Sunday, January 30, 2005

Chicken Little Is A Little Chicken

This week's Photo Friday theme is 'Youth'.

One thing I am not going to do, is hang around taking photos of youths... for that my friend is how one can get oneself into a whole mess of trouble. So rather than get labelled a Chicken Hawk, here's a children's ride-on chicken instead.

Neat segue, huh?

Ride-on chicken. Children's playground, Newtown. January, 2005.

Savage Beauty

[Apologies for the poor picture quality of the following pictures, I was shooting without a flash in low light.]

I just got back from the Vivienne Westwood restrospective exhibition that I mentioned on Friday. Oh. My. GOD! We drove three hours each way from Sydney to Canberra to catch the last day of the exhibition, and I'm so glad we did. It was amazing. Much bigger than I expected, with 150 complete outfits, along with accessories and audio-visual presentations.

The exhibition covered her early years of punk, fetish and rockabilly styles, but my main interest was in her work from the time of the hugely successful 'Pirates' clothing collection at the start of the 80's (which helped thrust 'New Romantic' or 'Blitz' stylings into the limelight) and onwards to today. I have a really strong interest in fashion in general, but I particularly have a huge interest in the history of clothing. What I love about Westwood from the 80's onwards is how she has mined the history of fashion for ideas, cuts, techniques and silhouettes but managed to put them together into something new and beautiful, filtered through her amazing eye and sense of humour.

[More of Westwood's 80's collections, including the famous Buffalo Gals look of the 'Nostalgia of Mud' collection, can be found here.]

Swing back suit and 'Booze' suit (L). 30th January, 2005.

For example the grey suit above called 'Booze' is beautiful in style and technique, but I love the humour of calling a suit which is an homage to Christian Dior's 'New Look' by the name 'Booze', when the first 'New Look' suite by Dior was called 'Bar'. Westwood is showing us her humour, naming her references, indicating the subversive elements she relishes and putting her working class cards on the table.

Westwood has stated that she feels she is reacting to, and helping to provide an antidote to, blandness and conformity in fashion. Sure, not all of the clothes are wearable in an everyday setting, but many are and most of the rest would make striking 'special occasion' clothes. These pics only have some of the more historically influenced styles, by way of examples.

Garments from the 'Pinked, Slashed & Pulled' collection (L) and 'Watteau' style gowns (R). January 30th, 2005.

There were too many amazing looks to really detail here, but I loved the direct and oblique references to literature, art and fashion history. The men's denim suit above which pays homage to the styles and clothing techniques of the late German Renaissance and Elizabethan era for example, or the huge ballgowns and harlequin suits which reference the paintings of Watteau. I guess what I love is the intellect that she puts into fashion, along with the beauty.

I know I'm gushing, but this was a great exhibition and it really opened my eyes to the range of a designer that I thought I already knew a lot about. Fantastic, a day well spent.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Slow On The Uptake, But I Get There In The End

I'm frequently slow to join the party. Years after everyone else, I got my first mobile 'phone. About 4 months ago I got a DVD player. iPod, not even on the horizon my friend. Harry Potter, read him first when everyone was on book four. Green is the new black, I'm still on black (ok, maybe brown).

To add to that list, I have just dicovered Witold Riedel and his beautiful words and pictures. One of the things he is famous for are his The Bear pictures, adventures in scale and emotional nuance with a tiny 2.5cm bear.

Oh and if you have never heard of Witold, well thanks, that makes me feel much better.

Friday Hit List

Today, being Friday, I'm into an odd assortment of stuff:
  • Ginger Chews. So gingery! So Chewy!
  • Perfect steamed rice. For once, truth in advertising. So perfect! So steamy! So... ricey! (OK I'm stopping now.)
  • I'm also into Nestle 'Alpine Blend' drinking chocolate, but I Googled 'Nestle' and got about a hundred Boycott Nestle! sites. So let's not go there, shall we?
  • Just to show it's not all about food, I'm digging beautiful women and drop-dead gorgeous divas.
  • Listening to PaulMac's fantastic 2001 release 3000 Feet High, especially the wonderful 'dumpee' song Just The Thing, and the best ever 'dumper' song The Sound Of Breaking Up. [Samples can be downloaded here.]
  • The hilarious T-shirt design you can download from Paul's site.
  • No, there's been no dumpee or dumper action in my life of late, just enjoying the PaulMac nostalgia.
  • On the subject of which, I'm also musing on how nice the Paul behind PaulMac is. I was introduced to him once at a local pub once. Sweet and friendly.

