I have lists of books to buy, kept in different places: books bookmarked, saved, noted, vaguely recalled, or simply listed. Recommendations from friends online, random stumblings, some p some e, a conversation there, an article, unrelated mentions elsewhere. Lists of books to buy, and some to read. Some are pretty, some are scary, some need to be read.
Some years ago, I started blogging lists of books as a way to reduce the rate of purchase. I have a certain addiction to collecting books, their possession, ownership. Books have lined the corridors of my life, physical and mental; I can find it hard to distinguish between book as object and book as reading matter.
Upon seeing a book I liked, in a bookshop, or online, or other places, I forced myself to add it to a list on my phone. Then I would blog on new additions to the list every few weeks. Look upon my almost purchases ye mighty and despair for behold there was nothing as acquisition had been avoided.
The making of lists continues to be effective some of the time. I am buying much less these days though some of what I buy is nicer. I continue to seek nicer editions of my grotty paperbacks. I also look for new things and new authors.
a few things I have listed and managed not to buy include:
Looking at them again for this post, I am tempted by once more…
Filmfest is done and dusted for another year. Saw 25 films altogether of which but two were documentaries. Unsurprisingly documentaries aren’t really my thing. I think I had a reasonable festival this year seeing a bunch of good movies, a few fab ones and a dud or two. In choosing my films I tried to go for stuff I either wouldn’t otherwise see, or were unlikely for a later release. This did mean I missed some good stuff but it was good to push myself into less familiar territory.
No festival is really complete without seeing something too long for a regular cinema release and this year that film, at 7.5 hours (with 2 ten minute intermissions) was Sátántangó, a restored 1994 Hungarian movie. It was long and slow, yet interesting. It played with techniques, particularly around multiple perspectives and jumping around in the timeline. At the same, it spent a lot of time on observational shots, many minutes watching a character, or characters, go about their business. There was a sense of larger metaphors and indeed, the blurb referred to it as an allegory of the decline of Hungarian Communism. I sorta feel I need to read an essay or three to fully appreciate it.
Surprisingly for me, the film that won best picture, Parasite [Sth Korea], was also one of my favourites. I tend to find my choices out of sync with the broader audience and it is rare for my favourites to appear in the top bunch for festival goers. Parasite by Bong Joon-ho, who also did Snowpiercer, had a nice, warm flow which was never going to end well, yet took some surprising twists in narration as it spiralled down toward the end. It mixed genres deftly, and with humour, while remaining consistent in its social critique.
Other interesting titles
Things I missed and hope to see later
Realised today that this is the tenth year of #blogjune. Ten Years! Ten years ago, inspired by a post from Bookgrrl, a bunch of library folk, including myself, started blogging every June. Looking at my stats, the first three years were strong after which it slowly died down though perking up a little in 2017. Here’s the annual figures for my blog for the last 10 years:
I’m a bit surprised we’re still going though numbers continue to decline. Looking at this year’s effort, I’m currently blogging around once every 2 days on average. I’m happy enough with that and the posts I’m making are sufficiently substantial. Got a few more ideas churning around in my head though filmfest is playing havoc a little with my ability to keep up.
Looking through my wordpress admin, I note that I have over a dozen drafts for posts from previous years. I suspect a few of those could still be used and I have various notes here and there on things to say. I am not lacking for content, just will and mojo.
It’s cold and wet in Sydney which means it must be time for the Sydney film fest. Not sure how many movies I’m seeing this year though starting tonight with a thriller from Michael Winterbottom, The Wedding Guest.
A couple of weeks ago, we went through the programme working out what movies we wanted to see. That was the easy bit. The hard bit was going through the schedule and choosing amongst all the timetable clashes to emerge eventually with a list of films and tickets.
Then the other day, filmfest announced a few more films that were at Cannes including a new flick from Ken Loach. Alas I can’t squeeze it in as I’m already seeing other films at either of the two screening times including a Russian splatter-fest. The Loach at least, should get a release later in the year so I can stick to the splatter this time round.
Splatter and me are sorta weird. I’m not fond of horror and feel faint and queasy at the sight of realistic depictions of surgery and wounds. Somehow I can handle splatter and zombies and even love them. Speaking of zombies, Jim Jarmusch has a zombie movie in fest but alas I couldn’t line up a screening so will wait for its commercial release.
For the recent Hunter trip, I volunteered to be the designated driver. In part because I wanted everyone else to relax but also because I wanted to be able to taste everything and appreciate the taste. While getting tipsy can be nice as you continue to imbibe throughout the day, it can cloud your judgment and inhibit your sense of taste. Consequently, the wines tasted at the end of the day always seem amazing and we must buy lots! :-)
This meant that at each winery we went to, I kept out an eye for the nearest spittoon. Curiously, the wikipedia article focuses on the use of spittoons for chewing tobacco, however in Oz at least, they’re usually used for spitting wine into, also called a spit-bucket.
Spittoons come in various shapes and sizes though the large ones felt awkward to use, especially while sitting down. Of course, it was challenging to spit cleanly every time. There was a lot to be said for a small, handheld version with an inward slope for preventing embarrassment.
I was mostly successful in taking a sip of wine, chewing it over in my mouth for a while, then spitting it into the handy receptacle. Once I had a couple of sips, I usually tipped the remainder of the tasting glass into the spittoon as well.
