Friday, 30 March 2007

Back to Frivolity - My Spa Conspirators

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough (courtesy of my Board of Directors) to spend the afternoon at the Body Blitz Spa, in Toronto. I spent over two hours meandering between the green tea whirlpool, sauna, seasalt pool, steam room and cold plunge pool followed by a body scrub and massage. Afterwards I was close to catatonic, such was the state of my relaxed mind and body.

I am not a person who finds it easy to relax (I make lists in my head of things I need to accomplish whilst doing yoga) so my mind wandered quite a bit, even as I splashed about. It wandered back to all of the other spa experiences I've had over the years and to my two spa conspirators Kirrily and Julie. This posting is a dedication to them both.

My very first spa experience happened in Hungary when I was 21 years old. Kirrily and I were traveling around Europe and couldn't wait to get to the beautiful spa in Budapest that we had heard so much about. The spa itself was utterly gorgeous and looked as if it had been plucked straight out of ancient Rome with its marble pillars, mosaic floor and fresco painted walls.

We had quickly and modestly changed into our bikinis and were walking towards the spa area when we were accosted by two stern looking spa attendants. After failing to be able to talk to us (all I know how to say in Hungarian is 'hi') they started snapping the bands of our bikini bottoms and gesturing over their shoulders. It took a while to sink in, but eventually we realized that they wanted us to take our bathers off, to be NUDE. We were mortified, despite probably having the best skin elasticity we've ever had, we were consumed with normal 21-year old body consciousness. We finally complied and actually enjoyed ourselves, especially when Kirrily pointed out that all of the other ladies there were on the large side or as she called it "walls of flesh". We were officially the hotness.

When Kirrily and I arrived in Istanbul we were again filled with excitement at the idea of being able to visit a hammam. By now we were a little more comfortable with the whole nude thing. We sat in another beautiful room with a domed ceiling happily splashing ourselves with water. Then we were each lead into a room with a marble slab in the middle of it, that we lay down on so that the spa attendant could expertly scrub us down with a loofa. To this day I am astounded by how much icky black grime and dead skin she was able to remove, she was a master. Afterwards, my skin felt like a baby's bottom.

When I was staying in Piedmont, Italy with my relatives Kirrily flew over from London for a visit. Another spa adventure awaited us but this time it was a little more complicated. It took us over an hour to find the spa, and when we did the staff gave us funny looks when we asked where the mud baths were. Eventually, we were led into a doctor's office, who after tapping our knees and making us cough asked puzzled "What's wrong with you both". Fortunately, at that time my Italian wasn't too bad, so I was able to explain that there was nothing wrong with us, we just wanted to try out the mud baths. He shook his head, laughed and wrote us each a note that had "reumatismo" written on it, our tickets into the spa. We were separated into two small rooms, I kept thinking "this is what hospitals looked like in WW2", no marble or gilt this time. I was put in a bath that was filled with hot mud and then wrapped up in bandages,I resembled an Egyptian mummy. I lay there for about an hour, I have never sweated so much in my life, it was not exactly relaxing. However, after they had hosed and rubbed all the mud off I felt incredibly invigorated and my skin was all soft and lovely. It was definitely worth pretending to be an invalid.

For Kirrily's 25th birthday I took her to the Japanese Bath House in Melbourne. We splashed around in the spa waters, relaxed in the sauna and steam rooms and drank green tea. After a while Kirrily jokingly, rolling her eyes, asked if my birthday present to her was the chance to see me nude again. Then a little later she whispered after looking around the room at the other women, 'You know we are both holding up pretty well", to which I replied mildly horrified yet amused "You aren't supposed to look!"

After moving half-way across the world I was delighted to find a new spa conspirator. Although we haven't had to negotiate the 'nude' factor our shared spa experiences have been equally fabulous. Thanks to Julie, I spent one of the best Easters I've ever had at the Pantages Spa in Toronto. We also made a trip to Montreal, where we spent more money at the spa than we did on accommodation. Although not a spa our adventure with acupuncture is also a fond needly memory.

If you haven't 'spa-ed' it yet, I think you should.. soon....

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Viva la Revolución

Hola my revolutionary brothers. I have seized this blog from the sweet and lovely imperialist swine who normally supplies the posts here, mostly about slightly Australian/highly entertaining internet brik-a-brak. I have done so for one reason only: to stick it to the man!

The 'man' in this case is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), who I normally have no beef with. Their flagship news show, The National, is one of the best sources for national and international news in North America. However, unsurprisingly their online division is run by a bunch of frigtards, hopelessly behind the times. When I wrote in to ask for a download link so that I could save a copy of a recent show, I got this email in reply:

Hello *****,

You can purchase the video copy from Bowdens, 1-800-363-1281 if you want a video copy for yourself.
We are in the process of revising our web site and hopefully in April sometime all the 7s and other documentaries will be on our new improved web site for the National. Also this is sure to be repeated during the summer months. But you can't download anything and tape it....sorry. Ok, so hopefully this answers all your questions.
- Nameless CBC Flak

Um, what? It's a news show, that you put on TV everyday, for free... How would what I'm asking for be any different than using a VCR and taping the damn thing? Oh right, it would be more convenient and take place after 1995. And what the hell is download and tape it mean? Do these cavemen think I have a VCR hooked up to my computer, so I can get it onto the universal and convenient format of a VHS tape??

