Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Paul Smith and Tender Morsels

In February I went to England for a very quick holiday and during this time I went to Cambridge, where I dream of being a student one day. While I was there I visited Cambridge Contemporary Art Gallery where I saw these divine sculptures by Paul Smith:

Wild Honey



I was completely delighted by them when I saw them initially but now I am reading Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (nearly finished, review up soon!), a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red in which two sisters befriend a bear, and I thought these sculptures were such a serendipitous illustration of the story that I had to share them. Paul Smith gets inspiration from fairy tales for several of his sculptures and I am not sure whether Snow White and Rose Red was specifically inspiration for these. Aren't they just divine?

Pictures are from here
Paul Smith's Website here

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Surprise Wedding

Have you ever been to a wedding dressed as a baboon? Well now I can say that I have!!

Last night was my friend's "engagement party", the theme was movies and costumes were compulsory. Well I am one of those horrible people who hear the word 'costume' and think that I must therefore go as extreme as possible. Therefore NEVER be human unless there is absolutely no alternative. So that is how I found myself at this party dressed as Rafiki from the Lion King, complete with an entire can of white hairspray and face-paint.

So the party was going swimmingly, there was lots of wine, lots of fabulous costumes (though mainly on a 'human' theme) and lots of fun to be had. Until the bride, groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen disappeared. Now I will admit that I didn't notice they disappeared so when everything went quiet and Pachelbel's Canon started playing and bridesmaids started appearing I was initially confused. 'Are they showcasing the bridesmaid's dresses?' I cleverly thought, 'Surely not!'. Of course the appearance of the bride in her beautiful wedding dress alerted me to the fact that PERHAPS they were getting married now.

Which they did. It was the most beautiful, fun, relaxed wedding I have ever been to. No one had any idea what was coming and the happy couple were just radiant. The guests all looked ridiculous and the celebrant was Darth Vader! Oh what a night!

Am now off to wash the lingering hairspray out of my hair. That's right. May the force be with you.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Book Review: All My Friends Are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

The blurb of this delightful book reads:

All Tom's friends really are superheroes. Tom even married a superhero, the Perfectionist. But at their wedding, the Perfectionist was hypnotised to believe that Tom is invisible. Nothing he does can make her see him. Six months later, she's sure that Tom has abandoned her. So she's moving to Vancouver. She'll use her superpower to leave all the heartbreak in Toronto. With no idea Tom's beside her, she boards an airplane. Tom has until the wheels touch the ground in Vancouver to convince her he's there, or he loses her forever.

I found this book in Waterstones when I was in the UK a couple of years ago (how I miss that shop!) and instantly fell in love with the title. I had no money at that point so remembered the title and hunted for it upon my return to Australia. I couldn't find it anywhere, but convinced it was going to be a great book, I bought it from Amazon. It was an excellent decision. This is a very short book, only 106 pages long, a really easy read. The story moves from Tom's current predicament with his wife, to little snippets of his life prior to the wedding and introducing other superheroes, friends of Tom, throughout.

I found this book just adorable. It is no great work of literature and doesn't try to be. However it is very well written, quirky and engaging. This book portrays life's difficulties of love and friendship in a beautifully non-complicated and funny manner, but retains a 'message' if you will, that life isn't always easy. There is an abundance of laughter and magic in this book and I enjoyed every minute of it.

This book is also perfect as a gift for the person who has everything. It is non-specific in genre, there is humour and happiness and I defy you not to enjoy it!! I haven't seen it on Australian shelves which is disappointing, however it is available through both the US and UK Amazon websites.

Please let me know if you have read or reviewed this book, I would love to hear what you thought!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Blind Side - Wow

I used to work in a cinema and saw nearly everything that came out, but since I grew up and started shift work I don't get to go nearly as often as I used to which is verging on epic tragedy. But tonight I had a lovely evening with a friend and we went to Sushi Train and saw The Blind Side. I'll admit that we nearly saw The Bounty Hunter instead because we are both flood criers and didn't know if we would make it through The Blind Side alive. But we did. We're ok. Honestly.

I can't believe how much I loved this film!! I wanted to see it because I wanted to know if Sandra (we're so on first name terms) deserved her Oscar as I was firmly footed in Team Meryl. I'm still not sure that Sandra's performance was better than Meryl's but I do not begrudge her that little gold statue now.

So The Blind Side is based on the true story of Michael Oher, an American footballer who came from a very poor and traumatic background. He was taken in by Leigh Anne Tuohy and her family and given an education and a real chance. Ah, what a life affirming film!! I can't fault it. There were moments where I thought it was going to be awkward and really sad, I thought Leigh Anne and Sean's marriage would suffer, the other children would feel neglected, Michael would be accused of something at school... but no. It was just a lovely happy movie where everything turned out for the best.

