Archive for June, 2010

When only Death will do

Posted on 30 June 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , |

What happens when Death takes an apprentice? Thanks to Sir Terry Pratchett you can find out. Mort by Sir Terry Pratchett is the story of Death and his apprentice, Mort.

Mort is not very good at anything, he tends to think too much about things and his father takes him to the hiring fair on Hogswatch Eve in the hopes someone would pick him up as an apprentice, as it turns out that someone is Death. There are very few books where Death is an active participant and this is one of them. He talks slowly, in capitals and is trying to understand humans with very little success. On this night he comes down to the hiring fair and hires Mort. Everything is okay for a while until Death gives him a chance to work on his own for one night when his feelings get the better of him and he ‘kills’ the wrong person. History must be given an chance to work and so chaos ensues.

I love this book. I can see why my friends aren’t so excited about it as everything seems to work out for the best with Death manipulating time and the Gods to make certain. I have to admit to a certain amount of bias as I really like Death, he has a heart of gold and really means well, in this book we see him trying to understand fun and what it is we do in order to enjoy ourselves; it’s a nice unbiased look at people and questions why we do these things.

Terry Pratchett Challenge 2010

Terry Pratchett Challenge 2010

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Teaser Tuesday: Mort by Terry Pratchett

Posted on 29 June 2010. Filed under: Teaser Tuesday | Tags: , , |

I’m just joining Teaser Tuesday.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“They clustered now around The Mended Drum in Filigree Street, foremost of the city’s taverns. It was famed not for its beer, which looked like maiden’s water and tasted like battery acid, but for it’s clientele. It was said if you sat long enough in the Drum, then sooner or later every major hero on the Disc would steal your horse.”

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Posted on 28 June 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: |

Yesterday I listened to the reading of a lovely little children’s book called Rindercella. It was read by Mary Bryant from MLOC Productions Inc. She’s a talented reader and the book was quite lovely, it took a lot of concentration as it’s a re-writing of the popular story, Cinderella, but I had fun. This reading was part of a lovely afternoon of fun and music put on by MLOC, they’re putting on Annie in November so you can book your tickets and get their talent firsthand.

Back to Rindercella. I’m sure you all know the story. She’s pushed into service by her sugly isters and denied attendance to the bancy fall. Her gairy fodmother appears and sends her to the fall. She slopped her dripper and was eventually found by the prandsom hince and they lived heverly ever hapwards.

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Jaws – Peter Benchley

Posted on 25 June 2010. Filed under: Squid Ink | Tags: , , |

Jaws - Squid Ink

The novel, Jaws, was originally written by Peter Benchley in 1974. It was a great book and the tension was held on tight right through to the very end. I read it when I was much younger but have never seen the movie, it was bad enough reading the book I never wanted to be made totally scared of the sea. I saw an interview with Steven Spielberg a few days ago and he was saying how he felt it would be much scarier if we never actually saw the shark.

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The Secret – Poem

Posted on 24 June 2010. Filed under: Guest Blogger | Tags: |

I need to apologise to anyone who was looking forward to ‘pearls of wisdom’ from me over the last couple of days. I’ve only really got a half an excuse for yesterday. I generally write at night as I find I write better when I’m tired and last night it was challenging to concentrate on anything useful. It was the night that changed the world, well someone’s world. It was the night we heard rumours of a spill in the leadership of Australia. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd eventually announced there would be a caucus vote this morning and there was so much speculation in the world of Twitter and so much to watch on TV that I just wasn’t able to focus to even type up a poem. Today ended up being a very historical day as we ended up with our first female Prime Minister. Mr Rudd stepped aside and Julia Gillard was voted in and subsequently sworn into the position of Prime Minister. This is a big step for Australia and I admit to being rather distracted last night and this morning.

Anyway, what I would have been posting last night is a poem. It’s not mine and I don’t believe it’s been published anywhere else. The author is a friend of mine from the op shop. Peggy is currently in her eighties, that’s her chronological age and her body age is probably closer to 120, but she has great spirit and keeps going despite everything. She left school at the age of 14 and is totally fascinated with words having done crosswords and other word puzzles for many years. She’s fairly well read and literate and the other day gave the honour of showing me her poems. She doesn’t show many people and as I was rather taken with a couple of them she’s letting me show them both to you. This one was written in 1939.

