Monday, May 30

A Red Leap into The Arrival

Each time that I open it, The Arrival by Shaun Tan makes me gasp with surprise and delight.  If you have seen this book before, I assure you, it is high time to march yourself down to the library and borrow it!  So do!  The pictures are stunning!  It has not words, but the pictures so beautifully articulate every pulsating emotion and trembling utterance that no words are wanted.  It is a truly remarkable experience. 

The Arrival has been adapted into a...  I suppose it is really a 'play' by the Red Leap Theatre group of New Zealand.  I have posted two videos showing scenes from this play.  The first goes fro three minutes, and shows little snatches, while the second goes for ten minutes, and allows for a deeper peek at the performance.  I was first shown this by my drama teacher, who is also very passionate about this book.  It exudes exactly the whimsical and quirky atmosphere that dusts the pages of the book. 

For a quick peek..

or for a considerably longer peek...

After peeking either way, are you feeling intrigued?  I plan to share as many of the visual conventions of my process drama assignment based on the concepts of The Arrival as possible within the next week, (it's due in less than a week), and hopefully, after taking such a small sip from Shaun Tan's cup, you'll be licking your lips and borrowing the book!  I am so sure that you'll enjoy it.  Words or no words, a book-lover will be lovingly enfolded in the story the pictures tell. 

Sunday, May 29

The Boat

I don't have all that much time to devote to talking tonight, so I will quickly rattle off the things upmost in my mind.

  1. No body has thought to suggest a book for the 100 Books to Read Before You Die list in such a long time.  I know that I have hundreds of books that I think you should all read before you die, so you must have at least a couple.  So why don't you think of one, or two, or even three of your favourites, the ones that you want to make the world acknowledge, ones that have slipped through the fingers of society and have settled at the bottom of the shelf to be discovered for its greatness by YOU.  Those are the ones that you just have got to share.  I know that you know what I mean. 
  2. I would like you all to know that I am someone that you can just ramble about what you're reading to.  I do it to you, so you can certainly ramble on back.  What are you reading at the moment?  What do you love about it?  What is it that is burning on your mind to just say, but no one you know would value hearing it?  That is the sort of stuff you can unload here, because we're book-lovers and I'm pretty sure that everyone who reads Bouquets is in the same boat.  That's what Bouquets is trying to be - the boat that we're all in.  Hmm.  That kind of cute and comical.  Is it just me?
That's all that's floating about on the surface of my mind right this moment!  Do you think maybe we can achieve some of these things? 

Saturday, May 28

Nessie on This Side of Paradise

This is my finished product! As an example, I wrote a letter in the role of an immigrant writing home to his family after a week in a new country, and folded it into a crane, following the video I posted yesterday. It's amazing how easy it is to do a second time! Really, I think that I could probably do it again by myself, so that really is saying a lot, don't you reckon? Granted, it does look a bit like the Loch Ness monster.

I certainly hope that you all have similar success if you give it a go. I also had a look at some 'magic balls', and had my living daylights stunned straight out of me like frightened rabbits! Have a peek on Youtube at origami magic balls. That is just not fair, I think. How incredible is it?

By the way, I bought two new books today, on the spur of the moment! It was quite something, actually! I was in Borders, (which to my utter dismay and incredulity is closing down), and bought F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Last Tycoon and This Side of Paradise. And they are beautiful copies too - gorgeous textured cardboard hard cover with crisp, metallic geometrically patterned dust jackets. They are very VERY pretty, (pretty being a word that I use with unbelievable sincerity and solemnity), and I am in agony thinking about how long it is going to take me to read the next three or four books before I will get to read them! Uurghh! Isn't it incredible how the to-read list of a book-lover is the only to-do list on earth that will NEVER EVER IN ETERNITY stop growing! Do you ever get frantic wondering how you are going to get the time in your life to read everyone that you feel you have to? I know it's not possible that I'm the only one!
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Friday, May 27

Finding and Folding

As you already know, I am currently designing a proccess drama as an assignment, and I have decided, after numerous little tribulations, to base it off the spectacular Shaun Tan book, The Arrival.  In this picture book, the main character, an immigrant, writes letter to his family, folding them in the shape of a paper crane for his daughter.  I fancifully thought that it would be utterly delightful to have my participants fold their messages into cranes, as one of the conventions in the narrative, and so, with this luminous vision in mind, trotted onto the web to find some instructions. 

I'm sure that everybody in the world has tried to be good at origami.  It's the same sort of attraction that makes the idea of being a Rubik's cube, sudoku or tapdancing prodigy appealing.  And everybody in the world who has felt this appeal has been sooner or later stumped, snubbed and stomped on by the blatant lack of intelligible instructions! 

Several web pages, fingers and square papers later, I was now at least 20 points lower in IQ and beginning to feel pessimistic.  Then I found this little Youtube number. 

