Bendigo Pottery; Australia's oldest pottery; has been producing ceramic products since 1858.
For those not in the know, Bendigo is two hours north of Melbourne and was once a gold-rush town.
Tweleve of Bendigo's restaurants and Bendigo Pottery are behind an initiative called 'Life's A Dish.' The restaurants in conjunction with Bendigo Pottery each designed a signature plate that is then produced in small numbers by Bendigo Pottery. The plates are hand-painted so no two are the same and each is an original piece. Diners at the restaurants have the opportunity to buy the plates as a remembrance of their meal.
The idea is based on a venture from Northern Italy; started in 1964; called Unione Ristoranti del Buon Ricordo. Restaurants in 110 countries have also been inspired by the idea.
It's a superb idea that the pottery maker, restaurants, tourism and patrons all benefit from.
So now if you go to Bendigo you can eat off your plate and take it home too!
Photo: plate from Whirrakee Restaurant, Terri-Anne Kingsley
Friday, 29 June 2007
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
The Cult of the Amateur: How today's Internet is killing our culture by Andrew Keen is a book that has gotten a number of people hot-under-the-collar on both sides of the debate.
I found a commentary from Wired, which included this by Tony Long:
The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture bemoans the rise of amateurism in all spheres of professional life, specifically as facilitated by the internet's long reach. It bemoans a lot of other serious problems raised by something as insidiously intrusive as the web, but we'll confine the focus here to the question of the amateur vs. the professional.Click here for the full Wired commentary.
Since bloggers -- the most conspicuous of amateurs -- are a focus of Keen's views on this subject, the blogosphere is alive with vituperative assaults on his book, his intelligence, even his character.
Self-proclaimed journalists, narcissists, culture killers.. the accusations are quite steep and the criticisms back equally harsh.
I agree with Mr. Long that the debate is one worth having.
As a blogger, supposedly then automatically a narcissist, from what I have read the book's author is too 'keen' (pun intended) for me.
I could rave about the state of 'professional' journalism, the increasing constraints placed on candid opinion by media conglomerates, and question how professionalism became a magic-wand that supposedly creates narcissist-free commentary but I know others have raised these points more informatively and eloquently than I can.
The element I will query a little, speaking purely from my own 'narcissist-amateur' perspective' is the concept of culture.
I work in the so-called Cultural Industries however I'm aware that 'culture' is a label we tend to designate to particular areas, when in truth its meaning is far more expansive. I also always view culture as being something that changes/evolves (for better or worse) and although being somewhat organic can't be 'killed'.
I am approaching 'culture' from a definition courtesy of the free-dictionary (shock horror, yes from the web):
culture: The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thoughtMost of us who were born in the past 30 or so years have grown up with an increasing number of very public confession-style TV programs (Jerry Springer, Oprah etc.) and more recently the boom in 'reality' television. People having personal opinions and keeping diaries is hardly a new phenomenon but it has become increasingly public, dare I say a more publicly-private 'culture'.
If this is true and the 'culture' itself has morphed then what is so terribly under threat by bloggers etc. and the internet?
Is it more accurate to say that the direction that 'culture' itself is taking is of great concern to Mr. Keen?
Perhaps that wasn't a sufficiently provocative title or approach to take.
Low Morale is a series of animations portraying one man's struggle to cope with soul-sapping, will-to-live draining, life-force mugging, morale crushing experiences of work.
Sounds utterly depressing doesn't it. Yet, we've all had days like that; at one time or another; so we can relate to the concept.
Take animation group Monkeehub's truly brilliant animation - courtesy of Leith Bahrani - and Radiohead's 'Creep' and you have something quite incredible.
You must watch this, click here to do so.
If you really love it you can buy Low Morale merchandise by
My admiration of the piece doesn't extend to purchasing a vaguely depressing mug or mouse-pad but everyone is different. I guess it's better and more honest than nauseating 'sunshine, rainbows and lolly-pop' alternatives.
Tuesday, 26 June 2007
Taking the concept of his master's voice to a whole new level.
Not only will Fido be able to hear his master but sing to him and act like his ventriloquist courtesy of Bow Wow Speakers.
This takes animism a tad far for me as I find these faceless canines really creepy. brrrrrr...
I don't know who this 'average' person is, where or how this information was measured or decided upon but my fetish for useless facts enjoys these immensely.
Here are some of my favourites:
- On average women say 7,000 words per day. Men manage just over 2000. For more 'average' trivia click here.
- The vocabulary of the average person consists of 5,000 to 6,000 words.
- On average, right-handed people live 9 years longer than their left-handed counterparts.
- The average person laughs about 15 times a day.
- The average person walks the equivalent of twice around the world in a lifetime.
I'm probably boringly average but I know that in my lifetime I will probably eclipse the 'average' person with how far I've walked. Hmmm.. perhaps I will have walked to the moon... my very own 'moon walk'!
Monday, 25 June 2007
I was quite young the first time I encountered dining etiquette; at my great-aunts Regina and Elvetzia's house for Sunday dinner (which was served at lunch, it's a country Australian thing). They were as formal as their names, which was terrifying to me at that age.
I remember looking at what appeared to be hundreds of silver knifes, forks, spoons and plates and almost having a panic attack. Fortunately my father sensed my horror and whispered into my ear "your bread plate is to the left, start on the outside and work your way in with the cutlery..."
The potential catastrophe was adverted and my great-aunts commented "What lovely manners the children have" Phew!
If only we'd had these nifty placemats from www.yallbehave.com. I think they are fabulous and ultra cool, even if you do know where to put your salad fork.
