Friday, July 29, 2005

Lonely as a whisper on a star chase

A lot of the music I used to listen to in high school no longer does much for me. The occasional blast from the past is fun but often the songs that seemed to really move me back then have lost their impact. That's why it's such a thrill when something still has the very same personal kick. I listened to Queen's A Day at the Races today and realised that certain bits set my heart racing, quite literally, in just the same way they used to. Hard to describe this, it's like a smell or a taste catapulting you into a very specific memory. It wasn't associated with any particular moment or event, I just loved it (still do) and I loved Queen (still do). A Day at the Races seems to be no-one's favourite Queen album, but it and the first Greatest Hits volume were the first ones I owned. Or, which someone taped for me off their older sibling's LP actually. Thank goodness for someone's older sibling, with a taste for Pink Floyd and Queen, or it would have been all top 40 and taping the Top 8 at 8 off the radio. Yep, I did that too.

That same someone lent me a Stephen King book belonging to an older sibling (not my first Stephen King though, I'd already stumbled across him myself) which accidentally got cleared up and thrown in the bin by Dad. He was always saying if we didn't clear our stuff away, off the dining table or wherever, he would throw it out, and one day he did. Must have been garbage day, too. I seem to remember I had to buy another copy. I was so embarassed!

It's kind of been a blast from the past week. On Wednesday I resurrected my favourite piece of clothing from college, a beloved long maroon cardie. It's more or less back in fashion, not sure about the moth holes though. The very same day I bumped into someone I hadn't seen for about twelve years or thereabouts. I suppose she could be forgiven for thinking I had never taken a break from wearing that cardie, except if that was the case it would be in small pieces by now.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

You don't even see the blade

I am so sick of girls who play a semi-contact sport (basketball) with long fingernails. Wear tape or wear those stupid gloves. This might mean you don't have enough grip to catch the ball, but that's not my problem. I don't care if you've been trying to grow them forever, don't bring your razor sharp talons within reach of my face or any other exposed parts. It's just so rude.

That is all.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Love you like a ball and chain

Overheard conversation between a couple in Esprit this afternoon:

Her, having walked in only a few seconds ago, and briefly inspected a couple of racks, "If I leave now can this not count as a shop?"

Him, with good humour "Okay. You only get one of those chances though."

More eavesdropping.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Gee Mister, I really liked your book

This is, I'm pretty sure, my first comic ever. Death: The High Cost of Living #1, a spin-off of the immensely popular Sandman series. I can't remember if Kam bought it for me or if he suggested it and I bought it myself. It was about ten years ago, maybe a little bit more. (It's dated 1993 but I bought it as a back issue). It is now (drumroll please)... signed by the author. Wahooo!

The Neil Gaiman signing was great. Neil said at the time, and later on his blog that the small(ish) number of people and relaxed feeling made it 'like signings used to be'. Time to chat with those who wanted to chat. Guh. Perhaps I should have rehearsed beforehand. I dunno, maybe pointing out that he was signing my very first comic would have been a good point to mention. Oh well.

This one's got my name on it!

If you can't read that, it's The Books of Magic. This is what the current printing of the cover looks like - remind you of anything?

Mal and Kam have some photos from the Gaslight books signing on the Impact Comics website. After that was over I picked Kam up from work and we headed to ANU for Part 2. The talk was held in a large Manning Clark lecture theatre, not packed but quite a crowd, a couple of hundred maybe. Kam estimated he would know around 70% of the people there by name (customers past and present). We were shown a preview and some other promo material for the movie Mirrormask, which looks very interesting. Neil read an excerpt from the soon to be released Anansi Boys. Then there was some Q&A time. The questions from the audience were pretty geeky but they made for good, interesting, and entertaining answers. This was largely because Neil has clearly done this kind of thing a lot and knows the kind of stuff his fans are interested in hearing. The session took about an hour all up. As we left, a huge line formed in the foyer for more book signing. It must be exhausting to face a line like that.

I'm so glad I went, I got a real buzz out of the meeting of the Man and the signing of the comics and the general giggling like a fool. I kind of feel a bit silly about it but I have to admit that I love being a fangirl. I also enjoyed the rush to finish reading a few books in the past two weeks. I finished Neverwhere the other day (awesome) and I've moved within the fantasty genre, on to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (yes Jo, finally!). I've only read the first few of very many chapters, and I'm suprised - not unpleasantly - by, of all things, a bit of a Jane Austen vibe. In a book about the last two true magicians in England. Really.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

I did not make these but I did enjoy eating them. The little ones are grapes. Yum. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I have to teach you a lesson, again and again

Often after I have a conversation with someone, once I'm alone I find myself repeating something I said, to myself, over and over, maybe changing the words, the tone, or the level of accompanying smile. It's like I'm trying to memorise and rehearse it and then make it better. Once I get it 'right' I feel oddly relieved, like now I'll remember that that's actually the way it happened. Of course I'm aware that this doesn't change anything, and so I wonder why I am doing it. My conscious brain likes to assume that this practice will improve my 'performance' in the next similar situation. For example, maybe I thought I sounded too grouchy or unwelcoming (meeting a friend-of-a-friend, or someone who's new to my floor at work) or I didn't get across the point that I intended to (work-related phone call). But I suspect at a basic level I'm just trying to make myself feel better after an unsatisfactory encounter.

It generally happens with aquaintances, or people I've just met. I don't think I do this with close friends. I can only occasionally remember really dwelling on something I'd said to a good friend which left the distinctive 'foot' taste lingering in my mouth. But that's a different thing.

