Monday, 31 October 2011

Brisbane International Film Festival 2011

In just a matter of days the 20th Brisbane International Film Festival will be starting in cinemas all over the city. BIFF this year has a very nifty, post-modern logo but more importantly it has an interesting line-up of local and international films. There is nice selection of incredibly depressing-sounding films, an interesting range of disgusting horror and a focus on surf films. I'm not particularly interested in any of those. I like a variety of films but for some reason, BIFF this year is comparatively thin on the ground for me. That isn't to say that the selection isn't impressive and there aren't many film-goers in this city going 'Squee!' at the possibility of seeing Human Centipede 2.

This is my list of want-to-see at BIFF 2011:

  • Bonnie and Clyde

  • A Dangerous Method

  • Melancholia

  • Goodbye First Love

  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

  • Let the Bullers Fly

  • Spud

  • Dos Hermanos

Chuck and I planned to get a 6-movie pass. Now we just have to find 6 movies we both want to see.

See the full BIFF 2011 program on the website.

An infographic on Twitter

I suspect most people who look at this blog - and thank you to all of you who do - don't use twitter. But for those of you who do here's a nifty long info-graphic representing a visual history of twitter.

I love info-graphics on a Monday morning.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Let me tell you about the time I got hypnotherapy

I have a disgusting habit; I pick my nails. I have done it for as long as I can remember and I have been trying to quit ever since I was 15, when I saw my semi-formal looming ahead of me in Grade 11 and I wanted to have nice nails on that oh-so-special night.

I can’t remember if I did have nice nails at my semi-formal but probably not, because despite trying to quit the habit for over 10 years now, I haven’t been able to. It’s not that I don’t want to or I don’t have the encouragement (read: loving nagging) to do so, it’s just a habit that is so ingrained in my system that I can’t.

So, faced with a lifetime of self-hand-loathing I decided it was time to take action and to that end I visited … a hypnotherapist.


When I told people I was planning on doing so, I got 2 reactions. The girls all thought it was a great idea and were keen to see what I thought of it. The guys all made bad ‘clucking like a chicken’ gags. Hypnotherapy is of course, nothing like that. The idea behind it is to access a person’s subconscious and re-program it to reflect the changes a person wants to see in themselves. A lot of people try it to quit smoking, others for anxiety or depression. The process and the purpose may be different for each person but the concept is the same – persuasion of the subconscious to accept a different reality and thereby altering the outwards or visible behaviour or attitude.

There was none of this malarcky.

For me, it was about changing my daily routine. Picking my nails was part of my every day routine, just as much as getting out of bed, making breakfast or showering – all of which I do without much thought, because they’re mostly controlled by my subconscious. Picking my nails is like that. Because it is something I have done since I was a child, my subconscious has it on my list of daily to-dos, something to be done and crossed off, just like my morning shower. So the aim of my session was effectively to re-program my subconscious to cross the habit permanently off my daily list.

The offices of the Brisbane Hypnosis Centre were is an uninspiring building in Everton Park. First impressions when going in were worryingly new-age, with a very hushed receptionist, the scent of incense and orientalesque cushions. My therapist – let’s call her Anna - started by asked all about my habit; when I started, why I did it, when I did it, how it made me feel, why I wanted to stop, what I’m tried to stop it, etc. She then went into quite a detailed layman’s explanation of how the process of therapy should work.

After that, the real process of ‘hypnosis’ began. I got comfy in the huge, squidgy recliner, arms on the arm rests and neck straight and relaxed. Anna started by taking me through an imagination exercise, to relax and start activating the different parts of my brain. She then went into a long monologue in deep hushed tones, talking about letting go and release, telling me that when I’m in that picking-nails situation I will decide not to pick but instead will feel calm and confident and turn my attention to other matters, I will no longer feel the desire to pick, and so on. While this was happening, my body went into a state of hyper-relaxation, like it was falling asleep, suspended above all matter, or like I’d taken an amazing muscle relaxant.

Writing this even a day later, I’m not sure of just want she said. You’re not expected to listen to every word, rather let them be there, part of the experience that you are having, speaking to your subconscious. I did have occasional, clear conscious thoughts but I tried to banish them as much as possible. I do know that she very cleverly used the exact terms and phrases I had used myself to describe my habit, woven in between the tones of ‘floating away’. She also talked about how I would feel in a month’s time looking at my beautiful long nails and about feeling calm and confident. It was all terribly life affirming.

The cynical side of my brain wanted to stay awake through it all – all that hypno mumbo-jumbo, ha didn’t work on me! But if you go in with that attitude of course it isn’t going to work. I have to believe it’s going to work on some level because otherwise it’s guaranteed to fail.

