Thursday, March 29, 2012

"There are people talking in sentences that have no punchline and they don't even care"

In the brilliantly awesome UK TV series Queer as Folk there's a wonderful scene where Vince, a charming Dr Who fan in love with his best friend Stuart, realises he'd rather continue to be lovesick and hang out with Stuart than stay in a relationship with his nice (read: boring), well-adjusted (boring), reliable (boring) boyfriend, who's so boring I've forgotten his name.

He has this epiphany and after ditching the boyfriend over the phone ("I'm breaking up... we're breaking up") says this:
"Unrequited love. It's fantastic, 'cause it never has to change, it never has to grow up and it never has to die."
Then runs off to find Stuart and, if I have the right scene in my head, the most amazing/fucking terrible dancing scene you've ever scene ensues. Seriously, if you haven't watched the series go and do so right now, although for fucks sake please don't bother with the US version. No. Just no no no no no.

Anyway, I was thinking about this tonight because I was reading this charming article by David Sedaris and I started trying to recall how I'd got into Sedaris, who is an absolute delight, in the first place. Then it came to me: I'd started reading him because the boy on whom I had a mad, utterly unrequited crush was reading him and in my stupidity I assumed that all I had to do to overcome his indifference was show him how much we had in common. "You like Me Talk Pretty One Day? I like Me Talk Pretty One Day - let's go to bed." The boy didn't work out but I got to keep Sedaris (literally, I actually still have his copy) and as it turns out I really DO love him.

Unrequited love gets kind of a bad rap but it's taken me this long to realise it's also a pretty good motivating force. When you desperately want something you can't have you have to try and think of ways to have it, whether that means completely remaking your personality, losing 10kgs or locking him in the basement until Stockholm Syndrome sets in.

In my short(ish) 29 years here's just a SPRINKLING, just a HINT of the things that I have done or achieved as the result of a big fat unrequited crush.

Belle and Sebastian: My favourite band in the world and the only walk-in on my Desert Island Discs. So it's a bit embarassing to admit I only threw myself into him because someone I adored asked me if I'd heard of them.

The Virgin Suicides: One of my favourite books and I seem to recall I only borrowed it from an *ahem* certain crush so I would have a reason to return it. Which I didn't (but, hey, he moved away, no jury in the land would convict me).

A shitty novel. This one is not so exciting but the first complete 'novel' I ever got around to finishing was 100 per cent inspired by trying to make someone fall in love with me. This particular, er, person, was so far out of my league intellectually that the only way to even the scales was to write an amazing first novel that would blow his mind. Unfortunately it was shit but, hey, I finished the fucker.

I learned how to drink. Sure in hindsight I realise the fact this boy and I almost only ever met at pubs and bars was a red flag to his (mild) problem drinking. At the time it seemed reasonable and I, until then not really that much of a drinker, learned the beauty of getting tipsy drunk for no reason. This one barely counts as unrequited love because we did end up going out for a time. But I like to think our best times came before I realised he liked me too. After that it was all downhill.

I could go on but if I even start to think about all the wonderful/terribly sad music unrequited love has driven me to I might never get to sleep.

UPDATE: So something went wrong the first time I tried to post this and... I don't even know. Should be fixed now.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What is...

... UP with these cute wee ecards popping up all over the place? It started with a trickle - I spotted one on someone else's blog - and is now an official torrent - I had five, yes FIVE, emailed to me today. Madness. Anyway, because I have nothing of interest to say here are some I found kinda goofy.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

On the one hand...

... this is an admirable idea. On the other hand, if I looked like Cate Blanchett I would be fucking CARPET-BOMBING the world with photos of myself, photoshopped or not photoshopped.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy wine o'clock, internet

“I like bars just after they open for the evening. When the air inside is still cool and clean and everything is shiny and the barkeep is giving himself that last look in the mirror to see if his tie is straight and his hair is smooth. I like the neat bottles on the bar back and the lovely shining glasses and the anticipation. I like to watch the man mix the first one of the evening and put it down on a crisp mat and put the little folded napkin beside it. I like to taste it slowly. The first quiet drink of the evening in a quiet bar—that's wonderful.”
(Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In which I gush

Sometimes I hate my job. I guess/assume/hope most people feel like that sometimes. At other times I love that my job gives me access to and forces me to interact with people I would likely never have the opportunity to meet in a different profession.

