Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Where is my butler?

Every so often, I think I would like to have a butler or valet to cater to my whims and provide general life-assistance; make the path smoother, as it were.
Perhaps something along the lines of a Jeeves who, as we all know, has the solution to every problem and can do anything within the Valet remit.

Jeeves, brilliantly played by Stephen Fry with Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster in the TV mini series 'Jeeves and Wooster'. Just Brilliant.
Jeeves could do just about anything. If you had a butler, you'd want him to be a Jeeves. 

However, if I were to think about it seriously, I don’t think I could ever actually give someone orders. I don’t think I could pay someone to cater to my whims. Though I may wish for breakfast in bed, I am perfectly capable of getting it all myself. Though I may crave a cider or a chocolate cupcake at around 2:32pm on a weekday afternoon, I don’t actually need either and I don’t need anyone to fetch them for me.

I suspect that the employment of a butler, lady’s maid, valet, chauffeur, is something that you grow up with, accepting the presence of someone to take care of the little things. An integral part of extremely privileged way of life. I’m sure many of my friends may like the idea of someone to attend to them, most would revolt against the notion if that person was presented before them and they could suddenly issues instructions such as ‘Fix me a martini’, ‘Fetch my dinner jacket’, ‘Pop to the shops to get me some herring.’

Do you think you could feel comfortable issuing instructions to a maid or valet? Or does the idea make you cringe? 

Jim Carter as the butler Carson and Hugh Bonneville as Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Pedro Almodovar is one of my favourite filmmakers, and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is one of his best and best-loved films. I went to see it this weekend at GOMA, as part of their program celebrating Spanish cinema, and it was a great way to spend Sunday afternoon.

SBS sums up the plot quite succintly:

High atop a posh Spanish penthouse, three women have come to the end of their mental ropes: Pepa (Carmen Maura) teeters around atop her stilettoes as she obsesses over Iván (Fernando Guillén), the lover who just jilted her over the answering machine; her neurotic best friend Candela (María Barranco) seeks refuge at Pepa's place because she recently realised her lover is a Shiite terrorist; and Iván's ex-wife Lucía (Julieta Serrano) was just released from a 20-year stint in a mental institution. One of them is about to commit murder unless the other half-crazed femmes fatales can stop her.

Filmed in the 80s, it's full of bright colours, dramatic moments, fantastically tacky clothes, and a plot that belongs in a telenovela. It's also an oscar-nominated masterpiece of cinematography, and the film that brought Almodovar to international attention. The cast is fantastic; Carmen Maura stars alongside a raft of kooky and brilliant Spanish actors, including a very young Antonio Banderas and the fabulous Rossy de Palma. Like a lot of Almodovar's work, the film is a charismatic blend of heartbreak and comedy, pulled off in a flamboyantly crazy yet simultaneously genuine and earnest style.

The whole film is engaging, warm and entertaining as hell. It's going to be screened one more time at GOMA, on Friday 10 August. GOMA Cinemateque is screening many of Almodovar's other films as well, and if you've never seen any of his work, I cannot recommend his films enough. I hope to make it to a few more myself.

If I had to make one criticism, it would probably be of the Cinematheque itself, and the film quality and sound. They seemed to use the original reels when they show this kind of retrospective. Perhaps it's for artistic reasons, perhaps they have no choice when it comes to screeners, but it results in an occasionally patchy experience. Otherwise, the GOMA cinemas are definitely worth a shot, for their unique programs alone. (If it helps, the price of tickets is actually cheaper than most mainstream cinemas, so there's that, too!)

Pedro Almodovar at GOMA

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Delectable Queensland's Food Bowl

This Sunday my friends and I headed along to the Delectable Queensland Food Bowl at the City Botanic Gardens.

I'd been really looking forward to this festival for a while. A score of Brisbane's best award-winning restaurants all in one place putting on plates of food I could actually afford, with wine and sunshine in the park – what was not to enjoy?

Sunday was one of those perfect days that help to remind you why you choose to live in Queensland. We got to the gardens at 11, nabbed a table under the trees and started to scope out the impressive array of food on offer. 

