June 30, 2009
Posted by tanaudel under books
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13 Questions Problems (my mistake)– Agatha Christie: Deb and I went to Capricorn Resort in Yeppoon for the May long weekend (Rockhampton Airport had piped mooing, which was disturbing – particularly in the bathrooms) and I borrowed this from the activities hut. That’s a sketch of it on the towel above. I’d read it before, although long enough ago that I only had foggy ideas of what the twist was (litmus paper! 100s & 1000s!) but what’s not eminently suitable about reading Miss Marple solving anecdotal murders while sitting by a resort pool? It was also nicely complemented:
Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – M. R. James: Deb lent this to me. Beautiful worded, just dusty enough and thrilling in a way that is a lot of fun to read in a hotel room while wintery winds batter at the windows but leaves no ill effects afterwards. Good, short, weirdly disturbing stories which linger but don’t haunt – strangely proportioned rooms, whistles that call up the wind, trees that give an unhealthy air to the breeze through a window… I hadn’t read much horror of this era and it does give Lovecraft a bit more context. I also didn’t realise how economical and precisely worded James’ writing was until I pulled out another book of ghost stories to read to my dad at home and we got bogged in… Kipling I think it was, of all people.
How Language Works – David Crystal: Deb said she read this in two sittings and I don’t know how. It took me weeks, but I won’t rule out the possibility that it was because I feel compelled to sound out all phonetic passages (not recommended on public transport). Phonetics, anatomy, writing systems, language acquisition, sign language, translation, interpretation, language change and loss – a good broad introduction with greatly suppressed dry humour (English is a “vacuum cleaner of a language”). Not as much fun as his Words at Play or the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language, but a good mental exercise.
Status Anxiety – Alain de Botton: Deb also lent this to me after we went to see him speak. My first Botton. I like the way he phrases his thinking, and the way his mind goes, although some of the generalisations & focuses pulled me out of it occasionally. His discussion of the relations between religion and status and love was particularly thought-provoking, but my favourite line is still the somewhat fatalistic, “Everything in any case is fated to disappear and New Zealanders will in time be sketching the ruins of our boulevards and offices.”
… I don’t think any of the books for June have connections to Deb!
June 26, 2009
Not quite what I was planning, which was a pen and ink picture based on photos taken of myself in a window. This is a quick Photoshop mockup based on the old Pan book cover below, which I acquired at the book-exchange-basket of a B&B in Melbourne, and love.
ETA: Foiled again! The topic has changed, but it is still Friday, and 4 minutes to spare. Ah well, perhaps the new topic will lend purpose to my tequila-sunrise prompted purchase of a Swedish bandolier.
Last minute (but still before midnight!) for reasons which involve packing to travel to the exotic locale of Oxley.
June 21, 2009
Mice wouldn’t be my first choice as pets. I have lived through mouse plagues when cars went off the roads because of sheets of mice. They ate through wood and Tupperware and books and if you went out to the shed, they would be running around the bottoms of drums. The cats pretended they couldn’t see them, the local boys earned pocket money building better mouse traps and little old ladies devised novel ways of reusing mousepaper (like fly paper, only for mice).
But even so, I always liked sitting quietly on the stairs of the veranda and watching them dart out, all quick and dark-furred with their tiny delicate ears and fiercely curious faces. There was an old piano on the veranda, and the mice inside used to slide up and down the strings, sounding tiny notes.
The quote at the top is from Rose Fyleman’s poem, “I think mice are rather nice”. The music is from one of my favourite films.
For Jenn’s moleskine for the 42nd Moleskine Exchange http://moleskinex42.blogspot.com/. This is part of the international moleskine exchange (http://www.flickr.com/groups/moly_x).
June 17, 2009
Posted by tanaudel under art
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I designed this invitation for Kashelle and Andrew’s wedding. The wording on the rough for this design was deliberately vague because I didn’t have the details, but they decided to keep it vague and print the details inside. The original background was pen and black ink. The hand below (without the RSVP) was on the envelopes.
June 16, 2009
At sunset, the snails unfurl their shining wings and dip slowly over the surface of the pond.
Ballpoint drawing coloured and treated in Photoshop.
June 16, 2009
Posted by tanaudel under On writing
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Did I mention I had a story accepted by Andromeda Spaceways a little while back? I just received the contract and sent it back yesterday, so keep an eye out for issue 41! My story is The Splendour Falls, about blind love, and dreams, and summer in the city, and possums. Well, not about possums, but they are mentioned.