The Secret

If you can keep a secret
I’ll tell this one to you,
I’ve only told my dolly
And she’s so very true.

She’ll never say a single word
So different from the “Dickie Bird’,
Who tells my Mummy, all I do.

Just bend your head a little low,
I don’t want anyone else to know,
Mummy is sick with a very bad cold
And I want her to see it, before she is told.

I found it tucked in my old cot to-day.
When every-one thought I was out to play,
‘Twill be the biggest surprise Mummy ever has had
And when she has seen it, I’ll show it to Dad.

I’m the only one knows, the stork has been
With the sweetest baby, you ever have seen.

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Eclectic Books

Posted on 22 June 2010. Filed under: Collections, Uncategorized | Tags: , |

I seem to have a collection of eclectic books. Some of them are novelisations of movies while others are spins offs and the rest are just a little strange.

The novelisations of movies are:

The Great Dinosaur Robbery by David Forrest which starred Peter Ustinov, Helen Hayes, Clive Revill, Derek Nimmo, Joan Sims, Bernard Bresslaw, Natasha Pyne, Roy Kinnear, Joss Ackland and Deryck Guyler. It’s set in New York where five British Nannies steal the skeleton of a 200 million-year-old dinosaur, not just any dinosaur skeleton but a brontosaurus skeleton. It’s fabulous fun as were most of the Walt Disney movies made in the 1960s and 70s.

“Don’t Look Now…we’re being shot at!” starring Terry-Thomas and Bourvil.

Monto Carlo or Bust with a cast of stars including Tony Curtis, Terry-Thomas, Bourvil, Walter Chiari, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, and Eric Sykes. It’s set in the 1920s during the big race to Monto Carlo and there’s a lot riding on this race. There’s reputations, inventions and most of all…money.

The World’s Greatest Athlete starring Tim Conway, Jan-Michael Vincent, John Amos, Roscoe Lee Browne, Dayle Haddon, Billy DeWolfe and Nancy Walker. The coach was having trouble, he was always losing…until one day he brought back a young jungle boy from Africa.

1941 starred Dan Aykroyd, Ned Beatty, John Belushi, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Christopher Lee, Tim Matheson, Toshiro Mifune, Warren Oates, Robert Stack, Treat William. The plot, if there is one, six days after Pearl Harbor, a Japanese submarine surfaces off the coast of California. Its mission – to capture Hollywood…the result – total unbridled lunacy!

Jabberwocky was created by some of the Monty Python team and starred too many people to list but included Michael Palen, John Le Mesurier, Warren Mitchell, Annette Badland, Harry H. Corbett and Terry Jones. It is the story of King Bruno the Questionable’s attempt to save a cast of thousands from the threat of the Jabberwocky. I’ve only just found this book so haven’t had time to read it as yet but I suspect it’s as mad as anything done by the Monty Python team.

The original novels based on television series are three books about Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 of Control and I’m sure you all know about him and Captain Nice. Mild, meek, mother’s boy Carter Nash is Captain Nice, the super-human protector of Big Town. With these books anything that can go wrong will go wrong at the funniest possible moment and in the funniest possible way. All four of these books are written by William Johnston.

As for the rest, well they’re a miscelleous bunch of wackiness. We’ve got:

The Trouble with Mobb’s Mob, written by Ray Slattery. It’s set in New Guinea and the Pacific war is raging…somewhere off in the distance. It’s a book about a bunch of Aussies braving the war behind the lines. It’s neither exciting, gripping, bloody, suspenseful or sexy. But it is funny.

Kings Cross Crims by Michael Hunter. Set in Sydney, Australia the mob are being harrassed by Detective Reilly so they decide to build underground and that is where the hilarity ensues as Madam Sadie’s daughter likes the new engineer just a tad too much.