This happens to anyone who has lived in more than one place for long periods of time. Your resources become 'geographically scrambled', so on a regular basis it takes a moment to register that the 'great brunch place', that would be just perfect today, is actually a 22 hour plane flight away.
Whether it's the brunch place, great beach, perfect speciality store etc. it makes you wish that teleportation was an option.
Once place in Melbourne that would be on my teleportation list for every time I have a Saturday afternoon to myself is Paperback Bookshop in Melbourne. It's my favourite bookstore to browse in and I love it.
Then again if I was looking to buy jeans and was back in Melbourne, I'd be wishing for teleportation to Over the Rainbow in Toronto.
I'd be a vertiable teleportation ping-pong ball!
Friday, 22 June 2007
Miles Franklin Literary Award is an annual literary prize for the best Australian ‘published novel or play portraying Australian life in any of its phases’.
The award was established according to the will of Miles Franklin (1879 - 1954), author of the Australian classic My Brilliant Career (published in 1901), who bequeathed her estate to fund the award.
The 2007 award recipient is Alexis Wright for the novel Carpentaria
Commenting on the winner's novel, the Judging Panel wrote:
Carpentaria is a big novel in every sense. Richly imagined and stylistically ambitious, it takes all kinds of risks and pulls them off with the confidence and assurance of a novelist who has now discovered her true power."
Given the events of recent days in Australia it's a particularly interesting and perhaps poignent choice.
Forget the cross-dressing rabbit Bugs and the high-pitched voiced mouse Mickey.
Snagglepuss and Secret Squirrel my two favourite cartoon characters and the coolest animated characters out there, then and now. Enjoy!
Hanna Barbara's cartoons were always my favourites.
Thursday, 21 June 2007
I am a semi-closeted fan of mystery novels; I hate to admit that I occasionally stray from literature to illicit purchases from Shoppers Drugmart; it's not good for one's image. However I am open about the fact that as a pre-teen I read all of Agatha Christie's novels and Hercule Poirot is my favourite fictional detective.
I have accepted that my reading choices have a direct connection to the mental activity going on in my life. The more intellectually engaging my life is, the less intellectually engaging my reading material and vice versa. When I was 'studying' for my final year of high school exams I devoured the Thorn Birds, which was 'ingeniously' placed inside the pages of my extension math text book.
All this has been well and good, until I recently encountered a 'mystery hijacking'.
Despite my appreciation of mystery tomes, I can't stomach romance novels. As a mentor; who had been a librarian forced to read one as research; once put it 'Gawd, everything in those books just heaves and throbs, heaves and throbs'.. arghhh!
I also always think of the woman I saw late one night. Rather dowdy and a lot plump, downtrodden looking, she sat on a bench waiting for a bus going to the wrong end of town, one hand stuffing fist-fulls of potato chips into her mouth the other holding a romance novel she was intently reading. To me that is the epitome of tragedy.
I digress, sorry!
There I was happily immersed in my mystery when the unthinkable happened. Suddenly the plot to catch the killer before he struck again was hijacked, HIJACKED, by pages and pages of heaving, throbbing 'love-making' descriptions. It had no plot purpose or any purposes at all and I was outraged! I quickly skipped forward and skipped forward and skipped forward, more than a chapter's worth of pages, until I finally got back to the mystery solving. I couldn't understand what happened let alone why.
After I had finished the book I read the authors' bio on the back page and my hijacking was explained. My author had recently started writing mystery novels but had also previously won numerous awards for her romance offerings. This author must have gotten muddled half-way through the book, so in a panic resorted to her old stomping ground of throbbing and heaving to get her through. My mystery hijacking of my mystery was solved!
For others who like to indulge in the occasional murder mystery take heed, always read the author's bio before you buy, save yourself from a potential heaving, throbbing hijacking!
It almost sounds like a bad joke without the Englishmen, Irishmen and Scotsmen. Ponty Python may have enjoyed the scenario as well.
A group of journalists are in a room, talking 'off-the-record' about their experiences in the industry when it becomes apparent that someone is actually recording the session.
The situation becomes slightly tense when the person is revealed and questioned on What didn't they understand about what 'off-the-record' means?
The fellow proclaims that he wasn't sure if it was a serious request - I'll concur that in this post-post-modernist irony-filled world it can be hard to tell what is true blue and what is ironic - if he had been expected to honour it.
The conversation continues and the journalists go back-and-forth osculating between respecting the speakers discretion, the reality of asking a room full of journalists to not report on what they hear, and whether idealistically journalists should be asked not to report on what they share with each other.
The debate evolves into a discussion on what 'off-the-record' actually means, its limitations and the conduct that surrounds it.
It appears that no one really knows or is able to achieve any consensus as to the limits and application of the term... in a room FULL of journalists.
I am left feeling that perhaps asking everyone upon entry to the event to recite aloud, like an oath, "Loose Lips Sink Ships", may have been a more effective method and have avoided the confusion.
Then again if everything is off-the-record can I even write about the off-the-record discussion? So that would be on-the-record of off-the-record?
To make it even better, some quick research failed to bring up a consistent answer for the exact use and the origin of the term must be 'off-the-record' somewhere.
I think my record is broken!
Wednesday, 20 June 2007
DRAKE HOTEL UNDERGROUND,
Nonfiction is a place for journalists of all kinds to tell stories that never made it to the public: stories killed by editors, blocked by producers, or self-censored by journalists themselves. These are the stories usually told privately, between journalists, and over drinks.
