Month: August 2015

The Fabulous Baker Boys – Film Review

fabulous_baker_boysAnother DVD from Mum’s collection. I love films that revolve around music, and this one is about two brothers, Jack and Frank (real-life brothers Jeff and Beau Bridges), who make ends meet playing piano together, a double lounge act they’ve kept up for over ten years. Frank is a responsible family man and something of a worrywart, who arranges the gigs and looks after the financial side of things; Jack is a sexy taciturn loser who lives in a crappy apartment with his dog, has numerous one-night stands, and goes through life with the general air of not giving a shit about anything. Which is of course an affectation, because deep down Jack really cares about jazz and only looks truly happy when he sneaks off by himself to play at some small club. But he’s just too inert and stuck into the Fabulous Baker Boys routine to change things.

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Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult – Book Review

VAcoverJodi Picoult’s novels are my comfort reading, probably in the same way Agatha Christie’s crime novels are. By all rights I should find them overly sentimental and cloying, but there’s just something fundamentally likable, cosy and wholesome about her style – even when she writes about murder, incest or prison rape – and her strong sense of family and friendship is always very appealing. Her penchant for a shocking ending doesn’t always work out and her particular writing ticks can get tiresome over a long run; how many times can you read yet another cutesy list of personal quirks and preferences that make a character soooo speshooool? Despite that, I’ve enjoyed most of her books, and while this one is not top-shelf it was still a good read.

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Phillip Island

Had a nice getaway at Phillip Island. Yesterday, it rained the entire two hours it took me to get there (managing to drown out Guns N’ Roses at one point), so I didn’t rate my chances for nice walks the next day, and consoled myself with the thought that at least I upgraded to a suite with an enormous spa bath (it was awesome). But miraculously, Melbourne weather for once didn’t behave like a bitch! Still cold and windy, but plenty of sunshine.

The Nobbies is one of my favourite walkways in Victoria. The coast in this area is ragged and dramatic and covered with weird succulent-type vegetation which creates an interesting texture of greens and reds.

Smith Beach looks nothing like it does in the summer, except for a couple of crazy surfers who’d probably go for a swim at the North Pole too. The nice thing about visiting it in winter is that, when you’re not distracted by the beachy things, you can actually look around the place and notice things you don’t when you’re busy getting a tan.

Favourite Rocks

I’ve been lucky enough to see some amazing rock formations on my trips in Australia and overseas:

Quote of the Day

Vanity Fair by William Thackeray is one of my favourite novels, and its last paragraph is one of my favourite conclusions to a book.

Ah! Vanitas Vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied? – Come children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out.

The very last sentence is memorable enough on its own, as it reminds the reader of the theatricality of the whole thing, but what sticks in my mind is how sad the ending actually is. That despite the fact that merely a few pages before we got our supposedly happy ending, complete with the dramatic last-minute dash and declaration of love from our heroine to the man who had hopelessly loved her for years. I love the BBC adaptation with Natasha Little as Becky Sharp (unlike the Reese Witherspoon version, it didn’t sugarcoat the fact that Becky is a horrible person), but I think it loses a lot by skipping over the sadness of the hero no longer caring for his most-cherished prize.

The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg – Book Review

bergI don’t know if it can be called a subgenre, but there’s certainly a kind of scenario that often appears in fiction: a bunch of people with disparate personalities and lives, who share some kind of common past, reunite for an occasion that ends up changing their lives, with revelations and much soul-searching along the way. This book was about a group of former classmates who attend their fortieth high school reunion. The five main characters are a varied bunch whose paths in life took different turns after highschool, and who come to the reunion looking for different things. There’s loud and brash Dorothy who wants to hook up with Peter, the best looking guy in her class, who in turn wants a chance to win back his estranged wife. Lester is a contentedly single veterinarian and a former nerd; Mary Alice is another loner type who hasn’t had the best time at school but wants to see her former classmates anyway. Candy is a class beauty with a jerk of a husband, who’s been handed a fatal diagnosis by her doctor, and wishes to change her life.

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Artwork in progress

It’s been almost five months, but I’ve finally finished the templates for the figures.

It took me a couple of false starts to figure out how to approach this. At first I simply tried tracing the figures in Illustrator, but the original image was too pixellated, so everything blurred together when I zoomed in and I ended up with a bunch of ugly blobs. Then I decided to print out the enlarged figures on A3 sheets, trace over them with a pen, scan the drawings and trace over the pen lines in Illustrator. That resulted in more detailed figures, but they still looked too blobby. So the final solution was to redraw the figures from scratch, so that the planes of colour would look crisp, clean and angular. Sometimes there’s just no taking shortcuts unfortunately.

I am happy with the outcome though, let’s see how long it takes me to actually execute this in fabric! I might have to simplify this if the detailing is too small and fiddly.

RvB_figures