There were 24 resturants and cafes participating in the Festival, each of them well known and some of them award-winning with international chefs. The ones I was most excited to sample were Moda, Sake, Ortiga and Stokehouse

I started the day with Ortiga's chicken and lemon croquettas and what a good way to start, particularly when washed down with a nice pinot grigio.

 Ortiga's chicken and lemon croquettas - so good I had two serves.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Five for Friday no. 29

Dressing like social media. I'm so traditional - I'd choose from Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

 'facebook'. Image courtesy of B for Bel.

A girlfriend of mine shared this around last Friday so I thought I would pass it on. A song for Friday.


The beauty of the Stockholm Subway. I miss living in a city with a subway. 
 Image courtesy of This Art is Yours.

The cutest things that ever happened. Do not open unless you have spare time and a supply of 'awwww'.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The night that was: MasterChef Australia 2012 Finale

I didn’t start out as a MasterChef fan. The whole first season in 2009 passed me by without an acknowledgement. Come 2010 however, I was sucked in by Chuck into the nightly drama of watching 24 ordinary Australians ‘battle it out for the food dream’. Two years later I am still watching every night (except Friday, who cares about Friday?) and together we two addicts made special preparations for the 2012 finale, which aired last night.

To celebrate MasterChef Night, we decided to have a fellow MasterChef fan-couple come over for dinner to watch and make loud sarcastic comments with us. We also decided to mark the occasion by cooking them a meal of MasterChef recipes from this season. I was in charge of Andy’s fish pie whereas Chuck took Kylie’s strawberry and apple crumble

We prepped the night before, which for me meant cutting up piles of vegetables. Wednesday night our friends were expected nice and early so I got into the cooking the minute I got home.

Sustainable blue swimmer crab stock - I'm so freakin' fancy-pants.

I stuck to the recipe to the letter, as one should when making something for the first time. The only deviation I dared was to include a purple carrot as well as an orange carrot in the veggie mix.

All the veggies and deliciousness softening.

It's been a long week

So why aren't I here?

A 17th-century Monastery Turned Spa on the Amalfi Coast.
Image courtesy of Vogue.com tumblr.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

How do you buy a present for a person who has everything?

We’ve all had this problem. What do you get the person who has everything. There are stages in life when you have all that you need. Same for your friends. But birthdays and christmases still roll around regular as clockwork and as time goes on it becomes more and more difficult to find a good gift. They have enough glasses, enough earrings, enough pot plants. You gave them a DVD or book last birthday/christmas so you don’t want to do it again. Fortunately, after a while most people enter into a new stage that opens up a whole pantry of gift-giving opportunities. They buy a house or have a baby and suddenly you can get them hammers or baby books and you’re ok again for a few years.

Inevitably though, you run out again. Eventually you will run out of ideas completely.

So what do you buy the person who has Absolutely Everything they will Ever need?

I will tell you.

Monday, 23 July 2012

A victim of my own gullibility

I  am a gullible person. Not on big issues such as global warming or outrageously stupid stuff like 99.5% of conspiracy theories. I don’t believe the moon landing was faked or that Elvis is still alive. 

However, if you send me this image, I will fall for it hook line and sinker:

Sunday, 22 July 2012

I’m an Ikea line!

For anyone who reads this blog and knows me personally, this is old news.

However, a few weekends ago on our way down to Bangalow, Chuck and I stopped off at Ikea to buy exciting stuff like a new bin and there I was!


I have to say I rather like the designs of the ‘Birgit’ range of soft furnishings. Ikea soft furnishings always have girls’ names as part of their naming conventions.

I love Scandinavian design and imagery – away from Ikea – so I was pleased to see ‘Birgit’ had such a solid, traditional look.

Most exciting of all, I actually bought a piece of the Birgit range! Just a cushion, but that’s enough for me. 

 There I am. My Birgit cushion.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Get your tissues out

This is one of those articles that makes you feel all choked up and adoring; Bikers Against Child Abuse making abuse victims feel safe. Seriously, that article. It's amazing stuff. It sort of makes me want to hug everyone involved.

This is the situation: in Arizona, and many other states across the US, ultra-tough bikies have set up non-profit clubs specifically to protect and aid child abuse victims. They make contact with children who've been abused by people they trusted, children who no longer feel safe, and do everything, around the clock, to give that kid some security and a new sense of protection.