I’ll Plead Insanity by David Cross. I picked this book up from a little shop in a little town somewhere, possibly in Warburton, quite some time ago. I was enchanted by the idea of the plot which seemed rather far fetched and also by the idea of a far-fetched plot set in Australia. A summary of the plot goes a bit like this: Richard is a young widower whose wife, it seems, has fallen over a cliff and been eaten by a shark (except her left leg). He constantly tries to get young women into bed and fails at every turn. There is a policeman investigating in Maigret fashion who gives Richard a cookbook but Richard manages to stuff up the most basic of recipes. So many strange things happen including things that go bump in the night.

Dancing Aztecs by Donald E. Westlake is set in New York. We have a dozen statues one of which is made of solid gold and is worth a million dollars, they all get mixed up and chaos mixed with hilarity ensues.

The very last one has a bitter-sweet story. It’s called Two Lucky People by Tony Kenrick. It’s the story of two people who have the same very rare disease, they’re going to die in one month and they’re both feeling very sorry for themselves and for not having done anything useful in their lives, then they meet Mason Ramsey and decide to help him fulfil his dream of having a concert hall in a poor neighbourhood. Mason was being threatened by Giogios Kolynos. Kolynos was an ex-gangster who had the best of everything: he had the best secretary; the best address; the best apartment and the best staff. Harry and Grace set out to change all of that.

I know I’ve left lots of information out of this article, but the thing that brings them all together is that they’re all quirky and humorous. Some of them have a sad story in them but there’s so much goodness in them that I want to read and reread them over and over again. Others are just totally mad and need to be read many times in order to understand the madness.

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Rocky & Gawenda – Michael Gawenda

Posted on 20 June 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , |

I picked up this book with some small amount of trepidation as well as a little excitement. Michael Gawenda is my cousin’s uncle and I must have seen and probably spoken to him when I was young but I don’t actually recall doing so. I was trepidacious about reading a book written by someone so close to me and excited as I know his background and I expected him to be a fairly good writer. I was not disappointed, the writing was polished and professional and has a lovely use of words, I really appreciated Gawenda’s word usage. I has to reread many parts as I found myself thinking there was a typo as it just didn’t look right, but on rereading I found I was just putting the pauses or the emphasis in the wrong place and when I changed the way I read it the passage meant something entirely different…it was delightful. I was particularly taken with the chapters written by his children, Chasky and Evie, as the writing was a completely different style to Gawenda, it was great to see the difference in writing between the generations and to get a different view of him and his interactions with his dogs.

The book was originally published as a blogon the Crikey website and only some of the entries were deemed suitable for publication in book formatha. It is composed of the things that occurred to him while he was walking his dog, Rocky and covered so many different topics. Gawenda posted his last entry on 18th November 2009, he is still around and I’m sure we’ll see him doing other things, just not posting on his blog.

Last weekend I was at Limmud Oz, a Festival of Jewish Learning and Culture. It was an exciting weekend and was jam-packed full of fabulous presentations. One of the sessions was taken up by a Media Q and A, just like the programme on ABC1 but with Jews who work in the media as the panel, one of whom was Gawenda. I was still in the middle of this book and took it with me although I’m still trying to figure out why. I’m sure I’ve already discussed that I’m generally not interested in signatures and I feel it would have been a little crass for me to hold it out to him asking for his signature so as to increase the selling value. I was within earshot when he spoke to a friend of his who asked about his book and I could have easily pulled it out in time and popped over there but I didn’t.

I do think I’ve been totally mixed up by the internet’s social media. The Media Q and A took about an hour and during most of that time I was wanting to refresh my screen so I could check out what other people were saying on Twitter. I generally don’t watch the ABC1 programme on TV, Q and A, as the other members of my house want to watch other things but I do watch it on Twitter and it’s most amusing reading what other people think of the programme. If you’re interested you can check it out yourself using the hash tag #qanda I particularly missed Leslie Cannold who regularly comments on the number of men and women on the panel, she would have had a field day as we had one woman and four men.

I will have a couple of other sessions to write about in the future when I’ve had time to idigest them and look over my notes. They were not easy sessions to attend as you’ll find out in due course and I hope you’ll stay tuned in here to find out more details, but it could be a while.

