Creepy Crawlies – Sand Sculpting Australia : Part 2

02/28/2011 at 5:28 AM (Art, Sculpture) (, , , , , , )

13. Little Miss Muffet was cool on top of a spider:

 

Little Miss Muffet exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The sculpture is based on the nursery rhyme of the same name. It was first printed in 1805 in a book called ‘Songs for the Nursery.’ The sculpted Miss Muffet however is sitting on a Jumping Spider and not on a tuffet. Did you know it can jump up to 40 times its own body length? To identify them, pay attention to the eye pattern. They have four pairs of eyes with large pair of eyes in the middle.

14. Alice and the Caterpillar were chilling with the Cheshire Cat:

Alice and the Caterpillar at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Well, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland won an Academy Award in art direction during its 83rd Anniversary – just saw it on TV about two hours ago. There is a hookah smoking caterpillar here with Alice and the Cheshire Cat nearby.

Caterpillars are the larvae of the Lepidoptera family of insects such as butterflies and moths. Because caterpillars are soft-bodied, slow movers, predators find them to be an easy target. To protect themselves, caterpillars use several methods like eyespots, poison, foul odours and camouflage. Despite being puny creatures, these guys have 4000 muscles while we humans only have 629.

15. Roach Motel was a literal translation – just made from sand:

Roach Motel exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Cockroaches usually are disliked by most people because of their preference for scurrying around in and consuming rotten food and other garbage. But these fellows can actually go without food for a month and hold their breath for up to 40 minutes. Kind of impressive. Because its brain is scattered throughout its body rather than being in the head is why cockroaches can run around for a week before thirstiness kills them.

16. Ant Farm based on a recreation of the Farmville game from Facebook:

Ant Farm exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Have you watched Antz or A Bug’s Life? Those are some cute movies featuring ant colonies. Large colonies mostly consist of  sterile, female ‘workers’ and ‘soldiers’, fertile male ‘drones’ and fertile female ‘queens’. They have great organisation skills and are social creatures. The only landmass that has no ants is Antarctica and some remote islands.

17. Frogs Galore was a surprising choice:

Frogs Galore exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

They made it into the display of creepy crawlies because their quick movement, the way they can camouflage and the feel of their skin. Besides their diet is on insects such as bugs and flies and sometimes worms. Most frogs evolve after hatching from eggs as tadpoles. When the tadpoles grow, they lose their tails and grow the legs that allow them to perform jumping feats. Find more information on frogs here.

If you are in Melbourne and are interested in going, you are in luck. It’s open until April 2011 near Frankston pier.

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Creepy Crawlies – Sand Sculpting Australia : Part 1

02/27/2011 at 7:31 AM (Art) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

The Frankston sand sculpture exhibition, made up of a heavy sand known as ‘brickies’ sand brought in from Graham Quarries in Langwarrin,  pays homage to Tim Burton with its depiction of insects and gastropods in their 2011 exhibit titled Creepy Crawlies. It makes sense to use the insect theme since apparently there are 220,000 insect species in Australia. But apart from the insect based constructions, there are displays of other creatures such as Annelids and Amphibians too.

1. The entrance display Creepy Crawlies greets us:

The entrance vignette at Creepy Crawlies sand sculpture exhibition

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

It provides an overview of the creepy crawlies that you are to encounter within the exhibit. This mostly shows insects under the arthropod classification and a group within the mollusc family called gastropods. The sand sculpture is completely solid and there is no foam or open space beneath them. To build it, the sand is compacted into wooden forms to create shapes and sizes of the structures in a form resembling a giant wedding cake with many layers. These layers help the sculptors to climb to the top, remove the wooden formwork from the uppermost layer and begin carving. They climb down the different layers to carve instead of using scaffolding or ladders. Once complete, a biodegradable sealant is used to repel moisture and preserve structures.

