1. Wearing my blouse inside out. Worked this out at the bus stop, but I had to wait to get into the city, through two blocks and into MacArthur Central bathrooms before I could fix it. Trying very hard to be cool and deliberate but hampered by not remembering where the tags where and consequently walking with my arms very close to my sides in case they were in the seams. Of course, it turned out to be in the neckline and my hair was down, so that was why I couldn’t find them with my elbows.
  2. Trying on wigs. Genevieve even joined in! With a bob I look even more like my mother.
  3. Changing into sneakers and socks in the middle of Queen Street Mall. I saw stranger things go by.
  4. People watching and asking if they could take photos of me drawing the latin dancers. Well, this sort of thing has rarely embarassed me at the time.
  5. Buying the most delightfully awful book I could have cause not to regret buying. I’ve been dithering on this for a few months now and didn’t quite manage not to defend myself, but after telling the cashier it was for “comedic value” I salvaged the situation by asking if he read fantasy and (as he did) inviting him to look at the pictures, and he agreed with me. If you are particularly unfortunate, I may even review it.

It was an artistic Friday evening. After Genevieve and I had our semi-regular melting-moment-and-mocha at a cafe in the Myer Centre, we went to the photo shop so I could show her last weekend’s paintings and print out copies. While we waited, we tried on wigs in the wig shop (I found a nice length of bob for… $400+, so might get a more theatrical, cheaper wig unless I can bring myself to the overwhelming question of whether to cut my hair before the 1920s banquet). Genevieve left to practice her scales in the music shop and I returned to the photo store to discover they had printed 24 copies on gloss instead of matte. While they reprinted them I avoided buying a tripod (most of my photos are self-portrait/reference shots so my gorillapod and a chair will do for now) and resisted art books in QBD. Then I sat on a bench in Queen Street Mall and sketched passersby before buying a canvas board and the above-mentioned terrible book. I then proceeded to Brisbane Square, where I drew people dancing and other people watched and commented and cactusdude took photos over my shoulder which he may put up when he gets back to Sydney (he asked first and gave me his card after).

Then I walked back to Milton and had a bite in what is invariably the dirtiest McDonald’s of my acquaintance and would have finished being artistic then and there except that Sinatra came on the radio and two policemen who were just leaving started singing and whistling to “I did it my way”, so I drew a quick picture of that. Then I walked home and tried to take a picture of a frond of bougainvillea (hah! got it right first time!) which would have made a very pretty border ornament, except it was too dark to pick up anything except a distant pool of streetlight on my phone, and so was home by a little after 11.

In the end, the photo shop gave me both sets of photos (glossy and matte) so there may be some left over and I will probably offer them to the earliest takers before very long.

If I found any of these links through your blog and haven’t credited you, I apologise. I’m keeping track of referrers in future.

AWAITED

  1. Australian Speculative Fiction Carnival: Battle Penguins are Go! Among other things. (And I’m doing May, so please make interesting – or remarkably silly – posts about Australian SF between April 16 and May 15 and let me know).
  2. 20th Carnival of Feminist SF: Impenetrable undergarments and what almost happened to the Skywalkers.
  3. An answer to a LOLCats proposal (don’t read the comments unless you’ve got a strong tolerance for loosely invented dialects : ).

LANGUAGE & WRITING

  1. Signal to Noise: I really like the idea of enforced originality in forums. Or generally, at least as an intriguing linguistic experiment. And it might stop annoying calendar quotations.
  2. The same people are unable to resist spoiling their favourite word game.
  3. Can we write characters from other cultures? How can we do it? Should we try? Tobias Buckell on Writing us, not ‘The Other’
  4. Attack patterns in written language (via making light).