The bikers aren't looking for trouble. They are there so the kids don't feel so alone, or so powerless. Pipes recalls going to court with an 8-year-old boy, and how tiny he looked on the witness stand, his feet dangling a foot off the floor.

"It's scary enough for an adult to go to court," he says. "We're not going to let one of our little wounded kids go alone."

In court that day, the judge asked the boy, "Are you afraid?" No, the boy said.

Pipes says the judge seemed surprised, and asked, "Why not?"

The boy glanced at Pipes and the other bikers sitting in the front row, two more standing on each side of the courtroom door, and told the judge, "Because my friends are scarier than he is."

What kid wouldn't feel safer, knowing that their new best friend is a giant, built-like-a-tank, leather-wearing biker? And while the bikers are vetted by cops and the CPS, they represent a slightly less constrained force than the police, who are sometimes bound by regulations that prevent them from acting. There's another anecdote in that article, about a 10-year-old living with her grandmother. She'd been abused, and her abuser's family turned up at her grandmother's house, harrassing them and terrorizing the small child inside. The grandmother called the cops, but she called the bikers too. The cops made the abusers leave, but then they had to leave too; the bikers stayed on that grandmother's front lawn for three days, and even though the abusers drove past a few times, they didn't get near that little girl again.

See? Don't you want to hug somebody?

Five for Friday no. 28

A fun crowd sourcing project on international pronunciation of one simple phrase.

A saucy Victorian pop-up book for adults only.

The only person to make physics and maths entertaining to me - the guy behind XKCD - has started a blog answering questions about physics. SAT Guessing. There are also cartoons.

A dining table that makes every meal fun. Yes, I do kind of want one.

Classic Gil Elvgren pin-ups given a Robert Downey Jnr make-over.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Vietnam voyage: Sa Pa

As you travel through Vietnam you can pick out your fellow travellers by the souvenirs they collect along the way. It may be a trashy t-shirt or sampan, or a woven bracelet of the kind you find at markets and in Oxfam shops. You get chatting and ask where they’ve been. If it’s someone who is travelling north to south they will tell you ‘Sa Pa’ hold you their wrists and waggle their woven bracelets at you in a strange sign language you don’t yet understand. But you will, they tell you. Oh you will.

Sa Pa is a small town in the mountainous northern regions of Vietnam near the border with China. Capital of the Lao Cai province, it has for a long time been a market town and administrative centre.

Now the town survives on the tourists that flood in from Ha Noi to experience the mountains for a few nights before heading out to Ha Long Bay. To get to Sa Pa, one catches on overnight train to Lao Cai, waits for a seemingly interminable time for your hostel bus to find you and then it’s a 45 minute drive up through the mountains.

Sa Pa valley

I got pretty excited on the bus ride up. Looking out of the rain-splattered window, the view slowly changed from concrete and grime to red clay, rice terraces and water buffalo. Farmers shacks and yellow painted schools lined the road. 
Water buffalo!

Sa Pa looked same-same-but-different to every other town but we were in for a rude shock. As we stopped at the first hotel drop off, the bus was mobbed by a score of traditionally dressed women waiting to pounce on the new arrivals. The bus literally rocked from the force as they hit the side. The look of panic in the eyes of the couple who got off was genuine fear at what they’d got themselves in to. The performance was repeated at every hotel until we finally disembarked and shoved our way through the waiting crowd.

We were in Sa Pa for only one night, arriving 9am one day, leaving 6pm the next day. Considering this, I had taken an executive decision to splash out the extra $2 a night each on a room at the top of our hostel, which promised magnificent views. It did not disappoint.

We were told that ours was the ‘honeymoon suite’, even though it had 
2 single beds and questionable linen. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Head Full of Love. And Beanies.

Last Friday night, I went to see the QTC's Head Full Of Love at the Cremorne. Directed by Artistic Director Wesley Enoch and starring Roxanne McDonald and Colette Mann, this play is absolutely wonderful.