Screw 'em. I downloaded it anyway and now it's mine-all-mine! And you can too. See, The National thinks they're all tricky by streaming the video, so you can't just save it to your desktop. When you do try to save it, using Quicktime Pro, you just get a small file with the extension .asx. This is not the video, but if you open it with a text editor, the link to the real video is sitting right there. So, to review:

  1. Go to

  2. Click to watch the online version of The National

  3. Save the file using Quicktime Pro to your desktop

  4. Open the file with a simple text editor, like TextEdit

  5. Copy the link out of the text file and paste it into your browser address bar

  6. After the video is loaded, save it at will and mentally flip-off the CBC

Note: this will only work on a Mac with Quicktime Pro and Flip4Mac (free) installed. If you're on a PC, sorry but you've got enough problems already without taking on a corporate giant.

I'd like to thank the nameless angel that let me take control for this rant, and remember: Illegitimus non carborundum!

Adiós muchachos!

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Budgie Smugglers - undies or togs

Ok, personally I don't think anywhere is good to be seen in speedos/togs/budgie-smugglers..but this ad made me laugh so hard I was crying.

Bloody Big Cane Toad and more

It has been well publicized around the world that a particularly large cane toad was found in Darwin last week. In other words a 'bloody big toad'. It was 20.5 centimetres and weighed almost a kilogram.

If you grew up in Australia in the late 1980s, chances are you watched the documentary 'Cane Toads' at school. The scene from the film most of us remember most clearly is the one with the combi-van swerving all over the road to squash the pesky toads (they make a 'pop' sound when they are squashed).

We also learnt that cane toads are not native to Australia and are originally from Central and South America. In 1935, in an attempt to control the native sugar cane beetle, 102 cane toads were introduced to Queensland. To call this a bad idea is understatement, the toads now number over 20 million and have migrated to parts of New South Wales and the Northern Territory.

The full extent of their long-term, negative environmental impact is yet to be determined. However, the toads can already be directly attributed as the cause for a reduction in some native species populations, and a distinct disruption to the natural food chain. Cane toads are prolific breeders, opportunistic feeders that can digest living of dead matter, and their skin excretes a poisoness toxin that will kill most animals when digested (their tadpoles are also toxic).

The environmental disaster of this introduced animal (along with rabbits) on Australia's fragile natural environment is an influencing factor as to why Australia now has such strict quarantine laws for importing flora or fauna.

Here is an animated short about cane toads, that I think is hilarious, for the aussie slang as much as anything else, although the toad-man-boobs are a little disturbing.

Monday, 26 March 2007

You Tube Awards

So we know that You Tube is not necessarily a bona fide revolution beyond marketing. However, that doesn't mean we can't check out the videos that were selected as last year's best.

Here are the ones I like that received honours. Sorry, I can't stand Ask A Ninja.

It was also a slight relief to know that my geek levels are not beyond redemption, as I had never heard of a number of the winners. Phew!

Kiwi: Most Adorable

Most Inspiration: Free Hugs Campaign (yes, I had a big sook the first time I saw this one)

Most Creative: OkGo - Here it Goes Again

Sharkwater.. shark friendly film lacks bite

I should probably point out a couple of things before I give my opinion on this film. I am Australian, so I grew up in an environment where sharks have been vilified and their attacks on surfers etc have been sensationalized. Yes, I did refuse to go swimming for a couple of days after seeing 'Jaws', and I do know what a shark warning siren sounds like.

That being said, as I have mentioned before, my brother is a marine biologist, and before he was into octopus he was into sharks. From my brother I had learnt that sharks aren't really interested in eating people, and that most bites to humans are exploratory rather than gastronomic. As Stevie put it "They don't have arms to reach out and nudge to see what you are, so they use their teeth".

So I went into this film with a long standing fear of sharks and a miniscule degree of understanding about them. Yet all in all, I can't say I really liked this film nor can I say that I hated it.

The good things about this film:
- The underwater cinematography is quite spectacular;
- I did gain an even more sympathetic view towards the plight of sharks;
- the scenes that involved the Sea Shepard were very exciting and interesting. I really would have liked to have seen this be the focal accompanyment to the sharks to form the crux of the narrative. It could have worked so well.

The not so hot things about this film:
- I understand that sharks have always been Rob Stewart's passion, but I really didn't need to see so much of him and felt it detracted from the film, and made it more of a ego-fest. I am sorry that he got flesh eating disease, but what did it have to do with sharks, really!
- I would have like more information on sharks in general, rather than the constantly repeated, too few, snippets of footage that I think they were hoping I wouldn't notice were repeated.

Overall I think this film had good intentions but if I take out my respect for the subject matter I have to say it was a mishmash.

I kept feeling like they couldn't decide what sort of film to make, so they made a little bit of all of them. I kept feeling that if they had thought more about how they had put this together and edited more ruthlessly it could have been a far superior film.

I am going to ask Stevie to see it and tell me what he thinks.

Exhibition: Eye of the Artist - Devorah Sperber

I read about this exhibition in New Scientist. Sadly, it is unlikely that I will get to see it 'in the flesh', yet I was totally taken by the artist's approach to the subject matter and her technique.

I've always had a great appreciation for artwork that is beautiful, interesting and clever. Why, clever? If you look very carefully at the image you will realise that it is made up of hundreds of spools of thread. That in itself I really liked, but it gets better.

To the naked eye the work appears as a pixilated, abstract image but it is transformed by an optical device to reveal that is it actually an inverted image of a painting masterpiece, such as the example above of van Eyck's Man in a Red Turban.

A clever optical illusion. I love it!

Other works in the exhibition include Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa, as well as Picasso's portrait of Gertrude Stein.

