Sunday, 29 January 2012

Introducing The Edge, Brisbane

Have you heard of The Edge? A surprising number of people haven't. When I mention it to friends they general say 'What's that?' then 'Where?' and finally 'How did I not know about this?'. They didn't know about it because to be honest, you have to have worked in the Brisbane arts sector sometime in the last 4 years to have heard about it and even though it is a major achievement for the current state government and I believe a delivery on a previous election promise, they have promoted it very poorly.

The Edge is a digital culture centre that is in effect an extension of the State Library of Queensland. Situated in the South Bank Cultural precinct, sandwiched between QAG and SLQ, it is a small but active digital centre and best of all – free to the public. There are computer labs, an auditorium for hire, media laboratories and comfortable bays of cushioned seats, power sockets, free wifi and gorgeous river views that you can book or just wander in to.

Throughout the year, The Edge run an almost non-stop workshops program as well as fantastic one-off projects (Zombie Climate Apocalypse) that are also usually free and only require your enthusiastic and creative participation.

This year The Edge turns 3 and to celebrate they are holding 50 workshops in 5 hours on Saturday 25 February. Sure, Guerilla Gardening may or may not be your thing, but perhaps high speed photography, LED throwies or 'Inflate O Morphia' will be.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Jane and I are both Robert Downey Jnr fans. We both also love movies with a bit of action, a lot of cheesiness and fun script writing. So when the new Sherlock Holmes film came out, it was a must-see.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is the second in the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes series. The first Sherlock Holmes (2009) was a bit 'radical' as it stepped away from so many Holmes stereotypes. Gone was the deerstalkers, the meerschaum pipe and the quiet brainiac. Holmes was now scruffy man of action; a lover, a fighter and a constant pest to the ever faithful Watson (Jude Law). The cocaine addiction, the slightly irritating pontificating and the genius mind remained. I loved the first Sherlock Holmes as I do all clever crime movies. It was cheesy, sexy and smart and a bundle of fun.

The second instalment of Sherlock, rushed out after the huge success of the first, pits Sherlock against his nemesis Professor James Moriarty, played brilliantly by Jared Harris. Possessing a genius mind and the patience of a sloth, Moriarty has turned from academia to terrorism and it seems that only Holmes can stop him in.

Jared Harris as Professor Moriarty.

Along for the ride are Steven Fry as Mycroft Holmes (family can be so embarrassing), Kelly Reilly as patient and intelligent Mary, Watson's fiancée and a host of random other people you can only tell apart by the patterns of their facial hair.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was everything I expected it to be. There were great action sequences, some good lines and laughs and a whole pizza load of cheese. At times, the willing suspension of disbelief was stretched a bit too far and the continuity was absolute rubbish. Guy Ritchie's over use of slow motion also got rather trying but if you can get over those last few issues, it was a great piece of entertainment, which is al it really needs to be.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – go see it, but make sure you're in the right mood.

Do you really think it's to much?

Images property of WarnerBros. Studios

Friday, 27 January 2012


I'm not really one for religion, but Bowieism has some commandments I can get behind.

I was going to write something here about my top five or top ten favourite Bowie tracks, but that's really kind of impossible; he's got too many awesome songs to make any kind of list. So, in case there are any folks reading this who would love to investigate Bowie and Bowieism, I'm gonna suggest a playlist instead! Here are a bunch of essential Bowie tracks (yes, it's probably all the obvious ones):

  • Starman
  • Space Oddity
  • Ziggy Stardust
  • Five Years
  • Jean Genie
  • Rebel Rebel
  • Suffragette City
  • John, I'm Only Dancing
  • Oh! You Pretty Things
  • Diamond Dogs
  • Sorrow
  • The Man Who Sold The World
  • Ashes To Ashes
  • Changes
  • Young Americans
  • All The Young Dudes
  • Fame
  • Fashion
  • Golden Years
  • Heroes
  • Let's Dance
That's by no means a complete Bowie discography - I'm not so into some of his later stuff, you'll have to investigate that on your own - but it's a start!

