November 2006

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What I'm reading

So, when I went to the Sydney Writers' Festival, I decided I was going to engage in book fidelity from then on. I was to read one book, finish it, and read the next. Excuses were only excuses, I said, and if I could read the entire Anne of Green Gables series from start to finish as a kid, how come I can't read like that now? What kind of a person am I?

Then I read Nick Hornby's opening chapter in The Complete Polysylabic Spree, which says that if you're finding a book boring then the book is boring. Nothing wrong with you. Something wrong with the book. Which makes me feel a whole lot better about Dostoevsky.

Since not finishing Crime and Punishment, my reading pattern has degenerated into the following shambles:

* Half way through an article in The New Yorker about Christopher Hitchens.
* One chapter into "Down and Dirty Pictures", which I started because it's the first in a series that includes "Easy Riders Raging Bulls".
* One chapter into Easy Riders Raging Bulls, which I put down so I could read Down and Dirty Pictures first.
* Half way through John Banville book (The Sea) which I was really enjoying reading but then took away with me for a weekend and never unpacked my bag.
* Half way through Saturday by Ian McEwan, which travelled with me for most of my weekend trips, tram rides to work, and I think to Sydney before I started reading it. Good book, turns out.
* Dave Eggers short stories. About four stories in.
* Love in a Time of Cholera, which I'm pretty sure everyone expects me to have read and which I have never attempted although now I am at least relocated geographically from the opening scene.
* I have read the blurb of, and been to the launch of, a book by a friend of mine, which is sitting on the bedside table (the book, not the friend, thank goodness because the book is making me guilty enough).
* Started Bleak House (previously having "studied" it, never having read it) (enjoyed it on TV so started it again). It is enormous, though, and from the same "Classics" library as the Crime and Punishment book I was reading, so yes, I am judging a book by its cover.
* A huge pile of plays by playwrights from all over the place, some of which are now confused in my head because I dip in and out so often.
* Certain pages in several editions of Granta, which are in my bathroom and which are very distracting when one is doing one's teeth.

... so Dostoevsky has a lot to answer for. He has turned me into a reading basket case again.

Things were going so well.

Oh well. Maybe I need to read something silly in order to remind me that reading is fun so that I might be able to then read something laborious and meaningful and feel better about the fact that I don't read enough.

Yay!

Absent friends

So I've been missing from the real (and the virtual) world lately. I've been writing something. With the four fingers on my left hand. It's a slow process, I admit, but it's no slower than writing by candle light in the eighteenth century, so complaineth me not.

Meanwhile, Rita has been marooned in Ararat, where "can I please have a salad sandwich" gets you a white bread roll with cheese, tomato and ham, and the "vegetarian option" on the film catering menu turns out to be bacon quiche.

Cut back to me in the city during my day job listening to city traders discussing how much it would cost to install snow machines up the top of Little Bourke Street so that people could toboggan down the hill from Queen Street to Elizabeth Street during breaks in their Christmas shopping (apparently nobody wants to pay the insurance bill, more's the pity).

Working in the city also meant that I last week witnessed one of the "Melbourne Conversations". A rhetorically broad topic with vastly different speakers including the very hilarious and ever so slightly clever Barry Jones and a naughty Dorothy Porter, who wrote one of my favourite books and who read a beautiful poem (not her own). The next day, one of the other speakers, Alex Miller (crush city) was having a coffee in the cafe I was in and I became breathless and self-daring and had fantasised many witty exchanges but when I looked up he had been replaced by a spotty boy in a stripy T-shirt with a Tintin tuft of bed hair.

Meanwhile, a toast tonight to absent friends. To the friend who wants me to keep January free because she might get married: you're on. It's cancelled. Whole month. Disappeared. To the friend who wrote me a funny, meandering, perfectly descriptive novel in the form of an email and who I haven't seen since 1999: I owe you one, just quietly. To Nick: fly home and keep the money. We'll doctor up some photos. And to Rita in Ararat: I hope they don't read this and give you vegetarian sandwiches made of Ox tongue.

Got to go. This took longer than candle light. Definitely longer than candle light.

My writing crushes

Whenever I log into The New Yorker website, my heart does skip a beat when Anthony Lane's name appears under "Current Cinema". Here he is on Bond. I don't care what he's writing about. He can take a seat around my fantasy dinner party table any time he likes.

