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Plumwood Mountain: review of ‘Mirror Sydney’ by Vanessa Berry

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When the review opens, you can click and choose what sections to read. If you wish to go back to a previous section you’ve just read, at the top left-hand-side there is a ‘U-turn’ arrow. You can click on that and it will send you back.

Compass Points- a blueprint for an ecopoetic review of Vanessa Berry’s ‘Mirror Sydney’ as a disabled narrative – reading process by Gemma Mahadeo

Plumwood Mountain: an Australian journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics is founded and run by poet Anne Elvey.

This book review was written using Twine. I used the Harlow 2.1.0 format by Leon Arnott (the default format in Twine 2)

blood sugar, sex, maybe some magic

*insert general excitement about having new Patreon supporters*

Look, it’s never going to get old. People wanting to support one’s creativity…it really does feel fantastic.

I wasn’t having a great last few days, but made the effort today to do some self-care stuff, and epic adulting (how good is it that you can pay your car registration in three-monthly instalments, praise the capitalist lords?!). After testing to see that That’s Alotta Donuts really is 24-7 (?!?! who needs doughnuts that urgently?!), I bought some lemon meringue ones, some white choc and raspberry ones, and one each of a Rocky Road and Ferrero Rocher. I’d chosen them having in mind to pair them with a dark beer. A riffle through my zine collection, and lo and behold, a fun theme emerged!

zine: Pizza Echoes by Michael Hawkins (printed by Glom Press; $10 from Junky Comics distro)

beer: Red Duck Sexy Thing chocolate and chilli dark ale (500mL; 6.9% ABV limited release)

guest appearance: lemon meringue + white choc & raspberry doughnuts from That’s Alotta Donuts

Over the weekend, I had another one of Red Duck’s limited release beers I’d been keen to try for a while (the Choki Boki) – it full-on looked like chocolate milk, frothed in the same way, and smelled of glorious caramelly, chocolatish biscuit goodness! Sadly, this did not quite translate to the palate. Sexy Thing is completely different – it is delightful, rich, really smooth and now I wish I had an extra bottle. It went really well with the lemon meringue doughnut which isn’t all that sweet, and is a doughy, gooey, fluffy flavoured air treat to eat. Seriously, I hate making a mess when eating, but it’s absolutely impossible to eat the lemon meringue doughnut neatly. Etiquette school be damned!

So yeah, the doughnuts are GONE, the beer’s just about on its way to disappearing, so now it’s zine reading time. An A5 riso-print zine about pizza in turquoise, neon green and neon pink? Even the staples are pink?! <3

Three siblings seem to be bonding over a misplaced childhood toy known as the ‘metal b.f.’ They chat about several places they’ve lived and someone brings in a pizza. One sibling can’t really recall their time there, so the other two try to jog the memory by describing their pizza-making antics.

Storytelling and reminiscing, shared food and oddities such as the metal b.f. are weirdly and lovingly intertwined…just when you think one bit’s about to get freaky, one of those three elements will kind of ‘anchor’ the story to prevent it going fully surreal. This lot sound like the most adorable siblings – it’s got shades of Stranger Things, and Stephen King’s ItPossibly even Paper Girls? In case you’re wondering, I recommend all these things, except maybe don’t watch It unless you’re okay with clowns. The book felt much less vivid, though totally just as scary.

So…do you have any weird pizza stories? Perhaps it’s like the cheese dream phenomenon? My Monday evening has panned out (ha! see what I…?!) better than it felt it would when I first woke up today.

 

not quite pigeon fruit or cantaloupe

drink:  Sobah Beverages [West Burleigh, QLD (postal address) & Tweed Heads, NSW (brewed & canned at Pickled Pig Brewery) lemon aspen pilsner; 330mL can, less than 0.5% ABV

zine: Cuntalope zine, issue 1 ‘Duality’ (Dec 2015; various contributors)

I’ve been saving three Sobah Beverage cans in my fridge for quite some time in the hopes of pairing them up with zines by Australian Indigenous folks, but one can had to be opened and its contents salvaged – it had started to bulge at the bottom (usually in tinned foods, this is a no-go, as it means something’s off and botulism. Thanks, high school science!), so I thought I may as well open it and try to drink it.

My track record with Sobah Beverages hasn’t been great only in that it’s been a very fizzy experience. I’m not exaggerating when I say, predominantly fizz and very little liquid. Shame, as they do actually taste of the beer styles they emulate, and are created with an excellent cause in mind.