If anyone has the chance to go to NYC and check it out, I'd love to hear about it.

January 26–June 17, 2007
Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York

Friday, 23 March 2007

Spring Fashion 2007.. trends

As much as I like wearing boots and although I am quasi in love with my red-wool pre/post* winter coat, after months and months of wearing them I have started to physically crave Spring/Summer clothes.

* - its pre/post because when the temperature plummets below -5 I have to wear my dreaded black-puffy jacket, which I detest.

The other day, as I trudged through the slush, I actually fantasized about freeing my toes from their booted prisons and wearing flip flops and sandals again (NOT those hideous red, patent-leather,cork platform ones though).

So, spring is almost here, fingers crossed, and with it comes the Spring 2007 Fashion Trends. As usual, the retailers and designers would like us to to throw out all of our clothes, stampede into the stores and buy all the 'it' items.

It's true what I read somewhere once, fashion is indeed the ultimate marketing coup, as it does make you buy new things when what you already have is, in all reasonableness, still perfectly functional. That being said, I will most likely want some new things, call me semi-brain washed if you will.

I've attached an excellent link to a site that gives an overview on what the various magazines are saying are the trends.“it”-list-they-say/

Some things I will NOT be wearing:
- Tent dress (I have boobs and broad shoulders, this is never going to look anything but horrible on me)
- Bubble skirt (just no, no, no)
- Bell, trumpet or ruched sleeves (I am not a moth, I don't want to look like a moth)
- Yellow (I like other people in yellow, sadly I just look like I have jaundice, no matter what the tone or shade)
- Space ( I don't even understand what this means, but the astronaut-look probably isn't for me)
- Sports (I may concede here a little, but it would really be false advertising, sporty I am not)
- Narrow Skirt Below the Knee (years of walking means I have well developed calves, so this isn't for me, I am going to stick to my mother's mantra of always wearing your skirt just above the best part of your legs)
- Jodhpurs (see bubble skirt comment)
- Polka dots (cute on other people, I can't get past Minnie-Mouse)

Some things I would like to wear (I don't care if it sounds boring):
- White Shirt (though, I am yet to determine how this is different from the ones I already have)
- Cobalt blue (I like blue)
- Belts (but not whips and chains)
- Ballerina wrap cardigan (got them, love them)
- Floral prints (but in moderation, I am not planning to be overtaken by hibiscus)
- Big Neutral Bags (I carry a lot of stuff, so perfect)
- Urban turbans (the idea amuses me, but I may not have the nerve when it comes to it)
- Jewel Flats (flats.. yippee)
- Goddess layers (I can handle being a goddess and the odd layer works for me)
- Metallic (metal is fine, so long as I don't look like I am trying to impersonate the TinMan from the Wizard of Oz or King Midas)
- Organza or chiffon top (pretty, I'll go there)
- High Shine Satin etc (I like shiny things!)
- Dresses (Love dresses, with the right neck Iine etc, I'm all about it)
- Cropped jackets (so long as the shoulder pads are kept under control, I like it)
- Wedges (I already own some, so long as they are not platform, they can stay)

Things I am prepared so consider more before I decide:
- Multi layered t-shirts (I've done it before, I may well do it again)
- Crystal Adornments (it will depend on the adornment, so long as it doesn't looked Bedazzled it could be ok)
- High Waists (my jury is out, I want to see how a less extreme version manifests)
- Lucite (I think how this is applied will be make or break for me)
- Skinny pants (if it is more straight leg, less skinny, that's ok with me)
- Shorts (I am not convinced but not utterly against them either)

And THAT is my rave on forthcoming fashions

Hart House (Hancock) Lecture 2007 - One Nation Under Google

Citizenship in the Technological Republic: Canadian Research Chair - Darin Barney

Last night I attended the Hart House Lecture, which has now been renamed the Hancock Lecture in honour of Hart House Warden, Margaret Hancock. Peter gave an particularly excellent speech announcing the name change, and to my delight made Margaret cry.. in a good way.. well done Peter.

Darin Barney examined some of the challenges to the practice of citizenship that result from living in a technological society.

It was an interesting lecture that examined a multitude of issues including:
- Concepts of the 'good life' that relate to a redefinition of morals and ethics in relation to technological development;
- that when people say 'technology' most of us automatically think of new technologies (like the internet) although the term also includes things like the telephone and automobile;
- whether technological 'revolutions' are really anything more than marketing spin (how exactly have You Tube and the iPhone changed the world at large?);
- an examination of the value of public consultation to inform the direction of technological development (with an excellent Danish example);
- governments' invested interest in creating technology based industries; and
- some of the possible directions of the future (Nano anyone?)

All very intriguing and relevant.

Unfortunately, my small little mind did wander during the hour or so long lecture and I did loose the thread a little towards the end. The upside of this was that my wandering mind looked around and made some relevant and some off-topic observations.

Firstly, an observation that Peter made, that despite predictions that formats such as the 'Lecture' are dead the Hart House Lecture has sold out every year, so 'bah' to that concept.

Looking around the room (probably not very discreetly) I was pleased to see a great range in ages, ethnicities and genders. This in my mind is one of the advantages of technology, that was only touched-on in the lecture, that technology can be a great equalizer. Of course that doesn't take into account the issue of technology-rich versus technology-poor.

I was also very pleased that Professor Barney, challenged some of the more contentious issues that raised during the Massey Lecture by Margaret Somerville last year. Bravo!

