About Jamie Ashbird

Jamie Ashbird was born from an egg on a mountain top. At least that's what she keeps telling people. In fact she was born, quite boringly, from a uterus and was raised in Melbourne. It is here, in her native habitat, that she roams about watching the world go by and quietly judging people. She is also a writer... ahem, apologies, typo... she is almost a writer but wastes too much of her time watching other people play video games on YouTube.

We’re All Mad Here

ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND Book Cover ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND
Lewis Carroll
1865

tove janssonThere is something that happens to one’s very soul somewhere between childhood and adulthood and it is this: in some people it dies and in some people it lives. I don’t mean soul in any religious sense but that thing inside you that makes you human. Your mind, consciousness, heart, whatever you want to call it. And it doesn’t really die, it just withers into a small black stone that either sits quiet-like with the potential for reawakening or just slowly rots spreading the chancre throughout your entire body. The longer you let it sit there marinating in fixed ideas and cold resentments and failed FTTN policies, the harder it is to recover any joy in the simplest of things, like rain on a roof after a long drought or kitten batting about a bottle top. And yes, this sounds like a very middle-class view of things but do try your best not to create well-intentioned but patronising two dimensional caricatures of human beings. Instead, go out and look at some sky-kittens* or if you can’t find any recite a poem whilst balancing a shoe on your nose.

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Today Will Always Be Tomorrow

THE WATCHMAKER OF FILIGREE STREET Book Cover THE WATCHMAKER OF FILIGREE STREET
Natasha Pulley
Bloomsbury Circus, RRP$29.99
July 2015

For those of you who were hurtling toward adulthood in the mid-90s listening to Blur’s The Great Escape over and over again, you may recall the quiet melancholy tune sandwiched between the poppier sounds of ‘It Could Be You’ and ‘Globe Alone’. It went a little something like this:

“Ernold Same awoke from the same dream in the same bed at the same time
Looked in the same mirror made the same frown
And felt the same way as he did every day
Then Ernold Same caught the same train at the same station
Sat in the same seat with the same nasty stain next to same old what’s his name
On his way to the same place to do the same thing again and again and again
Poor old Ernold Same”

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Flempybungling and Doodlesnatching

FLANIMALS Book Cover FLANIMALS
Ricky Gervais, illustrated by Rob Steen
First published 2004

A short while ago I threw three and a half years worth of university notes into recycling. This may not seem like a big deal to most people but know this—those little ribbons sewn onto the inside of tops to hang them up with; I cut those off and keep them… just in case. That’s right. I’m a just-in-caser. I might use them one day, you don’t know.

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Don’t Feed the Trolls

STALLO Book Cover STALLO
Stefan Spjut, translated by Susan Beard
Faber/Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99
July 2015

Imagine, if you will, a scene: a crowd of sports fans shocked into silence. A bobsled overturned oh-so-close to the end of the track. Four plucky Jamaicans crawl unharmed out of their upended bobsled, their hopes and dreams for Olympic glory shattered. But what’s this? They’re picking up the bobsled. I don’t believe it! They’re picking it up and now they are carrying it. These crazy guys are going to get to that damn finish line by hook or by crook. It’s time people. Can you feel it? The air is buzzing with it. It’s perfect. Someone in the crowd feels it and they’ve started it—the slow clap. It builds, slowly of course, as more and more people join in. It soon becomes a joyous crescendo and the crowd goes wild, spurring on our heroes to reach their poignant but ultimately pointless goal.

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Stop Right Now, Thank You Very Much

HAMISH AND THE WORLDSTOPPERS Book Cover HAMISH AND THE WORLDSTOPPERS
Danny Wallace, illustrated by Jamie Littler
Simon & Schuster, RRP $25.99
March 2015

What would you do if the whole world suddenly froze? Would you panic? Would you pinch yourself to see if you were dreaming? I’ll tell you what you’d do, you’d get your phone out and start filming, let’s be honest. But, BUT, imagine if time did freeze. Just for a few minutes. Think of all the sweets you could loot or the mischief you could get up to with a Sharpie and the top lips of your office mates… just sayin’.

