Penny Modra is editorial director at The Good Copy, a Melbourne-based writing studio and grammar school. She is a regular ‘grammar enthusiast’ guest on ABC Radio Melbourne and co-founder of Crossword Club (Collingwood). She has written about visual arts and other things for The Age, Vice and Smith Journal, and copy-edited everything from Head Full of Snakes magazine to PhDs that are due in twelve hours. Back in the middle ages, Penny was a co-editor of Melbourne’s experimental poster publishing project Is Not Magazine (2005–2008, RIP).
is In Wild Air
Church of Satan Recommends...
I’ve always been interested in the Church of Satan. Don’t ask me why. Okay, ask me. I think it’s because they’re basically humanists, and they often have great outfits.
A while ago I came across this list of the films they recommend. Why do satanists like An Inspector Calls? And Pennies From Heaven starring Steve Martin and Christopher Walken? The answers may shock you. Read this very thoughtful interview with Magus Peter H. Gilmore, the Church of Satan's High Priest, to find out more.
I’ve said this before but I think Reverend Jen’s Really Cool Neighbourhood is the best neighbourhood guide ever written. Reverend Jen lived for a lot of years on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, in an apartment that doubled as a troll museum. The book is a two-parter. The front is a handy guide; the back is an adaptation of Les Misérables, which Jen once performed as a puppet show outside the offices of the notorious Misrahi Realty. Here’s what Printed Matter has to say: “Les Misrahi … [is] an epic musical puppet show that tells the story of Jen Valjean, an ex-convict who has just been freed after serving three years for stealing a glue stick from Kinkos.” Copies still available!
I can’t say too much because I’m a superfan of Vanessa Berry’s, and my sycophantic rantings might put you off. But please do check out her blog Mirror Sydney. Vanessa describes it as: “An album of Sydney encounters … The psychogeography of the city. Places unusual, overlooked, hidden and secret. Paying attention to the under-appreciated parts of the urban environment since 2012.” I feel like paying attention to the under-appreciated parts of anything is not a natural skill. But Vanessa writes about them in a way that makes even the *smells* of Sydney jump off the page.
My friend and colleague Max Olijnyk has been threatening to write a book for years, and now he’s done it. I know he’s my friend so obviously I’m biased, but I can’t recommend this short story collection enough. Max is a bit of a truth-seer. The older I get, the more I realise it’s hard to notice what’s going on around you - let alone describe it to other people later on in a vivid way. The stories aren’t fictional; they’re just things that happened to Max. But each one is a small dose of realness. Speaking of which, here's a great interview he did with one of my other favourite writers.
Ways of Seeing
Have you seen John Berger’s Ways of Seeing? It was a four-part BBC series that first aired in 1972. John Berger was an art critic, novelist, painter, poet and genius of straight talk. He died earlier this month, which reminded me to watch his show again! I’m obsessed with people who talk about art like humans instead of like adverb robots.
Last year I discovered this YouTube channel all about physics, and I haven’t looked back. I watch an episode every night! It’s a series of short interviews with physicists, who try to explain a particular concept in ten minutes. Some of my favourites are Ed Copleand explaining extra dimensions, Meghan Gray explaining density, and Mike Merrifield explaining Lagrange points. It’s relaxing because physics is pretty hard to understand, which means you need to focus every brain cell while you’re watching, which means your brain cells aren’t worrying about other things. You can sign up for email alerts from the director, Brady Haran.