Friday, 29 August 2014

"Cheese that's whipped excites me" and other misheard song lyrics

When I was young, one of my brother’s favourite albums was “Band on the Run” by Paul McCartney and Wings. My dad happily sang along to the title track “Sand on the Rug”.

Of course, being the annoying person that he was, he continued to sing this just to be irritating even after it was pointed out to him that he’d misheard the lyrics.

Everyone’s probably done this at some stage (misheard song lyrics, that is, not intentionally set out to annoy their offspring). After all, pop singers don’t always have the best diction, even when they’re not purposely mangling words to fit a rhyme or rhythm. Yes, I’m looking at you, Mr Elton Extra-Syllable John. “No Sac-ar-i-fice” indeed!

I was guilty of it myself only this week. The girls and I were discussing current songs and “All About That Bass” came up. I’m busy singing “I’m all about that bass, ’bout that bass, no trouble” when Drama Duck gives me a pitying look.

“You know it’s actually ‘no treble’, don’t you?” she says.

Hey, that makes so much more sense!! But honestly, have you heard that song? It still sounds like “trouble” to me!

It wouldn’t be the first time. I have a long history, dating back to my preschool days, of blithely singing something that’s completely wrong.

There used to be a show called “Romper Room” on TV back when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Every day they did the same activities, sang the same songs, and I happily followed along. One song they sang began: “Bend and stretch, reach for the stars”, and I always sang the next line “Here comes Juicily, there goes Lars”. Despite my mother’s best efforts, she could never convince me that the words were actually “Here comes Jupiter, there goes Mars”.

Demon Duck cracked me up recently by confessing she’d made a mistake with the lyrics of Rihanna’s song S&M. There’s a line that goes “sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me”. One of her friends had heard her singing it and pointed out that Rihanna is not, in fact, excited by “cheese that’s whipped”, as she had thought.

What about you? Any misheard lyrics you’d like to ’fess up to? Don’t tell me it’s just my family!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Dr Who and the Disappointing Dinosaur

Well, the new season of Dr Who premiered last night, complete with new Doctor Peter Capaldi. The verdict at our house? Overall, a resounding “meh”.

Baby Duck thought it was great, but his logic works like this: I love Dr Who. This was Dr Who. Therefore I loved it.

The Carnivore, about halfway through the episode, said: “If this was my first ever episode of Dr Who, I’d never watch it again.” Ouch.

I’m keeping an open mind about Peter Capaldi. He spent a lot of this first episode dazed and demented from his regeneration, so we don’t have a clear handle yet on how he’s going to play the role. There were some amusing one-liners and a great rant that give me hope I may one day come to accept the loss of Matt Smith (sob).

But the writers did him no favours, with a pretty ho-hum episode. It started off quite promising, with the Tardis arriving in Victorian London inside a time-travelling T-rex, which then chucked it up into the Thames.

Cool! You can’t get a much more dramatic entry than that. Plus, what’s not to love about a dinosaur in Victorian London? I was intrigued to see where they were going with this.

Sadly, the answer was “nowhere”. The dinosaur played no more part in a story that dragged its way through many not-very-exciting conversations to arrive at last at a mildly interesting cyborg plot.

The whole dinosaur thing reminded me very much of how the advice to “start your story with action” is sometimes misinterpreted by beginning writers. It can’t just be action for its own sake, and it mustn’t be action that has nothing to do with the bulk of the story which follows. No high speed car chases that turn out to be dreams, or murder scenes which are actually something being watched on TV by the main character.

No dinosaurs which have nothing to do with the rest of the plot.

The writers of Dr Who are definitely not beginners, which makes it all the more surprising. Let’s hope the rest of the season only has surprises of the good kind.

Did you watch it? What did you think?

Friday, 22 August 2014

Even dragons have to cut their toenails

This is the very first dragon I ever bought myself, in those long-ago days BC (Before Children), so I guess you could say this little guy kicked off the collection. We were on a romantic weekend away at a very swish hotel in the Blue Mountains. It must have been winter, because it was snowing when we arrived late on Friday night, which is something we Sydney-siders rarely get to see, and a huge log fire burned in the massive fireplace in the foyer.

The Blue Mountains are only about an hour’s drive from where we live, but they feel like another world. They’re much higher and colder than Sydney, so they get the occasional snowfall in winter. They also feel about fifty years behind the rest of the world in terms of architecture and the pace of life there. Little towns are scattered among thousands of hectares of largely untouched bushland. There are no Macdonalds anywhere in the Blue Mountains, a fact of which the residents are very proud.

It was all very atmospheric, but so f-f-freezing outside that we spent nearly the whole weekend in the hotel. Browsing in the gift shop, we found some quirky little dragon statues. There’s a  big artist community in the Blue Mountains, so I’ve always assumed they were made by some talented local, though I don’t know for sure.

I couldn’t resist the absurdity of this one, sitting there cutting his toenails with such a look of concentration on his face. I guess dragons can’t spend all their lives terrorising castles and kidnapping princesses. At the end of the day, someone still has to do all those domestic duties, like cleaning the lair, bathing the baby dragons, and attending to matters of personal grooming.