This guy shows (and what's more, tell you how) to fold a paper crane, and he does it much more simply than any other site I visited.  He explains very clearly and not too fast, so that there is a 90% chance that if you have a brain larger than a peanut, you WILL BE ABLE TO DO ORIGAMI. 

You are very welcome.  My fanciful dreams of paper crane messages lives another day!

Thursday, May 26

The Point of Pointing

There is this great little card game that my friends introduced me too a while back.  Every now and then it floats again to the surface and we enjoy a game or two, or twelve... or twenty... but each and every time we play it, I succeed in having an absolutely wonderful time. 

It is Assassin.  And it goes a little like this.

We all sit in a circle.  Cards (one for each player) are shuffled by the dealer (who is in our case, the very sneakiest of all players).  In this hand, there are three black cards and a single red ace, while all the others are normal red cards. 

The red ace is the Assassin.  (This is the most fun but also the trickiest role to play!  Subtlety is the key, but is so hard to pull off!)

Once dealt a card, each player peeks sneakily at it. 

Then someone calls out "everybody down" at which everyone bows there heads and closes their eyes. 

Then "black team up".  The holders of the black cards now look up, and remember who else is on their team.  The goal of the black team is frankly and simply, to survive, because once all black team members are out, the game is ended.  This means that the red team members would like them all out, too. 

Someone will call out "black team down", and then "everyone up".  Everyone is now up. 

This is the first hugely fun part!  The accusations!  Everyone now tries to guess who is the assassin, and there will be so many fingers pointing and so much laughing and screaming and trying to point out that "such and such is so smug - he is soooooo the Assassin!" 

The person who the majority accuse will be killed, and they reveal their card.  If this person is the assassin, the game is over, but if not, it takes on a new and thrilling turn!

Now, this eliminated player calls "everyone down".  Everyone bows their heads and closes their eyes.  Deja vu.

Then "Assassin up!"  The Assassin now looks up and points at a player, thus assassinating them.

Then "Assassin down and everyone up!"  The assassinated player is eliminated, and everyone gets to accuse whoever they think is the Assassin. 

Basically, the assassin continues to pick off people until they are acused and killed, or all black team members have been killed or assassinated. 

That's kinda the gist of it.  If all black team members are assassinated or accused and thus killed, or if the Assassin is accused and killed, the game is over. 

The thing that makes it so brilliant and exhilarating, though, is the amount of strategy involved, at the same time as the necessity of having to trust gut-feeling!  Oh, I love it so much!  It is such fun trying to work out who the Assassin is, trying to see through their strategies, or just take a leap of faith and point your pointer like it's never pointed before!  It's great.  It gets so exciting and hilarious, especially when you are killed off and finally realise who the Assassin is, and it is always the person you suspected from the beginning and no one else accused, or the very last person you would have imagined.  It is truly one of the greatest games ever, and I think it serves an incredible role in my friends group of really making us feel like a family.  Just the comfort of being able to point and laugh and poke tongues out and scream and whinge and giggle.  So thankyou all, I love it, and I love you. 

Wednesday, May 25

Back to Banjo

You know what?  After all my hopping indecisively backwards and forwards on and off poets for my assignment, I have reached a grand revelation. 

I had originally shied away from Banjo Paterson because I felt that he was the obvious choice.  Everyone would think of doing him!  Why would I stoop to follow convention!  I am unconventional!

I chose Henry Kendall.  For a while, it seemed a brilliant idea.  I adored his poems.  They were flowing and milky and crammed with delightful little alliterated phrases that tingled on your tongue, but in all truth, his poetry was too British in style and wording.  However beautifully written and gorgeous to read, it doesn't convey that really Australian feel that is such a key part of this assignment. 

That was then my moment of revelation!  Banjo Paterson is the obvious choice because he is quintessential.  Banjo Paterson is the quintessential Australian poet!  His work exudes the Australian nature, the rugged, sunburnt beauty the world admires of our nation.  His poetry conveys the vital elements of our identity!

So that is where I am now.  Back to Banjo.  Rightly too.  I think that this is going to work very well, now I've got my head in the right place.

Tuesday, May 24

Herbie Fully Loaded

Herbie is my laptop.  Having a name by which to refer to 'him' gives me a sort of feeling of intimacy and personal space that I never feel on the big, impersonal, completely nameless family desktop computer.  I enjoy spending time with him more.  His size is nearly a quarter of that of the nameless desktop.  Who needs to display their information for metres on either side of their head?  I can see exactly what I want in his tiny, little screen, like a glimpse into a world that is mine only.  It is very personal.  He is a very Personal Computer. 

He gets his name from yes, Herbie the Love Bug.  Like a VW Beetle, there are new, flash, streamlined models of him, but like Herbie, his old, vintage fashion exudes a sort of life and PERSONALITY that far exceeds the witless new models.  He is my little love bug. 

Herbie has not been quite so well of late.  A couple of days back, I went to turn him off for the night.  I shut him down and unplugged him from the wall, but as I didn't linger to catch his final farewelling cries, I failed to discover  that he was going to sit up later than usual to download updates.  Oh if only I'd tarried to listen to him! 

