Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Around the Bay in a Day - The Smith Family

The 2010 Smith Family fundraiser Around the Bay in a Day is on again soon and my darling friend is riding 100km from Sorrento to Melbourne this October to raise money for the Smith Families education and learning programs. The Smith Family is hoping to raise $1, 000, 000, but my friend is hoping to raise at least $100, if you can help him out visit the Fundraising Page.

Good luck Dave, you are doing a wonderful thing!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Cakes, the kiss, the party

The engagement party was wonderful, the weather held out for us and we had afternoon tea with forty friends and relatives sitting under a patio, surrounded by nanna food (scones, pikelets, cupcakes, brownies, cookies etc.) and drinks. Some left and others arrived and there were still over twenty people for a BBQ dinner.

One cake for afternoon tea (the big one) and another for after dinner. We received beautiful presents and had the opportunity to catch up with friends and family. It was a very special day.

Thanks to everyone who helped us celebrate our engagement!

PS. Thanks to my sister for the photographs!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Month of Big Events...

Engagement parties and graduations, September has been a month of wonderful events! I have started my literature review and received my copy of Proust's Rememberence of Things Past volume 4 (thanks Lauren)! Life is wonderful.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

I love books...

Thank you to Borders for having 25% off books and free postage, I have just ordered "The House in Paris" by Elizabeth Bowen. Total price $16. 46 (AUD).

I could have bought it from Amazon for one dollar and then paid the $12.49 (US) international shipping. Or on ebay for $18.91 with free postage. But I am happy with my even cheaper Borders purchase.

PS. Banned books week is almost here - 25th Sept to the 2nd Oct

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jane, Harvey and Elizabeth...

Today I finished reading "Jane Eyre" and watched "Milk" - what a contrast - the fettered and frustrating existence of Jane and the tumultuous times of Harvey Milk's rise to political notoriety. I have to admit, that Jane Eyre did not really grab me much until she was proposed to and then I did not want to put the book down. If you have read the book, I am sure you know the section that I mean, if you have not then you really should!

I avoided Victorian Literature for all of my undergraduate degrees and didn't fall into it's clutches until I did a subject during my masters on adaptation and had to read "Sense and Sensibility"- and then damn - it got me. I had to read a whole swag of Austen and Bronte after that to see what it was all about and I still have barely scratched the surface; I mean it is not my area at all and yet I can devour these coquettish novels very quickly and with ashamed joy. I guess I never really considered them very "serious" but they have won me over to a point - I still hate Emma - she is annoying.
Anyway, "Milk" was incredible and I wish that there was a PG version that could be shown in schools, because it deals with so many important topics: human rights, civil rights, freedom of speech, the right to representation, liberty, justice and so on. I felt that it was a really significant film and I am sorry it took me so long to get around to watching it. I found it emotional, the unknown historical context of some of the political issues was astonishing and the use of archival footage was very dynamic. The portrayal of Harvey Milk as a man, a lover, an activist, a politician and an icon was cleverly done; he wasn't particularly martyred or vilified. The film was well paced and introduced ideas well, again especially through the addition of real television footage from the 1970s. Sean Penn was so believable and the film is certainly worth 128 minutes of your life.

Friday at uni I went to three lectures, one on Thesis submission guidelines, one on wiriting reflective journals and a presentation by Dr. Jessica Gildersleeve (lecturer at Griffith and UQ) on Elizabeth Bowen. I must confess that I have never read any Bowen, but after Friday's lecture I will be looking up "The House in Paris" (1935).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Oh to be in San Fran...

If I was in San Fran then I wouldn't be missing out on the Howl Festival. Three days of music, poetry, performance, art and dance. As the website says:

For more than a century,

the East Village has been home to poets, jazz musicians, Vaudeville and Yiddish theatre, artists represented by blue chip galleries and those painting in the subways, rock stars, and performance artists. Building on this tradition and inspired by long time East Village resident Allen Ginsberg's epic poem, the HOWL! Festival was founded in 2003. The mission of HOWL! Festival is to honor, develop, create and produce. With an estimated 100,000 visitors last year, the many performances celebrate local cultural icons and lionize, preserve, and advance the art, history, culture, and counterculture unique to the East Village and Lower East Side.

