In an ideal world I would have an assistant who would pack my huge, ornate, art-deco trunks; with compartments for everything including silver-handled hairbrushes; on my behalf for my exotic traveling sojourns. Of course not only is this unrealistic but demonstrates that I read too many Agatha Christie novels when I was younger.
In the cold light of day of my assistant-less and ornate-trunk-less existence, I deal with packing for trips moderately well.
- I am not one to have my bags packed weeks in advance, I usually pack the night before I leave.
- I do write a list of what I am going to take to ensure that I don't forget anything and that everything is clean.
- I do have a tendency to want to take too many clothes and have harsh conversations with myself to offload unnecessary garments that I know I am deluding myself that I need, it's amusing to watch me arguing with myself - "no, I don't need three pairs of black pants."... "but, they are COMPLETELY different styles of pants!" - and so on.
- I do roll 90% of my clothes and pack them very tightly and still find this the absolutely best method for packing.
- Where possible; until they brought in the irritating liquid restrictions for carry-on luggage; I always tried to not take anything that would require checking any luggage. I was the master of carry-on and would zip in and out without having to wait for the luggage carousel a happy camper.
- The items that I forget to pack most regularly are pajamas and my tooth brush. The toothbrush because I always brush my teeth just before I leave the house, go into autopilot and put it back in the bathroom... arggh... fortunately toothbrushes are usually readily available.
Packing and even more so un-packing are one of my least favourite parts of traveling, but what can you do, the assistant and the ornate trunks won't become a reality any time soon.
Tuesday, 21 August 2007
Friday, 17 August 2007
Pretty much everyone finds automated telephone voices irritating.
At one point I deliberately avoided banking visa payments, as I found the automated 'helper's' voice so irritating it instantly put me into a bad mood.
Today, my interactivity with automated voices went a step further.
I am having my hair cut tomorrow. Low and below an automated voice rang me to confirm my appointment. How weird is it that setting up an automated system is easier than just getting someone to call, or sending me an email?
I just hope when I arrive tomorrow there isn't an automated hairdresser waiting for me, scissors poised.
Thursday, 16 August 2007
After having wanted to for some time, I finally saw this film last night.
It features 18 stories of love, from the city of love, Paris, each set in a different part of of the city. Directed by 18 of the world's most impressive directors including Gus Van Sant, the Cohen Brothers, Wes Craven, etc.
The film has a ridiculously impressive and eclectic cast including Nick Nolte, Juliette Binoche, Steve Buscemi, Fanny Ardant, Elijah Wood, Willem Dafoe, Natalie Portman, Bob Hoskins, Gérard Depardieu and Marianne Faithful.
It has instantaneously become one of my all time favourite films, but that is hardly surprising. I have an incredible soft spot for and I am going to Paris next week; short film is one of my favourite genres; I am an admirer of many of the actors and directors; and most of all at heart I am a hopeless romantic.
Naturally, I preferred some of vignettes to others - the one with the Chinese Hairdresser was so bizarre I didn't like it at all - and so many of them made me a little teary that my house mate couldn't stop laughing at me.
One moment is my ultimate favourite, it's right at the end of the film, with the American woman who speaks French with an atrocious accent. Anyone who has ever traveled to a foreign city/country alone will completely understand what I mean and acknowledge how perfectly the moment was captured.
Oui, oui, oui.... Paris T'Aime!
Wednesday, 15 August 2007
There is something about Australia, Canada and the U.S that has inspired multitudes of communities, across all of these countries, to build 'giant' or 'big' roadside replicas of things to use as tourist attractions. Quite often they are food, which just adds to the oddness really.
I had a friend who was so fascinated by this phenomenon that he wrote his thesis on the very topic.
I personally have no great fondness or aversion to 'giant' roadside mascotts, except one. Anyone who is the slightest bit aware of how much I despise bananas can imagine my horror that a giant one exists, I don't care if it made out of fibre glass... ewwwww.. ick!
List of Australia's 'Big' attractions, click here.
List of Canada's 'Big' attractions, click here..
Tuesday, 14 August 2007
It's one of the oldest visual gags in the book, two people dressed in a horse costume.
It was immortalized in my mind when Mick Molloy and Tony Martin attempted to film inside the Job House material store on Bourke Street. After repeatedly being refused entry they attempted to enter the premises dressed as a horse not dissimilar to the one pictured above.
Such gags never fail to make me laugh but my questions is, has anyone ever worn this costume or been to party where someone else has?
Or is it ultimately a mythical comic-gag horse?
Monday, 13 August 2007
The universe conspired yesterday so that within the space of a few hours two completely different friends showed me this clip by New Zealand comedy duo Flight of the Conchords.