Walking out of the office, I DID feel calm and confident and that feeling is still here the next day. I have gone to pick at my nails once or twice I confess, when I’m distracted by other matters, but each time I’ve stopped myself. I may need to go back for another session or two but I feel very positive about the whole experience. And you never know, maybe in a month’s time I will be glancing down at my lovely nails and thinking how good they look.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

My very mild super power

I have a very minor super power. I have the ability to instantly read a personalised plate and see what the hidden meaning is. For example:

54MBA = Samba
Wall481e5 = Wallabies
Jealou5 = Dickhead

That sort of thing.

The concept of a very minor super power was introduced to me by David O’Doherty when watching a Melbourne Comedy Festival Show on TV years ago, and then again here on Spicks and Specks:

I’m sure I have others apart from my amazing number-plate-reading skills, but I’m going to need a moment of realisation before I can properly recognise them and officially deem them super abilities.

We all have very minor super powers. What are yours?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


Last Sunday night I got some of the niftiest socks ever!

Aftersocks! Care, share, wear a pair

Aftersocks are a fundraising project from the Rural Women of New Zealand. Made locally and with 50% local Merino Wool, all funds raised go to support communities in Cantebury and Christchurch to recover from the Earthquakes in early 2011.

Not only are they for a good cause, they look freakin' cool!

I love my new socks, which arrived courtesy of my fabulous sister in law. Chuck also got a pair, so if you see him wearing them, compliment him on his nifty charity-socks.

If you'd like some Aftersocks yourself, then go to the website and buy some immediately.

B's bookshelf update

On 23 April 2011, I posted – for the first time! Sigh! – my list of to-reads. It’s now 6 months on and I thought I should do an update of how the ‘project’ is progressing.

This is what my original list now looks like:

In Defence of Sin – edited by John Portman
The Heart has its Reasons – the Duchess of Windsor
The Diviners – Rick Moody
Sophie’s World - Jostein Gaarder
The Flaneur – Edmund White
The Subterraneans and Pie – Jack Kerouac
The Book of Revelation – Rupert Thompson
Soul Mountain – Gao Xinjian
Twelve Bar Blues – Patrick Neate
Dangerous Liaisons – Pierre Choderlos De Laclos
The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai
The Red and the Black - Stendhal
Harry Potter und die Heiligtumer des Todes – J.K. Rowling

If I’m absolutely honest, I’d forgotten I had some of these books on my shelves until re-visiting the blog post. Also, looking at the list I now have all the very heavy books left. I did start reading The Inheritance of Loss but I got distracted by a much lighter, sillier book. Soul Mountain and The Red and the Black are likewise started but haven’t progressed far beyond the first 100 pages.

I forecast some very thought-provoking Christmas reading this year.

Of those books I’ve read I couldn’t pick out a best or worst. They were all immensely enjoyable, well-written and re-readable.

Book review: One of our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde

The sixth book in the Thursday Next Series – One of our Thursdays is Missing – follows a very similar pattern and style to the previous books. A bizarre opening scene leads to a progressively more complex and intricately-woven plot that is explained brilliantly in the final chapters with the goodies getting a satisfying ending, the baddies getting some form of comeuppance, liberally lavished all over with conspiracy theories, evil empires, politics, puns and innumerable literary gags and references.

In One of our Thursdays is Missing, Thursday Next goes…missing…and the plot instead revolves around the fictional Thursday who, thanks to her character/body assimilation looks exactly like the real Thursday, causing confusion to all who meet her. Fictional Thursday must find real Thursday in a matter of days; otherwise the Bookworld will be the scene of a horrendous and fictionally-bloody genre war. Characters and references to the previous 5 Thursday books abound and it’s a delightful for a fan like myself to be treated to so many in-jokes. I love Fforde’s intelligent but off-beat sense of humour, though sometimes I find him just laugh-out-loud funny, such as this paragraph when Thursday visits The Lady of Shallot:

The Lady of Shalott was of an indeterminate age and might once have been plain before the rigours of artistic interpretation for working on her. This was the annoying side of the Feedback Loops; irrespective of how she had once looked or even wanted to look, she was now a pre-Raphaelite beauty with long flaxen tresses, flowing white gowns and a silver forehead band. She wasn't the only one to be physically morphed by Reader Expectation. Miss Havisham was now elderly whether she liked it or not and Sherlock Holmes wore a deerstalker and smoked a ridiculously large pipe. The problem wasn't just confined to the classics. Harry Potter was seriously pissed of that he'd have to spend the rest of his life looking like Daniel Radcliffe.

John William Waterhouse's The Lady of Shalott.

