December 30, 2010

Byebye Bungo

We're back from nine days in Sydney (our longest trip to our hometown since we moved to Melbourne almost 5 years ago), pleasantly exhausted from incessant socialising, celebrating and overeating but so, so happy to be back in our little house and reunited with a very cuddly and purry orange cat.

While attempting to catch up on the 500+ blog posts that accumulated in my feed while I was away, I came upon the sad news that Elizabeth Beresford, creator of the Wombles, died on 24 December. The Wombles have always held a special place in my heart. As a very small child, I remember watching the Wombling Free movie with my Granny Mabel. I adopted Bungo as my middle name at some point in my adolescence when I got fed up with being the only person I knew who only had one name. I even tried to convince Mr Fantapants that we should both take Womble as our surname, mainly so that we could turn up to restaurants and say, 'We've got a reservation...for the Wombles.'*

In Elizabeth's memory, I offer you the soundtrack of my very-young childhood:

* Not much surprise that he chuckled slightly to humour me and then said, 'NO', but our cat's full name is Morris Watersports Womble, so at least one of us took the name.

December 15, 2010

The sound of Christmas

I have a confession to make: I don't love Christmas. In fact, there's nothing much I like about it at all. Maybe it was all those years spent working in retail, listening to a loop of instrumental versions of carols on Woolies Radio or piped through the Small Electrics department. Maybe it's the rampant consumerism. Or maybe it just brings out the bah in my humbug.

Of course, I wasn't always a festive funbuster - and I have an annual reminder of that fact whenever Christmas playlists are wheeled out...

Picture it, Sydney, Christmas Day 1984. A young girl eagerly unwraps her presents until she comes to the penultimate package, the apex of her tween giftlist: the 7-inch single of Band Aid's 'Do they know it's Christmas'.

The giver of this gift was my big sister*, who had scoured every record shop in Sydney to find a copy because she knew how desperate I was to own it. It went straight onto the turntable, the volume turned up as high as my parents could bear. I think I may have even shed a tear.

All quibbles about musical quality aside (and recently Sir Bob Geldof quibbled about it himself), 'Do they know it's Christmas' will always whisk me back to my 11th Christmas, and the point in my life when music began to be more than just the background noise to pass-the-parcel. So when the video clip appeared on Rage the other morning I was mesmerised, as usual.

Of course, when I was younger I was too awed by the sight of all my fave pop stars in the same room and too busy singing along to prove that I knew all the words to notice the body language between some of the participants. I was particularly struck by how mightily pissed off Sting looks to be singing with Simon le Bon (at around the 1min. 10 secs mark). I suspect someone in the studio noticed too, because the next thing you see is Bono wedged between the two of them, and Simon's too scared to sing at all (1 min 24 secs). (Poor Simon. Rest assured that I (and 20 million other girls aged 10-14) still loved you.)

Here in all its glory is my one festive tradition. Marvel at Sting's Prince Valiant haircut! Be awed by Paul Young's mullet! Gasp at Phil Collins' little knitted vest! Shake your head incredulously at the synchronised guitar 'playing' by members of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and other-not-very-musically-credible-groups!

* who loves Christmas enough for both of us

December 14, 2010

Excuses for not blogging

The last couple of weeks have been a blur of editorial revisions for Little Sister, trying to finish the Day Job project I've been working on all year and getting stuck into a new (Day Job-type) project that needs to be whipped into some sort of presentable shape before we head to Sydney next week.

Inbetween whingeing about my workload, the crowds of Christmas shoppers and my deep desire to escape to an island that is deserted except for a small cocktail bar and stay there until 2 January, I've been enjoying other people's rather more productive blogging:

December 3, 2010

What she watched: Heartbreaker

On Tuesday I met Mr Fantapants in the city after work to go to a Hopscotch Secret Screening. We had no idea which movie we were seeing (cos it’s a sekrit, duh), but since the last one of these we went to turned out to be The Kids Are All Right, I was willing to take the risk.1

The movie turned out to be Heartbreaker, starring Vanessa Paradis (aka Mrs Johnny Depp) and Romain Duris. The premise is that Duris is a sort of lothario confidence trickster. He's paid to get women who are in unhappy relationships to fall in love with him and leave their despicable boyfriend/lover/husband. Paradis is days away from marrying a man2 who seems perfect: loving, kind, generous (and rich, obvs), but who, for some unknown reason, her dad hates.3 He hires Duris to break up the relationship before the wedding, which is being held in Monaco (cue exclusive-designer-shops-and-stunning-beachside-hotels montage). The rest is romantic comedy history.

Heartbreaker won't win any awards for originality, plot or scipt, but it was light and sweet and had some nice moments. Duris and Paradis make a cute, if scrawny,4 couple, and even though you could see the ending coming before the opening credits had finished, it was fun. This movie definitely seemed to be tailored for a rather specific audience (i.e. thirty-something women, their friends, mums and boyfriends who couldn’t get out of it), and when the Dirty Dancing sequence started there was literally clapping and ooh-ing and aah-ing around the theatre. I can’t help speculating that within two years there’ll be an American remake, starring Drew Barrymore and [insert 30-something thinking-woman’s-crumpet here].5

After the movie we went in search of dinner and discovered that Cellarbar (less glamorous sibling of Grossi Florentino) is not impossible to get a table at on a weeknight. I had a deliciously acidic spaghetti with preserved artichokes and olives; Mr F went for the superrich gnochhi gorganzola. Afterwards we took a leisurely stroll past The Paperback Bookshop6 where I snaffled up a copy of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares.

All around, a pretty perfect night out.

1 Plus, I subscribe to my dad's motto in life: If it's free, take two.
2 Played by the lovely Andrew Lincoln, for any This Life and Teachers fans

3 No coincidence that he’s a Brit, eh?

4 Seriously scrawny. I know Vanessa’s always been a wee fragile-bird of a thing, but I spent the whole film wishing I could pass her a sandwich, and Romain is similarly not-at-all-meaty (but very buff, as we saw in a number of shirt-off opportunities).

5 Although if they’re going for a Duris looky-likey it might be Russell Brand…shudder.

6 Which not only has a small-but-comprehensive YA section but also gives Victorian Writers Centre members 10% off - score and double score!

December 2, 2010

What I learnt from NaNoReMo

So I failed NaNoReMo, just like I failed NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago. But, like my NaNo failure, I did learn a couple of things:

Thing 1: reviewing is hard! Okay, I already suspected this, but attempting to write a mini review (if it could even be called that) of each book was tough. Aside from the always-tricky plot synopsis (which I cheated my way out of*) I often found it hard to put into words how I felt about the books I read and what I got out of them.

Given that most of my decisions to buy books** are based on reviews, I now have even more respect for the bloggers I rely on to help me spend my reading budget wisely.

Thing 2: reading is ace! And although I didn't reach my goal of reading 12 books in November,*** consciously making time to read instead of only allowing myself to get lost in a book on the bus or at bedtime meant that I could read without feeling guilty about the things I wasn't doing. (Hello, laundry, I haven't forgotten you completely.)

I think I'll leave the reviewing to the experts in future, but if you want to see my top books I list my favourites on Goodreads.

* Thank you, Goodreads :)
** Borrowing books from the library is much less fraught, but my book budget is fairly slim so I try to make sure that the books I pay for are going to be Keepers.
*** I made it to 9, it might have been 10 if I hadn't started re-reading Graffiti Moon (she said, defensively).