You'll never think of business socks the same way again.
Sunday, 12 August 2007
We are all slow off the mark and take longer to discover or appreciate something that others have embraced for ages. Such is the case for me with the cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbs.
I was always a Peanuts fan, primarily because of Snoopy, and knew vaguely of the little boy and the tiger but paid scant attention. To my delight, a good friend lent me a book of Calvin and Hobbs comic strips yesterday and now I am a confirmed devotee.
Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbs cartoon strips show the antics of Calvin, an vividly imaginative six-year old boy, and Hobbes and his energetic and sardonic pet/toy tiger who only comes to life for Calvin and appears stuffed to everyone else. They were named after John Calvin, a 16th century French Reformation theologian, and Thomas Hobbes, a 17th century English political philosopher. The strip was syndicated daily from November 18, 1985 to December 31, 1995.
If you have not read Calvin and Hobbs comics I would highly recommend it.
Thursday, 9 August 2007
When I first moved to Toronto not only did I not know anyone or anything but I had not idea where to find out about interesting arts based events etc.
Fortunately someone put me on to Akimbo and Instant Coffee. Both sites provide interesting arts information including forth-coming events, projects seeking submissions, and jobs. They both also offer an email subscription service so the information is sent to you directly.
I have been a happier Toronto camper ever since.
If you find Now and the Eye a bit limited these sites might be exactly what you are looking for.
Wednesday, 8 August 2007
The loss of such a unique and charismatic species is a shocking tragedy...This extinction represents the disappearance of a complete branch of the evolutionary tree of life. - Sam Turvey, London Zoo Conservation BiologistExperts say it is the first large vertebrate driven to extinction by human activity in 50 years and only the fourth time an entire evolutionary line of mammals has gone into extinction since 1500.
R.I.P Yangtze Dolphin, I swear it's worse because it was a dolphin.
If you've ever traveled with electrical equipment, be it a hair dryer etc. you are aware of the differences in power socket shape and voltage from country to country. It is a bit maddening.
Here are a couple of other 'fascinating' tidbits:
- In Australia power sockets are accompanied by an on/off switch (as pictured below). When I first moved to Canada I freaked out the first time I used an electrical appliance as I couldn't fathom that pulling the plug out of the wall 'live' was a safe thing to do. I continue to have a habit of turning off and on light switches near electrical outputs as part of my ingrained auto-pilot.
- Household electricity was originally used mostly for lighting. Many electricity companies operated a system where the cost of electricity for lighting was lower than that for other purposes. This led to low-power appliances (such as vacuum cleaners and hair driers) being connected to the light fitting such as 1909 electric toaster with a light bulb socket pictured below.
Tuesday, 7 August 2007
Forbes.com has released a list of the ten best foodie cities in the world.
What defines "best"?
"A foodie city has a good mix of restaurants--some with an international reputation and that are true classics, others that are excellent but that people may not have heard of," - Martin Rapp, senior vice president of leisure at Altour International, a New York and Los Angeles luxury travel consultancy.
Here's their list:
1. New York City, U.S.A
2. Las Vegas, U.S.A
3. Los Angeles, U.S.A
4. Paris, France
5. Bologna, Italy
6. Singapore, Singapore
7. Palermo, Italy
8. Barcelona, Spain
9. London, England
10. Sydney, Australia
I don't agree with this list but I'm not a gastronomic expert.
Conspiracy theory films etc. come and go but it's rare that more than a handful of people pay attention to any particular one.
What makes the Zeitgeist Movie different is the number of people, from so many different fractions of my life, with wildly different attitudes who have brought this film to my attention.
The film bites off a huge mouthful and takes no prisoners, some of the topics it tackles includes:
1) Tradition in history across the ages of sun gods including Jesus in its number,
2) the September 11, tragedies were part of an elite conspiracy, and
3) ever since World War I, the ultra-rich have been secretly manufacturing wars and financial collapses to control the populace and to get richer and more powerful
I am still watching it so I can't make a personal comment yet but I already find some of the 'facts' a bit of a stretch but to check it out for yourself, click here.
Sunday, 5 August 2007
I am never going to disagree with the marketing mantra that 'sex sells' and I will openly admit that I have ogled my fair share of gorgeous male specimens in advertising campaigns. Additionally, many, many years ago I got a job partly because I could look pleasing to the eye in a mini-skirt. Discussion as to whether these practices are ethical, degrading, sexiest etc. is not my purpose at this time.
My query is can using 'sex' and physical appeal cross the line from alluring to comically ridiculous if a context/implied narrative is lacking and the 'sell' is too obvious? Or is it just me?
