Monday, 31 August 2009

RIP Ellie Greenwich

I read that Brooklyn-born Ellie Greenwich died last week, aged 68.

You may not know her name but her songs will be familiar. She co-wrote such classics as Da Doo Ron Ron, Then he kissed me, Be my baby, Baby I love you, Leader of the pack, I can hear music and River Deep - Mountain High.

These wonderful odes to romance proclaim the power of love.

Sadly, Ellie's relationship with her writing partner and husband Jeff Barry ended and she suffered a breakdown in the mid-1960s.

Just thought her passing was worth a mention.

'Have I ever told you
How good it feels to hold you
It isn't easy to explain

And though I really keep trying
I think I may start crying
My heart can't wait another day
When you kiss me I just got to say

Baby I love you
Baby I love you
Baby I love only you

I can't live without you
I love everything about you
I can't help it if I feel this way

Though I'm so glad I found you
I want my arms around you
I love to hear you call my name
Oh tell me that you feel the same.'

(Baby I love you)

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Whatever happened to the rock chick?

Downloaded onto my brand new purple iPod by brother-in-law Davo are an eclectic selection of songs that hark back to the '70s.

I'm having a great time getting all nostalgic. You know how it goes... "Those were the days, weren't the '80s great, etc..." In fact, the '80s really sucked for me.

Now I know how old people get to be so annoying: "In my day we respected our parents and teachers..." or "When I was a kid, we were allowed to run free in the bush (causing devastation in our wake), burn leaves with a magnifying glass (thereby sparking off numerous wildfires) and spend all day in the sun and surf (which is why all my generation now has skin cancer)."

But my point, or rather question is this: whatever happened to the rock chick?

I've been listening to Joan Jett, Deborah Harry from Blondie and the incredible Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders. The songs are so cool, meaningful, hard-nosed, flirtatious and sung with real commitment. There's none of this yodling Beyonce fat-bottomed jiggling pussy-in-your-face garbage.

And who is this Lady Ga Ga? Scary stuff. And chicks like Rihanna who send out the message that it's OK if your boyfriend bashes the crap out of you - just go back to him and pretend nothing happened (footballers girlfriends here in Australia do that - so sad). Give me a break.

I want real women singing real songs - playing their own instruments. Bring back Debbie and Chrissie and dare I say it (though she only had one good song) Joan! Bring back Suzi Quatro, Chrissie Amphlett (Divinyls) and those women of rock with real heart and soul.

Shivers, does anyone remember Slade? Mama, we're all crazy now is playing on my iPod as I write! Whoo-hoo!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Thanks for popping in: thoughts on birds

Before this latest rant, I'd like to say a big hello (sorry, can't bring myself to say "g'day") to everyone in the USA, UK, Canada, India, Hong Kong, Russia (is that you Fiona?) Malaysia and the Netherlands who persevere with my eccentric ramblings.

It's been quiet on the romance writing and swimming fronts so tonight I've resorted to alcohol. It sort of fits in with the whole Aussie image - laid-back and alcoholic (and obnoxious and overbearing when we're pissed).

On birds: I was standing at a bus stop in the middle of the city this afternoon when I heard a piercing squawk.

Looking up, I saw a sulphur-crested cockatoo perched on the roof of a three storey building. He was agitated because his mate was nowhere in sight. Eventually, he flew away through the heart of the city.

It surprised me that I seemed to be the only person to show any interest in this rare sight amongst the concrete and glass skyscrapers. Maybe that's what city life does to people - desensitises them to the odd, beautiful and unusual.

Back home, a 15 minute drive from town on a good day, another thrill awaited. A kookaburra decided to hang out on the back verandah railing (the dog was inside). For several minutes, Miss Hissy, Spanner and I observed this amazing creature. It was a boy kooka - his wing feathers had a deep blue sheen. His mate was around - she landed in a tree beside our house and cackled a little - not a full-throttled laugh - before they both left.

The great Louis Armstrong was so right - what a wonderful world.

The pic is of the girl kookaburra - she wasn't as good looking as her hubby but she had attitude!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

A new season between winter and spring

It's hard a hard slog at this time of the year - work is frantic, so there's no time to write (except the bloody blog!) and the ocean swimming season is yet to start (unless you can afford the time and money to jet off to swims in Fiji and Vanuatu).

So, let's talk about the weather. I heard about a movement in Australia to introduce a new season between winter and summer. August is the perfect place for it. Although it is still technically a winter month, the weather can be highly unseasonal.

For example, yesterday was distinctly balmy. The breeze blowing off the river was as warm as a Latin lover's caress (can't help the cliched romance writer in me).

This unexpected change in the weather catches Sydneysiders offguard. Suddenly we're sweltering under the weight of woollen jackets and scarves.

