Posted in Sparks Book Club

Book Review – Aiyaiyai

Aiyaiyai is not the name of the book (although that would be a cool title), it’s an expression to summarise how I am now feeling. On the plane this afternoon I read Charlotte Wood’s novel, “The Natural Way of Things”. I had started reading it almost a week ago, on my flight to Perth, but had only read a few chapters and was mostly confused, to be honest.

I chose the book from my favourite local bookshop, The Grumpy Swimmer, because it had a sticker on it saying that it was the 2016 Stella Prize Winner. And the font was nicely spaced out so I knew it would be easy to read on the plane. A shallow choice, I guess, and the purchase definitely went against my new “one in, one out” policy (to limit the number of books stacked on my bedside tables, and bookshelves, and side tables, and on the floor next to the bedside tables).


Anyway, I am writing this on the plane after just finishing the novel (don’t worry, my phone is in aeroplane mode and the post will publish after landing). I am afraid that it’s one of those books (or movies) that has left me feeling as though I can’t speak. 

The praise from other authors (featured on the book’s covers) includes words like: “A brave, brilliant book.” And, “terrifying, remarkable and utterly unforgettable”. And, “it gets under your skin, fills your lungs, breaks your heart”. 

I can see what they mean, but I would describe the book as “bleak”. Really bleak. (I can see that mightn’t help to sell as many books though.) And it’s powerful, but in a horrible way that made me quite happy to get to the end, albeit with a hollow feeling inside. But then I was disappointed with the ending, which made the whole thing even darker. Yikesy mama, what a ride.

In a nutshell, Charlotte Wood is undoubtedly a great writer and this raises some interesting points about how women are seen in society. But it was too dark and bleak and empty for me – definitely not a light or uplifting holiday read!

Posted in Travel sparks

Meanwhile, in the Bunbury Herald

Some interesting snaps from the local paper I found on my travels this week…It’s so Australian it almost hurts.

I think poor Dianne is reconsidering how much she loves her job. Not Rosemary, though – living the dream.
Yikes.
Straya.
Oh, that Roysy.
And a warning that the next clipping is from the ‘adult services’ section (which is in the Sport section of the paper, strangely enough)…
Good parking is important. (Really hope it’s not a euphemism for an adult service that I don’t understand.)

Posted in Fashion Sparks, Movie Sparks, Sparks Book Club

Being four

I don’t really remember being four. I’m sure it was a fun time though, before school started for me, but was well and truly occupying my three older brothers. I guess I hung out with my lovely mum and grandparents a lot. I think I must have gone to preschool part-time (maybe 3 days per week) and I do remember that place a little bit. I swear that War Memorial Preschool had front gates with black jail-style bars, but will need to fact check that (if the building hasn’t yet been bulldozed to make way for an apartment block).

Anyway, enough reminiscing. I’m currently enjoying a little holiday over in WA, where my middle brother lives with his lovely wife and daughter. Milly is four. And I’d better keep spell-checking as that gets autocorrected to Milky. Which would be slightly too wacky as a name, even for WA.

It’s fun to catch up with Milly, and I’m learning a lot. For starters, I didn’t know there were different varieties of Vegemite; or that tiaras make surprisingly practical headbands; or that the free Playschool app is actually really clever. In return, I’ve shown Milly the genius of the funny filters on Snapchat; introduced the celebratory fist bump; and generally complemented an already impressive repertoire of wackiness. We’ve watched some movies and read some books and done some shopping. Good times.

We highly recommend this book.

Spoiler alert: the book is mostly a hit because of funny sounds like these. Inducing snorts of laughter.

And you can never have too much bling. [Disclaimer: I actually bought this one.]

We recommend this movie – it’s like Barbie meets James Bond. With weapons like a glitter bomb, lipstick that turns into a tazer, a robot dog. Usual spy stuff.
So, I never saw the original, but this sequel was ok. The age old tale of the struggle between being a mermaid and a girl. Featuring the worst fake Australian accent I have ever witnessed.
Because four is the perfect age to rock a gold puffy vest around town. #gangstalyf

Posted in Fashion Sparks

Well, hello kitty

It’s winter time in Australia now, and for Melbourne, that means some colder temperatures than I’ve been used to as a Sydney-sider. Which I don’t actually mind at all – it’s a great excuse to wear lots of layers with faux fur trimmings and to watch tv under a crocheted nanna blanket. And maybe even wear a beanie, although I’m still not sure beanies really make anyone look that great.

Well, I did think that, until I rediscovered the etsy store ToScarboroughFair. Now, I’m not a crazy cat lady, but I don’t judge you if you are. And why shouldn’t cats be able to style up their looks like humans – maybe without the faux fur trimmings, as that would be a bit creepy, but with a beanie or little hat, especially as the weather gets cold. Here are some of my favourites. You’re welcome.

catberet
Bonjour. [image from ToScarboroughFair]
catcap
A round of golf, you say? [image from ToScarboroughFair]
catbeanie
Chillin’. [image from ToScarboroughFair]
catrasta
Rasta cat. [image from ToScarboroughFair]
cattophat
Seriously? [image from ToScarboroughFair]

Posted in Life sparks, Movie Sparks

Sweet as, bro

One of the joys of not working at the moment is time to do things. All sorts of things, really. Like on Monday, when it was a nice sunny day in Melbourne and I got to walk to the beach and sit on a bench and read a magazine. Sure, I was wearing four layers and had my hoodie on, because Melbourne winter. But it’s so nice to have the time to do stuff like that.

Elwood

Yesterday I had a meeting in the city, and then dinner with some lovely work friends, and I had a few hours to fill in between the two. I wandered around a bit, which wasn’t super fun in the rain, so thought I’d go and see a movie. As you might imagine, there aren’t that many people at the cinema mid-afternoon on a Tuesday. Let’s just say the average age of folks there was 60ish.

What were my old mates and I seeing? A New Zealand film, recommended by my mum and dad, called Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Hunt for the what now? I know, it is a strange title alright, but it is actually a lovely heartwarming film featuring Sam Neill (as his regular character of Cranky Old Man) and a rotund little Kiwi chappie. It was pretty funny and a little bit sad and had some truly stunning images of NZ in all its natural beauty.

As I am committed to research for this blog (and I have the time to google nonsense), I just discovered that apparently the movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year, which is a pretty big deal. And after it opened in NZ in March, it’s become the highest grossing locally-produced film OF ALL TIME. Which is also a pretty big deal.

It’s not going to win any Oscars, I don’t think. But I thought it was a great movie – especially if you’re having a crappy time or need some lighthearted entertainment, this film could be just the thing. Cool accents, beautiful scenery, and a lovely, feelgood story. And I can’t get the “Ricky Baker” song out of my head now (it’s in the trailer, below). Sweet as, bro.