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How Aussie are You?

Posted on 18 June 2010. Filed under: Memes | Tags: |

I pinched this meme from Reading Upside Down who found this meme at Tina Gray {dot} Me, who apparently borrowed it from Flawed. It’s like the circle of life, but with blog content rather than cute animated Disney characters. I don’t normally do meme’s but I thought this was fun.

Well, here we go, I’ve highlighted all the one’s I’ve completed and added some extra comments in brackets here and there (you might want to remove these if you copy & paste the list for your blog). I have a score of 53/102, which is way better than I expected but there were very few sport questions.

How many of these things have you done?

1. Heard a kookaburra in person. (My OH had his steak stolen from his plate one night while camping and then fended off another one with his elbow when it tried to take some from my plate)
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Seen a koala.
4. Visited Melbourne. (I live in Melbourne, does that count?)
5. Watched a summer thunderstorm.
6. Worn a pair of thongs. (Can’t say I enjoyed the experience)
7. Been to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock)
8. Visited Cape York.
9. Held a snake.
10. Sang along with Khe San. (only on the radio)
11. Drank VB. (possibly but I’m not prepared to mark it as I don’t know, I’m not really a beer drinker)
12. Visited Sydney.
13. Have seen a shark.
14. Have used Aussie (and NZ) slang naturally in a conversation.
15. Had an actual conversation with an indigenous Australian (Aboriginal).
16. Eaten hot chips from the bag at the beach.
17. Walked/climbed over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
18. Used an outside dunny, and checked under the seat before sitting down. (We had an outside dunny when I was young, I recall using it with great trepidation and I know we had red back spiders in that general area)
19. Seen Chloe in Young & Jackson’s.
20. Slept on an overnight train or bus.
21. Been to Sydney’s Mardi Gras
22. Have gone bush-bashing.
23. Taken a sickie.
24. Been to see a game of Aussie Rules football.
25. Have seen wild camels.
26. Gone skinny dipping.
27. Done a Tim Tam Slam.
28. Ridden in a tram in Melbourne.
29. Been at an ANZAC day Dawn Service.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Held a wombat. (Had a baby wombat climb into my lap and try to snuggle in for a sleep in Tasmania)
32. Been on a roadtrip of 800km or more.
33. Seen the Great Australian Bight in person.
34. Had a really bad sunburn.
35. Visited an Aboriginal community.
36. Seen a redback spider. (far too many times)
37. Have watched Paul Hogan.
38. Seen Blue Poles in person. (and wondered why I didn’t do the same thing, we could use the money)
39. Wandered barefoot in the bush/outback.
40. Eaten Vegemite.
41. Thrown a boomerang. (it didn’t come, I’m a bit incompetent)
42. Seen the Kimberleys.
43. Given a hitch-hiker a lift.
44. Been to Perth.
45. Have tried Lemon, Lime and Bitters.
46. Tried playing a didgeridoo.
47. Seen dinosaur footprints.
48. Eaten Tim Tams. (it doesn’t say ‘enjoyed Tim Tams’ so I do get to bold this one, I don’t actually like them)
49. Been to Darwin.
50. Touched a kangaroo.
51. Visted the Great Barrier Reef.
52. Listened to Kevin Bloody Wilson.
53. Killed a Cane Toad.
54. Gone to a drive-in theatre. (my aunt lived next to one so as well as actually attending one we could watch the move from her driveway, I saw Herbie, The Love Bug from her driveway)
55. Have read and own books by Australian authors. (I’m a big supporter of the Australian writing industry)
56. Visited Adelaide.
57. Know the story behind “Eternity”.
58. Been camping. (We were camping when the kookaburra took my OH’s steak)
59. Visited Brisbane.
60. Been in an outback pub.
61. Know what the term “Waltzing Matilda” actually means. (I used to know this, but I’ve forgotten)
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Listened to Slim Dusty
64. Own five or more Australian movies or TV series. (If I’m able to include the Countdown Reunion, two series of Aunty Jack (I also have the record of Aunty Jack which I bought in the 1970s) and 3 series of Chaser then I just squeak it in)
65. Sang along to Down Under.
66. Have stopped specifically to look at an historic marker by the side of the road. (mostly dragged over to look at historial markers)
67. Eaten a 4′n’20 pie.
68. Surfed at Bondi.
69. Watched the cricket on Boxing Day.
70. Visited Hobart. (attended a conference in Hobart)
71. Eaten kangaroo.
72. Seen a quokka.
73. Visited Canberra. (for my sins)
74. Visited rainforests.
75. Used a Victa lawnmower.
76. Travelled on a tram in Adelaide. (I missed out on this one as I was the driver and met the tram at the other end, they only travelled one way)
77. Used a Hills hoist.
78. Visited Kata Tjuta
79. Used native Australian plants in cooking.
80. Visited the snow.
81. Chosen a side in Holden VS Ford. (they’re just cars, why the debate?)
82. Visited the desert.
83. Been water skiing
84. Read The Phantom.
85. Visited Parliament House.
86. Gone spotlighting or pig-shooting.
87. Crossed the Nullarbor.
88. Avoided swimming in areas because of crocodiles.
89. Listened to AC/DC.
90. Called someone a dag.
91. Voted in a Federal Election.
92. Have been swimming and stayed between the flags.
93. Had a possum in your roof.
94. Visited the outback.
95. Travelled over corrugated roads.
96. Hit a kangaroo while driving. (No, thanks heavens)
97. Been well outside any mobile phone coverage.
98. Seen an emu. (had an emu try to pinch our lunch. Did you know you only have to be taller than them to scare them off?)
99. Have woken to the smell of bushfires.
100. Subscribed to RRR.
101. Patted a pure-bred dingo.
102. Seen the Oils live.

