45. A Picture Book

So I now have the perfect excuse to read picture books. 

Not that I really needed an excuse. Last year picture books were a good way to boost my numbers to getto my goal of 100 books read for the year. It is just a shame that this year I can only really count one because I will be reading a lot of them, repeatedly.

However, today’s blog is about the latest picture book that I have bought –   I chose it because my husband hates koalas. To such an extent that it has now become he group joke and at every opportunity (mostly his birthday) our friends like to buy him koala themed gifts. We now have a few koala figurines and books. I’ve never quite understood why he doesn’t like koalas, he just doesn’t.

So when I saw this book two weeks ago I immediately thought of him. Then I thought it was too much to spend on a joke, but when I got home and told my husband about it he said we had to buy it. It arrived in the post today.

The cover pretty much sums up the plot. The boy does not like his koala toy. And he tries very hard to get rid of it. The basis for his dislike is the creepy eyes the koala has. If you look closely you can see that one eye is always peeping, like those paintings that have eyes that follow you around the room. It is one pretty nasty looking koala.

My favourite page is the absolute last one, technically one of the end papers. It has a very funny joke on it that I won’t spoil, suffice to say it’s aimed at the adults reading the book rather than the children.

Coming up on my next blog: Thriller TV 

Where are all the guns?

Take a close look at this picture.

  

This is a fight in a fundamentalist church in a Southern American state. 

I have but one question – where are all the guns?

Last night I went to see 

  

I hadn’t seen this poster for the film, just a short trailer before the last instalment of The Hobbit trilogy (and if you’ve forgotten my thoughts on that film reacquaint yourself with them here). Kingsman looked like any good British spy movie. Lots of gadgets, a few laughs and a chav accent. Kind of like a boys St Trinian’s. It looked like the kind of movie I might like.

I was slightly deceived. Sitting in the cinema lobby my husband pointed out to me that the film was rated MA. That really should have been my first clue that it was perhaps going to be much more violent than I had anticipated. 

Hence the above picture of the church scene. It’s an all out brawl in America, where the second amendment is a way of life (and not just for humans).

  

So where are all the guns? Throughout this whole scene that’s one of the only things I could think about, that and when will the impaling end (yes, it’s that graphic). And out of all the crazy mixed up things that happen in this movie, the lack of guns in this scene makes it seem implausible. I mean, I can even believe Valentine’s assistant needs knives for feet because why not make your prosthetic multifunctional. But no gun carrying citizens in a Southern American state? Come on.

There was only one other thing wrong with this film and that was the reference to Iggy Azalea. It dates the film terribly. When I go to watch this film in a few years time, as I’ll probably have forgotten how violent it is by then, I will also have forgotten who Iggy Azalea is. Even now I couldn’t name one of her songs. She is not famous enough to be kidnapped and therefore not famous enough to be referenced.

Despite all this I still really enjoyed the film. I can’t say the same for the rest of the cinema crowd. At the end of the film a viewer behind us exclaimed 

That was horrible!

And for them it probably was. Most of the audience was made up of your usual Colin Firth followers. Old ladies. Not your typical brutal action film diehards. I guess Firth just really wanted to do some crazy shooting. 

Coming up on my next blog: Koko Black and Yum Cha. I gave up reading Endgame.

42. A Play

King Lear is a lot harder too decipher and a lot shorter than I remember. 

This was the drama set for study in my HSC year, I didn’t much like it then and I can barely understand it now. However, I am going to see it performed much later this year (December in fact) with Geoffrey Rush as Lear.

  

This time I remembered to read with a pen and post it notes next to me so I actually have something constructive to add to this review. Hence the opening line. 

  

This time around I found it tricky to figure out the language. Perhaps it is because I didn’t have a teacher telling me what each word actually meant. Though it is more than that. I understand he plot of the play and most of what the characters are saying most of the time, but in this play Shakespeare seems to use more obscure language than usual. Especially in Edgar’s speech, and at times also in Lear’s. Perhaps though this is because both these characters are mad. One playing so and one truly so. 

O, that way madness lies

A quote that reminds me of Hamlet (could Shakespeare have used it in both plays?). However, in Lear they speak nonsense while Hamlet knows 

A hawk from a hand saw

It is also doesn’t seem as long a play as I remember and that may be because not a lot happens. Not compared to say he other tragedies. Pretty much a whole bunch of characters walk around a bit and then most of them die. Act 5, Scene 2 is the pivotal fight and it’s only 16 lines long and none of the fighting happens on stage.

As usual Shakespeare seems more concerned with human nature.

Yet he hath ever but tenderly known himself

Shakespeare rallies against blaming your misfortune on nature

This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune – often the surfeits of our own behaviour – we make guilty of our disasters the sun…

And instead insists we all make our own fate and if we but knew ourselves better we could save ourselves from misfortune.

The play also reminds me of a really good Pulp song (and it’s even better cover by William Shatner. 

Take physic, pomp; expose thyself to feel what wretches feel

Shakespeare wants to show us that everyone is the same. A king and a commoner can feel the same, experience the same emotions. And perhaps a king will be the better for it. Perhaps we will all be the better for listening to our feelings.

While I have not really come round to thinking King Lear a ‘good’ play as I did with Hamlet, I am least looking forward to seeing it performed.

I wish there was a way to include another play as part of the challenge because I am also going to see a production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame for my wedding anniversary and I want to read that (again) before I see it too. But besides it having a one word title there is very limited scope for including it on my list.

Coming up on my next blog: Another review of an experience – Sydney finally gets a Koko Black Salon.

