Last week I did one of my favourite things: I went to the movies, alone, during business hours. When I first moved to Melbourne I used to do this every Monday - discount day - as a treat to myself for surviving another week of unemployment during a harsh Melbourne winter. Then I started working full time and I didn't go so much. When I started freelancing and contracting a few years ago, I thought I'd have all the flexibility and free time in the world that nothing could stop me from reigniting this tradition. Well anyone who’s a freelancer will know that this is complete rubbish. But this week I managed to do it. I wanted something to put a smile on my face and saw a film on the list and went along knowing very little about it. It was Frank - a very dark comedy about a band where the lead singer wears a giant head - and I loved it. So much so that when I visited one of my favourite bookshops after the film, I bought the book.
Frank is based on a newspaper article by Jon Ronson (who also wrote The Men Who Stare At Goats and The Psychopath Test), where he tells the story of playing in a band where the enigmatic front man Frank Sidebottom wore a giant novelty head. The screenplay takes this idea further into a wonderfully imaginative, dark comedy but that has a lot of heart and warmth to it. The book, which has come out to coincide with the film, re-publishes the original article (though it’s still available on The Guardian’s archive here), as well as Ronson’s notes on building the story into a screenplay. The lovely thing about this book is feeling Ronson’s nostalgia for the time, but also his genuine friendship for Frank. He works incredibly hard to ensure that through the article, this book and the film, that Frank is not humiliated or bullied.
It is incredibly rare for me to re-read a book, but I will often watch films over and over. I know that Frank will become one of these films. Because when it’s cold and grey outside and you need to escape to another world, why not it be one where a band hides away in picturesque Irish countryside with a lead singer who wears a giant novelty head? This book certainly doesn’t work without having seen the film, but it is a lovely side note that speaks to the story, rather than cashing in on the names of the stars that play in the movie. And it does something lovely, which is remind us that the best films come from great stories, imagination and heart.
It has been absolutely freezing in Melbourne of late. I know I keep saying this, but seriously, it’s cold and grey almost all of the time and often fluctuating between drizzling, raining and hailing. It’s not fun. But the nice thing is that using the oven warms up our apartment perfectly, plus it gives me something to do to take my mind off the grey sky. So on Sunday evening I baked this delicious Banana Granola, another recipe from Green Kitchen Stories (as was the Fat Almond Pancake made for HHhH and the Orange and Vanilla Overnight Oats made for Mateship With Birds). It had three amazing perks: it used up two of the revolting over-ripe bananas hiding at the back of the freezer; it warmed the apartment with the heat of the oven; plus it made a couple of gifts for friends who have helped me out recently and more than a few breakfasts for myself. Served with goats milk yoghurt and the very last of the poached quinces made with Americanah here), it made for a surprisingly savoury treat. There’s very little sweetness from the granola itself, but that makes for a nice balance as far as I’m concerned and you could always drizzle a little honey over the yoghurt or serve it with a sweeter fruit accompaniment like stewed apples or fresh strawberries. I’d love to make it again with more spices - cinnamon, ground ginger or nutmeg would all work well - plus, it’ll give me another excuse to stay warm.
I bought this book from a wonderful bookstore where a dear friend of mine works, who’s patience is interminable. However as someone who has fifteen years customer service experience, I can empathise only too well with this author in A Search-and-Rescue Mission at the Bookstore, posted late last year by The Washington Post.