If you use this meme on your blog, come back and leave a comment, or go back to Reading Upside Down and leave a comment there.

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Squid Ink

Posted on 17 June 2010. Filed under: Squid Ink | Tags: , , , |

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

If you like these a comment would be nice so I can pass it on to the artist. You did realise it wasn’t me didn’t you? I have trouble drawing recognizable stick figures.

Listed for sale on the website.

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Starstruck – the movie

Posted on 16 June 2010. Filed under: Video | Tags: , , |

This is the typical story of two teens meeting and falling in love. One of them is famous, Christopher Wilde played by Sterling Knight, and the other isn’t, Jessica Olson played by Danielle Campbell. Jessica’s older sister, Sara played by Maggie Castle, is mad keen on Christopher and is desperate to meet him on their trip to see their grandma while Jessica is totally unexcited and just wants to see their grandma. Thanks to Sara’s desperation, Jessica runs into Christopher and ends up spending a day with him. They fall madly in love but won’t admit it, Christopher because he wants to protect her from the paparazzi and Jessica because she doesn’t understand his motives. Everything comes out all right in the end as you’d expect.

It’s a cute little movie and there are some scenes which highlight the current storyline. One scene I noticed was when Christopher is turning things down in order to be with Jessica and he does this on a movie set between takes. The scene being shot is full of rain while the weather outside is lovely and sunny, it just highlights how he’s moving from being very sad to very happy and shows he’s doing the right thing. This is just one example as there are many of these little asides happening throughout the show.

The music is nice and light, quite appropriate to young people, there are no scenes of dubiousness as it’s aimed at the preteen and early teen market. I quite enjoyed it despite it being a love story. There is a little bit of violence, but it’s mostly accidental and they apologise for it.

All three actors were good, but there is one person I’m going to watch out for as he grows up. Brandon Smith played Christopher’s best friend, Stubby. I was quite taken with his performance, especially his singing.

I checked out all four actors and discovered that Maggie Castle has a lot more experience in the film industry than the other three, maybe that’s what made her performance a little more believable than the others.

Thank you again to the lovely people at Disney for providing me a copy of this movie. It was released on DVD a few days ago with an extended version of the movie and a couple of extra music videos attached to the movie. I quite like these but when I saw the word ‘Extras’ I expected a little more.

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