Tuesday, January 31

Fledging a Thought

I decided to do this blog this morning because work this afternoon isn't going to leave me with much time after school.  I didn't want to miss out on telling you about this though.

I've been nominated as one of five students to represent my highschool in the Lions Youth of the Year competition.  It's conducted in rounds which consist of an interview, impromptu current affair questions, and a five minute speech on any topic of our choosing.  Now, I don't expect to get past the first round, frankly, because I seriously know nothing about current affairs.  I'm going to try and at least watch the news every day for the two weeks before the competition, but how much of it will stick, (or how much of it I'll be able to stand), isn't hopeful. 

Anyhow, I fully intend to smash my speech instead.  It's taken me a while to think of what I'll present it on, but after much consideration, I decided to do it on what I know best and do most naturally - reading. 

My angle will be the same as the George R.R. Martin quote under the header of Bouquets at the moment - you live many lives through reading, and these stories and characters become a part of your life and legacy.  It's more of a concept at this stage than a fully-fledged draft, but once its written, and in fact, even as I'm drafting, I'll post it up here so that you can read it over and tell me what you think.  God forbid, you'll have some suggestions for it too, as I can't think of a better book-loving bunch than you. 

Sunday, January 29


I just watched this, and I think you should too.  It's Sarah Kay, again, the spoken word poet, at TED talks with two poems and a speech that turned me inside out. 

The way she engages with you, the way she uses words, and the incredible ingenuous beauty of her attitude and beliefs - it blows me away.  Watching it even once fills me with an almost painful desire to be like that, and to do what she does. 

I'm only young, but already I can't shake the feeling that it's too late to become a beautiful person.  I know it's not true, but how exactly do you change the way you are for the better?  I have been an arms-up-in-front-of-me "cool, unphased" person for so long now.  How can you relapse into that childlike openhanded view of the world?  I hate change.  I am proud, cynical, and unadventurous.  How do you change that?  Is it a slow gradual process of doing little things here and there to eventually get into a pattern of it?  Do you make the most of oppertunities to go out of your comfort zone?  Is it compromising for others?  Is it letting go of dreams of shelter and safety? 

I have this vision, just to myself, to be "wonderful".  "Wonderful", to me, has interesting implications, in that I want to be someone like Kathleen Kelly, from You've Got Mail, or her mother, Cecilia Kelly, who was remembered merely because she was "enchanting".  I want to be someone who is enchanting with her passion, joy, devotion, and authenticity.  I want to be someone who engages and connects.  I more than most things in the world don't want to be the sort of someone who doesn't do things because it's different.  I would never have thought myself to be that sort of person, but it seems I am.  I want to make a habit of breaking bad habits, and doing the things I say over and over again that I will when I'm a grown up.  What am I doing? 
I'm not sure.  Perhaps this is another "into the void" post. 

Saturday, January 28

The Deranged Imagination of Douglas Adams

As I predicted, the beginning of school has given me a hunger for life again.  I am reading more, waking up earlier, talking more often and more loudly, smiling, going to bed at ten o'clock on the dot, ironing my clothes, and getting excited for tomorrow.  Annie's naive sentiment that the sun will come out tomorrow is not looking very realistic with all this rain, but yet, I am looking forward to each new day for its oppertunities to spend more time with the people I love at school.  I spent an hour today just deep in conversation with a friend who spent Christmas in Paris, London and Berlin, and it just excited me so much to hear about it.  I'm also twitching with anticipation to resume conversations with T and K.  There's something reenergising about having real living, kicking people around.   
Well, anyway, I suppose the point I just made was that I've actually been reading, and so here is an excerpt. 

Monetary Units: None.
In fact there are three freely convertible currencies in the Galaxy, but none of them count.  The Altairian dollar has recently collapsed, the Flainian Pobble Bead is only exchangeable for other Flainian Pobble Beads, and the Triganic Pu has its own very special problems.  Its exchange rate of eight Ningis to one Pu is simple enough, but since a Ningi is a triangular rubber coin six thousand eight hundred miles long each side, no one has ever collected enough to own one Pu.  Ningis are not negotiable currency, because the Galactibanks refuse to deal in fiddling small change.  From this basic premise it is very simple to prove that the Galactibanks are also the product of a deranged imagination. 

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Douglas Adams, (1980). 

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is just as full to bursting with witty quips as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  That, I suppose, is the thing that makes Douglas Adams appealing to me - his challenging, ridiculous logic and wit that seem to squeem with the perfect words. 

I also was recommended a couple of books, and wondered whether any of you had read them? 

Looking for Alaska by John Green


When God was a Rabbit, the latter being a "quite charming" book, recommended me by someone who recently read and adored Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  Therefore, I'm thinking that this could be an exciting new venture for us!

Thursday, January 26

A Breather

It's amazing how things turn out sometimes.  The first day of school was Tuesday the 24th.  It raine heavily all day and by the time I was picked up the stream was a rushing torrent - (I'd never seen it with water in it at all).  The lagoon met the road and the kerbs of every street were submerged.  It was a gentle reminder of last years tragic flooding. 

