Saturday, July 30, 2011

New songs on a Saturday morning (201-210)

As part of my ongoing effort to improve the range of my cultural consumption, I'm casting out for new things to listen to. Part one and an explanation of this musical escapade can be found here. You'll need to search for the rest yourselves.

201. Jem - 'Forever and a Day' - Loved 'They' and her version of 'Maybe I'm Amazed' (despite the stupid O.C. voice over breaking in in the middle).
202. Jem - 'It's Amazing'.
203. Tristan Prettyman & Jason Mraz - 'Shy That Way' - God, this pair are brilliant together.
204. Tristan Prettyman - 'Madly'.
205. Gersey - 'No Love'.
206. Gersey - 'Crashing' - strange fan art video (I think) but couldn't find a proper band one. Sweet song, though.
207. Mat Kearney - 'Breathe In Breathe Out' - A You Tube recommendation. Not bad. Voice sounds incredibly familiar.
208. Mat Kearney - 'Edge of the World (A Children's Song)' - Gorgeously sweet.
209. Matt Nathanson - 'Falling Apart'.
210. Matt Nathanson - 'Wedding Dress' - Was expecting something... I don't know... better.

Photo source: Jem

52 Poems (week 20)

Was watching a silly, modern teenage version of an old romantic story but found a relatively unsullied poem in the middle of it. Frank O'Hara's 'Having a Coke With You' has that romance of observation to it, the type of notice that rarely happens but could make a person fall in love simply from being loved so well.
Having a Coke with You
is even more fun than going to San Sebastian, Irún, Hendaye, Biarritz, Bayonne
or being sick to my stomach on the Travesera de Gracia in Barcelona
partly because in your orange shirt you look like a better happier St. Sebastian
partly because of my love for you, partly because of your love for yoghurt...

O'Hara, who died young after being hit by a dune buggy, reads the full poem here, not necessarily with any style or feeling, but the poem in full, in his own voice, is here nonetheless.

Watching the bump: 18 weeks

Hiding the ugly

To hide the ugly along the back fence, the landlord had these tiny trees planted. Apparently they'll grow to six or seven metres.

But for now, they have a long way to go.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Lamenting the loss of pants

Okay, it's finally happened. At 17 weeks, I can no longer fit into most of my trousers. I feel like a fat man after a meal, continually having to pop open some buttons or snaps to release the gut. I did buy some maternity pants, which seemed great, and much better fitting. Problem is, I didn't try any of them sitting down while I was in the fitting room. So, although the belly band is super comfy over my belly, the tight band that sits underneath it to keep the pants up (or some semblance of us) digs right in where the bubs is currently residing. Not at all comfortable. So it's been skirts for most of the last week, and because it's been skirts, it's also been tights... pulled up until they're nearly under my armpits so they don't dig in. Time to find the maternity tights.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Unconventional bookstores


A short piece featuring 10 unconventional bookstores. Number 10, pictured here, looks like an almost  religious experience.

New songs on a Saturday morning (191-200)

As part of my ongoing effort to improve the range of my cultural consumption, I'm casting out for new things to listen to. Parts one and two of this musical escapade can be found here and here. You'll need to search for the rest yourselves.

191. Noah and the Whale - 'L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N' - Actually caught a little bit of RAGE this morning and this was on. The Wombats were programming and it wasn't half bad. The start of this makes me think of The Kinks' 'Lola'.
192. Noah and the Whale - '5 Years Time'.
193. Noah and the Whale - 'Shape of my Heart'. 
194. Laura Marling - 'New Romantic' - Used to be a member of Noah and the Whale. Have loved her song 'Mexico' for a while.
195. Laura Marling - 'A Creature I Don't Know' - Strange, strange, strange but lovely.
196. Funeral Party - 'Where Did It Go Wrong'. Not half-bad You Tube suggestion. 
197. Carolina Liar - 'Drown'. 
198. Rufus Wainwright - 'Beautiful Child'.
199. Grandaddy - 'Hewlett's Daughter'. Sounds like high school.
200. Grandaddy - 'The Saddest Vacant Lot in the World'.

