Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Movie review: Great Expectations

Most of us have an idea of the general plot of Great Expectations, having being forced to read it at some point in our high-school-English years. Boy named Pip lives with his sister and her husband. A convict named Magwitch, escaped from a prison ship, happens upon Pip and persuades him to assist with his escape. At around the same time, the local landowner, the mad recluse Miss Haversham takes a liking to Pip and arranges for him to regularly visit her and her adopted daughter Estella, who is as proud and cold as she is beautiful.

Many years later, Pip comes into a mysterious fortune – the ‘great expectations’ of the title – and goes off to become a gentleman in London. He fritters away his cash without thought or plan, dragging others down with him and losing sight of the places and the people he came from. The eventual revealment of his mysterious benefactor and the resolution of the convoluted relationships breaks down what little Pip thought he knew of the world, but he finds a sort of redemption through the forgiveness of others.


This latest adaptation is a BBC production with the accompanying top-level British acting talent to match. Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch the convict, Helena Bonham Carter as the disappointed and vindictive Miss Haversham fits like a glove and Robbie Coltrane as the entangled and conniving solicitor Jaggers are the leads to the smattering of familiar faces that make up the cast.

Ralph Fiennes as Abel Magwitch

As with any adaptation of classic, lengthy literature, a lot of the plot is left out or compounded. Personally, I think that in the case of Great Expectations this can only improve what was an unnecessarily drawn-out novel, issued as it was by Dickens as chapter-length installments in a magazine he wrote and published. A movie is a cut-to-the-bone version of the story and for me, this makes the interminable morbidity and accent-indulgent works of Dickens vastly improved.

Along with cutting down, the movie-makers have taken great liberties with the plot, speeding up the action and doling out endings as they see fit. I understand that changes need to be made to transform a book into a film, but in this case certain lines of literary decency were definitely crossed. If I were a Dickens admirer I would likely be horrified, as I am at overly spliced adaptations of Jane Austin.

As with almost all recent period pieces, the look of the film is stunning. The moors Pip is raised on are bleak and beautiful. Satis House and the great decaying wedding feast are a picture of despair, London is as dank and disease-ridden in which amongst the desperate and hateful characters, Pip's delightful friend Hubert Pocket (Olly Alexander) shines. He is one the few light, friendly characters in what is the usual Dickens dramatis personae of oily money money-grubbers, child-beaters and blackguards. 

 The decayed grandeur of Miss Havisham (Helena Bonham-Carter).

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

This is the story about the time I got second-hand Facebook stalked

This is the story about the time I got second-hand Facebook stalked.

It was my joint birthday party and I was with a bunch of friends at Alfred and Constance. It was about 8pm at night and we were surrounded by a crowd of people celebrating hen’s nights, 30th birthdays and Saturday nights. A girl I had never met before came up to me while I was talking to a guy friend. She was in a pretty cotton dress with a crown of flowers and a badge that screamed ‘BRIDE’. The conversation went something like this:

Bride-to-be: Hi. Is he single?
Me: No.
Bride-to-be: Are you single?
Me: No. But he is. (point to single male friend)
Bride-to-be: Wait – I know you. Did you used to date Jim*?
Me: Urm…yes.
Bride to be: You’re Sarah*!
Me: No, Sarah is his sister. He wouldn’t date Sarah. I’m B.
Slightly worrying bride-to-be: Ah, ok, sorry. Jim’s sort of potentially dating a friend of mine.
Me: Yes, he is my ex. Definitely ex. 
Bride-to-be with no concept of social boundaries: I’d love to hear the back-story behind that!

… expectant, eager face stares into horrified, ‘can’t believe you just asked me that’ face …

Me: NO.
Friend next to me chimes in: You see, it’s B’s birthday, she really doesn’t want to talk about her ex.
Bride-to-be with no concept of social boundaries: Oh, ok. It’s my hen’s night tonight.

Expectant pause.

Me: It’s my birthday.
Bride-to-be with no concept of social boundaries: Ok, bye.
*stony silence

I was in shock from that conversation for quite a while. Let’s get a few things clear:

This girl, whom I had never met before, recognised me from Facebook photos of me with my ex-boyfriend. That’s how many photos of the two of us she looked at, presumably while ‘researching’ him as a potential date for her friend. I got second-hand Facebook stalked.

Secondly, having met me, this girl thought it was the perfect opportunity to do a bit of first-hand investigating and find out about my relationship and break-up with Ex, presumably for any juicy details or dark secrets, like if he cheated on me (which he did not).

Why, in any god’s name, would she think that I would discuss the private matters of my most recent and painful break up with a complete stranger whom I met at a bar while celebrating my birthday? She genuinely looked so expectant and excited when she wanted to hear ‘the back story’, anticipating that I was about to spill everything.