2. The second was an exhibit of a flea circus:

Flea Circus exhibit at Creepy Crawlies exhibition

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Fleas are parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts like mosquitoes. But fleas prefer four-legged hosts because fur is much more hospitable to them than human skin. Because they don’t have wings, fleas have adapted to jumping long distances instead. Flea circuses originally were sideshow attractions at travelling carnivals where spectators could watch them through special lenses but nowadays magicians and clowns are the only people who might use it as a sideline act. Even then, these days they are more likely to use mechanical devices rather than fleas. You shouldn’t blame them because in the 14th century, fleas caused the death of over 200 million people by spreading the Bubonic Plague from rats to humans.

3. Sewer Connection was the depiction of an underground sewerage system:

Sewer Connection exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

There have been many stories of animal sightings in sewers that range from the credible to the absurd. Despite these stories, no evidence confirming these reports have been found making it far more likely to be an urban legend. The only animals found in sewers usually have been washed in during storms and conditions in the sewer make it hard for them to survive. The only exceptions might be rats, spiders and cockroaches.

4. The Boogie Man was the subject of the fourth sculpture:

Boogie Man exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Remember The Nightmare before Christmas by Tim Burton? This is based on the character of Mr Oogie Boogie, the Boogie Man. Famous for scaring children into compliance in many cultures all over the world, this particular version resembles a hessian sack. In the film where he is the main villain, it turns out bugs have a lot to do with him. The word ‘bogey’ or ‘boogie’ originates from the Middle English word ‘bogge’ or ‘bugge’ which is also from where the word ‘bug’ derives its name.

5. Bed Bugs had pride of place in sand next:

Bed Bugs exhibit for Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.” Have you heard this refrain? Bed bugs are wingless insects that shelter in dark places close to where people sleep. So I would check mattresses, floorboards, carpets and behind loose wallpaper since these bugs like to feed on human blood. Their saliva, injected when feeding, can make our skin react badly. During the mid 20th century, the incidence of bed bugs became low but now thanks to international travel, resistance to insecticides and the prevalence of central heating, the numbers are multiplying.

6. The Exterminator was next in line:

Exterminator exhibit from Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Technology has developed its electronics to become smaller with progress. Robots based on insects have become popular and there are many ‘robo bugs‘ in the toy market. Using the same principles, miniature robots have been created for rescue operations such as building collapses. With the use of an artificial antenna, these bugs can navigate in the dark through small crevices. Perhaps this pest control guy has the wrong address! Once the technology has been perfected, these robots can be used in emergency situations. You might have heard that cockroaches (plus other insects) could survive a nuclear blast but after a month or two, the effects of radiation will finish them off.

7. Beatlemania was a rather quirky one:

Beatlemania exhibit from Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

The Beetles was the name The Beatles originally had as a tribute to Buddy Holly and the Crickets when they decided to change from being The Quarreymen. Beetles make up 40% of the insect population and the 400,000 species of beetles classified depicts their ability to live in nearly any habitat. Beetles eat anything from hardwood to ooze from rotting fungi making them an invaluable asset to any ecosystem.

8. Lair of the Spider Queen was this one’s title:

Lair of Spider Queen exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

In 1941, there was a Golden Age comic book character called Spider Queen. She was the secret identity of Sharon Kane, sworn nemesis of all evildoers. This modern take of her is surrounded with more spiders. An ancient source of fear and fascination, they range from the Armoured spider that has a body the size of a pinhead to the South American Goliath Tarantula – so big that its legs span a dinner plate!

9. The Hive was displayed next in its glory:

The Hive exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Did you know it is estimated that one third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination? Bees have a big role to play because they are important in the pollination of plants. Beehives are constructed in that hexagonal honeycomb shape because it allows each cell to contain the maximum amount of honey for minimum wall space. These nests only have a single entrance.

10. Giant Scorpion was smaller than some other creations:

Giant Scorpion exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Scorpions belong to the Arachnid family. Although mostly nocturnal creatures, they can be active in daytime during enduring wet weather. The ones in Northern parts of Australia are more venomous. Most live for 2-10 years but some have lived to the ripe old age of 25! Also scorpions glow in the dark under ultraviolet light.