He never slept.  He stayed up all night, and as I woke in the morning, I saw his face, palid in the waxing gloom of early morning, his life's spark fluttering feebly, a mumbled cough exhuming his last composure.  He had run his life batteries down. 

I hooked him up to life support immediately, rent with anxiety.  He remained in an immovable coma all day long.  At intervals I came to sit by his side, just watching for a sign of life somewhere.  But it was not there. 

Late that afternoon, I entered the sick room with my father.  I could hardly bear to watch.  My father examined him without much hope in his heart, but then, oh!  A flutter!  What was that?  It was Herbie's life surging up into him!  The delight grew again like a full-fledged tree within me and I beamed like the sun.  He was going to be alright. 

He is now alive and well. 

He is fully charged. 

He is Herbie Fully Loaded.

Sunday, May 22

The Coolest of Cucumbers

I haven't been getting all that much time to read lately.  I've had too many other things on the agenda this weekend.  Observe:
  1. Sleeping in til 8:30.  (It felt so much later than that when I was lying in bed listening to everyone rushing about downstairs!)
  2. Eating. 
  3. Being in denial about study.
  4. Peeking at my study.
  5. Being in denial about study.
  6. Checking my inbox (empty like a fish bowl after the fish has been flushed down the toilet).  All part of being in denial.
  7. Battling guilt for being in denial.  (It all catches up with you eventually.)
  8. Sitting down at the impersonal family computer to attempt some study.
  9. Achieveing minimal amount of study before using yoghurt as an avoidance strategy.  (Not as easy as it sounds.)
  10. Being in denial about my study.
  11. Eating.
  12. Dancing in my underwear to "Walking on Sunshine".  (Still in denial.)
  13. Going to work.
  14. Work. 
  15. Returning from work.
  16. Eating.
  17. Showering.  More "Walking on Sunshine". 
  18. Reading Frances Whiting's glorious editorial column about internet kissing simulators. (In utter denial.)
  19. Checking my emails (Two brand new goldfish to overfeed!)
  20. Blogging.  (Ah!  The joys of denial!)
Yes, well as you see, denial is the reoccuring theme in today's agenda!  No time to read The Woman in White at all!

It is truly amazing how stressful denial can be, even though the whole point of denial is to avoid doing something stressfull?  It's savage irony.  One side of my mind is tricking the other into thinking that it deserves some to be in denial because it's had burn out the last three weeks.  But no matter how well-noted and considerate this idea is, I know that the sooner I get everything done, the sooner I can chill among the coolest of cucumbers.  Of course, for the greater good of my mental health, a few minutes of unashamed denial could be arranged!

Saturday, May 21

Chalky Impressions

Clad in quiet black or gray gowns, made high round the throat - dresses that she would have laughed at, or screamed at, as the whim of the moment inclined her, in her maiden days - she sits speachless in corners; her dry white hands (so dry that the pore of her skin look chalky) incessantly engaged, either in monotonous embroidery work, or in rolling up endless little cigarettes for the Count's own particular smoking. 

Marian Halcombe's narrative, Chapter Two, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (published 1860).

Obviously, what I have shown you does not include an awful lot of description appearance wise, but even after this sentence, isn't is such a simple task to piece a picture together of what Countess Fosco would look like?  Maybe even smell like?  I am immediately repulsed by her.  What does you look like to you? 

N.B.  Just a little wake up call that I feel is due - there haven't been any suggestions for out list of 100 Books to Read Before You Die for ages now.  Surely you all have a book that you are passionate about?  I don't want to fill up the entire list myself, although I will if you give me the chance!

Thursday, May 19

My Tad Eccentric New Hobby

Do you know what is extremely frustrating?  When I had it all planned out exactly what I wanted to say tonight, and I even had a youtube clip and everything and then I couldn't insert the clip.  Don't get me wrong!  I do know how to - for some reason, it just wasn't recognizing the url, and all the clips on the same topic were extremely dodgy, and completely defeated the purpose of showing you at all! 

In response to Deidre's lovely comment, I am not really all that much of a poetry or short story person, either.  It's just some poetry that I enjoy.  A lot of poetry I find redundant and annoying, and short stories I find quite aggravating!  Who can really be bothered to sit down and read a short story?  I really can't!  A short book, yes, of course.  I welcome you with open arms.  But short stories end so quickly so that you go "no, that's stupid - really?" when they introduce a brilliant concept just to let it flop in the most pathetic way possible after two pages. 

I have, however, discovered an absolutely fantastic new hobby!  It's a tad eccentric, but I gave it a go this morning sitting in a parked car.  I had a book of Henry Kendall poems in my hands and I was reading it aloud with all the feeling and passion I could muster...   Right over the top of symphony orchestra pieces on the radio. 