I’ve had a lot of people say strange things to me and I have had a lot of very odd conversations. I am not usually stumped for something to say, but a loud and indignant ‘NO’ was the only word I could manage in this situation. I’m sure if I had been more forthcoming, there would have been subsequent questions and a full-on grilling session would have ensued.

If I met the ex of someone I or a friend was dating, it would never cross my mind to ask them about their break-up. Would you? Would you question the ex to find out if someone is good enough to date your friend? 

Dear Bride-to-be, I don’t know who you were but you might want to tone it down when you’re out in public. You were creepy. I hope you had a fun night after the scaring innocent people incident. 

*fake names 

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Oh hello...

First post anxiety has meant that it has been several months since B first invited me to blog on Style from the Suburban Intellect. So long, in fact, that the initial invite expired. Shameful. I wondered what my first post should be and then once I settled on a topic, I wondered what content to write and what my writing style was and whether it would be good enough. This wondering took a while. And then, after some more wondering, my chosen topic became somewhat obsolete. After explaining my dilemma to B, she suggested that I write a brief introduction to get over the dreaded first post. So here I am, writing my first post en route via train to B's birthday bash, for which I am running somewhat late.

So here I go...

I'm Gabi and I spend my days pretending to be a software development expert. I am a fan of eating breakfast out, cooking random vegetarian meals because cooking meat still scares me, hunting for shopping bargains, cycling on relatively flat ground and looking obsessively at foodgawker. And it seems I don't really do 'brief'.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Best protest sign I've ever seen

Sure, that's a big claim, but check it out:

This lady is Rad with a capital 'R'.

Found and re-tweeted through Twitter.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Five for Friday no. 57

Read about the Think, Eat, Save Campaign


Andrew Davies, the man who adapted the beloved 1996 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice is adapting War and Peace. Any other classic adaptation nerds out there excited by this one?

New bar opening on Caxton Street. For those of us who like to be a little bit classy pre-game. 

Vintage couples in love. Not sure I will ever get a couple-photo charming enough to be found in a list like this. 

And some website hilarity for my friend Sarah - You had one job to do.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Swirl Sniff Spit: Clare Valley wine tasting

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the first Swirl Sniff Spit event of 2013. 

Swirl Sniff Spit is a monthly wine-appreciation evening put together by a group of Brisbane wine lovers who know that a pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled. These monthly themed events seem to be rapidly becoming a must-do on the Brisbane wine calendar, with places booking out within minutes.
Assembled wine lovers at Era Bistro.

I have now been to a Chardonnay night, a McLaren Vale night and a Grampions Shiraz night. Last night it was Clare Valley, a part of the country I have not yet visited but whose wines I hugely enjoy. The host for the evening was Kate Giles, a Clare Valley wine maker who had some delicious drops in the line up. You can follow Kate on Twitter or on her blog.

Swirl Sniff Spit is a bit unique in being a twitter-based event. The general invitation to attend is issued on twitter one week before the event and all updates and RSVPs go through the same channel. The tasting is free of charge on the understanding that you live-tweet the event and tag the wine-makers, and order your dinner from Era Bistro, who kindly provide the space for the tastings free of charge.

 The evening's line up, complete with twitter tags and a map of the region we were 'exploring'.

Exploring the Clare Valley meant a lot of Riesling tasting and a real mixed bag of reds. What I would say it was an ideal tasting night. For my tastebuds at least.

Tastings are divided into 'brackets' for comparison between winemakers, vintages and varietals. By the end of the night my sheet is scribbled on and wine-stained with my notes and the suggestions of others. Seated next to Two Glass Taste, his first suggestion for the O'Leary Walker Riesling was 'lemon cheesecake'.

Bracket two: Watervale Rieslings. Delicious.
I greatly enjoyed the  full-mouth taste of the clos Claire Watervale 2012.

Make sense of eggs

I am not an activist as much as I could be. But I do believe in certain causes very passionately and I do try to do the right thing, even if it is a small choice, such as to buy free range eggs.

If like me you prefer to make these smalls choices, but it can be a little confusing standing in the supermarket aisle deciding on free range vs. barn laid, here is a little table put out by the great people at Make It Possible.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Possibly not what Tchaikovsky had in mind, but...

Holy toast, this is amazing!

The success and sexiness of business cards

When I got my first professional job out of university I was pretty damn excited. There was a whole lot to get excited about; a higher salary, not having to pull coffee for 8 hours a day and these mythical things called 'weekends'.

