a little east of reality

Monday, June 30, 2008

living after midnight, jolene

I think it illustrates just how varied my musical tastes have been over the years that I am looking at advertisements for upcoming concerts by Judas Priest and Dolly Parton with roughly the same level of nostalgia.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

best insult i've heard this month

...comes from Sean Lock, one of the team leaders on 8 out of 10 cats, to host Jimmy Carr after Carr's extremely funny attempt to sound threatening, street style:
If you were in a gang, you'd be the treasurer.
Loving this show.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

my timing always sucks

My friend UnpaidMermaid is leaving Australia with her family in a couple of weeks. She was in my writing class this semester and is one of the best friends I've made in Canberra (felt like we would be friends a long time, you know?). I got to hang out with her for a paltry few months and met her kids and husband only three times. Why is it that anyone totally cool that I love hanging out with has to be thousands of miles away. Is the universe just toying with me?

If I finally fall in love again one day I fully expect him to tell me he's booked on a space flight to some planet 13 light years away. :)


Monday, June 23, 2008

pitching contest

The Writers Festival was on this weekend. I went to the author session with Camilla Noli (which I'll write about after I finish reading her book) and afterwards there was a pitching contest. I was kind of stunned there were only 12 pitches. I mean how often do you get an open invitation to pitch your book idea to three working publishers? I desperately wish I'd had a pitch to make. I certainly will if it's on next year, but this time around I only found out about it at the session before.

There were a few interesting ones (e.g. insight into the Russia you never knew by someone who lived there one month a year for the past twenty years; two rather funny proposals for novels; non-fiction on how nanotechnology and other scientific phenomenons are going to change our world; a 10,000 word novel in rhyming verse about lawyers). I considered pulling something together (the contest was pretty fun and casual), but when I tried to write an outline I realised that although I have a great idea for an internal character dilemma, I really haven't sorted out at all what her external dilemma/s will be. Can you see why I didn't pitch? Not exactly prepared.

Sadly the $50 cash prize went to an obnoxious thirteen-year-old who was not nearly as funny as he imagined he was. He read us a few pseudo-witty lines from the text he’s completed a whopping five pages of so far, recycled any joke that went down well, and generally made me want to roll my eyes (he first announces that his story is totally unique because it’s about emos, and then tells us that one of the three main characters is a goth, apparently under the impression that they are the same thing). But of course because he was the only kid who pitched they gave him first prize on novelty value. I find that annoying. I know it’s only fifty bucks, but some people really gave an interesting pitch and they deserved a fair shot at the prize, and if you want to encourage a kid it’s perfectly reasonable to do it with an honourable mention.

Anyway...next year!

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Friday, June 20, 2008

apple store opens in sydney

...delusional crowd considers this worthy of camping out and queuing in the hundreds.


Dan Boud did take a couple of cool photos, though.



People! (Yes, that includes any wayward Australians who might be leading the world astray.)

Lesson on the word Aussie:

Firstly, the word is pronounced OZzie, not AWsie. Picture the Emerald City. Click your heels three times if you need to. But remember, AWsie sounds AWful. Stop saying it.

Secondly, Aussie is short for Australian. Aussie is NOT short for Australia. I am an Aussie. I live under the Aussie sun. I do not live IN Aussie. You cannot travel TO Aussie. Can you travel to American? To Swedish? To Singaporean? No, you can't! You can't travel to an adjective. Stop claiming you're going to, because you're not. If you need to explain your travel plans, repeat after me: I'm going to Oz. I might meet some Aussies. We might have an Aussie barbeque. In Oz.

Are we clear? Good.

(Half the time we call it 'Stralia anyway.)

PS...Melbourne ≠ MelBORN, Brisbane ≠ BrisBANE. Both are pronounced with a schwa. Think Melbn and Brisbn.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

most awesome order confirmation ever

...and all for a t-shirt:
Thank You for your order with PalmerCash.com

Right now your order is being printed out in the center of our warehouse on paper made of gold. We are all standing around waiting for it to finish and then we will place your order on a pillow as we wait for Palmer Cash to announce what you have ordered. Standing from his podium he will ring the bell 3 times and everyone will stop what they are doing as he reads your order to us. Then we will all burst into song and dance with such religious fervor to your wise and excellent choices.