This was driven home to me yesterday after a particularly delightful lunch with someone I guess I would describe as a well-regarded member of the business community. This guy has 30 years on me, is an engineer by training, runs a hugely successful ASX 100 company and is, as a result, loaded. But he's also awesome and I'd never realised it. Having intended to ask him lots of probing work-related questions we ended up spending most of the lunch talking about books and writing and freaking art. And I... how do I put this... do not know anything about art.

It's a hard thing to articulate but I came away thinking that, wow, it was really great to meet someone with money and power and influence and discover they're awesome. Too often - way, way too often - the opposite is true and it's so easy to be assume money and power will turn everyone into a dick. This guy was the kind of person I'd like to be at 60: smart, funny and in possession of what sounds like the most amazing library I've never seen.

He even convinced me I'm wrong about Charles Dickens and should be reading David Copperfield right now.

Anyway, mash note over for the day. Original bitchy programming to resume in 3... 2... 1...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Otters that look (kinda) like Benedict Cumberbatch

In trying to decide what to say about this I could, as is so often the case, do no better than quote Lindsay: I'm glad I live in a world where this exists. Truly these are halcyon days.

"Sometimes I find I get to thinking of the past..."

For various reasons I've been trawling back through my music collection lately and one of the thing that surprised me is how many of my favourite bands or singers are the same people I was listening to 10 years ago.

I shouldn't be surprised. My friend Nick once told me that you'll never feel the way about the bands you discover after you're 25 as you do about the ones you discover before you're 25 and I think he had a point. The reason I still regard Belle and Sebastian as my "favourite" band has a lot less to do with their recent output (charming though some of it is) and a lot more to do with the role they played in my formative years when I was madly in love with P and couldn't imagine a world in which we wouldn't ultimately wind up together (great news to hear about baby number 2 by the way).

Maybe this helps explain why I've been in such a moony kind of a mood all week, stalking around the house like a moody teenager, falling asleep listening to that one Sigur Ros album everyone was really into at some point in time and daydreaming about a time in my life when it felt like there were still possibilities in front of me. I discussed this with my friend Mike, who was absolutely no help because he's as bad as me when it comes to romanticising the past and forgetting how crappy those late teen years and early 20s were.


1. No boobs. This wasn't a tragedy - I think small boobs are nice - but having bigger-than-small boobs can also be a true blessing when it comes to getting served at a bar or distracting people in a meeting from realising the fact you have no idea what you're talking about. For some reason mine didn't appear until my early twenties. I still remember going to the Subi Pub and hearing my friend A asked my boyfriend, um, also A: "Have her boobs got bigger?"

2. Clothes. It's not that I was a terrible dresser 10 years ago, it's just... no wait, 90 per cent of my clothes should have been burned in a bonfire. Why I thought the Tomboy Look was a good idea I'll never know and the less said about that weird woollen HAT I briefly sported the better.

3. Total lack of self confidence. This hardly needs an explanation but, seriously, if I'd realised at the time that actually I was kinda cute and had a perfectly decent personality, I would have had a lot more fun.

4. Unrequited Love. Again this hardly needs an explanation but in my advanced years I've managed to forget how absolutely wretched some of my crushes made me. And I had a lot of them (P, obviously, which lasted about 5 years too long; J, which ended so very badly; the other J, which, pity about the personality; I, which never even got off the ground THANK FUCK; M, which was always doomed; the other M, who I managed to treat awfully; K, who had that weird thing with the wolves.... I'd better stop now). Only going back to read my old diaries reminds me how miserable and waily I was for much of the time. Love angst is seductive in books and movies and music but sometimes it's actually rather nice being reasonably sure your boyfriend is fond of you.

5. Living with my parents. The thing is, my parents are good parents and lovely people and by the time I came along my older siblings had broken down enough barriers that my parents weren't overly concerned with my day-to-day welfare, which was a good thing. That much said, moving out of home is like recovering from a bad headache: suddenly even doing ordinary, everyday shit feels amazing. (Sorry Mum and Dad).

Look, I could go on. I could also go on to point out that the list of AWESOME THINGS ABOUT MY LATE TEENS/EARLY 20S THAT WILL NEVER COME AROUND AGAIN might be longer than the above list (I mean, come on: remember going out on a Saturday night, all dressed up and thinking this could be the night?) but what are you going to do - go back in time, do it all differently and this time really appreciate it?

No, I'm seriously asking: is that shit... doable yet? Please at least tell me someone is looking into it.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Only a little bit

Sometimes I feel terribly shallow for caring about clothes as I do, for giving a shit if I have a pretty dress to wear or nice shoes or if my hair looks okay. Then I see a photo like this, courtesy of The Sartorialist (here's where I point out I have no legal right to the image, am basically stealing it although only with the best intentions and as a long-time fan etc), and am reminded of the power of clothes to make you think things about a person. In this case I just want to invite him over to unironically watch The Bachelor, get cider drunk and maybe just maybe let me put my hands under that amazing coat.