In other writing news… still doing at least 100 words a day, although not always coherently. Sending out a rebounding story about dressing up and telling tales. Editing another about green coats and urban sprawl. Eyeballing a recalcitrant old one about a country town, and flowering vines and a thing-with-too-many-legs.
June 12, 2009
I have a special dietary restriction when I travel. It is: I can eat anything I want as long as it isn’t something I would ordinarily eat at home.
These are some of the things I ate in Adelaide over the weekend (originally from my Adelaide sketchbook, posted here: Natcon Sketchbook):
From top to bottom:
- TARDIS cookie
- Frog cake
- Haigh’s violet cream chocolate
June 10, 2009
Posted by tanaudel under art
| Tags: adelaide
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As usual, if you want to see a larger version of a picture, click on it to go to its Flickr page, then click on “all sizes” above it.
A convention never seems like it’s over until it’s blogged. I have decided against a blow-by-blow account, mostly because I did not keep notes, but there are at least plenty of pictures, although as usual they are selected by the method of choosing what stood still long enough. So if you read this and are disappointed you are not in any of them, that is obviously because you were moving too fast.
Early Friday and south-east Queensland was covered with fog. I hoped it would lift and we would find ourselves in a Wyndham novel, but it was a very prosaic fog and the plane was only delayed by an hour.
On the flight I amused myself creating small scenes of maritime tragedy on my fold-down tray. I think there are few English phrases more comforting than, “There is a whistle and a light for attracting attention”.
On arriving, I noted my knees were experiencing a wind chill factor, and checked into my possibly-haunted hotel. I had been worried that I would be lonely, in a nice hotel room all by myself, but then I realised this meant I could have all the hot showers I wanted to! I unpacked and felt very grown up, then went out for a milkshake.
Before the convention, there were free tours of Haigh’s chocolate factory, with samples. As registration started, I caught up with lots of old and medium and new-ish and brand-new friends and did not draw anything until the next day but that does not mean nothing happened. The convention bags had tiny little matchboxes in them with real matches which actually worked (Kate Eltham tested them). Here are Peter M Ball and Karen Miller being mildy snarky at a panel on Urban Fantasy, which is a name for a moving-target of a genre. What I write is not urban fantasy anymore but no-one knows what it is. My characters do not wear low-slung leather trousers, but then that might be what’s missing.
A rather heated steampunk panel, followed (I dimly recall) by lots of food and chocolate and talking and lacing of Emilly’s corset (corset-lacing forms a small but vital undercurrent of convention activities), and then the Maskobalo. I did in fact dance, but the lights were very bright and I was all in black, and also Sean Williams was DJing which meant I knew the words to most of the songs and therefore could dance to them and overheated and had to sit down. Catherine Scholz of the green dress, and Steve Scholz of the steampunk backpack were the fan guests of honour. Julie E. Czerneda was the international guest of honour but I did not get her in my sights long enough to draw.
Conventions have a higher incidence of public knitting than almost anywhere else I know. Here is my costume (same as last weekend) and a sovereign remedy for the Perils Of Insisting On Authenticity, ie a gin martini. Most of the cleaning products in my hotel had exactly the same smell.
We had the most awesome kids’ program, and almost everyone I spoke to wanted to go. They had marshmallow guns and pinatas and made ornithopters and TARDIS cookies. That is a TARDIS cookie at the top right. It had a little white marshmallow on it, but I ate that, and the icing was much bluer than this. The frightened looking object beneath it is a frog cake, which every South Australian says is an icon but none of them remember having eaten since they were 8 and I am not surprised. The top was very nice although it was a bit like eating frog-cake-brains because it is icing over mock-cream, but the cake underneath was just too sickly sweet.
I had coffee and lunch and dinner with lots of people (but not breakfast because my hotel had a pancake machine and I was not passing that up for any sort of society) but most of our time we spent in and around the bar, traumatising the bar staff and drinking far too much English Breakfast Tea.
It was very sad to say goodbye to everyone at the end, but ends drag on and when I left Liz & Nigel’s room where we were having more tea after dinner, there were still plenty of people still sitting in the bar. I went back to my hotel and overheard some men asking to change rooms because of a creepy feeling, and then the hotel staff discussing other people who had asked to leave that room because of cold patches and vibrating beds, etc.
I stayed an extra day to see more of Adelaide than a foyer. Occasionally it rained and I would duck into a bookshop which, in retrospect, is possibly not as cost-effective as just buying an umbrella. I drew things and bought some patterned rubber rollers in a shop that recycles old building elements and wandered the streets on what I thought was a rather boring recommended walk, until I worked out that it was a busline and my instincts were correct.