Five for Friday no.5

Get drunk faster glasses. I know a few people I might buy these for.

Famous black and white photos redone with colour. Personally I prefer the originals, but whatever floats your boat.

Cambridge Satchels! I just ordered one, blog forthcoming... I'm so excited!


I want this dress.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Stuff I LOVE about Australia

Happy Invasion Day, folks!

Now, while I wish this country wasn't founded on the oppression of a race of people, and then also on convict settlement and labour, I do love a lot of things about living here. There are lots of things I don't love - said invasion and settlement; the recurrence of race politics; various politicians; all those fucking cyclists - but I'm not going to go into detail. Today is for positivity! Yay Australia!

So, here are the top five things I love about Australia and being Australian (feel free to add your own in the comments, of course):

The Weather. Yes, it's been raining for about five days solid in Brisbane, and before that we had some serious humidity going on. But I'm very grateful for the fact that none of us get snowed in every winter, or boiled to death in a year-round summer. Our seasons might be mild, but I'd take that over the alternative. And in general, between Adelaide's arid climate, Melbourne's English winters, and Sydney's gorgeous freshness, I love it that, somewhere in Australia, you can find the right climate for you. (Or, be born somewhere, be too lazy to move, and adapt enough to enjoy whatever the weather is out of self-defense.)

The Environment. We are so freaking lucky we haven't damaged our country too badly - yet, anyway - and we still have so much amazing wilderness. And it's all different - beautiful desert landscapes; actual, for real rainforests (getting rarer by the day); absolutely stunning coastlines. And I love it how, when you get off a plane in Australia, the air smells so different, and so much cleaner, than wherever you just were.

The Wages. Okay, I wasn't going to add in anything political, but seriously. I never appreciated actually getting paid decent wages, even minimum wage, until my friend from America told me about the situation over there. For example, she got paid more in Australia standing on street corners fundraising than she did in the US as a medical professional. Granted, she wasn't a doctor, she was a phlebotomist, but still. She was amazed that she only had to get one full time, minimum wage job here, to support herself. One job was enough. Not two or three, like she'd need in America. Two or three jobs, just to pay rent and buy groceries. (When would you have time to eat them??) That right there is something to be grateful for.

The Outlook (and The Travel). Someone told me recently that in 2011, two-thirds of all Australians travelled overseas. Now, that's a second-hand figure and I didn't bother to google it, so it's probably inexact, but anyway, there are a lot of Australians travelling overseas. And there always are - I can't remember a time when people I know weren't talking about the trip they'd just taken, or how they were going to go live in Wherever, OS for a year. And I love that about us! I love it that my hairdresser loves backpacking, and Goa is his favourite place; I love it that B and I went to a tiny town in northern Vietnam, only to meet a dude from Sydney who lived there. I love it that we, as a nation, are aware that there is a big wide world outside our island, and most of us think you're weird if you don't want to go see it. (Unlike certain other countries I could name, where most of the citizens are completely convinced that they're the center of the universe and they don't need to know about anywhere else...)

The Multiculture. Yes, getting a bit political again, but whatever. I love the fact that so many cultures have emigrated to Australia, set up shop, and started integrating parts of themselves into the mainstream. I love being able to go down the road for Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Turkish or Greek food. I love knowing people from other countries, and I love hearing languages other than English on the streets (wish I could speak one, but that's my problem). I don't agree with anyone who says this country would be better off with closed borders; I don't agree with anyone who says Australia hasn't benefited from the amazing people from countries all around the world who have come here to live.

So yeah, that's my five things. I acknowledge that our country has it's problems, and that we all need to work to preserve what we love about it, but I'm going to celebrate Australia Day today pretty damn happily. How about you?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Comic Book Movies @ GOMA

I didn't know about it until just this morning, but GOMA Cinematheque has been running a comic-book-movies program for most of January! The selection of movies is amazing, and the program runs until March so there is still plenty of opportunity to see a cool film.