Nessa (Mann) is a white woman who travels spur-of-the-moment to Alice Springs. Once there and wandering around lost, she strikes up a conversation with Tilly (McDonald), an Indigenous woman. Tilly is crocheting a beanie for the Alice Springs Beanie Festival, and insists Nessa drive her to 'rennell'. Nessa, despite her initial confusion and knee-jerk wariness, is talked into it and then discovers she's actually driving Tilly to her regular renal dialysis appointment. The two women become friends and make many beanies together.

Now, I know that over-simplified description doesn't make this sound like a story that hangs together particularly well. But it does, and it's a play that's deeply layered with themes and discussions specific to Australian culture and social politics. The friendship that grows between Tilly and Nessa does so despite - or because of - their completely different backgrounds, and despite tensions of class, wealth, historic racism and stereotypes, and even a language barrier. And the beanies, while simple on the surface, are genuinely meaningful, and never treated as any kind of gimmick.

Nessa's initial reactions to the harsh realities of Alice Springs are realistic; she's a Sydney resident visiting a remote area for the first time, and she's unprepared and uncomfortable with the poverty she finds there. Tilly's unimpressed reactions to this strange white woman are also unsentimental and honest. Nessa adapts, though, partly through her attachment to Tilly, and comes to find her 'new normal' deeply rewarding. The beanies and Tilly's renal dialysis appointments foster an unusual relationship, which by the end of the play deepens from awkward friendship to a sisterly bond.

Much like the beanies, though, the warmth of this new friendship - and the often hilarious conversations between Tilly and Nessa - have another side, another story. Tilly and Nessa can't escape their reality, as complex and tragic as it is. The dialysis and Tilly's kidney failure aren't played for pathos, though, but with enough combined resignation and frustration to feel extremely honest. The play also takes the time to correct the misconception that the high prevalence of kidney failure in Indigenous communities is from alcohol abuse. It's not; frequently it's due to birth defects and the impossible health conditions facing Indigenous Australians today.

There's also exploration of the emotional difficulties of dialysis patients from remote areas. At one point, Tilly explains to Nessa that she has to stay in Alice Springs for treatment, but her real home, her 'country' is hours away. She mourns not only the fact that her disease means she will die early, but that her need for treatment keeps her away, when she should be at home teaching the next generation of Indigenous Australians the traditions of the land.

This part is based in fact; Indigenous elders requiring treatment are forced to live hundreds of kilometers away from their country, and family members are not always able to accompany them, not without significant cost. The importance of country - home, family, traditional lands, all the places Indigenous Australians are deeply linked to - is beautifully realised in the play, as is the pain of separation from that country. The loss of a generation of elders to kidney disease and other ailments is also clearly shown as a loss for the younger generations, of language, stories, history, and a loss of connection and sense of community and family for so many Indigenous people.

Overall, I found the story and themes explored in this play not only affecting but deeply humanising. It's all too easy to ignore social problems when they're not right in front of your face, and I feel this play is extremely successful in drawing attention and promoting the difficulties facing Indigenous Australians with kidney disease. Not only that, but the warmth and tragedy of Tilly and Nessa's story made for a wonderful and deeply engaging piece of theatre.

Read a better review than mine!

Buy tickets! You won't regret it!

Donate to the Western Desert Dialysis Centre.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Creative short courses at QUT

QUT have just begun a program of creative short courses open to any member of the public. Just like how anyone can go along to a course at the Queensland Writers Centre and learn more about the written word (I went to one a couple of months ago and it was excellent) so you sign up for a one day intensive course in the most fantastical topics.  

Courses on offer this year include directing a musical, furniture design and making, Photoshop masterclass and a short history of modern art.  

I think it’s really exciting that we can access this sort of high-quality, taught by professionals short courses for those among us who suspect they have a bit of creativity in their bones and would like to explore it.

I’m going to be keeping my eye on the offerings to see when something that really grabs my fancy becomes available. If QUT wanted any suggestions: fashion drawing for beginners and shoe making. Put those courses on and I am There!

Monday, 16 July 2012

A thought on mochas

Mochas are like many first dates; you build them up in your mind, think they're going to be amazing but then it's like every other one you've ever had and you wonder why you got so excited. It's not until you get to the tasty part and the end when you remember why you put yourself through it all in the first place.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Five for Friday no. 27

I desperately want one of these travel bags from Sweden covered in Josef Frank designs, which I adore.

