Saturday, April 26, 2008

Book Club

Book club met today. We went to a cafe for breakfast and to discuss The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I was the only one who had read it, but that's okay, I didn't read the book for our last meeting, or the one before that, and maybe even the one before that.

We still managed to talk about the general themes. I might have dominated the conversation. Someone else had seen the Coen brothers' adaptation of No Country for Old Men, so we discussed that too.

I watched Oprah's interview with McCarthy on YouTube when I had not long finished reading The Road.

I was impressed by his quiet presence. I liked the way he held himself: laconic, refusing to be 'passionate', content to just like doing what he does.

There's not much that I can add to the plethora of reviews out there. Yes, it's harrowing.

Next, I planned to read something a bit less so. Shop Girl, maybe. I picked it up at a 2nd hand book store. And I watched the film on TV last night. But I've found myself picking up William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! I got that in the same haul at the 2nd hand bookshop.

I laughed when I read the first sentence. If McCarthy's prose is taciturn, then Faulkner's is not.

In the middle of reading The Road I stumbled into an arcade in the Valley and came across a photography exhibition by Simon Obarzanek, 80 Faces. I learned that he's a Melbourne-based photographer, but, still mired in the damaged vision of America, I imagined that these might be the faces that haunted McCarthy's wasted landscape.

The next book for this book club is Georges Perec's Life: A User's Manual. It's a book I've started before and not finished.

I'm meeting up with some other friends and we're going to have a Gothic-themed book club. The Monk by Mathew Lewis will be our first read. I've started that too.

80 Faces reminded me that I've wanted to write something about the art of portraiture for some time now. It was an impulse first prompted by seeing Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait.

And I was reminded of it when Brisbane was treated to the recent Andy Warhol exhibition.

But I'm yet to get over my own navel-gazing inertia.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How Was Your Day?

Why, thank you for asking.

I was walking home from the local shops aka the 'lifestyle precinct' in real-estate-speak and I was having a conversation with myself about various things in which, I'm sure, you're all terribly interested.

My thoughts were prompted by the amount I'd just spent up at the lifestyle precinct. It was just a small shop at the green grocers and bottle shop, but I was aware that only two days before I had spent a similar sum, a bit more, just at the supermarket and, all together, it seemed rather a lot for one person to be spending on sundries for the week.

I got to thinking about the situation in metaphorical terms. Once I was telling my sister about the experience of sitting next to this woman at the cinema who seemed, every now and then, to breathe rather heavily. I wondered if something was wrong with her, but my sister informed me that the woman's breathing pattern was quite standard: apparently every fourth or fifth breath we take is deeper and longer than the preceding three or four. My sister explained the reasons for this to me, but I admit I forget. Something to do with oxygen and carbon dioxide exchanges no doubt.

As I was walking along with my cold bag, filled with wine and fruit and vegetables, hitched over my shoulder, I likened this week's rather large shop to that fourth or fifth breath; it was bigger than the preceding three or four shops but it was part of a necessary pattern. This week, if I didn't buy coffee, I would run out mid-week, and that's not a situation in which I like to find myself when I wake up. So, I guess I'd run out of various other staples at the same time--yes, wine is a staple--and they needed to be replenished. This week was the fifth breath.

These thoughts led me to others about spending money. I don't mean to sound materialistic or mercenary but these things tend to preoccupy you when your income isn't regular. You're always trying to make sure you have a buffer for the lean times, which for me tend to be between semesters. You tend to feel somewhat anxious if you believe you're spending money out of turn. The money you intend to get you through those times when no income or a reduced income is coming in cannot be spent while you're still receiving a fortnightly pay statement.

I've had this feeling quite a bit lately. The money I've been saving for those figurative rainy days has been needed with nerve-wracking frequency. Brisbane may still be in the midst of a drought, but I've been bailing out the boat all year:

I've had to buy lounge chairs, two coffee tables that serve as a television and stereo unit, a fridge, a washing machine, and a laptop computer. Today I bought a printer. I also picked up my new spectacles. They were not cheap. Not because I got some fancy frames, but because my eyesight is so appalling the lenses alone cost $510.

Goodness, I'm practically hyperventilating. You see why I need wine.

Ah, well I could go on. There's lots more I could say, but enough about me. Would you like a glass of wine?