11. A Closer Look was an interesting sight:

A Closer Look exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

This is a sculpture suggesting we unwittingly eat a lot of bugs in our food. This includes tiny caterpillars in the salad lettuce and weevils in flour baked into cakes. But throughout the world, there are some cultures which consider them a delicacy. Well, why shouldn’t they? Insects are a rich source of protein, vitamins and minerals.

12. Enchanted Garden was an illustration of the less creepy insects:

The Enchanted Garden exhibit at Creepy Crawlies

Copyright: Sarasi Peiris

Do you find every insect revolting? Butterflies, dragonflies and ladybirds can perhaps even be considered ‘cute’. This garden sand sculpture is home to creepy crawlies of the delightful variety. It also includes snails, crickets and grasshoppers but they are ‘good’ insects because they make gardens thrive.

To be Continued….

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The Five People You Meet in Heaven

02/22/2011 at 12:16 PM (Books, Educational, Fable, Inspired, Spiritual, War) (, , , , , , )

Once I accidentally happened upon Tuesdays with Morrie at my university library while searching for some course text books. So what do I do?

I promptly abandon my text hunting and sit in for a delicious tale written by Mitch Albom about his moments with the retired sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz ; it is about the lessons the author learned from the teacher who had contracted Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). So it was with joy I revisited this author’s writing in The Five People You Meet In Heaven. Unlike my first experience, this time it was fiction inspired by Eddie Beitchman, the writer’s real life uncle, who had lived a life like that of Eddie in the book.

The Five People You Meet In Heaven Book Cover

This particular narrative starts with a death – the death of the main character, Eddie the maintenance man on Ruby Pier, on his 83rd birthday to be exact. This birthday incident is notable because you realise lots of events of significance happened on his birthdays.Small little interconnected coincidences, to which readers are clued in by the narrator, lead to an accident at the Ruby Pier amusement park that finally leads to Eddie’s death as he tries to rescue a young girl. This is why the book starts with a chapter titled ‘The End’.

We are then given some insight into his journey through heaven after his passing away.Through this trip, we are treated to glimpses of five people on whom his past had a significant impact. His first encounter is with the blue man, a former circus freak, who imagines the Ruby Pier of Eddie’s childhood as his own heaven. Eddie had been indirectly responsible for his death but he tells Eddie events are not that random and lives intersect for a reason.

The second stage of heaven brings Eddie to a scene of war torn desolation during WWII. His new mentor turns out to be his war captain with whom he fought in the Philippines, where they became prisoners of war for a brief period. Eddie uses his circus skills to escape their confinement but feels too paralysed to leave at the last moment after he helps to set the war camp on fire. The captain had promised his subordinates that he would not leave anyone behind. To fulfill this promise, he shoots Eddie in the leg to make it easier to get the evacuation underway. Initially Eddie is angry with the captain who had been waiting to ask his forgiveness but realises the man suffered a worse fate than him. He teaches Eddie about sacrifice.

Next Eddie meets an elderly Ruby, a woman he has never met before. She turns out to be the namesake of the amusement park where he worked all his life. He meets her in a diner where she had worked when she was young and where she had met her husband, Emile – the creator behind Ruby Pier. She tells him the misconceptions he had entertained against his father were far from the truth despite their conflicts. She was privy to his deathbed confession because Emile was in the same room. She tells Eddie about the importance of forgiveness.

Finally Eddie comes face to face with Marguerite, the love of his life. Their marriage was happy but childless so they had put in an application for adoption. Before this can take place, Eddie is involved in betting high stakes at the track. Worried about him, she drives to meet him but meets with an accident when some drunk kids drop some whiskey bottles that land on the car. This causes unforeseen medical expenses and their application for adoption is rejected. Although the accident creates tension between them at first, they overcome this situation until tragedy strikes again taking Marguerite. He meets her in a succession of wedding parties belonging to different cultures where she teaches him their love was neither snatched too early or torn to pieces as he had thought.

