bookish avoidance

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.

nicely bound books on a shelfSome 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 2019

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.

My faves

Other interesting titles

Things I missed and hope to see later

ten years

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:

10 year graph of blog usage

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.

bits of paper

The call for abstracts has gone out for the ALIA National Conference in 2020. Been a long time since I wrote a conference paper, a proper paper that is. I’ve presented occasionally, here and there, love the performance of presenting. Doing the work for the paper not so much. Papers tend to be like essays for uni: take forever, full of distraction, procrastination, anything but focus. Presenting also takes work; building a presentation for me is as much about developing the concept and the flow as it is about the appearance and the words.

Hmmm…a thought bubble: perhaps I should prepare the presentation, then write the paper, updating the presentation as the paper progresses. Things progress, new things are learnt, ideas change.

I have a bunch of things I do, and are in my head. Some of those are long overdue for broader exposure. I keep missing, or perhaps avoiding, conference deadlines. I missed the deadline for Information Online which was earlier this year, I have missed the deadline for VALA 2020 next Feb. ALIA 2020 is end of August and Information Online 2021 will put out their call mid 2020ish.

Today I made a list of things that could generate a bunch of papers. Rather than aiming for one conference, aim for several over the next couple of years. I need to push out and engage. Make myself visible again. Play with ideas again. Open up again.

 

writing

I was good at creative writing as a child, love to craft stories of imagination. All through to the end of year 10, fiction was my favourite form of writing.

Final years of school was analysis and essays; critiques and opinions, arguments and assertion…or perhaps the other way round.

Fiction only existed in its ability to be ripped apart. Not built. Not constructed.

I keep meaning to return. I’m 50 now and still haven’t made it.

My writing is mostly reports, briefing papers, dodgy blogging. Creative outlets remain clogged. How did I write what I used to write?

Do I need a starting sentence, a topic, a thought? I am not good at beginning on an empty page.

I do not make time to sit, to write.

I am easily distracted, shiny things, anything.

Perhaps I need structure. I tend to live in the structure of others…it is still that I define myself, find myself, see myself in the company that I like to keep. Where I am, who I’m with, the things around; that is where I seek definition.

I internalise too many things and find it hard to engage with the world, to open up. Too much time alone, yet at times not enough.

So many contradictions in who I am. How I see myself now can be at odds with how I saw myself yesterday and how I will see myself tomorrow.

Moments I am bursting with ideas, others naught but self absorption. The balance is too often out.

All the things, all the time, all the places.

a few fillums

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.

the humble spittoon

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! :-)

small spittoonThis 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.

large spittoonI 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 :-)