Tuesday, October 26, 2010

for the love of democracy

Last night's Q and A was some of the most thrilling television I have seen in a while. I should mention that before I watched Q and A, I watched Neighbours for the first time in a year, and anything is more riveting than that.

Former Prime Minister John Howard was on the show in order to promote his new autobiography. The show began, and looked like it was going to be as dry and often embarassing as his years in power were. But lucky for the viewers, Q and A had a few surprises in store. I will admit, I was playing Solitaire on my phone while listening and not paying close attention. Howard doesn't seem to have changed one iota in the three years he's been gone, and I guess I wasn't really that interested in what he had to say. Until Tony Jones just happened to mention that none other than David Hicks had a video question for him.

I have to admire the sheer balls of Q and A. I also have to admire our democracy. In Howard's own words (or rather, his deflection of Hicks' question) "isn't it a great country that allows this kind of exchange to occur". What a country we live in, where technology provides us with a means of holding our country's leader's to account. Now, if only they would take some responsibility for their actions, then we might really be getting somewhere. We may be some sort of progressive country that goes places and really achieves things. Sadly, this doesn't look to be the case. Howard was on the defensive again last night, and his default answer was that no matter what, he and Tony Abbott had set up the economy so well that it survived the GFC.

Well done sir! Of course, economy is important, I am well and truly past my days of pretending like it doesn't matter. My immaturity has been replaced by reality and practibility. Surely, though, human life is of equal importance? And since when does pleading guilty make it okay to be tortured and detained without charge? Howard did many great things for our country, the economy being just one of them, but there was many more than disappointing moments in his 11 years as Prime Minister. Last night, in his reasoning for not apologising for the Stolen Generation, Howard had this to say "you apologise for something for which you are responsible. I mean, you express regret or sorrow in relation to something that, you know, upset you." I wonder then about this man's humanity. Last night he clearly expressed very little regret in regards to any of the mistakes and misdemeanors by himself and his Government.

In essence, I am glad he no longer runs this country. Not to say that anyone else is going to do a better job, but after last night's informative and exciting televisual experience (let's not forget the shoe!), I am simply peaceful that the man who in the worst moment disguises his humanity is no longer running the show.

Monday, October 25, 2010

the age of procrastination

Not wanting to have this post sound boring before I even begin, but I have to begin with this. I have two assignments left to complete to finish the semester. One in particular has roused my attention, the one where our essay should lead us to becoming an expert on the topic. I chose to research UNESCO Cities of Literature because I was genuinely interested in the reasoning behind the hype. The reason why Melbourne really can now claim to be the cultural capital of Australia, not that we Melbournians didn't already know this!

The research has been interesting, preserving cultural heritage in the world (among other things) is a fine and noble pursuit if you ask me (oh wait, you didn't). I have been especially struck by one article in particular. An opinion piece, from the Age, 2008, with no specified author. Well, none that I can find. Being a proud Gen Y I'm sure I can find the author of a newspaper article on a website, but the Age has got me this time! My amazing internet scrolling skills aside, this article blabs on about the wonder that is the Melbourne's new title, and then almost unwittingly hits on a key topic that I have (now) decided to focus on in my essay.

Literacy. Oh, to be literate. And what does it really mean? I would call myself a literate person (as opposed to an ambling alliterate asshole). Although I seem to attach some snobbery to the meaning. When I think of myself, 'a literate person', what immediately comes to mind is my hardcopy, green felt and gold gilt, Wordsworth copy of the collected works of Shakespeare. Yes, I have attached literacy to Shakespeare, and perhaps rightly so? If a person reads, comprehends (to whatever extent) and actually enjoys the master of words and literature, surely they should be allowed to don the charming title of 'literate'? And yet, there is surely many fine 'literate' folk out there who either dislike or just can't figure out Shakespeare. Shed some light on your numbers, un-Shakespeareans! Allow me to see your cause and know my argument is not false.

Which brings me to my next question, can literacy change? What with the evolution of the digital age (makes me sound old and as though I wasn't raised by a computer), reading, writing and other associated tasks have altered so radically. Attention spans have, I'm sure, shortened drastically. While I'm yet to find a reliable study to support my claim, I'm sure one will show up in the next few (20) years. With the beauty of 'flicking' (I'm waiting for this one to become a verb, like Googling), the age of procrastination is upon us! This may result in a breed of Gen Y and Z's who are efficient multitaskers, but I wonder as to the future of the book. Who has the time or effort to sit and read and philosophise over the collected works of Shakespeare? Me, obviously, but I'm finding me's few and far between. So can literacy change? How will we define literacy in 50 years? Not that I've even discussed how we define literacy now, and I'm sure this entire post is full of evidence quite contrary to my earlier claim of 'literacy', but Question and Answer is on soon, and I really just wanted to ramble for a short while. Apologies if I have wasted your time, but perhaps you are looking at the future of of what it means to be literate. Enjoy!