Oh!  It is so great!  The music seems to reach its glorious climax right as the poem does, and I proclaimed the sweet words zealously above the strains!  I was seriously having so much fun.  I couldn't stop laughing - it just sounded so wonderful, and was such fun.  You know, I think that is something that I could do every morning.  It puts you in the greatest of moods!  It just has to be poetry that you like the sound of, because I can't imagine it would be at all fun with boring, bland, redundant poetry.  And I suppose you could always use prose, too, but poetry has definite rhthym and it flows with music so well!

One of my friends, upon being explained how fun this activity is, declared that they would imagine it to be like talking over a telescreen.  This was a reference to the racuous and perpetuous telescreens from George Orwell's 1984.  And this is of course a very negative conotation.  That seriously annoyed me.  Ah well.  Nearly all of my joys are entirely my own.  I thought is was brilliant, and I will definitely be doing it again tomorrow.  So if anyone is driving along the road and sees a random brunette locked up in a car laughing herself silly, a book in her hand and the booming refrains of the orchestra pulsing about her...  it's me.  It could be you too, you know. 

Wednesday, May 18

Buttering the Sky

Changesofheart asked today whether I had a poem to share.  Well, I don't have any particular favourites out of  the ones I've been reading for my assignment, (at least at the moment), but there is an odd sort of lovely thing that I found at random a while back, which I have thought about sharing, but never really gotten around to it.  Ha.  Well this is certainly as good a time as any!

This is Buttering the Sky by Hafiz.

On my shoes,
Boiling water,
Toasting bread,
Buttering the sky:
That should be enough contact
With God in one day
To make anyone

OK.  Now for the prestige.  This guy, Hafiz, is lived from 1320 to 1389, and was a mystic Sufi poet from Persia.  Upon proudly googling the topic, I have learnt that Sufi poetry is poetry written for private devotionals or as lyrics to worship (to no fixed deity).  

It's weird, isn't it, that through exact translation, a Persian poet's 14th century poem is twice as modern as poems written by people like Keats and Kendall in the 19th and 20th century!  You know, this isn't the first time I've been surprised by the seemingly inappropriate modern...ness of writing.  I had the same sort of feeling with Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.  It was so so so modern!  It didn't read like a classic at all, completely ironic to its being written in the 18th century!  Anyway, I'm sure that Hafiz's superbly random and hilariously optimistic little stanzas are good for comic relief on a night like tonight!  So here's another I whipped up earlier.  Hafiz's The Happy Virus:

I caught the happy virus last night
When I was out singing beneath the stars.
It is remarkably contagious -
So kiss me.

Tuesday, May 17

The Neurotic Bat

Yesterday and today I have felt really wonderful, and it is all your fault. 

I have had so much encouragement from you, my dears, and it has been very uplifting.  Right now, however, I am once again swamped with assignments and annoyed that my room as turned into a study-cave in which I am the lording bat.  Being a bat, great hearing distracts me constantly with squeaks, creaks and squeals produced inconsiderately by the stairs, the doors and my sister.  I am also drinking plenty of water. 

Mignon McLaughlin in The Second Neurotic's Notebook (1966) said: "There's only one person who needs a glass of water oftener than a small child tucked in for the night, and that's a writer sitting down to write", and well, what can be added?  This is so ridiculously true!  I am using it as sustenance, hydration, avoidance, denial and entertainment all in one.  I just NEED it for study, and writing etcetera etcetera.  I feel like a drunkard.  But it's water, so as long as I don't start to rinse the sodium from my brain, I'm safe.  (I'm not drinking half as much as I would need to start rinsing sodium out of my brain!  Rest assured.)

I'm dissapointed to have to inform you I haven't read since Sunday morning because every single moment of my life has been studying and then stealing fifteen minutes to blog.  I feel like I have to blog.  It's just not an option not to.  But I'm missing having the time to read.  If I sit and read, I immediately feel like I should be studying instead, and who can concentrate on a tangled plot line if they are battling a nagging guilt?  I really can't.  And what's more, I have a cute and totally like-minded friend who wants me to read their book.  To do so I will have to do two things:
  1. Finish The Woman in White
  2. And wrestle with Jeffnaboots to the death over it (she has it, but isn't reading it!)
After that, I would really like to read The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  Mmmhmm.  I know.  It isn't really my style, being less than a hundred years old, but I feel the need to detox my reading life a little.  Uuugh!  I just hope I can get to it withing the next decade. 

On the bright side, I'm reading plenty of poetry as I search for sustainence for my new assignment, so hopefully there will be some fuel there for sharing.

Oh, by the way, I have come up with a concept for the process drama I am trying to create.  I was thinking of using the concept of the Lost Boys from Peter Pan.  So hopefully that's sorted. 

How is your reading life?  Is anything new or exciting?  How about you share a quote or a chapter number?

Monday, May 16

Goodnight Dear Void

In my favourite movie of all times, my favourite fictional person of all times says:

"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void."

Well.  What can I say?  The person who I aspire to be most like has said exactly what was on my tongue.  Every word of it.