I loved it. And I had a peppermint choc top. I love going to the movies.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My First Ever Book Challenge

I am completely new to blogging and new to book challenges (unless a grade 6 read-a-thon counts) and have decided to participate in one! I will have to implement my dubious speed reading skill for this, or cheat massively and read short books, as in amongst full time shift work I can go days without reading (something other than medical notes). This is terrible and I plan to rectify this. So in order to help me kick things off I am participating in Carl's (from Stainless Steel Droppings) Once Upon A Time IV Challenge.

I will be participating in Quest The First and Quest The Third as I am in A Midsummer Night's Dream Heaven at the moment having just seen it with Judi Dench as Titania. More about that later. The challenge stipulates that I must read 5 books that fit into the category of fantasy, fairytale, folklore or mythology. I have chosen three of my 5 books at this point and they are as follows:

Other Ideas:

  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman - I loved the movie but I don't want to choose all my books based on the movie (alright so I've only done The Princess Bride so far!)
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley - A retelling of one of my favourite stories ever, Beauty and the Beast.
  • If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern - this book is just begging to be reread, but I'm not sure that it technically falls into any of the categories but it is just so beautiful!
  • Ransom by David Malouf - a retelling of The Iliad, this counts as mythology yes?
  • Magician by Raymond E Feist - suggested by my brother who is a hardcore fantasy fan. I am not a hardcore fantasy fan and struggle to navigate my way around the fantasy section of the bookstore, so it is very much a maybe at the moment.

All of those chosen really fall into the fairytale/fantasy category so I really want to try and read something folklore-y or mythological. Any suggestions?

If you're interested in participating in this challenge, details and sign-up info are here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Book Review: Consolation by Anna Gavalda

Consolation is the story of Charles, a middle aged architect living in Paris who faces a mid-life crisis upon hearing of the death of a beloved friend. He receives an anonymous note in the mail one evening stating "Anouk is dead" and recognises the handwriting of that of his estranged childhood friend Alexis, Anouk's son. Throughout his childhood, adolescence and adulthood, Charles has forever been in love with Anouk and subsequently her death provides the catalyst for his inevitable downfall. As Charles spirals into depression, he travels into the countryside in search of answers from Alexis and in the process discovers the luminous Kate, who may just provide his salvation.

This book is an absolute delight to read. It is very different in style to Hunting and Gathering (Gavalda's beautiful 2006 novel) but has the same core of lost and hurting characters that give Gavalda's stories colour and triumph. Despite Charles being the protagonist of this glorious novel, this is really a story about women, particularly those who have shaped him. This story is littered with rounded, real, beautiful, beautiful characters however it is the female characters in this book that are truly divine. Anouk is the motivating force here, and despite the fact that she is only living in flashback, the gradual revelation of her story is heartbreaking and engrossing. Then there is Kate, a young woman living in an old isolated farmhouse raising 5 children, none of whom are her own. She captures Charles's heart and provides that little bit of magic that sets his life straight.

I just loved this book. At first I found it difficult to read as several characters were introduced at once and my brain couldn't remember who was who. However this quickly resolved as I came to know the characters better. Virginia Woolf once said "For a great writer, she was the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness," about Jane Austen and I always think of that when I read a great book. Gavalda is the best kind of writer, where the story just comes to life in your mind and you feel and understand everything that is happening, without being wordy and over descriptive. She manages to write stories about loss, love and hope without being over indulgent or soppy.

This book had the most impact on me after I had finished it. While I was reading it, the plot seemed to head in directions I didn't want it to go, and there was unexpected tragedy which carried the story in a darker direction than Hunting and Gathering (really, you can't compare the two). Upon reflection now, I think this story was just right. It had a magical 'midsummer nights dream' feel to it (for me at least), perhaps it was the 'French' thing... everything French seems so much more romantic than real life!

There is so much everyday stuff to love about this book, Charles's love of music which he shares with his teenage stepdaughter; life in Paris; Kate's countryside living with her children and her animals; Anouk's hard working life as a nurse; and all of this seems idyllic, but realistic, it is almost as though you want to have the same struggle as Charles, just to be living the rest of his life.

If you liked Anna Gavalda's previous novel, Hunting and Gathering, or if you like French literature in general, this book is for you. Some other French authors to check out are Muriel Barbery and Joanne Harris (who is actually English/French).

Monday, March 15, 2010

Youtube Music Monday

I have a sister who is an amazingly wonderfully talented musician and every second Monday (almost) she uploads a video to youtube. She does covers and originals and in my (totally non-biased) opinion, she is just fabulous!! Am I being too gushy?

Anyway this week she has done a cover of Katy Perry's 'One of the Boys' which is quite fun and fabulous!! We're also in the process of starting up a myspace so watch this space!! Check out the rest of her youtube music here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Photoshop exploits

So I have been trying to make my blog a bit prettier and more exciting as well as working on some other projects. One thing I like to do, though am not technically skilled in, is fiddle with photoshop. I recently went to London and kept a journal for the 2 weeks I was there and am now in the process of prettying it up into a book, which I can publish on Lulu which is rather exciting!! So in order to pretty it up, I have been making pages for it in photoshop. I wish I knew what I was doing more, but I have come up with some pretty things... Here is a Taylor Swift thing I made:


That took me forever. And I can't remember now exactly how I did it, but I like that it looks like a drawing. So now the plan is to make lots and lots of pictures, journal entries, photos and illustrations and have them published into a little book. My very own book. It is very exciting.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Anna Nicole the Opera?