Next your order will be packed with care by 3 virgin and one very advanced monkey wearing white gloves into a specially designed package that resists water, dirt, air and radiation in case of a nuclear explosion. Then your order will be sent out Priority Mail and make its long journey to it's new home avoiding thieves and hoodlums to land softly in your caring hands.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

new take on the meaning of life

Well, when I say 'new', it's from a seven-year-old episode of Angel, but anyway... The screen captures are a little dark, sorry.
Kate: My whole life has been about being a cop. If I'm not a part of the Force, it's like nothing I do means anything.
Angel: It doesn't.
Kate: Doesn't what?
Angel: Mean anything. In the greater scheme, in the big picture. Nothing we do matters. There's no Grand Plan, no big win.
Kate: You seem kind of chipper about that.
Angel: I guess I kinda worked it out. If there's no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do. 'Cause that's all there is: what we do ~ now, today. I fought for so long...for redemption, for reward, finally just to beat the other guy, but I never got it.
Kate: Now you do?
Angel: No...all I want to do is help. I want to help because I don't think people should suffer as they do. Because if there's no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness is the greatest thing in the world.
Kate: Yikes, it sounds like you had an epiphany.
Angel: I keep saying that, but no-one's listening...
To be honest I see some flaws in his reasoning (eg, to say that 'all that matters is what we do' ignores the drivers that motivate what we do, the scope of which cover a lot more ground than 'live well' or 'be kind to others and do no harm') but still I find that I like this reasoning.

We may wonder about the afterlife and hope (we have one and) it's something happy or productive or beautiful, but in the end it's kind of sad if the only reason we do good is to make installments on a fat final reward. And where does end-game thinking like that leave people who don't believe there is anything after this life? I think life needs purpose, even if it's a purpose we assign to it. And I think most people who life above subsistence level (who have the time and energy to give to pondering what life's about) want to carve out some kind of purposeful life for themselves.

What do you guys think?

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Monday, June 09, 2008

more lyrics

I Think It's Going to Rain Today (Released 1991)

Broken windows and empty hallways,
A pale dead moon in a sky streaked with grey.
Human kindness is overflowing,
And I think it's gonna rain today.

Scarecrows dressed in the latest styles,
The frozen smiles to chase love away.
Human kindness is overflowing,
And I think it's gonna rain today.

Lonely, lonely.
Tin can at my feet,
I think I'll kick it down the street.
That's the way to treat a friend.
Bright before me the signs implore me:
Help the needy and show them the way.
Human kindness is overflowing,
And I think it's gonna rain today.

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

the thrill

There she goes
There she goes again
Pulsing through my veins
And I just can't contain
This feeling that remains
(Sixpence None The Richer)

I love this song so much. Such a succinct description of that feeling when you first fall in love. Even the music builds to this kind of gentle exhilaration.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

p123 line 5

Why not? Not exactly tagged, but Jeff kinda opened it to the crowd. I usually avoid this meme, but I like the old-fashioned language in the book I'm reading right now, so I thought I'd take a chance on it.

Here are the rules:
1. Grab the nearest book. If you are currently reading something, that'll be fine too.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your Blog along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet I know that is what you were thinking!
6. Tag 5 people.

Here's the passage, from Men at Arms by Evelyn Waugh:
Soon from the disorderly slum of her bedroom Virginia emerged spruce as a Halberdier.
'I hope you haven't made them too strong, Tommy. You know how I hate strong cocktails. Guy, your moustache.'
Actually my favourite passage (so far) in the book was right at the beginning, describing a couple on honeymoon:
Everywhere the fortunate pair were praised and petted but all was not entirely well with them. No sign or hint betrayed their distress but when the last wheels rolled away and they mounted to their final privacy, there was a sad gap between them, made by modesty and tenderness and innocence, which neither spoke of except in prayer.
Later they joined a yacht at Naples and steamed slowly up the coast, putting in at unfrequented harbours. And there, one night in their state room, all at last came right between them and their love was joyfully completed.
There are a few reasons I like it: firstly I think I just wasn't expecting that kind of detail in a book published in 1952. Secondly it was a sweet reason for them to decide to keep a house in that part of Italy. And thirdly I think it's clever how Waugh makes it perfectly clear what the problem is, without ever losing that old-fashioned delicate way of describing it. I guess it's just something you wouldn't read in a book nowadays, certainly not said in the way that it was.