All of my initial excitement paled in comparison to how excited I was to get my first ever business cards. Here, on a small card was proof that I had arrived. I was a marketer. I was in business. My friends were all equally excited even though there was no one to give our cards to except for friends and family as proof of a job obtained and ‘if you ever need to contact me’. As if we were suddenly going to start calling landlines again.

Now, a few different business cards later, it’s less exciting. Because what I want now is a personal business card. Kind of like Daniel Ocean, I want some sort of super-sweet card to casually flick at people I meet socially. I want it to be snazzy and sexy and say everything they need to know about me in one beautifully designed rectangle.

IF I were to get such a thing, the pressing issue becomes: what do I put on it?
  • Name, obviously. Nickname as well?
  • Email address
  • Blog title and url
  • Twitter name – because that ain’t changing anytime soon and I’m too addicted to give it up.

Now it gets murky:
  • Phone number – probably yes, but not an automatic yes.
  • Linkedin – though they could probably guess this is the wanted to.
  • Descriptor. Definitely have to have one but thinking up the best list will be the tough part. What to include or leave off? On twitter I have: 
Bookworm, attemptive blogger, traveller, big eater, wine lover and morning person. Working in philanthropy, not a philanthropist.
…but that seems a little long, What to include? Do you put the ‘profession’ you’re aiming for or what to promote? Or do you stick with the truth?

  • Source of amusement – I can’t be the only person who’d like to see business cards with pithy one liners. I’d like there to be something amusing on my business card, as a reflection of my personality. Make for a conversation starter if nothing else.

Charming hostess, writer, squirrel lover. Opinions are always my own.
Style from the
T: birgit_w

See how much there is to think about? This is without even considering design.

Does anyone else wish they had ‘personal’ business cards? If so, what would you put on them?

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Happy Birthday to me!

Last week was my birthday. It wasn’t a hugely significant one, but it was one *one of* the last of my 20-something years.

I’m not going to write about life and time creeping up on me and all the things I haven’t yet achieved because that’s not going to be cheerful to read at all.

Instead I’m going to spend the rest of this page being smug and pleased with myself for how good my birthday was and how excellent my friends are for all the effort they put into making my day special.
For many years now, I have held joint birthday parties with a close friend who is also a February-baby. If you’ve never held a joint party before, I can highly recommend it. Halves the stress, doubles the chances that people will show. 2011 we celebrated at Alloneword, 2012 we partied at Limes. This year we have decided to get all our friends together at Alfred and Constance. That’s not for a few weeks, but organising it seemed to take up all my birthday-planning-bother. So until last weekend I was doing nothing and had no plans for my actual birth-day.

Fortunately a good friend rode in and took charge and so come Sunday night I was chauffeured to a super-secret location (my friends’ house) for a dinner with friends.

I didn't drive...

For a few years I did not enjoy my birthday. Or rather, I preferred quiet birthdays that centred around eating rather than socialising. I still don’t like the pressure of organising a birthday party by myself. Now, however, I am quite happy to pass over the reins of organisation and lap up the loving care and attention of not cooking one micron of a delicious three course meal, being plied with Mumm and Shiraz and getting to dictate my dessert of choice. Berry Clafoulis for anyone curious. Any dessert that involved berries or stone fruit is an instant favourite. Except Summer pudding, which is just red soggy bread. Serious, so unnecessary.

No birthday cake as such so I blew out candles stuck into toblerone.

 Meringues with mint-chocolate, fresh berries and cream.

 Cutting my 'cake' and a pile of delicious desserts.

 Monday morning I walked out to this on my kitchen bench;

...which is a pretty great way to start the day. Especially when you have two slices of it for breakfast. 

The rest of the day was silly gifts – including Pixar DVDs and magic bubbles – lunch at the pub, chocolates and flowers. In other words, just what a birthday should be about.

This was the first time in years I worked on my birthday. It’s sort of a personal rule to not work but rather spend the day doing all your favourite things. In 2009 I took the day off, ate raspberry tarts, drank champagne, went to see a musical and fed squirrels. That was a good birthday. However I absolutely had to go to work yesterday. Fortunately, my work colleagues made the day worthwhile and I felt very special.

 Beautiful flowers, a birthday gift form my boss.

Rounded off the day with the traditional family celebration dinner.

As with just about every situation in life, it’s the people around you that make all the difference.
A big thank you to all of my friends and family who went to so much trouble to make sure I had an excellent birthday. 

Friday, 15 February 2013


The other day over lunch, we were talking about charitable donations. I've been making a few, to organisations that work on things that interest me, but my aunt had a new suggestion for me -

Kiva is a non-profit organisation based in San Francisco that, thanks to micro financing, the internet, the global exchange rate, enables random folks across the world to loan funds directly to borrowers, to facilitate projects and alleviate poverty. Kiva collates all the loan applicants, and puts together a profile for each, so you, the donor, can pick someone out that you'd like to help. Instead of donating to a huge charitable organisation that has to funnel some of your money into bureaucracy and publicity, you can loan cash straight to someone who'll use it to improve their life.