Derek Finkle on Toro Magazine's bullfight with the Globe and Mail
Richard Goddard on booking the CBC's most difficult radio guest
Chris Randle on his "sexiest experiences in journalism"
Bill Shields burns whatever bridges he hasn't already
Jay Teitel on the many deaths of Saturday Night Magazine
Antonia Zerbisias on the end of media criticism (or at least the end of her media criticism column)
hosted by Jesse Brown
Produced by Nonfiction: Kathryn Borel, Jesse Brown, Ian Daffern, Jeremy Gans, Sheila Heti, Geoff Siskind, Dave Wells
Tuesday, 19 June 2007
It can't just be me! Every company I have ever worked for has at least one set of 'mystery keys'.
Keys that no one has the foggiest idea what they are for; were ever for; but hang on to them anyway - just in case.
Keys that have been packed and relocated with offices, multiple times, despite the obvious high probability that their purpose has long since expired or been lost to the sands of time/changing staff.
I'm convinced that all of the world's great mysteries: how the pyramids were built, formation of crop circles; location of the Arc of the Covenant, existence of Atlantis, ongoing existence of Paris Hilton etc. ALL have answers.
Answers that can only be revealed through a set of keys.
A set of 'mystery keys' in someone's office drawer.
It could you be yours!
I've just discovered a new website that I may become entranced by, so I thought I should share.
Design Observer is a site dedicated to writings on design and culture.
Recent topics/postings have included:
- On the Squareness of Milk Containers
- Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Typeface
- What if Apple is Bad for Design
- Everything I Know About Design I learnt From the Sopranos
If you have any interest in design in any capacity there is something for you, how can you resist?
The Daily Telegraph newspaper challenged its readers to come up with a short text of no more than 150 words containing as many infuriating phrases as possible.
The prize was a copy of the book She Literally Exploded: The Daily Telegraph Infuriating Phrasebook by Christopher Howse and Richard Preston.
Here's how the publisher describes the book:
Drawing on written and spoken insults to the intelligence from television, radio and the press, this A-Z lexicon covers politicians' cliches, business jargon; shop assistants' rudenesses; public-service padding; menu madness; and idiotic innovations.
To see the entries, click here. Nick Godfrey's was my favourite entry.
My personal pet-hate infuriating phrase; courtesy of North America; is:
My personal pet-love infuriating phrase comes from my brother whenever he doesn't want to commit to something but doesn't want to say no either is: 'Could be good, see how it goes'.
Yes, I said 'pet-hate' etc self-consciously ironically!!
I'd never thought about what the 'next blog' button does; then curiosity got the better of me so I took the click-risk.
I was quite interested to see what other people put on their blogs; absolutely anything you can possibly imagine. Some made me smile, some made my eyebrows rise and some made me blush. Then I found a Christian blog that referred to GodTube. GodTube? My immediate thought was "has YouTube found the light and become born-again?"
Not so, apparently God now has his/her own video broadcasting website.
GodTube utilizes Web based technology to connect Christians for the purpose of encouraging and advancing the Gospel worldwide.
Who knew that God had become so high-tech!
It's probably more time efficient and less labour intensive than the illuminated manuscripts used for God's promotional activities in centuries past.
I wonder whether other religious figures have their own broadcasting services and if they trade clips and are friends with each other on FaceBook. You'd hope so wouldn't you.
Monday, 18 June 2007
We all have lists of places we'd like to visit or live; I'm sure my list is unlikely to ever be exhausted; no matter how much we travel.
Then there are the lists that further up the ante by combing particular events in particular places so that we double-covet them. For some people it's: Carnavale in Rio de Janeiro; San Fermin (the running of the bulls) in Pamplona; Holi (paint throwing festival) in India; or Oktoberfest (mecca for Aussie beer drinkers) in Munich. There really is something for everyone.
The number one coveted place-meets-event on my list is the Venice Biennale.
I've been to Venice a couple of times; going there in itself again I'm ambivalent about; but the idea of going during what I consider to be the mother of all contemporary art festivals would be out of this world. I would be so excited I wouldn't even get galleried-out (affliction caused by excessive viewing of art in a short period of time).
This is the year of the festival. Sigh, maybe next time.
What's your ultimate destination-meets-event?
Bias and subjectivity are always strange beasts and can emerge even when we've convinced ourselves we can be objective.
My favourite story that demonstrates this so well is courtesy of a friend. When she was little she had a fleet of toy cars that she would race. For some indiscernible reason she favoured one car in particular so when she raced it she would give it just a little more push than the others to increase the likelihood that it would win. She convinced herself it was a fair race and would have hated to be seen as giving the favoured car an unfair advantage.
The Mercer Quality of Living Survey has been released as has their Cost of Living Survey. Top of each list was Zurich for quality of life and Moscow as most expensive. I've been to both cities and would probably say I prefer Moscow over Zurich but that is not where my true subjective bias lies.
My subjectivity lies in my deep-seated bias towards my home town of Melbourne over my adopted home of Toronto. Here is how they were represented in the lists.
Quality of Living:
Toronto = #15
Melbourne = #17
NB: I can't believe Sydney was ahead of both my cities at #9, the outrage!
If I was objective I'd be pleased that the city I actually live in is considered to have a better quality of life than my home town. Not so, I pouted and said 'Humph!' aloud when I saw Toronto coming before Melbourne, then muttered to myself that they probably didn't take into account having to calculate and add tips and tax every time you buy something. Not a subjective reaction, I am aware of that.
Cost of Living
Toronto = #19
Melbourne = not on the list
Bwahhahahhaahhahahha.. Sydney was #24 .. bwahahahahhhaha
My happiness that Melbourne didn't even make it on to the list of most expensive cities me happy. Again, it's irrational and fiscally ridiculous that I'm pleased that I live in a city that is significantly more expensive than my home town.