The program features the usual Hollywood suspects - Sin City, Iron Man, Watchmen - but also Asian classics like Akira and Ghost in the Shell, and far more obscure works like L'Ultimo Terrestre and The Storm Riders. New Zealand's Footrot Flats gets a screening (I remember watching that when I was a kid!) and so does Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, which I've been really keen to see!

For more info, check out QAG's website:

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Lil Drac

Apologies to all for my extended absence from the blog! (It's because I suck. I didn't actually go anywhere.)

Anyway, thought I'd announce my return with one of the most adorable things I've seen lately.

Who else wants one of those, now?

Monday, 23 January 2012

Book review: The Group by Mary McCarthy

The Group was written by Mary McCarthy and published in 1963. It stayed on the New York Times best seller list for 2 years and has been an inspiration to decades of women writers since. It was a break through book for women's literature. The style, the subject matter and characterisation were entirely new and revolutionary for the depiction of young women and the realities of their lives in a new America.

The story follows 8 women from the months after their graduation from Vasser in 1933 through the tumultuous 1930's up to the start of WWII. These women mostly come from wealthy families, are 'society' and have had one of the best educations the country can offer them but as the novel runs its course they go through the painful process of dealing with real life and all its mes and disappointments. Each makes drastic compromises in love, ambition or situation as they learn how to deal with, for example; men and the issues of virginity, marriage and that most scandalous topic – female contraception. The Group also deals with a women's place in the workforce, her rights and obligations in marriage and as a mother or daughter – heady issues in the changing America of the 1930s and all of them still pertinent today.

At first I found The Group difficult to read. McCarthy devotes one chapter to a woman and an event in her life, making use of intricate description that can be tiresome to read. Chapter one opens with Group member Kay Strong embarking on an ill-reasoned marriage to an unsavoury hopeful producer. As the chapters progress we move forward in months or years and to a new women and the directions she has taken in life. Somewhere around chapter 4 I got hooked and couldn't put the book down.

I think what has made The Group an enduring 'classic' is that these characters deal with problems and questions about life that are all still pertinent to women in the 1960s, 1980s and now. Even the issues of whether to breast feed or bottle feed, to feed a child on time or on demand are still with us, let alone poor Priss Hartshorn, married to a paediatrician who is determined to use the birth of their first child as a example of his new ideas in child-rearing.

The Group was made into a movie in 1966, starring actresses such as Candice Bergen and Jessica Walters, so it must be due to be rediscovered and remade by Hollywood. I predict a lot of spculation of who will get the roles in this classic ensemble piece, lead roles for Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone, Mia Wasikowska a few other 'hot'names and one or two 'up and comings', just to balance out.

The cast of The Group, 1966.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


Jane had been to Vietnam before, but never Saigon and for me this was the first time I'd set foot in the country. Absolute first impressions? If I'd got around to forming a mental image of Vietnam in the weeks prior to my arrival, it would have pretty much exactly matched what I saw. Sun, tropics, business and people everywhere, questionable road rules and scooters, scooters, scooters. Our taxi driver kindly dropped s off at the alley for our hostel and helped us cross the road. She clearly understood the needs of those recently arrived in the country, i.e. assistance to make sure we didn't accidentally kill ourselves. However, it did not take me long to get a good grasp on Vietnamese road rules.

Rule 1: Scooters and motorcycles get right of way in every situation.

Rule 2: Cars and other motor vehicles get second right or way because they're big.

Rule 3: If you're a pedestrian, it's your job to keep yourself out of the way of everyone else and make sure you don't get run over.

Saigon traffic intersection by night.

At the hostel, our host gave us an excellent map tour of the city including the really important sights like where to get the best pho. Settled in to our excellent room, we took up his suggestion and went to get our first proper Vietnamese meal.

It was pho-tastic. Terrible photo of me but this is early am and I have not yet had my healthy breakfast of pho and coca-cola.

