Poetry and Pop

May 12, 2011

A couple of quick plugs for the weekend ahead for all you Melbourne-based arty-types – I’ll be hosting an event for Australian Poetry at The Wheeler Centre on Saturday the 14th May. It’s called one.seven.six and will feature readings from Terry Jaensch as well as Susan Hawthorne, Elizabeth Beaton, Trevor Ball and m d west. You can find out more by going clickety-click right here.

Then on Sunday night it’s the official Boxcutters Eurovision Party at Seraphim (formerly Vibe on Smith), 123 Smith Street, Fitzroy. Look at the classy poster!

So if you want to stalk me, you know where I’ll be…


Narrelle M Harris: Happy Kwanzaa, Everybody!

November 28, 2009

On this week’s show Narrelle recommended some book-buying for Christmas (unlike the book-burning she recommended last year. Lordy, did that get out of hand).

Here’s your cut-out-and-keep guide of what she said.

Classics:
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote.

Vampire Fiction:
Dracula by Bram Stoker, Let the Right One In by John Lindqvist (or – I humbly submit – The Opposite of Life by Narrelle M Harris).

Fantasy:
Snake Agent by Liz Williams. Or anything at all by Neil Gaiman (perhaps American Gods).

Crime/Thriller:
Redback or Blood Guilt by Lindy Cameron (Blood Guilt has lesbian protagonists too, so bonus).

Graphic Novels:
The Umbrella Academy by Gerard Way. Or find a collection of The Sandman stories by Neil Gaiman. Or something cool by Alan Moore (Promethea, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell).

Young Adult:
Mary Borsellino’s The Wolf House e-books! Vampires! Teenagers! Queer sensibilities! Did I mention vampires?
Justine Larbalestier is also cool, with sharp ideas, great writing and excellent characters.

Melburnalia:
Madame Brussels: This Moral Pandemonium (by LB Robinson) or one of the other Arcade Publications books on Melbourne’s history.

General suggestions:

Visit Twelfth Planet Press and try them out; visit an independent bookseller and support them – places like Readers’ Feast, Readings, Hares and Hyenas and Of Science and Swords – and you can’t go wrong with the Outland Institute’s favourite Look Who’s Morphing by Tom Cho, though I don’t know what category to put that under.

And if you know any writers, perhaps the first season of Castle! But probably not Misery unless you really hate the writer in question.

And To Serve Man is a cookbook! Oh, whoops – spoiler.


House Of Games: The Saddle Club Show Jumping Game

June 8, 2009

John continues to explore what happens when you take popular culture and throw dice at it…

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I love horses. But I can never eat a whole one. It’s an old joke, yet it’s true. Spooky, no?

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The source material: The Saddle Club began life as a series of tween-skewing book published by Bantam between 1986 and 2001. Presumably intended as a Sweet Valley High-type series for lonely girls named Jacinta, they were ostensibly written by Bonnie Brayant, but were reportedly churned out by a number of ghostwriters. There were 101 titles in the main series, plus spin-off series of Super Editions, Inside Stories, Pony Tales (get it!?!) and Pine Hollow.

The books are set in the fictional town of Willow Creek, Virginia, and follow the adventures of Carole Hanson, Stevie Lake and Lisa Atwood who all ride together at Pine Hollow Stables. The first book is entitled Horse Crazy, which gives some idea of what’s to come. The girls are 12 years old at the beginning of the series, and they remain that way for the next fifteen years. Perhaps Willow Creek is one of those vampire towns.

The books were made into a highly successful television series in 2001 (and by “highly successful” I mean “highly merchandised” – the show spawned an alarming amount of tie-in product, including a surprising number of half-arsed singles, such as Hello World and Hey Hey, What You Say). The series was an Australian/Canadian co-production – surely a phrase that instills fear in most people – and 52 episodes were produced over two seasons, with a third season reviving the franchise last year (while the third season is considered a continuation, it has been entirely recast due to the original stars unprofessionally refusing to stay 12-years-old for the last seven years –  it’s not surprising women can’t get decent roles on Australian television if they insist on ageing).

