Monday, September 15, 2014

I'm sorry

Because I know this post will mean almost nothing to anybody but me or weirdos who fell in love with Rainbow Rowell's excellent novel Fangirl as lamely as entirely as I did. But if this tweet means what I think it means - and it probably doesn't even but MAYBE IT DOES - then I am beyond excited. Just.. beyond. Come on God I don't believe in: I've been so good lately, don't I deserve this one? Please. Please, please please.

(Comes via the always terrific Rainbow Rowell)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thursday smut: Kill Your Darlings

This one's for Dans. And, you know, for me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"...paging a dermatologist for Mr Midas..."

I am not a food journalist and I very much doubt I will ever be a food journalist. But if I were a food journalist then reading Jay Rayner's reviews every week in The Guardian, as I do, would make me weep at my own inadequacy.
"I’ve said it many times: I have no problem spending big money on meals out. I’ve paid more than £282 of my own dosh for lunch. It just needs to be utterly memorable, the stuff of recollections whispered breathily late at night. It can’t be a pallid fart of mediocrity, priced for some dodgy clientele that’s ripped off the gross national product of a small impoverished nation and is now domiciled in London for tax reasons. That’s what your money gets you at Quattro Passi: clumsy cooking, trying to make itself look grown up and clever, generally by the application of flaky precious metals, like King Midas has suffered psoriasis over your dinner. Yes, really. We’ll get there."
You can - and should - read the rest of this week's corker of a review here.
"There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind." 
(Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr Rosewater)

Holding the Man

The other day I posted a list of cute words in other languages for which there is no accurate English translation - the kind of words that perfectly capture a particular feeling that would take you 10 words in English to express.

Well now I wish there was a word to describe the sensation of mingled hope, excitement and fear that comes with learning that a book that means a lot to you is being made into a film. Because: eeeeeeeeeiieieieieieiei is the closest I can come to expressing it.

I first read Holding the Man years ago after picking it up on a whim: I'd never heard of it and didn't know anything about it but it was $10 and I needed something to read. I've read it several times since and it's still one of the more gorgeous books I've ever read and almost certainly my favourite Australian book (bearing in mind I don't read much Australian literature). I don't want to risk spoiling it for anyone who hasn't read it by saying too much about the subject matter but I'd urge it on anyone. I'd even go so far as to say it's not just a great book in the way, say The Secret History (another favourite of mine) is a great book but an important book, especially for Australian readers. I am not a huge crier when it comes to books, even when I do find them awfully sad, but I weep like a bitch every time I re-read it.

So if you don't have weekend plans get thee down to the bookshop with your $10 in hand (it's a Penguin classic so it shouldn't be too hard to track down) and make a date with a genuine Australian classic. Just make sure you do it sooner rather than later, before the movie comes out and shits all over your memories.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Things I learned on a 16km hike at the weekend because apparently I am now somebody who hikes on the weekend sometimes and no I don't know when that happened:

  1. I am not a terrible hiker. Seriously, I… finished and I didn’t complain (I think) and my body held up fine and I felt like I could have kept going at the end. I even jogged – jogged! – for about two seconds towards the end.
  2. Good food can motivate me to do just about anything. I ate a chocolate-covered Florentine biscuit almost the size of my head for morning tea and just the thought of it kept me going through the early hard part of the trail.
  3. I don’t always need music or an audiobook to distract me. This one surprised me because I have a habit of listening to audiobooks or podcasts to liven up boring tasks like cooking dinner, walking, cleaning etc. So I expected to be bored shitless hiking 16km with nought but my husband’s charming company (that's not as mean as it sounds: it's just not that easy to chat on the trail when you’re in single file). To my great surprise it was kinda fun just letting my mind wander and roam and mull over things.
  4. I will never be a proper hiker. I mean 16km was fun because it took three and a half hours and then it was over. But if I had to get up every day and do that for, say, a week I think I would cry.
  5. I will not be able to wait very long until I have another one of those big biscuits. Seriously, it was amazing: I would marry that bitch.
N.B: The Florentine pictured above is seriously not as big as the one I ate was but when I went looking I *ahem* couldn't actually find a biscuit picture that was big enough...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Yes yes yes

Is there anything better than starting the day with a genuine chuckle? I think not. This did it for me today.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Grief Bacon and other pretty words

So you all know what schadenfreude means, even if you don't really know how to pronounce it (my German colleague insists I get it wrong every time somehow to the point where I've just stopped saying it aloud, out of shame). But about these gems of words from other language of which there is no precise English translation (but there really ought to be)?

Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. ("Grief bacon", according to Google translator, which is amazing).

Tingo (Pascuense)
To gradually steal all the possessions out of a neighbour's house by borrowing and not returning.

Shemomedjamo (Georgian)
To eat past the point of being full just because the food tastes good.

Fernweh (German)
Feeling homesick for somewhere you've never been.

Yuputka (Ulwa)
The phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.

Gadrii Nombor Shulen Jongu (Tibetan)
Giving an answer that is unrelated to the question. See also: politicians. Apparently translates literally as "giving a green answer to a blue question".

Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
To go outside to check if an expected visitor has arrived, over and over again.

The feeling of being alone in the woods (German)

Please note: My instinct is always to be sceptical about some of these 'translations' since I don't speak any of the languages involved and I sometimes suspect internet commentators of exaggerating for effect, comic or otherwise (I know, who would've thunk it). Nevertheless, most of the words I've picked seem to crop up often enough, with sufficiently similar meanings ascribed to them, that there's something there. These translations - and the gorgeous illustration above - come from these specific websites.

You have the right to remain... selfish

“Maybe you feel pressure to be positive because so many people rely on your good, fake-positive energy? If that's the case, screw everybody else. You're not a bottle of Valium.” 
(Augusten Burroughs, This Is How)

Call is passive aggression, call it being a pussy, whatever you call it I’ve always had trouble asserting myself. In my head I’ve called it politeness and I’ve called it not wanting to rock the boat and I still believe in the value of that. I know some people who are, um, excessively assertive I guess, and to me it comes off as rudeness. Knowing what you want and valuing that isn’t the same as steamrolling over other people. Accommodating what other people want is fundamental to living a happy life surrounded by others, in my opinion.

However, over the years I have learned how to be more assertive or, as I prefer to think of it, to stand up for myself more or put myself first. That doesn't mean being confrontational - not something I'm great at - but just quietly championing my own interests above those of other people and trying not to feel bad about that. In the past I’ve put other people ahead of myself over dumb things that don’t matter: these days I try not to be such a martyr. Sometimes this means being honest when someone asks if I want to do something and the truth is I’m really craving a night in bed with my book. Sometimes it means disagreeing with someone at work who’s more senior than me and not feeling like I have to bow to their opinion just because of that fact. Sometimes it means just being very very selfish and doing exactly what I want to do, like going to a solo weekend movie and eating a choc-top for lunch.

I was thinking about this today because I came across this ‘bill of assertive rights’ from a guy called Manuel J Smith who seems to be something of a self-help author. I don’t really go in for self-help in a big way (this wonderful book is an exception) but this tickled something in me, I’m not sure why. Oh and if you're wondering why this post is illustrated by a photo of Katherine Hepburn well just look at her - do you think she took crap from anyone?

A Bill of Assertive Rights
(Manuel J Smith)

I: You have the right to judge your own behaviour, thoughts, and emotions, and to take the responsibility for their initiation and consequences upon yourself.

II: You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behaviour.

III: You have the right to judge if you are responsible for finding solutions to other people’s problems.

IV: You have the right to change your mind.

V: You have the right to make mistakes—and be responsible for them.

VI: You have the right to say, “I don’t know.”

VII: You have the right to be independent of the goodwill of others before coping with them.

VIII: You have the right to be illogical in making decisions.

IX: You have the right to say, “I don’t understand.”

X: You have the right to say, “I don’t care.”

You have the right to say no, without feeling guilty.”

This Be The Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.   
    They may not mean to, but they do.   
They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,   
Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.