Another: Caryl Churchill. Check out her CV and ask yourself what the hell you've been doing with your time. I bet she doesn't get distracted by articles in the weekend paper or driven crazy by sudokus.

And the two troublemakers Alan Bennett and Tom Stoppard are up there too, as is our Mister Winton. I am declaring my writing crushes now because they have been there for me during my broken wrist debacle. I therefore also extend my thanks to the writer of Press Gang and to Aaron Sorkin. As Rita says: "wind beneath wings etc".

Huzzah!

Possibly the best day of my life!

Last night a lovely young woman going by the name of Kneebone (no, seriously) took my plaster cast off my arm arm and liberated me entirely!

Well, almost.

I now have to wear a "brace" wrapped around my broken wrist, which I can... take off in order to have a shower!

Obviously this is the most brilliant news ever, as I'm sure everyone agrees.

I still can't type or write, but I can have proper showers and walk around without looking prehistoric.

In other news, it's winter in Melbourne during Spring and nobody is allowed in the city because there are half a dozen Christians in a tent outside the G20 meeting. Hilarious.

Idea

I have an idea for how Tony Abbott can fund the cervical cancer vaccine (invented by an Australian). He is being accused of getting his priorities wrong and being, well, not very good when it comes to the 50% of the population who aren't men.

Obviously the suggestion that the government doesn't care when it comes to women's issues is completely unfair. This is a financial issue, which I understand even though I am a woman.

My suggestion about where to find the money for the women-only cancer vaccine? Look in the box where you keep the money you get from the GST you charge on tampons.

That would be fair.

a lofty aim

My handwriting with my left hand is getting better.

My GP told me that when he broke his arm one time, he was so ambidexterous by the time his plaster cast came off that he could write two different words with two hands at the same time.

I am now in training to be as clever as my doctor by the time my cast comes off. Surely that can't be too hard, right?

Saw Children of Men last night. Stew loved it and I hated it, which is a sure sign that the dialogue and script were dull and clunky, but it was very cleverly made and shot by an Eastern European cinematographer.

Also interesting to see in the papers today that John Howard is prioritising talks on climate change and Bush might ratify Kyoto. Also, Hugh Heffner has decided to become a feminist and Molly Meldrum has finished a complete sentence.

over it

It's interesting to me how human beings (by which I mean me) rationalise what happens to them. It's also interesting that other people offer their own spin on things.

This is what random people have said to me over the last three weeks of having a broken wrist (answers in brackets):

"Well at least it wasn't your leg" (Okaaaay, but see, If it was my leg, I would be in pain and discomfort with my feet up and two good hands to type with. That suits me better than pain, discomfort, and inability to do anything at all that I enjoy or am usually paid for).

"What happened to the other guy? huhuhugahahaaasnort" (You want me to show you?)

"I guess someone must be telling you to have a break" (Really? Who? What a jerk!)

"Can I sign your arm?" (have we met?)

...etc...

Anyway, as you can see, I am fast running out of ways to see this arm-in-a-sling thing as an advantage and I now hope that somehow the plaster cast will come off and the bones will heal and I will have a very well-funded idea for an ongoing pay TV series, will win a trip to hang out on set with the cast and crew of Studio 60, or will marry into money. Immediately please.

Nerdiness

I have long been of the opinion that nerd is the new black.

Watching somebody doing whatever it is they are good at is a very powerful thing. Whether they are drawing, swimming, fixing a car radio, or working through a maths problem... the nerdy obsession is somehow transformed into poetry.

The further the subject of the nerdy obsession is from my own experience, the more impressed I find I am. For instance, watching someone do a maths problem or riding a skateboard or doing yo-yo tricks or remembering poetry or doing any number of the vast oceans-worth of things I can't manage, is much more impressive to me than watching someone else throwing a frisbee or being, you know, good at grammar and spelling and that.

Anyway, for various reasons, I went to a gaming convention on the weekend. Computer gaming. A nerd convention. A geek festival. A scene out of The Simpsons featuring a thousand comic book guys.

I have enough material to write a novel.

I think from now on I am going to go to conventions. At least while my arm is broken, I can claim it on tax as research. Any recommendations, let me know. There is a sci fi convention and a wetlands convention, which I am hoping are sharing the same venue, but my search continues... The more obscure the better.