One of my goals in life is to not die of heart disease at 51 like my maternal grandmother. On the one hand, she had a lot of other health problems. But so do I, and since my rheumatologist put me on Endep for pain management, I can’t even say, “Well, at least I’m not taking any dodgy first-generation anti-depressants!”
So I am trying to get … fit. Fitter. And it’s going well, thank you for asking! Thanks to my Parkiteer cage, I can cycle to the station 3km from my house and leave my bike locked and covered for the day. And thanks to my Fitbit, I have an incentive to walk 10,000 steps a day, even though that is an arbitrary goal invented by the pedometer industry. I’m basically a pawn of Big Pedometers, but I’m okay with that.
Getting fit(ter) is especially great in spring, with all these bright, sunny, freezing cold mornings. I hopped off the train at North Melbourne today, thinking, “It’s a nice day, I’ll walk from here to the office.”
Then my eye fell on the share bikes.
“They’re just like riding an armchair,” Official Potato Moya told me a couple of years ago. I didn’t know if that was good or bad, but every single bike in that pod had a helmet.
No Award says no to yarn bombing. It’s a waste of yarn, potentially damaging to trees (we keep hearing different things on this, so it may depend on the tree), interferes with things that live in trees, renders mobility and accessibility aids useless or difficult to use, and if it’s not hideously ugly to start with, it will be by the time the yarn goes mouldy.
Literally the only yarnbomb I’ve ever seen that I didn’t detest was small and subtle — tiny red crocheted flowers loosely tied around the branches of a naked tree in winter.
“But it’s so clever and subversive!”
No, it’s just a mould that accompanies gentrification. It’s about as subversive as Banksy or Julian Assange. Yarnbombing is to underground art as manic pixie dream girls are to well-written female characters.
Luckily, the argument that yarnbombing is in any way underground, clever or subversive has just gone out the window.
Is that a guy in a hi-vis vest applying machine-made crochet* to a tram stop?
I was going to put on my Intrepid Journalist hat and investigate the tram stops in person on my lunch break, before conducting an in-depth interview with a sweet potato with cheese bacon and onion for Liz’s Lunch Magazine. But I had a lot of errands to run, so I just stayed at my desk and used Twitter.
Corporate fake yarnbombing. Stop the bus tram, everyone go home, it’s over. We’re done.
* We assume it’s machine-crochet. Though Official Potato Moya notes, “the idea of Yarra Trams having, like, a back room full of bearded hipsters knitting quietly away at their yarnbombing, being paid in lattes, that’s kind of delightful”.
Loretta Young has been excoriated for decades for presenting herself as a moralist while raising Clark Cable’s secret love child. Anne Helen Petersen uncovers the sadder, darker story behind the rumours.
It was in 1998 — in the wake of Judy’s memoir — that Young, by then in her eighties, first heard the term “date rape” on Larry King Live, at home in Palm Springs with Ed Funk. “She asked me what that meant and I explained to the best of my ability,” Funk told me.
…“And there was this whole dawning,” Linda said. …She said, ‘That — that’s what happened to me.’”
Actual discrimination against a ginger! (Not really, but the phrase “not sick, just Scottish” will live in Liz’s ginger-haired Anglo-Celtic heart forever.) (Steph notes this is what our dystopias will be: the brown morass discriminating against pale people for obviously being deficient. So great. So exciting.)
If you, too, enjoy filling your kitchen with completely useless and ridiculous appliances, The Guardian’s Inspect A Gadget feature is for you.
While preparation of leaf tea is traditionally a ritualised communion with ideas of elegance and solemnity, there’s always room for novelty pants.
Back in May, ALIA (that’s the Australian Libraries and Information Association for those readers who don’t have a defunct Grad Dip in Library and Information Studies) released the top 10 YA titles borrowed from Australian public libraries.
Only two out of the ten were Australian. John Green had more entries in this list than Australian YA authors.
I read Australian YA, and I also write it (or try to), so this is an issue very dear to my heart. I want to be a published author one day, and I want to reach a wide audience — who doesn’t? — but I also want to tell Australian stories. And I don’t want to choose.
