19 July 2010

record covers, made in the ussr

Monday nights suck. My husband is shooting Nazi Zombies on the Xbox and is about to cop a swift one to the side of the head from yours truly. I got real bored and started flipping through old records at home - I was duly impressed with some of the artwork on old Soviet record sleeves.

P. Tchaikovsky
Dances from the ballet,  
Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra
Conductor Y. Fayer

Voronezh Russian Folk Chorus
soloist M. Mordasova

The Cat's House
Story by S. Marshak, Music N. Aleksandrov

The Wonderful Adventures of Nils with Wild Geese
Selma Lagerlöf 

Voices of Birds in The Nature
(translation found in cover...) 
(a five lp set- first record - Birds of the Far East)

18 July 2010

photos from my sweetheart the drunk



Daphne fled from Apollo

she knew blood and foam
on bedding, screams accompanying
her birth, she prayed for laurel leaves
Transfigured into knotted branches,
Maiden hair to coarseness, skin to bark
to evade rape

But Daisy, my baby

The Metamorphosis of Daphne into a Laurel tree by Apollo
Charles Sims

16 July 2010


woollen cardies, hot tea, cool blue skies, silhouettes of trees

Best things about a dreary winter in the city

1. Melbourne International Film Festival - 
My pick? Deeper than yesterday a short film by recent VCA graduate Ariel Kleiman, it was one of only 2 Aussie films chosen for Cannes this year where it scored a prix. What's long, hard and full of seamen? Set on a Russian submarine, the trailer promises Slavic hot bloodedness, skinny guys in tightie whities and some even tighter acting.
Running in the Accelerator 1 program Saturday 31 July.

2. Reading. I like to head to the The State Library in my best nerd getup. There's always something to see and do. I like to breathe in the old tomes... mmm sexy.

3. Stay indoors and get crafty. Nikki Gabriel takes the nonna out of knitting with her high fashion patterns. I was the victim of many a Patton's pattern - my mum loved to dress my sister and me in matching outfits. Looking back though, wool is cool.

Bring back high tea, Devonshire Tea, a cup of Lipton with your best mate. Get to know your tea cups and read tea leaves. Get a samovar. Read stories while drinking tea in the misty cold, rugged up like Catherine on the moors. 
Go to a country town and sample their home made cakes and tea.

enjoy hibernating!
xx Varia

14 July 2010

dreams of my russian summers

An excerpt from a short story that is threatening to evolve into something much larger...


Before Vienna there was St Petersburg. Under the boulevards and canals of the city was an underground Georgian restaurant with beer on tap and simple blonde wooden furniture. Most traktirs are held in ill-repute, seen by the aspirational class as little more than subterranean drinking dens. This class preferred sushi shops and Euro-renovations on their tiny pre-Perestroika apartments. The ceiling in this place was so smoke darkened that when you threw your eyes up, it disappeared into itself. Licks of red paint on folk decorations became like Chagall’s fantastical flying goats, their apple cheeks resting on the wood of violins. Once, artists seemed to take inspiration from the smoke curling from an opium pipe – slowly and deliberately, into thick, still air. Smoke curl even formed the pattern on brocade curtains at Tsarist theatres before they were rent in half by concrete and Communism. Smoke seemed appropriate –  it was impermanent and untouchable like empires or dreams. Smoke only leaves stains behind as a memory of itself.

12 July 2010

Boston Marriage

MTC gets a pretty bad rap, at least at my school where it as seen as a populist, pedestrian theatre company... Well screw it. As far as a good night out goes, you can't beat a night at the theatre and if it is a well-produced show attended by well-heeled ageing lefties and suits trying to impress their younger starlings with cul-cha - I'll take it with a grain of salt.

Boston Marriage was written by American playwright David Mamet after he was brow beaten for only ever writing about men. The play centres on the relationship between two women in one of those Victorian euphemisms for feminism and lesbian relationships. Actually some women just lived with other women in marraige-like arrangements because men were dolts. Conventional heterosexual marriage insisted upon the woman's submissiveness, not to mention, abandoning career prospects.
The drawing room conversations between the two heroines Anna and Claire are in Victorian high-brow with National Geographic (circa 1892) references to potato famines, geo-politics and exotic Indian mammals - with a dash of cussing and pillow book raunchiness. Vibrators were invented in the Victorian era to treat hysteria in women. Beneath high necklines, sexuality simmered.
In this story, Anna has secured a wealthy male benefactor and hopes to install Claire permanently into her home. Alas, Claire has her eye on a young thing. Slinging amusing insults at one another, Anna finally relents to a cunning seduction plan for the heavily chaperoned girl. It all goes to the shitter when the said young thing spies the necklace Anna is wearing...
 The dialogue is acerbic, the punch lines coming faster than those tennis ball shooting machines - pow-pow- pow. Mamet is showing off here but he's very entertaining. The characters - including Catherine the poor Scottish maid that is often reduced to tears by her cruel mistress - are scheming, sex-starved, consume mountains of sweet meats but are saved by their wit. It could have been a very misogynistic representation of a Boston Marriage but it's forgiven by being so lavish and scathingly funny.

  • Boston Marriage
  • Fairfax - Art Centre Melbourne
  • 4 June - 24 July
  • Running Time: 2 hours including a 20 minute interval