Tag 5 people. Yeah, when do I ever really do that? Do if it takes your fancy.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

miracle 2: window washer

More on the good news front, this story from a few months ago:
US doctors say they have never seen anything like it: A window washer who fell 47 stories from the roof of a Manhattan skyscraper is now awake, talking to his family and expected to walk again.

Alcides Moreno, 37, plummeted almost 152 metres in a December 7 scaffolding collapse that killed his brother. Somehow, Moreno lived, and doctors at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Centre announced that his recovery has been astonishing.

He has movement in all his limbs. He is breathing on his own. And on Christmas Day, he opened his mouth and spoke for the first time since the accident. His wife, Rosario Moreno, cried as she thanked the doctors and nurses who kept him alive.

"Thank God for the miracle that we had," she said. "He keeps telling me that it just wasn't his time."

Dr Herbert Pardes, the hospital's president, described Moreno's condition when he arrived for treatment as "a complete disaster". Both legs and his right arm and wrist were broken in several places. He had severe injuries to his chest, his abdomen and his spinal column. His brain was bleeding. Everything was bleeding, it seemed. In those first critical hours, doctors pumped 24 units of donated blood into his body - about twice his entire blood volume. They gave him plasma and platelets and a drug to stimulate clotting and stop the haemorrhaging. They inserted a catheter into his brain to reduce swelling and cut open his abdomen to relieve pressure on his organs.

Moreno was at the edge of consciousness when he was brought in. Doctors sedated him, performed a tracheotomy and put him on a ventilator. His condition was so unstable, doctors worried that even a mild jostle might kill him, so they performed his first surgery without moving him to an operating room. Nine orthopaedic operations followed to piece together his broken body.

Yet, even when things were at their worst, the hospital's staff marvelled at his luck. Incredibly, Moreno's head injuries were relatively minor, for a fall victim. Neurosurgeon John Boockvar said the window washer also managed to avoid a paralysing spinal cord injury, even though he suffered a shattered vertebra.

"If you are a believer in miracles, this would be one," said the hospital's chief of surgery, Dr Philip Barie.
I agree.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

being happy with less

A family tale I hadn't heard until recently concerns my favourite uncle. You may remember him as the previously blogged-about jazz-playing goat farmer and newspaper columnist. He wrote a while back about the new government in Barbados and the promises they've made about the cost of living, affordable land and housing and hospital. I loved this part:
Housing means little to one who spent his early married life happily in a tent and an old Transport Board bus. It's sad to see young Bajan couples saddling themselves with heavy mortgages for elaborate bungalows which they scarcely have time to enjoy. Go chattel, I say.
My mum confirmed that, yes, when my aunt and uncle got married they had enough to buy the land, but lived for a while in a tent, then a bus, while they saved for a house. Of course living in a tent is a little easier on a tropical island where you won't freeze to death in the process, but it struck me just how much less people could be happy with, if their expectations were different, or if they saw debt, not secondhand furniture, as the enemy.

I'm already a convert to this thinking. I used to get into debt just for lack of patience. Now I drive an old Toyota Corona and pretty much all of my furniture is secondhand. And I'm cool with that. It's not like my furniture is crappy either. I just haunted the secondhand furniture shops until something I liked came along.

In fact, I wish I'd wised up a lot earlier and realised that 'things' really shouldn't have as much magnetic power in our spending lives as they do. Recently some young friends of mine got married and as a present I gave them a book about communication in marriage and working together to stay out of debt. Stress and squabbling over financial troubles is one of the top reasons for divorce, so I couldn't think of a better way to say, 'I love you, and I want you two to stay together'.

I don't think everybody needs to live in a tent to start out right. They just need to know that 'things' really aren't the key to anyone's satisfaction and happiness in life.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

chain mail from hell

Chain mail irritates me at the best of times. Even if it’s something cool or important that I want to send on, I always delete any chain mail instructions (or threats of bad luck) before I forward the email. The stupid stuff goes straight in the bin. But this rancid piece of spam I received takes the prize for most horrible chain mail I’ve seen in years:

Once you have opened this e-mail, there's no turning back. Below are True descriptions of zodiac signs. Read your sign, and then forward it on, with your zodiac sign and label on the subject line. This is the real Deal, try ignoring or changing it, and the first thing you'll notice is having a horrible day starting tomorrow morning - and it only gets Worse from there.

