Thursday, 30 June 2011

Oh no! is going to be closed!

For me, this is a little bit like when one of those independent bookstores or awesome little cafes closes down - I feel like the city is losing something awesome, but I never used the place myself...

B wrote a very politically correct rant about the closure when it was announced for her old work blog.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Moustache puns

Moustache puns are the best of puns.

This is the one I found today, inspiring this blog:

I don't mind admitting it took me a moment to get it, but it was most amusing when I finally did. I wish I could expand on the topic and start a bit of an internet search for the world's best moustache pun but unfortunately, earlier this week I found it.

Harry Potter's hair

Has anyone else noticed the problems with characters' hair in the Harry Potter movie series?

With the exception of the glorious redness of the Weasley's collective hair, and Alan Rickman's perfected not-washed-in-a-year look, it's all beautifully groomed and Hollywood-ised.

Fighting ginger prejudice wherever they find it.

J.K.Rowling consistently describes Harry and Hermione as having wild, untamable hair. In Hermione's case, hers in 'bushy' and 'shaggy', Harry's famously sticks up in every direction and resists combing – it's something he shares with his Dad. Yet I think the only movie his hair looks even vaguely accurate is 'Prisoner of Azkaban'. As for Emma Watson, come movie 2, she's got delightful wavy, curly locks that I can't help but look at and think 'I wish my hair did that!'.

Version 1 - the fluffy hair Hermione.

Version 2: the poster-girl for wavy hair.

Let's take a look at the hair in Harry Potter movies and see just how right I am:

Sorcerer's Stone - Justin Bieber without the side-swipe.

Prisoner of Azkaban: messy, just as it should be.

Half-blood Prince: despite the fluffy half-fringe that is slightly reminiscent of an 80's poof-fringe, still disappointingly clean and well-groomed.

That's just what happens when a movie gets made in Hollywood.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Why yes, this is a Katy Perry music video

But it's hilarious. Glee kids, Hanson, Kenny G (I'm really not sure why he's in there, except maybe to amp the 80s vibe up to 11). Watch it for Corey and Debbie Gibson at the end, I love a Lost Boys reference.

Thank you for dinner

Style from the Suburban Intellect would like to thank friend and follower Gabi for a delicious dinner last night.

There are no photos because we're not that obsessive about this blog - yet.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Movie review: James McAvoy, sorry...X-Men First Class

Last night I went to see X-Men: First Class and loved it. It was exactly what I thought it would be; an action movie covered in a thin layer of translucent plot with a healthy side serving of cheese.

What really made this evening of high-quality low-thought entertainment was the casting of James McAvoy as the young Charles Xavier. X-Men was two hours of James McAvoy deliciousness.

James McAvoy made it on to my Grade 12 'celebrity husbands' list (I think Jane's as well, but she might not like that I said that) and I think he'd still be on there if, say, I got desperately bored at work one Friday and wrote a new version. He and January Jones both played telepathes and I think they were the sexiest mutants in the whole movie. James McAvoy as the thinking, charming but incredibly powerful mutant and January Jones as the evil side-kick strutting through the movie in a series of skimpy or leather outfits a la a 1960's Bond film.

If you know what should happen in the comics, you probably won't enjoy the movie. But that's so often the way with book → movie translations; guaranteed to disappoint and annoy most fans. I personally got very indignant at the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 trailer before the film started.

Anyway, the movie was very entertaining provided you had no expectations. I'm not going to try for a more sophisticated review – there are enough reviews by people who really care about the franchise for that. Just go if you like a night of mindless entertainment and James McAvoy.

Please don't take him just because you can

I should preface by saying I'm not a huge Dolly Parton fan. I respect the lady for a lot of reasons - her voice, her wardrobe, her commitment to plastic - but I don't own any CDs. Anyway, last week I got an enews thing telling me she's touring in November, and I've had Jolene stuck in my head ever since.

And what's the point of having a blog if you can't inflict ear worms on the general population?

Not only that, but check out that video! The hair! The flares! The sleeves! The rhinestones! It's magical...

Monday, 13 June 2011

What would you take with you if your house was on fire?

I recently discovered a website called The Burning House. It's an open blog of what people (mostly professional photographers, it seems) would take with them if their house was on fire. It's beautifully photographed – of course – but also really fascinating to see what people perceive as essential and irreplaceable in their lives.

