Tag Archives: zine review

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!

just desserts on a lonely Saturday evening

zine: Tick Tock by Zoe Meagher & Eddie Edmends

drink: Henry Langdon vanilla chai latte (powder mix)

At the beginning of the year, I was housesitting near Castlemaine to try and get lots of reading and writing done (which totally happened!), and found this lush vanilla chai latte mix in a lovely tin at the town centre supermarket. Their newsagent also seemed ridiculously well-stocked in terms of lit mags!

Now that the weather is much chillier, I’ve been making myself these vanilla chai lattes (boiling water, top up with milk, sometimes flavour with maple syrup) especially when I’m feeling too sad to really eat anything substantial. It isn’t good form to miss meals when depressed, but I try to find something I know I will eat, rather than skip eating altogether. Tonight, that was Filipino cassava cake – reminds me a bit of a tougher, larger version of Portuguese custard tarts without the paper-thin pastry. The best bit is the burnt edges! Coconut milk, glutinous rice, slivers of cassava…blissful.

Interestingly, one thing me and my maternal grandfather have in common (aside from the obsession with music – he was a professional clarinettist, I did not quite make it there as much as I wanted to be profesh) is our love of burnt rice, which is called tutong in Tagalog. I had to look that up online because I never learnt to write Tagalog – only by ear when I lived there as a kid. It seems such a specific thing to love, but perhaps not to those who get it! Nutty, toasted…it smells so good if it’s not charcoal-burnt!

So yeah, dessert as dinner on a cold Saturday evening, chilling with my kitty, and reading an indie comic I picked up at All Star Comics a while back. The cover has a medieval gauntlet-clad arm, wearing a digital wrist watch. The back says:

A knight, a popstar and a qantasaurus walk into a bar.

Tick Tock is the only inter-temporal lounge destination officially sanctioned by the time-travel regulatory body.

Most time-travellers just stop by a for a drink or two. The unlucky ones (like Misty, Max and Elric) get trapped and have to pour the beer.

Eddie and Zoe collaborated on the story, then Zoe drew the pictures.

Okay, so they can do my beer drinking for me, for tonight, hehehe. The first panel is in the style of an Anglo-Celtic medieval tapestry – there’s fighting, looting, pillaging, and then a jump into a time portal. Elric happens on Misty, reading what appears to be a review of the Tick Tock bar loo, and they both realise he’s stuck. He doesn’t initially cope well with this.

Another trapped time traveller unable to return to their time of origin is not good for business. The landlords get called away to a spot that looks like Flinders Street Station (its clock, famous steps), and more adorable anachronistic hijinks ensue, like some sort of dino attack, and a cute bird that might be a dodo? The tale ends with Elric briefly evading Misty (we learn she used to be a singer/performer) to try and surf down escalators that you’d expect in Melbourne’s city loop train stations, and a flashback to the medieval scene where someone else is stuck in Elric’s time, in his place.

I really wish this story were longer, I’d love to read more issues! It’s hilarious, it’s smart and diverse without it feeling token or forced. Verily, it might be part of a series, whee-hee! Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot of about ekphrastic poetry, and how despite having written video game ekphrastic poems, I’m still not confident about how I’d do this for paintings in a gallery. Reading Tick Tock makes me want to try, but I think what I’d like to do is invent backstories for the people mentioned in this comic, or write an imaginary bar review for a poem of mine (it’s called ‘Red’) that I initially envisioned to be imagining what it’d be like to drink at a synaesthetic-laden bar.

One of the other reasons I’ve been thinking a lot about odd twists on concepts that already exist – which I think Tick Tock is a tantalising example of is that I’m a submission reader for an online speculative fiction journal called Syntax and Salt. I absolutely love reading speculative fiction, and short stories…but write very little of it myself (though I do try to incorporate it in my poetry. ‘Red’ is part of a much larger, probably lifelong work-in-progress). The very first longform piece I ever wrote (which took an age to find a home; wrote it as an undergrad) could possibly count as speculative in that it tries to be a very real biography/story about very imaginary-but-believable-in-our-world/time people. I mention this because it reminds me that speculative literature doesn’t have to be ‘longform’ or conventionally narrative — it could be creative non-fiction too, and most definitely poetry. There’s going to be a ‘staff’ issue and I’ve got a couple of ideas about what I’ll end up submitting but also think it might be nice to write newer work for it that doesn’t end up appearing too.