His final teacher is Tala who meets a grisly fate due to his hand at war camp. This explains why he felt he could not leave but his war captain shooting him ensures his survival. Tala tells him his life as ‘Eddie Maintenance’ was an important one. His ability to keep an eye on the proper functioning of the rides meant lives were saved – both the born and unborn. Eddie is a man who feels has not achieved what he has set out to accomplish because by a set of unfortunate circumstances, he inherits a job he despises but stays because he feels obligated to continue the job his father had. Tala, who meets him near a river, teaches him the meaning and purpose of his work at the pier was to save and protect the children. Eddie’s life ends with him doing what he had done for his entire life.

Rich in symbolism, motifs and imagery of rebirth and redemption, The Five People You Meet In Heaven is a tale of inspiration about an unsung hero.

  • To watch Tuesdays with Morrie trailer, click here.
  • To watch The Five People You Meet in Heaven trailer, click here.

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Japanese Films and Heartrending Plots

02/19/2011 at 11:13 AM (Movies, Nostalgia, Photography, Romance) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I have shared my opinions about some of the recent Western films but it has been a while since my exploration of foreign films were publicised.

Tada, kimi wo aishiteru (Heavenly Forest)

http://www.moviepostershop.com/heavenly-forest-movie-poster-2006

In the Japanese movie Tada, kimi wo aishiteru (aka ‘Heavenly Forest‘), we are introduced to Makoto (Hiroshi Tamaki). He is a shy photographer who is a loner, partly because of an embarassing skin condition and finds it difficult to share confidences with others until he meets Shizuru (Aoi Miyazaki). She befriends him just before their university orientation after he takes a snapshot of her trying in vain to get cars to stop at a crossing. Their budding friendship allows Makoto to tutor Shizuru in the art of photography in a special location – the ‘heavenly forest’ of this title.

It is clear that although Shizuru is very small for her age and has odd quirks, she genuinely cares for Makoto. He on the other hand is infatuated with Miyuki (Meisa Kuroki) who has a rather disturbing obsession with weddings. Finally realising her feelings are unlikely to be requited, Shizuru makes friends with Miyuki herself. Prior to graduation, Shizuru requests a special birthday kiss from Makoto. He agrees only because she says it is for the purpose of a photography competition. When he makes no acknowledgement of having feelings for her after the kiss they share in the forest, Shizuru disappears completely from his life.

It is only when she is missing that Makoto realises the big impact she had on his life and takes it on to search for her. Except he does not know that Shizuru has kept her own secret from him throughout their friendship, although she discovered his. Then he hears from Miyuki there is an opportunity to see Shizuru once again. The meeting turns out to be completely different affair from what he expected.

This film tells us not to take what you get for granted because you might only realise what you had after you lose it, promotes the beauty of the natural world through the stunning still photography and even the haunting music is captivating because this story is deeply engaging with a universal theme.

Time Traveller: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

You might know of the animated title of the same name which won several awards that was directed by Mamoru Hosada. This live-action Time Traveller: Girl Who Leapt Through Time movie contains similar themes but  uses a different plot. The 2010 film stars Akari (Riisa Naka) – the same actress who voiced the protagonist of the animation – as the daughter of Professor Kasuko, who is given a mission to deliver a message to Kazuo Fukamachi (Kanji Ishimaru) in the year 1972 when a bus accident makes it impossible for her mother to fulfill a promise. The time travelling is possible because Akari’s mother develops a formula that enables her to return to and from the past.

Unfortunately Akari mixes up the dates and ends up in 1974, two years later from the actual date, where she meets Ryota (Akinobu Nakao), a budding filmmaker. His friend, the cameraman Gotetsu (Munetaka Aoki), has a deep connection to Akari but this realisation does not strike her until she returns to the present. Meanwhile Ryota and Akari share a sweet but sort of awkward chemistry which is obvious through the significance of the movie reel she is able to take to her present. Most of her time in 1974 is focused on her search for the elusive Kazuo. Even her own mother whom she meets is unable to help her.  Ryota gives her help with her search by accompanying her to put an ad in a newspaper that requests Kazuo to meet with her. After she delivers her message, she remains in 1974 because she wants to prevent an accident but she is kept from altering the course of history by Kazuo himself.