I think part of the 'about' explanation states that all people and animals have been safely removed from the building, so there's no need to include them in your lists. I think 'your handbag' is also excluded. This is all about the material possessions that are part of you and the loss of which you would truly mourn.

There are a lot of cameras, old negatives, photo albums. There are also a lot of favourite shoes – none of which are new, they're all old and battered and comfy-looking. Most people have something that belonged to their parents or Grandparents. Some people seem to have just decided to save the most expensive items from their living room.

When you look at it – which I'm imaging you have by now – you start to wonder what you'd take with you. Well, this is my list:
  • my holiday scrap books

  • my box of letters

  • the grey wool dress that is the first piece of vintage I ever bought

  • the first print I ever bought, on a family holiday in Regensburg

  • my external hard drive

  • my Bally heels

  • vintage two-tones bought on holiday in Cairns

  • collection of sketch pads containing my drawing of shoes I wish I could make

  • my favourite pair of jeans

  • jewellery belonging to both of my Grandmas

And this is what that looks like:

It's not exactly an easy collection to carry, but that's not the point. When I sat down to think about this I was looking around my room, my bookshelves really thinking about what I couldn't replace. There is a lot of stuff I'd miss and while it wouldn't be the same brand new, I could still replace it - my 5 year long collection of international Vogue's, my books, my HUGE closet and all my shoes. I'd miss them, but ultimately it is all replaceable.
The items above I could never replace. Some of them – like the shoes and jeans – are just absolute favourites. But my hard drive with 10 years worth of photos and the start of a crappy novel I'll never finish? Irreplaceable.

Thursday, 9 June 2011


I don't know why, but this is fascinating. Chickens. Live.

Think of the children!

I live practically next door to a high school. There's a second high school just down the road, and a third up the hill the other way. Outside the first high school, on a main road, there's a bus shelter. One of the now-infamous Rip n Roll ads is on that bus shelter.

Or it was - when I drove past a few days ago, I noticed that the ad had been sprayed over. I could still see the edges, visible around the sides of some white or silver spray paint. And the graffitier hadn't put offensive words or tags or anything, they'd just blocked out the image of the ad.

It was pretty obvious what'd happened - someone had decided to take matters into their own hands, and ensure "the children" never had to see the horrifying sight of QAHC's ad, which features two fully-clothed gay men embracing. Or two adults holding a condom - whatever aspect of it was supposed to be more offensive, I forget. (Probably the gay part.)

Then, I drove past the sign again a day or two later, only to see that someone had taped up an A4-size version of the original ad over the whited-out version.

This whole deal, with Adshel, the Australian Christian Lobby, and the Rip n Roll ads, has had me more interested in local social issues than anything else in ages!

The first thing I appreciated about it was the sheer volume of people who've been so keen to speak up against homophobia and censorship. The Facebook group had 40,000 people last time I checked - and when I checked this morning, it had over 96,000!! - and while I can't tell how many of them are local (not without stalking all of their profiles, anyway) I think it does undermine Brisbane's reputation as a redneck, homophobic town. (Suck on that, haters!)

Goa Billboards has also reacted to the campaign (probably capitalising on the publicity, but still) by starting a new campaign called Embrace Acceptance. While I'm not totally sure what this campaign is for (maybe it's like a NOH8 thing?), it's an interesting result. I quite liked their press release, too.

To be cynical, I think a key element of this campaign was probably that it was easy. All someone had to do to show their support was accept a Facebook event - they didn't have to march, they didn't have to protest - and maybe send an email. Essentially it was armchair activism, and I think that appeals to a lot of people who feel strongly about stuff but don't have the time or the inclination to stand in the sun and yell at The Man.

And I think this benefit of the information age should be embraced. When a vocal hate group claims to have "grassroots support", it's just getting easier and easier for the actual grassroots to disagree with them.

It's also easier for someone to publish the so-called letters of protest on the internet so everyone can point and laugh at how badly written they are. Or how obvious it is that someone's hit copy + paste a bunch of times. (They seem to have been taken down again, or I'd link to them here.) Homophobes are going to have to up their game, if they don't want everyone poking holes in their stories.

So yeah, the actual grassroots has spoken. And the consensus seems to be "We're not gonna censor ourselves just so you don't have to have awkward conversations with your children. Also, use protection."

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Book review: 'Guns, germs and steel' by Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond's 'Guns, germs and steel' was first published in 1998. I bought it a few months ago from Avid Reader because it was one of my Dad's favourite books; a much-thumbed and re-re-re-read volume always in reach and which I was constantly advised to read.

