008. Natalie Port[beach]man Black Swans

Last weekend to celebrate W[estern] A[ustralia] Day, my favourite hockey people and I dressed up as the Natalie Port[beach]man Black Swans, which informed my choice for this week’s “Friday #the1001project” movie. I also read about four of Aesop’s fables, but don’t worry, I can predict that tomorrow will be the wind-up post for that one finally.

blackswanhockey

June 9, 2017

BOOK: Complete Fables, by Aesop

Tomorrow, I promise. Seriously, because it’s already “tomorrow” and I’ve finished it.

MOVIE: Black Swan (2010)

“See also: ‘Mental illness in film'”
Wikipedia

“Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological thriller-horror film directed by Darren Aronofsky, written by Mark Heyman, Andrew Heinz and John McLaughlin, and starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder. The plot revolves around a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet by a prestigious New York City company. The production requires a ballerina to play the innocent and fragile White Swan, for which the committed dancer Nina (Portman) is a perfect fit, as well as the dark and sensual Black Swan, which are qualities better embodies by the new arrival Lily (Kunis). Nina is overwhelmed by a feeling of immense pressure when she finds herself competing for the part, causing her to lose her tenuous grip on reality and descend into a living nightmare.” Thanks Wikipedia for a more concise synopsis than I am capable of currently.

Black Swan has always been a movie that, considering my … concerns … with anxiety during the past few years, has seemed like a bad idea to watch, basically. Despite my infatuation with Mila Kunis, and my appreciation of Natalie Portman in movies that don’t include Star Wars, no attraction has counteracted my fear of the subsequent mental breakdown. But lately I’ve even been able to watch Freaks and Geeks without a panic attack, so I’m obviously growing as a person.

That’s not to say I had an uninteresting response to the film as this morning I woke up ready to kick life’s ass and didn’t even eat any carbs today. Emotionally I think Portman’s Portrayal of Nina struck a chord with me, the first person to admit that I am meek and timid in regards to self-confidence. You cannot be a boss-ass-bitch if you are concerned with being in control 100% of the time and even though that’s not entirely the point of this movie, it’s my personal moral for the week. Also: be hot and crazy and you’ll get everything you want, basically.

Cinematically, I thought this movie was well done. I grimaced in several places and that’s how you know a psychological thriller-horror movie is horribly thrilling, I guess. I once saw Red Shoes in a small hotel room in Kalbarri, and Black Swan recalled similar aesthetic and thematic motifs and, similarly, communicates the leads’ anxiety well. Aronofsky used camera angles and movement to simulate the movie’s rhythm of dance, and the striking colour palette well represented the shifts from naivety to proactivity on the protagonist’s part. And it’s pedantic, but the use of phonetic similarities in Nina/Lily – much like Odette/Odile – make the word-nerd in me happy.

Overall I really enjoyed Black Swan, wasn’t freaked out at all and woke up this morning ready to achieve anything. Let’s hope the similarities between myself and Nina end there.

x Casey

006. Remember Cedric Diggory

As we reach the end of this first week of the “media diet”, and following several days of scarcity, yesterday I finally found some content I wanted to discuss. But first a quick note on productivity since the inception of this idea.

Since beginning this project last Thursday I have been the most productive I have been since February where #the1001project is concerned. Finishing one book, one movie and a tv season doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve been overcommitting to life outside my house for a while now, and it’s time I took it easy and went back to the project I enjoy most of all. That said, I have also been branching out with podcasts and music this week too, an endeavour that provides me with insight and entertainment respectively. I’ve also been enjoying the NHL playoffs, though I’m yet to see my first catfishing.

But without further ado, here’s what I listened to and read yesterday:

June 7, 2017

PODCAST: Gilmore Guys: Lauren Graham

Gilmore Guys is finally over. I remember listening to my first episodes while entering data about botanical specimens at Maia and being instantly impressed and inspired. For the past two years this has been my answer when anyone asks how I can type long strings of letters and numbers so efficiently and enjoyably, and to have passed the end of the series is a little surreal. Through their genuine humour, backdoor knowledge of improvisation, film, television and theatre, and their demonstrable work ethic in a notoriously difficult and inauspicious industry, Kevin and Demi have taught me not only technical concepts, optimism and perseverance, but also that entertainment can be made from… pretty much anything.

In this final episode of Gilmore Guys, the boys “gab” with Lauren Graham who is also an exceptional inspiration. While the final episode would have been great as a return to roots farewell to the series, it feels as though full circle has been achieved. It wasn’t classic Gilmore Guys, but Graham’s harmonies for “Where You Lead” were on point.

BOOK: Complete Fables, by Aesop

I’m nearly finished with this, I swear.

TV SERIES: Parenthood

Parenthood, S01E01

After listening to the final episode of Gilmore Guys, I was left wanting more Lauren Graham, and since Mae Whitman and Dax Shepard are also in that show, and I had heard great things – not to mention, it’s helpfully a #the1001project show – I decided to watch Parenthood. I have only watched the pilot at this point, but my thoughts are thus:

  • This is a sweet show and I like Lauren Graham’s character even though I can foresee future frustration with that branch of the family.
  • I’m interested to see these variations on the nuclear family – kind of like Modern Family but with a more serious base.
  • I just know I’m going to spend a lot of time in tears because of this show.