Photo source: Noah and the Whale

Friday, July 22, 2011

The indignities

Being pregnant with a cold is no fun at all. Not only can't I run to my normal pharmacuticals, all the blowing, sneezing and coughing is making me very aware of my stomach muscles. It's difficult not to clench, so I'm hoping I don't pull a muscle. It's also made sleep almost nonexistant: between the night pees, the sleeping propped up, the nasal drip, the tickly throat and almost choking when I fall asleep with a lozenge in my mouth, sleep has been difficult. Adding in Lovely Husband's snoring and an early morning SMS from someone in another timezone, it's almost impossible.

52 Poems (week 19)

Reading through the details of John Donne's life, I am intrigued that the man, the boy attended a college at Oxford at age 11, and then three years later was accepted into the University of Cambridge, but didn't receive degrees from either because he was Catholic. Unable to recite the Oath of Supremacy, an oath acknowledging the monarch as the head of the Chruch of England and required by all graduates, Donne's learning went un-conferred. 

There's something wonderful about his erotic poems, his love poems, that it's such a disappointment to hit the more morose and ecclesiastical later works when he was a priest and, perhaps, bereft from the loss of wife and several children.
Elegy XX: To his mistress going to bed

Come, madam, come, all rest my powers defy,
Until I labor, I in labor lie.
The foe oft-times having the foe in sight,
Is tired with standing though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven's zone glistering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear,
That th' eyes of busy fools may be stopped there.
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime
Tells me from you that now it is bed time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown, going off, such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flowery meads th' hill's shadow steals.
Off with that wiry coronet and show
The hairy diadem which on you doth grow:
Now off with those shoes, and then safely tread
In this love's hallowed temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes, heaven's angels used to be
Received by men; thou, Angel, bring'st with thee
A heaven like Mahomet's Paradise; and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know
By this these angels from an evil sprite:
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.

License my roving hands, and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O my America! my new-found-land,
My kingdom, safest when with one man manned,
My mine of precious stones, my empery,
How blest am I in this discovering of thee!
To enter in these bonds is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.

Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee,
As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be
To taste whole joys. Gems which you women use
Are like Atlanta's balls, cast in men's views,
That when a fools' eye lighteth on a gem,
His earthly soul may covet theirs, not them.
Like pictures, or like books' gay coverings made
For lay-men, are all women thus arrayed;
Themselves are mystic books, which only we
(Whom their imputed grace will dignify)
Must see revealed. Then, since that I may know,
As liberally as to a midwife, show
Thyself: cast all, yea, this white linen hence,
There is no penance due to innocence.
To teach thee, I am naked first; why than,
What needst thou have more covering than a man? 
Picture source: Donne painting

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The fallen



I'm generally ambivalent about these big, pink blowsy flowers but I feel a little more affection for them that they're keeping me company in the backyard during winter. It doesn't feel so drab and green and brown as long as they're there, tucked off against the fence. Even on the ground, browning and withered, there's something lovely about them, perhaps something old-maidy, that makes me want to gather them up to float in dishes of water on the mantelpiece.

New songs on a Saturday morning (181-190)

As part of my ongoing effort to improve the range of my cultural consumption, I'm casting out for new things to listen to. Parts one and two of this musical escapade can be found here and here. You'll need to search for the rest yourselves.

181. Alison Krauss & Yo Yo Ma - 'Slumber My Darling' - something about that Yo Yo Ma that dominates each song he plays on.
182. Alison Krauss & Gillian Welch - 'I'll Fly Away' - loved 'Go to Sleep Little Baby' with Emmylou Harris.
183. David Rawlings & Gillian Welch - 'Ruby'.

184. Gillian Welch - 'Elvis Presley Blues'.
185. Steve Earle - 'Oxycontin Blues' - That voice is rough and pained and the banjo swampy.
186. Steve Earle -'Jericho Road'.
187. Norah Jones feat. Gillian Welch & David Rawlings - 'Loretta' - love the harmonies, wish there was less chatter.
188. Norah Jones feat. Ryan Adams - 'Dear John'.
189. Norah Jones feat. Dolly Parton - 'Creepin' In'.
190. Norah Jones feat. El Madmo - 'The Best Part'.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Writing ahead

Okay, so it's a bookish kind of day. I should be writing (lectures and articles) but I'd rather be reading something gloriously entertaining. I'd rather read about writing than do it myself.

