Saturday, October 30, 2010

This post is dedicated to a small and noble and utterly beloved beast who I have known since I was ten. Who would have thought such a tiny creature could wreak such havoc with a heart a thousand miles away? I wouldn't normally put this kind of thing online, but in this geographic inability to scritch behind her ears and will her through the night there's nothing much else I can do, besides dropping tears all over my essay notes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


In honour of my newest favourite word, and of the sudden summer sun so recently unfurled from the steel-woollish flummery covering Melbourne for the past four months, and of all things superlative, I'm going to rip large and unnecessary holes in some old t-shirts and experiment with variegated sunburn all summer. Reason being, my very first day of not being cold has left me with an infuriating baby-pink bib around my neck and the same four options I have to stare down every spring: a) move to Finland until April, b) plumb a giant tub of sunscreen into the shower head until April, c) dress like a Mormon and endure heatstroke until April, or d) embrace the bib (and the sun-gloves, and the freckles, and the sandal-burn) until April. So this summer I'm going with e) carefully cultivate a collection of ripped t-shirts such that I am more or less evenly sun-kissed all over. Sun-kissed, not roasted: I spend most of my outdoor hours under umbrellas/parasols as it is (I'd rather be a mushroom than a spit-roast). I'm also kind of obsessed with fur at the moment (second-hand, before you start throwing things) which is somewhat unfortunate at this time of year; perhaps while I'm ripping the shirts up I'll make a dilapidated fur umbrella as well and start my own collection. Spring/Summer 2010: Tatter.D. by Penelop.E. Keep an eye on Vogue.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The bashed wife teaches best.

A wee shopping spree has left me somewhat of a beggar, but a beggar gloriously rich in (amongst other things) Russian fairy tales. I found a hefty tome lurking down the bottom of the children's section, and since I quite adore fairy tales and other bits of pre-modern literary ephemera I picked it up and opened it at random to find, in a delicious moment of irony, this:


There was once an innkeeper whose wife loved fairy tales above all else and accepted as lodgers only those who could tell stories. Of course the husband suffered loss because of this, and he wondered how he could wean his wife away from fairy tales. One night in winter, at a late hour, an old man shivering with cold asked him for shelter. The husband ran out and said: "Can you tell stories? My wife does not allow me to let in anyone who cannot tell stories." The old man saw that he had no choice; he was almost frozen to death. He said: "I can tell stories."
"And will you tell them for a long time?"
"All night."

So far, so good. They let the old man in. The husband said: "Wife, this peasant has promised to tell stories all night long, but only on condition that you do not argue with him or interrupt him." The old man said: "Yes, there must be no interruptions, or I will not tell any stories." They ate supper and went to bed. Then the old man began: "An owl flew by a garden, sat on a tree trunk, and drank some water. An owl flew by a garden, sat on a tree trunk, and drank some water." He kept on saying again and again: "An owl flew by a garden, sat on a tree trunk, and drank some water." The wife listened and listened and than said: "What kind of story is this? He keeps repeating the same thing over and over!"
"Why do you interrupt me? I told you not to argue with me! That was only the beginning; it was going to change later." The husband, upon hearing this - and it was exactly what he wanted to hear - jumped down from his bed and began to belabor his wife: "You were told not to argue, and now you have not let him finish his story!" And he thrashed her and thrashed her, so that she began to hate stories and from that time on forswore listening to them.

After that, of course, my feminist hackles were bristling about my ears and I didn't know whether to laugh or scream so I just bought the book instead. I like how it's pretty much the story of Scheherezade in reverse: just think how many virgins would have been saved if King Shahryar had been a woman with an attendant man to bash her into submission. Or how terrible Scheherezade's stories could have been if only she'd been male. Anyway, a quick flick on the tram revealed quite a collection of similarly beleaguered ladies; they'll probably be popping up anon.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Call me Duck, or Lulu.

Let me rephrase the ol' woodchuck chestnut: how many blogs is too many blogs for one boggled blogger to have? ... three blogs, four? Six? Ten? I guess you have to weigh the relative benefits of having multiple discrete interests against the possible appearance of having multiple discrete personalities, the latter increasingly exponentially past point x where x = possibly too many blogs.

Apologies to any mathematicians reading this.

Anyhow, I guess what I'm trying to confess is that I have four blogs, and, perhaps, therein lies the answer to my initial question: x + 1 blogs is too many blogs for one boggled blogger to have (I was trying to work a mathematical log into that, but it made my head hurt), where x = the number of blogs one boggled blogger can maintain single-handed, equalling, in my case, 3.

Apologies to anyone reading this.

