Bookplates and World Records

I’ve been working on a bookplate design for Gillian Polack, so that she can offer people signed bookplates for her latest novel, Life Through Cellophane (which is a very enjoyable, gentle horror story) if they can’t get to her – I managed to buy it at the launch, spend a whole weekend in her general vicinity and still not get my copy signed, so I will be asking for one.

I posted some early ideas a few days ago. This is a collection of the final pen and ink drawing (top left), a series of variations, and the final bookplate (bottom right):

Bookplate progression

Now, because my mother (of all people) tells me off for not writing enough about my life, I will tell you some highlights of the last week:

  • My mother has been at the coast for a week. My younger sister and I spent the weekend, walked along the beach (the sea and the sky there are always shell-coloured), read, drank pinacoladas and got caught in the rain. I managed to go into antique, retro and second hand book stores and escape only with two books (on Australian aviation, unsurprisingly).
  • My sister’s boyfriend was driving us to the station on Monday morning. We usually loop around a traffic circle instead of turning right across traffic, but as we came up to the traffic circle (two lanes) there was a huge cloud of brown dust – a rubbish truck had lost its skip. Fortunately, we were in the ute so we hopped the median strip and retreated.
  • Tuesday I saw Astroboy, which was intellectually insulting. I also had a KFC Zinger Works Burger which was very good – I’d been looking forward to it for ages, but the KFC at Indro is the world’s slowest and usually out of chicken.
  • Yesterday I went to the QUT Writing Gala (university awards and launch of their journal Rex) at the Gallery of Modern Art, talked to people about the secret Brisbane which exists in backyards, then on my way out was forcibly diverted into the gallery theatre where a world record breaking comedy attempt was taking place. I stayed for over an hour and my copy of Rex was appropriated and used in part of the act.

Here is my sister asleep while my mother read Dean Koontz out loud, and Lindsay Webb’s comedy attempt:

Page 1

ETA: Unless it’s a convention and I figure they’ll find me anyway, I sometimes email people a copy of the sketch of them – I just had an email back from Lindsay Webb’s team and apparently they put the sketch up on the screen at the back of the stage!

Get back hordes of chaos, or: 5 more things I have not been embarrassed about

  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.

A rare music post

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.

All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane

Jess and I saw this tonight, everyone else having fallen by the wayside. At the end of the movie, I fell down the stairs while walking and reading the credits, wrenching my shoulder, banging my knee and jarring my foot (this in addition to the pinched nerve in my other leg). Jess survived unscathed. We collected the third member of our household and came home to find the fourth unpacking, listening to depressing music at high volume and just finished drying the dog with a hair-dryer.

So real life in Brisbane is somewhat quirkier than the movie, which was patchy but (not unlike the vicar’s egg) very good in those patches. The soundtrack was brilliant, and there were the laughs of recognition (the RE – still corpse-purple – and the Botanic Gardens) and of genuine amusement (the Sesame Street theory of urban development). As is so often the case in romantic comedy-dramas the secondary characters (Tyson and Katherine) were more unique and appealing than the more neurotic, tortured main characters (Anthea and Michael), but it is a good sign that I remembered the names of most characters, and there were scenes where I thought – hey, I was really getting pulled in there. And although at the start I thought, “not gritty – it’s so overdone”, that grittiness was pretty low-key, and there were moments of colour and beauty that were a relief for a small film. The film also caught, subtly, the fact (especially at the wedding) that in Brisbane everyone knows or is connected to everyone else.*

However, if your friends ever ask you to be extras in their friend’s cousin’s movie, do. The most striking feature of the film’s Brisbane was the emptiness of it – as if all the friends and half the city had gone to London.

Off to have chai now.


*E.g. my housemates are each others’ sisters’ friends and boyfriend’s sisters, and I am not as was thought the random person who answered an internet add, rather I am the family friend of the sisters’ father’s business partner, and one of my coworkers who was to have joined us at the movie has a boyfriend who shops at the same store we do and is my godfather’s son, and one of my client’s cousins, to whom my boss tried to marry me off, is already married to my third cousin, whose parents live in Taringa.

