Ian Irvine has been running a series of guest posts by writers, and this time it was my turn: I fail to come to terms with art vs society and apologise, kind of, for being a deadline snob. But I’m happy to report that, since that post was written, Smudge is a happier cat now that regular lap time has been resumed.
Jason Nahrung, as usual, wrote beautifully, but handed me horror in sci-fi clothing. One day, he’ll gift me with a glimmer of hope!
A glimmer? I *think* I could do that. In fact, I did try once, and the jury’s still out on that story, but I *guess* I could try again…
…the entire sequel had flipped out and been eaten by gremlins. Every draft. All my notes. My diary of a madman scribbles about where the trilogy was headed. Everything.
Act 1: make it matter
Act 2: make it messy
Act 3: make it meaningful
I can’t help feeling that it’s Act 3 that lets a lot of stories down. Boom, crash is all very well and lots of fun, but the stories that linger are the ones that reach down deep and make us ask those ‘what if’ questions.
Back to the fairytales, then, and one of the coolest Disney villains: magnificent Maleficent!
Awoke to the news that Anne McCaffrey has died, aged 85, and I imagine all around the world readers are looking up and waiting to see if any dragonriders take flight to stave off the threads of dark the news has struck. Of her books I’ve read, from her famous Pern universe, one passage still rings clear, in which and a boy and a girl meet and fall instantly in love, and the narrator tells us there are two kinds of love, the one that creeps with time and subtlety and comfort, and this second one, the lightning bolt. Oh, yes.
No doubt McCaffrey’s words linger still in the minds and hearts of her fans, and will continue to do so as long as those words are available, for generations to come. We will always have dragonriders to stave off the dark.
Humour, pathos, an awesome voice, a superb use of light and shade in all forms … oh Meow Meow, it was all over way too soon, the light burning twice as bright burning half as — no wait.
We saw Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl at the Malthouse Theatre, that gorgeous old refurbed brewery in Melbourne’s Southbank, and it was a hot ticket. Not ‘too hot’, like the opening number sung in German and then English with true cabaret panache, but just the right kind of heiss: flirty, yes, and creative, and clever.
I don’t want to say too much, because the show took turns I didn’t expect, in staging and lighting, and in musical direction. But there was at its core a social conscience anchored around the plight of children — hence the nod to Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale — and in the wings superb support from a talented singer, Mitchell Butel, and a sharp four-piece band who added atmospherics with violin that were truly sensational.
Meow Meow is so engaging, risque and personable and witty, making established one-liners and tired double entendres work anew. She swears for emphasis, not conversation. She does silence very well, and darkness, too. She pulls folks out of the audience and doesn’t take the piss, though she does tumble into some Teutonic instruction from time to time.
The show went for 80 minutes and there were torches and light bulbs and a chandelier. It could not be confused with Phantom of the Opera although the singing was very good. There was a clever — damn, that word again — to a Melbourne moment that might not work in other cities, unless they’re equally as clueless when it comes to public transport.
The Malthouse show runs till December 4 (I can recommend the pork belly if you’re dining beforehand, and isn’t it nice to be at a theatre where you can take your drink in?), and Meow Meow returns early next year for gigs in Melbourne’s Spiegeltent, and others’, too. Nom nom nom.
Melbourne’s Wendy Rule played ‘south of the river’ on Saturday night when she took to the stage at the cosy Caravan Music Club, at Oakleigh’s RSL Club. With a cemetery for a backyard, it was a suitable venue for the pagan singer-songwriter, given a cabaret air with the red-and-white checked table cloths and candles.
Saturday’s gig drew a small but appreciative crowd on a wet night on a soaked day — my sister had retreated, saturated and mud splattered, before the main act at a vineyard concert earlier in the day — and it was a shame there weren’t more on hand to hear a wonderful performance.
With the air scented with white sage and red wine on stage, the gig was engagingly laid back. Rule was effervescent as always but with an extra sparkle in the wake of her recent wedding, and husband Timothy on stage with guitar alongside regular companions William Llewellyn Griffiths on percussion and Rachel Samuel on cello. I love the cello in particular, such a great accompaniment to Rule’s hybrid brand of folk/rock/world/jazz, the notes penetrating all the way to the spine.
There were several highlights over the two sets, timing in at around an hour and a half and leaning on latest album Guided by Venus: an a capella Celtic ballad in ‘John Riley’, stirring ‘Wolf Sky’ and ‘Artemis’, a fetching rendition of ‘Horses’, two promising fairytale-inspired tunes being worked up for side project Don’t Be Scared, and Rule and guitar providing the encore, ‘La Vie En Rose’ (I think).
The sound was superb and the lighting rig sufficient to embellish the dark, romantic mood evoked by Rule’s music.
The night was well worth venturing out into the rain for, well priced and well presented. Blessed be, indeed.
Cute Macbeth tea towel, for the writer, reader or theatre lover who has everything? From Readers’ Niche. They have the same pattern on erasers, too — *chortle*.
And while I’m throwing shopping suggestions around for the festive crowd, one of my happiest hunting grounds for pressies for my Significant Other is Poppet Planet. We fell in love with Lisa Snellings’ work at World Fantasy in San Jose a couple of years back: writer poppets, Halloween poppets, Dr Who poppets, cute and melancholy and downright adorable poppets… oooh. Awesome service, too.
So back in October, which was only last month but feels like years ago, we ducked out of the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego to hit the gorgeous Birch Park North Theatre (it’s a lot lovelier and older and genteel than it sounds) to take in a show by the always entertaining Amanda Palmer.
As good as she was, largely arranging her set list by audience request and running a tighter show than usual, the night was made truly superb by the most excellent support bands: San Diego’s London Below and Melbourne’s Jane Austen Argument.
London Below, aka Tragic Tantrum, were a gothed up bunch made awesome by the operatic range and presence of their lead singer, Zoe Tantrum. They plumb the waters of ‘dark cabaret’, in the queue with the Dresden Dolls and Emilie Autumn and such, but distinctive enough to hold their own ground.
But the big buzz of the night was the Aussie duo, Jane Austen Argument, who have supported Palmer in Australia and popped down for the San Diego from Seattle, where they were recording their debut studio album, Somewhere Under the Rainbow, due out early next year.
Their first tune was met with silence. Then, from the front, a guy said, ‘wow’, and the room erupted, and kept erupting. To judge by the response, both to their set and then to a trio of songs during Palmer’s set, and then the throng still gathered around them as we left after the final curtain, the duo scored a theatre of fans.
They’re a fetching, modest act, with Jen Kingwell on keys and vocals and Tom Dickins holding centre stage with his amazing voice. Material played on the night suggests Somewhere Under the Rainbow is going to be a blinder.
That was then, this is later: the Dresden Dolls are touring in January, and on another musical matter of much excitement here, Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde fame is playing the Spiegeltent in Melbourne in March. I’m hoping for plenty of material from her awesome solo album, Scarred. The Blonde have recently posted new singles at CD Baby… wonderful stuff.