The moral of this story is simple. I do like living in my adopted home of Toronto; it's where I've chosen to actually live; but my heart's allegiance will always be to Melbourne. Melbourne will always be the metaphoric car that I push a little harder so it will win. However Sydney will always be the metaphoric car that's wheels I have sabotaged so there is no way it can beat my metaphoric Toronto-mobile.
Friday, 15 June 2007
Who knew being an uninvited guest could results in such accolades!
The most excellent author, John Degen, has been shortlisted (down to the last six..ohhh.. ahhha) for the 30th-annual First Novel Award for his novel The Uninvited Guest.
It's a fantastic read and I loved it. The man with the dog and the oranges is my favourite bit.
I am quite sure the nomination has nothing to do with the nudie-girl on the cover but I don't think it hurts sales either. ;-)
Coming from a country with a warm climate that has also produced ice-cube trays in the shape of the land mass - my parents had them, I loved having little Australias floating around my beverage - this idea really appeals to me.
Ice Straws if nothing else would be a great novelty item to have at a summer party.
The irony that they are made by Ikea; a Swedish company so you'd think they have enough ice to deal with in their country without creating more; makes me smile.
The directions are straight forward but leave me with one question - who in the hell has clay just hanging around their house to use as part of the instructions? Wouldn't your straws taste of dirt afterwards? Perhaps I shall leave that to become one of the world's mysteries.
My brother and I loved this origami duck when we were children.
In the past I have mentioned it to other people my age and they have had no idea what I was talking about.
Well I found him.. here is Quaq quao.. seeeeee.. I told you it was cool!
Now I just need to find the ink-man animation that used to start every episode by being drawn - you could see the real hand - then he would leap out of the line saying "I'm Alive". Man, I loved that.
The town council of Delcambre, Louisiana, USA has unanimously passed the ordinance making it a crime to wear trousers that show underwear.
"If you expose your private parts, you'll get a fine" of US$500 Mayor Carol Broussard said.
I only have one thing to say.. "George... better be careful where you go in the USA, a fine awaits you in Louisiana".
Thursday, 14 June 2007
I try to pretend that this website doesn't exist because I find it so addictive. However, it would be rude not to share.
Click here at your own will!
The object is simple:
1. Penguin jumps off the ledge (this is where I say 'pinnnnnnnnng!')
2. Yeti (you) swings the bat - like in baseball - to launch the penguin (this is where I say 'ponnnnnnnnng'!)
3. Try to hit the penguin as far as you can (it's measured).
- The penguin seems to enjoy the ride so don't feel bad, even when he lands head-first into the snow
- Why do I have to be such an ugly Yeti, couldn't it be a polar bear?
- How obvious is it that I haven't played a computer games since the Commodore64 was all the rage. Yes, those who know the humiliating 'Game Cube' story from a few years back can laugh now.
I do know how to use chopsticks correctly but will reluctantly admit that I have never practised sufficiently enough to master them. I am caught in a vicious cycle of always being too hungry to practice the correct method and resorting to the 'scissor style' most gauche westerners use, which of course only reinforces the predicament. I am going to to endeavor to be stricter with myself about this.
Regardless, just as there is a multitude of etiquette 'dos' and 'don'ts' for western eating utensils, so there are for chopsticks. Keep them in mind, so that you keep the offenses you unwittingly commit restricted to some 'chopstick scissor action'.
NB: Etiquette tips are from Wikipedia
It is important to note that the chopsticks are used in a large geographic area. While principles of etiquette are similar, the finer points may differ from region to region, and there is no single standard for the use of chopsticks. Generally, chopsticks etiquette is similar to general Western etiquette regarding eating utensils.
In cultures that make use of chopsticks, the following practices are followed:
* Chopsticks are not used to make noise, to draw attention, or to gesticulate. Playing with chopsticks is considered bad mannered and vulgar (just as playing with cutlery in a Western environment would be deemed crass).
* Chopsticks are not used to move bowls or plates.
* Chopsticks are not used to toy with one's food or with dishes in common.
* Chopsticks are not used to pierce food, save in rare instances. Exceptions include tearing larger items apart such as vegetables and kimchi. In informal use, small, difficult-to-pick-up items such as cherry tomatoes or fishballs may be stabbed, but this use is frowned upon by traditionalists.
* Chopsticks can be rested horizontally (except in Korea where they should be rested vertically) on one's plate or bowl to keep them off the table entirely. A chopstick rest can be used to keep the points off the table.
* Chopsticks should not be left standing vertically in a bowl of rice or other food. Any stick-like object pointed upward resembles the incense sticks that some Asians use as offerings to deceased family members; certain funerary rites designate offerings of food to the dead using standing chopsticks.
* In Chinese culture, it is normal to hold the rice bowl up to one's mouth and use chopsticks to push rice directly into the mouth.
* Chinese traditionally eat rice from a small bowl held in the left hand. The rice bowl is raised to the mouth and the rice pushed into the mouth using the chopsticks. Some Chinese find it offensive to scoop rice from the bowl using a spoon. If rice is served on a plate, as is more common in the West, it is acceptable and more practical to eat it with a fork or spoon.
* The blunt end is sometimes used to transfer food from a common dish to a diner's plate or bowl.
* It is acceptable to transfer food to closely related people (e.g. grandparents, parents, spouse, children, or significant others) if they are having difficulty picking up the food. Also it is a sign of respect to pass food to the elderly first before the dinner starts (part of the Confucian tradition of respecting seniors).