*Impressive art, yes?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

muse on music

I can't say I've felt many things here
Yet that words can't describe

I have often wondered if I have a slight version of obsessive compulsive disorder. Nothing of the obvious sort like rearranging my cutlery or washing my hands, none of that boring ordinary stuff for me! No, I think I have a far more interesting, but probably much more common sort of OCD.

Given, I have no idea what classifies this disorder, what symptoms you need to display in order to be given the official title. And don't get me wrong, I am most certainly not making fun of this serious disorder. I once watched a documentary (trash tv more likely) where Dr. Phil put a whole lot of people with obsessive compulsive disorder in a house together, and let me tell you, this is serious business.

For me, it is music. I get obsessed about music. And not like a 15 year old girl who falls in love with the lead singer and has poster's of him and the band plastered all over her walls. No, this is much more serious than that. I have no poster's. I have no over zealous passion for the singer/guitarist/drummer. Perhaps I don't even own any of their CD's (although in some cases...I own all of them). When I get obsessed with a band/song/album it is bad. Bad for other people around me anyway. For example, my most recent obsession has been with Dead Letter Circus, a progressive rock band from Brisbane. Sure, progressive rock is for the slightly self-righteous 'appreciator's' of music. And while I am a very large fan of The Mars Volta and Tool, progressive rock is not necessarily 'my' genre. (Although I just contradicted myself in my own sentence...) But this band....oh this band!

What can be said? Each listening of the two albums gains me access to a new level of appreciation of their music. I honestly cannot explain it. There is just something about their music that touches me so deeply. Some of their songs bring me tears. Other songs make my chest feel like it is going to explode. The interesting part is that I don't know many of the lyrics. It is not 'all about the lyrics' for me. It really is the sounds that these boys create that moves me. And each time I listen, I'm moved at a new level. And then I pick up on a particular line in a song, understand the lyrics, and am moved at an entirely new level.

This band (there are others too, don't worry, they are just the current obsession) creates something in me that I struggle to express in words (strange for me, very confusing and disorienting). I truly wish that everybody could be inside my body when I listen to them. That really is the only way of understanding what they do to me. A great friend of mine and I once had conversation where, although we couldn't really express it, we could understand that music has this effect on both of us. She simply said...do you ever listen to some songs, and you feel like your chest is going to explode and you can't breathe? All I could say was yes, of course, and we understood. It's not even the same band or music for us, but whatever it is, we are both profoundly affected by something in music, in general.

I sincerely applaud musicians. Writing, as wonderful a craft as it is, is not that hard. We are taught language from birth. Creative writing is just a talent that we hone, or it is god-given, or whatever you believe. But music...where does it come from? If I were to philosophise about anything in life, it would be music. It is honestly the one thing that gets to me, that I can't figure out, that I can't understand using either my intellectual or creative brain. I love it, and it stumps me continuously. It moves me and generates me, and I couldn't live without it.

And then I meet those people who just don't get it. I find it quite distressing. The one's who say, I'm not that interested in music. You know, I like it, but I don't need to listen to it. WHAT??!! If I don't listen to any music in a day, I go crazy. If my car's sound system died (touch wood)...I think I would actually die. Not like an over-dramatisation. As in, I believe I would either implode or self-combust. I once lived for five days without a sound system in my house, all I had was my laptop (it has one broken speaker). That was definitely the craziest I have ever been in the last five years, and not crazy in a good way, as anyone who was around me then will testify. I have never succumbed to depression, until about day three of that time. I was known to moan longingly. Like some sort of bizarre dog.
(lyrics taken from Dead Letter Circus...obviously)

The reason why may not be found

Monday, October 18, 2010

due to illness

I made a promise to myself when I began this blog. The promise was to write a post every single day. Indeed, I thought I would do it. Perhaps I don't know myself as well as I'd like to.

I have been very sick though. This is the first excuse. And a good one too, when it's impossible to get out of bed and your housemate makes you tea and toast because your mother lives 2 hours away.

But if I'm really honest with myself, this is just more of the same old, same old. BORING. I have loved the act of writing, of expressing and creating through written language, since I learnt to how to write when I was four. I wrote my first short story when I was six. Given, it definitely needs work (lots of), but this is not the point. Writing is my passion; words move me to emotional extremes far more than movies and music ever have or could (although music is not far behind).