I could believe that some Jasper Fforde readers might get tired of the plot patterns that one sees repeated from book to book. I myself bought One of our Thursdays is Missing many months ago but have only just picked it off the shelf, whereas I once devoured Fforde’s novels as soon as they appeared. That being said, I am not one who is going to complain about Fforde’s now quite usual plot line and style. I love it. I own and have read every novel he’s published and I will continue to purchase them without question. I love the truly bizarre conspiracy theories and plot twists. The strange characters, the gags, the fake ads in the back of the book.

Book reviews compare Fforde to Terry Pratchett or Monty Python and I can certainly see the similarities in the humour and in the construction of alternative worlds that are so beautifully and intricately described you find yourself becoming involved.

For me, the Bookworld is so well-described and so well-known by now that I actually feel bad about putting the book down because the characters are no longer being read anymore. I also get to feel a lovely warm glow of smugness when I get one of the literary references.

I recommend One of our Thursdays is Missing – just read the first 5 books in the series before you begin.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Book review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

We're all vaguely familiar with the story of Frankenstein. There's a mad scientist and a monster and all manner of evil things. We all know Mary Shelley wrote it when she, Percy Shelley, Byron and I imagine a few other drug-addled soaks challenged each other to write the scariest possible ghost story. Mary Shelley came up with version one of her now famous novel. That was what I knew about 'Frankenstein'.

I bought the Penguin Classic of Frankenstein many months ago because it was a book I thought I should read sometime. I finally picked it up last week and absolutely devoured it. It was so much better than I could have presumed. I love classic literature but it can be so hit and miss it terms of what travels well over the centuries. Take certain novels out of their time and context and they loose their pizazz. Frankenstein I feel has travelled well. It's short, which certainly counts in its favour, and the story is so rivetting. There are times when the progress lags and there is rather too much exposition without action but then it starts up again and off we go on the next round of horror.

The author Mary Shelley.

I understand that Frankenstein is much-studied for its gothic romance qualities and Shelley's literary devices. It is of course a much adapted and referenced novel – there have been at least 11 direct film adaptations and then of course innumerable referencing works – The Rocky Horror Picture Show amongst them. Knowing all this it's so interesting to read the original and see all the misconceptions that have formed. The most common of these is that Frankenstein is the monster whereas it is Victor Frankenstein is the 'mad' creator of the being that brings death and destruction.

Boris Karloff as the best-known representation of Frankenstein.

I won't say any more, because that would just ruin the suspense! I just recommend the book. It's a quick and easy read and very enjoyable.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Zombie Belle

The internet is a strange zone of a space and it causes one to make strange bedfellows and discover penchants one never thought one had.

I confessed a while ago to my shameful Tumblr addiction of Disney Princess. Last week I started being followed on Twitter by Design Taxi. There is seemingly no connection between these two – except there is.

Months ago I saw these illustrations on Disney Princess and I thought they were just so damn cool, It wasn't until I checked out Design Taxi today that I could put a name to them. They're the gorgeous work of Jeffrey Thomas.

Disney Princesses as you've never seen them, by Jeffrey Thomas, featured on Design Taxi.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Polymorphic: a kinetic Installation

This is madly cool. This is a park bench that is a sculpture and a glorious testament to the fact that engineering can be fun – even if it isn’t most of the time, and that there is very little in this world that must be mundane.
This bench is a kinetic structure that moves and shapes as the persons on it move, get up, sit down, lie down – anything. It is built to consider both ergonomics and safety, so it’s comfortable and you will never get crushed if you climb into it.
I can’t say anymore with repeating the whole, very brief website, so go check it out yourselves...
Photos courtesy of Polymorphic, taken from their website.
I want one. I would need to move to a cooler house in a cooler city to justify owning it but I don’t care. I would do that.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

It's about style, not fashion.

I look at a few fashion websites regularly. Not because I’m that fashionable, I just love to look at the clothes, the style and occasionally I see outfits that make me salivate a little with envy. I most regularly look at The Satorialist and the New York Magazine’s fashion blog The Cut.

I think I may have a new regular favourite though; Advanced Style. It’s a street style blog but blogger Ari Seth Cohen only snaps persons of a more ‘advanced’ age. It’s brilliant. The men and women he snaps look amazing sassy fun and fabulous. I couldn’t agree more with the blog’s byline;

Proof from the wise and silver haired set that personal style advances with age.

When I’m out and particularly at the theatre, I see so many men and women whose crisp white or grey hair is the perfect topping off to their thoughtfully put together outfits. Maybe it’s that they come from a generation where people actually got dressed rather than just putting on clothes: a generation of suits, handkerchiefs and your Sunday best, long before throw-away fashion existed.

Writer Ton Wolfe, photographed by Ari Seth Cohen and featured on Advanced Style.