I think this about my life now, the life I've thrown together as a possibility for the future.  Am I doing what I'm doing because I want to, because I enjoy it?  Or do I plan to trot down the path I've laid out because it makes sense?  Because it seems like the logical idea? 

If I was to be entirely free of all choice and opinion, I would work in a book store, reading aloud to whoever will listen.  Read in old people's homes.  Buy a book every month.  Attend a writer's group.  Recite at a poetry group.  Run a reading group.  Perform with a theatre troupe.  Make music on the top of a wind blown hill.  Write a book, damn it.  Publish a book.  Receive fan mail and reply to every single one of those innocent, little letters.  Hang pictures on my fridge from children I've read to.  Bicycle to work.  Carry flowers with me wherever I go.  Have company for dinner once a week.  And in general, live my life vibrantly, surrounded by people and books. 

What would you do?

Goodnight dear void. 

Sunday, May 15

Time Will Tell

The value of a watch!  Well, that could be the beginning of a major debate, hey?  I've never liked wearing a watch - something about having it strapped onto my arm is uncomfortable for me.  But I've always kept in mind what I once heard somebody say.  "Your watch reflects more about yourself than any other article of clothing or jewellry that you could wear."  And I suppose that makes sense to me.  Really, why shouldn't it?  Because there are so many elements of a watch to choose - the shape, the size, the colour, the style of the hands, the style of the numerals, the clip itself even.  There's a lot there to reflect your tastes. 

And then my brother gave me a Christmas present.  Mind, this is dating back to when it was actually Christmastime. 

He wrapped the little box with homemade wrapping paper, and the card that he has made himself said very suggestively "In this style 10/6".  This was a very clever little twist of ideas.  Not only was it the same inscription as the card in the Mad Hatter's top hat (from the book!) but the gift itself was 'in the style' of Wonderland. 

It was a silver pocket watch.  It was just the right size for me.  Just the right colour.  Just the right thickness.  The design was elegant and complex and baffling all at once in true Wonderland flavour, and you could see straight into its little hard-working heart, with the whimsical brass wires and golden cogs toiling humbly to a gentle beat.  And it doesn't strap to my wrist.  It snuggles in my pocket.  I whip it out at the momentary impulsenand flip open the lip to peek affectionately at the numerals.  It is so wonderful.  I adore having to wind it every day.  There is such a sturdy, unfailing mechanical...ness to having to wind it.  I love it.  Until I was given it, I had trusted entirely to my body clock, which as you undoubtedly have discovered, is not the most honest time-measurement ever invented; mine has a frustrating propensity to trick me. 

There is great value in having a watch.  And I think mine reflects me beautifully.  Isn't it sweet that my brother could choose it so perfectly?  You know it tickles my delight so much that I have a pocket watch for the sake of it being a POCKET watch.  You know Sherlock Holmes, or even my gorgeous Watson, for that matter, would have easily been able to deduce from my pocket watch my daily habits?  Mmmmm.  It's so great, isn't it?

Saturday, May 14

Take Your Chance Anyhow, Wid Magginis!

I'm sorry my dears for not posting quite as regularly as you've grown accustomed to, but Blogger itself has been tangled in technical difficulites recently.  Oh the horror!  Anyway, while I could have been blogging, I've been reading poems.  Lots and lots of Australian poems in the search for two that reflect and influence Australian culture, acknowledge marginalised minorities and reflect the values of the time.  Hmmm.  Alrighty then.  To be absolutely frank, I don't really think there are any poems that tick all these boxes.  Values, yes.  Marginalised minorities, of course.  Reflect Aussie culture, yes indeed.  But all three?  Well, as yet, I haven't discovered a poem that does... 

I have however, discovered a pretty funny little poem by Banjo Paterson that I've never heard before.  The way I laughed at the end pretty well compensates for failing at finding poems for my assignments.  I thought is was sweet and clever, so you will probably enjoy it too.  It's a nice little taste of Australia, at least, especially for you who are currently in another hemisphere.  N. B.  It's not long, and if you want an explaination for any of the words or phrases, just ask.

A Bush Christening by A. B. Paterson

On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,

And men of religion are scanty,
On a road never cross'd 'cept by folk that are lost,
One Michael Magee had a shanty.

Now this Mike was the dad of a ten-year-old lad,
Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
For the youngster had never been christened,

And his wife used to cry, "If the darlin' should die
Saint Peter would not recognise him."
But by luck he survived till a preacher arrived,
Who agreed straightaway to baptise him.

Now the artful young rogue, while they held their collogue,
With his ear to the keyhole was listenin',
And he muttered in fright while his features turned white,
"What the divil and all is this christenin'?"
He was none of your dolts, he had seen them brand colts,
And it seemed to his small understanding,
If the man in the frock made him one of the flock,
It must mean something very like branding.

So away with a rush he set off for the bush,
While the tears in his eyelids they glistened-
"'Tis outrageous," says he, "to brand youngsters like me,
I'll be dashed if I'll stop to be christened!"

