Sunday 25 July 2021

Take two: John Keats, Nicholas Roe

For a full review, see my Patreon

I bought this at Kinokuniya about eight years back and never read it, but now, in July, I tried another Keats biography and had given up. Roe’s version of history is more satisfactory. My intensive reading of the period of history the Romantics occupy happened twenty years ago after I got back from my disastrous sojourn in Japan as Jane Austen drew the sting out of signal failure. Impressed as I was by her achievement – it seemed strange that her books could be so good despite having been written two centuries back – I embarked on an intensive survey of the history and literature of the revolutionary era that Keats belongs to.

Monday 19 July 2021

Take two: Iran Awakening, Shirin Ebadi

For a full review, see my Patreon

This book was bought by me, when I worked at Sydney University, at the Co-Op Bookshop. The store sat just around the corner from my work office and some at lunchtimes I would visit to browse. I have no idea why I bought this in those days, other than, perhaps, in such a way to participate in the ongoing disaster that was American foreign policy. The US had invaded Iraq on spurious grounds and Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, the year of the invasion. I am grateful for my acquisitiveness now that going out is more difficult, it means I have more resources to call on when there are hours to fill away from friends.

Sunday 18 July 2021

Take two: In the Days of Rain, Rebecca Stott

For a full review, see my Patreon

I bought this at Dymocks in Broadway Shopping Centre this month while on the hunt for new books. Most bookshops in Sydney had closed due to the virus and so I went to where I could find one still open. More often than not I go to Abbey’s or Gleebooks, but they weren’t allowing browsing. Desperate times deserve desperate measures.

Saturday 17 July 2021

Take Two: Profession: Journalist, Clem Lloyd

For a full review, see my Patreon

This old thing has been in my archive for donkey’s years, bought at Berkelouw’s for $8.50. I’d never got around to even think of opening it but recent economising made me get serious about this Hale & Iremonger publication. The year it appeared sits right smack at the point of origin of me as a writer: I’d graduated with my Arts degree but nobody in 1985 could have told me – and have been taken seriously – what I’d end up spending the majority of my time doing (though going by the types of people who gravitated to the profession at the end of the 19th century, I might’ve guessed!).

Thursday 15 July 2021

Tweeting better stories, episode seven: June 2021

Wanting to find a lighter-hearted way I offer readers this seventh post in a series.

At 6.02am on 9 June I saw this strange drawing!

At 9.37am on 25 June I saw this web page from a magazine I used to write for.

At 8.11am on 27 June I saw this:


At 8.08pm on 30 June the following appeared:

At 2.32pm on 9 June I saw a strange post (see below). It’s evidently a spoof, and I think it’s designed to throw the critique back on all of the people who’ve been launching oddities that draw on ideas of nationhood, loyalty, and identity Meghan Markle’s conduct has resuscitated.


At 6.51am on 11 June I saw this post:

At 8.50am on 17 June I saw this strange confluence of posts on Twitter:

At 7.38am on 26 June I saw this meditation on existence (with a culinary metaphor to close it out).


At 6.54am on 7 June I saw the following in my feed. The confluence of the two posts struck me – and this would happen again this month (two posts sitting next to each other, talking to each other) – and so I cropped this JPG for my records before the posts disappeared into the noise.

At 12.04pm on 20 June I saw this:

At 1.30pm on 5 June I saw the following online:


At 2.58pm on 21 June I saw this photo:

Books and ideas

At 5.51am on 10 June the following appeared:

At 2.17pm on 22 June I saw this tweet in my feed:

At 1.34pm on 28 June I saw this item (poor man!):


At 3.40am on 25 June I saw this French tweet. It says that people who stutter have a third small brain tied to their spleen. “This evolutionary advantage allows them to survive at least three days after decapitation.” Fishy!

At 6.59pm on 27 June I saw this piece of self-reflection (I assume she’s being sarcastic and is not, in actual fact, insane):

At 4.42pm on 29 June I saw this reflection on mortality:

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Take two: Franz Liszt, Oliver Hilmes

For a full review, see my Patreon

I chose to include this monotype I made when I was the age Liszt had been a performer already for half a decade. The monotype shows a young women or a girl in profile. A monotype is special because it is made by painting directly on glass, whereupon you place a sheet of paper over the wet paint to make a print. Liszt is special for many reasons, but this book was chosen because I wanted to know more about the “classical” music composers dad loved. In fact, it was me who preferred the Romantics like Liszt. Still, dad’s example drove me when I’d gone to Abbey’s Bookshop not long ago to buy the new Wagner study (see earlier review). Liszt’s daughter married Wagner – though I didn’t know this fact when I picked this book off the shelf.

Tuesday 13 July 2021

Take two: The New Silk Roads, Peter Frankopan

For a full review, see my Patreon

I borrowed this book from a Chinese-Australian friend because I was visiting her house and had to wait for her to get ready to go, so picked it up off her shelf to read while I was otherwise unoccupied. Evidently I’m not very patient. I had been recommended this book by the same friend but had shrugged it off. Now, she reminded me of that event and because I felt sheepish I dedicate the linked Patreon review to her.

Monday 12 July 2021

Take two: The Black Book, Orhan Pamuk

For a full review, see my Patreon.

I no doubt fully intended to read this novel when I bought it a decade-and-a-half ago, but neglected to do so. Unfortunate for me also! Recently I’ve been spending time with a Turkish friend so decided to pick Pamuk’s 1990 novel (this translation the one dating from 2006) off a shelf in the living room. I have so many books that I have never read and every time I see them sitting there, full of hope, I feel guilty. This underrated emotion – I’d also not read a novel for a month – can be considered, therefore, the midwife of my Patreon review which, if you pay a small amount of money, you can immediately read! 