So when Akari is forced to return back from the past, it’s a bittersweet pill to swallow given what could have blossomed. This too is one of those movies that depict images captured on film can leave a legacy. Both emotional and powerful in its climax, this is not one to discount in its effect.

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Maestro

02/17/2011 at 2:07 PM (Australian Literature, Books, Educational, Holocaust, Music, Nostalgia) (, , , )

I started reading the book on the train yesterday, as we were pulling out from Flinders Railway Station, on the way home after an interview training workshop. The journey took approximately one hour and ten minutes and on reaching my stop of Berwick, I was halfway through the novel.

The first page featured the captivating opening passage below:

First impressions?

Misleading, of course. As always. But unforgettable: the red glow of his face – a boozer’s incandescent glow. The pitted, sun-coarsened skin – a cheap, ruined leather. And the eyes: an old man’s moist, wobbling jellies.

But then … the suit: white linen, freshly pressed. And – absurdly, in that climate – the stiff collar and tie.

‘Heff Keller?’

‘Mrs Crabbe?’

I stood behind my mother outside his room at the Swan, perched on a wooden balcony overlooking the beer garden. The hotel – a warren of crumbling weatherboard, overgrown with bougainvillea – was packed, the drinkers and their noise spilling out of the front bar into the garden. Up the stairs, second on the right, a barman had shouted – and every face in the bar had turned and followed us up. One or two drunken whistles had also followed us up; whistles living far beyond their sexual means, my mother later reported to my father, contemptuously.

‘This is Paul,’ she said, pushing me forward, ignoring the noise below.

The figure in the white suit stood aside from his doorway, and motioned us inside.

‘Of course. Your father has told.’

The accent was thick. Continental, my father had described it, vaguely. A voice that reminded him of grilling sausages: a faint, constant spitting of sibilants in the background.

‘Sit down,’ the voice hissed. ‘We will talk.’

A problem: how to capture that accent here? Ve vill talk? It’s tempting – too tempting – to slip into comic-book parody. We haf ways off makink

Maestro, set prior to and following the damage by Cyclone Tracy, tells us the story of the arrogant Paul Crabbe –  the son of two intelligent, music loving parents – whose arrival in Darwin leads him to meet the enigmatic Eduard Keller as his piano teacher of classical music. Although the epithet of maestro is bestowed on Eduard Keller, it is clear the title is used in mockery by the plebeian community. Paul becomes curious about Keller when he observes fragments of newsprint pertaining to wartime Europe in German and nurtures the belief that his teacher is a war criminal because the rapport between them is established in bits and pieces. The vicissitudes of life during adolescence distracts him from being earnest in his pursuit of serious musical study as he debates choosing between the pleasures of Megan and Rosie. Later he realises the missed opportunities and disregarded advice prevented him from reaching his full potential. The truth hits home when he  goes to Austria to  pay a visit to Henisch in Vienna, who had accompanied Eduard when they were students of Leschetizky. It is only after the tragic death of this incredible teacher who taught Paul the difference between technical perfection and virtuosity, he is able to deduce that “a great man had died, whatever the crimes he felt he had committed.”

Boy Playing Piano

Copyright: Miwaza, Flickr

The structure of the book is also interestingly split using movements in music as an analogy to demonstrate changes of style and pace e.g. Libretto, Intermezzo. This is useful because we initially believe Peter Goldsworthy is writing in present tense. Later we perceive that he is writing it from Paul Crabbe’s point of view as an older person who is recounting his past. Maestro is a beautifully written bildungsroman that hooks your attention and holds you in suspense right from the start.

I finished the rest of the novel on the train back to Melbourne for the conclusion of the workshop. The journey took approximately one hour and ten minutes.