Inappropriate footwear

Last weekend, I had no appropriate shoes for the races. What is appropriate attire for a camel race, after all? (Answer: In the case of the winning fashions of the field, green body paint, brown leggings and tinsel). I have no sensible boots, and settled for my old Mary Janes, which have been worn so much the soles have split. This is fine in dry weather.

In Toogoolawah, it rained and rained and rained. It was muddy and slippery and after the races the audience traipsed out into the long grass and mud in the centre of the showgrounds to watch the Iron Man competition. The water (and mud) soaked up into my shoes and stockings and left my feet cold and muddy and with mud-coloured callouses.

The next shoe issue was related to a client boatcruise.

I had not seen my good cocktail shoes since February, and it was a choice between scrappy strappy shoes and serviceable (and this time watertight) Mary Janes with very little heels. Karen at work was my fashion adviser and we opted for stockings and the Mary Janes, she applied makeup to my face at strategic intervals and I ran out to find a taxi. As it turned out, which shoes to wear on the boatcruise was the least of my concerns.
At the marina, I located the (elegant, spotless, luxurious) Emerald Lady, and together with the other guests discovered that our shoes were not to be worn on deck. The staff collected them in a large storage box and we ascended to the upper deck barefoot. Well, the others did. I asked where I might remove my stockings and was sent to the (luxurious) master bedroom, reemerging shortly to attempt to conceal my callouses, blisters and hobbit-toes.

We made a pleasant party, cruising up to Saint Lucia in one direction and out to the Gateway in the other, eating beautiful little gourmet appetizers and miniature venison and green-aoli burgers, curling up on the chaise longue and… finding out my client’s cousin is married to my third cousin, who is in town after having a baby (home from the hospital today, I am now having dinner with the family on Monday).

When we returned to the marina and eventually disentangled ourselves from conversations, the bar and our hosts, all our shoes were neatly lined up in pairs on the walkway.

There were no taxis at Dockside and, as I don’t care to wait for transport, I walked over the Storey Bridge and down to Eagle Street and my office to collect my bags. Then – it being Friday night and the queues for taxis impressive – I walked home to Auchenflower. I was home a little after one, with sore toes and shoulders and feeling a little disconnected from reality (but that is as much to do with NaNoWriMo and very little sleep and two beers as anything).

This afternoon (I being carless) Ciata dropped me off at Paddington in my pretty but not particularly supportive corduroy flats (already guilty of blisters in North East, PA) and I discovered new designer shops and bought presents for babies and sisters. The galleries were having a special night tonight, so I rang Genevieve who made her way out by bus, and we spent the evening eating Tibetan, buying a beautiful, beautiful choker and making our way through eight galleries. My favourite works were in the Brett Lethbridge Gallery (specifically Brett Lethbridge’s noir, whimsical prints with their mechanical lines) and Higher Art (Thomas Moser’s etchings) but my favourite gallery was Kiln, in the converted Paddington Substation. Laura Skerlj, whom I knew from Vanguard at uni, had some works in the Kiln exhibition and I ran into her at Lethbridge. I haven’t seen as much of her artwork as I’d like to, but her bird-locket painting in this exhibition and some of her book pieces that she exhibited at a Vanguard event are among the more evocative pieces I’ve seen, and I really enjoy looking at her work.

Genevieve and I then walked from Paddington to Rosalie, past late-night house parties on the balconies of old Queenslanders, dark shops full of glass and mirrors, talking and sipping nectar (literally, from flowers) and had gelati. We then went to the Milton shops for a taxi for Genevieve, and I walked home again, and took my shoes off.

nanOh Drat

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
25,329 / 50,000

Over halfway. I suppose I have to finish the thing now. Some of it might be reusable.

On the bright side, I have brought myself to make marks in a Moleskine for other than special occasions. After spending the morning translating and watching JTV, I went to the Gallery of Modern Art and the Art Gallery and drew pictures and ate flourless chocolate cake, then walked home barefoot along the river.