The sometimes entertaining Rick Gekoski wrote an article for The Guardian about why 'Writing is bad for you', which finished with the hilarious advice from his publisher to stop over-editing:

"That's not writing, that's wanking," he said censoriously. "Finish it, and get on with something else!"
Funnily enough, reading romance is also bad for you, but I've known this for years. Won't stop me reading it, though.

52 Poems (week 18)

I like to imagine Virginia Woolf hand-setting the type for TS Eliot's The Waste Land, and running off copies on their monstrous printing press that formed the entirety of Hogarth Press at the time. 

I wonder if she marvelled at each letter as she set it, watched the words forming, the lines, the stanzas, and felt the rhythm of the prose as it slipped through the machine sheet by sheet.

The poem itself (in extract here) is a mystery to me. I marvel at what wife Vivian and friend Ezra Pound removed and changed when this is what remains. Such gorgeousness as it opens:

"APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering       
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, 
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie, 
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter..."

And then through to the end, the sometimes lovely, sometimes opaque prose shifts gears so many times, I'm lost. Damn modernism.

"...I sat upon the shore
Fishing, with the arid plain behind me
Shall I at least set my lands in order?
London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down
Poi s'ascose nel foco che gli affina
Quando fiam ceu chelidon—O swallow swallow
Le Prince d'Aquitaine à la tour abolie
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo's mad againe.
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
            Shantih shantih shantih"

How does a poet go from "April is the cruellest month" to "shantih shantih shantih"?

Photo source: Hogarth press edition

Not alone with(out) Joyce

Turns out Virginia Woolf couldn't read Ulysses either. This actually comes as something of a relief. I knew that the Woolfs had turned down Joyce's work as the publishers and printers of Hogarth Press (shudder to think of typesetting that monster), but such a sweet surprise that she couldn't/didn't even finish it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New songs on a Saturday morning (171-180)

Okay, so it's mid-afternoon, but the theme remains the same. As part of my ongoing effort to improve the range of my cultural consumption, I'm casting out for new things to listen to. Parts one and two of this musical escapade can be found here and here. You'll need to search for the rest yourselves.

171.  Jump Jump Dance Dance - 'Show Me The Night' - Somewhat Australian electro-rock duo who have so much eighties about them. When did this sound head on back in, or am I just noticing it more lately?
172. Tiesto feat. Tegan and Sara - 'Feel It In My Bones' - Reviewed an early Tegan and Sara album and loved their sound. 

173. Tegan and Sara - 'Call It Off'- gorgeous.
174. Tegan and Sara - 'Northshore'.
175. Tegan and Sara - 'Alligator'. 
176. Katie Melua - 'The Flood' - this is listed as jazz, but I'm not convinced by that label.
177. Katie Melua - 'If You Were a Sailboat'. 
178. Eliza Doolittle - 'Skinny Genes' - awesome live ukelele ditty.
179. Friendly Fires - 'Kiss of Life'. 
180. Friendly Fires - 'Hawaiian Air'.

Photo source: Tegan & Sara

Thursday, July 7, 2011

52 Poems (week 17)

I was pulling together images from the Vietnam War and the Invasion of Iraq for a lecture, images of brutality, of innocent deaths and wailing mourners, of destruction and horrific injuries, of smiling torturers who we claim are the good guys. So this week I've been looking for war poetry, thinking vaguely of poems we studied in the final years of school describing bodies on beaches and the strange, strangling deaths from mustard gas.

I'm sure some of the poems belonged to Wildred Owen, who was killed on the Sombre Canal in France a week before the Armistice was signed. 'I Saw His Round Mouth's Crimson' seems to have that same sentiment, that same observer's eye as the poems I remembered.

And then this one, 'Insensibility', makes me think of the General shooting the suspected Vietcong in the head, the women smiling over a pyramid of naked prisoners, and the secrets kept in the heads of return servicemen that only come out of their mouths at night when they scream.
Happy are men who yet before they are killed
Can let their veins run cold.
Whom no compassion fleers
Or makes their feet
Sore on the alleys cobbled with their brothers.
The front line withers,
But they are troops who fade, not flowers
For poets' tearful fooling:
Men, gaps for filling
Losses who might have fought
Longer; but no one bothers.