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Middlemarch

02/15/2011 at 10:37 AM (Books, Classics, Politics, Romance) (, , , , , , , , )

Just before Valentine’s Day, I finished reading Middlemarch by nineteenth century novelist George Eliot (aka Mary Ann Evans). This story of hers about the life within an English provincial town is not the easiest to follow because of the style of writing she employs but for those who can manage the vocabulary, we are drawn into the centre of a plot starring the intellectual and ardent Dorothea Brooke who is full of moral convictions. Fantasies of glorious achievement by transcending the limits of self are dreams possessed by many of us and the way she encompasses this longing into the narrative train of her novel demonstrates how contemporary the thoughts of the author were for her time. She uses Dorothea as the leading vehicle to invigorate the spirit of quest through a web of interconnected characters in Middlemarch.

Middlemarch cover image

Yet we learn even Dorothea, knowledgable as she is, can be prone to mistakes in judgement. This is what leads to her union with the much older Edward Casaubon because she feels by assisting in completing his seminal work (which is a useless research piece), it will be of benefit to the world.  Despite her wealth and position, Dorothea is constrained by the liberty to do nothing which was the fortune of a gentlewoman in 1829. It is when she meets Will Ladislaw, the young cousin of her husband, Dorothea finds a companion within her wavelength but their association is subject to mean spirited speculation regarding inheritance.

In contrast to her, we have Dr. Tertius Lydgate who also desires to do good in the world but similarly ends up in an unhappy marriage through poor judgement with the frivolous Rosamond Vincy. In addition, his initial benefactor Nicholas Bulstrode struggles with demons of his own leaving him in the lurch. Other practitioners in the town are resentful of his progressive ideas and this leaves him alienated. While the paths of  Dorothea and Dr. Lydgate collide at the end to the benefit of both, tales of many other characters and their individual preoccupations on using their gifts to help the self and their surrounding environment perpetuate the novel such as the romance between irresponsible Fred Vincy and pragmatic Mary Garth.

The pair of failed marriages and unrealised ambitions make up the trajectory of Middlemarch as well as its setting in the period just before the Reform Bill of 1832. The characters in the novel are all drawn together into a motley cast and we are given insight into the habits and idioms of the diverse groups as they pursue their goals of  self fulfillment.

If you are interested in watching a television adaptation starring Juliet Aubrey as the regal Dorothea after reading the novel, you can find it here.  The role of Fred Vincy, you might like to know, is played by Colin Firth’s younger brother, Jonathan, who has an impressive resume of his own.

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How Do You Know

02/10/2011 at 11:30 AM (Movies, Romantic Comedy, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I love Reese Witherspoon as an actress. She is a lady of many versatile talents as can be demonstrated through her career in film. Just Like Heaven, Legally Blonde, Vanity Fair and The Importance of being Earnest are all part of her resume. But then I was invited to watch How Do You Know. Now I wish I had saved it for Black Swan instead because watching this movie that could have been resolved in the space of half an hour had me endure it with stiff muscles for two whole hours!

How Do You Know poster

There is nothing wrong with chick flicks and they are generally predictable but this film had absolutely nothing new in it to recommend it. Reese, what are you doing by putting this nasty blot on that magnificent CV of yours? In the movie, her character Lisa suffers a mid-life crisis after being cut from the USA softball team. In the middle of this, she is caught between a love triangle between a corporate guy who is framed as guilty of an act he did not commit and her baseball playing beau who is beginning to think that Lisa might possibly be the woman he is meant to be with. The lives of three intermingle in coincidental circumstances and makes significant changes in their relationships with each other. James L. Brooks, the director of the film ( yes, the very same responsible for The Simpsons) has infused it with witty dialogue to be sure but for me, it was more fun to listen to because of the good scripting rather than to watch due to poor film editing.

Kathryn Hahn as Emily the pregnant secretary, stands out far more than the main actors and the re-enactment of a proposal to not propose between her and her baby’s father steals the thunder from the stand by leading roles. The conversation within the film sometimes gets a little verbose and it seems this was aiming for a higher potential of humour but failed to fully make it. This is a case of a lost storyline with intelligence behind it that just required a better way of execution.