ILLUSTRATION & ART

  1. I’d like this article on Socar Myles’ silly/sombre bird people for just this line: “Cameras always lie. Had I known that, I’d have bought one ages ago.” But the rest is pretty good too.
  2. And of course there’s a Narnia dial. Found on Flickr – a good example of street art making the streets better.
  3. A comparison (with pictures) of differing styles in British and American cover art.
  4. Curious Art’s altered stamp – I really like this idea especially how she’s made the cat in the same style as the stamp.

BUSINESS AND POLITICS

  1. A selection of blog posts on the apology (via Gillian - my post is here).
  2. Cedric Hohnstadt’s Basic Business Tips for Illustrators, which are pretty good tips for anyone self employed or working from home.

DESIRED

  1. I trust life will emulate art in respect of XKCD’s What Would Escher Do wristband.
  2. If you can convince me it would be at all seemly for me to wear this ThinkGeek shirt, I would totally buy it and wear it anywhere I could. And huge tracts of land aren’t as rude as the “nice melons” shirts we almost had to wear that time I was packing rockmelons, are they?

VALENTINES

As I said on /Karen/’s blog, I wonder whether Valentine’s Day is perhaps a test of love more than the evidence of it. Like poetry in P&P: “But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.” There’s got to be something up with a day which so many people dislike that the anti-valentines (complete with anatomically correct, bloodied hearts) start to get trite. Here, however, are a few that caught my notice:

  1. And if you went to the Lolcats proposal at the start of this list, a few posts behind it you will find the worst valentine (baboonentine? baboonbehind?) ever, from which I am protecting you by not linking to it. My eyes, they bleed.

*I’ll tell you about this some day.

This year, I am Not Being Embarrassed (much). Here are five things I have not been embarrassed about:

  1. Walking at work with the strap on my shoe broken (because what exactly was being embarrassed going to do to help anything? See also zip, below).
  2. Being seen by unexpected visitors wandering the house in a strappy singlet.
  3. Cupcakes. (Because “we’re grownups now and it’s our turn to decide what that means”).
  4. The url of the article I was looking at when the firm-wide email came around warning us not to abuse our internet freedom. (Thankyou so much /Karen/!)
  5. Having a photoshoot in the loungeroom while my housemates sat around drinking champagne and watching me, made-up and coiffed, being told to stand like that, tilt my head like this, smile, throw my arms out etc. Oh, and my zip broke.

I think I am growing as a person.

Hitting the new year running:

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  1. Heath Ledger. My first thoughts on hearing of a death do not always reflect creditably on me. When I was on the bus to work my sister sent me an SMS with the news Heath Ledger had died. It was a shock, and my first thoughts were “Oh no!” which is rather better than I managed when Robert Jordan died. I suppose there is that disconnect when I only know of someone and relate to them through their work – it is easier to feel cheated of what they produce than to feel on more than an intellectual level that a person has died. Not right, but easier. And I had just been thinking the week before (after seeing the previews for Batman) that Heath Ledger seemed to be really coming into his own as an actor – that he’d ceased to be a fill-in-the-blank pretty face and was becoming an individual and a force to be reckoned with, that he was reminding me a little bit of Jack Nicholson and Tommy Lee Jones, and I was sorry for all the films he’d never make and I wouldn’t get to see.
  2. The Bulletin. I have mixed feelings on the folding of this magazine because it is not something I have much immediate emotional connection to. Like a house being torn down – not one I’ve lived in but one I’ve grown used to passing on my way to the corner shop. It was a very old publication, with some less than glorious moments (Australia for the White Man, etc), but it was… there. And now it’s only of historical importance.
  3. My cousin. Actually, he didn’t die. Concussion and some interesting scars are getting off pretty lightly when you’ve been shot in the head and arm during a home invasion.
  4. Not death, but with an appreciation for the beauty in decay and good manners in all things: Lady of the Manners and the Gothic Charm School.
  5. Honorary unsubscribes. I subscribe to This is True and the best and most fascinating part of the newsletter is the Honorary Unsubscribe, created to “recognize the Unknown, the Forgotten and the Obscure People who had an impact on our lives”, fully listed here, by – upon their death – honorarily unsubscribing them from the newsletter.