So I finally picked it up for myself because I felt it would be one of those volumes that would stay with me for years and years, be re-read many times and make my book collection look that little more intelligent.

'Guns, germs and steel' is a 'brief' history of how human history evolved. How people moved across the world, evolved and how groups came to be 'the-haves' and others the 'have-nots'. Why was it that Europeans developed at a seeming faster rate than so many other groups and were the ones to charter the ocean and invade and sometimes conquer peoples in the new world

Diamond quickly dismisses any simple, racist explanation that some people are better / smarter / more innovative and inventive and spends 425 pages explaining why what happened, happened.

I love science books. I love reading about history and the history of 'things' – cod, salt, tobacco. Reading about the history of these seminal resources or developments in human history is absolutely fascinating, plus makes you better at post-wine-bottles small talk.

'Guns, germs and steel' is easy to read and easy to understand. There are times when Diamond talks about 'other works in this field' etc. and 'calibrated' and 'uncalibrated' time and I start skim-reading like I'm reading 'The Brothers Karamazov' and skipping over the Russian names, but the assumptions of pre-comprehension are minimal.

It's a fascinating read. I now know why human history unfolded the way it did. Why so many societies – including Aboriginal Australians - remained hunter-gatherers until the arrival of Europeans and their crops and animals. Why crops and animals spread so easily across Eurasia, allowing it to become the most advanced continent but didn't spread from North to South America. Why certain diseases from certain parts of the world developed and allowed their transmitters to conqueor by infection but not the reverse. It is fascinating.

If you wanted to read a potted history of why human history panned out the way it did, this is the book to read. Buy and read, because you're going to want it on your shelves.

In one sentence: A seminal, comprehensive work on the how's and why's human history unfolded the way it did that will live on your bookshelf for the rest of your life.

TV Review: Sherlock

So, I've been watching Sherlock. And I have to say, this is high-quality TV.

For those who don't know, it's a BBC mini-series, a contemporary update of the Arthur Conan Doyle stories set in modern London. The whole thing first aired in July last year (I'm pretty late to the party), with three episodes at 90 minutes each. The internet tells me there's going to be more episodes this year, hopefully also in July.

Now, I'm not really an Arthur Conan Doyle devotee, so I'm not totally familiar with the original content. The first episode is apparently Doyle's first Sherlock novel, A Study In Scarlet, re-imagined and re-named as "A Study In Pink". From what I could glean (from Wikipedia), they've deviated pretty heavily from the Scarlet storyline, probably to better reflect Our Modern Times, but they've also stayed faithful in a lot of ways, and where they've deviated they've littered the new parts with reference to the old.

"A Study In Pink" is a great introduction to this new Sherlock Holmes. The case features several very suspicious suicides, a lot of baffled police, and a very active Sherlock Holmes. This is no boring show about an armchair detective; "A Study In Pink" features, among other things, a high speed foot chase through half of London, with Sherlock in the lead, thrilled to be chasing a clue. The show itself is fast-paced, and if Sherlock works fast, the criminals work even faster.

I think the atmosphere of the whole thing is definitely why I liked it so much. It's gritty, quick, clever, and according to the showrunner, trying to capture the spirit of the source material as much as possible. Steven Moffatt was quoted as saying that "Doyle's stories were never about frock coats and gas light; they're about brilliant detection, dreadful villains and blood-curdling crimes...other detectives have cases, Sherlock Holmes has adventures, and that's what matters."

In a sense, the only major updates are about the crimes themselves, and the methods Sherlock uses to solve them. He texts (a lot), has a website, uses his smartphone to get weather readings to determine who was where at what time. Watson keeps a blog instead of writing diaries. Sadly, no-one smokes a pipe or has a monocle, but that could change in upcoming episodes. But overall, it's still Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson, squabbling and solving crimes all over London.

Another strength of this series are the characters and casting. As I said, I'm not totally familiar with the original material, but this version of the titular character is frankly intriguing and I can't imagine Moffatt and Mark Gatiss (the other showrunner) have strayed too far from the source.

