This is still our Sydney

kazblah

Flowers in Martin Place at 9.30am on Tuesday. Flowers in Martin Place at 9.30am on Tuesday.

It’s Monday morning and I’m running late. Walking late. It’s twenty minutes to ten when I turn left from Phillip St into Martin Place.

I don’t look at the Lindt cafe as I pass. My eyes are focused on the Channel Seven news ticker. I can’t remember now what it says but I’m sure Michael Clarke’s hamstring features somewhere.

I love Martin Place, its wide indulgent promenade and its buildings that speak of other times. I always take a moment to breathe it in.

Man Haron Monis is only minutes away. This morbid chapter is already unfolding. By the time I settle at my desk, he has entered the Lindt cafe. The lives of seventeen people going about the mundane business of ordering and serving coffee are now forever changed.

Before long, a large TV screen in our office is showing static…

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Editors’ Picks of the Year: Notable Reads on WordPress.com

The WordPress.com Blog

Our editors dove into the archives to resurface top posts published on WordPress.com this year, from personal essays to comics, and photography to fiction. Here’s a glimpse of what you published — and what the community especially loved — in 2014.

“Ever Wished That Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Would Return to the Comics Page? Well, He Just Did,” Stephan Pastis, Pearls Before Swine

“Bill Watterson is the Bigfoot of cartooning,” writes comic artist Stephan Pastis of the legendary Calvin and Hobbes creator. This summer, Pastis collaborated — in secret — with Watterson. Their awesome idea: Watterson would silently step in and draw Pastis’ comic strip, Pearls Before Swine, for a few days, pretending to be a second grader. Pastis recounts the experience, offering a rare glimpse of Bigfoot.

Pearls Before Swine; Stephan Pastis; June 4, 2014.Pearls Before Swine; Stephan Pastis; June 4, 2014.

“No Apology,” Mehreen Kasana

I will apologize for ISIS when every…

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The Gothic Life and Times of Horace Walpole

Longreads

Carrie Frye | Longreads | December 2014 | 16 minutes (4,064 words)

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As a child, Horace Walpole frequently heard it said of himself that surely he would die soon. Born in England in 1717, the last of his mother’s six children, he was fragile and prone to illness from birth. Two siblings before him had died in infancy, and so in the family order it went: three older children, loud, healthy and opinionated; two grave markers; and then young Horace toddling up behind—half child, half potential grave marker.

Naturally, his mother, Catherine, spoiled him. His father, Sir Robert Walpole, was the King’s prime minister. This often kept him away from home, as did a long-time mistress who acted, more than his wife did, as his hostess and companion. For her part Catherine had her own dalliances. It was that sort of marriage. The Walpoles…

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In Praise Of Decay (and against plastic)

Malcolm Guite

In pale gold leaf-fall losing shape and edge In pale gold leaf-fall losing shape and edge

I walk each morning in some woodland near my home and especially savour in this late autumn, early winter season, the damp carpet of fallen leaves, now decaying and forming  rich mulch that will feed the soil for future growth. Even in their decay, losing edge and shape, melding and blending together there is in this carpet of leaves, a kind of grace and beauty. The other morning though, these meditations were interrupted by a sudden intrusion. There amongst the gold and mottled leaf mould, like some harsh alien excrescence, was a discarded plastic bag. It was totally out of place and told its own tale of indifference and carelessness; not just the carelessness of the person that dropped it, but the carelessness of the culture that produced it. The trees shed their leaves, and in that fall and letting go  achieve…

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The Endurance of Tacloban: Heart of the Philippines

Global Sojourns Photography

Tacloban Philippines Save the Children Yolanda -35

Violent winds swirl the dark, ominous thunderclouds overhead. The pounding waves crash onto the rocky shore and the roar of the Pacific Ocean makes its intention clear: thrash anything in its path.

With electricity in the air, I am oblivious to everything except the power coming my way as rain beats against my face, sucking me into the depths of the storm.

Tacloban Philippines Save the Children Yolanda -33

Ever since I was young, the powerful forces of storms, especially on the Oregon Coast, have held a rare type of electricity for me.  Electricity that excites my soul and eliminates any trace of fear I may have.

Chasing the idea of becoming one with the storm.  Not just to see the power unravel in front of me, but to physically feel this rare electricity.

Tacloban Philippines Save the Children Yolanda -3

The past three days I’ve experienced a different type of feeling.

Walking along the Tacloban city coastline watching the sunrise, I am beginning…

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Grendel as Grinch

The Heretic's Mirror

Every Scylding in Heorot liked mead a lot,
But Grendel the beast, roaring outside did not.

Grendel hated Scyldings, the whole Danish clan.
Can I say why? I don’t think I can.

He spied on the Scyldings, he fumed and he wailed.
He watched as in Heorot they drank mead and drank ale.

“How can I hurt them, the king and his thanes?”
Alone in his barrow, it drove him insane.

Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
Grendel got a horrible, awful idea!

That fiendish old monster was up to no good.
He decided to kill them and gorge on their blood.

Outside the mead-hall, Cain-spawn raged and he roared,
And with his great strength he broke down the door.

The Scyldings lined up, their swords in a row.
“You warriors,” cried Grendel, “are the first ones to go.”

He slaughtered the Danes, ripped many apart.
He crunched…

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