Whilst shopping today I walked into one of those surfer/urban/faux-preppy stores; the ones that sell polo-shirts, sloganed t-shirts and cargo pants; play their music uber loud; keep their lights dim; and style their stores like Tiki huts.
What was different about this particular store was that standing in the entrance was a young guy - admittedly very good looking in that all-American way - with a perfect 'model-like' body. How did I know his body was so perfect? He was standing there without this shirt on. A first I thought he was a mannequin, so when he moved I nearly had a heart-attack and then I had to stop myself from laughing hysterically.
Having a topless sales assistant in itself I consider a bit odd, especially in a clothing store, but what really made the situation weird was that it was so obvious that this guy's sole purpose was to stand at the front of the store with his shirt off, without anything else to do except looking good and vaguely uncomfortable.
There is a racy lingerie store here in Toronto that has girls wearing their merchandise, dancing in the store windows, and waving to passers-by.
Both stores are trading on the sexiness of quasi-naked people sells factor, so why did I find the shirtless guy so comically ridiculous but the dancing undies girls 'cheeky'?
I realized that the dancing undies girls fit with the burlesque image of the store, promote its product, and that having them dance gives them an activity to do that vaguely suggests a narrative within a context of the store's purpose and hence is less absurd.
The Tiki-hut-look store's attempt to use the 'sex sells' approach was so awkwardly obvious, lacking even the thinnest vein of contextualization or implied narrative that it looked plain ridiculous. I decided that if the shirtless guy had been waxing his surfboard or some other similar activity that fitted with the image of the store the ploy would have worked and I may have found it cheesy but not ridiculous.
So now I acknowledge that to 'sell' the 'sex' it takes more than quasi-naked bodies to have me sold and that the creation of an implied narrative that fits into the image of the store makes all the difference. I think it's called 'buying into the lifestyle' of the brand.
Am I crazy to need a contrived context and would you have found it sexy?
Friday, 3 August 2007
I spend a sufficiently significant proportion of my life immersed in virtual environments, so the idea of having a second completely virtual life does not appeal at all. My attitude is 'abbastanza bene' - rough translation but add some passionate flair- "well enough!"
Others would disagree and for them there is Second Life.
Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its Residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by a total of 8,572,556 Residents from around the globe. You get to build your own 'avator' (persona) including what you look like, make friends, engage in social activities and can even buy land...all virtually.
I have a hard enough time managing my physical life without adding the burden of a virtual one.
Mikhail Gorbachev is appearing in a Louis Vuitton international print advertising campaign.
The photo was taken by Annie Leibovitz and features 'Gorby' sitting in the back seat of a Soviet era limousine, Vuitton luggage bag beside him, with the Berlin Wall seen through the car windows in the background.
Commentary on this photo has been mixed with much talk about the former Soviet Leader's relationship with capitalism past and present.
Whether the campaign is aimed towards increasing the brand's male purchasing power or inroads into new markets in China and Russia it has certainly generated the attention it sought.
The composition of the photo; and all of the others in this campaign; doesn't have the celebrity looking at the camera and the Louis Vuitton product is not particularly prominent in the shot. Apparently this approach is to integrate the products into more 'lifelike' scenes.
I like the photo, so I will buy in and suspend my grip on reality for a moment, even though the entire scenario is anything but 'lifelike'. It seems that advertisers increasingly associate 'somber' as being synonymous with 'lifelike'. I am not here to nick pick though, so I'll leave it there.
Pietro Beccari, director of marketing at Louis Vuitton, said that Gorbachev was persuaded to participate in the campaign when Louis Vuitton made a donation to his environmental charity, Green Cross International, which is cited in the ad.
Being a child of the 80s I've always had an irrational fondness for Gorby, so regardless of the circumstances, it's nice to see him again.
Wednesday, 1 August 2007
I am a huge fan of BBC World television.
Adding to my appreciation and enjoyment is the program BBC Travel - Fast Track
If you are a traveler and sick of the saturation of lifestyle travel programs that are almost impossible to tell apart from one another and usually equally uninteresting this is the program for you.
This week the program looked at the growth of the global tourism industry; emerging trends and markets; the environmental impact of the travel industry from multiple perspectives; sustainable alternatives; etc.
It's definitely worth checking out.
August 1st is Swiss National Day, celebrating the union of the three states – Uri, Schwyz and Unterwaldennation - that came together to form the nation of Switzerland in 1291.
I am one-eighth Swiss and my mother is one-quarter Swiss. She refers to Switzerland as 'the old country' because, although the rest of her heritage is Irish, as she puts it "Every man and his dog are Irish, I'm Swiss, except on St Patrick's Day".. which ironically is quite Irish of her.
Happy Swiss National Day!