    Eclectic, much?
  • Weekend Plans

    I've been making plans for a busy weekend this weekend.

    Saturday I'm leading a team of volunteers to completely spring clean the Buddhist Centre I attend in preparation for Losar, or the Tibetan New Year which is on Wednesday, February 9th. (A good explanation of Losar is here, but the dates mentioned relate to last year.) I'll be putting on a light lunch for all the volunteers and we'll be cleaning the place from top to bottom. It should end up being a fun day, even with the toilet scrubbing...

    (I've posting on here quite a bit about the volunteer work I've been doing, which I hope isn't getting boring for you gentle reader, but I guess that's because I've been enjoying it so much. I's been a great way to contribute to the centre that I feels gives me so much, and it has also turned out to be a great way to meet other people around the centre and develop a real feeling of kinship. I'm liking it!)

    Sunday I'm off to our nation's capital Canberra, to see the last day of the Vivienne Westwood exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. It's roughly a three hour trip each way, but it should be worth it. I love her stuff! I can't wait. Woot! It looks at this stage like it'll be my friends John & Judy, myself and possibly Mikey.

    Vivienne Westwood is famous for helping re-introduce corsetry into fashion, and I've been helping to teach Judy how to make a corset to use for historical costuming. So it should be fun to have a look at Westwood's interpretation of corsets in particular.

    Thursday, January 27, 2005

    Constructively Using My Time

    Must. Get. Job. Must. Not. Watch. So. Many. Bollywood. DVDs.

    $5 Bollywood DVDs. January, 2005.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2005

    All Praise The TIO.

    Last week I received a strange and unsettling invoice for $69.50 from a telecommunications company, supposedly for having accessed a pay-per-view website. Now, I'm no angel, and I do admit to [ahem] maybe having, you know by accident, once or twice, viewed skanky porn sites... but I knew for sure that I had not knowingly accessed a pay-per-view site. I mean, frankly I'm both kinds of cheap and certainly wouldn't pay for anything I could find free elsewhere.

    Soooo, I did a bit of surfing on the interweb super highway net and went to the telecom company's website. They had all sorts of crap on there about how the charges were likely incurred, including the helpful suggestion that even if you thought you didn't access a pay-per-view site you probably once clicked an 'OK' or 'Enter' button without reading the fine print (which I guess was probably hidden somewhere in transparent 4 point font most likey), or the even better suggestion that maybe someone broke into your house to use the internet, because people do that.

    I figured I would get nowhere talking to these guys and they seemed very suspicious to me, so at my room mate's suggestion I sought out the site for the Australian Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). The TIO handles all complaints against telecom companies in Australia. I spoke with a lovely chap called Bryan (who also sounded vaguely hot) and they sent a letter off to the telecom company on my behalf.

    Not surprisingly I received a letter two days later from the telco to say they had dropped the charges and would bar my phone line from the site, so that I could not incur further charges. Fine with me guys, bar away.

    Bryan and the TIO, I love you guys! Kisses!


    Ho-kay. So here's a quick recap of the past couple of days, in eccentric order and in my much beloved bulleted list form:
  • Tired, tired, tired... 3 out of the past 4 days have seen me loading and unloading trucks full of stuff, moving and setting up chairs, setting up and then pulling down a temporary bookshop. Physical labour, I'm just not made for it people.
  • Despite the tiredness, I'm very glad to have participated and it was fantastic to see so many people enjoy the teachings and feel like they took away something to think about.
  • Last night the teacher Ven Sangye Khadro gave a beautiful teaching called 'Awakening A Kind Heart', and today she leaves Sydney to finish the rest of her Australian tour.
  • I've bitten the bullet, swallowed that bitter pill, name a cliche about pride and I've done it, and gone ahead and started applying for any old job I can do and not just the ones I want to do.
  • I still think my initial job strategy would have worked, but I'd probably be bankrupted by the time I got there.
  • Today is Australia Day, which in addition to anything patriotic is also the anniversary of my father's death and my nephew's birthday. Band standing by and cue 'Circle of Life'.
  • Monday, January 24, 2005

    Again With The Tiles!