Some totally off-topic observations included:
- That the hall that the Hart House Lecture is held in is very beautiful (Gothic Revival I think, Howard Roark would not approve, but I don't care). It was very pleasing to my eyes, especially watching the shadows being cast on the walls by the wrought-iron chandeliers.
- That the Warden's apartment is fabulous and has great art work.

Definitely a good evening to try to remove some of the sand, which I feel slowly fills my brain sometimes.

A thousand thanks to Jacky for taking me as her date!

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Philippe Découflé -'Solo – Le doute m'habite'

Last night Sibel, Anna and I went to see a performance by contemporary dancer, Philippe Découflé, called 'Solo – Le doute m'habite (the doubt within me).'

Découflé is a celebrated contemporary dancer and well deserves all the acclaim he receives. He is one of the few contemporary performers I have seen, in any medium, who utilizes and manipulates technology to enhance and compliment their artform, without relying on it so heavily that there is nothing to the performance beyond the technology.

The performance includes an expertly manipulated array of cameras, lights, musical instruments and personal monologues melded to create a visually stunning, well paced and highly enjoyable work.

The ease of the precision of his graceful movements and his ability to utilize space and hence your perception of space was remarkable.

Although I do think Découflé has a mild obsession with kaleidoscopes, the performance was excellent and I particularly appreciated the refreshing injection of humour.

I would definitely recommend seeing this work as a "must see", which is a high recommendation indeed as dance is usually my least favourite artistic medium.

New World Stage International Performance
Harbourfront Centre
Premiere Dance Theatre
207 Queens Quay West
3rd floor

March 20 - 24

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Criminal 'Feets' Against Humanity

Firstly a couple of confessions:
1) When I was two years old I begged, pleaded and was successful in obtaining an itty-bitty pair of cork, platform sandals with multi-coloured plastic straps, just like my mother's. I look terribly impressed with myself in the photos. However, I am certainly no longer two years old.
2) I do own a pair of patent leather red ballerina flats, but only because the plain red leather ones were out of stock.

Why the confessions? Well I think it is important to acknowledge that I have a history with elements of the shoes pictured.

The shoes pictured are an atrocity. The more I see some of the so-called "must-have" shoes for the season, the more appalled I become. They are HIDEOUS!!!!

Cork, platform and patent leather should never, ever, EVER see the light of day together and nothing can convince me otherwise.

If refusing to yield to this trend, (as I refused with clogs, bubble skirts (both times) and leggings) means I am horribly out of 'style', so be it!

They may be red, but I doubt these shoes will take you home (a la Dorothy). They are more likely to make you refuse to leave the house!

Monday, 19 March 2007

Little Britain - not so guilty pleasure

This is by no means a new television series, everyone at home in Australia was talking about it last March. I think it is hilarious, and one of the best series I've seen since League of Gentlemen. To quote my mother..

"Its horrible, truly horrible but I can't stop watching it.. I wish it didn't make me laugh so much but it does..its disturbingly addictive"

She's right.. its irreverent, utterly politically incorrect and totally ridiculous, what more could you ask for.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Science of Sleep - a film for me

I like this film so much, and I haven't even seen the end of it yet.

The 'Science of Sleep' stars Gael Garcia Bernal as a young Mexican man living in Paris, though the majority of the film is in English.

His character, Stefan, is utterly eccentric and consumed with slumber to the point where his dream life and waking life often meld together. He is utterly delightful.

To be brief, some of my favourite bits so far include:
- when he has the giant hands that prevent him from working
- the calendar of the world's most significant disasters
- his variety to fabulously ridiculous 'inventions'
- the teddy bear band
- his dream composition, nude delivery and then waking extraction of the letter to his neighbour
- his 'studio' where he puts together his dreams

I will happily concede, that the character of Stefan does remind me of an exaggerated version of Greg, the enthusiasm and the imagination in particular. However, it is also partly because since seeing the film Greg has taken to dancing around the house a la Stefan.. I like that too :-D

A bit of escapist whimsy is good for the soul!

Aalst - highly disturbing but excellent

March 14-17
Harbourfront Centre's Premiere Dance Theatre
New World Stage International Performance Series
Victoria Theatre Company, Belgium
Cast: Lies Pauwels and Jeroen Perceval
Director: Pol Heyvaert

Last night my friend Sibel and I went to see the play, Aalst. As we sat down in our seats all we knew was that it was a 'Belgian Play'. We had been given the tickets and hadn't had time to read the program to familiarize us with the synopsis.

The curtain rose, a bright-white light beamed down on to a sparse set with two molded plastic chairs separated by space, each next to a free-standing microphone on a large square of dark-red carpet. In the chairs sat a man and woman, who there was nothing in particular to comment on, except they both had terrible posture and that they were unaware of each other's presence.

A voice began to ask the man and woman a series of individual questions in a detached interview/interrogation style voice. The man and woman answered in turn, in a mostly monotone, slightly scattered and contradictory manner.

It became apparent that they both had come from family backgrounds of abuse and minor criminal activities, and that they were a couple. Through the questioning you also discovered that these two people had taken advantage of the social welfare system, lived in state of twisted domesticity (included behaviour such as throwing televisions out of windows), and that the husband had physically abused his wife. Worst of all, you began to realize that this couple had murdered both of their children and yet had no real remorse or any clearly explainable motive for doing so.

The details of this couple’s reality, attitudes, reactions and attempts at justification for their actions were completely beyond my realm of comprehension. Both characters had justifications for everything, that were often bizarre and never acknowledged the slightest degree of personal responsibility. For example, when the man was asked about his neighbour complaining about him throwing a television out of the window, he retorted that it was because the woman was jealous that she only had one television, so she couldn't throw one out of the window. For the majority of the performance I assumed the people were mentally unstable or handicapped, until the unseen interviewer made a point of the fact that testing had shown that the couple were considered sane and of a standard IQ.

