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Thursday, 14 February 2008
A few of my favorite things
Topic: Whatever

I love books, reading, and good causes, not necessarily in that order.  And today (I like to think it's to make up for the stomach-turning dreck being churned out by corporations desperate to make me buy something chocolate and/or shiny and/or red and/or disgustingly tacky before nightfall) the internet has given me all three.  Internet, I love you.

I spent a lot of time reading when I went to my grandparents' houses when I was younger - especially when I reached the age where I was too young to be welcomed into the adults' conversations, and too old to find playing with my siblings or cousins entertaining for very long.  For some reason, my favorite place to read was on the stairs.  I don't really know why.  Maybe because both my grandparents' houses had out-of-the-way staircases that weren't heavily trafficked, where I could reliably go mostly undisturbed without entirely separating myself from everything else going on.  Whatever the reasons, I spent a lot of time tucked away on the stairs, reading. 

I would've thought I was in heaven if I'd had a staircase that was a library at the same time:

(more pictures here, and a hat tip to 50 Books) 

What generates even more bookish happiness, though, is the announcement that the Dewey Donation System, after a hiatus last year, will be launching its 2008 book drive on Monday, 18 February.  Dewey got its start five years ago as a humble little book drive on Pamie.com and just grew and grew.  I think I discovered it during the post-Katrina drive in 2006, and following the updates and the thank you letters from the librarians was amazing.  I may just spend the weekend reading about past book drives as I wait to hear about this year's, and whether there's something my very broke self can contribute.

8:07 PM GMT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008 8:18 PM GMT
Thursday, 8 November 2007
What do you know...
Topic: Whatever

My blog provider and my wretched dial-up connection decided to cooperate today.  Well, I'm assuming they did.  The proof will be in what happens after I hit the "Post" button, but usually I can't even get to the post entry page, so this is encouraging.

Wish it had happened on a day when I actually had something I wanted to say.

I haven't even read anything recently that's stuck with me all that strongly.  No, I take that back.  Pamie.com has recently come back to life with some great posts, and links to other striking TV writers' blogs, that explain the writers' strike from the writers' perspective.  Among other things, the writers explain why they think it's important to garner broad-based support for union action, especially in a business environment that's grown so hostile to unions.  I'd barely paid attention to the strike myself, since I don't watch much TV at all, but Pamie and the other writers have persuaded me that I should be, and their accounts of days on the picket line are eye-opening.

9:08 PM GMT | Post Comment | Permalink
Wednesday, 20 June 2007
Technical Difficulties
Topic: Whatever
Hello, my half-dozen readers.  Have you missed me?  Unfortunately, my recent switch to dial-up (since I moved into my own place) seems to be playing havoc with my ability to access this site.  So posts are likely to be few and far between until I can afford faster service.  Wish me luck on the job hunt!

10:27 PM BST | Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 21 January 2007
Oh deeah
Topic: Whatever

This response to a Metafilter post about the added r's that crop up in certain English (including the UK, American regional and Australian) accents made me laugh until my stomach hurt.  It's so true.  This is just one reason why it's useless for an all-American team to bother with pub trivia here.

12:19 PM GMT | Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 6 July 2008 8:52 PM BST
Monday, 20 November 2006
Losing all sense of time
Topic: Whatever

I've tried, since I've started this blog, not to go more than a week without posting, just so my half-dozen loyal readers (lovely, fabulous, wonderful people, all of you) will know that I haven't disappeared from the face of the earth or completely lost my mind under thesis pressure.  But lately I'm finding it hard to remember when I last posted because time either flies or crawls and either way, I've lost track of it completely.  I couldn't believe it when I checked the date of my last post today and realized that it was just last weekend I was in Sydney.  It feels like it was ages ago.  I may as well not even have gone, my memories of it are so hazy at the moment.  

Yes, my entire life is disappearing into the thesis vortex.  I know that complaint has appeared in this space before.  But it bugs me so much.  I can't seem to retain information that isn't about my thesis, even when I'm out trying to relax it's there in the back of my brain, and I realised this weekend that I have no idea what I'm going to do with myself when I'm done with it.  I don't know if I'll be relieved, or if I'll collapse under the weight of all that time without any projects or deadlines whatsoever.  An endless vista of days with nothing required of me.  I don't know if it's a dream, or a horror show waiting to happen.  A question I'm possibly beginning to hate more than 'How's your thesis going?' is 'So, what are you going to do after this?'  

As for how my thesis is going . . . well, it is going, so that's something, at least.  I think I have a better idea what to do with the second chapter, but it still needs a lot of work, and I'm just not thinking about the third one right now.  It's still evolving, which I'm a little concerned about.  It seems like if I'd done this right, I'd be pretty clear by now on what I'm trying to say and what should be in my thesis, not still figuring it all out.  But it's getting there.  I think.  I hope. 

Saturday, 14 October 2006
Culcha 'n stuff
Topic: Whatever

As a part of my effort to not be focused on my thesis to the point of complete and total dullness (and because by the end of the day Friday I was so wrung out I couldn't have worked if I'd wanted to) I actually did something non-academic and entertaining last night.  I was still home by midnight, but it was something, at least.