Status updates are to Facebook as stonefruit is to summer.

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In 2007 I commenced a regime of New Year’s Policies and Aspirations. The aspirations began the year before – I preferred to say “This year, I would like to go to three concerts and two interstate capitals,” rather than, “This year, I will improve my time management.” Aspirations are a lot easier to achieve, particularly if you book the tickets before making the list, and there is no foul if you don’t manage to tick them all off the list, only go to two theatre performances instead of three, or don’t get around to buying shoes (I did).

The policies were new to last year. New Year’s Policies are really rather more like mottos, except that I like saying, “This year I have adopted the policy of…” better than “My motto is…”.

In 2007 my aspirations were extensive – concerts, theatre, travel, art, etc. Most of them were attained, and no harm done by those that weren’t. I may review them if I can find the original list, but I don’t have it to hand.

I had only one policy: to make it a Year of Initiating Contact. My tendency is to proceed based on the laws of momentum and inertia. Actively pursuing friendships was something I left to friends, and I was starting to feel selfish and lazy.

The policy, though cautiously adopted, was unexpectedly successful, and even noticed by a few people. It led to many pleasant evenings and lunches and movies and meeting of interesting people, some of whom I turned out to be related to. It involved picking up the phone and calling people, emailing friends to ask them out for lunch, sending postcards (I keep stamps in my wallet to use on free Avanti art cards) and talking to people at social events.

I have not abandoned the policy of making contact, but I am hoping that a year is long enough to have acquired the habit at least of not being reluctant to talk to people.

This year I have two new policies: it is the Year of Using Things and the Year of Not Being Embarrassed. Much.

Five recently acquired CDs (the first on my own initiative, the others for Christmas): 

  1. Tom Waits – Closing Time: How did I not have this? How did I get by without “Ol’ 55″ for most of my life?
  2. Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out of this Country: I heard Camera Obscura at this year’s Laneway Festival. The album has a lovely ’60s sound, according to my mother. I’m ready to be heartbroken.
  3. Regina Spektor – Begin to Hope: I was worried this was an album I would regret asking for after listening to it once or twice, but it’s not. With the exception of the bridge in ‘Fidelity’, I love it.
  4. Augie March – Moo, You Bloody Choir: I’m still getting to know these songs. I didn’t think I particularly cared for Augie March until I heard them live, opening for Crowded House. Good as that concert was, Augie March were better live. Really good, and I’m looking forward to being able to pick my favourite parts of the album. Not the most famous song, of course, because it never is.
  5.  Green Day – International Superhits: I have not listened to this, but it will provide an interesting counterpoint to the others.

Five songs which are potentially more interesting when I get the lyrics wrong (song followed by what it doesn’t say):

  1. David Dundas/Keith Urban’s “Blue Jeans”: I put my aubergines on.
  2. The Rockmelons’ “L-O-V-E Love”: Hell0 BP Love.
  3. Whoever sings the latest version of its’ “Every Little Step”: No matter if you’re french-fried or diet, we were meant to fall in love.
  4. Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive”: Stay the night, stay the night.
  5. Tim McGraw’s “She’s My Kind of Rain”: Spaghetti falling down on me.

Five Radio Stations I have on preselect in my car, in order of how frequently I listen to them:

  1. Triple J: Roots and All will ruin me for any other activities.
  2. Triple M: Cold 30 ditto. Also the essential 200[insert applicable digit] is a lot of fun.
  3. 98.9FM: This actually does play the best country.
  4. Toowoomba Country FM: For when I’m out of range of everything else.
  5. ABC Classic FM: I know it plays wonderful music (and a good overture is up there with country road songs for music to drive to), but whenever I’m caught between ads and rap on the other stations, it only seems to be playing opera or Yeats set to bad folk music.