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The Wikipedia page for the TV show claims the characters were brought together through “recognizing their love for horse riding“, which makes it sound a bit like Brokeback Mountain. Only with horses. The article goes on to say “Throughout the series, The Saddle Club has to deal with Veronica, dressage training, and competitions, as well as the troubles of their friends and staff in the fictional Pine Hollow Stables. Through perseverance and friendship, The Saddle Club always comes through. The Saddle Club also has a mission set before them: get Veronica to take care of Garnet. The Saddle Club wasn’t successful in their attempts to get Veronica to take care of Cobalt, Veronica’s earlier gorgeous horse, due to him being put down because of a jumping accident“. No wonder this article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards.

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When I Grow Up, I Want To Be Maxime de la Falaise

May 7, 2009

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Maxime de la Falaise is dead.

You may not have absorbed the full impact of that yet. When I read on Tuesday that Maxime de la Falaise had died, I felt empty – after all, I’d never heard of her, so it didn’t have much of an emotional punch. But as I sat in the cafe, sipping my latte and reading her obituary in The Age, I was deeply saddened. Partly because the world is a less interesting place without her – partly because I will never have the chance to meet her – and mostly because I will never get to be her.

And it really is a most arresting obituary. A real-life mix of Holly Golightly and Forest Gump, Maxime de la Falaise connects a startling number of people and places that should never appear in the same sentence. To give you an idea, this is taken from a paragraph near the end: “When her second husband died in 1975, de la Falaise briefly dated John Paul Getty III, whose ear had been cut off by kidnappers in 1973.”

Let’s look at that again, shall we? She “dated John Paul Getty III, whose ear had been cut off by kidnappers in 1973“. I’m fairly certain that should I ever have a fling with a monaural heir to an oil-fortune, on my death the newspapers will say “One-Eared Millionaire’s Bit Of Crumpet Dies – Seriously, It Was Cut Off By Kidnappers“. But de la Falaise‘s life is so interesting that a mutilated billionaire barely makes it as a footnote.

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Great Literature Of The 20th Century: The Pop-Up Karma Sutra

December 6, 2008

Special guest Anne-Marie Peard pops up to talk dirty in this week’s Great Literature review… Beware, this article may not be suitable for minors, viewing at work, or people who don’t like Are You Being Served?

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Sting does it, Annie Sprinkle won’t do it any other way, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood summarised it in one word – relax. It’s tantric sex week at the Institute. Sit cross-legged, breath deeply and feel the energy of the universe flowing through your chakras.

There are many long and complicated books based on the ancient Sanskrit text known as the Karma Sutra. Indian scholar Vatsyayana wrote the original, but the Institute considers this 1984 version by Bob Robinson and Jonathan Biggs to be the definitive version.

Even a quick glance though the yoni shaped window on the cover reveals the essence of tantric sexuality, as within the all-embracing yoni lies a lingam shaped window. Why Play School never adopted these window shapes, I’ll never know. It also seems to reveal a polygamist, and there’s another little lingam within the lingam window. Look at the little lingam…

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Great Literature Of The 20th Century: The Frankie Goes To Hollywood Annual 1985

November 18, 2008

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Frankie Say Merchandise! Hide Yourself!

Before we start today’s entry, I need to get something off my chest – I quite like Frankie Goes To Hollywood. I quite liked them then, and I quite like them now. Oh, it feels good to finally say it…

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Great Literature Of The 20th Century: Sweet Valley High – Kiss Of A Killer

October 19, 2008

Jessica wants to be with Jonathan… forever. But is Elizabeth strong enough to stop a creature of the night?

Today’s Great Literature entry looks at the 128th instalment in the Sweet Valley High series, Kiss of a Killer by Kate William. It’s the one with a vampire in it. The concept of “jumping the shark” is now well known, but I think “adding a vampire” should be added to the artistic lexicon.

I first heard about this book at the Paranormal Fiction and Romance Forum at Dymocks, and was very keen to read it. I hadn’t expected it to be so hard to find a copy – I’m sure there’s a mathematical formula that explains why you can find any Sweet Valley High book in any op-shop, but a specific Sweet Valley High book can only be found in a single library in a small town near Ballarat.

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