46. A Book of Poems

So I haven’t exactly read a book of poems, rather a have read a book of poem. 

I’m not a great fan of poetry. There are a few poems I like. A smattering of Coleridge, quite a lot of Blake, the odd comic haiku. But in general it is not my preferred literary style. I like prose much more as it is much more straightforward. 

 

So reading a book of poems was going tone a stretch for me anyway. But like with most categories in is Read Harder challenge I did a little research to see what I might like to read. Tim Minchin’s Storm is what I found. And I sure am glad I did.

It brought to mind another poem (song actually, but aren’t somgs just poems set to lyrics?) that I love – science is golden by The Grates. Not that it has a lot to do with science, and almost the complete opposite message to Minchin. But it’s catchy and fun to sing.

But back to Storm.

It is a great free verse rang about the world and science. About how we know what we know and the utter preposterousness of most things ‘new age’. 

Minchin uses humour and rhyme to explore different ways of thinking hat coerce you into his point of view. And by he end you wholeheartedly agree with him.

  

Do you know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work?
Medicine.

Honestly, I could quote this whole poem but it’s better coming from Tim Minchin. So read the book,

  

And watch the movie

Not just because it’s funny, but also because it is true.

Coming up on my next blog: I’m going to start on the whole experientialism/minimalism thing.

Show Stopper

This year was probably the best and worst Easter Show ever.

Best

There was practically no one there last Monday. It was a school day and overcast and rainy. Which meant we basically had the place to ourselves. We zig zagged through the showbag pavilion. I could have done cartwheels. You could see one end to the other. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to do that before.

It was the same in every pavilion and in the food venues. It was like we had the place to ourselves.

It meant I could take my time trying on clothes in the fashion pavilion and we could take our time thinking about what we wanted to buy. You could go back to stands without the crowds.

The Woolworths pavilion was still packed. But there were other food experiences to have.

  

Cake on a stick is this year’s new taste sensation. Every year there seems to be a new food on a stick, though this is the first time I’ve tried one of them. I don’t eat cheese on a stick or Dagwood dogs. I do love fairy floss but that’s not just an Easter Show thing. Cake on a stick tastes a lot like a donut. So that means delicious. I could have eaten five of them. Except that they cost five dollars each.

Worst 

There just seemed to be a lot less at the show. Not just in terms of people but also in terms of vendors. There is a new pavilion that houses garden, art and fashion. I don’t know if the space is too big, but it just made the fashion feel very small. Many of the stalls that I would normally shop in weren’t there. And the ones that were were not up to their usual standard. More like Paddy’s Market than the Easter Show.

And the desperation of some of the vendors made it feel a bit tacky. Lots of catcalls and competitions. I don’t like to be bugged as I browse. If I have a question I’ll come and ask you. 

Rain never helps either.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t be going next year.

Coming up on my next blog: More books.

14. A Non-Fiction Book

This book is going to change my life.

 

In it, Wallman puts together a compelling argument about the way society should and perhaps needs to go, moving away from things towards experience. He suggests that western society is at

Stuff saturation

And that people are being adversely affected by the amount of stuff they have. In effect stuff is making people unhappy. This was a revelation to me because I love shopping and having things, but at he same time I hate. The clutter in my house. 

He offers minimalism as one solution. But that’s not really sustainable. I like my things, they remind me of places I’ve been and things that I’ve done. Plus I don’t want only one plate and one knife and fork – imagine how often you’d need to wash up.

Wallman offers a great solution to the problem of materialism, and that is experientialism. Basically you swap buying things for spending on experiences. Go out to dinner, read a book, take a walk, go on holiday. These things will make you happy. And you don’t have to stop buying stuff. You just buy less and don’t waste your money on things you don’t need. You can still buy that kayak so you can experience kayaking, or those walking shoes to make the hike more pleasant. You just don’t need to buy another pair of jeans because you already have four you don’t really wear.

As if it were fate I then came across this tweet:

 

And it’s associated link to three great books about coming to terms with your stuff, two of which I want to get I order to truly do this whole minimal/experience thing right.

I do find it ironic though, that in order to declutter I have to buy more books.

Coming up on my next blog: A review of an experience. 

50. A Sequel (more fool me)

Last year I hit he jackpot when I found a red covered version of Gabrielle Tozer’s first novel The Intern.  

As it pretty much guaranteed me a prize. 

And it was an enjoyable read. Kind of like a Devil Wears Prada for young adults. 

So when I heard there was a sequel I thought I might like to read it, just to see what happened next to the main character. But I didn’t want to read it so badly that I was going to buy a copy (the first one wasn’t that good that it left me actually wanting more). Luckily, someone I know bought it and was kind enough to lend it to me.

 

I think calling it a 

Hilarious sequel

Is going a little too far. It was not particularly funny, more cringe worthy in the amount of things that go wrong for the main character. I mean, could there be a more accident, embarrassment prone person? She seems to stumble from one faux pas to the next. And that kind of gets boring after a while. 

I almost stopped reading this book half way through because I just didn’t care about what was going to happen and I knew it would probably, implausibly, all come together at the end. In fact, I feel like nothing really happens in this book. The character just seems to do the same thing over and over again in different settings. 

Maybe the problem is that I just don’t like the character. I find her clumsiness annoying rather than charming. Tozer does write male characters well though. At least she writes about them in a way that makes you want to read about them. Though they are not necessarily true to life. But who wants that in a book?

If Tozer writes more about this character I might read them. As long as I don’t have to spend money on them.

Coming up on my next blog: Do you want to hear about the Easter Show?