Wednesday, September 17, 2008

(Almost) All The Ways In Which I Procrastinated Today

Today has been my last official 'freelance' day. I am a full-time researcher, basically as of now. I had a list of things to do today as part of wrapping up my work for my last client. Here are all the things I did instead of doing those things:

- slept in, a lot
- scratched the dog's ear (a lot... she loves it...)
- showered, breakfasted
- gargled extensively (I have a throat infection at the moment which I'm relying on to excuse my excessive sleep in)
- checked my email
- checked my other email
- sent a few emails
- checked facebook, replied to messages
- read the fail blog
- read engrish funny
- read every article of interest on The Age online
- read my Herald Sun horoscope
- vacuumed
- did all the dishes
- cleaned the top of the stove
- watered the garden (with grey water)
- walked the dog
- went to the shops, got a coffee, bought some fruit, a pie, and collected my antibiotics from the chemist
- ate my pie
- did some work (about an hour's worth)
- had a cup of tea and cake with a friend
- fooled around with said friend
- played backgammon and drank whisky with second friend and brother
- rang my friend Lucy to discuss our impending holiday
- rang my friend Mel to dicuss our impendig holiday
- drank a bit more whisky
- watched 3 episodes of The Office
- ate lasagna
- made cup of tea
- blogged

Upon reflection this has been some of my best procrastination ever. Good procrastination to me is comprised of a series of finite manageable tasks that are done from your own home (or the location in which you 'ought' to be being productive on something else). Going out to meet a friend for lunch, or going to a movie: any of these things all involve a degree of throwing in the towel mentally, with regards to your intended workload. Whereas I managed to convince myself all day that each thing I was doing would only take 20mins or so and then I would be straight back to work. I went out to get lunch, but I brought it home and ate it by my computer rather than sitting in a cafe with my book as I desperately wanted to (in fact that was just about the only time that I got anything done so it's just as well). Each of my bouts of socialising were constrained by the fact that the other person had to be somewhere else at (insert time in semi-distant future) and so I was able to tell myself that it was definitely a finite break and therefore ok. Also, most of the things I partook of were fairly useful tasks that I could easily justify at another time, so at least I have some small scope for not feeling too lazy.

The ridiculous thing is that I could easily just do this work on the weekend, except that I am going away with a bunch of friends and am determined to finish it before hand. I plan to do all the easy bits now, and finish the rest early in the morning.

While the prospect of doing work now is depressing, I just read over my list again and felt not only a degree of pride at my fine procrastinatory effort, but also that it's been a pretty good day!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Perfect Sandwich, by Natasha Ludowyk aged 28 and 3/4


It would start with two really heavy, really tangy, steaming fresh slices of thick white sourdough. The top of the sourdough would not be dusted with flour (as they sometimes are); it would be supple with a delicate yet firm crunch to it.

On one slice of the sourdough would be a generous squishy layer of saggingly ripe brie cheese, probably a Kind Island Black Label or similar. On the other, a thick yellow smear of good quality, salty butter and over that a cheeky smattering of cranberry sauce, ideally homemade, but any good brand would suffice.

Then the sandwich is filled with turkey slices that have been finely carved from a roasted bird so that they maintain the original texture but are still juicy and moist. Round it out with crispy, dark green baby spinach leaves (at least half an inch thick) and salt and cracked pepper. Consume.


When I was a lass I worked at the deli at Daimaru, and I and the other girls who worked there would often play this game: describe your perfect sandwich, it being the perfect game for adept deli staff and the ideal way to fill in the hours prior to lunch. The Daimaru deli had huge quantities of pressed and cured meats, beautiful ham on the bone that we would hand carve, and four metres of cheese cabinet. Plus dips, olives, delicious crackery things and more, much more!

I hadn't thought about my Perfect Sandwich in a while, but was inspired by reading my friend Nat's rules of sandwiches the other day. The sandwich above was the sandwich I couldn't go past back then. It particularly lends itself to the week after Christmas. But now that I think about it, there are many more perfect sandwiches, and I think that the purely imaginary construction of sandwiches is a pastime worthy of further attention, so I shall revisit (always remembering that the key to a truly great sandwich is in the details).

I have also been known to while away many an hour contemplating The Perfect Pie and The Perfect Sausage. These too, I shall return to, especially as the weather is improving and the sausage (read: bbq) season is about to commence!

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Movie of the Book of the Books of Jane Austen

Last night Leanne and I made good on a long-held plan to hire and devotedly watch The Jane Austen Book Club. We knew it wasn't going to be great, we were hoping for schmaltzy and good. And it was. It was very schmaltzy - I cried twice, secretly - and mostly it was good.

I was especially pleased that our new and excellent housemate Matt and my friend Leith were also there and stayed to watch it. I enjoy watching men cringe at the more obvious parts of chick-flicks, and enjoy it even more when they get right into it and tear up alongside you. Brendan declared it too girly and went home (probably to watch When Harry Met Sally for the 400th time. Hehe).

Now, I am not going to give anything like a serious critique of the film, and should also point out that I haven't read the book which it is adapted from. I have however read all the Jane Austen novels, some several times, and I felt that the story of this film ignored most of the more salient aspects of a Jane Austen novel. These aspects could be condensed for our purposes as follows:

Upstanding heroine who remains faithful to her values in the face of others' weaknesses and the trials of life? Absent. There were many heroines, each representing an aspect of a Austen heroine, but I only felt like two of them were tested, and only one of them passed. For the most part I felt that the characters didn't develop that much. They moved forward in their lives, but not necessarily as a result of personal growth.

Delightful ensemble of hilarious characters? Absent. Everyone was meant to be a bit of a winner in this film and this was one of its failings. It lacked some of the realism of an Austen novel, where not everyone is good, not everyone is happy, and people make compromises out of pragmatism more often than not. This was particularly telling in the ending, in which everyone in The Jane Austen Book Club had found love simply through reading the books of Jane, even if finding love hadn't appeared in their character arc at all throughout the rest of the film. Jane Austen had much more to say about life than simply that falling in love was good.

Unstinting Hero? Tick! There was only really one male character of any depth and he was an excellent example of an Austenesque Hero, although he could've had a few more demons. He was persistent in his pursuit of his object of desire, yet remained gentlemanly to the end. Yay for him.

Generous lashings of wit, with a mere lacing of cynicism to drive it home? Nope. The Jane Austen Book Club lacked any of the delicious stylings that make an Austen novel feel so voyueristic, as though the whole world is a legitimate source of entertainment. Mr Bennett captures it best when he says "well well, what do we exist for but to make sport for our neighbours, and to laugh at them in our turn" (or words to that effect). The Jane Austen Book Club didn't offer any grander insights into the human condition.

The best bits of the film were when the characters were discussing the books themselves, and disagreeing with one another over various characters' motivations. So in the end, the characters of Jane Austen remained far more interesting than the characters of TJABC itself.

Next time I want a chick flick, I should just go and read Persuasion again. I wont though. I'll hire Enchanted.