(Love) doesn't feel like Puccini...

"To me it feels more like this:

Jeremy Irons says I've been waiting for you and Patricia Hodge says What do you mean? They're in a bedroom upstairs in a smart house; music is thudding below. I knew you'd come he says, and she says I've just come in to comb my hair. He says I knew you'd have to comb your hair. I knew you'd have to get away from the party.

He's drunk but he looks like he means it. She laughs - he's her husband's best friend and there is absolutely nothing whatsoever about her which suggests that flirtation or infidelity has ever crossed her mind. So when she asks Aren't you enjoying the party? and walks amusedly to the dressing table to pick up her hairbrush, she is just humouring an old friend, no more, no less. He just comes out with it. You're beautiful. Listen. I've been watching you all night. I must tell you, I want to tell you. You're incredible.

You're drunk.

Irons delivers this word beautifully. It is a beautiful word to say, after all. I was best man at your wedding. I saw you in white. I watched you glide by in white.

I wasn't in white.

I should have had you in your white before the wedding. I should have blackened you in your bridal dress before ushering you into your wedding as your best man...

She looks headmistressily unbothered by the situation. My husband's best man, your best friend's best man.

Irons ignores this. You're lovely! I'm crazy about you. All these words I'm saying - don't you see they've never been said before? Can't you see? I'm crazy about you. It's a whirlwind. Have you ever been to the Sahara Desert? Listen to me. It's true. Listen. You overwhelm me, you're so lovely.

I'm not!

You're so beautiful - look at the way you look at me!

Patricia Hodge gives us this woman's easy talent for coping with such situations. Fending off this kind of approach, we see, has always been one of her more instinctive accomplishments. I'm not looking at you! She is kind but stern.

Look at the way you're looking at me! I can't wait for you. I'm bowled over. I'm totally knocked out. My jewel. He puts his hand near her hair as though it's radiating heat. This isn't a pitch or a line, although I have seen several actors play this speech of Pinter's as just that. Nor is it a drunken error, as Douglas Hodge had it at the National Theatre in 1998: Hodge is supposed to be good in Pinter but he never plays against Pinter, which is what Irons is doing, rather than nudging us in the ribs to tip us off to what the author really thinks of these avowals. You could do this scene so many ways. But for Jeremy Irons, no editorialising, no standing apart. This is actually happening. The actual magic. It's magic.

I can't ever sleep again. Now, listen! It's the truth! I won't walk! I'll be a cripple, I'll descend - I'll diminish into total paralysis. My life is in your hands, that's what you're banishing me to - a state of catatonia. Do you know the state of catatonia? Do you? A state where the reigning prince is the prince of emptiness, the prince of absence, the price of desolation. I love you. She makes some footling objection, looking as pale as Patricia Hodge has ever looked. You want to reach into the scene and pinch her cheek, raise the blood to the surface. I adore you. I'm madly in love with you. I can't believe that what anyone at this moment is saying has ever happened. HAS EVER HAPPENED. Nothing has ever happened. NOTHING. This is the ONLY thing that has ever happened. Your eyes kill me. I'm lost. You're lost.

No she says. But her brain is beginning to register depths of feeling which have been slumbering under her marriage for years, for fifteen years, which this man has disinterred for her.


Well, that's Pinter. The film is the backwards-running Betrayal (1982) and this, the final scene, is the start of the story, a trick which the last decade has become rather addicted to copying. It's one of the greatest love scenes ever filmed because it does something which you almost never see. This is where, if you don't have a script like Pinter's, you have to cut away (to bedroom or breakfast) but here we actually witness the woman falling in love with the man, and you can see it because you can see Irons hypnotising himself, enchanting himself. You can see the actual magic.

Of course Irons has this quality of doomed romanticism - there is in his face something tending towards sickness and his teeth look a little brown - which makes him perfect for old-fashioned romantic parts. His best bit in Brideshead Revisited was being dumped by Julia Flyte, sitting on the stairs, embodying the pain of love: I don't want to make it easier for you. I hope your heart may break."

(Apologies for the extended quote but this is one of my favourite chapters from one of my favourite books, Antonia Quirke's gloriously uneven Madame Depardieu and the Beautiful Strangers - a book that was recommended to me by the lovely Nick Lezard with the words "you'll either love this or hate it because it's what you should be writing". He flattered me, the smooth fucker, but the book has stuck with me. Lo-ve-ly).