(Yesterday I sat down and made a list of all the ideas I have for middle grade and YA novels, and where they’re at, and roughly how I’d prioritise them. I have ten ideas that I think are worth pursuing. Nine are specifically set in Australia. I clearly have a vested interest in promoting Australian fiction for young readers.)
On Tuesday night, I went to a #loveOzYA event at Readings Hawthorn, a panel discussion titled Where’s OzYA going right, and where’s it going wrong? The panel was moderated by Isobel Moore, the specialist YA bookseller from Readings St Kilda. On the panel were Melissa Keil, winner of the inaugural Ampersand Prize and author of contemporary Melbourne-based YA; Marisa Pintado, commissioning editor of YA for Hardie Grant Egmont and coordinator of the Ampersand Prize; the abovementioned Danielle Binks; and Susan la Marca, a senior teacher-librarian.
This was the perfect event — Readings Hawthorn was warm, dry, spacious and had toilets, not to mention that it was full of books, and the panel only ran for three-quarters of an hour, which is handy when it’s a Tuesday night and it takes me an hour to get home.
For once, I didn’t livetweet the event, but instead chose to take notes on my phone. (Okay, I’ll be honest: I’m nearly out of data.) Important lesson for Future Lizzes: just take a notebook. It’s low-tech, but at least doesn’t have autocorrect.
Yesterday Steph and Liz, in the grown up company of Noted Fatberg Zoe, visited the Qianlong exhibition at NGV:I. We also detoured into something something embroidery of England 1600-1900. Highly recommend a visit; “A Golden Age of China: Qianlong Emperor” ends 21 June and includes many small necked outfits, much to Noted Fatberg Zoe’s delight; drunk people in English embroidery runs until 12 July.
In No Surprises (sometimes I think we should have called this blog “No Surprise” except that’s a bit too Radiohead), How can a mini-series about British settlement show no Aboriginal people? The answers are a) Australia likes to believe there are none; b) Australia likes to believe there were none; c) Racism; d) This is a trick question, who do you think you are, the answer is all of the above.
(Also, that document is an amazing resource and starting point if you are a non-Indigenous person interested in writing about Indigenous issues or characters. It was published in 2007, so unless there’s been a new version and I need to update my bookmarks, it’s a bit out of date. But as I said, it’s a good starting point.)
Indigenous peoples are unlikely to ever use the written word in the same way as those to whom the English language belongs; we reinterpret and subvert to make someone else’s form communicate our substance. In the end, we are not writing. We are speaking, singing, laughing, crying. And we know it is desperately important to be heard.
At Crikey, why don’t many more train travellers bike and ride? Feel free to ask Steph this one in detail, because the answer is ‘VLine hates cyclists’ and passively does everything it can to discourage bikes on trains. (Liz adds, also, bikes on trains at peak hour are just really inconvenient and everyone stares at you with hate in their eyes.)
Look, I’m not saying that winters are only going to get worse in Our Climate Dystopia, but for a little while we’re going to have some more severe cold weather events, and it’s well noted by people from countries where it actually gets cold that Australian houses are shit in the weather, so it’s nice to have an article to point to about that. Australian houses are just glorified tents in winter.
The Evil Reign of the Red Delicious – Liz is perplexed by the way this article frames the scourge of the Red Delicious as a uniquely American problem, but nevertheless, she’s always up for hating on the world’s most terrible apple.
The first comment expresses something Liz has been thinking since it happened, that publicly reprimanding an employee is unprofessional and bullying.
(Note: the top picture on the linked post is from Eliza Bennett’s A Woman’s Work Is Never Done series, in which the artist embroiders her own hand. I find it deeply upsetting and horrible, and I don’t even have self-harm triggers. It also makes me angry, in that it’s meant to be a statement about the lives of women who perform menial and manual labour, yet it’s something that only someone who doesn’t perform that sort of work can do.