So I’m looking forward to continuing! Although I’ve also picked up The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as my dinner show because I’ve decided that I need to focus on new media to a greater extent or this cycle of missing out will just continue forever.

PODCAST: Harry Potter and the Sacred Text – Being a Stranger: Diagon Alley (Book 1, Chapter 5)

This podcast episode, more than anything else I’ve read or watched or listened to, has been the most influential media I’ve exposed myself to over the past week.

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text is a podcast created by Vanessa Zoltan, Casper ter Kuile & Ariana Nedelman with the intention of reading the Harry Potter series as though it were a sacred text, reading the books “not just as novels, but as instructive and inspirational texts that will teach us about our own lives”.

I initially encountered Harry Potter and the Sacred Text several months ago when one of my best “internet” friends Kelly suggested it to our “Old HP Pals” Facebook group. I listened to the first few episodes available at the time and while vaguely interested, I never remembered to catch up when further episodes were released. Now, one year after it began, the podcast is almost finished with book three but I decided to pick up where I left off and listen to episode five where Vanessa and Casper read “Diagon Alley” through the lens of “being a stranger”.

In the opening minutes of this episode, Casper reveals that they had recorded the audio just days before the attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Following this, he explains that while many would turn to prayer in times like these, for many listeners that may not be an option. Instead Vanessa repeats Dumbledore’s speech from the end of Goblet of Fire as a call to reflection and an alternative for those who felt more comfortable with a different option.

Remember Cedric. Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by JK Rowling

While I have seen internet jokes in the past about Harry Potter as religion, or gospel and even particular reference to the series as a sacred text for certain people, I have always considered that too far a line to cross for even my most adored stories. But as someone who has always considered herself to be, if not spiritual herself, then at least empathetic to any belief in which all are equal and deserving of kindness, there are of course lessons within Harry Potter that speak to that part of me.

While I don’t consider Harry Potter to be a spiritual text, the literary analysis and religious critique, as well as the general lessons of kindness, blessing and thoughtfulness that Vanessa and Casper share through this podcast have been refining the way I understand religion and spirituality, something I had dismissed long ago as not for me.

While I’m not saying Harry Potter is my bible – I feel like that’s a strange precedent – I do appreciate the intent to see positive instruction in obscure places, and encourage anyone to listen to this podcast for an alternative take on structured religion.

x Casey

Anna Kendrick is a “Scrappy Little Nobody”

Are you looking for audiobooks? Check out Audible.com for your first month free!

scrappylittlenobody


Scrappy Little Nobody
Anna Kendrick
Published: November 15, 2016 by Touchstone & Simon and Schuster Audio
Audiobook available at Audible.com

For fans of: Humour, Autobiography, Female Authors

A collection of humorous autobiographical essays by Academy Award-nominated actress and star of Up in the Air and Pitch Perfect.

“[I had resolved to] keep the crazy inside my head where it belonged. Forever. But here’s the thing about crazy. It. Wants. Out.”


Firstly I have to straight up apologise to Anna. I used this audiobook as a distraction during my long training runs in the last two weeks. This basically blasphemes the integrity of any and most themes in this memoir, but I have no regrets. To recompense I’ll eat pop-tarts in my sweatpants while I compile this review.

@bestcascenario – Jan 20
I have just torn through @AnnaKendrick47’s Scrappy Little Nobody in two days and like, I think I have all the symptoms of “actor”…

Anna Kendrick first appeared on widespread screen as snarky, brutally honest Jessica, the “best friend” of Kristen Stewart’s Bella in the Twilight series, and since then she has remarkably retained that persona as her career has developed, which has of course only cemented her reputation as loveable and relatable in the media. From stories of a homely apartment in LA to being praised by George Clooney during filming for Up in the Air, in her first memoir she shares stories of Hollywood awkwardness and her fear of being discovered as an impostor, basically proving she’s the same as the rest of us – just, wildly talented and popular and lucky of course.

Scrappy Little Nobody is part of a new genre of memoir, where the author who is most often a comedian or actor, provides humorous essays as opposed to autobiographical reflective texts. The most common arguments against these compilations are confusion about whether the book is premature or the implication that they are marketing tools to capitalise on a performer’s recent success. However, I only outline these arguments in the spirit of fairness, as I’ve found this genre profoundly inspirational over the past few months. I recommend this style of memoir to anyone beginning an adult life of their own, artistic or not and Scrappy Little Nobody is no different to my other favourites such as Yes Please by Amy Poehler, or Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling.

