January 31, 2010

An iphone toting friend sent me a pic of the first official sighting of Finding Freia in an actual, bonafide bookstore.

And not only is it in the window (flanked by the PM's picture book, no less), but it's the window of one of my favourite Sydney bookstores, Better Read Than Dead*. Too exciting for words! (Literally, I can't describe how thrilled I am to see Freia out in the real world and that BRTD considered it window-worthy.)

Freia's official publicattion date is tomorrow. Hopefully this will be the ifrst sighting of many.

* Seriously, this is one of Sydney's best independent bookstores and it's got a great YA range. Yes, I may be a tiny bit biased by the fact that it used to be my local bookshop, but still. Go. There.

January 24, 2010

Crimes of fashion

I was pleased when I opened my blog reader this morning and saw that Tavi had posted her eloquent thoughts on Tanya Gold's Guardian editorial about hating fashion, because she made me reconsider the argument that Gold was making (or not making, as the case may be) and my own kneejerk reaction to it.

I read the intro to Gold's article in yesterday's Age newspaper with interest, expecting to find much to nod my head to - after all, Gold and I are the same age and I certainly share her distaste with the 'I shop, therefore I am' theme that pervades so much fashion and related media. But when I got to Gold's reason for deciding to write her piece she lost me.

Gold says she was compelled to share her hatred of fashion after reading about the death of a teenage girl who fell between two train carriages as she was running to catch the train on a snowy night. The girl was wearing high heels. Thus, Gold contends, high heels - ergo: fashion - killed her. What rot.

I agree that many crimes are committed in fashion's name (harem pants, hotpants and gladiator sandals are on my current Fashion Crimestoppers alert), but to say that this tragic death was the fault of the fact that high heels exist is, to me, ridiculous. Yes, the accident may well have not happened if the girl had been wearing sensible shoes, but, it is not "fashion's" fault that she a) chose to wear then, or b) chose to run in them. Or that she was running late for her train in the first place. It was at this point in my reading that Ms Gold lost me and I turned the page.

I must admit I didn't return to the article to read it in full until Tavi's response piqued my curiosity to get the full picture. Having now read the rest of it, I can see that Gold's own relationship with fashion has not been a happy one. That's fine - my relationship with driving is similarly irredeemable and if I want to rely on public transport for the rest of my life and Ms Gold wants to wear the same clothes every day for the rest of hers, then those are our choices to make - but I think she should acknowledge that she's brought a set of matching luggage to her argument, which makes it, as Tavi points out, is 'essentially pointless'.

Yes, there are big problems with the fashion 'industry' (the sexualisation of young girls, the effect on people's body image, the media's compulsion to spendspendspend, and garment manufacturing sweatshops, to name just a few), but the clothes - even the ugly, uncomfortable and ridiculous ones - are innocent

January 21, 2010

Confessions of a word nerd

I read Suzannah Windsor Freeman's guest post on Nathan Bransford's blog about word nerds and grammar rebels with more than a little trepidation.

As a proofreader and occasional subeditor, I wear my word nerd badge proudly; no misused apostrophes or American spellings get past on my watch. And billboards and advertising with punctuation errors make my blood boil (I'm talking to you, Whats New). Do us a favour: if you're paying an ad agency to make you look good, spring an extra few bucks for a proofreader to scan your copy.*

But then came all the talk about how spelling and grammar were stuff white people like, and I felt the sting, because it's true: I love rules.

For me, rules make it easy to do the right thing, which means I don't waste a lot of time pondering endless options or having to re-do stuff because I've wandered down the wrong path. But apparently that makes me middle class (true, but not a label I choose to define myself by) and boring.

So I was pleased to see that I regularly break all of the rules Suzannah lists under Grammar Rebels. Maybe there's hope for me yet.

* I feel compelled to clarify here that I only get like this about commercial writing. Mr F and I passed a lost dog poster taped to a lamp post the other day, on which some bright spark had fixed a couple of spelling errors, complete with sarcastic remarks. That's just Mean and Unnecessary.

January 17, 2010

What she did: Queenstown for the unextreme

We got back yesterday from a week's holiday in New Zealand. The main reason we went was for Mr Fantapants' cousin's wedding - which was a gala family affair and loads of fun - but we also squeezed in a few days' R&R.

