sommieres (or find somebody who is going back to Sommieres) to go into the Rusty Circle down the main drag to buy me another ten euro hair pin and some poppy earrings. I'll pay you back if I don't get back there first. 

(On the good side of things, I found the poppy earrings. They were in with my tarot cards. Found them as I was doing a reading at lunchtime. It made my day.)

Today's song:

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Movie Review: The Marvels

 Movie Number 37 of 2023

The Movie: The Marvels

The Cinema: Hoyts Victoria Gardens

Stars: 4 (On the proviso that you're MCU* literate) 

Are you thinking of seeing The Marvels? I will ask you the following:

  • Have you seen the show Ms Marvel on Disney?
  • Did you see Captain Marvel?
  • Do you know what is a flurken is? 
If you don't, you've got a bit of homework to do. Going into this without a decent grounding in the MCU* would be difficult. I'm a bit of a Marvel junkie so I was alright, but I could see how others would struggle. 

Not that this makes The Marvels a bad film. As Marvel films go, it's up there with for action, effects and kick ass girl power, but you do need to know who's who in the zoo. It also runs under two hours - a rarity for Marvel films - which is never a bad thing. 

According to the films is about:

"Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel has reclaimed her identity from the tyrannical Kree and taken revenge on the Supreme Intelligence. But unintended consequences see Carol shouldering the burden of a destabilized universe. When her duties send her to an anomalous wormhole linked to a Kree revolutionary, her powers become entangled with that of Jersey City super-fan, Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel, and Carol's estranged niece, now S.A.B.E.R. astronaut Captain Monica Rambeau. Together, this unlikely trio must team-up and learn to work in concert to save the universe as "The Marvels."

Does that make sense? If you're up on your MCU you'll get it. If not, well, yeah. 

What I really liked about this was that it built on what we already know. Captain Marvel (the wonderful Bree Larson) has a conscience, but she also keeps her trademark wit and snark. Ms Marvel, Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) holds her own - an unknown character if you haven't watched Ms Marvel - but she's Marvel's first Muslim superhero. And Teyonah Parris is great as Monica Rambeau, Carol Danvers' (Captain Marvel's) god-daughter, now astronaut rounds out the three main characters, who are fighting the Kree, headed up by Dar-Benn (Zawe Ashton). As baddies go, she's bad, but not Thanos bad. 

Oh, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is also trying to hold earth together, complete with Kamela/Ms Marvel's parents and Goose. 

Ah, Goose. This is one of the best things about Marvel. Goose is a flurken. Don't know what a Flurken is? You're going to have to watch a few more Marvel films to get just how important Goose really is. For anybody who owns a cat, you'll love flurkens too. Some of the film's funniest moments come from the interactions with Goose and his throng. But Goose has always been a scene stealer. He's a flurken, of course he wins hearts. 

Nia DaCosta's direction keeps things moving forward, and it's interesting to see that she's had a hand with a trio of female screenwriters to give this a more woman-centric feel - which is a bit unusual for Marvel films, but it does go some way to addressing the balance. 

In all, this is okay. Critics haven't been that kind, but I found it an enjoyable, if not a bit silly diversion. If you're MCU literate, you'll probably enjoy it. If not, give it a miss. 

* MCU = Marvel Cinematic Universe

Today's song: 

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Sunday Stealing: Food

 I have a funny feeling today's questions are going to be a bit silly. Not sure I'm in the mood for silly questions, but we will give them a go. 

Questions, as always, have been provided by Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. If you were a vegetable, which one would you be, and would you ever let yourself be smothered in cheese?

I'm probably best seen as a potato. I've got lots of uses, I can be very likable and I would love to be smothered in cheese, even if it isn't that good for me. 

2. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be, and how long do you think it would take before you got sick of it?

Smoked salmon. I could never get sick of smoked salmon. I remember the first time I tried it clearly. It's incredible stuff. I like that you only need a little bit of it too. 

3. Would you rather have fingers made of licorice or spaghetti noodles for hair?

Stupid question. Next. 

4. What's the most unusual pizza topping combination you can think of that might actually taste surprisingly good?

This may be an Australian thing, but pickled beetroot and goats cheese on a pizza might go down surprisingly well. I can see it - many could not. It might need a potato base to show its best form. 

5. If you were an ice cream flavor, what would be your name, and what would the ingredients be?

Again, another strange flavour mix, but white chocolate and wasabi would be my flavour. I've only had it once, but it was understated and a little bit spicy. Loved it. 

6. If you could make a smoothie out of any three foods, which ones would you choose, and what would you name your concoction?