Anyhow, my three other blogs might be described as 1) naughty; 2) nice; and 3) neglected. I guess what I'm trying to say is, 1) the tumblebug bites baaaaad (hence 3) above); and 2) after due consideration I have decided to let Duck and Lulu loose on blogspot for the briefest of moments; that is, if you were to head tumblr-ward via ducknostrum or lulu-legs, you might just find Penelope's sisters.

Meanwhile, week 6 is Judith Wright and Penelope-as-Class-Presenter week in my Australian literature subject. Strangely it was her short stories I discovered first, after appropriating a copy of The Nature of Love from my Mum's bookshelf, and I never really looked at much of her poetry - probably a high-school-ambivalence hangover thanks to Year 11 English. But there you have it: hair of the dog can work a treat. Particularly this one:


The eastward spurs tip backward from the sun.
Night runs an obscure tide round cape and bay
and beats with boats of cloud up from the sea
against this sheer and limelit granite head.
Swallow the spine of range; be dark, O lonely air.
Make a cold quilt across the bone and skull
that screamed falling in flesh from the lipped cliff
and then were silent, waiting for the flies.

Here is the symbol, and the climbing dark
a time for synthesis. Night buoys no warning
over the rocks that wait our keels; no bells
sound for her mariners. Now we must measure
our days by nights, our tropics by their poles,
love by its end and all our speech by silence.
See in these gulfs, how small the light of home.

Did we not know their blood channelled our rivers,
and the black dust our crops ate was their dust?
O all men are one man at last. We should have known
the night that tided up the cliffs and hid them
had the same question on its tongue for us.
And there they lie that were ourselves writ strange.

Never from earth again the coolamon
or thin black children dancing like the shadows
of saplings in the wind. Night lips the harsh
scarp of the tableland and cools its granite.
Night floods us suddenly as history
that has sunk many islands in its good time.

Chances are the lecture will uncover some vast postcolonial problematic to dull the sheen, but I'm happy to bask unawares a day or two more.

Excuse me. I have 97 tumblr updates to attend to.

Love Pennylop.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Two things novel

1) The tiny hordes of bacteria-eating warriors I've been swallowing three times daily are finally gaining the upper hand; my blood must be running with little white flags because I'm positively trumpeting with the feeling of Health stealing back through my limbs. The lead's gone out of my head, the jelly from my legs, and I can't wait for tomorrow because there's nothing makes you appreciate uni like being too sick to go for two weeks.

2) Meanwhile (because writing a poem a day for a year wasn't quite gimmick enough) I am now officially writing a novel in November. It's an online, international kind of gig ( preaching quantity over quality to the tune of 50000 words, which works out at 1700 per day. I'm apprehensive to put it mildly, so I'm reluctantly spreading the word such that, come mid-November when I want to put my little half-novel quietly to death and plant a rosemary bush over its grave, I won't dare for the glare of scrutiny by all my nearest and dearest. I'm not sure if anyone ever comes to this dusty corner of the universe, but if you're a person and you're reading this, feel free to bother me alllll November about that novel I was meant to be writing. I'll love you come December.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


A spectacular (I was going to say 'fluorescent', but TMI, right?) case of bronchitis has laid me off work for the day, and since my brain is MUCH too addled to contemplate two weeks of neglected Bourdieu readings, it looks like I'll just have to spend the afternoon in bed writing and sipping vegetable-and-barley soup. Bliss.

I started compiling a list of kick-ass ladies a while back; the criteria are fairly ephemeral (even tiresomely predictable) but could probably be summarised thus: Originally Nuts Ladies with a kickin' aesthetic, who don't give a fuck what the world thinks of them. So far the list (far from complete) looks like this:

Bjork / Vivienne Westwood / Yoko Ono / ?Dita Von Teese? / Madonna / Lady GaGa / Lydia Lunch / Kate Bush / Grace Jones

Not so sure about Dita, she seems kind of clean-cut/formulaic compared to some of them; then again, she did play a not insignificant part in bringing good ole-time burlesque back from the dead (AND she's a total babe), so let's leave her there for the moment. Also, I've restricted myself to still-living ladies for simplicity's sake, but I suspect Simone de Beauvoir and Anais Nin et al might slip in with fake I.D.s when I'm not looking.

Anyhow, said ladies might be making cameos at times like these when there's not much going on besides bronchitis. And since YouTube and me are onto such a good thang with Lydia at the moment, here's a lil more. Perfect for sultry days in smoky, dim-lit rooms.

gloomy sunday

it must be time for some words from my namesake and divine-woman-of-the-moment, lydia. and just fancy, i'm gloomy AND it's a sunday. take it away, grrrl.