Of course this is the boring old real world and time doesn’t freeze. Or does it? You wouldn’t know, would you? Unless you’re a Pausewalker… just like Hamish.

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Survival of the Sinistral Warrior

A LEFT HAND TURN AROUND THE WORLD Book Cover A LEFT HAND TURN AROUND THE WORLD
David Wolman
First published 2009

Alright, listen up. I’m about to alienate roughly 90% of the world’s population here and I won’t be apologising for it. We 10% or so get a lot of shtick from you guys so here’s what’s going to happen. You’re quite welcome to stay but know this: if you have nothing constructive to say, your opinions on the upcoming subject are about as welcome and legitimate as a notorious sexist appointing himself representative of an entire sovereign nation’s female population. Obviously that’s a far fetched scenario but, y’know, I’m just throwing out an example here.
If you aren’t prepared to sit there with lips zipped then be off with you. Go sit in that corner, with your easy to find, off-the-shelf scissors and cut some denim for 20 minutes, alright. Go learn any instrument you want without having to adjust every movement in your brain, and think about what you’ve done.

Ok, I think they’ve gone…  Continue reading

The Case of the Sherlock Holmes Anthology

UNDERSHAW-EXT_02

Photo from undershawsaved.com

An interview with Wendy C. Fries

Hello there friends, readers, and erm… others. Are you—like so many clever special and all round interesting people—a fan of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and all manner of mystery, mayhem and adventure?
Of course you are.
Now, dear reader, friend… er… thing, please allow me to introduce you, if you’ve not heard about it already (tut-tut), to a massive, three volume anthology of brand spanking new Sherlock Holmes stories.
Oh yes. Oh yes indeed.
The Kickstarter campaign for MX Publishing’s ambitious project reached its initial goal within 48 hours and, with under three weeks to go, is well on the way to achieving its stretch goal. The proceeds from this anthology will be used for the restoration of Arthur Conan Doyle’s (ACD) home Undershaw. Once in danger of being destroyed, it has now been saved from developers and was bought by Stepping Stones—a school for children with learning difficulties.

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Slippery Little Suckers

THE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS Book Cover THE SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS
Sy Montgomery
Simon & Schuster, RRP $24.99
May 2015

Hello human… at least, I assume you are a human.* Shall we play a game? I want you to think of ten creatures you consider to be intelligent using whatever parameters you yourself deem intelligence to be defined by.
Alrighty. Done?
Now, I’m going to make some extremely presumptive generalisations here but I’m pretty sure most people will list—maybe even in descending order—our closest primate relatives; other furry creatures with expressive faces and eyes; and cheeky birds. I would presume only a small number of people, maybe those with a personal interest, will have listed anything in the fishy, reptiley, amphibiany section. At the very least the lists will comprise very few, if any, invertebrates. Unless of course there are fans of the 2010 World Cup reading this… Continue reading

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES: AND OTHER LESSONS FROM THE CREMATORIUM Book Cover SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES: AND OTHER LESSONS FROM THE CREMATORIUM
Caitlin Doughty
Allen & Unwin, RRP $27.99
April 2015

Death. It’s not a topic most people like to linger on. And those who do perhaps feel they are indulging in morbid and shameful thoughts. Our modern Western societies seem to have done away with death, making it as foreign and invisible as possible so that the living can get on with living… and with spending money.

For me, however, death has always held a fascination. My bookshelves contain probably more books dealing with death and burial practices than might be considered decent. And perhaps the less said about my obsession with the Black Death and with transi tombs, the better.

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The Trolls Go Marching One-By-One

Troll Mountain Book Cover Troll Mountain
Matthew Reilly
Pan Macmillan Australia, RRP $24.99
June 2015

A few years ago I travelled very briefly through Scandinavia. In Norway, I embarked on a train journey through mountainous forest and snowy terrain to get to the town of Voss, nestled at the head of a fjord like a punctus at the end of an exclamation point. The town is horseshoed in by steep hillsides and the fjord itself is bordered by sheer cliffs of mottled grey stone—as fjords generally are.
It was here that I realised trolls were real. And if they were real, then in all probability—as I’d long suspected—so too were elves and other fairy creatures.

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