Despite the wretched subject matter the two actors' performances were expertly executed with subtly and restraint. Interestinlgy, they never really attempted to invoke empathy for their characters from the audience. They were so successful at creating these emotionally empty personas, that my own emotional responses rushed to fill the voids. As a result, I felt alternately and simultaneously dismayed, disgusted and astonished at the fate of these dead children. Although the play was only an hour long, towards the end I was mentally willing it to finish because I couldn't watch or listen to any more.

Although there was no clear or dramatic resolution, somehow it didn't feel incomplete. The play ended without answering most of the questions it had raised.

It wasn’t until later that we discovered that the play was based on true events, or 'faction', and that even the dialogue had been pulled from documented statements and interviews. To say we were a bit stunned is an understatement.

It is hard to say if I would have had a less acute reaction if I had known more, or anything at all, about the play before seeing it. Chances are that I would have refused to go because of the subject matter, so for that reason alone I am very pleased that it was a surprise as it was an excellent play.

As we left the theatre we discussed how uncomfortable it made us feel, the talent of the actors, some of the social and psychological issues that it raised, but we also spoke about how sometimes you have to describe something Bad-Good. ‘Bad’, because the subject matter is horrible, yet ‘good’ because it is so well performed.

For the performance alone I would recommend this play but with a warning that it is heavy going.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Gender Stereotypes and Violence

As much I truly wish the world was only made up of beautiful and/or amusing elements the all too harsh realities can not be completely avoided or ignored.

Gender stereotyping is something we all have a degree of distain for. However, we are also subjected to and participate in perpetuating them more regularly, to varying degrees, than we would probably like to admit.

At the extreme of the gender stereotyping spectrum this can result in dangerous attitudes towards what is acceptable behaviour, and violent crimes against women.

On International Women's Day (March 8th, my friend Simone created and displayed an excellent poster (pictured) to raise awareness of this highly disturbing international issue.

Simone is a Masters of Law Student at the University of Toronto and specializes in human rights issues, particularly those related to women.

She is an excellent example of someone who doesn't just shake their head and say how sad it is but who is trying to do something about it!

Monday, 12 March 2007

Beautiful Images from BibliOdyssey

BiblioOdyssey - Books, Illustrations, Science, History, Visual Materia Obscura Eclectic Bookart.

This site has beautiful images that are an absolute delight to gaze at whether they be botanical paintings, historical etchings, architectural drawings, scientific diagrams, vintage book covers or posters. It really is remarkably comprehensive and features works from across the globe, even Australia, which is always nice to see.

It also won a best new blog award in 2005, so obviously I am not the only person who finds the content both intriguing and exquisite.

Men in Tiny Leather Undies

photo: 2007 Warner Bros Pictures

I am not a great fan of action flicks but I somehow ended up seeing '300' over the weekend.

Despite it being quite bloody and basically one long battle sequence, I didn't actually mind it. Somehow I find a battle sequence based on historical events less irritating than I do battle sequences with aliens, monsters or elves.

The aesthetic look of the film was quite amazing, especially all the buff men in teeny-weeny leather undies.

I giggled every time I saw them.. such big men.. such small undies..

Friday, 9 March 2007

Great Read By a Great Bloke - The Uninvited Guest

John Degen has a novel, the title is The Uninvited Guest, published by Nightwood Editions (

Here are some great things other people, who agree with me as to how great this book is, have said about it:

“Degen has a knack for making the bizarre feel authentic.” – Quill & Quire

"[an] absurdly hilarious book" – Ottawa XPress

"[a] finely written and charmingly Canadian novel." – broken pencil

"I enjoyed this book because I've lived the inside story. The Uninvited Guest offers a fictional and philosophical lens on a wide range of subjects from the lives of professional hockey players to the keepers of the Cup to Eastern European history to storytelling, and blurs the whole spectrum together in a finale full of love, community and companionship". – Igor Larionov, three-time winner of the Stanley Cup

Forget the film, watch the titles

Short films are my personal favourite form of film. I also like title sequences so this site is perfect!

Submarine Channel have a collection of some of the most interesting and original film title sequences out there. There is animation, Motion Graphics, 3D and Mixed formats to select from.

It is a little addictive...

Check it out and enjoy!

*SubmarineChannel is a non-profit production and online distribution platform for designers, interactive artists and the people who like them (like me!).

International Year of the Pig Print Exhibition

My friend Virginia Sheehan has a piece (pictured above) in this exhibition.

PROOF Studio Gallery is hosting the 6th International Print Exhibition and Exchange celebrating The Year of the Pig. Over 100 printmakers from Germany, Mexico, China, Australia, Hong Kong and from all across Canada are participating. Print submissions include traditional techniques such as etchings, wood block, engravings, collagraphs, serigrahs, lithographs, embossing and relief prints and mixed media prints. PROOF Studio Gallery is located in The Distillery District in Toronto.

Proof Studio Gallery
Gallery Hours: Wed - Sun 12-5
55 Mill Street, Building 74
The Case Goods Warehouse
Studio 104
The Distillery District
Toronto, ON M5A 3C4

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Sexy Clocks

Look, I have sexy new clocks on the blog. One for Melbourne and one for Toronto. This should prevent those "Clare, its 3am here" calls I make from time-to-time.