The spiel: the creator, Clinton Schultz, a Gamilaroi man and psychologist, who works in culturally appropriate drug and alcohol rehabilitation decided to make tastier alternatives other than ‘soft drink’ for social situations.  A lot of socialising in Australia is focussed on mates going out for (alcoholic) drinks (it only really seems that in professional situations, people meet for ‘coffee’), and it sounds like Schultz wanted something outside of that, given professional field. It’s also worth remembering that while slamming down a pint when you’re super-nervous may seem like an ace idea and seem to calm you down, it’s a central nervous system depressant. I admit that this is something I’ve most definitely struggled with in the past.

Technically, Sobah beverages aren’t 100% non-alcoholic due to the live cultures, similar to kombucha (though to be honest, I don’t find kombucha all that tasty…slightly sour and really fizzy?), hence the listing of > 0.5% ABV.

What’s lemon aspen? It’s apparently the ‘fresh, fruity, citrusy’ taste in this pilsner-style drink. The can says that the natural growing region of lemon aspen, or the pigeon berry fruit is around the Kuku Yalanji language nations. The brew’s ingredients listed are filtered water, hops, barley, lemon aspen, and yeast. I literally had drank a centimetre or two of actual liquid this time around. I really wanted more, can you tell?

Australian Aboriginal women have had a really shit time on social media lately (not to detract from the trauma the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to endure by merely surviving each day when their land has been forcibly taken from them). Some arsehole South African comedian whose name I won’t bother typing here had a stand-up video from a few years ago in which he thought it amusing to make Australian Aboriginal women the butt of his jokes. He’s been asked to apologise. He so far hasn’t.

I mention this only because of the back cover of Cuntalope, echoes the theme of NAIDOC ‘Because Of Her, We Can!’ (making aforementioned arsehole South African comedian’s lack of apology even more upsetting):

Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.

It’s also pretty crap to learn that Cuntalope can’t register their zine’s name as a Facebook page because shock-horror reclaiming an insult and turning on its head doesn’t float with them. But onto the zine’s contents! There’s an intro to the ‘duality’ topic by the founders Sofia Skoboleva and Olivia du Vergier. I loved the photos Sofia has contributed to illustrate the blurring of boy-girl gender definitions and boundaries. There’s visual artwork by Isabel Wassmann, and Gemma Reid, and illustrations by Eva Christoff and Anna Richardson.

The pieces that resonated with me were the photo-essay by Esther Carlin, the poetry about women by Greer Clemens, and some cool creative non-fiction musings by Eva Lazzaro. So far, there hasn’t been newer issues of Cuntalope, which is definitely a shame. It reminds me a little of F*EMS zine, but on a much smaller scale.

black and white and burnt around the edges

zine: Lin-Manuel Miranda Eldritch Erotica by Black Book Shoppe

drink: T2 crème brûlée black tea (with milk, and sweetened with maple syrup)

At the beginning of the year, there was a zine fair in one of the rooms at the State Library, and I bought a bunch of zines which I then packed goodness-knows-where but have recently unearthed as my unpacking and organising has gradually occurred over the months between bouts of transferring what has been read to shelves, and so on.

The ‘Eldritch Erotica’ zine series is one of a few available from Black Book Shoppe (though their online shop is closed at present). If you’re a Melburnian, I’m pretty sure you can find it at Sticky Institute, if you ask the folks there nicely!

So…you’re on a choose-your-own-adventure date with Lin-Manuel Miranda. You choose to explore an abandoned theatre. Being the orchestra nerd that I am, I can’t pass up the temptation to explore the orchestra pit in said theatre. There’s broken music stands around, and a very out-of-tune piano which we start to play together. It’s a pretty eerie, spooky setting, but definitely a memorable date! You slip into the wings ahead of Lin, and play hide-and-seek for a bit before kissing. We find a trapdoor, which he opens and we go down a ladder into a basement. He is humming loudly, and you join in, and he then seduces you. You try to ask about scars on his face, but you’re breathless.

You can’t seem to recover your breath post-passionate dalliance, and he comes close to you again, and you die swiftly.

***

I let my T2 tea brew for far longer than the 3-5 minutes suggested because I love ridiculously strong tea, but somehow have still managed to add too much milk! I used maple syrup instead of sugar because I didn’t want to wrestle with the honey dispenser, and the whole combo ended up smelling and tasting pretty damn delish. I would get tea flavour again! It’s good that they also seem compostible – sometimes, teabags have a staple or aren’t fully biodegradable. One mug feels like a damn tease, which incidentally fits the zine’s theme above pretty well!