I was lucky enough to be in San Fran in 2008 when I was studying Ginsberg - and I loved it and can't wait to go back! City Lights bookstore, the Beat Museum, Haight-Ashbury, China Town, Lombard Street etc. etc. It was just fantastic, the people were amazing and it was such a wonderful experience. Here are a few of my pics.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In their own words...

Have you seen the BBC archive collection of British novelists "in their own words"?

Available are sound files of interviews from writers like Virginia Woolf, Christopher Isherwood, Iris Murdock and even Tolkien. Aside from hearing each writers voice, each clip is accompanied with information about the writer, topic of the interview, year etc. What a wonderful resource!

Oh Virginia, you sound so solem, serious and knowledgeable, I would believe anything said in that wonderful voice.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

More Norfolk Island...

Norfolk Island is a wee dot in the middle of the ocean (1610kms ENE of Sydney, 1456kms ESE of Brisbane, 1063kms NNW of Auckland and 772kms SE of Noumea).

They say that the tourists that come to Norfolk are either "Newly weds, or nearly dead", and while grey hair abounded on the flight over and on tour buses we spotted about the Island, a lot of people who belong to the middle section of that statement are certainly missing out.

Despite being ill for the trip, I saw Phillip Island and Nepean Island from my hotel room, I went on drives about the Island and saw Ball Bay, Ansen Bay, One Hundred Acre Woods, walked out to Rocky Point, went to Kingston (the convict settlement), I saw a play ("The Trail of the Fifteen"), went shopping (tax free), went to the Norfolk Island museum, the cyclorama etc. etc. The Island reminded me of parts of New Zealand, Byron Bay and Nimbin in New South Wales.

We were there a week and there was so much more left to do! My partner did some of the tours that I couldn't make it to like the "Wonderland by Night", stories and poetry told in the rain forest that is all lit up. He went on a history tour with Arthur Evans, a Norfolk local who is incredibly interesting and knowledgeable (I did get to meet him - I just missed the tour). The locals were wonderful and I loved the cows roaming about the place everywhere, the Island was exceptionally green and the views from all over the Island were picturesque. It certainly in a too well hidden secret Norfolk Island, I loved it. And of course it was the perfect place to get engaged!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Jostein Gaarder...

Thursday I went and saw Jostein Gaarder at the Brisbane Writers Festival. Most would know him as the author of Sophie's World - the book of letters to a young girl about philosophy. He has returned to letters again, this time in the form of the less romantic but more instant email in his latest book, The Castle in the Pyrenees.

I read it while I was in Norfolk for the week, because despite the wonderful engagement news I spent most of the week in bed sick and have not moved far from bed since I got home. I ventured out to the Writers Festival once, but then was unable to make it to see him speak again or see John Tranter read at the Old Parliament house last night.

I loved Sophie's World, but I have also read The Solitaire Mystery, The Christmas Mystery, Vita Brevis, Through a Glass Darkly and the Ring Master's Daughter. While The Castle in the Pyrenees is a compelling read with two past lovers engaged in correspondence while being miles apart after one chance encounter thirty years after they broke up, I have a problem with part of it. I like that one character was a scientist and the other had become a spiritualist, I enjoyed their banter and reminiscing over their wonderful relationship in their youths. But at a certain point, it becomes like I Know What You Did Last Summer and that ruined a lot of it for me. I have always loved how Gaarder weaves philosophy into his stories and I can forgive him if I think that perhaps that awful movie didn't make it to Norway.

In an act to redeem Jostein Gaarder after what I just wrote about him, he was great on stage. He spoke about his new book and about the doors Sophie's World opened to him; but he spoke about life. The mystery of life, the wonder of it, the fact that every morning he wakes us next to an alien - himself. He looks in the mirror and thinks "Who is that person?" How come I am part of this mystery?

He spoke about two strands of philosophy, the first being ontological - the study of the nature of being and the other strand is about how to live well. So, he said, people say why ask these questions? Well why not, it was not that long ago that we didn't know what the dark side of the moon looked like, now you can buy detailed maps.

He also made a beautiful point that to "believe" something is different than having faith. He might believe that Manchester United will win and even make strong arguments as to why they will win, but it does not mean that they will. In the same way, he can believe in a soul - but to have faith, that is something different.

I do recommend the book and if you have never picked up a Gaarder book before, maybe start with The Solitaire Mystery.