The Melbourne Fringe Festival has been on for a week or two now, and my friend Flor has a friend who is an actor who had a show on at the festival called Penny Machinations.  It's a really interesting concept - performances of a few minutes' duration, set mostly in tents that allow for only 1 or 2 audience members, and which may require interaction with the actors.  We started out by going on a 'tour' of North Melbourne with a demented guide.  It was fun, improvisational humor that traded on awkwardness and public embarrassment.  It was a fun way to start, and a good way to ease in to the show because it involved a small group, not a one-on-one interaction. 

I saw 'The Silhouetted Lady' alone, and was scolded by Flor for picking 'The Bell Witch' for my performance, instead of the highly recommended 'Buried Alive', but I've never liked stories about being buried alive or otherwise confined in small spaces.  'The Bell Witch' was creepy enough for me.  I was impressed by how effective it was - it's a simple enough story, but having it told by someone whose silhouette was all I could see was unsettling.  

Flor and I saw 'The Barina of Mystery' together, and I was glad for the company, because I might've gotten a bit maudlin on my own.  It's an odd little piece that takes place in a car.  It's sort of a dance - set to music, predictable patterns, no dialogue.  And it was so evocative of all the summer road trips I've taken with Kat,  sitting in the back seat, watching as she and Mar, or she and BP bitch and banter and mess with each other and carry on.  It made me wistful for those summers.  

Finally, 'Pick-A-Chair', in which the chair you pick, out of three possible options, determines the story two actors perform for you.  I happened to pick the chair that went with a piece about two friends saying a prolonged and difficult goodbye.  Which, ouch.  It wasn't all that long ago I had scenes like that with some of my friends, and it won't be long at all until I have to go through it again.  It was very well done - I felt voyeuristic, almost intrusive, sitting not three feet away from the actors.

The final event of the evening involved me and Flor cramming ourselves into a repurposed wardrobe with three strangers as part of the Melbourne Photobooth Project.  Nobody had tried to fit five people in there before.  It was snug, and hot, and the bass from the band playing outside made the booth vibrate to the point where it felt it would fall in on us, but we did it.  

7:36 AM BST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 14 October 2006 1:43 PM BST
Sunday, 1 October 2006
Cutting loose
Topic: Whatever

I finally did it - I finally allowed myself a day to not think about my thesis, or anything academic at all, really.  I got up, took a walk, lazed around the house, and went shopping, all while resolutely not thinking about uni. 

Then I went to Papa Bear's 40th birthday party in the afternoon, and got to see what happens when a houseful of kids and their parents get a chance to cut loose.  And ... wow.  Chaos.  Kids everywhere all afternoon, from weeks-old babies to 8-year-olds.  Those that could walk had tacit permission to run a bit wild because, well, how on earth was anyone going to stop a mob of kids hopped up on sodas and fistfuls of chips?  They were lovely kids, though, for the most part - no fights, nothing broken, no serious mischief, even.  But there were just so many of them.  

As the afternoon wore on into evening, the kids faded away, many of them carried out slung sleepily over parents' shoulders.  There was still a fair-sized crowd around 9:00, though, and there wasn't a stampede for the door when the karaoke machine came out.  Yes.  Karaoke.  Worse, karaoke captured on video camera.  Thanks to Mama Bear calling me out, the world is now blessed with a video record of my interpretation of 'I Will Survive', accompanied by two four-year-old back-up dancers.  Someone will get a good laugh out of that one in future years.  

7:16 AM BST | Post Comment | Permalink
Thursday, 28 September 2006
Must stop writing when tired
Topic: Whatever

Nothing I wrote last night makes any sense.  What little work I managed to do on the presentation draft is disjointed, and I managed to make Brunswick sound like some sort of zoo for 'unusual' people when what I was trying to say is that one of the things I love about living in Brunswick (or really, living in most cities) is that I'm constantly reminded that the range of what's 'normal' for people is so much wider than what I was used to, growing up as I did in a series of suburbs and small towns, where for the most part, there was quite a lot of homogeneity.  For all of the neighborhood segregation that does still happen in cities along lines of class and race and so on, there are plenty of places where significant overlap happens, and in the Melbourne area, Brunswick happens to be one of them.  And I enjoy living here because of that.  

Did that make sense?  Need more caffeine . . . 

10:31 PM BST | Post Comment | Permalink
Sunday, 17 September 2006
Missed it!
Topic: Whatever

One of the things I love about Australia?  The fact that there's a National Poetry Week.  Which, despite the lovely reminders from Ampersand Duck, I managed to miss commenting on myself, in the whirl of essay writing (done, and handed in on time, if not under word count).  But I was just reminded of this old favorite, so I'm going to use National Poetry Week as my excuse for posting it:


Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.

~Dorothy Parker 


Ah, Dorothy - brevity, SAT words, semi-colons, and acerbic wit.  What's not to love? 

6:57 AM BST | Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 11 September 2006
Topic: Whatever
It seems like Tripod has got their comments system working again.  If you've got a second, could you try posting a comment on this post to see if whatever stupid bug was plaguing it before has been worked out?  Thanks!

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