I remember a few years ago seeing a sketch by Jane Turner and Gina Riley (of Kath and Kim fame) of an interpretive dance musical of the Lindy and Azaria Chamberlain story and thinking it was hilarious because it was obviously going too far. Then I found out that in 2002 the Sydney Opera House premiered the opera "Lindy" composed by Moya Henderson, about this case. For real. Following that there seem to have been a successive flow of musicals and operas about sports stars (Shane Warne The Musical), politicians (Keating!) and television hosts (Jerry Springer the Opera). I haven't actually seen any of these so can't judge the quality and do admit that I think they would actually be hilarious.

But now the Royal Opera is premiering an opera about the life of Anna Nicole Smith (see here). I'm not quite sure how I feel about this. For the most part I can't help thinking 'is it really necessary?' Surely there are people who have achieved more and warrant being the subject of an opera more than Anna Nicole Smith. And what will this opera entail? A chorus line of playboy bunnies and an incomprehensible lead with a quivering soprano bosom... who sings about what exactly? What about her octogenarian ex-husband? And children (both living and dead)? Am I old fashioned if I consider Puccini, Verdi and Mozart real opera and can't find a niche for Anna Nicole? Or is the over-theatric nature of opera the perfect platform for the exploitation of poor old Anna? I just don't know!!

I think I will give this one a miss either way. I think it might just be too soon.

Image from here

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Books and Shampoo Compliments

I had night duty last night (I'm a nurse), always a barrel of laughs... mostly hysterical inability to walk in a straight line or construct sentences that are recognisable as English, and I have now been awake for 2 hours. It is actually a miracle that I slept at all as the dog I am dog-sitting howled for the majority of my meagre 4 hours sleep. Then when I got up she curled up at my feet and had a sleep. Right now I'm not sure if she has redeemed herself by being so adorable or if I resent the fact that she has now had a lovely sleep and I feel like "the bottom of a cocky's cage" to quote my shift-working father. Ask me again when I'm back at work tonight.

I intend to do some book reviews with this blog, as I lovelovelove books, almost as much as I love Taylor Swift. And that is a lot. I am going to put a review of Consolation by Anna Gavalda in the next few days. In the meantime, I am currently reading Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan which is probably not something I would have thought to read for myself but am enjoying it quite a lot. I am only 20 pages in, but those 20 pages were great!

Image from here

I am also reading The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot which has been on my list for quite some time. I always really enjoy classics, mainly due to the language, and this book is no exception. My mother read this when she was 17 (so quite some years ago) and every time she sees me reading it she asks "Has anything bad happened yet?" which makes me feel slightly anxious that tears are on the way because I am (and have always been) an epic book crier!! I don't know the story of The Mill on the Floss at all, and I love reading this as a new book, even though it is 150 years old. I always prefer to not know the story when I read a book, but it is so difficult with classics.

Image from here

In other news, my shampoo bottle told me that I have a 'knockout body'. Thank you Herbal Essences, your compliment was duly noted and gratefully received. But for now I am going to drag my knockout body back to bed.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Avenue Q

Image from here

On the weekend I went to see Avenue Q... for the second time. Yes I love it. It is so horribly inappropriate, rude and politically incorrect that even someone so terribly "good" as me can love it!! It is just like Sesame Street, similar characters, similar sets, similar songs. But oh so funny. Highlight songs for me are "It Sucks To Be Me", "If You Were Gay" and "The Internet Is For Porn".

The actors are just amazing. Natalie Alexopoulos as Kate Monster and Lucy T Slut, and Mitchell Butel as Princeton and Rod were the standout performers, however you shouldn't really single them out given that the cast is small and just bursting with talent. My friends and I laughed so hard we almost died, with one friend saying "I didn't realise there would be a laugh every 30 seconds!! I expected a laugh every 3 minutes at most!"

If you are in Brisbane you can see it at QPAC now... tickets available here. It isn't worth missing!!

For more information, here is Avenue Q's website:

In the beginning there was...

First post... eek!! Today I am moving house to dog-sit a 15-year-old dog for 8 weeks, a prospect I find (at this point in time) vaguely terrifying. 8 weeks is a long time in the life of a 15-year-old creature with a life expectancy of 15 years. We'll see how that goes. This house is significantly closer to work though, which I find thrillifying, as it means that I can sleep in until 6am, a luxury!!

So ailing dog and sleep-in aside... why blog? Hmmm why indeed? I have been inspired by my friend Aimee over at my fluttering heart who has given me the necessary kick up the backside to do it!! So here goes...