Like a young native dog he ran into a log,
And his father with language uncivil,
Never heeding the "praste" cried aloud in his haste,
"Come out and be christened, you divil!"

But he lay there as snug as a bug in a rug,
And his parents in vain might reprove him,
Till his reverence spoke (he was fond of a joke)
"I've a notion," says he, "that'll move him."

"Poke a stick up the log, give the spalpeen a prog;
Poke him aisy-don't hurt him or maim him,
'Tis not long that he'll stand, I've the water at hand,
As he rushes out this end I'll name him.
"Here he comes, and for shame! ye've forgotten the name-
Is it Patsy or Michael or Dinnis?"
Here the youngster ran out, and the priest gave a shout-
"Take your chance, anyhow, wid 'Maginnis'!"

As the howling young cub ran away to the scrub
Where he knew that pursuit would be risky,
The priest, as he fled, flung a flask at his head
That was labelled "Maginnis's Whisky!"

And Maginnis Magee has been made a J.P.,
And the one thing he hates more than sin is
To be asked by the folk who have heard of the joke,
How he came to be christened "Maginnis"!

The Bulletin, 16 December 1893.

It's a funny one, hey?  Not outrageous, but cutely funny.  It's my find of the day.

Thursday, May 12

The Elusive Idea

I'm trying so very hard here to create a process drama.  A process drama is a drama that is not completely scripted and designed like a play for example, but rather guided along by a framework of improvisations, role plays and dramatic activities (which are very many!).  To kick start a process drama can be as simple as presenting a group with something that they can think about, like a diary entry, a story etcetera etcetera.  Then the story is 'guided' along the framework to reach a certain end.  The improvisation side of it means that anything can happen, but it should have been designed in such a way that a certain end is likely to be achieved if the drama runs its course. It's not something for an audience to watch, but rather for the audience to do.  The group is the audience, the students and the participators all rolled into one.  It's a great concept, but very hard to explain!  And I am trying so very hard to create one. 

I have so many little thoughts, but none of them are sustainance enough to actually fuel an entire drama.  And most of my ideas have come out of books.  There's nothing to stop me from pulling out themes, scenes, characters, plots or whatever I like from a book or a movie if I want, but I'd sort of prefer to have the creativity to come up with something myself.  Is that realistic?  Maybe not. 

Ah well.  It's time to go to bed anyway.  I'm just a tad stressed out about this though.  Once I get started, it will be so enjoyable and interesting to write up.  It's just the ideas!  Why are they so elusive?

Wednesday, May 11

I've Been Duped!

I take it all back!  Oh dear!  I'm afraid I've been saying that The Woman in White isn't such a good book at all, but I've just come to a great and sudden revelation! 

For 400 pages, I've trotted along through the story, thinking to myself, "well, this is terribly unexciting.  When is something worth reading going to happen".  Then, on page 420, I got it.  Suddenly and painfully, the truth sprung out at me.  I've been played!  For 400 pages, wonderful Wilkie has been teasing - a move that might have lost some readers, but has claimed my respect and adoration with renewed fervour. 

For 400 pages, I've been frustrated by the slowness and the pathetic...ness of certain characters.  Well, I now know why.  He wanted me to feel just like Marian Halcombe, the narrator at the time.  She was in constant suspense, waiting for disaster, afraid for her sister's safety, distrustful of those about her.  It was all a long, drawn out build up!  I was made to feel just like the Marian, and now that the narrator has changed, and the danger is alive and active, I am emotionally involved on an intense level that I was completely unexpected.  Well, he is a very smart one. 

Eh bien, I am delighted that Wilkie has proved his ingenuity once again, I am still far from recommending.  I honestly don't think that there are very many people who could stand the 400 pages of build up, however great the ultimate effects.  Read The Moonstone and be delighted by the swiftest, most suspensesful and intriguing, witty and ingenious story line every woven by mortal mind!

Tuesday, May 10

The October of Coincidences

October, the maiden of bright yellow tresses,
Loiters for love in these cool wildernesses;
Loiters, knee-deep, in the grasses, to listen,
Where dripping rocks gleam and the leafy pools glisten:
Then is the time when the water-moons splendid
Break with their gold, and are scattered or blended
Over the creeks, till the woodlands have warning
Of songs of the bell-bird and wings of the Morning.

Often I sit, looking back to a childhood,
Mixt with the sights and the sounds of the wildwood,
Longing for power and the sweetness to fashion,
Lyrics with beats like the heart-beats of Passion; -
Songs interwoven of lights and of laughters
Borrowed from bell-birds in far forest-rafters;
So I might keep in the city and alleys
The beauty and strength of the deep mountain valleys:
Charming to slumber the pain of my losses
With glimpses of creeks and a vision of mosses.

Verses 3 and 5 of the poem Bell Birds by Henry Kendall. 

