The Cure and A Strange Whirring Noise

It occurs to me that I’ve posted a lot of advertisements lately, but not many zenrambles, and zenrambles at the very least amuse the Zen.

So yes, I’m listening to The Cure and A Strange Whirring Noise, both of which are coming out of my computer, but one of which doesn’t belong. I wonder how long it will be until this PC pops. Technology hates me. My typewriter never gives me this kind of trouble, but my typewriter isn’t, well, networked.

The Cure best-of/singles collection, The Cure Galore, I bought while wandering round the city this evening enjoying the rain. I like their clean sound. There’s nothing wishy-washy about The Cure. I also think Robert Smith looked a lot darker than his music sounds, which makes me think of Edward Scissorhands.

Edward Scissorhands was made by an American filmmaker. By startling coincidence, I recently travelled to the States. (How’s that for a subtle segue?) I wasn’t going to see Tim Burton, though (we don’t talk much anymore); I was going to see three people: a dear friend in Milwaukee, Fonzie, and Neil Gaiman.

I found all three, and I didn’t even have to go very far.

I stayed with my friend’s family in Milwaukee, and in the first week headed downtown to find the Fonz. Wisconsin buses are like Brisbane buses, and we had to thump the bus stop with the enthusiasm of Fonzie himself to make the bus materialise. We weren’t sure where to get off, either, but again, the Fonz guided us, and—though we pressed the buzzer more or less at random—the bus stopped directly opposite His Coolness. And here he is, standing immortal, Milwaukee’s own bronze Fonz:

Fonzie Milwaukee

Fonzie’s luck stayed with us throughout the day. Later, I found a book dated 1768 in a second-hand book warehouse (like Black Books x 1000000), previously owned by Lady Douglas, Scottish painter. She was 18 at the time the book was published. The book itself, Orlando Innamorato (Orlando in Love), is deliciously bound and ancient and smells wonderful.


Back to the 50s. I became quite addicted to cheesy 50s-themed soda fountains, milkbars and diners in the US, and I’m very sad that they don’t abound in Australia. Leon’s, a drive-in frozen custard (oh my! tasty stuff) joint, is said to be the place  that the Happy Days diner was based on. Though I couldn’t see the link, they did do ambrosail sundaes.

But I digress. Neil Gaiman (and how he escaped me!). For my last weekend, we caught the bus down to Chicago and stayed in a hostel in the city’s centre. After getting thoroughly lost (I’ll read the map in future, thanks), we realised our hostel was just down the road from the Printer’s Row literary festival. Nice coincidence. Not only that, Neil, whom I was intending to hunt down somehow, happened to be giving a speech there.

Unfortunately for me, Neil is smart and the event was booked out, so I wasn’t able to talk to him about whether it would be okay for me to take a bubble bath with Amanda Palmer at his house. But I was this close.

Oh, this blog is getting long. My giddy aunt. I should leave it here, and sleep. I was going to tell you about American supermarkets, walking tours of haunted and non-existent Chicago neighbourhoods, Woodland Pattern Books, Riverbend Books, Jeff Harpeng’s glorious poems, my annoying poetry-writing habits, gloves, rat pizzas, pirates, and hat juggling—but these must wait for another time. Let it be said that life is good: the flu is finally clearing up; debts are being paid off; after an uncomfortably long hiatus, I’m writing things again; the Brisbane rental market looks like it might soon be affordable; and I’m making marvellous (and charmingly unrealistic) plans, as per usual.

Spring in the North Woods, Wisconsin

Adventures in Outer Brisbane

This morning my engines were kick-started by a sight of this ’67 Ford Fairview outside my medical clinic:

Ford Fairview

Om nom nom. Sometimes cars just get me going a little too much.

Anyhoo, after my appointment I spent twenty minutes outside in the beautiful sunshine (finally, the humidity is gone!) enjoying the last few pages of Sandman: Worlds’ End. The thing I love about this particular collection of Neil Gaiman’s comics is the way the narratives flow; like Pyramus and Thisbe in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Worlds’ End contains stories within stories—sometimes five deep!—and they are small stories that prove that you don’t always need a grand narrative or twist in the tail to engage the reader. And, as always, I love the way Gaiman weaves the threads of old myths through his writing. It’s downright yummy.

One day, I’ll do what that man does. (But in my own voice, of course.)

Anyhoo, we moved on to Hawkins Gardens. What I like about this place is that it sells several of my favourite things to look at: flowers, antiques and fish. I did what I often do and pretended to be wealthy and English (cheeky, I know) in the beautiful, high-end antique store there. I fell in love with an 18th century French writing desk, and the gentleman working there was willing to give me a very fine price indeed, but alas, I am not yet the Lady of the Manor whom I expect one day to be. I told him I’d think about it.

And I will be thinking, and possibly dreaming about it, for days. It’s beautiful:

writing desk

You can’t see it very well in the picture, I’m afraid (from my phone), but the inlay is exquisite. So many different timbers were used, and–oh!–the detail. Check out the tiny rams’ heads on either side. Even the legs of this item were beautiful. I could easily collect desks. If I had the casheroonies.


Luckily for me, I derive almost as much pleasure from flowers as I do from antiques, so instead I wandered around the gardens for a bit (the smell of the fruit trees reminded me of visiting my grandfather in the summer as a child) bought granny’s bonnet, lobelias…and I can’t remember what the little white ones are called. Kendra thought they smelt nice.

Kendra with flowers

Actually, I think she was more interested in laying claim to the box they came in. She bit me the next time I put my hand in it.

granny's bonnet

I should also mention that I had the best strawberry milkshake of my life (fresh, with actual strawberries and everything) at The Pearl Cafe at Wooloongabba the other day. I was wearing a nice suit at the time, and the music was great, and I drank the whole milkshake (which was almost as tall as me–even the waiter was impressed). I felt very buoyant indeed.

So that’s all for today. Nothing profound, just small pleasures and unexpected delights.