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31 July 2007

Scatterheart in the wild

I have just received a missive from the delightful Simmone Howell telling me that Scatterheart has been sighted in the wild! (in Readings, to be precise).

Hurrah! I declare this to be Scatterheart Release Week, and tomorrow I will blog in more detail and maybe even think of a Competition.

27 July 2007

This is why the world is fucked

In the US...

1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.

42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college.

80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.

70 percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.

57 percent of new books are not read to completion.

70 percent of books published do not earn back their advance.

70 percent of the books published do not make a profit.

53 percent read fiction, 43 percent read nonfiction. The favorite fiction category is mystery and suspense, at 19 percent.

55 percent of fiction is bought by women, 45 percent by men.

About 120,000 books are published each year in the U.S.

A successful fiction book sells 5,000 copies.

A successful nonfiction book sells 7,500 copies.

On average, a bookstore browser spends 8 seconds looking at a book's front cover and 15 seconds looking at the back cover.

Each day in the U.S., people spend 4 hours watching TV, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines.

From here.

23 July 2007

Spoilery Pottery Initial Thoughts

I have such a complicated relationship with Harry.

I approach him as a reader, a fan, a critic, a children's literature professional and a writer.

I spent the weekend with my peeps, curled up on sofas under doonas, munching on pumpkin cupcakes and bagels and listening to Snaz read the book aloud. It was awesome. We laughed, we cried, we complained at the huge tracts of exposition. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, as I always have whenever I've read a HP book.

There are a lot of criticisms I could make, but I'm going to skip over most of them. You can overlook a lot of faults for a book that inspires so much hype, joy, love and enthusiasm.


There's just this one thing.

The muggles.

I really, really, really wanted there to be a Muggle in the final battle. I wanted, just ONCE in the entire 7 part series, for there to be a Muggle who was a Good Guy. Not someone nasty or stupid or ineffectual. Someone GOOD. I really thought that we might see the New Improved Dudley again.

And after the series railed for so long against the Slytherins and Death Eaters for their attitudes towards halfbloods and mudbloods and purebloods - what happened with the Good Guys in the end? All the wizards married wizards and had little pureblood wizard babies. No mixed marriages. No 'squibs'. It just totally validated everything the bad guys were gunning for.

Even the single interracial relationship (Lupin and Tonks) wasn't permitted to exist in the Happily Ever After. And tell me Dobby wasn't totally the black guy who dies in the first half of an action movie.

Finally, I just need to share the cover of Melbourne's right-wing tabloid propaganda machine Sunday Herald Sun, on the day when most of the English-speaking world were reading Harry Potter:
For a moment I wasn't sure if I was seeing the Herald Sun or the Daily Prophet. Then I saw that peculiar use of the word Wizard! and wondered if there was a Harry Potter musical.

18 July 2007

Guess the Book Title!

What book am I quoting from?

He walked right around the cave, touching as much as the rough rock as he could, occasionally pausing, running his fingers backwards and forwards over a particular spot, until he finally stopped, his hand pressed flat against the wall.
'Here,' he said. 'We go on through here. The entrance is concealed.'
He stepped back from the cave wall and pointed his wand at the rock. For a moment, an arched outline appeared there, blazing white as though there was a powerful light behind the crack.

still wondering? try this bit:

...a dead man lying face up inches beneath the surface: his open eyes misted as though with cobwebs, his hair and robes swirling around him like smoke.
'There are bodies in here!'

Anybody? Anybody?

14 July 2007

Film Festivals: A Cautionary Guide

I love the Melbourne Film Festival. I go every year. A lot. But I've learnt a few things about which films are good, and which ones make you want to stick blunt pencils in your eyes. So I've cast my eye over the 2007 program, and want to share some thoughts.

Avoid all films which contain the following in their descriptions:


"questions the very meaning of existence"

"a thought-provoking exercise in stretching film vocabulary to its limits"

"casts an austere gaze"

"the human need for emotion and tenderness"

Lars von Trier

"gritty metamorphosis of deeply wounded people"

"bitter and broken"

"walking the fine line between derision and sympathy, pessimism and very dim hope"


"passive and isolated"




"organic and raw"

"a whimsical exploration of existential angst"

"oppressive reality"

"sumptuous mood piece on longing and mourning"

"a sculptress whose marriage is an unfeeling abyss"


"this muted drama builds into a brooding study of loss, responsibility and incomprehension"

"a gruelling, often painful, occasionally dangerous marathon"

"introspective and minimalist"

Are you getting the picture? Some of these films SOUND like a good idea. Oh yes, a film about the relationship between an elderly couple, where, half-way through, they switch locations froma village to a hospital and replay all of the dialogue from the first half? Sounds interesting. Sounds experimental.

Consider this. According to an online calculator, I have 479688 hours left to live. I expect you have something not dissimilar. Do you REALLY want to spend two of those hours watching something described as a "free and minimalist portrait of nascent narcisissm?"

13 July 2007

Punctuation is Awesome

Did you know that the question mark is a stylised q on top of a very tiny o? It was monkish shorthand for questio, which they used to write at the end of a sentence to indicate it was a question.

Oh, and the exclamation mark is a stylised io, which means "exclamation of joy" in Latin.

This little critter didn't get a name until the 19th century, when it was taught as the 27th letter of the alphabet. The kiddies felt Awkward saying "w, x, y and and", so they said "w, x, y and, per se, and". Which turned into ampersand.

via Neatorama.