I always 'just wrote'. Nothing was in the way. It was just something I did. Something I loved to do. But lately (since I moved out of home? since my first real relationship? since my crazy university stunts??) writing does not happen as it used to. Something changed, and I don't know what it is. I still feel myself itching inside to get a pen in my hand (or computer) and just scribble (type) away. These days, though, circumstances always seem to get in the way of this. And then I forget my fantastic sentence, or my beautifully articulate paragraph.

And then real sadness is my novel. My baby that I have been writing since I was thirteen. I started that eight years ago. And yet in the last three years I have written something in the vicinity of 1000 words. Pathetic, yes? Sad, yes? Frustrated, me? Yes.

Writing is such a natural expression for me. Why do I put things in my way? Sleep is clearly not more important when I get enough anyway. Nor is money. Nor friends and family and cat. Not that these aren't important, obviously they are, and the latter is very important to me; but why should I let them get in the way of doing what I love? It's is none of these circumstances fault, other people manage to have these circumstances and still write/do whatever it is they love. It is only my decision that gets in the way.

I look forward to the next few months. I will stop letting my nonsense (possibly it just a need to have more drama in my life?) get in my way. I'm moving away from the city for a while, so let's just see what I can pull out, hey?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

an essay on essays and other things

I can't even think where to begin this post. I am so stuck in the world of essay writing it's as though I've temporarly forgotten how to write creatively.
I highly doubt this to be true, though. It is probably due to the fact that my fingers are freezing cold, and somewhat numb, and cannot keep up with my brain at all. Let alone the fact that my heat pack is not doing its job, or the fact that my cat is trying to eat not only my assignment but also my library books. Yes, the charms of domestic life are not always charitable to the creative writer. Add in bills and a mean landlord, and you've got a recipe for tedium and writer's block.
Interestingly, I was intending on writing this post about my lack of enthusiasm for essay writing. Funny how my limp attempts at answering my dull asignment question drove me straight to my new outlet for creative writing, even when the content of such was going to be essays!
All that needs to be said about essays, really, is that I find them boring, and a waste of time. I would much rather write a creative expose on the interpretations of Nick Cave: the enigma, than write a case study about how he has impacted Australian publishing culture. No offense to the lovers of essay writing, as I know you are out there...somewhere, possibly hiding in a hole? This is just one grumpy, cold, annoyed-at-cat, girl's opinion.

So my post would have only been a paragraph long if I had not let my mind wander while my poor, studious little fingers struggled their way around the keyboard. Let's know think about the keyboard itself.
My dad bought me a laptop when I moved out of home and went to university for the first time. Such a sweet and useful gift, I am forever grateful to him for it. However, almost three years later, the keyboard is not in such a lovely state as once it was. The space button chooses not to make a space every four or five times I hit it. Some letters are a little bit like my fingers, grumpy and slow, and take too long to react. In general, the keys are quite sticky (underneath) which makes touch typing a little awkward.
I should have bought a new computer about a year ago. I have been wanting one since then anyway. But the realities that come with moving out of home have prevented me from realising my dream of a wonderful keyboard. Something I never knew about myself, and was subsequently slapped in the face by as soon as I left home, is that I am not excellent at handling my money. I've noticed that I prefer to spend money on nice food, or other similar enjoyments, than save it for a new computer, or something similar (ie. new, unbroken-down car).
I like to enjoy my life right now in the present, which I don't see anything wrong with. I like nice things, I like buying people presents. Until my car breaks down. And my keyboard goes all grumbly on me. Now is when I see the importance of saving, and not splurging every penny that comes my way.
And now I see the perfect opportunity for me to save up big time. After the semester finishes, I am packing my bags and, with kitten in tow, heading up to Bendigo-town to reside with my lovely mother. Work a lot, save a lot, and write a lot. This is my plan. So you should expect to hear a whole lot more from me after Nov 5, and a whole lot of interesting stories from the Goldfields.
Until then, I am stuck with the chilly pettiness of my apartment, and my essay that I do not want to write!

Monday, September 6, 2010

tale of the zucchini imposter

As the title suggests, this is a story about a zucchini.
A zucchini that upon seeing, I proclaimed in delight (in my mind), 'I want roast zucchini!'

Such a delightful idea sent me flying through the supermarket, picking up other similarly fated vegetables - potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, etc. Things I would ordinarily buy to make soup or stirfry with. Not today! Today was the day of the ROAST, the roasting of all things vegetable.

I'm guessing that for most people, the idea of cooking a roast is "no biggie", as they would say in those suburbs which I will not name for sake of keeping my head attached to my body. It is a different story for me.