I nominate August as the transition month from winter to spring. Some smarty pants wants to call it 'sprinter', while another suggests 'snot' - it 'snot summer and it 'snot winter.

"God, it's hot, it must be 'snot!"

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Romance Writers of Australia conference in Brisbane and a chance meeting with Valerie Parv

Last weekend over 250 like-minded women (nary a man in sight) gathered to discuss their passion for writing at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Brisbane.

It was full-on. After two days holed up in the SebelCitigate Hotel, frantically trying to absorb the wisdom of the guest speakers, catch up with my Bootcamp mates, and attend a cocktail party and awards dinner, I was buggered!

Overall, it was a huge learning experience.
One of the highlights (and there were many) for me was meeting romance writer and educator extraordinaire Valerie Parv.

Deadset, the poor woman thought I was stalking her (and she did ask: "Are you stalking ,me?). After I got her to autograph my copy of her new book Heart & Craft, she said: "Where's the camera? I know you want to have your photo taken with me."
She's such a generous person. I mean, who on earth would let a bona fide stalker such as myself be photographed with them?

I am now on a mission to become a Valerie Parv mignon - I'm giving myself 12 months!

But for now, it's back to reality while romance moves to the backburner for a little while.

As my youngest daughter says, "Life goes on..."
(Photo: Bootcampers 109)

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Ocean swimming in the UK is a costly pastime

When I'm not working my bum off or whinging about the corrupt NSW government or whining at my daughter to please return the pile of damp towels on her bed to the bathroom, I like to swim.

Lately I haven't managed to get to a pool, so I feel like a kettle about to boil all the time. A blimp. A butterball. A blobby blogger.

For me, swimming is a form of relaxation and rejuvenation. In spring, I join a bunch of eejits who compete in the ocean swims in Sydney.

But what to do in the cooler months? Well, I could visit Europe.

The website has a link to the European ocean swims calendar, which is chock-a-block. I had a peak at this and discovered that this weekend (Aug 15) the inaugural Great London Swim is being held at the Royal Victoria Dock.

I was thinking what fun it would be to dive into the icy cold, dark and murky water when I noticed an even greater deterrent.

Here in Australia, where we like to whinge about most things, ocean swimmers complain loudly about the entry fees for many of the local swims. Most cost around $25-$40.

But in the UK, you have to fork out a whopping 35 pounds to enter this swim. That's well over $60 in Australian currency. Then there's the wetsuit hire!

I think I might just tough it out here until the weather warms up and I shed my winter coat in time for the Aussie season to start.

Friday, 7 August 2009

I'm so excited, I just can't hide it... Hot August Nights is just around the corner

This time next week I will be in BrisVegas for the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference.

Its title Hot August Nights revives memories of Crunchy Granola Suite being piped through the sound system at Chatswood Chase on a Thursday shopping night in the '70s!

But the conference Friday night cocktail party has nothing to do with Neil Diamond. The (optional) fancy dress is Arabian Nights.

So, after some hectic op-shopping, I've found an outfit that is more Byron Bay middle-aged hippy than I Dream of Jeannie. And there is definitely no muffin top exposure.

Saturday and Sunday will be jam-packed with workshops and catching up with some of the wonderful women I've met online since Romance Bootcamp 109 in February.

Let's hope the weekend brings me my three wishes (no, I don't want three packets of Tim Tams).

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

A rant about the Rees Labor government in NSW and why they're a bunch of thugs

I live in a state of resignation.

What I'm talking about here is New South Wales, a state run by a bunch of eejits who pretend to listen to the concerns of the public, but then blithely ignore them.

In the end, the public just lays down and takes the kicks to the guts inflicted by a gang of rampaging ratbags.

I do not like the NSW Premier Nathan Rees and his bunch of thug-like helpers, who are no more sincere than a used car salesman and have the collective brainpower of a nightclub bouncer.

Example: to and from my work in the city, I cross the Iron Cove Bridge at Rozelle. For a long time there was a fiery debate about whether to add another lane to the bridge. Logic says it's a stupid idea because it won't solve the horrendous peak-hour traffic problems. Drivers will simply be caught in a bottle neck at either end of the bridge. Lots of clever people came up with solutions, which mostly involved public transport.

But god forbid! NSW is part owned by the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) - this is my opinion - and it is not in this monolith's interests to promote anything as forward-thinking as a competent public transport system.
The government did not listen to the people or heed any of the wise advice. An extra laneway is now under contruction.

Every day the people of NSW watch the Rees government hand out jobs to their mates and suck on the public purse like a leech.

The sad thing is the opposition's no better.

Oh, well. At least it's a sunny day.