Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Quickly Flows the Stream

As P. had a rostered day off, we went down to the Alphington wetlands this morning. The river was flowing strongly after last night's heavy rain. There were lots of parrots and waterbirds and the walk along the river was very pleasant. There were remnants of the old Alphington swimming hole, and the presence of that oldtime polluter the paper mills, now eco-friendly and sponsoring the river walk.
Back home after lunch, it was into the Ring cycle, as the other two major editing jobs won't surface till next week. There will be some interesting problems with this job, not least of which will be probably needing to learn to use Pagemaker to do the job more efficiently. The long part of the job will be the libretti. I keep forgetting there are four booklets. Four bulky books more like! The only thing that makes them -lets is that they have to fit in a CD box!
Tonight off to the Grand Final for the Premier's Awards.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Quiet and busy

Vale Margaret Scott!!

Having plenty to do at present, I was furious when Telstra rang up yesterday, offering to match the offer of my current phone supplier. "A bit late!" I said. "Having charged outrageous prices for years, you think you can have me back with a discount?" "Oh," said the young popsie, "the government forced us to charge those prices." We agreed to disagree, and she ended the call with a chortle, perhaps nervously, perhaps just a laugh at the expense of a grumpy old man. Fully in Victor Meldrew mode, I can't believe it.

Meanwhile, the final five of the five Premier's judges are now in, and we meet on Wednesday night to argue it out. There is enough congruence and difference to make it very interesting.

The Ring and other recording projects are revving up, so I'll be quite busy with those very soon and next week a couple of editing projects are going to activate. I'd better get to it: bio. notes, here I come.

Monday, August 29, 2005

So There!

If Frank P. can post cats and Ann de H. can post bush turkeys, I can post lace monitors. (Pic. courtesy of P.'s brother)

Lace Monitor (Simon Ronge) Posted by Picasa

The Thick of It

The launch for Fabienne Bayet-Charlton's novel, Watershed went very well. Kate Grenville made a perceptive and generous launch speech, and there were a goodly number of people there. Peter added to his growing list of Miles-Franklin-winner meetings, by meeting Kim Scott. Jill W. did a great job as MC, and we were whisked off afterwards by Julie H. to dinner in Footscray with her partner Joan. It was a trendy Vietnamese place with food that was unusual, different, and very tasty. A quick train home, and into it again early the next morning for the Yarra session. The panelists were all good, and the audience responsive, so I think it went well. Huge numbers turned up for Joanna Murray-Smith, with Bryony providing the questions. It was lively and engaging, and I think everyone liked it.
Duty over, P. and I enjoyed Melbourne - criminal. As Shirley Hardy-Rix said in opening, if anyone asks you to speak following Shane Maloney, say 'No!'. But it was a very amusing session, best of all being Peter Temple shitcanning the chief sponsor, The Age (for its Melbourne livable city series). Rochelle did a rousing account of Melbourne's criminal past.
Then last night, off to Frank's to tea: a Thai chicken dish, followed by 'rhubarb and apple surprise'. Now back to work.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

No Time to Linger

Frank came for dinner on Tuesday night and P. made vera bolognese, delicious as always, but this time with minced lamb instead of veal. I think. On Wednesday, there was Brian Castro's launch for The Garden Book, which I haven't read yet in the middle of all the other reading. Alexis and Toly came back for a bite afterwards, and it was good to catch up with them, at last.
Into the Writers' Fest. with a vengeance, and full on events on Friday, with Terri Janke's session on her novel and intellectual property, Malcolm Knox on juries, ably chaired by Rochelle, a couple of hours in the sun talking with Liz and John Tregenza, over from Strathalbyn, and others then Whitefella, Blackfella, followed by Jared Thomas' launch. Phew! No time to linger, on to Fran Bryson's festival party and a surprise reunion of the Tregenzas and Gary Foley. And that's only the first day!
Much quieter for me today, with another IAD Press launch and that's probably it.
Tomorrow is the main game for me with two sessions to introduce.
As well, the judges in the Premier's Awards are emailing backwards and forwards in glorious indecision. A. Nauthor's linguistic ms. has been accepted by a publisher, and I am going to edit it. And the text of the Ring Cycle has arrived, in English, and electronically. As well as all the bio. notes. No time to linger.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Long Tram Journey into Delight