My first call using my sexy clock as a reference will be to my most favourite ex-housemate ever.. Timmy..

Doc Oc

My brother Stephen is doing his PhD in Marine Biology at the University of Tasmania.

His area of focus is octopuses (yes, that is a correct term).

Personally, I find these creatures a little creepy, but he seems to like them. I will concede that from what he tells me they do sound quite fascinating. I am so proud of him I could explode!

Please find some pics of Stevie and his 'oc-ies' below. *Photo Source: Stevie (Doc Oc)

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Aesthetic Indulgence

We all deserve a little aesthetic indulgence now and then.

This is one of my favourite blogs.. an absolute feast for the eyes with lots of gorgeous things to oggle over.. I personally love the small works on paper and fabric designs best, but that's just me.

Check it out and enjoy!..

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Beware the Australandian Language Bandit

A friend and I were chatting at the grocery store register when we noticed that the cashier was laughing at us. He quickly recovered himself and blurted out ‘Sorry, I was enjoying listening to the show’. Show? What show? It suddenly became apparent that as two Australians chatting together within earshot of a Canadian the Australandian Language Bandit had struck again.

The Australandian Language Bandit is a tiny, talented and irrepressibly mischievous creature that takes delight in creating conversation confusion. It preys on the boldest distinction and/or slightest nuance of pronunciation and vocabulary without bias towards Canadians or Australians.

Although not detectable by human eyesight, I envision the Australandian Language Bandit with large pointed ears for listening into any manner of conversation, the face of a raccoon with a glint in its eye (to compliment its bandit persona), and powerful kangaroo haunch-like legs to assist with pouncing into conversations. As it is rather theatrical, it wears a cape, emblazoned with its insignia of a question mark surrounded by clouds. Its ‘weapon’ is an invisible cloud of miscommunication that is able to scramble, contort, delete or reassign the meaning or sound of any word at a moments notice, even in the briefest of verbal interactions. Additionally, if you listen very, very careful you may hear its high-pitched, snigger-like giggle relaying its amusement at its own antics, though it is usually drowned out by his victims’ groans of frustration.

As an Australian living in Canada I am a relatively frequent victim of the Australandian Language Bandit’s trickery that, depending on the situation, has left me amused, baffled and embarrassed. In an attempt to outwit this verbal banditry I undertook a study of the creature’s behavior. As a result I am pleased to share a selection of this trickster’s most frequent ruses divided by pronunciation prey and vocabulary viruses and illustrated by personal examples.

It should also be noted that although its primary purpose is to create bewilderment the Bandit’s actions are also occasionally educational and teach Canadians about Australia and visa versa. I refer to the Australandian Language Bandit merely as the Bandit, as it’s egotistical enough and does require further stroking of its ego with the use of its full name.

Although being forewarned is forearmed, people should always remember that it is impossible to know exactly how or when the Bandit will strike when Australians and Canadians attempt to communicate.


‘I’ or ‘ie’
Some Bandit antics are minor and easily correctable. For example, to an Australian, a person who drives a truck is a ‘Truckie’, and if they ride a motorcycle they are a ‘Bikie’. Replace the ‘ie’ with the Canadian ‘er’ and the confusion evaporates and these words can be translated into ‘Trucker’ and ‘Biker’. However, if you ask a Canadian what it means when an Australian says ‘barbie’, ‘kindi’ or ‘uni’, the Bandit’s cloud of communication distortion will rapidly descend, and the hapless Canuck will be unlikely be able to translate the words into ‘barbeque’, ‘kindergarten’ and ‘university’.

Trick # 1: The Bandit will frequently use a guillotine cloud to shorten Australian words and a glue cloud with a squeaker function to add an ‘ie’ or an ‘i’ sound, reminiscent of a mouse squeaking. The Bandit wanted to be different and not refer directly to the numerousness poisonous snakes in Australia. Therefore, in an unusual act of subtlety, it reminds Canadians, through the squeaking sound, that mice are often lunch for snakes. Therefore the Canadians can make the link and remember that there are a lot of poisonous snakes in Australia.

Personal Example: I once asked a Canadian friend what they had studied at uni, they looked back at me with complete mystification and asked ‘Uni-what? Unicycle? Unilateral?’ Given we hadn’t studied zoology neither mice nor snakes were mentioned.

No matter how much an Australian consciously manipulates their accent one sound will always remain the playground of the Bandit. To test this phenomenon ask any Australian to say the simple negative answer to ‘yes’. As the Australian vocalizes the word, the Bandit will be sure intervene and snatch the end of the word so that to Canadian ears the answer will sound like ‘noooooooooooooooo’.

Trick # 2: The Bandit will steal the end of the Australian ‘o’ and place it in an funnel cloud lengthening the sound to Canadian ears hence reminding them that Australia is a long way away from Canada.

Personal Example: A friend once described the sound of me saying ‘no’ as being like I had grabbed the end of the ‘o’ and ran to the other end of the room with it. She often mentioned how far Australia is from Canada.

I am probably a little more prone to this Bandit trick because my name is Claire. To an Australian listening to a Canadian pronounce my name it sounds like ‘ClairrrrR’. Any word that includes the ‘r’ sound is a joyfully consistent target for the Bandit with this trick.

Trick # 3 – The Bandit utilizes, in homage to bears, the ‘grrrR’ sound so that hearing ‘r’ reminds Australians that there are bears in Canada.