Perfectly Timed Photos. Only look if you have an hour to spare because you WILL get sucked in.

Things I saw and liked – a new tumblr I follow.

Target have released the next list of designer collaborations and it is some list. It really depresses me that most of this will never see Australian shores, but one can hope.

Local Brisbane fashion blogger Professor Barbie on dressing for that job interview. Plus, I like discovering local bloggers. 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Do you love drama? Are you intrigued by complex, manipulative characters? Do you love the idea of getting close to the people who destroyed your loved ones and taking them apart, piece by piece?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you might just enjoy a little show called Revenge.

The show is set in the Hamptons. A wealthy young woman named Emily Thorne (played by Emily Van Camp) has just rented a house for the season, planning to attend parties and charity functions and move in the social circles of the ultra-rich. At the pinnacle of this social circle are the Graysons, a billionaire family including matriarch, Victoria (played brilliantly by Madelaine Stowe). She rules the social scene, dotes on her two children, and supports her tycoon husband Conrad. At least, on the surface.

In reality, not only is Conrad unfaithful, but his cutthroat approach to business and questionable moral integrity means the skeletons in their family closet are the kind people get murdered over. And in reality, Emily Thorne is not really a socialite. Her real name is Amanda Clarke, and, years earlier, her father was framed and imprisoned as part of a cover up by the Graysons. Amanda never saw him again, and now, she has returned to the Hamptons to wreak revenge on the people who destroyed her family.

Revenge has been described as Gossip Girl meets Veronica Mars, and really, that's not too far off. The storyline is roughly based on The Count of Monte Cristo, substituting the men of Paris in the 1800s with wealthy American women. I enjoyed the change; Emily and Victoria are both uniquely ruthless for female characters, and their passive-aggressive circling (which sometimes turns aggressive-aggressive) makes for damn good TV. Emily schemes and manipulates, working her way through the ranks of people involved in the cover up, exposing their secrets and taking them down. She starts with her father's ex-friends and business partners, working her way closer and closer to Victoria, whose betrayal of David Clarke Emily considers worst of all as they were romantically involved at the time of his arrest. Victoria used her relationship with David to help frame him, and for that, she is the one person Emily wishes to hurt most of all. (She starts by getting herself engaged to Victoria's beloved son Daniel...)

As the first season progresses, more of the David Clarke story is revealed, complicating Emily's quest for vengeance (as if it wasn't already complicated enough...). It all spirals out of her control, and the storylines are excellently handled, with a zillion intriguing plot twists. The scheming, the take-downs, the fantastic clothes, the glittering parties, and the constant underlying themes of accountability and punishment aimed at the very rich and morally bankrupt... it's all very satisfying. And there's a heap of soap opera classics - the husband having an affair with the best friend; the innocent man on trial for murder; the slightly psychotic gold-digger; the secretly illegitimate child - played out with commitment to making the best kind of melodrama. I can't wait until someone gets amnesia and an evil twin!

So anyway, if all of this sounds like your cup of tea? Get into it. This show is a good time.

In case you need more convincing, the cast looks like this...

Have you got all your Super?

You may have seen in the media recently that the Federal Government is really pushing for you to seek out your lost superannuation. Australians apparently have some $17billion in unclaimed super floating around scores of funds. Some of it could be yours and if it is, you should do something about it.

(Yes, once again I am actually going to blog about something practical. The last time it was about writing your Will – have you done that yet?)

Many years ago, I had about 4 different superannuation accounts. I think it’s a common problem for people when they enter the workforce and each new job has a different preferred fund and you don’t really care too much about where the money goes because you won’t see it until you’re ‘old’.  When I settled into my first professional role, I took the time to bring all of my super funds into one account. It was annoying and took a while and to be honest cost me money, because when I withdrew money from an account it would charge me for the pleasure of doing so.  Ultimately it was worth it because I now have one fund with one lump sum then earns more interest than my four smaller funds would.

This is the message the Government is trying to get across – it’s your superannuation, you earned it, you will need it some day and it’s better off in your back pocket than in some unknown super fund you can’t remember joining.