Can I please have mango, passionfruit and orange juice in my smoothing. I'd call it a bog standard. 

7. What's the funniest thing you've ever seen someone do with food?

I've seen children throw a lot of that - and that can be a funny thing. 

8. If your favorite food could talk, what do you think it would say about you?

"Can I get in your belly, please?"  Silly question. Next. 

9. If you were a chef, what outrageous names would you give to your dishes to make them more interesting?

This isn't something I'm into. Food is food. Tell me what I'm eating or I won't eat it. (Yes. I'm in one of those moods today). Next. 

10. If you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be, and what food do you think they'd be surprised to see on the menu?

I'd love to have dinner with William Shakespeare. I don't think I'd be surprised by a rather dull menu, but I would love to see what his table manners are like. 

11. What's the weirdest or grossest thing you've ever eaten just to impress someone else?

I thought pickled herring was going to be gross, but my Swedish housemates at the time egged me on and I worked out that I like them. Picked fish - who knew?

12. If breakfast cereals were characters in a TV show, which cereal would be the comedic sidekick, and which one would be the evil villain?

I don't eat cereals that have characters. I think it might be an American thing. That reminds me, I have to bag up my muesli to take with me to Darwin for my breakfast. Hippy breakfast foods don't have characters. 

13. If you could turn one vegetable into a superpower, which one would it be, and what could you do with it?

Silly question. Next. 

14. What do you think aliens would say about our strange Earth foods if they came to visit?

Yeah, not feeling the questions this week. Next. 

15. If foods had personalities, which two foods would make the weirdest couple, and why?

Sorry I haven't played along this week. I've got other things to do thank give vegetables personalities. I'll come again next week. It happens.

Today's song: 

Friday, November 10, 2023

Theatre Review: Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

 The Play: Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

The Company: Melbourne Theatre Company

The Theatre: The Arts Centre, Fairfax Studio

Stars: 5

Until December 9

I love it when an actor embodies a character. In living memory I've been in awe at Amanda Muggleton playing Maria Callas. There was Miriam Margolyes in I'll Eat You Last. Oh, and Bernadette Robinson in Songs for Nobodies

Zahra Newman joins this group with her encapsulation of Billie Holliday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill. 

She is amazing.

Although this is a play, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill is more a performance. The Fairfax Studio has been turned into an iconic Philadelphia nightclub. There are audience members on the stage, their presence ripe for the picking. Behind the microphone is the band. Kim Purling, who plays Jimmy Powers on the piano. Dan Witton is on the bass and Edward York is on the drums. For all intents and purposes, it 1959 and Holiday is nearing the end of her life. If you went to see her, you wouldn't know what sort of performance you were going to see. Over the hour and a half of the play, you get to see into elements of her life, and her downfall. 

And Newman takes this all in her stride. Obviously, there's been a lot of vocal coaching done over a very long time, but Newman turns herself into Billie Holiday, from every smirk, eyebrow raise, sneer and stumble. She is absolutely phenomenal. Over the play she descends into the darkness of drink and drugs - and again, Newman is on point. Holiday's stories are tinged with sadness and horror, from the story of how her father died, to her experiencing extreme racial prejudice in the Deep South, to her battles with her family, this is more than a few songs being cobbled together on as a play. 

Billie and the band play many of her standards. ‘God Bless the Child’, ‘What a Little Moonlight Can Do’, ‘Somebody’s on My Mind’ all turn up, along with the haunting 'Strange Fruit' (which if you haven't heard of it, look it up - it's an incredible, haunting song.)

Lanie Robertson's play is tightly run but gives the cast some free reign. When somebody's phone alarm went off early in the play, the audience member was roasted (and rightly so). This happened where the cast didn't miss a beat. It was also a timely reminder to turn off your phone. 

I highly recommend this play, not only for Zahra Newman's amazing performance, or the thought-provoking script, or the wonderful set. I also came for the music. I like jazz. I love this era of music. A piano, a bass and some drums and I am happy. 

Beg, borrow, steal or buy a ticket. They're going to be talking about this show for a while to come. 

Today's song: 

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Bubble Tea

 My weakness while I've been recuperating - okay, anytime really, is bubble tea. 

It's evil stuff, but there is something comforting about it. 

Like who had the bright idea to take tea, infuse it with milk, and ice, and all sorts of other things, then add pearls, or other bits of fruit to the bottom of the cup, then give you a big thick straw to drink it down with? I mean, it's probably not good for you. I stay away from the milky ones. My go to is Oolong Tea infused with Lychee cordial, with aloe pearls. This has a lot of ice added to it. Once the tea has gone, I tend to top up the cup with cold dry ginger ale to get the last of the aloe pearls up. 