* When communal chopsticks are supplied with shared plates of food, it is considered impolite and unhygienic to use eating chopsticks to pick up the food from the shared plate or eat using the communal chopsticks.
* Food should not be transferred from one's own chopsticks to someone else's chopsticks. Japanese people will always offer their plate to transfer it directly, or pass a person's plate along if the distance is great. Transferring directly is how bones are passed as part of Japanese funeral rites.
* The chopsticks should never be stuck into the rice, as this custom is part of Japanese funeral rites.
* The pointed ends of the chopsticks should be placed on a chopstick rest when the chopsticks are not being used.
* Reversing chopsticks to use the opposite clean end is commonly used to move food from a communal plate, although it is not considered to be proper manners. Rather, the group should ask for extra chopsticks to transfer food from a communal plate.
* Chopsticks should not be crossed on a table, as this symbolizes death.
* Koreans consider it rude to pick up the rice bowl from the table to eat from it.
* Unlike other chopstick cultures, Koreans use a spoon for their rice and soup, and chopsticks for most other things at the table. (Traditionally, Korean spoons have a relatively flat, circular head with a straight handle, unlike Chinese or Japanese soup spoons.)
* Unlike the rice eaten in many parts of China, Korean steamed rice can be easily picked up with chopsticks, although eating rice with a spoon is more acceptable.
* The blunt handle ends of chopsticks are not used to transfer food from common dishes.
* When laying chopsticks down on the table next to a spoon, one must never put the chopsticks to the left of the spoon. Chopsticks are only laid to the left for deceased family members.
* It is perfectly acceptable to pick up banchan and eat it without putting it down on one's bowl first.
* As with Chinese etiquette, the rice bowl is raised to the mouth and the rice is pushed into the mouth using the chopsticks.
* Unlike with Chinese dishes, it is also practical to use chopsticks to pick up rice in plates, such as fried rice, because Vietnamese rice is typically sticky.
* It is proper to always use two chopsticks at once, even when using them for stirring.
* One should not pick up food from the table and place it directly in the mouth. Food must be placed in your own bowl first.
* Chopsticks should not be placed in the mouth while choosing food.
* Chopsticks should never be placed in a "V" shape when done eating; it is interpreted as a bad omen.
Wednesday, 13 June 2007
Many years ago I read a book that had a small paragraph in it that I have always remembered, even though I don't remember what book it was. To paraphrase basically it described an old man sitting in a room in his house in times past (pre-electronic society). The author commented; far more eloquently than I can; that biggest difference between the man and the average contemporary person was that he understood how everything in his immediate environment was made and how it worked.
I'm the first to admit that I am not a particularly technical person but I know that I'm not alone in having no idea how most of the objects in my immediate environment work, be it my computer, cell phone, electricity etc. I may not be technical but I am resourceful, so when I have a doubt or question I know I can go to the website How Stuff Works.
More recently I took a course that certified me to teach adults, I know a scary thought. Part of the course was becoming familiar with the different styles of learning called VARK:
I know that - like many people - I am more of a 'visual learner' than anything else (bring on the diagrams) and that I am least an 'aural learner'; so telling me how to do something verbally will often leave me confused as to what to do.
So ultimately the moral of the post is that it's ok not to know how everything works or how to do everything but knowing where to go to find out and how to learn what you need to know most effectively is a very good thing.
Tuesday, 12 June 2007
They often say that the arts is the best way to link, educate and inspire the community about difficult issues. The Choir of Hard Knocks is one of best illustrations of this I have heard of in a very long time. I think it's a brilliant idea.
Now, there is also a documentary about the choir's experience that is about to be aired on the ABC in Australia. Huge hats off to everyone involved. This is creativity at its best.
This is my favourite quote from one of the choir members: "I've never been cleaner or higher in all my life,"
Here is how they describe themselves:
The Choir of Hard Knocks is an eclectic group of disadvantaged and homeless people who have come together to create an unlikely musical phenomenon.
This group of around 50 homeless and disadvantaged men and women, have come together under the leadership of Founding Choir Director Jonathon Welch, former Opera Australia Principal. With his guidance and expertise they have beaten the odds, performed to 1600 people at Melbourne Town Hall, released their first CD “From the Heart – A Christmas Wish” and now appear regularly around Melbourne at corporate and community events.
Our aim is to bring people together, build their confidence enabling them to contribute to their community in a positive way, but also to have fun.
My family has a strange humorous affection for Chuck Norris, especially in his Walker, Texas Ranger guise. We think he is hilarious; including my mother who likes to joke that 'Walker, Texas Ranger' is her pin-up.
I belong to Facebook (like everyone else). I dithered for a while wondering what the hell I was supposed to do with it, until I found the light, until I found the 'Chuck Norris Daily Fact Function'. It makes it all worthwhile.
Here are some of my recent favourites:
10 Jun 2007's fact:
God was created from one of Chuck Norris' ribs.
07 Jun 2007's fact:
Chuck Norris created time. When asked why, he said because he wanted to clock his roundhouse kick.
Monday, 11 June 2007
The Luminato Festival is the first foray by the city of Toronto into establishing an international arts festival.
My three friends and I've dedicated years and years to working in the arts for:- music, opera, theatre, ballet, contemporary dance, visual arts, art galleries, museums and publishing. We have supported and 'paid our pound of flesh' to the international arts scene many times over... keep that in mind.
We were all quite impressed with the Luminato Festival on the whole. The variety of events and organization were excellent. We particularly like the ferry 'L'Art Boat' that took people from the Harbourfront to Distillery District sites; the contemporary art pieces in the freight containers placed near the ferry dock; the Lula Libre drummers and all the other musicians scattered around the Distillery District; my beloved Spigeltent; and browsing around the art galleries.