My Grandma is a little old for it now but I know that in her day she had a certain style, even when living in Yeppoon. Most of the best and most admired clothes I own today either come from her or my mothers’ closet.

Even if you don’t look at fashion blogs you must check out this profile of 100 year old Ruthie. If I look as good as her when I’m even 80, I shall be a lucky old woman.

I was going to blog a list of great fashion and style websites but I’m feeling lazy this morning so will just give you the link to a thrown together list I made for my previous workplace’s blog.

Writer and artist Beatrix Ost, photographed by Ari Seth Cohen and featured on Advanced Style.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Vietnam journey – Brisbane to Bangkok

In the weeks leading up to our departure, I kept justifying our 1am flights. Everyone expressed sympathy for my plight but really they're a great idea. You get the full day to do practical things, the hours you spend in the airport at night are ones you would otherwise be doing nothing but watching TV and as soon as you get on the plane you can go to sleep. Hopefully. Theoretically.

In taking advantage of cheap airline deals, Jane and I flew Royal Brunei with a 5 hour stop-off in Brunei. I had images in my head of what Brunei might be like and certainly the airport. Knowing that the Sultan was for many years the richest man in the world, I had this image in my head that the place would have an attraction as a 5-star tourist destination. The airport would therefore have a nice selection of duty-free luxury stores, glistening white tiles and a certain modern spaciousness. Instead it looked like a run-down 1970s casino. A small casino. About the size of a modern Aussie house stretched out a little with nothing in it except a chocolate shop, a cafe and a smoking room.

To kill time, we bought $5 temporary entry visas and took the 1.5 hour free tour of the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan. Our tour guide was perky and full of interesting facts about the tax system (there isn't one), how many cars there are in this tiny country (1.2 million for a population of 300,000) and the benefits of living in Brunei (there are lots, except that ultimately you're living in a place where NOTHING HAPPENS EVER. Like Canberra.).

Floating villages and a statue gifted by the Sultan, marking something or other. In gold.

This was the closest we got to the Sultan's 1000 room palace. That is the tour bus window you see on the left hand side there.

Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque complete with gold-covered dome.

Best part of Brunei? Dumplings for lunch. Oh, and the coffee in the airport was surprisingly good.

pork dumpling-a-licious

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Naughty but nice accessories

Damn you buy nothing new month!

I hate you already!

I rarely buy myself jewellery and then even more rarely do I spend a decent amount of money on it. I don't know why, but I haven't yet formed the habit of buying 'investment pieces' (Vogue terminology).

So it ironic that one of the very few times I am prepared to put my credit card on the line I am in Buy Nothing New Month. Stupid buy nothing new ….mumble mumble, expletive etc.

Lochers, a Parisian jeweller make beautiful 'naughty but nice' pendants. To look at from a distance they're girly and pretty and cute, but then you get up a little closer and they say things like;

I love 4, 10, 15 and 23. So maybe it is a good thing I have to pause on purchasing for a month. This gives me extra time to decide...

Buy Nothing New October

I get a particular financial newsletter in my inbox every fortnight. I received the newsletter last Friday 30 September, opened it and 3 minutes later had signed on for Buy Nothing New October.

I'm not sure exactly why or how this happened but some part of my brain that has superior control over my motor functions clearly thought it was a good idea. I am trying to organise my finances, set long term goals and get my life sorted for 2012, so in theory at least the 'pledge' – yes, pledge – that I have taken is a good idea.

Buy Nothing New Month according to their website is:

Buying Nothing New is not about going without, nor is it Buy Nothing New Never.

It’s about taking October to reassess what we really need, think about where the stuff we buy comes from (finite resources), where it goes (landfill), and what our alternatives are.

It is about conscientious consumption and by not spending on stuff we don’t need, increasing our savings for the things we do need.

You can still buy essentials such as food, drink and medicines. If you want anything else you need to ' beg, borrow, barter, swap or buy secondhand'. It's a great concept actually, though I don't suppose retails want it to take off. We all do tend to buy too much 'stuff' and this is about taking a month off from that, taking the time to realise just how much money you spend on things you don't necessarily need and hopefully saving a bit of moolah.

The only problem for me if that I don't buy that much new anyway. I op-shop and vintage shop. The challenge for me is to not be consumerist in the Paddington Antiques Centre or my local favourite Endo's. That's harder for me than it might appear because I am always seeing fabulous second hand and vintage finds that I want to buy. But no, if I can't put away my consumerist tendencies for one month then I have some problems.

Buy Nothing New Month – a great idea and a good personal challenge.

That being said, I do need some an A5 ring binder folder to organise my papers … if anyone has a spare going begging?
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