Okay, looking at the interwebs, it seems bubble tea, or boba, was invented in Taiwan in the mid-Eighties, when somebody had the forethought to put tapioca pearls in cold, milky tea. It went gangbusters from there. 

I know that bubble tea is bad for the environment. The plastic cups. The plastic lids that are soldered onto the plastic cups. The local Gong Cha, who in the past have been horrible to their staff, have just swapped out plastic straws for cardboard ones. It's good for the environment, but the paper straws get manky, really quickly. I've also noticed that the cups can be recycled. 

And I always go for the straight tea ones - none of the milky ones when seem to slosh around your stomach - not for me. The ones without milk are superlative. 

And yes, I know it's full of sugar. 

I remember getting a bubble tea for a friend's child - he was about 16 at the time. I got a World's Greatest Aunty badge for that effort. (Strangely, said child is now in his early twenties - we have a very similar sense of humour - must have rubbed off on him over the years.)

But bubble tea is good stuff. 

I've just slurped the last of the aloe pearls from the cup of ginger ale. 

It's a little luxury. 

Today's song: 

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Wednesday Night French

 I got home on time, fed the cat, fed myself and made my way out to Wednesday night French. In my desire to keep my French skills up, and learn more and become more proficient, I went onto and found this group, which meets up once a month on a Wednesday night where people of all experience and ability can meet up and speak French. The cafe is five minutes' drive away. What would I have to lose?

Turns out, nothing. 

On turning up to this very cute bar on Bridge Road at the allotted time, I found some people speaking French. And it was on for the next two hours. 

I've not used MeetUp before but have heard good things about it. The platform allows you to meet up with people who have similar interests, be it movies, bushwalking, swimming... you name it. In my case, it was French Conversation. After the trip in October, I want to keep up my language skills as well as meet a few new people with whom I can speak French with. 

And they were really nice people. I sat with the bulk of people who have reasonable skills, a couple of native speakers and a couple of newbies. 

And everybody was lovely. 

It was a good two hours. The bar got a bit noisy at times, but nothing too bad. 

But it was so nice to speak French again for a bit.

I'm doing my daily minutes on the Duolingo app still. I'm on a 425-day streak at the moment. 

I don't know when I'll be going back to France of when I might use these skills again, but it feels right to turn up for a few hours to flex my French knowledge.

It's once a month. It costs nothing. I'm meeting different people?

There is nothing to lose. 

Today's song:

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Movie Review: Killers of the Flower Moon

 Movie Number 36 of 2023

The Movie: Killers of the Flower Moon

The Cinema: Hoyts Victoria Gardens

Stars: 4

Martin Scorsese is a genius. There, I've said it. And sure, the 81-year-old director, writer and producer has had a lifetime to perfect his craft, but Killers of the Flower Moon shows Scorsese at his best. The acting, the direction, the screenplay, the cinematography are all top-notch. It also tells a very important story, one which not many people will have heard of, and to great effect. 

Before I give this film the once over, I have to warn anybody looking at going to see this of two things. Firstly, it is a bit grizzly in places. Thankfully these scenes are short, sharp and used in a non-gratuitous way. The second is that this film is over three and a half hours long. The time goes quickly, but this isn't a film you go to for a quick pick me up. It's long, involved, confronting and a bit of a slog in places - but it's very worthwhile. It was unfortunately made to feel a bit longer by the people next to me talking in loud voices intermittently. I moved seats about halfway through, giving up in disgust. 

Killers of the Flower Moon tells the story of the Osage people. Rotten describes this as, "Based on David Grann's broadly lauded best-selling book, "Killers of the Flower Moon" is set in 1920s Oklahoma and depicts the serial murder of members of the oil-wealthy Osage Nation, a string of brutal crimes that came to be known as the Reign of Terror."

And brutal it is. We watch as Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio) comes back from World War One to work for his uncle, William Hale (Robert De Niro), who is the overseer and local businessman who has his fingers in many pies. In the background, over time, many of the Osage tribe, who have negotiated oil rights and gained much wealth from this. However, with the money, the Osage have no power. The whites are taking huge advantage of the tribe, not allowing them to spend their money, marrying to take their rights away, performing large scale insurance fraud. It's the wild west at its worst. 