And then they'll even pay you back.

For example, there's a dude in El Salvador who needs $400 he needs to buy two new bulls for his farm. He's got a repayment term of 14 months, the bank he's come through has a risk rating of three and a half stars, and if farming's your thing, you could add $50 to this guy's project.

If not that dude, why not the lady in Colombia who's started a shoe business, and has too many orders and not enough capital to fill them? A total loan of $575 will help her sustain her business, and you could spare $25. Or you could help a dude in Mongolia with the $1,100 he needs to finish building his house and installing a heating system.

 The applicants are vetted by different financial institutions, and you can see who's repayed previous loans, and work out who you think might be a good bet. They've been sorted into categories like 'housing', 'youth', 'start-ups', etc. so you can pick out a project you're into. And then once they've repaid your loan, you can then funnel that cash back into other projects.

It's quite a different scene from the automatic-monthly-debits you sort out with other charities. I'm pretty keen to get started, though - I've got a spare $50, so I think I'll help a dude buy some bulls!

Five for Friday no. 56

It was Valentine's Day earlier this week but not everyone gets the love they deserve. In the UK, there is controversy surrounding reports that staff at a home for disabled people procured sex workers for the residents at their request. I don't know how you may feel about this, but I think every person has the right to sexual experiences and there is nothing unnatural in those desires. If these people cannot find partners, then to engage professional sex workers, who will be understanding of their needs, to help them seems the obvious and correct solution. Read the story in The Guardian.

Nine illustrious houses in English fiction. This is just real estate envy.

20 mostly cute, some odd, ways to announce your pregnancy. This is how my friend Rachael did it.

Restaurants clamping down on people photographing their food. It was inevitable. Has this ever happened to you? It happen to me the one and only time I ate at Esquire.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Street Food Australia Launch

Late last year I pledged money to support Street Food Australia’s Pozible Campaign. It’s a terrific project genuinely worthy of support and I along with hundreds of fellow supporters was very excited when the project successfully raised the $20,000 they were aiming for and production on the first of their street vending bicycles could begin.

In short, the project aims to give disadvantaged migrants to Australia, including refugees, an opportunity to start their own business preparing and serving street food. Training in basic business is provided and Street Food Australia (SFA) support the vendors for 2 years to get their business off the ground and running successfully, providing people with a self-sufficient hand-up and a real opportunity to start a new life. According to their website, ‘We (SFA) are working with a quadruple bottom line which targets economic, social, ecological and cultural sustainability.’ If that ain’t worth your cash I don’t know what is.

An official SFA dumpling cart.

Last night was the launch of the Street Food Australia Project in Brisbane held at the IMA in the Judith Wright Centre. When I arrived at 6:40, the IMA terrace was heaving with people. Even the streets outside and Glass Bar were thronged. 

The crowd outside the IMA.

Scrumptious Reads. Totally worth a visit.

The Scrumptious Reads supported book bike. The best shot I could get in the crowd.

There were four food stalls and one bar. Food on offer was Indian paratha, Banh mi, tequila smoked ribs with corn cobs and dumplings. Everything looked and smelled delicious! I couldn't wait to try everything. Yes, I could have fitted in one of everything, I was that keen.

Five for Friday no. 55

She killed at Superbowl earlier this week: Beyonce has a blog. It's free like blogs should be but you need to sign up for it, which I just don't care enough to do. But I am intrigued, so could someone else sign up and let me know?

6 myths about travel that cost you money.

Bean Hunter website. Reviews coffee and cafes all over the world. And yes, they do have an app for that shit. 

Have your say on Brisbane City Council's draft new City Plan

Excellent Lego brain teasers.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Book review: The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier

Read the full review on Sassi Sam.

The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D is a novel about the secrets we keep and the lies-by-omission that we tell the people closest to us. Elizabeth is a young dedicated mother who lives in a picture-perfect Connecticut world. When she dies in a plane crash, she leaves a lifetime of journals in the care of her closest friend Kate. Reading the journals, Kate realises she knew nothing at all about her seemingly close friend. Elizabeth did not trusted people with her secrets and no one in her life ever questioned her choices. 

The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D is light holiday read about the secrets we keep and the bonds of relationships. The thread of mystery running through the novel as Kate reads back through Elizabeth’s past is intriguing and makes this book readable. The subject matter is good if a little unoriginal. As a first novel, however, it is good.
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