Personal Example: Prior to moving to Canada a cheeky friend took it upon himself to do the Bandit’s work. For weeks in the lead up to my departure I would access messages on my voicemail to hear my name said with a ridiculously over-pronounced and extended ‘r’. This supposedly was to assist my acclimatization to living in Canada. Ironically my friend’s nickname for me is ‘Claire-Bear’ demonstrating that he subconsciously knew that bears belong in Canada.

For this pronunciation folly the Bandit has received some international recognition and to many Australian ears it is the primary sound that distinguishes Americans from Canadians. A Canadian saying ‘out and about’ to an Australian will be rapidly grabbed by the Bandit in a crab pincher shaped cloud to sound like ‘ouuut and abooout’.

Trick# 4 – When Canadians say ‘ou’ the Bandit contorts the sound so that to Australians it sounds as if the speaker’s has been momentarily shocked, mid-word, due to their underwear being pulled too tight unexpectedly. ‘Ab-OOOU-t’.

Personal Experience: During a friendly discussion on distinctly Canadian sounding words I was amazed at my inability to detect even a minimal inflectional difference as a Canadian tried to convince me “We don’t say ‘abooout’, we say ‘abooout’. I couldn’t hear a difference but I did notice that my friend adjusted their underwear frequently during the conversation.


Minor Internationally Renowned Vocabulary Scramblers
The Bandit occasionally extends its targets beyond Canada and Australia by collaborating with the Britimerican Bandit and hence is able to include Britain and America in its realm of trickery. Cell phones or mobile phones; cookies or biscuits and sweaters or jumpers are all examples of minor Bandit collaborative vocabulary substitution misdemeanors. The constant fatigue the bandits endured from having to zoom across both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in order to muster their mischief across four countries limited their collaborative projects and hence most of their substitutions have become well known and easily corrected.

Vocabulary Catastrophes
There is a small pool of words that exist quite innocently in Canada and Australia that the Bandit, at its cheekiest, manipulates so that their meaning changes completely. These altered meanings are manifested by the Bandit’s definition reassignment cloud. Under most circumstances the use of the word with the alternative meaning can be guaranteed to embarrass people once the substitution has been detected.

To an Australian, thongs are usually made of rubber and are a staple in most people’s summer wardrobes. Worn on the feet they are handy for traversing hot sand on the beach. Enter the naughty Bandit and to a Canadian the idea of ‘thongs’ does not translate into ‘flip-flops’ but brings to mind a very different garment that is worn somewhere else completely.

Trick# 5: The Bandit takes great joy in reassigning the mental image of how and where an item of clothing is worn, especially if it involves references to underwear.

Personal Experience – One summer day I was talking to an Australian friend about our forthcoming trip to Toronto Island. At first we didn’t understand our Canadian friends’ sniggering comment ‘you two are REALLY close friends!’ After a moment of bewildered pondering we recognized the swift Bandit hoax. Her comment that her ‘thongs’ and worn out and my subsequent inquiry as to her size and suggestion that she could borrow mine had been scrambled. Our Canadian friends thought that I was offering to lend her my underpants instead of my shoes.

To a Canadian ‘Roots’ is a beloved clothing label often associated with the Olympics. Enter the Bandit, at its most diabolical, and the same word to an Australian becomes the plural of a term used to describe conjugal relations in a highly uncomplimentary manner. A term considered by Australians to be even more lewd than the ‘f’ word. That the company’s logo is a beaver is an additionally alarming visual trick on the Bandit’s part that only makes the word appear worse and even more lewd to Australians.

Trick# 6: The Bandit is a wicked creature that will happily twist a word like a pretzel so that what is an innocent word in one country is manipulated so that is means something abominable in the other.

Personal Experience: An Australian friend who lives in Canada was shopping for a Canadiana gift to send to his niece. He was horrified at the suggestion and indignant in his absolute refusal to even consider buying a sweater with ‘Roots Athletic’ written in huge letters on it. The shop attendant was further confused when to emphasis his displeasure my Aussie friend snorted “look mate, it isn’t going happen, there is no way in hell my niece is going to be seen to be advertising that she has ‘athletic’ ‘talents’ at such things, she’s ten-years old, you sick bastard’.

Vocabulary mystifications
In contrast to vocabulary catastrophes there are some words that either don’t exist or are never used by either Australians or Canadians until the Bandit meddles to cause confusion.

To an Australian a cougar is a four-legged, furry animal that belongs to the large cat family along with lions and tigers. The Bandit, who delights in a good mix-up, scrambles the word’s meaning, as we do eggs, so that to Canadians the term also suggests a completely different feline predator. Perhaps because Australia has so many unusual animals, such as koalas, and kangaroos, the Bandit felt it should acknowledge some more Canadian creatures.

Trick #7: The Bandit can scramble words with a whisk cloud so that the nuanced meaning in one country is whisked away and hence does not exist in the other.

Personal Experience: Walking into a bar as the sole Australian in a group of Canadians I was confused when my friends started whispering and giggling to each other about the ‘cougar’. I looked around, there were no wild animals in the room, nor were there any pictures of big cats of any kind let alone cougars. Apart from an older woman wearing animal print there was nothing in the slightest to suggest safari animals. After some consideration and feeling perplexed for several minutes and I innocently asked the bartender ‘ I don’t’ like ‘Wild Turkey’ so I doubt I will like ‘Cougar’, but has it been aged longer or have a stronger taste?’ It was a good ten minutes before my friends could recover from their hysterical laughter and compose themselves enough to correct my misinterpretation. The bartender just thought I was an idiot.