In the two and half years I have lived away from home, I believe I have cooked one roast. The vegetables of said roast were potato and pumpkin. That is all. Nothing extravagant like zucchini! Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with the roasting process itself. I do, suprisingly, possess enough culinary skills to put vegetables in the oven. Hurrah!

The real problem, the real saga of the zucchini came much before its entry into the oven. After slicing my potato and carrots, and even capsicum, I turned my attention to my beautiful zucchini. I placed said zucchini onto the chopping board and I raised the knife. And I stopped. A look of suprise and confusion passed across my face (I suppose that happened, I unfortunately do not have a mirror in my kitchen for occasions such as this).

Have I ever cut a zucchini in my life? Probably not. If I have, I hold no recollection of it.How does one go about the slicing of this mean green courgette? Surely, it is simple? It is cylindrical, like a carrot, and I know how to cut those. It is larger than a carrot though, like a potato, and presumably cooks quicker than both of these. It is softer than above mentioned vegetables, similar to the delectable capsicum. Using all my skills in slicing sundry other vegetables, I managed to cut and oil my zucchini.

Now, it is in the oven, sizzling it's little heart out. I have come up with a theory from this experience though, one which should have me awarded with some sort of sciency award. A zucchini, otherwise known as a courgette, is not actually its own vegetable. Instead, it is an imposter, pretending to be other vegetables in order to confuse and subdue its enemies. Lucky I have an iron will!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

lost in the Cave man's land

This Sunday I delved into a dark and delirious world. I spent the entire day deep inside the place where genius creativity happens. And all inside a book.

My "contemporary publishing in Australia" assignment gave me several options for a case study. I could have chosen Penguin, or May Gibbs. I could have gone tame. Instead I chose the dark prince, Nick Cave.
Of course, my love of his music was the reason for my choice. I never once considered the difficulty in researching how he has impacted Australia's literary and publishing world, or the fact that everybody likes to review his music rather than his two novels. He was a musician first, so I guess I can forgive on this occassion.

I have a great passion for music, and my passion for books only claims first place in my heart because of my ability to craft a narrative. While not entirely musically talentless, it is not as natural an expression for me as writing is. Even writing poetry does not come as a naturally as the epic tales that seem to spill onto my pages. In regards to music, I am neither a lyrical fanatic, nor a noise enthusiast. It is generally the combination of both that cause a stir in my heart, with a few exceptions.

Nick Cave is, of course, one of those exceptions. I must admit, though I listen to a lot of his music, I have only ever vaguely heard his lyrics. I have never contemplated his words, or the meaning behind them, as I have with other musicians. I am constantly drawn in by his smooth voice that is for my ears the same pleasure as eating Belgian chocolate is for my mouth.

An ex-boyfriend of mine once made me sit and listen to every single word of "Stagger Lee". Not wanting to give too much away, it is essentially the tale of a murderer and his actions. The song contains swear words and violent sexual connotations, and is probably not for the weak hearted. What is most curious is that upon understanding the story of the song, I dismissed it as a one-off. I knew that the Cave I listened to wasn't like this. What I listened to was all beautiful, sweet, and sometimes dark (musically, not necessarily lyrically).

How very wrong I was. How very wrong indeed. This Sunday I dived head first into the biography of a man deeply interested in all things taboo. And while I am still only in the beginning of my now impassioned research into the Black Crow King, I am suffused with creative intent. I want to live like him, in East Berlin (minus the heroin), in my own invented world. This is the haven I seek in my writing, and with the music I listen to. Now I seek to create a world. Does anybody have an attic they would be willing to let me use?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

the boot dilemma

The what-shoes-to-wear-today decision was particularly hard this morning. Not meaning to sound petty, but I spent at least 10 minutes agonizing over what to do. (This amount of time is unusually long for me.)
You see, today I went to the Melbourne Writer's Festival. Also today, it rained. Again, despite the fact that spring is officially here.
I have been contemplating wearing my gumboots for some time now. They are so pretty, and stir exciting memories in me. Memories of mud and music, of laughter and love. The pure exaltation of attending my first ever music festival is the strongest feeling these foot protectors evoke.
Today seemed the perfect today wear said wonder boots.
Except for my trip to the MWF. I would have been quite content to wear my spotted marvels to the festival, but...what if somebody saw me??
Not just anybody, of course, but a somebody? A famous writer, or publisher, or bookstore owner, or...who knows? Someone who, in the future, may be an important connection of mine. Someone who, in my mind at least, was bound to be completely unforgiving of my gaudily decorated beauties.
So I gave in. The idea was too much to bear at 9:30 in the morning (having had no coffee, obviously). I wore my Doc Martens.
My scuffed, old, dirty red Docs.
Perhaps I should've had a coffee first?