Ernest, after starting up as a chauffeur in the town, meets and marries Mollie (Lily Gladstone), a daughter of one of the prominent first nations families, and with her mother and sisters, has access to a lot of money - even if she has to ask her protector to use the funds. Mollie is not in the best of health. Of her sisters, they have all made questionable marriages to white men, and all are dead by the halfway mark in the film. 

Of the obvious murders, none are investigated until Mollie begs some outside assistance from the President to send the F.B.I. This story takes up the last hour of the film.  

This has everything you expect from a Scorsese film. DiCaprio, De Nero and Gladstone put in Oscar-worthy performances. What's surprising is seeing DiCaprio play a man who is almost simple. Ernest Burkhart is not so much simple, but gullible, doing the bidding of his uncle, Bill 'King' Hale. Lily Gladtone's understated performance as Mollie, a woman of few words is incredible. She holds the film brilliantly as her family are busy dying around her. 

There are some fantastic cameos near the end. Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser and John Lithgow turn up in the courtroom scenes near the end. The First Nations cast are also inspiring. 

This is also a treat for the eyes. The Rodrigo Prieto's cinematography and Thelma Schoonmacher's editing make this a visual feast, showing the rolling hills and barren nature of Osage County to great effect. The last few minutes, shown as a radio play, with a cameo by Scorsese is also effective. 

It has also been noted in reviews that Scorsese ensured the involvement of the Osage people throughout production. This film is telling an important story. It does not feel in any way exploitative. 

This won't be for everybody. The film's length seems oppressive. But Killers of the Flower Moon is really worth watching - it's too important to miss, even if it is to see how White Man's greed, corruption and cruelty can decimate a nation. 

Today's song:

Monday, November 6, 2023


 "What are your doing tomorrow?"


"Nothing at all?"

"I might sleep in, go to the gym, do some writing, torment the cat, go for a walk, maybe see a movie."

"You're not watching the race?"


"Or going to a barbeque."

"Nup. There are better reasons to eat charred meat and drink beer."

"You don't commemorate this all-hallowed day?"

"Nup. It's a gazetted day off, I can't do anything about it. I live in Melbourne, I'm not allowed to work. We never had the day off when I was a kid, but I'm from Adelaide. I think we had another horse race day when I was a child."

"Have you ever watched the Cup?"

"Not since I was a child. I have no interest. It's a horse race. I'm not into horse racing. I don't like the gambling. For all the good owners and trainers, there are a lot of bad ones too. It's a rich people's sport idolised by the poor. Why would I want anything to do with horse racing?"


"I'm not stopping anybody else doing something for it, I just don't see the point of it. Like the day off before the AFL grand final."

"You're not into sport then?"

"Not really."

"That's a bit un-Australian."

"If that's so, strip me of my Australian passport and send me to England or France. I don't care."

I had a version of this conversation three times today. 

I have no interest in horse racing.

I'm not fond of the reports of animal cruelty you hear from race tracks (and I know it's not all trainers and stables - just like not all men beat their partners.)

I don't like how the day glorifies gambling and drinking. 

I think that as a community we can move past what might have been worth celebrating 100 years ago and find new things to commemorate, in keeping with the times. 

I say Nup to the Cup. 

Not stopping anybody else doing anything. 

It's just not for me. 

Today's song

Sunday, November 5, 2023

NaNoWriMo Guilt

 Writing is a horrid vocation. Absolutely horrid. No matter what you do, you never seem to do enough, or do it well enough, and it leaves you wracked with guilt. 

Even worse, when you set yourself a goal. 

And you watch those goals go through the rearview mirror and never see them again. 

And you're once again wracked by guilt. 

So I set myself a NaNoWriMo goal. 

NaNoWriMo is an annual, international event. It asks you to write 50,000 in the month of November on your given project. 

I set myself this target, and promptly fell ill. Today's been the first day I've felt normal enough to write anything more than a blog post complaining about feeling ill. 

So as of now, five days in, I have 1264 words written. By rights, by the end of this day, to keep on track, I'd be wanting to have around 8500 words on the page. It hasn't happened. 

Today got derailed by friends dropping over, breakfast out, lots of washing and a few episodes of Friends. 

I reckon I might plant myself in the State Library on Melbourne Cup Day and see if I can catch up a bit. 

The struggle is real. Hoping some inspiration comes with the decrease in snot. 

I hate missing deadlines. 

Today's song: 

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Sunday Stealing: ABC

 I'm just happy to be upright and able to write. After four days in bed with something that probably was COVID, not that the tests were saying this. It's just nice not coughing or falling down in a big heap. And to be able to concentrate for more than a few minutes. I'm even doing the ironing, which has been sitting there all week. I must be better. 