How was your day?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The One Where Kirsty Talks About What She Watches On TV

I've just finished watching the first season of Medium on DVD. I've watched it before--when it was broadcast on free-to-air here in Australia--but I've had to watch it again because I'm writing an assignment on it for an Advanced Study Option I have to do as part of my PhD.

This so-called Option arises out of the Charlotte Brunsdon Master Class I attended at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies. You could just attend the Master Class and be done with it, as much as one can be done with a rewarding and valuable learning experience, but since it is a requirement of my degree that I complete two Advanced Study Options, then creating one on the coat-tails of a visiting international scholar in my field is certainly a better offer, as far as these Options go, than having to do one in an obliquely related field such as film or literature (not that there's anything wrong with film or literature, it's just that people studying those seem to have more Options from which to choose).

Oh, I sound so cynical, but really I'm not. I'm looking forward to writing a contained piece amidst the amorphous experience of the PhD dissertation.

I've quite enjoyed the repeat performance of the first season of Medium, viewing it through the discussion that came up in the Master Class, especially in relation to television crime shows: the discourse of equity that has permeated programs since Juliet Bravo and Hill Street Blues and the question identified by Brunsdon as central to the anxieties worked out in this sub-genre of drama, 'Who can police'?

I have much more to say about this project--I do find all of these questions enormously interesting--but this post is supposed to be, as the Friends rip-off title suggests, about what I've been watching on television, as a way of easing you into the forthcoming 'episodes' of this television six-pack that I promised to write over a month ago now. Yes, you may have thought I'd forgotten about that, but really I was just doing what I do best, which is procrastinating.

So, I did start writing this post before and I didn't get much further than a rather dreary explanation of how the programs that are listed in the side-bar over there on the right are only a partial documentation of what I watch on television. I went on about the omission of the odd news and current affairs programs, as well as the difficulty of indicating any one-off documentaries I might watch.

To continue in a similarly dreary vein: there are the shows that are listed there that I have every intention of watching, but somehow end up missing. Spicks and Specks is in that category at the moment, as is The Cook and the Chef. I've been meeting an old friend for dinner and conversation on Wednesday nights instead.

And I can't neglect to mention my brief flirtation with bit torrent that I got over very quickly, mostly due to my technical incompetence and impatience with download times of more than four hours. Still I did find a site that streams Dexter, but I've only managed to watch three episodes of that, which is not to say I didn't like it, but I like watching my TV on the TV. There'll be no multi-platform-delivery-convergence-thing-a-mammy for me, no siree! But maybe Dexter should be in the side bar because I imagine I will watch it eventually, if sporadically, if someone doesn't close the site in question down, because I'm sure a legal reason is being searched for as I write.

Then there's the repository of the DVR hard-drive. Is there any point anyone knowing that I've still got two episodes of Jekyll to watch? That I haven't watched films that I recorded from over a year ago? Do you want to know when I watch them? Is it necessary for you know every time I point the remote at the television to turn it on. Why do I even want to relate every televisual experience I have? Am I wrong to think it's harder to have a list 'What I'm watching on Television' than 'What I'm reading' or 'What's in my library'?

Viewers, I'm boring myself, which is quite a feat for someone who is genuinely entertained by Facebook and its incessant applications.

The solution to the above dilemma, is the solution to many an academic problem, which is to point out the impossibility of comprehensiveness, to make instead the lesser claim for representativeness, or perhaps in this instance, the even lesser claim for 'whenever the hell I can be bothered to update the bloody list'! (Yes we really do say 'bloody' and 'hell' a lot here in Australia).

But, really, I first wanted to do the post to comment on the new TV programs I'd watched, to let you know which I was persisting with and which I was not, on the basis that there wasn't enough in them for me to commit to on a weekly basis.

Women's Murder Club
was in the latter list (this is what taking the discourse of equity to extreme banality looks like). Dirty Sexy Money was in the former. What a delight it is. Still enjoying Brothers & Sisters and Bondi Rescue. Hated Life--what an irritating character, what irritating pseudo Buddhism. Found Psych similarly irritating and unfunny, which is a shame for Dule Hill. Am lately getting into ABC2 much more. I like the time shifting and the British comedy repeats. Cannot believe the total mishandling of the commercial digital channels--do they want anyone to watch them? They make it so difficult, scheduling shows that attract similar viewers, ie me, up against one another. I'm not wasting another breath on them since the programmers are impervious to the constructive feedback about their scheduling practices that I read all over the internets and even in TV Week.