Sunday, 9 January 2011

Floods. Quizzes. The other Potter.

Had a call from the Queensland cousin Donald and his delightfully Scottish wife Christine - a down to earth farm girl from Ayrshire. I call her that to tease; but she is totally multi-talented, which well describes most people who grow up on the land. Thank goodness, they have not been directly harmed by the massive flooding in that state. Also OK are their daughters and their families who live in other parts of Queensland. Not actually inundated or submerged. A few entire townships had to be evacuated during the past weeks. What a start to the year.

Yesterday's news reporting, from local mayors and others on the scene, said that the floods are very slow to subside, and in places can still get worse before it gets better the massive amounts of water move down the river systems. It is only a year ago that some of these communities experienced what were then record flood levels, but those unwanted records are now surpassed. Even more hurtful, for the past ten years recurring drought conditions made life tough. Puts things in perspective when one is inclined to grizzle at all the minor stuff.

I hardly poked my nose out the door these last three days, and to show for it I have finished the seventh of the little books I have produced since last August. This one's called (because that's what it is) Quiz Questions: quiz night fundraising and entertainment! Not the great work of literature which is said to reside within each of us. Hobby, fun ... who knows. Today I will "upload the interior" - that's the  fancy term - of this item as a PDF to the CreateSpace website and within three or four weeks, with any luck, it will appear magically on Amazon as one of their Books for Sale. Possibly to you and your million friends! Watch out. You never know what is  around the corner.

Last Tuesday with a friend who had temporarily escaped from her smelly dog (there's a story there) we both enjoyed the charming film Miss Potter - recorded by Austar's MySpace new clever de-coder thingey. Not quite a Home Theatre experience size-wise, but better than a poke in the face with a sharp stick, as the colourful phrase has it. You probably know the movie. I'd seen it too when it came out on the big screen at first release, but it is a quiet classic-to-be. No car chases, no gangsters, no drug busts, no box office appeal at all, really.
Except that it is beautiful, intelligent, happy, sad, inspiring, witty, wistful, wonderfully acted to capable direction. Oh, and the tale is true, or as true as is good for you. The period setting is 1902 and the story follows the creative emergence of Beatrix Potter, who went on to become "best selling children's author of all time" (so the end-credits say) with her series of quirky animal stories illustrated by herself. Any publisher will tell you that that is a Bad Idea.
A large chunk of the budget for Miss Potter was allocated to the occasional animation of the famous animal characters on the pages as our human actors look at them. The human actors? Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones's Diary) is a super Beatrix, Ewan McGregor the love interest as her young publisher, youngest of the senior-partner brothers who have fobbed off the "bunny book" on him, expecting failure and to put him in his place. "But," he says to Miss Potter as the two of them wake up to the plot, "we'll show them!"

I suppose the "best selling children's author" label was before those other wretched Potter books. Give me Peter Rabbit any time.

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