Anyhow, as harmless as it was for my family, it was enough to close school on Wednesday, and today being Australia day, I've had the equivalent of a weekend midweek.  It's been good for taking a breath after an intense leap back into school, and I've spent it not doing anything much at all. 

Tomorrow, if all stays sunny, will be a busy day.  We should be getting our Senior's jerseys, and our laptops will be allocated to us as well.  That means that I will have to pack up all my stuff on Herbie my little laptop, transfer it onto the school laptop, and hesitantly pass Herbie on to my mum.  Hmmm.  I'm thinking that my new laptop will probably take the name of Charlie, as in The Italian Job, but I suppose it will depend on its personality.  Hopefully however, the new addition to my cyber life won't suffer the same monotonous health issues. 

Sunday, January 22

Gandalf as a Dog

I am officially finished my illustrations for my grade twelve school books.  I'll do the contacting tomorrow, my last day of the holidays.  Here are my final two illustrations! 

Modern History (just note that it's supposed to be the Red Baron)

Yes, I did just draw Gandalf as a dog.  I don't draw humans at all.  I draw animals, and dogs most of all, as they are, after all, my favourite animal.  Also note the pencils Quenya Tengwar Elven script along the border.  When I scan these pictures, they always come out very whitewashed and without the soft blues. 

Anyway, I'm going to strive to enjoy tomorrow even though it will consist of ironing, packing, cleaning, and tidying.  I'm thinking 'bring it on!'

Friday, January 13

The French Experience

I must apologise for not posting at all during this week.  I guess my only almost valid excuse would be that my orthodontics work has left me so sore and achey that I haven't been up to much at all. 

I do, however, have something exciting to mention, which can wait not a second longer now that my teeth have done with grinding my nervous system to a pulp. 

You know how on my About Me page, I list a whole heap of things that I love?  One, you might recall, was "the idea of learning French".  Well, I am pleased to say that it is no longer an idea.  It is a reality. 

I bought The French Experience: 1 from the Book Depository (notice a link to the actual page so you can see what I'm talking about), and yesterday morning, it finally arrived in the mail.  I've read all the introductions and study plans etcetera etcetera and having  decided to make two pages my goal for an average session, I leapt in and got going. 

It uses CDs in correspondence with the book, so I'm reading, listening, writing, and speaking alternately.  I did the topics of "Hellos, Goodbyes and Introductions" and "The A to Z".  Which means that I can now adequately greet you and spell you my name. 

But twice as exciting as that is the fact that I'm learning this language with real incentive.  I'm learning French because I fully intend to go there.  It's got me ridiculously excited and I might just have to break away and do the next two pages! 

Sunday, January 8

Counselling for Neurotic Elevators

I'm pleased to announce that I'm delving back into Douglas Adams with his second volume in the five-part "trilogy" of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  It's a bit to hot to do anything other than lounge around reading, today, so that's exactly what I've been doing.  And this in particular tickled my fancy:
Modern elevators are strange and complex entities.  The ancient electric winch and 'maximum capacity persons' jobs bear as much relation to a Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Happy Vertical People Transporter as a packet of mixed nuts does to the entire wing of the Sirian State Mental Hospital.

This is because they operate on the curious principal of 'defocused temporal perception'.  In other words, they have the capacity to see dimly into the immediate future, which enables the elevator to be on the right floor to pick you up even before you knew you wanted it, thus eliminating all the tedious chatting, relaxing, and making friends that people were previously forced to do whilst waiting for elevators.

Not unnaturally, many elevators imbued with intelligence and precognition became terribly frustrated with the mindless business of going up and down, up and down, experimented briefly with the notion of going sideways, as a sort of existential protest, demanded participation in the decision-making process and finally took to squatting in basements sulking.

An impoverished hitchhiker visiting any planets in the Sirius star system these days can pick up easy money working as a counsellor for neurotic elevators. 
The Resutrant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams, 1980.

Saturday, January 7

2011 in Books

I like to keep an account of all the books I read in a little notebook labelled, 'Book Log'.  As it's the beginning of the new year, I thought it would be nice to look back on what 2011 consisted of, reading wise:
In chronological order:
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • His Last Bow ''
  • The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes ''
  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • My Life in France by Julia Child
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • The Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Does My Head Look Big in This?  by Randa Abdel-Fattah
  • The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  • The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen
  • The Lady from the Sea ''
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
  • Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • Constance Drinkwater and the Final Days of Somerset by Stephen Carleton
  • All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Everything is Illuminated ''
The highlights of 2011 were My Life in France; The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; A Christmas Carol; The Picture of Dorian Gray; All Things Bright and Beautiful; and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

What books did you read in 2011 and what were your reading highlights?

    Friday, January 6

    Stephen Fry and Sherlock Holmes

    Goodmorning!  I woke up this morning, having freshly and officially survived another birthday.  It's slightly surreal.  My family has a tradition of spending every birthday evening looking back over the albums of baby photos of the birthday person.  Even though I've looked at those photos once a year for as long as I've lived, I always experience new wonderment at the fact that I've grown up, that my parents have actually kept me alive all this time, and more and more, that they love me.  It's really fantastic, actually.  I feel I owe them a lot - obviously - but still. 