I’ve nearly finished my vanilla chai latte abomination (you can brew one with frothed milk as a treat – I just did half boiled water, half milk), so it’s time for this post to wrap up. This might sound silly, but though I don’t know Anthony Bourdain, his passing has hit me harder than expected. He sounded like a brilliant, generous, struggling human. I know I’m struggling with mental health stuff at the moment, but I’m going to keep reaching out to those I trust, and I’m never going to stop being grateful for having their love, friendship, support. Bourdain’s gone, but he’ll keep inspiring food hacks like me to revel in the few kernels of food culture I have. That’s also why this blog exists. Misfits finding or keeping their small spot in the world is never going to be easy — it isn’t.



everything’s gone not quite green

beer: cherrywood smoked rye Baltic porter (355mL can, 8.8% ABV) by Dainton Brewery (Dandenong, VIC)

zineThe Coelacanth Journal 4: the dream has gone but the baby is real by various contributors

So an old friend that is kind of the closest thing I have to a big sister sent this to me a ridiculously long time (it’s dated 2012) when I would have just started having ECT. Every so often, she’s sent me care packages, and is responsible for my love of pocket notebooks!

I’ve been looking at various stacks of unread books and thinking about assembling them by colour, but that’s kind of not entirely fair on me, as some are I guess what I like to think of as work-related. In the photo for this post, you’ll see:

  • Maggie Alderson’s Bluets: verse novel and particular poem sequence research
  • Vanessa Berry’s Mirror Sydney: reviewing for Plumwood Mountain
  • Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness because I don’t get to read enough speculative fiction
  • Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God because it was Teen Vogue’s first-ever book club selection

The above titles are definitely going to make up part of my winter reading stack, as is sipping darker beer styles! I was not at all prepared by how syrupy, rich and sweet the Baltic porter when I opened the can — I think I was expecting something with a thinner mouthfeel and, due to the smokiness, perhaps a bit more savoury. It does settle down a little, but the booziness has also really caught me off guard! That’s not a bad thing, I’m just out of practise? Also not a bad thing for my liver!

Let’s start reading: for some weird reason, I thought this post’s zine was from the US but it’s UK-based. The editorial is really on its way to hooking me in by starting with the quote “Poetry won’t get us to the moon!” — which I’ve been thinking about a lot after finishing a poem I started earlier this year which tries to marry physics and poetry. Why should it matter whether or not poetry could get us to the moon? Despite being a practising poet, I do find myself asking this question and defending responses to it very, very frequently.

This zine is actually quite heavy-going; the three standout pieces are one about crop circles (seriously fascinating shit!), a section of a theatre play about training to become one of the first cosmonauts, and one about an ugly-sounding fondue set and the council estate Thamesmead. The other submissions are somewhat dry though perhaps very suited to visual arts academics, and oddly show heteronormative bias within sexist remarks that could easily be skipped over (e.g. apparently the pregnant body is not sexual to which my first thought is well, if it’s pregnant it was perceived to be sexual, and I don’t know that that switches off at a given point in a pregnancy? Which then leads to questions and definitions of what is construed as ‘sexual’, sigh, soz). I think too that my lack of knowledge on cultural theory relating to fine art might be impeding full appreciation of the other contributions?

The beer is alternating taste-wise — one sip will be sweet and syrupy, the next smoky, woody and aromatic the way you expect burning an exotic wood might be. It’s warmed up a little and feels a lot more balanced than my initial sip-reaction, and it’s taken me about two hours to finish it and the zine above.

I’ll finish with a quote from the zine’s editorial that struck my fancy, because it reminds me that science and creativity are excellent bedfellows, and long may they continue to be.

Dreams are often the ‘innocents’ that become real in ways quite opposite to their germinations.