Finally decided to catch the tram out to A. Nauthor's place on Sunday so I could imbibe. Just as well. Another of the guests had brought some very potent fruit punch, based on peach wine and vodka, with fruit juice for good measure. It was tasty but v. intoxicating. Lots of interesting people including some old friends, like Alex and Stephanie. There was a superfluity of delicious food, more dumplings than anyone could eat, and, finally, a huge birthday cake. It was supposed to say, "A. Nauthor's 50th birthday". But my Chinese character recognition is not good. I staggered out, full. Just as well it is a long tram journey, as I was relatively with-it for a quick visit to the Melbourne Writers' Festival.
In spite of being a bit of a drizzly day, there were heaps of people, and the session I wanted to go to was nearly booked out. I managed to winkle my way in, and enjoyed Marcia Langton, who was a bit late (a few anxious minutes there), talking about demonising of Indigenous men by the media, especially the press, and specifically The Australian. It was a well argued case about the 'dog whistle' effect of innuendo in the face of lack of convictions.
Now I'm trying to tidy up the last of the Premier's Award books, and get ready for the Yarra session on Sunday. Looking forward to seeing Liz and John Tregenza, and, a surprise bonus, Jill Walsh in her new role as publisher at IAD Press (you heard it here first), at a book launch on Saturday and dinner on Saturday night somewhere.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Off to the Orient

Well, not really. After shopping yesterday, we were picked up by Teresa P. who took us out to Springvale, chez Adele H. We went off to Koh Kong, a Cambodian eatery, which had delicious food, including a treasure called Bitter Blossom Salad. I eyed it suspiciously, as it looked as though it contained broccoli, but it was some other flower, and very tasty. Different. Unusual.
After lunch, Adele took us on a tour of the shopping centre and its various SE Asian delights, including a novelty shop with a battery-operated man who opened his coat, dropped his daks and flashed his dick. Very tasteful.
Bearing some gifts from Adele's garden, we headed back to town. Thence to dinner at Frank's, with yummy roast chook, and rhubarb and apple crumble. Definitely not from the Orient.
Today, I'm off to A. Nauthor's birthday party, again in the wilds of suburbia. I might get to the Writers' Festival, much neglected, by late this arvo. My busy weekend is next one.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Blasts from the past

Thanks to Sue Horton, here are some extracts from her slide show at her 50th birthday. Twenty years on, we don't look very different.

You can take the boy out of Brisbane . . . Posted by Picasa

Easter picnic Posted by Picasa

Easter in Melbourne 1986 Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 19, 2005

Lots of things buzzing around

It's hard to realise I haven't posted since Monday. We've mostly lived off the land this week, well, out of the frig. Lots of reusing what was leftover as we didn't go shopping because of Brisbane. Tonight we are really scraping with the last of the pesto and squid ink pasta, and, surprisingly, the salad has survived.
Last night, I went to the Text Writers' Festival drinks in St Kilda, an easy trip down on the Brunswick Street tram. The usual noisy, clattery do, though I did manage to meet up with some old friends. It seemed a very successful occasion: crowds of people, including many of the inevitable. (I suppose I'm one of those.)
The rest of the week has been dealing with bits and pieces: another slice of the Singaporean memoir came back revised, the job I'm quoting in Yuendumu had to be read more carefully and some notes sent to the author, a new literary critical work had to be read, and, of course, there are still some lurking bits of the Awards, and Writers' Festival. Oh, and a report for a publisher on a god-awful proposal: I think I told them what they wanted to know, and await any fallout. It's supposed to be anonymous, confidential, but these things have a habit of leaking. Someone sees the invoice, and passes it on by way of gossip: "Do you know who vagged your proposal? That Bruce." Worse, it could be accepted, and I might get to work on it. I think not.
All in all a busy week with Monday out in Brisbane.
Liz and John T. are coming to Melbourne for the Writers' Fest. next week, so I'm looking forward to seeing them, maybe at Fran B.'s inevitable party. (I don't mean that disparagingly, it's just that they come around like clockwork.)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Dizzy Brizzy