I am so sorry for not posting last night!   You see, the situation was that I couldn't access Blogger for some inconceivable reason!  So I had all this time on my hands and couldn't even blog.  I was very frustrated. 

Anyway, yesterday I heard a friend reciting this poem to someone, and the line "October, the maiden of bright yellow tresses" and it just gave me lovely, pleasant tingling thrills.  Isn't it such a beautiful image?  It's so much like the image painted in Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse.  I blogged about it a while ago.  How about you go back and have a read of it?  Another beautiful example of personification of the seasons!  (Oh I just love it!)  The 5th verse is also beautiful, so I thought you would like it.  You all seem to appreciate things like this, just as I do.

I also have a funny, little thing to say.  I caught the train into the city today to visit my dentist.  At the dentist, I met my next-door-neighbours.  I walked with them back to the train.  At the station, I met a girl I used to go to church with.  I also met the manager of the video library that I now work at.  Random, isn't it?  I got on the train with my next-door-neighbours, and just as we were all getting off, I met a girl who used to play strings in the same ensemble as me.  Then, as I left the station, I met a girl who I work with.  I crossed the road and walking past me were three kids I knew from my old school.  I then got a lift home from my next-door-neighbours, and on the way home, I saw an old family friend walking in the park.  Well.  Coincidence much?  If this is Brisbane, I can't wait to see what the feeling of "knowing-everyone" is like in a small-country-town!

Sunday, May 8

No Doozy Here!

Drop by drop, I poured the profaning bitterness of this world's wisdom into that pure heart and that innocent mind, while every higher and better feeling within me recoiled from my miserable task.  It is over now.  She has learnt her hard, her inevitable lesson.  The simple illusions of her girlhood are gone; and my hand has stripped them off.  Better mine than his - that is all my consolation - better mine than his.

Chapter 11, 30th , The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (published 1860).

Oh dear.  I just realized how miserable and bitter this excerpt sounds without the context.  I think that I'll have to give it to you before you get all upset and decide I'm much too depressing to waste time reading: Marian Halcombe's half sister, teenager Laura Fairlie, is about to be married off to Sir Percival Glyde, a man she does not love, even to the extent of disliking.  Laura wants Marian to continue living with her, but Marian knows that whether or not they would have it this way, their lives will soon be changed for better or worse by the arrangement.  As they soon find out, it is for much much worse.  It's actually become quite upsetting.  Like Wuthering Heights but without the big bang that makes you want to keep reading.  What I am desperate for now is some definite action on the plot, but it's just not coming.  It's definitely not Wilkie's strongest work.  I think that The Woman in White is more like a 'getting the hang of it' type of book for him.  It obviously has good ideas, but it's not a magnum opus like The Moonstone.  Now that's a reall doozy of a book!  Not at all like this!  Anyway, I suppose that when I read this part (it was maybe a week ago that I actually read it), my thoughts were that the words used really emphasised a dismal abruptness that was very evocative.  I also suppose that I want the book to end because I have some ideas for what I'd like to read next!   How is your reading life at the moment?

Saturday, May 7

Dishing up the Humour

Oh, my dears, I have been nearly in tears over my stupid assignment!  I am finally in a kind of comfortable position on it now, I think, but it has been such a rough ride!  I've been watching all these Australian movies, and I watched this one last night called The Dish.  It was such a wonderful movie - not really because the story line was brilliant or anything like that, but because it was so sweet and funny.  It has all those themes of anti-authoritarian and self-mocking Australian humour.  Definitely a beautiful one.  It has Kevin and Angus from Seachange in it - two of my most favourite character of all times.  The lines are just gorgeous and cute.  There  you have my recommendation.  Anyway, I had better nip away and prepare a Mother's Day card!  Take care.

Friday, May 6

My Goal for Merriment

It's amazing really, how suddenly I realized.  There is this girl in my year who I have always admired and liked.  She is a pretty, sweet girl, with big, bright, bold ideas that she extends affectionately to you with a vivacious flick of black hair.  She bounces and laughs, and triggers the laughs of all around her, like kinetic energy passed onto us all.  She is a person that it is delightful to talk to, even though she stuns the intelligence straight out of you.  And today I suddenly realized. 

This is how it happened.  We were all at the State Library, on a tour of the third level.  We were all walking together in a group along an aisle of desks and chairs.  All the chairs were perfectly in line with the desks except for one, which was askew.  She walked in front, and as she came to where the chair stuck out askew, she turned with a great motherly sweep of hair and arms and tucked it sweetly and lovingly into the desk, before spiralling around to throw me a smile and a shrug. 

And that was when I realized.  Like that song - suddenly I see, this is what I want to be.  Bright, bouncing, motherly, a delight to those around me.  Simply exuuuuuuding warmth and wonder.  Merry!  Positively merry!  Sounds like a goal, but maybe not a realistic one, because I am too cynical!  (Sigh of despair as I face plant in the pillow in perfect Kathleen Kelly "I don't actually know him" style!  {from You've Got Mail which is the I-ching of my wisdom.})  Anyway, don't you think that she sounds like a great character for a book?