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Habit – Cate Kennedy

02/06/2011 at 2:22 PM (Australian Literature, Books, Short Stories) (, , , )

Have you heard of Cate Kennedy? She wrote the short story ‘Habit’ which has more than one veiled meaning. The plot is about the experience of a dying character who adopts a master disguise to smuggle cocaine using an ingenious manuevere. Torn between the remainder of life left and the dilemmas imposed by an impulsive choice, the protagonist throws caution to the wind to face a massive risk and succeeds.

coke

The gender of the main character remains ambiguous to the reader and contributes to the sly tone satire peppered through the narrative but the voiced internal thought process gives us some insight. Clever phrases are interspersed within the tale which make plenty of sense when the disguise used to conceal her true intentions is finally revealed. It is clear Cate Kennedy has used creative writing techniques in a skilled fashion to craft the plot and is fully deserving of the regard she has attained.

The author of Habit also has the following advice about distractions caused by the Internet for aspiring writers. You can read it here at Overland’s blog. But Jo Case warns you to not go to Luddite extremes either by reflecting on her own blog writing experience here. With that I bring my week of highlighting Australian short stories to a close.

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Wedding – Glenda Adams

02/05/2011 at 3:01 PM (Australian Literature, Books, Romance, Short Stories) (, , , , , )

‘Wedding’ by Glenda Adams is a short story about the fatality of incompatibility. The main character looks forward to marital bliss with her chosen life partner and takes it upon herself to be selective in her choice of negligee for the wedding night. But the dialogue around her, even on her wedding day, includes all but the bride herself. It is unclear whether her husband truly loves her or not but it is clear marriage does not grant her entrance into his world of intellectuality.

Three People, Two Lovebirds

You cannot help but feel sorry for the story’s protagonist who is uncertain about the conversational duties of a wife, feels everything she does not go quite as planned and finds winning affection from her husband on her honeymoon a daunting task. Her dress is lost during travel, her wedding cake is ruined and the fault line is repaired with a border of funeral flowers while her lover prefers to watch Wuthering Heights starring Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff rather than get busy.

The first line of the story makes you hope her sweet, girlish dreams come to fruition. Anticipation is slowly built up when things keep going wrong but its turning point leaves you deflated in defeat. Yet the writing by Glenda Adams is superb in keeping you hooked through all the pages till the very end.

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The Duty to Die Cheaply – Peter Goldsworthy

02/04/2011 at 12:03 PM (Australian Literature, Books, Short Stories) (, , , , , )

What do you think the worst case scenario would be on a flight that faced no crash disaster? Airline food has its negative points when flying economy but significant steps are being taken by at least some airline carriers to address this deficiency. As the admin of this blog explains in their article, our perceptions of the saltiness and sweetness of food are affected on a flight by white noise. Identification of a suspicious object that might be harmless also may give some passengers cause for alarm. In Peter Goldsworthy’s short story given an attention-grabbing title, The Duty to Die Cheaply, his protagonist faces a dilemma which I hope to never encounter on a long plane journey; imagine enduring sitting with a corpse!

Written from the perspective of an irritated doctor whose field has little to do with patient examination,  he recites the trials and tribulations imposed on him by the deceased passenger. The tone of the narrator clearly expresses he feels injured at the indignity forced upon him due to his occupation. While unwillingly accommodating the desires of the airline’s purser, he takes it on to be as irksome as he can for the duration of the flight which makes for some amusing reading.

Photo of Plane in Flight

Curious after my first introduction to this novel situation, I did some research on what measures are enforced if this were to actually happen and if this had ever occurred. My search unearthed the following information:

  • British Airways reported there were 10 deaths each year during flights from a total of 36 million passengers.
  • Singapore Airlines has introduced ‘corpse cupboards’. If there is no row of empty seats for use, the locker is used. There is also the possibility that any spare vacant restroom might be used.
  • If it is a short domestic flight, planes may divert for a while.  Technically by law, passengers who have passed on cannot be declared dead in the sky and is regarded as indisposed until the plane lands on the ground.

I know this is rather morbid subject matter but if you are fascinated , here are some interesting stories about corpses on planes:

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