We have had our second Jetstar experience, this time from Avalon Airport. It went surprisingly smoothly. They don't tell you in their ads or literature that the airport is 54 kms from Melbourne. That's right: 54. So it takes about an hour and a quarter to drive from our place, then two hours to get to Brisbane. Never mind. The parking is cheap in the broad acres of Avalon. The flights were good and the inflight catering pathetic, but never mind. Are you going to fly Virgin because they have a better class of sandwich?
A quick cab from the airport to Morningside put us into the bosom of the Ronges, and Peter's sister and her bloke came for tea with his mum, Joan, and brother Simon. Next morning, his brother Chris and wife Libby turned up for a coffee too. A superfluity of rellos.
We then went off to Sue H.'s 50th birthday, at a Vietnamese in West End. There were lots of people and a good lunch. P. caught up with some old friends, some of whom I knew and Sue had done a great slide show of pics from her past. It was a warm, fun occasion.
Today, we went with Joan into town to the Art Gallery, mainly Australian, then had lunch, mainly prawns and oysters, at a seafood joint in Southbank. Very pleasant. Then back to Morningside and off to the airport. The Brisbane airport is truly horrorshow: the worst catering imaginable and a shambles. Memo: take a packed lunch.
Back to Avalon in a smooth flight. As we drove out of the airport, an owl flew across in front of us. It's very rural. The trip back to town was without incident, except the schadenfreude of seeing a speeding BMW booked by the cops. Politics of envy, I said, and good on it.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Run off my little feet

I can't believe I haven't blogged since Monday. It has been a busy week, although on the surface there isn't much obvious. We had our first meeting about the Premier's Award on Tuesday night. It was at the Meanjin office and went well. A great deal of respect was shown to the authors and each other, and, even so, we managed to whittle down 149 books to a long shortlist of 15. We had full and frank declaration of interest and good talk about the books. There was a lot of agreement, so now we have about a fortnight to cut down to our own shortlists of five. Then meet to haggle the final lists and pick a winner. It is quite a responsibility as the winner gets thirty grand of the folding stuff.
Back to Meanjin today for a board meeting to discuss future governance of the mag. It was a fruitful discussion too, though there needs to be further investigation of the various options.
Meanwhile, I have spoken to all my panelists for the Writers' Fest., quoted on two jobs, and lost one of them (no tears), and, I hope, got the other which I really want.
And the raspberry icecream was superb. So was my roast beef, my pesto, Peter's beef burgundy and his chicken dumplings in broth. Poor Frank is coming for tea tonight and will only get leftovers. That's what he gets for being busy all week and only coming on Friday.
Tomorrow, off to Brisbane, so all will be quiet for a few days on the blog.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Piles of books or books causing piles?

Dinner at Frank's place last night was delicious: beef casserole and tarte tatin, followed by a video of Broadway women singers, mostly unknown to me, which was very enjoyable. Some of them were belters with very large jaws.
Over the weekend, and today, I've been finalising my piles for the Vic. Premier's Awards (non-fiction) and reviewing the rejects and relooking at the inclusions. There is a very high standard, though some of the books have some annoying and unnecessary old habits (like putting the chapter numbers in the endnotes, but not the names, while within the chapters having running heads with the names and not the numbers, if they have running heads at all). But these are minor irritations: the overall quality is very high and there are some exceptionally good books (one of which I edited, and will declare). We meet tomorrow night to make a long shortlist so I'll keep refining.
I've also spoken to the first of my Yarra panelists, who sounds very nice, and have sent messages to the other two, so I should hear from them shortly.
I might even have time tomorrow to get onto the two mss for review and report. Tonight: roast beef cooked in red wine.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Quiet Weekend