Two activities which regularly reduce me to tears and which in consequence I try to avoid are shoe shopping and listening to country music. If I feel I need a thoroughly cathartic experience, I will do both in one evening. I had completed the first last Friday night and, prior to committing the second, made this list (I have since recovered somewhat but maintain my stance on the cupcake issue):

DON’T LIKE

  1. Shoe stores
  2. Crowds
  3. People who stand in front of elevators
  4. Shops which are happy enough for you to buy but won’t actively try to sell you anything.
  5. Shops which actively try to sell you things.
  6. Decisions.
  7. Lack of choice.
  8. Retail blackmail.
  9. Kebab shops which run out of felafels.
  10. Shops which advertise “it’s cupcake season” but don’t actually have any cupcakes for sale.
  11. Extra sugar.
  12. Communal dining tables in food courts.
  13. The price difference between fresh fruit and veges and refined starch.
  14. Rent showing through in food prices.
  15. My feet.
  16. Everyone else’s feet.
  17. Expensive Christmas cards.
  18. Cheap Christmas cards.
  19. GST on stamps.
  20. Waiting for public transport.
  21. Crying in public.
  22. Inertia.
  23. Being a lawyer.
  24. Corporations law.
  25. Order times.
  26. Executive chairs.

LIKE

  1. Rule of law.
  2. Democracy.
  3. The little plastic pots with resealable flip-tops that East-West Food serves its sauces in.

I mentioned in my last post that Making Money Made Simple is an embarrassing book to be seen reading on public transport. I wish to qualify that statement. I see no point in being embarrassed by books I am reading. If I am reading them, I have no problem being known to be doing so, with very few exceptions.

The embarrassment happens when the books I am seen reading are those by whose covers one cannot tell them. By this I do not necessarily mean books with resoundingly bad covers, because we are living in an era of beautiful cover designs (though that is not a blanket statement – google bad romance covers at your own peril), but books whose covers or titles conjure up in the mind of the beholder quite a different book than the one I am actually reading. Though I might be happy to be seen reading a get-rich-quick book if I were deliberately reading one, I object to being presumed to be engrossed in one when in fact I am reading Noel Whittaker, and obviously fascinated by his explication of the inner workings of superannuation funds.

Here are some more books that are, or would be, embarrassing to read on public transport:

Dark Lord of Derkholm, Dianna Wynne Jones - this is solely on the basis of the cover, which (in the edition I have) is decidedly not tongue-in-cheek. It is in fact the cover for the book Dark Lord is not, and I find myself wanting to hold a sign explaining that the glowing-eyed villain and flying horses should be read ironically.

Georgette Heyer novels – two reasons for these. One is that they are such delightful puffery that I get a little embarrassed myself about the extent to which I enjoy the best ones. Anyone who recognises the author would probably understand, and this is a good, guilty-pleasure embarrassment which is, however, better accompanied by tea and chocolate than by council bus passengers. The other problem is the new covers which scream “Romance!” And while I hope if I were reading modern romance on the bus I would do so boldly, this is inaccurate. Heyers are very romantic, but almost more so in the old sense of adventure and daring than in the modern one. Misunderstanding! Pistols at dawn! Secret identities! Masked betrayers! Blackmail! Almacks! Highwaymen! Kittens!

Meg Cabot novels – Glitter! Pink! But they probably wouldn’t sell if they featured lists and horse-shampoo on the covers, which are the real appeal.

Anything by Jodi Picoult, Dan Brown or anything that sells well in airports except maybe Tom Clancy. This is an image thing.

The Feminist Gospel. I have to explain this to everyone, from the Christians (it’s an examination, not a statement) to the feminists (why is it pink?).

Anatomy for Artists. The pictures must be from the ’20s, it starts orange and gets worse from there. There’s a worse one out now, though – a reference guide for fantasy artists. I want to buy it just to bring out when I need to fall about laughing. But not on the bus.

The Satanic Verses. People try not to look at you.

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