After the pho (such good pho!) we headed to the Ben Thanh markets, Saigon's largest markets, seemingly situated in the middle of a couple of highways. The challenge is to get there alive. Jane had been to Vietnam before, knew how to do it even if she was a little out of practise. All I knew about crossing the roads I got from watching Luke Nguyen's Vietnam – you start crossing at any time, walk slowly but steadily and have your hand out ready to wave signals to bike riders who might be pretending not to see you.

The markets weren't that large but were crowded with tiny stalls selling cloth, food, clothing, household items and of course souveniers. While locals probably still go, most of the buyers walking around had the distinct look of tourists about them. We were tempted by souveniers but restricted ourselves to fabric for the dozens of pieces of clothing we were to get hand made in Hoi An. For me this included 'Armany' wool/cotton blend for a suit for Allan.

We had 2 days in Saigon and we spent it walking around, eating and planning for the next 10 days or so of our holiday.

The streets around De Tham where we were staying and where most hostels and bars are located.

We went to the War Remnants Museum, which was every bit as harrowing as the guidebooks warn you. We were set upon just inside the gates by a man who had lost both forearms and a leg to landmines and was keen to sell us some photocopied books at ridiculously high prices. However, once you've shaken the stump of a victim of war, especially when surrounded by the tanks and rockets left behind from that war it's pretty hard to say no. That wasn't harrowing, just expensive. It did set the tone for the inside of the Museum with its very one-sided view of the war. Harrowing came with the exhibitions, particularly the one that focussed on the effects of Agent Orange – there were certainly some images there that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

"To the people of a United Vietnam. I was wrong. I am sorry." - William Brown, Sgt.

In the lighter moments we enjoyed the Saigon night life. Our first stop in Vietnam was the famous rooftop bar of the Rex Hotel. During the American War (as it is rightly known in Vietnam) the Rex Hotel was where all the foreign reporters would gather to hear the dailies or 'Five O'clock Follies' from the US military on how the war was going. Sitting on the rooftop sipping cocktails was first and possibly best taste we had of the remains of South East Asian colonialism. We also frequented a few dive bars in and around our hotel, though many were too full of drunk tourist for our tastes.

Cocktails and Campari.

The famous Allez Boo bar.

There were also some great cafes and meals, particularly at Nha Hnag Ngon – a restaurant that serves the speciality dishes from all the many regions of Vietnam. The photos aren't great but the surrounds and the meal was delectable.

Our first set of dishes, with Bia.

Saigon was a fascinating city and a city that is expanding and changing rapidly. Money has been spent to preserve what remains of the French rule – the wide streets, the beautiful opera house and town hall. The French also left behind an appreciation of nice bread, cafe culture and christianity. Designer boutiques are moving in to feed the city's new rich and one assumes, the burgeoning top-end tourist trade. There was so much more to see and do than we managed. Saigon is a truly delightful city with a fascinating history.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Hotel De Ville, now home to The People's Committee.

Coloured flavoured rice at the night markets.

Lychees and durian.

Brisbane's own online designer store is Brisvegas' very own local online designer store run by two very stylish women. Their vision is: Bringing global fashion culture to one virtual place. And that one virtual place is based out of Bowen Hills. Which means you may spend $250 on that designer t-shirt you love but at least you won't spend £30 getting it to your front door.

You may not find a Chanel 2.55 in the accessories section but you will find Josh Groot and House of Harlow as well as local designers like Ellery. If you can't afford the looks then you can still enjoy the blog or watch out for sales on Twitter and Facebook.

I particularly liked their 'What's your style resolution for 2012' because I have unofficially decided on some of those resolutions myself and started work on them. Success!

Image courtesy of

Friday, 20 January 2012

Five for Friday no. 4

Paris vs. New York in artwork. A blog devoted to graphic prints comparing the two cities. I so want at least one of these pics, but which one?!

Tiffany's 'True Love in Pictures' project.