I bought chocolate and looked into arcades and went to the gallery again to see what it was like without the evil influence of Jason Fischer and Dirk Flinthart, but still all I could see in the renaissance paintings were saints with stigmata lasers. But it is a proper gallery, with high arched ceilings and green trim and very worth gold-lettered labels on the rooms and the museum had, as it ought, a room full of stuffed mammals which is always disconcerting. The best part was the Mawson exhibit, with real ice and a replica of the hut.
I had a wonderful time, and made new friends and caught up with old ones and talked until my voice went and drank a great deal of tea and ate too much and hardly slept and went for dinners with odd collections of people and formed the conclusion – as always happens at conventions in strange cities – that the city is populated mostly with people I know, and met artists and writers and raconteurs and bought too many books and wore my favourite shoes and wandered around a new city and can’t wait for the next one.
June 8, 2009
Natcon has finished. I’m staying an extra day in Adelaide to see the sights (although going to the gallery today with Dirk and Jason has given me a new perspective on art history) and should be back late Tuesday night, assuming I survive frog cakes, chocolate frogs and a hotel which appears to be acquiring a reputation for being haunted.
I’ll upload con sketches when I get back. In the meantime, here’s a page from the last batch (and next in the sequence of tv sketches):
June 3, 2009
iWoz – Steve Wozniak, Gina Smith: I really enjoyed this. I think it was mostly the voice – it was written based on taped interviews, and that shows in many little verbal tics and idiosyncracies that made the memoir endearing as well as interesting. I’d quite like to hear Steve Wozniak speak one day.
Teen Idol – Meg Cabot: I didn’t mean to sound like I was Cabot-bashing last month. I don’t mind her, and this book hit all the things that I really like about her books – the voice that was catchy without being annoying, the highschool-is-hell set-up, the nice person learning to be better (if not as “nice”), a few subverted expectations. Over-the-top and sweet and fun with one of my favourite forcible-makeover scenes (she does do these well).
Size 14 is not Fat Either – Meg Cabot: Light, fluffy, the voice got a bit irritating at times. I wanted the protagonist to take control a bit more, like in Teen Idol.
Underfoot in Show Business – Helene Hanff: So much fun – the story of how Helene Hanff didn’t become the next Noel Coward. New York and Broadway and playwriting and creative retreats and hand-to-mouth artistic existences and the beginning of television and a bad experience with Lord of the Rings.
Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens: The BBC miniseries of this is my favourite BBC miniseries, so I did know the outlines of the story going in (sometimes this helps). This book is now my favourite Dickens to date. So rich and complex and interwoven, so funny and sad and beautiful, it is difficult to pick a plot to call the main one. The mysterious character of the kindly but shadowy Rokesmith? The rise of the dustman and his wife, come to an unexpected fortune? The predicament of beautiful, poor, grasping Bella, willed to a man who died before she met him. The moral quandaries of the lovelorn taxidermist drawn into a web of deceit by a scheming ballad seller whose amputated leg he bought? Strong, capable Lizzie, who saves her brother and cannot save her father and must keep saving herself? The myriad of smaller backstories? Is it the loves – dangerous, sweet, murderous, unfaltering? The friendships – of the pawnbroker with the dolls-dressmaker and the factory worker, of Bella with her father, of the Boffins for all those less fortunate than them? The hatred and the paths paved by the love of money, or the paths shaped by the river? I love the book for all of these, for the mistakes and misteps and hard decisions, for the repeated references to Little Red Riding Hood, for the unexpected physicality of relationships, for the dear humanity of clerks in dingy offices, for the heroines who cannot wait by their lover’s sickbed because they have to go to work at the factory, for the descriptions of shops and of rusting chains, for the girl who rescues a victim of violence and carries him to safety, for the sharp tongue of the dressmaker and the many buttons of the false foreman, for the comeuppances and the happy endings, and the bittersweet ones.
Once on a time – A. A. Milne: A short fairy-tale novel. Oh, read this if only for that wonderful, terrible woman, the Countess Belvane. And the army of Amazon(s) marching round and round a tree. And the recommendation that poets wear green when the muse is upon them (as inspiration or warning). And the conclusion that the Gladstone bag has killed romance. But mostly for Belvane, that enchanting, scheming villainess, who keeps a diary and in it writes sadly that today, she became bad.
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