This one looks so comical he always makes me smile. He also reminds me of a time when romantic weekend getaways for two were still an option.

The Blue Mountains feature in my forthcoming novel, Twiceborn – complete with dragon. Not the cute kind that sits around cutting its toenails, though! The beautiful Mountains take quite a beating – all that bushland plus dragonfire ... not a good combination.

But if you think that’s bad, wait till you see what happens to the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Dragons of New Motherhood and Sleep Deprivation

I’ve been a big fan of dragons for as long as I can remember. Sure, I wouldn’t want to meet one in a dark alley, but in books, movies and art I find these overgrown lizards endlessly fascinating. Years ago I started collecting dragon statues. I thought I might share a few with you, and the stories behind them.

First up, meet the dragons of New Motherhood and Sleep Deprivation.

These were a gift from the Carnivore, our first Christmas as new parents. Drama Duck was about eight weeks old at the time, and we’d just spent probably the longest six weeks of our lives coming to grips with this new little person in our lives.

This new little person who categorically refused to sleep.

It turned out the poor little mite had silent reflux, so every time we laid her down to sleep her gastric juices rose up and burned her oesophagus. But because there were no outward signs (hence the “silent” part of silent reflux) we had no idea and were at our wits’ end. The Carnivore spent hours every night rocking with her in the rocking chair and reciting accounting principles in the hope of boring her to sleep. (She now says this is the root of her dislike of maths!)

I remember one horrendous day when she cried for nearly twelve hours straight, only stopping for feeds. I was beside myself. My mother-in-law arrived after a teary phone call to find me sobbing on my bed. She took the baby so I could eat and reassured me that things would get better.

I found it hard to believe at the time! But at the six-week check-up with the paediatrician, he diagnosed the problem and things rapidly improved.

But I’ll never forget that feeling: hormones running rampant, consumed with worry and overwhelmed by being responsible for a helpless beloved baby – and trying to function on about three hours’ (broken) sleep a night. New motherhood can certainly be challenging, particularly with your first. You have no idea what you’re doing, and can hardly believe they let such an unqualified person leave the hospital with this precious but perplexing little creature.

But by the time Christmas rolled around we’d started to get the hang of this whole parenting thing, and I was thrilled to receive this gorgeous dragon mum and her new hatchling. They came from a glass blower in The Rocks in Sydney, so they’re one of a kind, and a lovely reminder of a special time in our lives. Becoming a mother for the first time is a shock no amount of preparation can ready you for – but it also brings a joy you could never imagine.

I don’t know how dragons feel about it, but that mum looks pretty pleased with her little one. Maybe baby dragons are good sleepers?

What about you? Do you collect anything? Stamps, buttons, tea cups? Anything unusual? (You can tell me, I promise to keep it a secret!)

Or do you have any “new baby” stories to share? If you’re a new mum, congratulations … and I hope your little one is a good sleeper!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Elsewhere, on the glorious Internet ...

Haven’t done one of these posts for a while! Baby Duck doesn’t like too many linktastic posts, and since he’s my main audience I like to keep him happy! But I’ve come across some interesting tidbits in my travels across the glorious Internet this week, so I thought I’d share them with you.

First some exciting news for Baby Duck and the legions of Dr Who fans out there: the new series starts in Australia on Sunday 24th August! I have a worrying suspicion that I won’t like Peter Capaldi as much as Matt Smith, but I’m keeping an open mind. The BBC has some photos from the first feature-length episode “Deep Breath” here.

Next, something that would have rocked my teenage self to the core: the dragonriders of Pern may be coming to the big screen! Warner Bros has optioned the whole series. Admittedly, movie options come and go all the time, and don’t necessarily lead to a movie, but still! I think it was the Pern books more than anything else that fostered my lifelong obsession with dragons. One day not too far away there will be a new dragon book in the world, written by yours truly, and Anne MacCaffrey’s marvellous series is partly to blame.

And speaking of writing: Tansy Rayner Roberts does a great interview with writer Foz Meadows as part of the ongoing “Snapshots” series. Foz voices her disquiet with the idea that everything about your life pre-baby should cease to matter once you become a mother. “You can love your children without being ready or willing to sacrifice the most integral parts of yourself on the altar of motherhood.”

This really resonated with me. My children are the focus of my life, but even so I was hanging out for Baby Duck to start school so I could start writing again. In the end I couldn’t wait that long, and snatched writing time while he was at preschool or watching TV. It’s so important to have some identity other than “mother”. I think it’s good for the kids too, to see that mum is a real person with goals and dreams that don’t revolve around them.
Real people – even grown-up people – should have a little fun in their lives too. Author Kristen Lamb discusses the lack of "play time" in the lives of adults and is very wise on how our modern “all work and no play” culture is bad for creativity.

But luckily, creativity isn’t dead! For a beautiful burst of colour, check out Faith’s gorgeous quilt. It’s a fresh modern take on the old faithful “flying geese” pattern. Love it!