Thursday, May 5

Depressing Humour

Today I realized a case of savage irony in my life!  I was studying the Australian sense of humour for an assignment, and when I had done a satisfactory amount of work on it, I turned straight to Modern History and studied the German depression!  See how it's ironic?  Straight from humour to depression.  It's somewhat disturbing, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 4

May the Fourth Be With You

May the Fourth today, and of course "May the Fourth be with you!"  I had to laugh when the radio presenter on the classical channel said this this morning.  I was talking to a friend today about one of my favourite descriptions in 'The Lord of the Rings'.  Of course, as it is one of my utmost favourite books, I have many many bits that I adore, but this one part has always stuck in my mind, almost obstinately, because of how deep, green and nobly beautiful it is.  It is about Treebeard's eyes (Treebeard being an old tree-man for non-Tolkiensians, and Fangorn the Ent otherwise): 

Often afterwards Pippin tried to describe his first impression of them,

'One felt as if there was an enormous well behind them, filled up with ages of memory and long, slow, steady thinking; but their surface was sparkling with the present; like sun shimmering on the outer leaves of a vast tree, or on the ripples of a very deep lake. I don't know, but it felt as if something that grew in the ground - asleep, you might say, or just feeling itself as something between root-tip and leaf-tip, between deep earth and sky had suddenly waked up, and was considering you with the same slow care that it had given its own inside affairs for endless years.'
'The Lord of the Rings', Volume 2: '.The Two Towers', 'Treebeard', by J.R.R. Tolkien. 
Isn't it beautiful?  Did you read it aloud?  I think that it sounds really wonderful when you read it aloud with all the pauses and such, to bring out the rhythm and flow of the words.  That is often the case, hey?  I love the last sentence.  'Dormant' is one word that floats to the top of my mind.  Do you read it and feel that it is coloured green?  I do.  Like green with thick green curtains on a cold wind, or green of soft, newborn moss under a log.  Tolkien says so many things that I love. 
I also love in 'The Fellowship of the Ring' when the hobbits are in the house of Bombadil (a character I grieved the absence of dearly in the movies), and the rain turned the chalk path into a milky river.  Just the perfect words to make me see it.  I love it so much. 
What are your favourite things from him? 

Monday, May 2

Dead Hopes

I have gotten quite a bit through The Woman in White at this stage in time, but thought I should share a short snippet that I enjoyed right back in the beginning.  It goes like this:

The last word went like a bullet to ny heart.  My arm lost all sensation of the hand that grasped it.  I never moved and never spoke.  The sharp autumn breeze that scattered the dead leaves at our feet, came as cold to me, on a sudden, as if my own mad hopes were dead leaves too, whirled away by the wind like the rest.

Chapter 5, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (published 1860).

Did you pay proper attention to the last sentence?  That last sentence is wonderful, and my only reason for thinking so is that it is crisp and cold and stirs a crisp, cold little image in my mind.  Short and sharp.  Deap hopes as dead leaves.  You can see it, can't you?  And it feels cold. 

Sunday, May 1

The Patriot Technicolour Yawns Again

Last night two things happened.  I watched Death in Brunswick which is a classic Australian black humour comedy, (images of John Clarke contentedly stomping on the mucousy remains of Mrs. DeMarco to make room in the coffin for the body of a murdered man will probably never leave me), and was revisited by the technicolour yawn.  Now, for those of you who are NOT Australian, and I do believe that a couple of you aren't, this latter phrase is an Australian idiom birthed in the early 1960s meaning... as tastefully as is humanly possible... vomit.  Yes, the stomach bug is still alive and kicking, much to my annoyance.  I am on a strict diet of ultimate-bland.  I think everything that has entered my body today was either white or beige in colour, and I am craving more furiously than I have ever craved for strawberry yoghurt, a ripe mandarine, and the Easter eggs I saved from last week. 

But I think that these last couple of days have been almost good to me.  My dears, I really do.  Writing a column on the self-mocking and black humoured side to Australian humour and how it reflects the Australian identity, has obviously meant I've had to look deeply into the matter.  And to tell you the utmost truth, as I try to, I am actually proud of what I've seen.  Even watching John Clarke stomp on Mrs DeMarco's remains has made me feel pretty patriotic, which is a nice thing for me.  I'm always, even now, saying things like, "when I live in Scotland, we will milk the goat in my back paddock to have milk in our tea" and "I will write to you to tell you exactly what proper French croissants taste like while I teach there" and "I can't wait to walk down my street and know that Sherlock Holmes once stood at that very corner in the thirty-second story" etcetera etcetera and so forth, but never do I think of staying in Australia.  But this weekend has done me in.  Usually the only thing that could make me feel patriotic was the kookaburras, when once every four months or so they'd condescend to give us a tune.  Right now, I am very happy.  And even the technicolour yawn get me down.  (And don't you think that the title of this post would make a great new frontline?)