Friday, November 23, 2007

Cuckoo and peacock - an odd couple

I've previously mentioned the flowers growing in my English-style garden here in Tasmania.
At the moment I have black poppies, blue cornflowers, masses of red valerian,
forget-me-nots, jasmine and various varieties of honeysuckle, and of course dozens of different roses.
But the sights in the garden are not the only things which differ from my garden in Western Australia.
In the evening, instead of listening to the trucks rolling along on the Great Eastern Highway, I listen to the night sounds.
The thump of the feet of the tiny Bennet's wallabies, the call of a cuckoo and, just recently, the cry of a peacock high in tree.
I was told the male bird (who used to be part of a pair) visits every spring.
None of the neighbours know where he comes from. But the calls of the the cuckoo and peacock are most distinctive - and beautiful.
Photo: Peacocks at Cataract Gorge in Launceston (within walking distance of the city). MM

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Bad Ground - a must read!

There are not many books which grab me to the extent that I will sit all day glued to the pages.
Bad Ground written by Tony Wright is one of those books.
It’s not fiction - it's a true story - but it reads like an adventure. It has everything - tension, raw emotion, unreal setting, honest dialogue, conflict and above all human drama.
Bad Ground is the retelling of the Beaconsfield mine disater where one miner died and two were rescued. Where the odds stacked against their survival were enormous.
But it’s not just the story of Brant Webb and Todd Russell, but it’s the story of their rescuers – the men who came from the length and breadth of Australia; it’s the story of the families – and the heartwrenching wait for news which went on for days and days; it’s the story of a trajedy unfolding when Larry Knight’s body was discovered; and above all, it’s the story of joy and celebration when the recue was finally completed.
I compliment Tony Wright – journalist and author - for his narrative and the supurb way in which he related this event.
(Page-down to read of some of the visits I have made recenlty to Beaconsfield)

The Himalayan Express

No - this is not the train I am talking about!
One of the new great train lines of the world was only completed and opened recently.
It runs for 4000 km from Behjing (China) to Lhasa (Tibet).
And because it travels into the Himalayas and to very high altitudes, the train has to be oxygenated to compensate for the rarified air.
When I got a flyer from my travel agent about a tour going next year, I couldn't resist the opportunity to sign up.
Apart from the 3 day train journey, there is time in China to see the Great Wall, time in Nepal and Tibet to see the great monastaries and shrines, time to visit the base camp of Everest and time to sightsee in Kathmandu.
I remember as a child learning the peom which goes something like: there's little wooden idol, to the north of Kathmandu....
Who ever thought that one day I would be visiting that part of the world!
Photo: Steam engine at the Don River Museum in Northern Tasmania. MM

Alias the Cat - Random House request review

Imagine how excited I was when I received an email from Random House, UK.
But it wasn't what I could have wished for.
The email read: I’m getting in touch about Alias the Cat : the latest weird and totally wonderful graphic narrative by Kim Deitch, who has been creating comics since 1967. It’s a kaleidoscopic read; full of mistaken identities, disguises, explosions and insidious plots, and is of course rendered in Deitch’s inimitable style.
Random House asked if I was interested in writing a review.

I said yes, but on receipt of the book found myself in unfamiliar territory.
Here is my review:
I’m not a comics reader, so reading Kim Deitch's graphic narrative, Alias the Cat, was a new experience for me.
Unlike a standard novel, where the reader’s mind is allowed free-rein to conjure images of scenes, characters and events, Deitch’s black and white artwork depicts each and every setting and action in infinite detail.
When reading Alias the Cat, the reader’s imagination quickly becomes redundant.
Furthermore; Deitch’s characters resemble cardboard cut-outs which are replicated from page to page and the faces look like duplicated copy-and-paste postings. Though some characters carry smiles, most of the faces wear troubled, shocked or pained expressions.
For me, Deitch’s artwork, though interesting in its sheer volume, lacks vibrancy, and carries a negative overall impression.
As to the storyline; Alias the Cat is a hotchpotch of weird events loosely connected by the appearance of feline characters/dolls and/or a skin-tight cat costume. The narrative rambles between seeming fact, fiction and psychedelic imaginings.
The story-line comes from nowhere and goes nowhere. It lacks punch and verve and tends to repetition and the dialogue is sadly dated reflecting the voice of an ageing writer.
Alias the Cat is devoid of subtlety and it completely misses the boat to my (Australian) sense-of-humour department.
Although the book’s jacket could be misconstrued as the cover of a comic book for kids, Alias the Cat is certainly not a children’s book.
Deitch’s themes are definitely adult and this graphic publication could only appeal to the unimaginative reader.

The craft of writing missing at Deloraine Fair

Deloraine on the Meander River Valley in the north of Tasmania is home to one of the best craft fairs in Australia.
This year it held its 27th Annual event. It ran for 4 days early in November and being new to Tasmania, I couldn't resist a visit.
On display at the 200 stalls, I saw no shortage of local and interstate crafts plus a display of Japanes themed attractions.
But for me, however, there was one thing lacking.
There were no writers present (to my knowledge). And no signed books to purchase.

My point is: if writing is a craft then surely it should be represented.I realize writers don't make much money, but there are many crafts people who don't get rightly rewarded for the time and effort they put into their work.
I also know that the cost of stalls is not cheap.
Perhaps, however, there is a group of writers who would like to showcase their writing and share a stall next year at Deloraine.
Worth a thought - isn't it?
Photo: Main street, Deloraine - Quamby Bluff in distance MM

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mini-field of Pink Ladies - Breast Cancer Fundraiser

I was back in Beaconsfield about 10 days ago to support their Breast Cancer Mini-field event.
This type of event is held throughout Australia and the money raised goes to Breast Cancer research.
The ideas is that Pink Ladies are purchased/sponsored and then 'planted' in a local park or field.
I 'planted' my pink lady in memory of my sister, Barbara Boasman.

And I was back in Beaconsfield again today to give a talk on my inspiration for writing to the Cancer Support and Social Group.
I now find myself signed up for the Launceston Relay for Life - another cancer fundraising event.
The relay is a 24 hour walk/run around an oval.
Teams from various groups and organisations throughout the region compete.
Although this is a baton event and no one has to run for 24 hours, it's just as well it's not on until next March as that gives me a few months to get fit!
Photo: MM at Beaconsfield mini-field day

Beaconsfield - the town built on a gold field

Today most folk have heard of the Beaconsfield in Tasmania - mainly because of the mine rescue which happened here over a year ago.
I never realised I would be living only 25 minutes away.
Just recently the gold mine reopened for production and I visited the town and the local Grubb Shaft Museum with my son.
If you are touring Tasmania, the museum is well worth a visit.
Photo: Rob Dunn with main shaft in the background.