William Defoe, Adrian Brody and Gary Oldman walked for Prada 2011/2012

Jason Wu for Target. Wish I could shop this here.

The Wake'n' Bacon - it's everything I've ever wanted in the mornings. Except it needs an espresso attachment.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The unshakeable beliefs of childhood.

A couple of weeks ago I found this article; 11 silly things you probably believed as a kid. Some of the ones they list I really did believe. Not about the dogs and cats; but everyone knows that blankets make the monsters go away

So I got thinking about other 'silly' things I believed as a kid. I put 'silly' in inverted commas because some of them Should Be True.

  1. If you don't eat your crusts your hair won't go curly. I believed this with a passion, which is why I never ate my crusts. That didn't work and my hair is still curly-ish. Mum LIED!

  2. That I could run as fast as Road Runner from Loony Tunes.

  3. That there were little men somewhere who watched every traffic intersection and decided when the lights changed. So if they didn't like you, they'd turn the light red and leave it that way for a really long time.

  4. That there were monsters under my bed.

  5. That if I lay under a sheet and squashed myself into the bed, I would be flat and no one could tell I was there.

So now I've shared. Anyone else game to 'fess up to what they used to believe?

Is it really too much to hope for? Image courtesy of Warner Bros. / Loony Tunes.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

60 second philosophy

I am not a philosophically inclined person, though I like to imagine I have a certain wisdom, it's not quite the same thing. It is however an area of study in which I would like to gain a basic understanding for no particular reason but I feel I should. I've read too many historic biographies of people with 'superior educations' and it makes me feel as if mine is somehow lacking.
This is one of the reasons I bought Sophie's World at a Lifeline Bookfest many years ago. An international bestseller about a young girl's adventures in philosophy, Sophie's World brought the ancient study to a whole new audience. It's still sitting on my bookshelves and I never seem to be in the right mood to read it.
So I was very happy when I found some even more accessible lessons in Philosophy, courtesy of the Open University. They have taken 6 famous though experiments into 6 animated '60 second adventures in thought'.
This is my favourite, The Paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

For decades, Disney have been taking classic fairytales and twisting them into more marketable shapes and throwing them at an unsuspecting, gullible, young female audience. (I still don’t have a fringe like Ariel! Why, Mr Disney, WHY?!?).Fairytales make good movies. There is a solid story arc, there are goodies and baddies, often some sort of romance, every character is archetypal and it all rounds itself off with a nice, solid moral that Grandma would be proud of.

It would seem that fairytales can be endlessly re-imagined and re-interpreted as well, if that recent redigestion of classic tales as box-office movies is anything to go by. Look at Tangled, Red Riding Hood, Hoodwinked, Alice in Wonderland and Puss in Boots.

The best example of this re-imaging of a classic tale is the forthcoming release of not one but two versions of the classic Snow White. The best known original version of Snow White is that of the Brothers Grimm, though several other countries had their own related versions. The Brothers Grimm was the one most shamelessly ripped off by Disney, with the magic mirror, the poisoned apple , the seven dwarfs.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) is famous for being a lot of firsts, including Walt Disney’s first full-length feature film, the first full-length animated film produced in America, the first in colour and a couple of other records.

Now in 2012, . These two films look to be polar opposites of story telling. Snow White and the Huntsman is dark, fantastical and has a healthy drop of chilling evil. The only problem I have with this film is Kristen Stewart as Snow White. Really? Can anyone believe Charlize Theron would be threatened by her? Come on.

Mirror Mirror on the other hand is a bit cheesey, has HUGE dresses and I'm guessing a very predictable story line.

I won’t lie, I want to see them both.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Five for Friday no. 3

Unbelievable sink design. T'would be so weird to use.

A former Prime Minister does his nation proud. I wish our pollies had this much personality. Or stomach.