But honestly, I just find it so upsetting and grotesque that I suspect I bypass common sense and go straight to I Don’t Like It, Therefore It’s Problematic And Also Objectively Terrible. Which is ridiculous, because like I said, I bypass common sense. For example, I had to stop typing this three times so I could get up and take a walk around the office and flex my un-injured hands for a few minutes. Seriously, it makes my hands so tense, they get muscle spasms and a week of arthritic pain if I see it and don’t block it fast enough.
My point being, I guess: warning, trigger and otherwise.)
Many years ago, the Phryne Fisher books were Steph’s travel reading. She’d pick them up in the airport and read them on the plane, back and forth across Australia. She’d end every flight with a book full of bookmarks and, sadly for you all, no No Award to vent her anger upon, until finally she gave up and refused to read any more.
Liz, meanwhile, spent several years hate-reading Kerry Greenwood’s books, both the Phryne Fisher series and the contemporary Corinna Chapman series set in a twee Melbourne bakery. Why? Well, when you work in bakeries and bookstores, you have a lot of time to read terrible novels about how gluten-free bread should be banned. Plus, she was under-employed and therefore broke, meaning that her main source of entertainment was (a) reading library books and (b) making fun of them on the internet.
Liz spent so much time ranting on LiveJournal about Greenwood’s terrible writing that one of Greenwood’s contemporary novels featured a villain … who used … LiveJournal.
Liz regrets nothing. If you are going to have an omniscient narrator tell the reader at length about how brilliant and competent your heroine is, she should at least be reasonably okay at being a detective.
Steph and Liz recently started watching Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. They’re set in Melbourne, where all of No Award is based! We can play Spot the Australian! (Spoilers: They’re all Australians, except for Miriam Margolyes, and she became an Australian citizen a couple of years ago.) It’s pretty! Steph spends the credits charlestoning around the house! The clothes are fun and magnificent!
I am flat hunting. I need an affordable one-bedroom flat, preferably with fly screens in the windows and space for at least one of my eight bookshelves. Near public transport, preferably also within cycling distance from the city. And it has to accept cats. And — I realise I’m asking a lot — bonus points if it’s not totally grotty.
At first I thought I was being too fussy, but, you know, I have to live in this place. I’ve had homes so hideous I cringed every time I came home, and I don’t want another one.
On the other hand, it’s a really rough market for renters. I can’t afford to stay in my beloved inner-north, so I’m shifting to the less gentrified inner-west. But even there, way too many places are just … imperfect.
And so, to all the landlords out there, here are some of the reasons I haven’t jumped through hoops to inspect your properties:
It is clearly haunted.
Inspection time coincides with the deadline to lodge important court documents.
Why would you even schedule inspections to take place during work hours? This wasn’t happening last time I was house hunting.
Pretty sure a serial killer has been burying bodies beneath the porch.
Your real estate agent’s Instagram filter failed to disguise the rust stains in the bath.
It is 80 million miles from public transport.
It is too small to swing a cat.
Look, cat swinging just happens to be one of my hobbies, and I’ll thank you not to judge.
Sometimes the cat buries his teeth on my arm, and I swing it around wildly trying to dislodge him. Nothing weird here at all.
I’m quite certain I’ve transcribed search warrants being executed on this property.
Fairly confident that’s an unmarked police car in the foreground of the exterior photo.
My hipster chic aesthetic doesn’t extend to keeping the washing machine in the living area.
Likewise, I don’t like my fridge so much that I want to hang out and watch The X-Files with it.
There is a strong possibility that the carpet has mind control powers, and I don’t want to place myself at risk of being psychically possessed by a green shag carpet.
Nine out of 10 crime scene cleaners rate it their favourite job site in Melbourne.
The real estate’s use of the adjective “humble” is worrying.
Something about the gang signs spraypainted on the fence is off-putting.
I’m yet to embrace the meth house aesthetic.
Tomorrow I’ll be at the Abbotsford Markets, trying to sell some of the contents of those eight bookshelves. But next weekend, unless I get lucky, I’ll be out there. Again. Inspecting unfamiliar houses, smelling unfamiliar smells, and wondering what it takes to find a not-hideous flat in Melbourne.