They were all great but the culture vulture activities were not our highlight of the day. I have one sentence:
FREE HAIR & MAKEUP MAKEOVERS!!!!
The New York Loft Makeover Experience (yes, it was part of the festival) was by far the best part of the day. We each had our hair and makeup professionally done; then had our photo taken by a professional photographer. This might only take up a sentence to describe but it took hours to execute.
We all looked beautiful and felt utterly glamorous. Some of us were more comfortable in front of the photographer than others. Nesrin was beyond a natural and was so fabulous at posing she had the rest of us hollering and clapping like a true fan club.
I should emphasize that there wasn't the slightest hint of any animal-print blanket in the photos, nor did any of us have our chins being held in our hands or soft focus edges. This wasn't a suburban mall makeover, it was a high fashion, funky, jump-up-and-down makeover.
We strutted a bit on the way home...fabulous!
On the weekend I saw an excellent exhibit of artist Beth Lipman at Sandra Ainsley Gallery in the Distillery District.
Beth Lipman's work takes 17th-18th century vanitas ('still life') paintings; popularized by Dutch Baroque artists; recreating them in hand-blown clear glass. As physical objects these works are gorgeous and demonstrate an incredible talent with the medium. What makes these works so clever is the multi-faceted underpinning art history intelligence demonstrated.
Artisans whose works were made of glass or other 'craft' media/methods were considered a lesser form of art than the 'high arts' of sculpture and painting; yet within painting 'still life' was considered a lesser form of painting than religious depictions, portraits etc. Clear glass reproductions of 'still life' paintings is a subtle and excellently executed commentary on this. The works are transparent; you can see through them; therefore a metaphor for how glass and 'still life' painting were overlooked and undervalued as art. However the objects are also multi-dimensional 'real' sculptural-like objects and hence can't be ignored. I like to think of this as 'sticking it' to old-fashioned art attitudes.
Delving further into art history the use of glass to recreate 'still life' subjects is very interesting. 'Still life' paintings were commissioned by art patrons to demonstrate their wealth and abundance (they often had some very sexy symbolism too). The subjects; lots of over-ripe fruit, seafood, game etc.; although luxurious in reality decomposed very quickly. The irony being that by attempting to depict wealth and make their marks on history, the organic subjects held their 'wealth' very briefly and were only 'kept alive' in paint. Lipman's work recreates the original organic subjects in glass, which permanently captures the subjects in single state preventing them from loosing their value to decomposition. However, she has made the subjects with elements of decomposition such as flies, spillage etc., that acknowledge the organic nature of the original subjects. Therefore she has inverted the original relationship between the object's physical reality and art's portrayal of it. Once the subjects would rot but be caught in art forever as being perfect, now the object is caught forever demonstrating its decomposition forever.
Ok, art lesson for the day over.
Friday, 8 June 2007
PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.
I love it, it makes me wish I had secrets of my own so I could send them in.
I am relatively good at keeping other people's secrets but I can't tell those. My own life is so lacking in scandalous tidbits that people may think that it's all a facade and that I'm a really cesspit of espionage and intrigue.
Sadly not the case, but I don't mind people thinking so.
Dall'Italia All'Australia (From Italy to Australia) - Impressions of the voyage of the SS Regina d'Italia is a silent film from 1924 by Angelo Drovetti that has been shown at Italian Cultural Festivals around Australia.
The film is the impressions of the voyage of the SS Regina d'Italia towards the Orient and the Far-South, August-October 1924. It showcases the panoramic views witnessed by Italian, Yugoslav, Greek, Arabic and Jewish migrants as they stood atop the deck of the old steamer during their seven-week world odyssey from the Italian port of Genoa to Australia, by way of the Suez Canal in Egypt.
I haven't seen the film so why the interest?
In 1924 my adventurous grandfather (Nonno) sailed from Italy to Australia all by himself on that very ship. Nono used to tell my brother and I stories about traveling to Australia for the first time (he later returned to Italy, married my grandmother and convinced her to migrate to Australia). I remember stories about him singing with a band he and his friends formed aboard the ship and that his mother has sewn the money for his return voyage into the lining of his jacket.
This film is of great interest to my family (My brother is trying to hunt down a copy) and I think we would all be surprised if Nonno's handsome face didn't make at least one or two appearances on the screen. I already know I will cry when that happens.
Nonno was very photogenic and a great singer - talents that he didn't pass on to me - with an adventurous soul for seeing new places, which I did inherit.
It's one thing for me to pick up and move country, but quite different when getting there means sailing on a boat for seven weeks, and when contacting your family is not as simple or frequent as telephoning and emailing.
Bravo Nonno, Bravo!
Thursday, 7 June 2007
There are objects that seem to have simply disappeared from our lives. Things that were commonplace when we were small children, that are just gone, often without us even really noticing it. Then occasionally we remember them fondly.
I remembered one of those things today.
When I was a very little girl I was utterly obsessed with my grandparents' weather house.
I would spend hours rushing back and forth from the living room into the hall (where the weather house was kept) to see if it was the man or the woman who was out, telling me if the weather was wet or fine (I always liked that the woman indicated fine weather).
I used to wonder what they did when the other one was outside. What was their house like inside the weather house? Did the man mind having to always go out with his umbrella when it was going to rain?
Of course it helped that everyone in my family has a mild obsession with meteorological measurements and activity. I call it our weather hereditary.
Forget the weather channel with its horrible Muzak I think I need to get myself a weather house because even if it's not always accurate, it will make me happy.
