Good stuff while my back was turned

We’re back, and a wee bit tired as the clock has turned over the 36-hour mark since we got up some morning recently in my beloved New Orleans, and here’s some of the stuff that’s been happening in my absence that’s too good not to share:

Anywhere But Earth, launching today in Sydney, is all systems go at the online store

Brisbane’s awesome Sarah Calderwood is interviewed on ABC Radio about her debut solo album! The song she sings in the studio is stunning.

Beat magazine makes it official: The Tea Party have tested the reunion waters and found it warm enough to take another splash — cool!

Kyla Ward has launched her solo poetry collection, The Land of Bad Dreams, with aplomb — see the vids! (Okay, this actually happened before we left, but we couldn’t be in Sydney for it, and it looks like it was a hoot of a night.)

Oh, too: Macabre, an excellent overview of Aussie horror fiction, and Surviving the End, in which I have a story, are both available — the first as e-book showing there’s still some life left in the sadly collapsed Brimstone Press, the latter as a pre-order. Check out more happenings in Aussie horror publishing at From the Pit.

Looking ahead: for those in Melbourne, wicked Brissie band Tycho Brahe support Psyche at the Espy on November 12 — that’s this Saturday. Sad, I was, to miss their Halloween gig back in Bris.

And this time, my back wasn’t turned, because I was at World Fantasy Convention to see Alisa Krasnostein receive her press’s achievement trophy. A superb effort!

I am a judge for the Aurealis Awards. This item is the personal opinion of the writer, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any judging panel, the judging coordinator or the Aurealis Awards management team.

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Catching up on the tunes…

Some ‘on hold’ music while I’m otherwise engaged …

Warpaint: ‘Elephant’ is a cruisy Sunday afternoon.

The Horrors: stop us if you’ve heard these synths before!

Sietta: Aussie beats and fetching vocals … interesting.

Call me shallow, but if you put a cow skull and a bra on the album cover, yeah, I’ll have a listen… and well worth it too, with the ripping eponymous tune from Abbe May’s album, Design Desire.

Sarah Calderwood’s debut album is due out in November. Thoroughly exciting!

Felinedown: new EP, awesome live show, tunes to throw you around the room (on tour in October)

Melbourne in one day: food, writers, art, music

Yesterday’s touch of summer, and spring, and winter, and oh, yes, well, autumn, fine, it IS Melbourne, but at least it didn’t rain, was just dandy for a day in the city.

First, there was lunch at Time Out in Federation Square — the staff there are amazingly efficient and efficiently friendly and the food is tasty and well-priced, though a wine will set you back the best part of $10 a glass — with a Brisbane contingent (including two of us expats and one wannabe). The sun was warm, the wind chill, the quesadillas suitably chilli, the friendship warm. This is what weekend afternoons are all about, hey?

vienna art and design at ngvFrom there, I wandered off to the Vienna: Art & Design exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. The exhibit showcases the Secessionist movement. Here, I again learnt that I do like Klimt (I never knew he drew erotica, so those drawings were educational), that I want to know more about Schiele and Kokoschka (awesome portraiture!), and have sadly little interest in tea pot design.

The exhibit kicked off with architecture (loved the Die Zeit facade re-creation in aluminium and glass, all very Metropolis*) and ran through visual art, including wicked posters and a couple of exquisitely processed photographs, furniture and cutlery n stuff. In those heady days, the architect was not just designing the building, but the entire fit-out. This was perhaps most strikingly presented by having two sets of furniture on either side of the same room, both products of the era but showcasing the two directions that design took: decorative and pragmatic (in my layman’s terms).

I also ducked upstairs to check out the Deep Water exhibition: a small collection of photographs ranging from creeks and waterfalls to icebergs and people swimming. Makes you appreciate the power of a black and white landscape, and indeed of nature itself (fingers crossed for those in the path of Hurricane Irene, who would, I’m sure, be happy just with photographs).

melbourne writers festival 2011

There followed a long coffee — there may also have been a beer, the day being turned to summer again — and scribbled notes (ink slashing akin to wrist slitting; infernal story, I hate you as much as you hate me) — and then, as the dial turned to a shady phase of winter, my first Melbourne Writers Festival event: Kim Scott, Marie Munkara, Arnold Zable (chair) and John Bradley talking about indigenous language and politics.

My summary: language is an important if not essential plank of cultural identity. So this move to herd folks from their country and teach them exclusively English: don’t. (What year is this again? Have we learnt nothing?)

Bradley made one of the most striking comments of the panel, when he described the Aboriginal language he’d learnt as ‘rising up from the country’, or words to that effect.

Powerful stuff, language; dangerous, too.

PEN International sponsored this panel, and an empty chair on the stage represented writers who have been killed or jailed for daring to not only have an opinion, but to air it.

To balance out this heavy topic, a short walk up Swanson St, the Toff in Town was hosting Stories Unbound. At the Toff, I’ve learnt, it pays to order two drinks at a time, especially when the house is packed. And it was, with punters turning up to hear Tishani Doshi, Brissie’s Nick Earls, Leslie Cannold, Anna Krien, Michael Robotham and MC David Astle share, without notes, an unpublished anecdote from their lives.

Doshi: her love for the woman who introduced her to dance and so freed her to pursue an artistic life; Earls: how the Pope helped him pass medicine — funny stuff, involving testicles and Gaviscon; Cannold: a Jewish mother having to decide whether to get her sons circumcised; Krien: a tonguey from a 90-year-old man in the name of journalism; Robotham: separate misadventures involving pornographers and a redneck. All with sign interpretation. So a good mix of serious and humorous in a convivial atmosphere.

Oh, the music: on the train, there was a guy strumming his guitar, but it was kind of dull so I plugged in my mp3 player. And then got home to the awesome announcement of friend Sarah’s solo album deal with ABC Classics. As Night Falls is the name of the album: can’t wait!

* speaking of Metropolis, it’s as good a throw as I could come up with with to preview the upcoming exhibition of Modernity in German Art 1910-37: it’s hip to be square!