Sherlock is arrogant, misanthropic, and totally brilliant. He deduces facts from the smallest detail, obsesses until a puzzle has an answer, and allows nothing to stop him until the situation has been resolved to his satisfaction. He uses modern science, of course, but he seems to have the same drug problems, although he uses multiple nicotine patches instead of filling rooms with pipe smoke. He gets assistance from graffiti artists as well as the army of street kids the original Sherlock had to deal with, and he gets to 'detect' things like blow-jobs and infidelity. He also freely describes himself as a high-functioning sociopath, a diagnosis the original Sherlock probably wouldn't have admitted to (or even had access to, I'm not sure if they called them sociopaths back then).

Watson is famously the ordinary man up against Holmes' brilliant, analytical, emotionally-detached personality. He's a blogger in this new incarnation, and the blog was established on the recommendation of his therapist, the one he's been seeing since he got back from combat in Afghanistan. The old Watson had injuries as well, but this Watson has PTSD and a psychosomatic limp. He gets involved with Sherlock because they end up sharing a flat, but he stays involved because secretly he misses the excitement of war. I'm not sure if Sherlock and Watson have always been linked through their shared love of excitement and adventures, but it makes sense. Part of the fun is also watching Watson try to cope as our 'normal' rep in Sherlock's fast-paced and slightly deranged world - he comes home to find human heads in the fridge and eyeballs in the microwave, as part of Sherlock's "experiments", so he's got a lot to cope with.

Now, casting. Overall, this whole show is a great example of what the BBC does best - classic material, strong scripts, awesome showrunners (Steven Moffatt's responsible for the new Doctor Who, and Mark Gatiss did The League of Gentlemen and wrote a heap of great Doctor Who eps). But it could have all fallen apart (or been really boring) if they hadn't found two great leads, with great chemistry.

Benedict Cumberbatch is the guy playing Holmes (and I think he's fantastically appropriate for the job based on his name alone) and he's brilliant and slightly unusual-looking, which just heightens his effectiveness. Martin Freeman, who you might recognise as Arthur Dent or 'that dude from the Office', plays 'ordinary bloke with hidden depths' perfectly, as a perfect foil in acting as well as looks. As much as all the action and mystery and deduction make for a good show, the growing friendship between these two give it enough depth to make it a great show.

SO, hopefully I've convinced the 3 people reading this blog to get on board. I know I can't wait for more episodes - this show is a good time!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Why you should buy vintage and second hand - pt. 1

Today I started a new job. It was my first corporate job in 3 years to Ever. I spent a whole weekend for shopping for acceptable work clothes. My last 2 jobs were in a coffee shop and a delightfully relaxed arts organisation, so it's been jeans and t-shirts for 3 years. So I went out and bought pants, knits shirts - new and from some of my favourite op shops - but that's probably going to feature in a later blog blurb.

What I want to rave about right now, reason to buy vintage no. 1. is quality bargains.

Last night I decided what I was going to wear to day 1 of new job and I put it out. I was that excited / prepared. Very day 1 grade 8 it was. I had a new navy (love navy!) CUE dress and old vintage heels. I love my new dress but I love these shoes so much more.

They're Bally - a luxury leather goods brand founded in the 1850's in Switzerland and still among the highest-quality leather goods brands you can buy in the world. I bought them in a London vintage shop for £25. More than I've spent on most of my op-shop / vintage purchases.

They're navy (love navy!) 100% leather made in Italy and everything about them is high-quality, designed, thought-out, made to last. You can tell, when you put them on that they are beautifully made shoes. It's not just about how they look - and they look stunning. Or the details, such as the snake skin feature on the heels where no one can really see it. What sells it for me is that after 9 hours in them, getting up and down, many flights of stairs and walking to the coffee shop, they still felt great. No blisters, no aching feet like I would get during a drunken night out. I am a big heels person but I've spent the last 4 years of my life in flats. I was really worried about how I'd do in heels this first day because I didn't think it would be a good first impression to change my shoes half way through they day.

But my beautiful, quality Bally shoes were the best choice. I just wish I could duplicate them and have an ever-lasting pair.

My vintage Bally heels. Because I sure as hell can't afford a new pair.

Theatre Review: Faustus

Christopher Marlowe's Faustus, also known as The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, is playing at the Powerhouse until 25 June, and if you're at all interested in excellent acting, awesome staging, lyrically complicated dialogue, or making a deal with the devil, I recommend you go see it! (Note: Under 30s get in for $30...)