CAPRICORN - The Go-Getter (Dec 22 - Jan 19) Patient and wise. Practical and rigid. Ambitious. Tends to be Good-looking. Humorous and funny. Can be a bit shy and reserved. Often pessimistic. Capricorns tend to act before they think and can be Unfriendly at times. Hold grudges. Like competition. Get what they Want. 20 years of bad luck if you do not forward.

AQUARIUS - The Sweetheart (Jan 20 - Feb 18) Optimistic and honest. Sweet personality. Very independent. Inventive and intelligent. Friendly and loyal. Can seem unemotional. Can be a bit rebellious. Very stubborn, but original and unique. Attractive on the inside and out. Eccentric personality. 11 years of bad luck if you do not forward.

PISCES - The Dreamer (Feb 19 - Mar 20) Generous, kind, and thoughtful. Very creative and imaginative.May become secretive and vague. Sensitive. Don't like details. Dreamy and unrealistic. Sympathetic and loving. Kind. Unselfish. Good kisser. Beautiful. 8 years of bad luck if you do not forward.

And so on, until this ending:

Send away!!~ Ready . set............ GO!
1-3 people= 1 minute of luck
4-7 people= 1 hour of luck
8-12 people = 1 day of luck
13-17 People = 1 week of luck
18-22 people = 1 month of luck
23-27 people = 3 Months of luck
28-32 people = 7 months of luck
33-37 people = 1 year of luck

Seriously, wtf? I’d like to smack the author of this email with a rotting fish. I hope they get all the bad luck they’ve wished on others.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

miracle 1: little goddess

I've been scrolling back through my drafts to see which I still want to complete, so don't be surprised if a few older subjects turn up in the next week or so.

This story made me smile. Imagine taking your wife to the hospital for a routine caesarean birth, only to have the doctor emerge to tell you that it's a miracle that your wife, or your baby daughter, are alive. What could have been the tragedy of these people's lives is now their miracle.

Ovarian pregnancies are the rarest form of ectopic pregnancies (one in 40,000 births). Basically the egg fails to reach the uterus and fertilises in the ovary instead. This kind of pregnancy is usually terminated before 10 weeks because it is life-threatening to the mother.
Durga Thangarajah is the only child in Australia -- and possibly the world -- to survive a full-term ovarian pregnancy.

But the healthy 2.8kg bundle was yesterday oblivious to all the fuss caused by her remarkable entry into the world at 8.47am Thursday.

"This form of pregnancy is rare enough, but to have it full-term is unheard of," said obstetrician Andrew Miller, from Darwin Private Hospital.

"I have never come across it in any hospital . . .

"It truly is a miracle she got a living baby out of it."
Though the meaning (goddess) is nice, the name Durga is kind of bleh. Maybe they should have done for Mahima...Hindi for 'miracle'.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

pen to paper

The first semester of my Grad Diploma in Professional Writing is drawing to a close (big test this Wednesday for Intro to Editing will be the last of my assessment tasks). It's been an important semester for me:

- writing regularly for the first time in a long time
- gaining some sense of what I really want to write, and
- having a better understanding of how to go about the process of getting writing published.

The tute group for Freelance Writing had such a nice group dynamic that we have formed a writing group. The basic plan is to continue two positive things we did each week in class:

- one person read their own writing and the group offered a critique, and
- the whole class wrote from a prompt. Sometimes we read out the results, but not always.
Tonight we met at Tilley's for our first meeting. We talked about our own writing goals and what we wanted to get from the group. The rules may change as we go along. No-one read anything out, but we set that up for next time. The writing prompt was simply anything to do with being at Tilley's. I wrote in response to the music. It was just free writing, so here's a snippet that I lifted from all the waffle:

Notes individually plucked on a guitar sound warm and sensual and real. It's not a singalong, it's a serenade...delicate, like fingertips on skin.

People are talking at tables all around me. How many of them want something right now? Most? All? What do I most want right at this moment? Not to be here writing, but to be in the corner having a lazy conversation, while buttery notes move in circles and spirals in the air around us.

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