Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Dog Days of 2006

Well I’ve been pretty remiss on updating the blog of late, so here’s an update on the state of Cat Politics in these dog days of 2006.

Despite having a bit of a cold a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been kind of busy brushing up on a few courses I attended early in December. One covered the basic essentials of html. You might suppose that as I run several web sites I would be au fait with the basic coding of web pages. Not so, as I use Dreamweaver as a web editor and it requires little knowledge of html. Of course I do understand html quite well, but every code I look up only stays in my head for as long as I need it then disappears. With this in mind, and because at work one is obliged to attend training courses as a part of one’s work performance, I decided to attend one on html.

It was fun and I must admit served the purpose of putting html in context and has given me the confidence to write it. I find it quite an elegant code and armed with this new skill I can now be confident of producing clean code in my web pages.

The other course I attended was for Microsoft Publisher. I am quite experienced in that program, but needed some things clarified after being thrown into the deep end with Basement Discs hiring me to create magazine ads, flyers, posters etc. for their shop. So it was another useful course in terms of my private pursuits, but could also serve at work when such things are required.

I like being creative and find occupying myself in this way absorbing.

There have been no musical treats this month, but January promises some class acts, particularly Mary Gauthier and Steve Young. Mary Gauthier (pronounced go-shay) is an American singer songwriter of remarkable power. I love her songs; they’re so vividly pictorial. As an example here’s two verses from her song “Falling Out Of Love”

It's a cheap hotel, the heat pipes hiss
The bathroom's down the hall, and it smells like piss
It's another night in another town
And I'm another blues traveler headed down

Falling out of love is a dangerous thing
With its slippery slopes and its weighted wings
With its birds of prey circling overhead
Casting vulture shadows on barren beds
Let me out, set me free
Let me out, set me free
Of course you really have to hear Mary sing it in her world-weary voice for it to come alive.

Steve Young is the writer of one of my all time favorite songs “ Seven Bridges Road” and has been around for a very long time. He rarely comes to Australia so it will be wonderful to see him live. Both he and Mary Gauthier are on the same bill at the Northcote Social Club in January.

Naturally I have been reading as much as ever. I whip through a couple of books a week, so it’s hard to remember just what I have been reading. Over the past two weeks I have read Julian Barnes’ “Arthur and George” – a truly beautifully written study of character; “The Evolution Man” by Roy Lewis, a book plucked off my bookshelf when at a loss as to what to read next. It’s an old Penguin book with the typical fantastic cover art that Penguin paperbacks used have back in the 60s, 70s & 80s “The Evolution Man” is an odd book, a sort of primer on the evolution of man told from the point of view of an evolving humanoid. It’s a comical and clever book and I found it an entertaining read. I’ve also whizzed through George Saunders’ “The Brief & Frightening Reign of Phil” and “The Sidmouth Letters” by Jane Gardam. I’ve now started “Riddley Walker” sent me by Clare Dudman as my prize for winning her BAFAB competition. So far, so good, I’ve gradually got the hang of the dialect and am finding it easier to read than at first expected.

I suppose calling this entry “Dog Days” is a bit of a misnomer in that Melbourne has only had the occasional hot day since summer officially began. Nevertheless, the visible haze and smell of smoke from the bushfires raging out of control in the North and East of the State, adds to that summer feel.

The bush fires are rather worrying. I for one am glad I don’t live in the bush. One of the towns threatened is Woods Point where I spent five happy years in my childhood. At that time the shadow of the 1939 fires still haunted the town. It was wiped out then.
I remember worrying about how I would save my cat from the flames. It used to torment me. It is a very quaint little town with unique architecture, so it would be an awful shame if it were destroyed.


clare said...

Glad you're liking Riddley, Anne. Some very interesting recommendations here - in music and the books. Shall check them out. I'm always on the look for something cultural!

Anne S said...

Clare, I heartily recommend the Julian Barnes book. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the "Arthur" of the title.

The George Saunders book I found somewhat disappointing. I would recommend his "CivilWarLand in Bad Decline" over the latest one. I discovered him through Matthew Cheney's Mumpsimus site where he had a link to one of Saunders stories "The Falls" and I was so taken with the story I sought out his books.

I'll hopefully have a sort of best of 2006 list soon, when I get around to writing it.

Riddley Walker, the more I get into it, becomes better and better.

chiefbiscuit said...

I love book lists and music lists too - not that I have any money to buy lots. But I am a discerning shopper / reader / listener and trust people with good taste - like you! I like singers that sing songs with good lyrics. The lyrics you've reproduced in your blog are wonderful. (Joni Mitchell is my all-time favourite tho'.)