Air BnB
A work colleague put me on to this. It is a global network of rooms, units, villas and BnB's for rent in 19,732 cities in 192 countries. The places are generally privately owned and privately advertised / managed as a side business. Like couch surfing but more upmarket.
This Heartbreaker Fashion dress would have been perfect for Queensland Summer

MoBento bento boxes for work and picnics.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

A stop-motion proposal

This summer was engagement season it seems, with at least 5 couples I know getting engaged. Yes, I am that old I have reached that ‘stage’ in my life. Anyway, they’re all wonderful people and I’m so happy for all of them. They all have lovely well-thought out engagement stories – well done boys – but yesterday I came across this marriage proposal. I think even I would say yes to this one.

A Proposal in Stop Motion from FIREPIT PICTURES on Vimeo.

To read about it, check out Design Taxi.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

A genuine surprise

I don’t really like surprises. I know that makes me strange but it’s true. To be more specific, I don’t like big surprises like parties because they make me feel like people have been scheming behind my back. Surprises that come from just one person like flowers or presents or cupcakes are always welcome.

This comes up as a topic because last night I was surprised. I was surprised and I received a surprise. One word, both verb and noun. Way back in the mists of time in 2008, I worked for a while in the UK. I had hoped to stay in Europe for many years but that plan fell through and I came home in January 2009. Before leaving I filled out my tax forms as required by my employer and was told I should get most if not all of my tax back because I’d earnt such a pittance. Nothing came of it and I forgot about it.

Then last night I went to dinner at my parents’ house and there was a letter waiting for me from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. It contained a cheque for GBP100-73. That’s about $151.40. It had taken them almost 3 years but my tax return found me!

Surprise !

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

2011 in review: the 10 cutest photos

When you are feeling sad and blue, go to Cute Overload and get your fix of adorable, fluffy, funny and awwwww.

This is their Top 10 Cutest Photos of 2011. Not sure I agreed – I think no. 2 is disturbing rather than cute, but no. 8 makes up for all the bad times!

All together now ... awwww! Photo courtesy of Cute Overload.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

My top 5 next international holiday locations

1. Spain

I wanted to go to Spain the last time I was in Europe. In fact, it was in my holiday plan version 1 to be there for the Easter celebrations. Unfortunately, I did not make it; I went to the Baltics instead and it was amazing, I’m so glad I went. But it means that I am many years behind in my intended trip to Spain.

I’ve been to Spain twice before; once to the northern coast around Bilbao, San Sebastian and Burgos, and then once to Madrid, then south around Granada and Cordoba. This time I want to head to the north-east and see Zaragossa, Barcelona and the south of the Pyrenees. It’s a part of Spain I’ve never been to, I hear it’s magnificent and my parents have just returned from then and won’t stop showing my photos of the glorious tapas they ate the whole time. I’m going!

2. Japan

I’ve been thinking of going to Japan for a few years now. I have many many friends who have gone there and loved it. In fact last year when I was putting in motion my plans for a holiday in 2011, the options were Japan or Vietnam. Vietnam was cheaper, so it won that time but Japan is still on my must-see list. And not just Tokyo or Osaka. If I’m going I’d like to get a bit further afield and see more of the country.

3. New York

I want to spend a month in New York. Stay in an apartment, not a hotel and see the city properly. I might need to save a bit more money for this one.

4. Belarus and Ukraine

So it’s two countries, whatever. Travelling through the Baltics in 2008 was my first experience of Eastern Europe and it was a wonderful time to go there. Money was starting to come in from the EU and there was a lot of building and restoration work going on in the old towns of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius. But then you went out of the old towns, saw the countryside and the small villages and it was like leaping back a century. I want to go and see more of this part of the world before it becomes like the rest of Western Europe. I want to see the contrast between the way it has been and the way it will be.

5. Germany

Germany is always on my list of places to go because it is my favourite place in the world that isn’t Australia. I love everything about Germany and I want to live there for at least 1 year of my life before I die. That’s on my bucket list.

Some of my favourite German things.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Fascinating article on education

I’m afraid I don’t have a blog to accompany this article. I just read it and thought it was so interesting I wanted to share. The article is titled What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success.

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