Reading into things

This blog comes courtesy of Lindsay, who both blogs more often than I do and is almost certainly going to become the next E.L James, what with her (I assume) borderline filthy historical romance skills. I hope to one day ride her coattails.

The term is Literary Speed Dating and according to this article in The Independent it's inspired by both a love of books and a love of, uh, what I guess can only be termed public transport eye-fucking:
"You are sitting on a train, and across the aisle someone is reading one of your favourite books. This person (clearly of taste) happens to be a tall, handsome man. As you stare he looks up, catches your eye and smiles – he asks for your number... Browsing in a bookshop you reach out to pick up a book; so does the person standing next to you. The person happens to be a tall, handsome man. He catches your eye and smiles – he asks if you would like to go for coffee... So run the fantasies of many a book-lover."

The idea is a neat one: speed-dating but where everyone brings his or her favourite books. The problem, as Lindsay has already pointed, out, is what fucking book to bring. Of my Probably Top Five Books (The Great Gatsby, The End of the Affair, The Virgin Suicides, The Long Goodbye and Madame Depardieu and the Beautiful Strangers) the first two options make me seem like the pretentious douche I am and the third like I maybe possibly sometimes cut myself. Chandler is a possibility but seems just a bit too obvious, while the Quirke will reveal me as a sad, sad case right about the point at which I have to explain what it's about: "The author... she crushes on movie stars and... writes about them".

Worse than that, I've been sitting here for 10 minutes trying to think of the perfect book a guy could bring to make me go weak at the knees and I've come up with nothing. Okay, well actually I came up with Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty but then I decided that would probably make me worry he was deeply closeted and hoped to use me as his beard. Although, don't get me wrong, that is a great book. Far longer is the list of Books I Would Consider A Massive Turn Off, which goes something like this:

Anything by Marcel Proust
Massive wanker, even if Swann's Way is genuinely his favourite book. Especially if that's genuinely his favourite book.

Anything by James Joyce
See above.

Anything by Jodi Picoult.
Bring Proust and JJ and you're trying too hard. Bring Picoult and you're not trying hard enough. Seriously.

Tess of the D'urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
I don't mind a bit of Thomas Hardy, by which I mean I thought The Mayor of Casterbridge and Jude the Obscure were both rather good. But Tess. I mean Tess! I fucking hate Tess, both the book and the character. Accordingly I am deeply suspicious about what a love of this book says about a man's attitudes towards women.

Lance Armstrong, It's Not About the Bike
This isn't a half bad book really but the kind of person who loves sports biographies is the kind of person who, at some point in your life together, will try to make you watch sport. Which... no.

Anything from Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant Series
This is unfair because SD is very good and TC a very cool and original creation. That much said, it's still a series of books about a rapist leper so... you know.

I could go on - you really want to hear me explain why Paolo Maurensig's The Luneberg Variation is a superior choice to Nabokov's The Defence (if you MUST bring a chess book) but it's Saturday night, I have the house to myself and I have a very trashy book to be reading. The sort of thing, clearly, that would see me harshly judged if I dared to drag it along to a bout of literary speed dating. That much said, the kind of man who would appreciate said book would be, phew, a fucking keeper.

UPDATED: Because apparently I can't tell Lance Armstrong and Cadel Evans apart. Even though one is an Aussie and the other only has one ball.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I couldn't possibly comment

So for obvious reasons (hey Mum, hey Dad) I don't use this blog to write about sex. That much said, this is kinda interesting. And yes *ahem* I may own the book.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Charlie Brown does it best

No comment

Things I learned about myself in Thailand

1. I do not cope well with the heat.
2. I do not cope well with the humidity.
3. Mocktails make me sad.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Things that are probably more embarassing than crying like a baby in the toilets at work and then having to return to your desk with bloodshot eyes

1. Doing a sh*t on the office carpet.
2. Forgetting to wear pants.
3. Admitting that you were really excited and optimistic when Kevin Rudd got in.

I'm sorry I didn't acknowledge your hello in the office today but...

1. You make my skin crawl.
2. I mean I find you creepy at the best of times but it grossed me out that you kinda... whispered your hello.
3. You're really bad at your job, which would be fine if you didn't think exactly the opposite.
4. You take all your personal calls in the corridor by my desk and, uh, let me just say that being forced to listen to your personal calls does not endear you to me.
5. I just... really don't like you, don't want to be friends with you and don't even want to encourage the nod-and-hello relationship you seem to believe we currently have.

Thursday, March 1, 2012