Here is a nice wordy nerdy post.
The website World English lists the 500 most commonly used words in the English language.
There are a number of sites that do this but I like this one because it isn't centric to one particular country. Rather it combined results of British English, American English and Australian English surveys of contemporary sources in English: newspapers, magazines, books, TV, radio and real life conversations - the language as it is written and spoken today.
Here is a sample of the list and some observations:
The #1 most used word in the English language is 'the' (too exciting isn't it!)
'You' (#9) comes before 'I' (#18) but is before 'they' (#20)
Does it give insight into people's priorities that 'friend' (#284) comes before 'love' (#387) but after 'eat' (#282) and surprisingly 'sex' doesn't make the list at all.
Interestingly 'cry' (#409) comes before 'laugh'(#479) but after 'music' (#265)
Here is where I can't help myself at having a dig at the Canucks. I notice they weren't included in the collection sample.
Perhaps this is a good thing as suddenly the word 'awesome' would have been on the list. It appears the English, Australians and Americans aren't struck with awe as often as my dear Canadians. Not to mention 'anyways'. I will never understand why Canadians make it plural.
However to stop this appearing like a 'be mean to Canadians' post I will concede that 'like' being at #64 may have a lot to do with teen-aged girls in California; 'Class' being at #329 is most likely due to the English; and 'travel' at #373 the fault of the Australians.
For non-Canadians The Hour is a news/current affairs/local interest interview-format television program produced by the CBC (the Canadian version of the Aussie ABC, or English BBC) hosted by George Stroumboulopoulos (try saying that quickly when you've had a few).
Anyway, yesterday I had the opportunity to be part of the studio audience for a taping of the show.
My housemate and I watch the program on a semi-regular basis. It's one of the few shows that has a host who is actually roughly our age, who acts our age, not pretending to be a teenager and not prematurely acting like they are 50. Fabulous!
For the most part we enjoy the show but our constant bug bear is George's pants (hmm... that sounds a bit unintentionally risqué, keep reading). His pants irritate us both profoundly because he always wears them soooooo low. We have been known to call out to the television 'Georgie Baby.. pull up your pants'.
Therefore, I should confess that one of the motivations for us deciding to be a part of the studio audience was a pact to tell George to do something about his trousers.
Unfortunately we were unlucky and the taping did not include any live interviews but I enjoyed myself anyway watching the taped material; I actually forgot where I was and found myself thinking "Yippee, no ads"; yes, I am an idiot. The content regardless was varied, intelligent and interesting.
Back to the pact. Despite our determination to save George from his own pants but we just couldn't do it.
It's true there was at least 15cm of material descending towards his knees, and that the pockets of his jeans weren't even on his butt but we remained silent. Ok, so I did point, motion and giggle, but the point is that I didn't say anything.
Why? George is surprisingly charismatic. I've met other 'public figure' type people and have seen them 'turn it on' for their public, but I have always been quite aware of it and found it gratingly fake. However, I must admit that George is very, very good at what he does. He makes you feel comfortable and like you actually know him like a friend, which is utterly ridiculous, but it happens. He is one polished, professional dude who was obviously made to be doing what he does.
So, Mr. Charisma Georgie Baby, I still desperately want you to do something about the trousers, but hats off, I was impressed.
Wednesday, 6 June 2007
Four years ago a good friend and I sat drinking beer in a 'sand pit' artwork of the contemporary art exhibit/party we were attending. As the beer flowed and we wiggled our toes in the sand our discussion turned to mutual acknowledgement (perhaps toasting) that we are 'chardonnay socialists'. Meaning that we hold many socialist ideals close to our hearts but also admit to having strong consumerist/capitalist sides. Sometimes you just have to be honest about who you are.
I have benefited from a number of Toronto's 'open' offerings including Doors Open and the Guerrilla Gardeners efforts and am an urban soul to the very core. I also think this is a great and quite interesting alternative to a traditional conference. I will also admit that I just really like the logo too.
Open source. Open space. Open art. Open doors. Open questions. Open City?
Open Cities Toronto 2007 is a weekend-long web of conversation and celebration that asks: how do we collaboratively add more ‘open’ to the urban landscape we share? You are invited to discuss, dance, discover, reconstruct and download Toronto’s potential to become an epicentre and an example of openness. Whatever we ask of a city, open must be part of the answer.
Open Cities Camp – Conversation at the CSI
An unconference where Torontonians discuss – and show – what Open Cities are about. Guerrilla gardening. Free software. Cultural mash ups. If it feels like open, this is the place to talk about it. June 23, 9:00am – 6:00pm, Centre for Social Innovation (215 Spadina).
Open Up, Chomp Down – BBQ at Fort York
A BBQ to celebrate open culture and fun in Toronto. Music. Art. Technology. Food. Drink. June 23, 5:30pm, there are rumors this might happen at Fort York
PS Kensington – Celebrate on an Open Street
What happens when we close our streets to cars and open them to people? If Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington are any indication you get more neighbourliness, creativity and smiles. You get the commons. On June 24 from noon to 7pm, PS Kensington ties in to Open Cities Toronto 2007.
Tuesday, 5 June 2007
This has always been one of my favourite poems, even though I am technically a 'cat person'. It was written with the intention of being read a loud accompanied by saxophone. I've heard it that way a couple of times, it makes it ooze smooth.
For some reason I have always envisioned the dog as being a dachshund, I can't say why. Regardless, this dog is one cool cat.