Anna Kendrick’s voice only enhances the personal stories, and as with past memoirs I’ve enjoyed, the audiobook version is how I would recommend consuming this content. Kendrick is honest with herself, the reader and more often than not honest with characters from her life she has disagreed with, presenting arguments against misogyny, condescension and just plain bad manners, but as with most arguments about difficult topics, they are human and more forceful when heard in the writer’s voice. In addition, recalling her struggles as an actress who has to wear heels when she’d rather be eating tacos in sweatpants, makes this audiobook like listening to a very famous friend outline the largest of first-world problems in a way that is humanising while still convincing you its a dream you’d like to accomplish. It’s an inspirational tale of hardwork, but it’s also FUNNY, and silly and snarky and I’m ready for Anna Kendrick to be my best friend now. I really apologise for the listening while running thing, I promise it’s just a New Years Resolution, Anna!

If you have someone in your life who is currently making a jump, or following their dreams, particularly young female listeners or readers, I’d recommend this as a gift, but I would also recommend this for anyone who’s a little lost or scared and needs the motivation to jump, as this warming and human recollection of hardwork and life shows that if one normal, if attention-seeking, human being can do it, anyone can.

Also did I mention it’s fucking funny? Because it’s fucking funny.

“The crazy. It wants out!”

x Casey

Introducing: The Roosevelt Readers Club

The Roosevelt Readers Club was created as a component of The 1001 Project, and is therefore the junction between loving reading and the outdoors, just as Teddy Roosevelt himself was a fan of both. We meet once a month to discuss a book from the list of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, and we pick a new location in Perth to do so and eat food.

This month, just as a rookie would do, the book I chose was The Children’s Book by AS Byatt and we visited Aliment in West Leederville.


childrensbook

The Novel: The Children’s Book, by AS Byatt

A spellbinding novel, at once sweeping and intimate, from the Booker Prize–winning author of Possession, that spans the Victorian era through the World War I years, and centres around a famous children’s book author and the passions, betrayals, and secrets that tear apart the people she loves.

When Olive Wellwood’s oldest son discovers a runaway named Philip sketching in the basement of the new Victoria and Albert Museum—a talented working-class boy who could be a character out of one of Olive’s magical tales—she takes him into the storybook world of her family and friends.

But the joyful bacchanals Olive hosts at her rambling country house—and the separate, private books she writes for each of her seven children—conceal more treachery and darkness than Philip has ever imagined. As these lives—of adults and children alike—unfold, lies are revealed, hearts are broken, and the damaging truth about the Wellwoods slowly emerges. But their personal struggles, their hidden desires, will soon be eclipsed by far greater forces, as the tides turn across Europe and a golden era comes to an end.

x Goodreads

At a substantial 617 pages, The Children’s Book was a mistake to choose for a book club. After initially planning to meet three weeks ago, our meetup date was changed twice to accommodate the length and difficulty of the novel. Even then only one attendee had read the entire book, and I still had 60 pages to go. It’s not the easiest novel to digest either – with large blocks of historical context and almost as many characters as Game of Thrones, it’s not an ideal choice if you’re interested in light reading and many of the book club members were feeling the struggle by the opening scenes.

That said, in my opinion (because I run this blog and the book club), the novel is wonderful. It’s clearly a novel about artists, by an artist. With heady descriptions, thoroughly researched background and literary allusions, it’s a very difficult but rewarding read that unlike many novels succeeds in absorbing you completely in the story. It’s not fluffy, and many of the themes are confronting – sexual coercion, incest, suicide and mental illness to name a few – which is unsettling, but the story is immersive and kept me constantly interested and invested.

Don’t take my word for it though: while several members of the group agreed it was difficult to continue after Part I, those who continued reading expressed the same sentiments about characters and descriptive text, and most agreed to needing to know how the story ended.


aliment pancakes

The Cafe: Aliment Cafe, West Leederville

Aliment Cafe on Instagram
Cafe
Location: 170 Railway Parade, West Leederville
Cuisine: Cafe; Breakfast Bar; Locally Produced Beverages
Price Range: $18 – $30

Having extra people with you to try a cafe is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand you can steal Clinton’s brownie stuffed pancakes to photograph (see above), but on the other hand Clinton has brownie stuffed pancakes when you chose the mushroom hash because yesterday you sugar crashed after an Iced Chocolate, but now you have food envy.

Aliment is a small but cosy restaurant along the main street in West Leederville, that was made pleasantly quite by roadworks along Railway Parade. With a wide range of foods and local artisan beverages, the only things missing were options for vegans, which was a condition for my choice when consulting The Urban List, and was therefore a little disappointing.

Option I Chose: Mushroom Hash with Eggs Benedict and Spinach – a hearty and tasty vegetarian option.
Notable Alternative: The Brownie Filled Pancakes special! Pictured above, this sweet treat breakfast was coveted by the whole table.


The Club: A Success

“One of the better outcomes of The 1001 Project” is quite a statement as this project has brought me nothing but joy and positive experiences, but this first meeting of the Roosevelt Readers Group was better than most. What was going to be a discussion of the book, devolved into a few hours spent discussing reading, literature and life in general with a really great bunch of people, and something I’m really looking forward to continuing in future.

However, we continue to welcome new members! If you’d like to be part of a group that loves reading, meeting new people and trying new food places in Perth, send us a message on Facebook or email the1001project@gmail.com!

x Casey