To a Canadian, the word ‘bogan’ means absolutely nothing and is an example of the Bandit deleting a word completely. To an Australian the word makes complete sense. It is a jovial term used to describe someone who is considered to be less than the purveyor of great taste and who generally has a penchant for wearing flannelette shirts and very tight acid-wash jeans.

Trick#8: The bandit can use its dense eraser cloud of confusion to delete a word completely from one culture’s vocabulary.

Personal Experience: My cheeky brother sent me a quiz that measured your degree of ‘boganess’. My Canadian friends attempted to take the quiz but were at a loss as to how to answer questions like: Do you have a pair of good going out thongs that you wear down the pub? Have you ever owned a shopping trolley? Have you ever owned a Datsun, an old Monaro or XF Ford? It should be noted that the Bandit refused to take the quiz in fear of its own ‘boganism’.

I hope that these descriptions are of assistance to Canadian/Australian verbal relations and that perhaps with time the Australandian Language Bandit will retire from its mischievous ways. I have noticed that after living in Canada for almost three years the Bandit’s attacks are less frequent than when I was new and shiny to Canada. However, from time-to-time, despite my study providing me with defenses, it makes visitations.

Recently I was preparing breakfast with my Canadian boyfriend. As my boyfriend made a suggestion, the Bandit struck like a bolt of lightening and the cloud of confusion descended just as my boyfriend said ‘How about we make a Western?’ to which I responded utterly confused “A WHAT?????”

Hilarious to Canadians.. Aussies.. not so much

Australians and Canadians to me are like cousins. Quite similar but certainly not the same, especially when it comes to humour.

My boyfriend showed me these SCTV clips over the weekend. I've lived here long enough to understand where the jokes were coming from but I certainly wasn't slapping my knee and going red in the face from laughing the way he did. I think I smiled.. once.. This is for the Canadians.. Enjoy!

SCTV - Garth and Gord and Fiona and Alice
Part One -

Part Two -

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Lonnnnnnng week..

Today is my seventh day straight of working with five more to go.

20 hours of meetings over two days is exhausting.. you are more than a little brain dead by the end, basically almost rocking yourself quietly back and forth in the foetal position.

However, if you are the minute taker you can also talk on MSN and play chess (electronically) and look like you are still paying attention. A touch of evil.. of course.. but some things are necessary for one's mental health.

Thus far two Board members have less than subtly dozed off, so the drain affect is not limited to me.

Just a self-indulgent post to help pass a fragment of time.


Friday, 2 March 2007

How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization

How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
Time: 09:10

Interview with author Franklin Foer
CBC News: Sunday Night
Producer: Gregory Szopa
Editor: Bryan Gardner

I think this is a great piece and not just because my boyfriend produced it! ;-)

Crazy Snowstorm

Here is a video of it that I found on YouTube...

Trudging through the snow was better than freezing to death in -25 (with wind chill) but my feet got wet, so I got grumpy anyway. It would appear I am impossible to please.

Yes, there were some crazy people still trying to ride their bikes... you may say hard core.. I say nutso.

To try to tackle the winter blues, which have well and truly set in, I have taken to humming "Here Comes the Sun" to sooth my sunshine deficient soul.

For all the weather geeks, like me, I've attached a link to Canadian Weather Network (

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Subway-Stickman.. The New Subway Graffiti Art Movement?

This time I know who to credit!
I like this almost as much as I like Bansky, but maybe I am just easily impressed and amused. Simple ingenuity always impresses me.

Will it be the next NYC The New Subway Graffiti Art Movement?

Melbourne Barbie Doll Range

Unfortunately I have no idea who to credit for these, I did try to find out. They were sent to me from a friend in Melbourne.

Stereotypes gone to the dolls!
Unfortunately, my residential history makes me a hybrid of the Armadale, South Yarra and St Kilda dolls.. heavens, what a depressing thought! I added a couple of the others too. You really can't win, they are all equally hideous yet strangely amusing.

South Yarra Barbie
This princess Barbie is sold only in Toorak Road. She comes with an assortment of Prada Handbags, a Lexus SUV, a long-haired foreign dog named Honey and a designer kitchen. Available with or without tummy tuck and face-lift. Workaholic Ken sold only in conjunction with the augmented version.

Armadale Barbie
This yuppie Barbie comes with your choice of BMW convertible or Hummer H2.. Included are her own cappucino cup, credit card and country club membership. Also available for this set are Shallow Ken and Private School Skipper. You won't be able to afford any of them.

St Kilda Barbie/Ken
This versatile doll can be easily converted from Barbie to Ken by simply adding or subtracting the multiple snap-on body parts.

Brunswick Barbie
This doll is made of actual tofu. She has long straight brown hair, arch-less feet, hairy armpits, no makeup and Birkenstocks with white socks. She prefers that you call her Willow. She does not want or need a Ken doll, but if you purchase two Point Breeze Barbies and the optional Subaru wagon, you get a rainbow flag bumper sticker for free.

Frankston Barbie
This tobacco-chewing, brassy-haired Barbie has a pair of her own high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased beer-gutted Ken out of Butler Barbie's house. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans, fake fingernails, and a see-through halter-top. Also available with a mobile home.

Just one of the things I am mildy obsessed with

Anthropologie ( is one of those sites/stores that brings out the girliest girl in me.

I ohhhh and ahhhhhh at so many things, and my 'Wish List' is probably abnormally long.

I gnashed my teeth when I realized that if I order things by post I will be charged and extra $30US just because I live in Canada.

Somehow being a little unobtainable makes everything just a little bit more beautiful.