Everyone who knows us looked qute surprised when we said Queenstown was our destination for the 'holiday' part of our holiday. After all, this is NZ's extreme sports capital and the home of the first commercial bungy jumping site, and they don't come less extreme than me and Mr F. But bungy jumping, jet boating, skydiving and whitewater rafting aside, Queenstown is also incredibly pretty. It's located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by snowcapped mountains, wineries and orchards, which suited us very well indeed.

The town itself was chockers with holidaymakers (although we heard some locals commenting that it's twice as busy during the winter ski season) so we were pleased to be staying on the outskirts. Our apartment looked over the lake, which made for some beautiful sunrises over the mountains (the only downside of our apartment was the too-soft bed, so I did have a couple of very early morning starts), and many 'how's the serenity?' moments on the balcony.

Highlights of the trip included:
  • a quick punt on the Avon River, courtesy of the bride and groom
  • a picnic on a riverbank near Darfield with Mr F's uncle, complete with a thermos of tea and sandwiches cut into triangles
  • meeting many friendly dogs (most notably Stella, a staffy-jack russell cross from Wanaka, and Stacey the staffy pup who thought she might join us for fish and chips by the lake)
  • the lovely old ginger cat at the Glenorchy Cafe who put up with a lot of cuddles
  • delicious tuna for lunch at Missy's Kitchen, overlooking Lake Wanaka
  • the Ginger Tom beer at Dux de Lux (which is really gingery - yum!)
  • feeding the ducks in the Christchurch botanic gardens.
Lowlights were the innumerable flattened possums and bunnies that litter the highways of the South Island - too sad.

Anyway, the holiday is literally over and it's time to start thinking about the to-do list, which includes Finding Freia being published on 1 February(!), finishing up at work and getting ready for uni. 2010's off to a grand and exciting start!

January 5, 2010

What she watched: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

I'd been hanging to see the movie of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist ever since I read the book in 2008, but somehow it never made it to the big screen in Melbourne (or if it did I blinked and missed it). Then I had to wait what felt like an eternity for it to come out on DVD. Then I had to wait for my little local DVD shop to get a copy. (At this point, Netflix starts to seem like a good idea.) So when Mr fantapants and I finally sat down to watch it on Sunday night, I was more than a little excited.

The opening credits were good. The intro to the main characters was fine (although Michael Cera's Nick could have been less pathetico, even in the opening scene). And it was kind of downhill from there.

I know book-to-movie adaptations always risk not living up to the pictures readers have in their heads, but - even though it'd been a long time since I read the book, and I was hazy on the finer plot details - about 5 minutes in, I realised that this was not the movie of the book I'd loved.

It had (some of) the same characters and some of the same incidents, but there was so much that it didn't capture. Like the fact that Nick is not a doormat. He's had his heart broken, yes, but he's not some weak, timid dweeb. And (although I thought Kat Dennings' performance was excellent) Norah is not the sort of girl who'd put on a push-up bra to get a guy to notice her (esp. not if said bra was given to her by said guy's friend - ugh). It didn't help that some of the scenes that had been added to the screenplay made my skin crawl (Tris dancing/stripping in front of Nick's car; the ridiculous pseudo sex scene at the recording studio).

I grabbed the book off my shelf on the way out the door yesterday morning to flick through on the bus and see if my discomfort about the film adaptation was warranted. Page 1 - the moment I read Nick's narrative voice - confirmed my suspicions. By chapter 5 I was in love with the book all over again.

As a film, I quite enjoyed Nick and Norah, but I can't help thinking it should have been renamed in acknowledgement of the fact that it is not the same story as the book. If I hadn't spent so much of the movie comparing the two, I might have enjoyed it even more.

Book: *****
Movie: ***

January 1, 2010

Getting organised in 2010

One of the things I really want to do this year (this year - still a novelty!) is to keep better track of the books I've read and the books I read great reviews of - usually on YA blogs - and really wnat to read, so I've just signed up to Goodreads and I think I'm already a little bit addicted. I love trawling through lists and ticking things off (read it, read it, want to read it, etc. etc), and because I'm actually doing somehting (as opposed to flicking through celebrity photogalleries, another guilty pleasure) it feels less frivolous.

I'm looking forward to a great (and well organised) year of reading.