11 July 2007

I love Eight, Eight is Great, Eight is the Number I Do Not Hate

From Penni.

Here are the rules:

A. Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves.

B. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed.

C. [there is a Rule C about tagging 8 people, but given that most of my friends have, of late, fallen off the bloggery bandwagon, I shall make this a bit more open] If you're reading this, consider yourself tagged.

1. I was born in the front room of the house where my parents still live. They buried the placenta in the garden and planted a tree on top of it. The tree died.

2. I am scared of vomit, infidelity, heights and rollercoasters that go upside down.

3. I am not scared of spiders.

4. I am an atheist.

5. I am waiting for the day when scientists invent a) an electric blanket that can cool you down in summer, and b) mashed potato that makes you thin.

6. I am an insufferable know-it-all.

7. At my year 12 formal, I took the first boy I ever had a real crush on, although I no longer had the crush. My ex-girlfriend took my then-boyfriend. It was a really good night.

8. I am an only child, and I wouldn't have it any other way. My only regret is that I'll never be a real auntie.

06 July 2007

Four Reasons Why Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is the Best Film You Will See This Year

(spoilers, but really, like you're ever going to see it)

1. Jessica Alba had lots to do as the only woman in the film. Like... whinge about how her wedding keeps getting interrupted by having to save the world. And not quite be able to hold up the London Eye (resulting in a nosebleed). And... be sensitive and the catalyst for the Silver Surfer not to kill them all because she reminds him of his shiny silver girlfriend back home. Oh, and die.

2. The villain was awesomely cool. I mean, what could be cooler than the shiny silver guy from Terminator 2, with Laurence Fishburne's voice (sounding a lot like Legion from Red Dwarf for all the geeks out there). ON A MAGIC SURFBOARD. (oh, except he's not actually the villain. The villain is really The Nothing from the Neverending Story.)

3. The bit at the end where Ioan Gruffudd (Hornblower! What happened to you!? You went all blah!!) looks around at downtown Shanghai, looks at poor eat-a-burger Jessica Alba and says "This gives me an idea". Cut to... them getting married... in Japan.

4. Julian McMahon's success-fat.

01 July 2007

Holding it in your hands... an incredibly exciting moment.

It’s a huge relief that it’s actually finally actually finished. It’s also terrifying. I can’t bear to actually read any of it, in case I find a bit where James is called Jack (he was in an earlier draft) or Molly “closes her eyes” (she only has one).

More terrifying is that people are actually going to go and read it now. What if they hate it? What if they find typos? What if they get bored and never finish it?

Anyway. It’ll be on shelves in a month. There’ll be a launch. I’ll let you know.

The Soundtrack to my Life

It is Sunday, so it is time for a Meme. This one is stealed from Penni.

The usual iTunes on Shuffle thing. No cheating. If my life were a movie, this would be the soundtrack:

Opening Credits
Thanks a Lot by Third Eye Blind

hmm, not really a cheery one, but at least there are zombies

Waking Up
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band by The Beatles
it was twenty years ago today…

First Day At School
Just B’Cos, Machine Gun Fellatio
I see your shape in the crowd
I turn to know where you are
But all around is a stage of high-density housing

Falling In Love
Hernando’s Hideaway by Doris Day (from The Pyjama Game)
I know a dark, secluded place
a place where no one knows your face
a glass of wine, a strong embrace.

I’m going to fall in love in a speakeasy!

Fight Song
Happy Feet by Kermit the Frog

can’t you imagine him kicking someone in the head to this?

Breaking Up
The More You Ignore Me by The Smiths
Beware! I bear more grudges
Than lonely high court judges

A Little Less Conversation by Elvis (via JXL)
A little more action, please!

Great Southern Land by Icehouse
so you look into the land and it will tell you a story
story 'bout a journey ended long ago
if you listen to the motion of the wind in the mountains
maybe you can hear them talking like I do

Mental Breakdown
Dive by David Bridie
the ocean is rising, i feel the water storming in
the ocean is waiting, it's waiting for me to dive right in

Sparks by The Who

A Menuetto from the Bach Cello Suites, performed by YoYo Ma

Getting back together
Wingspan, by Cymbals.
Spread your wings so wide / Free your mind

There is a Light that Never Goes Out, Neil Finn
And if a double decker bus kills the both of us
Today by your side, is such a heavenly way to die

If i ever get married, this is totally going on the playlist.

Birth of Child
Caroline by Old Crow Medicine Show
They say you were born in St. Claire’s hospital
I say you were born up in the sky
You come floatin’ down over New Orleans
To the sweet green levee on the river side
And your voice chirped like old squeaky shoes

Final Battle
Sad Professor, by REM.
Dear Readers, I’m not sure where I’m heading
I’ve gotten lost before.
I’ve woke up stone drunk face-down on the floor.

Death Scene
Every Day Is Like Sunday by Morrissey
This is the coastal town
That they forgot to close down
Armageddon - come armageddon!
Come, armageddon! come!

Funeral Song
Sing by the Sesame Street Kids.
Sing, Sing a Song. Sing out loud. Sing out Strong.
Sing of good things, not bad.
Sing of happy, not sad.

wow. i totally want that at my funeral!

End Credits
Calling all Angels, KD Lang and Jane Siberry
but if you you think you would
trade in all the pain and suffering?
ah, but then you'd miss
the beauty of the light upon this earth
and the sweetness of the leaving

Hmm. Doesn't sound like it's going to be a feel-good romcom type of film/life. Oh well.