So, even though I was pretty sure I’d mopped up all my earnings I went online to the Australian Government’s SuperSeeker website to check it out.

Turns out it is spectacularly easy to check if you have ‘lost’ super. All you need is you TFN, name and date of birth and you can find out immediately if you have any registered lost super. There are lots of ‘lost superannuation fund’ websites out there but I recommend you go straight to the Federal Government one.

It’s so easy everyone should do it. It will only take you two minutes to see if you have any super to claim and then if you have – score! Money you didn’t know you had! It may take some effort to get it back but really, it’s worth it in the long-term. 

 Because we all want to spend our days here.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Friends who blog

On Sunday I discovered that an old work mate was an avid blogger and I'd never had any idea. She doesn't write the sort of stuff-and-nonsense blog that we do here. She's a Canadian-American girl who fell in love with and Aussie, moved to Brisbane with him and they are now living in Canada. So her blog is about connecting with all her friends all over the globe, keeping them informed, telling them about her experiences in different cultures and maybe doing a bit of fun rambling as well. If you were a someone who moved around or is living far from home, it's the sort of blog you might have yourself or really enjoy. It's called  Yellow Crayon. I have no idea why.

I also recently discovered that another former work colleague and Brisbane girl runs a blog called Suburban Pup. Within the last year she has become the proud owner of two puppies and her blog is all about the trials and tribulations of first-time dog ownership. It is also full of simply adorable photos! A must-read for local dog owners.

Next, a blog I've known about for a long time, Entwined Happiness. Written by a girl very similar to me - Brisbane, works in marketing, generally awesome - except a whole lot more responsible - home and dog owner - her blog is a little like mine in that it is about ordinary life and the things we do, our friends and fancies. Whereas ours is a little frivolous, Rachael also talks about the trials and tribulations of owning a labrador, renovating a house and helping to organise weddings. 

Finally, the last of my known-friend blogs in Snug as a Bug in a Rug. My one and only girlfriend to also be a Mum (to the CUTEST BABY EVER!) blogs about being a mum, being a teacher, being a girl guide and somehow staying awesome so all her irresponsible non-mum girlfriends want to hang out with her and Bub. 

So do check these guys out, they're all really interesting women, or at least I think they are. And if you're a  friend who blogs and I haven't mentioned you, I'm really sorry but tell me and I'll make amends.

Monday, 9 July 2012

A quote for the day

Sonja Sones, Stop Pretending.

This quotes makes me think of when you've just met someone you really like. You're maybe going on those first few dates. Every time they touch you, find a reason to touch you, or you edge closer to holding hands or kissing, the feeling is electric and seductive and the feel of their skin on yours stays for long after the moment has passed.

That may be a long way away from the original intention, but that's what these few lines say to me. 

Found on A Sea of Quotes.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Haute Couture 2012 / 2013

Last week was Paris Haute Couture week. It’s called Paris Haute Couture week but there is only one – it isn’t like ordinary fashion weeks, of which there are hundreds all over the world. Couture is hosted twice a  year and is the fun, frivolous and fantastical antithesis of the ready to wear or resort collections.

Couture is something else.  It is in a sense the vestiges of a time when if you wanted to dress well, you had a dress maker. You also would have a milliner, a glover and a shoemaker. Now a days you may have each of these but increasingly a brand will oversee your entire couture look from blush to belt buckles.

 Elie Saab A/W 2012/2013 Couture. A personal favourite. 
Images courtesy of Getty Images for Marie Claire Australia.

The beginning of couture as we know it today is attributed to Charles Frederick Worth (1826-1895) of the House of Worth, who from his atelier in Paris made impossible to wear, ruinously expensive gowns that were lusted after by European and American aristocracy for their beauty and individualism.

 Gowns from the House of Worth, circa 1887(left) and 1898 - 1900 (right).
The House of Worth disappeared from the fashion scene for decades until recently revived in 2011 for RTW and interestingly, lingerie.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Five for Friday no. 26

Famous shirtless men through the ages. Because Magic Mike is coming out soon. You're welcome.

I love this. The Satorialist for the Edwardian era.

Five Words Tell A Story.