I'm also not talking about the phenomenon of coming up with the perfect witty comeback a little (or a lot) too late to use it. Esprit d'escalier: "spirit of the staircase" or "wit of the staircase".

Does anyone else do this?

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Since I found out that Neil Gaiman is coming to Canberra next Tuesday, I've dived into a few of his books that I hadn't read (actually, though I call myself a fangirl, I haven't yet read the majority of his stuff. I have too many favourite authors). After finally finishing the-book-that-I've-mentioned-too-much, it was sheer pleasure to read the gorgeous illustrated novella Stardust. It really is, as described, a classic fairy story for grown-ups. Complex, clever, funny and satisfying. Of course, because this one is distributed by the comics people, I bought it at my favourite comics shop.

Then I quickly read Coraline (the official site includes an audio recording of the first chapter, but if you're on dial-up like me you might prefer this quicker loading non-flash site). Well, it is a kids book so it didn't take long. This was a fun, scary and inventive take on popular gothic horror for younger readers, probably vaguely in the realm of the Lemony Snicket books, (maybe for slightly younger readers) though I haven't read those.

Now I'm part of the way through Neverwhere. The timing is interesting, since it's all about a sort of alternate world, London Below, where all the people who 'fall through the cracks' live, in the Tube tunnels and sewers and whatever else is below the streets and buildings. Of course the recent bombings in London had already triggered memories of my holiday in England last October when I used the Underground a lot. A lot of people don't much fancy the Tube, either because they have to travel in peak times (granted, it does get pretty squishy but an MP3 player and a blank look helps) or because they don't like being underground, or because they fear exactly the kind of attacks that happened last week. Londoners have spend a long time thinking about likely places for bombs to go off. Mostly immune to these concerns, I got a huge kick out of zipping around under the city. I guess the shine might wear off if I was commuting to work, instead of on a holiday and wandering wherever took my fancy.

One of the things I'm really enjoying about Neverwhere is that it's a fantasy but not purely an alternate universe. It's set in a quite familiar world, and which you can related to immediately, and then elements of magic and mysterious happenings are gradually worked in so that it the adjustment to the fantasy world is gradual, and it continues to feel 'real'.

I used to find the fantasy genre pretty intimidating, especially the huge series that never seemed to end (actually I still find them intimidating). One of the first I read was the Mordant's Need series by Stephen Donaldson, The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through (recommended by Bertie, I think). Donaldson used a bit of a trick to get readers into the story easily, starting with the main character in the 'real' world and then having her whisked off as a stranger into the fantasy world he created. I think this is a fairly common approach; Guy Gavriel Kay did a similar thing with the Fionvar Tapestry. I found this a really good way to get into the genre, because you can get involved quickly in the first few pages before being immersed in an unfamiliar world. And when you are thrown into it you're there with the main character(s) who knows only as much as you do.

So anyway, Neil Gaiman will be signing books at Gaslight Books on Tuesday afternoon, and then speaking and signing more books at the ANU in the evening. I've had things signed a couple of times before: Brian Michael Bendis at a comics convention, Garth Nix at the Belconnen Library. I'm not a very outgoing fangirl, what are you supposed to say? Gee Mister, I really liked your book. Sure. Nuh. I just smile and hand it over. I did manage to get a photo when Les Yeux Noirs signed my CD at Womadelaide.

Aside from making a fortune on ebay, I don't exactly know what is the point of getting books and other stuff signed. With Garth Nix I got a real thrill out of it because the book I got signed was very special to me. With Bendis, I don't think it meant quite as much. I guess the main point of it is the chance to see - and maybe speak to, if you're more outgoing than me - your idols up close, if only for a few seconds.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Cold Saturday in Fyshwick

My old camera was really only worth using on bright sunny days. Now I'm having much more fun.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I'm an artist honey, do you know how that feels?

 Posted by Picasa

I suppose it's possible that someone reading this might need closure: I finished reading The Da Vinci Code. Sigh. At this point, the less said the better. Though I do have a few notes if anyone sincerely wants to take up a discussion...

Moving on. I read quite a few blogs regularly. I still like to cruise the knitting blogs and a few other crafty ones. I also have several favourites which are online journals of the blogger's daily life, the few that rise above the masses simply by good writing - funny, touching, intimate, clever. Aside from these fairly typical uses of blogs, I'm fascinated by some of the more unusual things people are doing. Yesterday I found this one by a daughter who has archived her father's messages on her answering machine. You've just got to read it.

And a while ago Kam pointed me to PostSecret which invites you to write your secret on a postcard and send it in to be posted on the blog. I was fascinated and touched and just couldn't stop reading. It's clear that a few people might be taking the piss, but it's also clearly theraputic for many people. But what interested me the most was the theme that repeatedly comes up in the comments: reading through these secrets kept making people realise that 'we are all the same'. It struck a chord with me, because I recently read an eloquent and convincing argument somewhere, that for the achievement of world peace and harmony, more than being aware of and valuing diversity, what we need is to realise how the same were all are. I wish I could remember where that was. If you have any idea, please tell me. I hope I come across it again.

Monday, July 04, 2005


I still haven't finished that book. I've got less than 100 pages to go, but I keep getting distracted by more erudite things to read, like, oh, bank statements, Kmart catalogues, stuff like that. And comics and an illustrated novel. And, great news! Neil Gaiman is coming to Canberra.