Frank came for tea on Friday and P. made delicious fish with basil whatnot on it: it was steamed salmon, and very tasty. We followed up with very conventional shopping at Victoria Gardens and lunch with rolls at home, to make it even quieter. We had the spicy Italian sausages last night with roast veg, and tonight we're off to Frank's for tea, in perfect symmetry. Other humdrum tasks included doing the crossword (me) and defrosting the frig (Peter) and having a walk around the Convent in the few minutes when the sun was out (both of us). It was such a chilly weekend that sitting by the fire was the best and only option. Next weekend we're making up for it by going to Queensland.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Vicar of Warringal

It's been a very productive week. Not only has the Singapore memoir gone back to its author (who seems pleased, "thanks a million", she said), but the sample for the linguistic ms. has been completed and despatched. Now for some tidying on the Premier's Awards. The ms. for report has arrived, but will have to wait for a bit.
Last night, P. and I went for dinner with Polly P. in Rosanna, delicious vego lasagne, then we all went to the Warringal conservation group near her place for a talk on the Yarra. This is because of the Yarra session at the Writers Festival. Two young women gave an account with pictures of their walk along the length of the Yarra. It was interesting, though they said, "Incredible, fantastic, wonderful" a bit much. Also, the business of the meeting had lots of shades of the Vicar of Dibley, right down to the characters. At the end, just when we thought it was all over, the chair called for Nature Notes. We were treated to a (bad) recording of a barking owl, an account of a dead black swan in the swamp, but best of all a warning on roots in our sewage pipes. "Not quite a nature note," the woman said, "but a timely warning to watch your trees," as she gave a vivid account of having her pipes dug up. It was an insight into the world of voluntary organisations which was fascinating, but a timely warning. The local residents association may not be for me. At least not as an active member. "Yes, yes, yes, yes - no!"

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Dutch Masters

Yesterday, P. had the day off (rostered day off, a splendid institution), so I made myself one too and we went off to the Dutch Masters at the 'National' Gallery of Victoria. When will they get round to changing that stupid name? Going in through the ersatz facade of the Reijksmuseum was fun, though the water wall is an innovation for Amsterdam. The exhibition is very good, even though still lives don't do a lot for me. But the portraits are great, especially Rembrandt and Hals.
One lady remarked on the long hair on the men that 'A lot of them were Hohmosexuals, you know.' Given the number pictured with their wives, this seemed a bit unlikely. No doubt some of them were but given the grisly punishments at the time, they would want to be discreet.
There are a few 'comparison' pictures, where there are two versions of the same thing, which is good for enjoyment and art history. The whole show was not too crowded, and the audience was v. polite, with us all trying not to stand in each others way. (Note I'm doing my bit for the extirpation of the apostrophe.)
P. and I have decided to go to Brisbane for Sue H.'s 50th birthday, just for the weekend on 13 August. We haven't seen his mother, Joan for a very long time either. Off again on Jetstar, this time from Avalon, a new experience.
Last night was steak and kidney pudding, courtesy of the Brunswick butcher, and a very nice one it was too, with the stock from the chicken still going. P. is enjoying Marion Halligan at present and insisted there should be suet, but Margaret Fulton doesn't have suet in her steak and kidney. There'll be leftovers for tonight, with the everlasting minestrone.
Ann de H. hasn't posted for a while, so I sent her an email today to check she's all right. She's just busy running the store at Yakanarra, but we eagerly await her post about the bingle which the army had, running off the road, and sending lots of people off to hospital.
Also, had quite a productive work day. I'm doing v. well on the linguistic ms., I think. And the Singapore memoir has come back with the first part revised, much improved, grittier with more detail. I look forward to the rest. And we're finally having a meeting on the Premier's Award, next Tuesday.