And some cease feeling
Even themselves or for themselves.
Dullness best solves
The tease and doubt of shelling,
And Chance's strange arithmetic
Comes simpler than the reckoning of their shilling.
They keep no check on Armies' decimation.

Happy are these who lose imagination:
They have enough to carry with ammunition.
Their spirit drags no pack.
Their old wounds save with cold can not more ache.
Having seen all things red,
Their eyes are rid
Of the hurt of the colour of blood for ever.
And terror's first constriction over,
Their hearts remain small drawn.
Their senses in some scorching cautery of battle
Now long since ironed,
Can laugh among the dying, unconcerned.

Happy the soldier home, with not a notion
How somewhere, every dawn, some men attack,
And many sighs are drained.
Happy the lad whose mind was never trained:
His days are worth forgetting more than not.
He sings along the march
Which we march taciturn, because of dusk,
The long, forlorn, relentless trend
From larger day to huger night.

We wise, who with a thought besmirch
Blood over all our soul,
How should we see our task
But through his blunt and lashless eyes?
Alive, he is not vital overmuch;
Dying, not mortal overmuch;
Nor sad, nor proud,
Nor curious at all.
He cannot tell
Old men's placidity from his.

But cursed are dullards whom no cannon stuns,
That they should be as stones.
Wretched are they, and mean
With paucity that never was simplicity.
By choice they made themselves immune
To pity and whatever mourns in man
Before the last sea and the hapless stars;
Whatever mourns when many leave these shores;
Whatever shares
The eternal reciprocity of tears.

Photo source: Owen; poem

The many tights of winter

How very small my feet look here, and how very large my legs. Hmmm. May have to work out a new angle for shooting these pictures - although it's nice to have small feet once in my life.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Amazon machine

Just reading through the backlog of Galley Cat posts to find that Amazon is buying up Book Depository. Am hoping that my free shipping doesn't magically become commensurate with Amazon shipping prices. Okay, so I've felt terribly guilty about the air miles my books do and the wasted packaging they produce by sending them all separately or in small bundles.... but I love free shipping. I feel bad that my local Borders is now a three storey shell of its former self... but I think greedily of all those bookshelves and other fixtures up for sale and the thought of one dollar books coming up in the next day or so as they sell off the last of their stock. I hate that these types of online shops makes it harder for Australian writers to make a living from their writing but I love whatever makes books cheaper.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The indignities

Oh, the things you find out when you're pregnant.


Apart from the getting up to pee every few hours, I'm getting pretty tired (both literally and figuratively) of the wakeful dozing, the half sleep, the skirting around consciousness and dreaming, the flip-flopping from side to side, the not-quite-right blankets, the temperature being off kilter and then the loud bangs at 5am, most likely a possum being fried as it resets all the electronics in the house.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

New songs on a Saturday morning (161-170)

As part of my ongoing effort to improve the range of my cultural consumption, I'm casting out for new things to listen to. Parts one and two of this musical escapade can be found here and here. You'll need to search for the rest yourselves.

161. Paolo Nutini - 'Candy' - Listened to one of his songs last week and am now searching out more. His voice is throwback to the records my Dad played when I was little. I am captivated by it. How can it possibly come out of that face?
162.Paolo Nutini - 'Coming Up Easy'.
163. Paolo Nutini - 'Jenny, Don't Be Hasty' - This sounds very familiar and it's altogether possible I've heard it before, probably from the tiny speakers of the portable CD player on the kitchen bench at Dad's place in the country.
164. Paolo Nutini - 'Last Request'.
165. Estelle - 'Pretty Please (Love Me)' - Loved her vocal in 'American Boy'.
167. Estelle - 'No Substitute Love'.
168. Maverick Sabre - 'Let Me Go' - Love this except for the chorus, which takes this from unusual and intriguing to just 'meh'.
169. James Morrison feat. Nelly Furtado - 'Broken Strings'.
170. Nelly Furtado - 'Manos Al Aire'.

Photo source: Paolo Nutini


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