 So, here's this week's questions, brought to us by Bev at Sunday Stealing.                                                                                                                                                                                 

A - Ambition: 

To be happy. Is that such a bad ambition?

B - Birthday: 

It's in mid-August. It's normally a cold and wet day, being winter in Australia. I enjoyed my birthdays more when I was living in England. 

C - Computer: 

I have three computers at home. All run Windows - I've never been able to convert to a Mac. Other than the work laptop, there's my normal laptop and a smaller one which I take travelling. Sometimes you need a screen and an iPad won't cut it. 

D - Dream: 

I rarely dream. I used to be in a dream group, but I felt like I was letting down the team for not dreaming regularly. 

E - Exercise:

I am looking forward to exercising again after being sick for a week. I love walking and doing weights. Best feeling in the world - which some could say is a strange thing. I'm hoping to go to the gym tomorrow morning for some gentle weights and stretching to get myself back into the game. While I was on holidays I was averaging 20,000 steps a day. I loved that. 

F - Favorite Food:

Ice cream. It's good for you. 

For something a bit more sensible, I'll go with Mum's roast lamb. It's the best. 

G - Garden: 

I like visiting gardens, but I don't have one of my own. The nearest thing I have to a garden is the pots of cat grass that sit in the windowsill growing so that Lucifer and munch on them. The pots are in strict rotation. I'm also trying to revive the spider plant he chewed down to the nub while I was away. He's a but funny like that. 

H - Hobby:

I love to knit. Which reminds me, I do need to finish off a hat before I go on retreat in early March next year. I haven't been doing much knitting of late. 

I - Idol:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was an amazing woman. A real trailblazer. As an Australian Idol, Julia Gillard, our one and only female Prime Minister gets a nod. She got a lot done under some terrible conditions (horrid working environment and press coverage). 

J - Job:

I have a day job as a technical writer. It's okay. A good use of my skills. 

K - Kids:

I don't have any. Smelly and expensive things. Don't know if I'm missing much. 

L - Location:

I am currently residing in Naarm, on Wurundjeri Land, which is part of the Kulin Nation. 

It's also known as Melbourne. 

Australia is starting to take up the traditional names of the lands on which with live and work. I'm on board with this. 

M - Military:..

Something to be quietly supported, but that is about it. I'm not fond of guns or war. I can see why it's there but I don't have to like it. But I'll never diss anybody for their military service. They give their lives for the country, and for that, I'm proud of them. 

N - Name or Nickname:

My nickname, which is in common use, is Panda. I always give the name Panda to baristas, and they always raise an eyebrow. It often needs to be followed with the comment, "Like the bear. " In French, that translats to , "Je m'appelle Panda. Comme d'ours." 

O - Optimist or Pessimist:

I'm definitely an optimist. 

P - Pets:

I have the world's most charming black cat called Lucifer, Many say he is not charming, but I think he's wonderful. He's just a bit misunderstood. 

Q - Quote:

"I'd like to live like a poor man - just with lots of money." Pablo Picasso. 

R - Reads:

I am currently reading Yellowface by Rebecca F. Kuang. It's okay - very understandable from a writer's perspective. 

My current audiobook is Unruly: The Ridiculous History of England's Kings and Queens by David Mitchell. It was advertised on the tube while I was in London. I'm loving every minute of this. it's hilarious. 

S - School:

There is a part of me that ponders doing a PhD, then I get real, and work out that I like having money and sanity and continue on the path of trying to write a book. 

T - Travel:

Is a necessity of life and should be done as often as possible. Short trips, long trips - both need to be done. 

U - Unfulfilled ambition:

To be a doctor. I'm glad I never became one, but I still wonder what that alternative universe would be like. 

V - Vacation spot:

I would say anywhere with a pool, but the South of France stole my heart away a few weeks ago. I'm not sure if I will ever get it back. 

W - Wardrobe:

If you mean what do I wear - probably best called Melbourne Utilitarian. Lots of black, cotton, wide legged trousers and loose tops. I go for comfort over fashion. Too old for real fashion, but I have my own style. 

X - X-tra facts about me:

I've learned to walk a couple of times thanks to operations on my legs when I was a kid. 

Y - Years online:

Far too many. I've been using the internet since the mid 90s. 

Z - Zodiac sign:

I'm a Leo. If you want to get more in depth, I'm a Leo/Virgo cuspy, with a Capricorn ascendant and a Cancer moon, with a five planet stellium in Virgo (Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Uranus and Pluto). I hang out with astrologers. I know these things. 

Today's song: