LJ, December 16 2011.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Mark Tredinnick has just won the Montreal Poetry Prize for his fine poem Walking Underwater. This is a big, big deal. He receives fifty grand for that piece. As we've talked about the business of crafting memorable verse, been birding together in the Southern Highlands and commented on one another's poetry, I called and congratulated him. He'd had a busy morning on the phone (poet laureates saying well done!) and was a little dumbstruck that he'd won. We ended our brief conversation talking about the beauty of Nankeen Night Herons (Mark has had a few of them on his property of late), as Aussie poets worth their salt (and pepper) must always do.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I called in to Adam Cullen's latest exhibition Aiding the Bet (with animals) at Gallery Ecosse, Exeter, on Saturday arvo (the above image isn't featured in the show).
Charles Waterstreet (clad from head-to-toe in black, imposing, & looking a lot like what Michael Hutchence may have turned into), friend of Adam's and also his legal backbone, launched the exhibition. He said, astutely, that the life of the Australian artist (whether writer, photographer or painter), is akin to travelling a 'broken highway'. Adam, though dapper in earthy-coloured threads, looked like a man shaken daily by the darkness. He walked sluggishly, failed to smile. Apparently, he takes much medication per day and has been recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
His work, though it can leap off the wall and dance with you, polarised me. I wouldn't have it on my walls, it's too boisterous. One painting, depicting a Tasmanian Devil with seemingly bleeding eyes and face, stirred me, considering how the animals are being battered by facial tumour disease.
Back in July, Cullen was in trouble with the law for firearms possession and driving whilst under the influence. A Taser, shotguns and rifles were among the weapons confiscated. He'd been blowing up TVs and spray cans whilst creating fresh art close to Goulburn. He received a 10 month suspended jail sentence. His arsenal has been destroyed.
I guess we'd say he's a colourful chap.
LJ, December 14 2011.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
As I type this, I'm re-watching the humbling universe-meets-everything else sequence in Terrence Malick's bloated, ambiguous, glorious, dazzling and profound The Tree of Life.
I meant to watch the film in the cinemas, but life stopped me from getting there. I caught up with it last night. It is one of the most gorgeous and meaningful movies I have ever sat down with. Many have struggled with it. Some have hated it. Reading the audience reviews over at the Rotten Tomatoes website, reveals how polarising Malicks's opus is. So many people said they didn't get it and didn't have the patience to get it.
I thought the overall message was obvious, really (he said arrogantly): pay attention to life, salute the glory that encompasses you at every moment, always have everything in perspective, walk fearlessly and end every day with a considered act of forgiveness or mercy.
There's a poignant moment where a velociraptor-like dinosaur approaches another that is dying on riverstones. The healthier dinosaur places its foot on the sick dinosaur's head, but spares its life. This vignette got to me more than any of Spielberg and co's epic dino films or TV series. There's another sublime moment where Brad Pitt's rigid, cantankerous, discipline-obsessed father hugs his eldest son after much belittling and tells him he is a 'sweet boy'.
There's so much cinematic pap out there that gets financed. Thank god for Terrence Malick's vision and poetry. He reminds us to pay attention to every aspect of this torrid, confused, horrifying life and liberate ourselves from all that scares and harms us... and to keep reaching for the 'beautiful light', like Jim Caviezel's restless soldier in Malick's other gem The Thin Red Line.
LJ, December 9 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Clad in threads as dark
as all the world's rooks,
with Dover scarp skin,
he lurked outside
the Lowenbrau Bierhall
one night in two-thousand.
I applauded his
of The King of New York;
he rasped something akin
to gratitude, or disgust,
gave me nothing else.
Al least, he could've
smiled, laughed, hissed
like Sleepy Hollow's Hessian,
shot me in the bloody neck
with his weapon of choice.
LJ, December 2 2011.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
WHAT WAS FOUND IN A SODDEN SANDSTONE CLEFT IN THE VICINITY OF FITZROY FALLS
like misplaced shards
or Hulk's tears,
carrying to mind
a Qantas run
in two thousand and three,
en-route to Paris,
I saw the distant
of Filipino fishing
in obscene obsidian,
of where eagles
LJ, November 23 2011.
Four cocky climbers
in naval frigate grey
jumpsuits, wave to me
from the wind-smacked summit
of Sydney Harbour Bridge,
as I sit below them on the burnt deck
of a Parramatta-bound ferry,
thinking of how so many of us
prefer strained friendships.
LJ, November 23 2011.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
So, the Judith Wright Prize for 'new and emerging' poets (that would be moi) is open again. Peter Minter is judging it. I got nowhere in it last year.
I'm weaving the final stitches into the work, which revolves around the significance of nature in the face of possible terror on September 11 of this year. The piece I'm editing has more of a scatty layout than usual. The lines have been battered my stampeding bison, constricted by boas. I'm proud with the fact that I've loosened up and structured something differently. And that after months of soft focus on this work, everything's become pointed.
And that in the face of knock backs courtesy of Perilous Adventures, Southerly, the Blake Prize, the Dorothy Porter Prize, Australian Poetry Journal, the Dear Dad collection, Cordite & a couple of competitions, I've leapt back on the okapi*.
The poem's due on Nov 15.
LJ, November 4 2011.
* Okapi: weird red-brown and white horse-like beastie from the heart of Africa that can licks its own eyes (always handy).
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
A couple of weeks back, I listened to Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu's albums Gurrumul and Rrakala, back-to-back, over three days, courtesy of my father-in-law.
The music press has salivated over Gurrumul's work, declaring him the greatest voice Australia's ever produced. Sting's been stung, telling all who still treat him seriously that Gurrumul is a higher being. Punters twist 'n shout. I, though, have been underwhelmed. I almost feel guilty for feeling this way. UnAustralian. Unsupportive of indigenous Australia. Racist.
It's just that so many of his tunes are repetitive and flat and uninteresting. I never wept. I never fell unconscious. I didn't want to fly to Yolgnu country and become one with a brolga.
Can listeners split their reaction to Gurrumul's voice from the fact he has been blind since birth (his eyes are like opals) and comes from a remote corner of the country? Maybe not. With Gurrumul, you get this romantic package, a gateway and invitation into a world you've turned your back on, intentionally or unintentionally. Buying an album, you feel you're supporting something bigger than yourself, maybe easing indigenous pain. His long fingernails add to the mystique. And all the lyrics go over our white heads and that is so cool.
Saying all that, 2 or 3 of his tracks are gorgeous, their lullaby-like power haunting. And Rrakala's stunning gold cover and the inside sleeve shot depicting Gurrumul having his forehead painted white by an elder in a white dress, whilst a cousin/brother/friend looks on, is richly evocative.
Still, I don't need another Gurrumul album. I'm not interested in seeing him live. I don't want to read another hyperbolic review. Personally, I want Garrett to wake up, step out politics' back door and reform the Oils.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Abandoned main drag shops
like diver & chest-stripped aquariums;
a weedy, graffiti-eaten playground longs
for children's theatrics/tricks/antics;
an obese man in prison green
mows a tangled yard holding up
a ripped Eureka Stockade flag.
Some dusty figure in Rolf specs
straight out of a Drysdale canvas
stares at me as if I'm a drifter/saviour;
either a larrikin or a simpleton
has painted a grinning white elephant
on the side of a rusted silver silo
crowned with sleepy feral pigeons.
A small girl in a red polka-dot dress
twirls in the gutter outside the main pub
(a veritable fortress in Barbie racing car pink),
where blokes with Blundstones & kidney stones
compare faded notes on stoicism/survival,
whilst clenching XXXX & Bundy cans
with fingers stained gold by canola.
LJ, October 9 2011.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I've returned from almost five days in the gorgeous NSW mallee with an old mate of mine (and gun birder), Steve Edwards, as well as three members of Southern Highlands Birdwatchers. We were blessed with rich cobalt skies and unbridled sunshine for 95% of the time we were out there. Our home was Lake Cargelligo Caravan Park (not salubrious, but all we needed).
The birding was extraordinary - we saw dozens of impressive species. However, we dipped on 4 of our targets: Malleefowl, Red-lored Whistler, Ground Cuckoo-shrike and Orange Chat. We came and went from Round Hill and Nombinnie Nature Reserves, Sheet of Water (private property), Lake Cargelligo Sewage Treatment Works (as you do), various roadside spots between LC and Condobolin, Lake Brewster Weir, Murrin Bridge and Booberoi Creek, in search of birds. The entire area is a keen birder's fantasy land.
Here's what we unearthed...
GREY FALCON (wacko!; my second record - the first being out at Fort Grey in Sturt National Park about ten years ago; bird was circling effortlessly on and off over an hour above the old wheat paddock in Nombinnie Nature Reserve; distinct black fingered wing-tips; no flapping; obvious universal grey; silent; left alone by other birds)
BLACK FALCON (2 birds very high over celebrated 'chat alley' on the way to Round Hill; Batman-like flight silhouette clear against white of massive clouds)
LONG-TOED STINT (tick; one bird at Lake Cargelligo Sewage Treatment Works; zig-zagging flight; obvious bronze-edged secondaries; pale legs; a lot smaller than Red-kneed Dotterel it stood next to; there are very few records of these birds in NSW)
PAINTED SNIPE (tick; thanks to Steve-o who found this at wetland by road to Condobolin within seconds, close on dusk, after 3 earlier trips failed to unearth the nomad)
GILBERT'S WHISTLER (I was fortunate to see both a male and a female singing in one afternoon; about 8 birds in various areas in and around old wheat paddock within Nombinnie; may not have seen the bird had we not been using playback)
CHESTNUT QUAIL-THRUSH (tick; glimpses of 2 birds dashing between porcupine grass in the old wheat field; bird's soft whistle often heard; Eastern Spinebill-like call also heard)
SHY HEATHWREN (bad view in old wheat paddock; not worth talking about)
SOUTHERN SCRUB-ROBIN (as with the heathwren)
SPOTTED BOWERBIRD (close to 10 birds by Lachlan River at Euabalong)
WHITE-BROWED BABBLER (nesting near wheat paddock)
BLACK HONEYEATER (Steve saw many near railway line that intersects Nombinnie and Round Hill Nature Reserves after I'd headed home with SHB members)
CRIMSON CHAT (Steve also saw these, I failed to)
WHITE-FRONTED CHAT (bad views of 3 birds in swampy area along Condobolin Rd; different spot from where Painted Snipe was viewed)
WESTERN GERYGONE (more attractive than I recalled)
CHESTNUT-RUMPED THORNBILL (two birds by nest in dead tree branch at Murrin Bridge)
ZEBRA FINCH (3 birds seen on barbed wire fence along 'chat alley')
PINK COCKATOO (only one bird seen during the 5 days!; are their numbers dropping?)
SOUTHERN WHITEFACE (on road to Murrin Bridge township)
SUPERB PARROT (circa 10 birds seen between Temora and Harden on way home; the male is a gorgeous, gorgeous thing; is it the most spectacular of our parrots?)
EMU (only 2 birds seen on the way to 'chat alley')
GLOSSY IBIS (a couple of dozen at the LCSTW on our first day; brilliant stuff)
BAILLON'S CRAKE (possibly 20 birds at LCSTW; out in open and confiding, to a point; also seen at the spot we recorded Painted Snipe; I'd never seen so many)
SPOTLESS CRAKE (a couple of birds found near bird hide at LCSTW)
AUSTRALIAN SPOTTED CRAKE (many birds at Snipe spot and LCSTW)
WHISKERED TERN (maybe thirty birds on our first dat at LCSTW)
BROLGA (2 flying birds seen fleetingly through trees at Sheet of Water)
BARN OWL (4 birds seen in one night!; all close-ish to Lake Cargelligo)
When it comes to reptiles, we came across a lone Central Bearded Dragon (handsome; yellow & light grey), a handful of Mallee Dragons (damn quick), as well as Sand Goannas (similar to Lace Monitors, but more indistinct tones and lighter eyes), when traversing Round Hill and Nombinnie. There wasn't much on the mammal front: a small number of Western Grey Kangaroos somewhere or other and a Yellow-bellied Sheathtail Bat or two, on dusk, over the road between Nombinnie and Round Hill.
This was one of the most rewarding bird sojourns I've ever been part of. Thanks to my fellow birders for the laughs, passion, skills in the field, camaraderie and laughs.
I can't wait to the next installment.
LJ, September 29 2011.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
This Saturday morning, I'm off to the middle of NSW for 5 days, to search for rare and endangered birds. The mallee is meant to be glorious at the moment. It's been a demanding (yet rich and rewarding) school term and I can't wait to tune out and replenish myself.
LJ, September 20 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
I was spellbound by Jesus Jones and The Wonder Stuff at The Enmore last night. The gig was fantastic.
I've been a Jesus Jones fan ever since the early 90s. Their performance was gutsy, tight, polished, with tremendous physicality and presence; Get a Good Thing, Zeroes and Ones, Right Here Right Now and Info Freako were the essentials on the playlist. My mate Andre (Gallery Ecosse's captain) and I met JJ's vocalist Mike Edwards, at the back of The Enmore, post the gig. He was an amicable, humorous and modest chap, unexpectedly dapper in a purple shirt. We got the band's bass player, who was having a smoke in the back alley, to fetch Mike especially for us (you gotta love a frontman who doesn't mind meeting a couple of fans and appears to have zero ego). The band's off to Tokyo tomorrow - they've always been a big deal in Japan.
It was surreal to see the red skivvy clad member of The Wiggles queueing for an expensive beer ($7.50 for a Coopers Lager can - give me a break!) at The Enmore's bar. He's a massive bugger. I was almost scared.
LJ, August 21 2011.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
It's about time I put some fresh, brief poems on this site. There's an old thought out there in writing land that the writer should eavesdrop on conversations so as to attain interesting ideas for their own arrested writing. I've listened in to discussions occasionally, only to be disappointed by the boring tripe dribbling from dry mouths. Yesterday though, presented a beautiful discourse between two maths teachers at work that was mainly lost on me (mathematics has always been my nemesis). I love it when the world isn't clear. It doesn't happen enough. Here, I've snatched fragments of their chat for effect...
WHAT I OVERHEARD TWO MATHS TEACHERS SAYING ON PI DAY
it's moving away
from the origin,
slowing down -
to be positive -
kids will end up
with a negative
LJ, July 23 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Over the daily deluges... delighted by all the starbursts of wattle in Morton National Park (particularly on monochromatic days)... coordinating almost one-hundred and fifty Year Eleven students at Magdalene CHS... trying to marry poignancy with wit and pyrotechnical variation in one-hundred and fifty lines of poetry on Aussie birds for the Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize (a chapbook is the prize)... feeling Hicks should make some money from his Guantanamo book which I read a whilst back (the man went through unjust crap none of us would want, or possibly cope with, so what's a little return?)... I'm up to over one-hundred and twenty birds on my hometown list... keen to see The Tree of Life... impressed by Rango which I saw with my son (there's a beautiful scene where Rango hits the road alone and dodges traffic and bumps into a Clint Eastwood doppelganger posing as mystic; Hans Zimmer's score is exquisite)... Bloc Party and The Cure dominating the stereo... wondering if Gillard will last as a PM... thrilled the Greens have balance of power... loving the varied shows at Exeter's art-space Gallery Eccosse (shout outs to Andre/Nina)... looking forward to trekking out to the precious mallee stretches and bluebush scrub reaches of Round Hill and Nombinnie Nature Reserves in central NSW in my next school holidays (bring on a Red-lored Whistler)...
LJ, July 22 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
My sincere thanks to Judy Beveridge for accepting my aphoristic poem Equidae for the latest edition of Meanjin, now in really, really good bookstores (eg Gleebooks, where there are about twenty copies). It is a joy to be in the journal, surely one of Australia's most essential and respected publications (still going strong since 1940!). My thanks also goes to Deputy Editor of Meanjin, Zora Sanders, for her attention to detail and professionalism.
Equidae was awarded second place in 2008's Shoalhaven Literary Award, judged by Jennifer Compton. I have dedicated the poem to her. I was fortunate to have Jen as a mentor of sorts several years ago - she generously read my poems late at night and offered up insights, criticisms and wisdom. She is also a horse lover.
The poem looks figuratively at the horses that have accompanied us throughout time. It's not a country-girl-feeding-apples-to-a-beautiful-horse-called-Bobo piece. Unlike my father-in-law, who fills his life with all things equine, I have no great connection to horses. They are venerable and awesome, but not creatures that attract me. I'm not sure why. Perhaps their flighty, nervy nature unnerves me.
Anyhow, I hope you gallop for a while post reading my poem. Look out for a slightly different version of it on Meanjin's blog very soon.
LJ, 15 June 2011.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Chris Lilley is a super-gifted actor, writer, director etc. We Can Be Heroes was jaw-droppingly rich and imaginative. We'd never really seen such fresh and bizarre characters on our screens before. Lilley gave us characters who were compelling because they were riddled with narcissism (except good old Pat Mullins) and a real lack of empathy for others. Summer Heights High followed in much the same manner - more narcissistic people, more drama. It was a roaring success. I liked it less than WCBH. Perhaps the school teacher in me (seventeen years full time and counting) was jarred too much by Jonah.
With these two arresting series, Lilley seemed to be telling us Australia was full of losers, but losers we should care for, or, at least pity. I think. Was he also saying Australians needed to stop and reassess themselves? Was he saying Australians were in trouble? Was he just, to echo Ricky Gervais, "havin' a laugh"? Who will know.
His new thing, Angry Boys (backed by HBO), which I was eagerly awaiting, is waring. I so wanted to be hooked in by it. I'm bored by the many references to penises and testicles and scatology and bestiality. I wish S.Mouse would just shut up. Gran doesn't do much for me. I don't care about meeting the faux-gay Asian skateboarder. I'm sure there are scores of thirteen year old boys out there guffawing and wheezing at the humour in the show; I've barely laughed. Maybe, I'm showing the fact I'm thirty-nine years of age. I'm not sure whether I'll watch the entire series. I feel I should, oddly, so as to be part of the zeitgeist. What will I get out of lasting the distance?
I guess Lilley wants to polarise, wants to be a dissociative, wants us to cringe and moan. To what end, I ask. What can we learn from his chameleon's dish?
LJ, May 27 2011.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
I spent a bit of time as a teenager and twenty-something in the north-western Sydney suburb of North Epping. This was during the late 80s and early 90s. I had some good friends there; there were parties, laughs, drinks, grand days of dreaming and wondering. I walked in the forested edges of the suburb searching for owls and a spirituality often lost in suburbia.
North Epping has always been a still, leafy, expansive suburb filled with big, predicatable homes (that sell for over $800, 000) where wholesome families can live secure lives. It is a place of educated professionals with good money who drive everywhere. Most residents are Roman Catholics. There are a fair number of Hong Kong Chinese, Koreans and Indians in the area. Former Australian prime minister, John Howard, used to be the local member for the district. Everything about North Epping speaks of opportunity, opulence, solace, impeccability, safety and maybe, just maybe, grace.
In 2009, five members of a local Chinese family, the Lins, who owned a Newsagency in Epping, were bashed to death, seemingly as they slept: a mother, a father, two of their three kids (the third child, who attended Cheltenham Girls High School, was in New Calendonia on a school excursion at the time), and the wife's sister. Like so many, I was stunned and sickened when I heard this news.
Yesterday, police arrested the 47 yr old brother-in-law of Mr Lin, a Robert Xie, in connection with the murders. Apparently, he was stoic and didn't resist arrest when the police got him. That seems like the actions of a man who was expecting their arrival; perhaps, a man who knew, one day, his luck would end. Forensics and circumstance were his undoing. The facts are still coming out. What's harrowing, is Robert had taken his niece under his wing since her immediate family's death. He and his wife had also taken over the family's newsagency. They all lived within a kilometre of where the Lin family were executed.
North Epping never seemed a place that would court calculation, morbidity and murder direct from Shakespeare's page.
LJ, May 6 2011.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
An old poem of mine, Suburban Pacific, has been published online with Island's other face, Islet. I extend a huge thank you to editor Anica Boulanger-Mashberg for taking this poem. The work comes from my days in Ashbury, in Sydney's inner-west - it looks at how we isolate or restrict ourselves, either intentionally or accidently, from beauty in suburbia. There's a resonance with the Pacific in there too.
There are terrific poetic voices in Islet 5... I particularly love April Krause's evocative photographs of seemingly barren snow-meets-tundra realms.
I wish Anica the best as she moves on to new worlds of words and leaves her editorial position with Islet. In turn, I look forward to what future issues of Islet uncover and hold forth as glittering prizes.
LJ, April 3 2011.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
I've written a handful of ordinary short stories over the years. I'm not sure I know how to write them. Poetry is my poison; I can do (mostly) the fine art of distillation. Anyhow, I'm putting finishing touches to a short story for the $5000 Country Style short story comp due tomorrow... I haven't got it all together. What to leave in? What to leave out? How much dialogue is too much dialogue? Is plot that crucial? How does one end things effectively through the use of novel, subtle, suggestive symbolism/imagery and metaphor? It is what it is... And all it might have been.
LJ, March 28 2011.
I'm guessing America/NATO's objective is all about oil interests and maintaining Europe's access to resource-rich land. Perhaps I'm too cynical. There's a bit of a saving-the-innocent-populace-under-Gaddafi theme thrown in there, which is a good thing. But how exactly are America/NATO saving them?
Hillary Clinton just announced, 'This is a watershed moment in international decision making' - nice and nebulous - what does she mean? It'll be interesting to see what waffle-dressed-up-as-important-justification spiel Obama brings to us in the next few hours when he addresses the US population about America's role in Libya.
So many hollow things. At least our servicemen and servicewomen aren't caught up in it all. Yet.
LJ, March 28 2011.
Monday, March 14, 2011
Gleebooks, Australia's finest bookstore, provided the venue for Vagabond Press' launch of the new chapbook by Luke Davies, The Feral Aphorisms, last Sunday. I've always been impressed by the scope, intelligence, emotional weight and pyrotechnics of Davies' work. His poem Totem is one of the most impressive sustained, lyrical works any Australian writer has offered us.
Luke was a support when I first began seriously sculpting verse a decade ago. He once told me I was a writer going somewhere. His words have helped lift me when I thought I was a writer going nowhere.
I look forward to his next full-length poetry collection released in September.
LJ, March 15 2011.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Charlie Sheen and Matthew Newton are coming over at 8 tonight for a game of Boggle. I'll probably break out the camomile tea and fairy cakes. We'll wrap things up about 11 with a few random readings from the Old Testament. It should be fun.
LJ, March 1 2011.
Just back from Danny Boyle's 127 Hours (I wept at various stages of the film. I'm not sure I've ever put such emotional investment into a cinematic character)... Aron Rolston was interview on 2BL recently and said, pretty much, that he was euphoric when he cut his arm off... listening to fresh, semi-intriguing Moby ep... watching the frocks on the Oscars as I type (what the hell is Cate Blanchett wearing? Go Shaun Tan, go! how cool is Javier?)... questioning how God communicates his/her methodology/grand schemes when I feel sick and angry re. recent reports of burnt children, in Australian media (4 yr old twins in western suburbs of Melbourne badly injured when a garage exploded; 5 yr old horribly damaged when gas canister blew up on camping trip a day or so ago)... teaching my Yr 12s the Gothic-Romantic powerhouse that is Frankenstein (talk about well-drawn characters)... wondering how Liberal Australia still is... it seems a bloke with a Southern Cross tattoo isn't far away... just leave the Southern Cross in the Milky Way... knocked out that the original line up of Big Audio Dynamite have reformed (let's hope they tour here)... confused re. how Alice Springs' indigenous population can recover their dignity and intrinsic worth in the face of relentless alcohol-dependency, dope and crime (an insightful and sobering report by Nicolas Rothwell in The Australian got to me)... aghast some trendy spot in London is selling breast milk ice cream (who the hell would buy it?)... asking myself if Libya, Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain etc. will really move towards some fresh democratic angle or if dictators and their unthinking minions will always prevail... stoked, surprised and bemused that I've been interviewed twice of late for local publications re. finding 110 species of birds in my home town of Bundanoon (that's 13% of Australia's mainland and Tasmanian birds)... chuffed I have old poems coming out with Islet and Meanjin soon (I will give details in a future post)... crossing my fingers re. the Judith Wright Poetry Prize judged by Peter Minter... trying to sort out the plot for a short story (set on Stewart Island in NZ) that I'm writing for Country Style's $5000 prize judged by Cate Kennedy... tramping Morton National Park regularly in case of bedazzlement... thanking God and the greater world for finding myself in a rewarding place right now... I could be so many desperate people on the other side of the world... count your blessings, sew them to you heart.
LJ, February 28 2011.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Blade Runner is the film that means the most to me. I adore it. Vangelis' score, Jordan Cronenweth's cinematography, Rutger Hauer's iciness, Sean Young's great beauty, all the incidental sounds/noises, that caracal-and-rabbit chase at the end, Harrison Ford drinking alone ninety-seven floors up whilst watching the blue-grey cityscape... heaven!
I first watched it in Sydney cinemas back in 1982 when I was 10 yrs of age (I distinctly recall my mother blocking my eyes during Tyrell's death, literally at the hands of Batty) and it absolutely thrilled me, lifted me. It moved me more than any other sci-fi film. I bought the comic, the sketchbook, the video, any magazines I could find on it. I have the 2007 box set now and I've watched every version of the film that has been released.
Now, I'm teaching The Final Cut for the first time - to a Yr 12 Advaned English class in south-west Sydney. What a blessing. I'm floating. What's wonderful is finding the devil (and all gods) in the detail. Another colleague (who also adores the picture) and I are completely pulling it apart and making links to Frankenstein, the companion text for this HSC study. Most of the kids are into it.
This is what we're picking up and pointing out to the kids (for any of you BR geeks out there)... some of this stuff I've never picked up before, even after many screenings... a dead African buffalo and a hunter on the lampshade on Bryant's desk, stacked mannequins in the lobby of JF's apartment, all the grog bottles in Deckard's apartment, what appears to be a sarcophagus over Deckard's shoulder when he buys alcohol from the seller with the eyepatch, the replicants' sanctuary (the Yukon building), fans and more fans, the matchstick man with an erection, the movement of shadows in Rachel's bogus mother/daughter photo, the story of the baby spiders eating their mother, the black and white appearances of Tyrell and Batty in Tyrell's bedroom (how they reflect each other; symbiosis), a unicorn in JF's apartment etc.
All these points have lead to expansions/metaphors and discussions on humanity, the frontier, wilderness, loneliness, yearning, American might, imperialism etc. We've also peppered our discussion with observations from Ridley Scott, courtesy of interviews, and commentary from The Final Cut. The students are in safe hands!
I could watch BR every day of my life and not be bored.
LJ, February 11 2011.
Over Summer, a swag of rare/vagrant bird species have turned up within Australia's territory, many of them from the extremities (Christmas and Cocos-Keeling Islands). A handful have been seen on the mainland and in Tasmania. I'm not a twitcher (a hard-core birder who drops everything to dash for the next flight out of wherever they are so as to pursue a rare bird) but a lot of me wishes I could've captured in my binoculars several of the outstanding rarities/vagrants that birders have recently unearthed.
From the outlying Australian islands we've had, during December and January... Chinese and Japanese Sparrowhawk, Watercock, Malayan Night and Javan Pond Heron, Yellow and Cinnamon Bittern, Red-collared Dove, European Roller, as well as both Hodgson's and Large Hawk-cuckoo. A White Wagtail turned up on Bruny Island in Tasmania. An Eyebrowed Thrush (a first for Australia) is in North Queensland at the moment. A Uniformed Swiftlet was also seen up that way recently. Perhaps cyclonic conditions have had an impact on the movement of these unexpected birds.
LJ, February 11 2011.