"Dog," by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
The dog trots freely in the street
and sees reality
and the things he sees
are bigger than himself
and the things he sees
are his reality
Drunks in doorways
Moons on trees
The dog trots freely thru the street
and the things he sees
are smaller than himself
Fish on newsprint
Ants in holes
Chickens in Chinatown windows
their heads a block away
The dog trots freely in the street
and the things he smells
smell something like himself
The dog trots freely in the street
past puddles and babies
cats and cigars
poolrooms and policemen
He doesn't hate cops
He merely has no use for them
and he goes past them
and past the dead cows hung up whole
in front of the San Francisco Meat Market
He would rather eat a tender cow
than a tough policeman
though either might do
And he goes past the Romeo Ravioli Factory
and past Coit's Tower
and past Congressman Doyle of the Unamerican Committee
He's afraid of Coit's Tower
but he's not afraid of Congressman Doyle
although what he hears is very discouraging
to a sad young dog like himself
to a serious dog like himself
But he has his own free world to live in
His own fleas to eat
He will not be muzzled
Congressman Doyle is just another
The dog trots freely in the street
and has his own dog's life to live
and to think about
and to reflect upon
touching and tasting and testing everything
without benefit of perjury
a real realist
with a real tale to tell
and a real tail to tell it with
a real live
engaged in real
with something to say
something to say
and how to see it
and how to hear it
with his head cocked sideways
as if he is just about to have
his picture taken
for Victor Records
His Master's Voice
like a living questionmark
of puzzling existence
with its wondrous hollow horn
which always seems
just about to spout forth
some Victorious answer
Due to the amount of travel Australians are known for there is often a misconception as to how many of us there really are.
Non-Australians are often shocked when they realize that despite the perception of us being 'everywhere' that our country in reality has a relatively small population.
Yet we are growing and the country is set to reach a population of 21 million by June. Last year alone it increased by 293,000 due partially to high birth rates and primarily due to immigration.
My home state of Victoria is growing even faster than the nation, and grew by 1.5 per cent, its fastest rate since the end of the postwar boom, as it outpaced the nation's rate of 1.4 per cent.
Howze them lamingtons!
I just don't understand.
How can the same city that is the capital of the country that has produced such exceptional creators and forward thinkers such as William Morris, Paul Smith, William Blake, Vivienne Westward, Shakespeare, Alexander McQueen, Damien Hirst, Alfred Hitchcock, Sam Taylor Wood, Sex Pistols, Pierre Marco White, Conran and even Elton John produce THIS!
The outcomes of English creativity isn't always to everyone's taste, as the list above demonstrates, however it's usually edgy and uncompromising also 'cool' and innovative and demonstrates undeniable talent.
With such an incredible sources of creativity available, how can this be the best they could do for the Olympics Logo?
As my friend mused 'Bananarama called they want their style back.'
What a disappointment.
Monday, 4 June 2007
|Army of Pandas - Zombie Love|
|Check out this funny sketch from the Army of Pandas!|
I think this short film posted on the Army of Pandas site explains exactly why I will never truly appreciate Canadian humour, why the local film industry struggles so and perhaps even why Pandas are on the threatened with extinction list.
Watch at your own risk!
The Famous Spigeltent is nothing new to Melbournians. It's been pitched outside the Arts Centre for numerous years to coincide with the Melbourne International Arts Festival.
I have spent many an evening in the tent listening to jazz or seeing a cabaret show. It was also the first place I ever saw Geoffry Rush (before he became a pirate).
I've always had a soft spot for it and think it's gorgeous (it makes me feel vaguely glamorous). Therefore you can imagine my excitement when I found this marvelous mirrored structure as I wandered through Toronto's Luminato Festival over the weekend. If you are looking for a bit of frivolous old-time, vaudevillesque-glamour entertainment, in a truly unique environment, this is the place to go.
Here is a bit about its history:
A European Mirror Tent - the ultimate cabaret and music salon'.
Spiegeltents are hand-hewn pavilions used as traveling dance halls, bars and entertainment salons since they were created in the early 20th century. There are only a hand-full of these unique and legendary ‘tents of mirrors’ left in the world today. Built of wood, mirrors, canvas, leaded glass and detailed in velvet and brocade, each has its own personality and style.
The Famous Spiegeltent, was built in 1920 by master craftsmen Oscar Mols Dom and Loius Goor.
Marlene Dietrich sang ‘Falling In love Again’ on The Famous Spiegeltent stage in the 1930’s.
Sunday, 3 June 2007
Most urban dwellers dislike the pigeon/'sky rat' populations they share their cities with. The Melbourne City Council despite attempts to drive pigeons out of Melbourne now has an artistic project that will add 200 pink fibreglass pigeons to the 60,000 others that inhabit the city.
Artist Omega Goodwin's Pigeons of Melbourne project will place the 200 pink pigeons in parks around the city. The aim being to try to inspire Melbournians with optimism as winter gloom descends; given that pink is seeing as a soothing and inspiring colour.
I think it would definitely provide a degree of interest and novetly again the grey Melbourian winter sky, just so long as they don't try to poop bright pink droppings on my head the way the regular pigeon population does.
Friday, 1 June 2007
Stuff On My Cat is a website and now also a book. The premise is simple, put something on your cat and take a photo.
I was given the book as a gift. The thing I like best has nothing to do with the 'stuff' that is put on the cats but rather the cats themselves (ok, so I did laugh at the cat being made to look like He-man's Battlecat).
For the most part the cats looked pissed-off and humiliated, unlike dogs cats are quite self-image aware. All the cats except the cat who is wearing the crown on his head, he has more of a 'Why did it take you so long to work out the obvious' look.
If you like cats, you'll like the site.