I spotted this quote, it appears on Wood Paneled Shoes and I had to feature it somewhere. 100% accurate.

And because there is a little bit of wedding-fever going around my lady friends at the moment: Vera Wang have opened their first bridal boutique in Australia.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Play Me, I'm Yours

Play Me, I’m Yours is a beautiful art installation by British artist Luke Jerram. The concept is so simple but so effective. First commissioned in Birmingham in 2008, 15 pianos appeared across the city and over three weeks were played by an estimated 140,000 people.

Cities anywhere in the world can commission the work. Pianos are installed in public spaces – anywhere, bus stops, squares, bridges – and may be decorated by local artists. But the instruments aren’t ‘artworks’, they are there to be played. This is an ultimate example of participatory art. Everyone can play the piano, even if it is just Heart and Soul or Ode to Joy, the pianos are free and out there for you to use. Anyone can join in and play.

Or you could play Titanic in Barcelona.

At the moment, there are some 600 Play Me, I’m Yours pianos in public spaces world wide. In 2012, the pianos will be appearing in Los Angeles, London, Salt Lake City, Geneva, Paris, Toronto and Hangzhou.

I have a critical weakness for men who play the piano. So for me this installation is the perfect set up for an amazingly romantic moment. Two strangers, or a newly dating couple. You come across a piano, he sits down and starts to play … going to stop now before I get too embarrassing.

If you go to the website you can see a map of where the 600 or so pianos are right now. You can also watch footage of people playing in Paris or Geneva. The pianos have come to 2 Australian cities – Sydney and Adelaide. I somehow cannot imagine Campbell Newman supporting a bid for the project to visit Brisbane, so I’ll hope it comes to Melbourne soon. Or maybe I could make it to Paris.   

In Darlinghurst.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The website history game

This is going to sound weird but as you would all know, your browser saves your web history. And a scurrilous thing it is too. I don’t need to see just how often I look at trashy celebrity fashion websites.

That aside, I have recently developed a new habit utilising that dastardly search history. Into the address bar I type one letter – a random letter of the alphabet – and see what websites pop up from my history. So I choose ‘D’ and the first two options are a couple of tumblrs. I choose ‘C’ and it’s A Cup of Jo, a blog I look at all the time. ‘X’ of course brings up XKCD.

Comic courtesy of XKCD. If you don't read it you're missing out on very important pop culture.

It also varies on whether I’m at home or work. My home computer has so many more options; 'E' is for Entwined Happiness, 'R' is for Fuck Yeah, Parks and Recreation, and 'V' brings up a plethora of websites with the word 'Vintage' in the title; Posh Girl Vintage, Heartbreaker Fashion and then Vogue.

Sounds like a weird habit, doesn’t it? Bet you’re going to try it now though, just to see what your computer remembers about you.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Books from your childhood

Yesterday on Twitter the Sydney Writers Centre posed the question: What were 5 books you grew up with? What 5 books – or series – defined your childhood?

This is a topic of conversation that comes up with my friends quite regularly; books from our childhoods, television shows, movies we grew up with.  We’re all of the same generation, I barely have a close friend who wasn’t born with 18 months of myself. Interestingly though, there are certain books / shows / movies we ALL were exposed to but for the most part we had very different defining experiences. 

What is almost certain is that when one of us discovered that the other has not read a certain book or watched a certain movie, we will be shocked and appalled at their deprived childhood and rave about how they MUST see it, you’ll LOVE it, it’s ESSENTIAL to life itself to have read The Railway Children or seen E.T.

For my part, I know that my choice of favourite books was influenced very heavily by my parents. Bookworms themselves, I grew up in a house lined with bookshelves but lacking in films. When I watched a movie, it was one I got out of the video store not out of the family collection. Books, however, were everywhere.

So, my answer to the Sydney Writers Festival question ran as follows:

Monday, 2 July 2012

The silliest tax in the land

Day 2 of the Carbon Tax and already there are no words. Or maybe it's just that all the sensible ones have been used up.

Anyway, I'm not going to attempt intelligent political commentary. I just want an excuse to lead you to this video of Federal MP Craig Emerson's song and dance response to a question of Carbon Tax. And I mean that literally.
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