Sometimes I’d swallow as some wines change as part of the process eg Chardonnay may taste ok swirling in the mouth but frequently, too frequently, has an icky aftertaste when swallowed. Also, when drinking a really nice wine, it seemed a waste to tip it.
We still bought a lot of wine but I think I’m a little more confident this time of the choices made. Maybe :-)
I recently had a weekend away in the Hunter Valley and was shocked to realise it was my first trip in five years. I used to visit annually and so much has changed: new roundabouts, new buildings going up, feels like there’s more restaurants, some wineries I hadn’t heard of, plus a few wineries under new names.
We did a couple of tastings on Friday, a couple of long member tastings on Saturday as between us we had memberships for a few wineries. Finished off on Sunday with a couple more regular tastings. This trip for me, like most trips, was a mix of old and new and enjoyed wine tastings at Ernest Hill, Tinkler Family, Tulloch, Briar Ridge, Usher Tinkler, and Tamburlaine.
A nice feature at Briar Ridge was a wall full of wooden signs which, on closer inspection turned out to be a summary of each year’s vintage. They provided a breakdown of number of litres per wine type (gallons on the early ones), as well as a summary of the vintage, conditions and weather. A few of the wineries talked about 2014 being a great year for Hunter wines and this reflected in the summary too.
I was curious that Usher Tinkler had opened his own winery as I was visiting the Tinkler family vineyard around the time he won Young Winemaker of the Year in 2007. I particularly liked his work at the time with Poole Rock and now with his own winery he seems to be experimenting with various blends, some of which worked rather well.
We managed to buy some wine at all the wineries we visited and I like being able to buy wine directly from the people making it. Interestingly the weather was significantly different outside the Sydney basin; cold enough to wear a jumper and enjoy a wood fire. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll be able to return next year.
Here we are in June once more; someone putting out the #blogjune call. Some years I do, some years I don’t. Some days matter and some don’t.
For now I shall relax and look forward to a day of wine tastings. Popped into a couple of nice wineries yesterday, Ernest Hill and the Tinkler family vineyards, buying a few bottles at each.
Also trying out the app version of wordpress for quick blogs on the move. May be ok, may not.
Sydney Film Festival gets underway tomorrow night. As I described last year, it was a fun time going through the programme working out everything I wanted to see. Followed by working out a schedule that was actually achievable. Even though I managed to get my act together earlier this year, we found that some things were selling out faster so we had to make a few last minute changes. On the other hand, because one film had sold out, I was able to get into another film that a friend was responsible for which I had very sadly passed on…bad friend am I. They changed the android app this year and it wasn’t available initially, then it wasn’t working at all, and they finally got it stable last Friday. Has improved some and is running faster.
Looks like I’m only seeing 26 fillums this year – I must be getting old:
Unbelievably, I’m not seeing any movies on the 14th! That night I’m going to a whisky tasting of new Australian whiskies :-)
The name of an awesome movie from the dude that later did the Lord of the Rings movies, and my current state of mind. Drove to Orange and back on the weekend, around 4 hours each way. Slept well last night but feeling fatigued. Speaking of Braindead, I recall many years ago, turning up on a Saturday to the Valhalla to see Peter Jackson’s first three films:
I think it was around the time that Braindead was released as Peter Jackson was there in person to introduce each movie and answer questions at the end, barefooted on stage. It was a fun, hilarious day. I’d originally seen the first two on VHS and that was my first screening of the third. It seems somewhat timely to think back to that as there’s a raunchier muppets movie coming out and there’s already comparisons to Meet the Feebles.
Just back from a relaxing weekend in Orange. I even made it into Orange itself this time. Once or twice a year, we head out to my partner’s dad’s family who live on a few acres about half an hour out the back of Orange. Connectivity is interesting…it is possible to get a signal in some spots and it usually involves balancing the phone on a window sill pointing in the right direction. Using this method I was able to download the weekend SMH…though it took about 20 minutes as it kept dropping out.
It’s a peaceful place with little else to see, just dry Australian landscape. The photo above shows the view that I looked out on every day. My partner’s dad has a few rows of grapes and produces a nice, drinkable red each year. I gather it may not have been quite so drinkable but every vintage I’ve been lucky enough to try has been tasty. I even helped pick the grapes last year. I failed to help pick the year before as I slept in and they were all done by the time I woke up. Oops.
Normally we don’t get out much and it’s time to chill and read and chat with family. This time we popped up the road yesterday to Mortimer’s Wines for a tasting, having driven past many times. We were the only ones there and it seems the busy period finished the week before. A comfy, generous tasting with a good chat with the chap there talking about the wine. Somewhat unexpectedly, I later realised there was something of a connection with my childhood, growing up in Bankstown…and a sportzing reference at that! The winery was started by and belongs to, one of the Mortimer brothers, who were well known rugby league players with the Canterbury Bulldogs in the 80s. 3 of the brothers played in 4 grand finals together. Peter Mortimer went from footy to wine and I gotta say the wines were rather tasty and we bought several: a decent pinot noir, some tasty shiraz and wonder of wonders, a delicious Chardonnay.
All in all a happy, relaxing weekend.