Saturday 10 July 2021

Take two: Chanel’s Riviera, Anne de Courcy

For a full review, see my Patreon

I bought this at Dymocks in Broadway Shopping Centre while out in that part of town on Friday to get my second Covid vaccination jab and to see my psychiatrist. I’d had problems with panic attacks while driving and had wanted to combine a number of errands in one trip. In the event, the drive out was uneventful even though, before starting and while I was just going downstairs to the car, my heart rate went up in anticipation of an adverse event. My method to stop the symptom is to drive slowly and ordinarily, not try to compete with other drivers, and to tell myself to “chill”.

Thursday 8 July 2021

Take two: The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts, Karen Armstrong

For a full review see my Patreon

This book was bought by me probably in 2019 and has sat unread since then. It was the year I travelled to the Middle East so I’m not surprised by the first fact. The second I regret though not much since two years isn’t a long time for a book to be ignored – not in my collection, anyway.

Sunday 4 July 2021

Take two: Genet: A Biography, Edmund White

For a full review, see my Patreon

This funny-looking edition has an odd cover that appears to have been reproduced from an official published original and then used to reprint a pirate copy. It has about it the air of an undergraduate spoof. How it got into my collection – and exactly how long ago – are both complete mysteries, but it has sat unread since then. A long time ago I was intrigued by people like the subject of this book. That was in another life, and in the years since I’ve become more conservative and a good deal more crusty though, like Genet, there have always been things far more important to me than mere politics. I thought it was time for me to revisit old haunts and to take a step back from my current life to try and image what made Genet compelling for me when I was young.

Thursday 1 July 2021

Grocery shopping list for June 2021

This post is the thirtieth in a series and the ninth to chronicle diets. 

4 June

Morning weigh-in had me at 87kg. Later, a friend gave me some nashi pears.

6 June

Morning weigh-in had me at 86.7kg. Later, the same friend gave me apples and kiwifruit.

My calorie count for the week just past being, as follows:

My activity chart was:

And the macronutrient intake was:

This week I ate an average of 44.8g of carbs per day.

7 June

Morning weigh-in had me at 86.3kg. Later, went to IGA and bought (see receipt below) milk, Bega Tasty cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, a lettuce, and low-carb snacks.

9 June

Morning weigh-in had me at 86.5kg. Later, went to Coles and bought (see receipt below) low-carb snacks, low-carb bread, hummus, chicken wings, a blue grenadier fillet, ling fillets, salmon fillets, barramundi fillets, some gouda made from goats’ milk, and some red cheddar cheese.

13 June

Morning weigh-in had me at 86.2kg. Later, went to Campsie and bought avocados, nectarines, a capsicum, and a banana chilli. Also popped in at Woolies and bought soap, sandwich bags, and baking paper. Receipts below.

My week’s calorie count was, as follows:

The activity chart went like this:

And the macronutrient chart was like this:

This week I ate an average of 42.6g of carbs per day.

16 June

Morning weigh-in had me at 86.3kg. Later, went to IGA and bought milk.

18 June

Morning weigh-in had me at 85.9kg. Later, went to Coles and bought (see receipt below) salmon fillets, barramundi fillets, chicken wings, hummus, and low-carb snacks.

22 June

Morning weigh-in had me at 86.2kg. Calorie intake for the week ended was:

My activity was:

And my macronutrient chart looked like this:

The previous week I consumed an average of 52.4g of carbs per day.

Later, went to IGA and bought (see receipt below) milk, Jarlsberg cheese, gouda, Bega Tasty cheese, sliced pastrami, sliced silverside, chicken wings, and almonds.

26 June

Morning weigh-in had me at 85.8kg. Later (due to lockdown) went to IGA and bought almonds, Bega cheese, and apples. Also stocked up on loo paper. See receipt below. A woman passing me on the footpath as I walked up a street near my home looked at my packages and said, “Sorted?” I used a rising intonation in my voice to reply to her, expressing a world-weariness in the single word I deployed: “Yep!” A friend had a day or so before thanked me for buying for her a big pack of loo paper as, she told me, her supermarket had run out. She included a photo of the empty shelves with her message. My innate conservatism comes in handy at times like this. Before going down to the shops I’d lingered, on tenterhooks, on the couch watching the government press conference and asking myself if I should go. Finally, not able to withstand the urge to get up and move, I walked to Botany Road and made purchases.

27 June

Morning weigh-in had me at 85.9kg. Later, went to IGA and bought (see receipt below) hummus, eggs, pickled chillies, olives, a jar of cooked asparagus, sliced ham, sliced pastrami, and low-carb snacks.

My calorie intake for the week just past was:

My activity chart looked like this:

And the macronutrient chart was:

In the week just past I ate an average of 65g of carbs per day – well over my target!

28 June

Morning weigh-in had me at 86kg. Later went to Campsie and at a butcher’s bought (see receipt below) sirloin steak, chicken wings, and pork chops. At a different shop bought a large fillet of orange roughy (which, cut up and bagged, made portions for three meals).

29 June

Morning weigh-in had me at 86.6kg – a shocking increase! Later, I saw a promotional email from Campos Coffee in my inbox offering 20 percent discount on all coffee so went to their website and indicated that I wanted my usual three bags, as I was anyway planning to buy coffee in the near future, but when I put in the code that the email contained it didn’t register with the interface, so I paid my usual amount (see image below).

I phoned the company at about 8.30am and talked for about five minutes with a staffer, who said that the matter would be addressed, and at 11.49am an email arrived from them telling me that a partial refund would be made in two or three business days.