    From my parents I was given All Things Wise and Wonderful which is the last book in James Herriot's trilogy.  It is hardcover what's more, and I am so excited to read it.  It might take me a while, though, to begin, because I also dread finishing his books entirely and having to mourn him for good.

    Another product of the birthday festivities is a bag chock full of lollies, won from the pass-the-parcel and trivia quizz that we play traditionally on birthdays.  However, combined with those won on my sister's birthday, two days before mine, my lollie-stash is now ridiculously full and tempting.  It consisted of Maltesers, mini-Whitaker coconut-slabs, zombie chews, sherbet sticks, Fizzer, jelly pencils, coke bottles, Starburst lollipops, and Redskins.  Mmmmm. 
    I went and saw the new Sherlock Holmes film in cinemas yesterday, which was also very conveniently and coincidentally its opening day.  I would like the make you very aware that even though the first fifteen minutes may make you feel dubious as to whether it will live up to the almighty expectations set by the books and even the first film, it ends up being an absolutely spectacular movie.  It incorporates plenty of the stories and ends with The Final Problem.  In regards to cinemaphotography, it is beautifully pieced together and has that great atmosphere from the first, including camera work, flash forwards, narrations, slow-motion sequences etcetera.  It really is great.  Very chuffed.  Oh, and of course, Stephen Fry is Stephen Fry, which I think is enough said. 

    Wednesday, January 4

    Anticipation for Exploration

    Oh the joys of going to the library!  I experienced this very unusual, somewhat scary feeling of desire last night as I was preparing to go to bed after a day of partying for my little sister's birthday.  I wanted more than anything to learn something new. 

    I used to be a huge non-fiction reader - non-fiction however was limited to animal encyclopaedias, veterinary journals and dog care manuals.  Last night I wanted to study for the sake of learning, and I wanted to study something completely different. 

    So today, while my mum did some last minute birthday shopping for my birthday tomorrow, I went across the road to the library and did some shelf-searching.  I picked up and made a spontaneous pile of whatever triggered my sudden interest, and oh the things that I found!  I brought home a two foot high, several kilograms heavy pile of colossal hard-cover books - books on language, etiquette, 100 beautiful kitchens, flowers, deep sea creatures and sailing myths, the complete world history of the middle ages, and world photography. 

    I am utterly excited, and my anticipation and exhilaration is fueled also by the fact that I'm having to stop for lunch before I'm allowed to disappear to my room to peruse these books.  I think after my birthday, I'll have to tell you all about what I've learnt.

    Monday, January 2

    The Fifth of January

    Upon the purchase of my wonderful new Where's Wally calendar, I decided that I would write up the birthdays of all my favourite authors.  You see, I want to be able to use the birthdays as fuel for blog posts and even challenges, perhaps something along the lines of, "favourite quote, book etcetera from that author and I'll post you a copy of such-and-such book", or something like that.  My mum keeps saying that it's about time I did something a bit different like that. 

    Anyhow, while I was filtering through my newly revised catalogue of the "dates of birth and death or major authors and publications between 1500 and 2000",  rediscovered, with equal shock and consternation, that my sister shares a birthday with J. R. R. Tolkien!  And both celebrate their birthday a mere two days before mine!  Which in turn leads me to be utterly horrified that I missed sharing a birthday with one of the greatest authors who ever lived by two days. 

    Well, instead, to brighten my spirits, I thought it would be both amusing and pretty cool to look at what did take place on my birthday...:

    First of all, people I share a birthday with:
    • 5th Jan, 1956, Dianne Keaton, American actress who I love from Woody Allen classics
    • 5th Jan, 1829, Sir Roger Tichborne, missing U.K. heir who was the subject of the longest criminal trial in British history
    • 5th Jan, 1908, George Dolenz, Italian actor in the Count of Monte Cristo
    • 5th Jan, 1926, William De Witt Snodgrass, American poet
    • 5th Jan, 1923, Robert L Bernstein, Random House publisher
    • 5th Jan, 1834, William John Wills, English explorer of Australia and member of Burke and Wills expedition
    • 5th Jan, 1914, George Reeves, American actor famous for his role as Superman
     And then events:
    • 5th Jan, 1950, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” hits #1 on the Billboard Pop Chart
    • 5th Jan, 1981, the murderer known as the 'Yorkshire Ripper' is arrested
    • 5th Jan, 1982, tragic landslide near San Francisco kills 33 people
    So I suppose in that case, I'm quite well off anyway, then. 

    Sunday, January 1

    Ready, Set, Go!

    Eh bien.  This is the first blog post of 2012.  I don't have anything in particular to say today, and the first day of a brand-spanking new year is too significant to ramble about nothing.  So I will let this puppy lie.  This year has so much potential!  It's exhilarating!  I really hope that you're feeling as fresh and free as I am!  Ready, set, go!