The story is, of course, that Dr Heinrich Faustus gets bored of studying things like Law and Medicine, and turns to magic and necromancy instead. He summons a demon, and makes a deal with Lucifer for the demon, Mephistopheles, to be his servant for twenty-four years, in exchange for his soul. One pact written in blood later, and most of the twenty-four pass in hedonistic pleasure-seeking. But then Faustus falls in love with Gretchen, an innocent, unspoilt girl. Because the play is a tragedy, this doesn't end well.

First thing to know is that this is a joint production by QTC and the Bell Shakespeare Company. The last of their joint efforts that I saw was Anatomy Titus: Fall of Rome, and I have never been so amazed by a piece of theatre. Faustus doesn't quite knock that one off its pedestal - hard to do, it's Titus - but it's a fantastic production all the same. Bell Shakespeare seem to have a knack for stripping back Shakespearean-era texts just enough, dispensing with anything that will distract an audience from the meat of the story, and Faustus is another great example.

The quality of the acting helps as well, of course. John Bell himself played Mephistopheles, and he had a fantastic collection of actors around him. I don't think I've seen the guy in the lead role in anything else, but he was excellent! So was Gretchen, and so were the collection of devils. Jason Klarwein in particular seemed to enjoy his cynical, twisted Lucifer, if the dead-pan expression and devil's horns hand gestures are anything to go by.

Aside from that, this production featured some other interesting modernisation. The costumes and props were modern, and there was the odd bit of slang thrown in, but what really stood out were the effects and multimedia.

The stage was set with an unfinished, unpainted smaller stage within the larger stage of the regular theatre. You could see the wings, the props at the sides - overall there was no effort made to disguise the fact that this was a play. The actors all behaved as though this smaller stage was their total stage, and it had the overall effect of a kind of entrapment, a slight sense of tight spaces and claustrophobia, which made sense considering the story. The lighting and effects were excellent overall, but I really liked the use of projected films, to illustrate some of the longer speeches within the text. Towards the climax, two of the actors were filmed live and projected onto the front curtain, presumably so we could see them in close up during their scene. It was a simple and very effective moment.

So yeah, overall, two thumbs up! I thoroughly enjoyed this production, and while it always takes a while to get into the rhythm of the language, in this case it's well worth the effort.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Cheers to the old people

Today we had a party for my Grandma’s 101th birthday.

She was born in June, 1910 and when I think about how the world has changed over the course of her lifetime, it boggles my mind. She saw out every major war of the 20th Century except the Boer war (1899 - 1902). She saw the rise of the automobile and the introduction of radio, let alone television and the internet. ‘Australia’ was only 9 years old when she was born.

I wonder if I’ll see such amazing changes in my lifetime. Sure, technology has already profoundly changed all our lives and how we do things, but I wonder if the way we live and operate and interact will change so dramatically from one end of my life to the other, as it did so for her.

As anyone who has met her will tell you, my Grandma is a dude. And way, way cooler than I will ever be. Most of the niftiest things in my wardrobe I’ve nicked from hers. She’s led an amazing life, even though she never did anything ‘out of the ordinary’. I love listening to her stories and am reaching that stage when I wish I’d asked her more questions when we were both a little younger.

Some of the fabulous scarves that moved from my Grandma's wardrobe to mine.

On her 100th birthday I finally asked her if she remembered the first time she got drunk. She did. In a little pub in outback Queensland, she’d been having a few drinks with friends and didn’t realise just how many drinks until she went to stand up. But, she told me proudly, she had still managed to make it back to the hotel she was staying in. Drunkenness hasn’t changed.

On her 80th birthday in 1990, she started muttering about wanting a computer to stay up to date and so she could use it to type out her life story. We gave her an old computer which she played around with for a while but she was too busy to spend any real time on it. On her 90th birthday she was lamenting that she hadn’t spent the time to stay in touch with technology and she would now like a better computer ‘with the internet’.

She’s 101 and practically indestructible. As her doctors keep telling us, the only thing wrong with her is old age and there is no cure for that.

She’s been an amazing Grandmother and is one of the most important people in my life, a role model and one of my favourite people in the world.

Grandmothers and Grandfathers are precious, even if we don’t always appreciate them when we’re young.

Happy birthday Grandma, you old rocker you.

Randomly on YouTube: Spotlight

Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump is making some solo music - he's also started ageing backwards, apparently - but check out the music video for one of his new songs! Yes, it's very different from Fall Out Boy, etc, but my point is, I've never seen anyone do that on a pogo stick before!

I wonder if B would let me go indoor skydiving...
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