    The other day I posted about the decorative tile panels that many of the older cottages and terrace houses in my neighbourhood still have, and how much I like them. Here is a more unusual panel, given that it is made up of sort of a mish-mash of tiles from the era.

    Decorative tiles, Newtown. January 20th, 2005.

    I'm pretty sure that the tiles all date from the original time frame, and are not reproductions, but this panel is unusual in that it looks kind of amateur and lacks the plaster 'frame' around the tiles that most of these panels have. Two of the tiles at the top are even laid sideways to fit the space. I'm pretty sure that this panel was put up a long time ago though, because the house itself is a little bit run down and looks like it hasn't been renovated in many years. Maybe the original owners of this house decided to add a panel themselves?

    Detail of various decorative tiles. January 20th, 2005.

    All the tiles have a very 'art nouveau' to early 'art deco' look to them and are of the slightly bas-relief style, where the colours are different glazes that have been poured into the areas created by the raised edges of the design. I love these sorts of tiles.

    Happy Exhausta-ma-pation

    Phew, Friday through Sunday was very tiring but I had an amazing time; learnt a lot from the teacher and other students, made some new friends and generally had a productive and enjoyable time.

    It all started at 8am on Friday with cleaning and preparing the bedroom for Ven. Sangye Khadro to use for the weekend, then from 10 until 6pm we were trekking everything to the hall, setting up the hall, bookshop and information tables. The meditation talk finished at 9pm and I was home by after 10.

    Saturday kicked off at 8am again with collecting more stock for the centre's bookshop (sales were incredible) then making sure the hall was ready for 9am registrations and the 10 o'clock start. Then the day was a full programme of talks, guided meditations, and questions, and I was working the bookstall during all the breaks, with a 5pm finish.

    Afterwards I caught up with Mikey and we went to see the Lord of the Rings exhibition of props and costumes at the Powerhouse Museum and then had a bite to eat back at his place. I was almost falling alseep into my food, so I headed home and was in bed about midnight.

    Sunday was pretty much a repeat of Saturday, although we had to completely dismantle the hall at the end of the day and transport it all back to the centre. By the time I got home at about 7.30 last night I was ready for a shower, some food and bed.

    Highlights of the course were definately:
  • The fantastic teachings and presence of Ven Sangye Khadro, she absolutely radiates kindness, joy and sharp intellect
  • The interested and motivated crowd who attended, many of whom were new to meditation and Buddhism
  • Having a chance to sit in stillness with so many other meditators
  • Meeting other new dharma students and centre volunteers
  • Seeing the thirst for knowledge that so many people had, and consequently selling lots of great Dharma books and giving away lots of the free texts
  • Jacko, the beautiful dog that one of the students rescued from wandering on the busy main road, and who came and sat with us while we waited for his owners to come and collect him

    All in all a great weekend.
  • Thursday, January 20, 2005


    The next few days are all about a flurry of volunteering. Today I'm off to do some more cleaning at the Buddhist centre, where I'm now the centre care co-ordinator. This isn't as onerous as it might sound; I do some cleaning, chat with the lovely office staff, and get a sense of having helped keep the centre running smoothly.

    Tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday I'm volunteering as a facilitator for a 'How To Meditate' workshop to be taught by Ven. Sangye Khadro (Kathleen MacDonald). (Here's an example of one of her meditations.) As a volunteer I get to attend the course, which I otherwise wouldn't be able to afford at the moment. I actually offered to help out without realising that I could attend, so it turned into a win-win situation! I'm really looking forward to attending this as her book is a favourite of mine and one of the texts used in the course I'm doing.

    Good times!

    Truth In Advertising?

    I saw this amusing sign yesterday, just a few doors up from the house where I snapped the hibiscus below. Given that Photo Friday's theme for this week is 'Signs' I might just go ahead and enter it, for tomorrow they'll be moving on to a new theme.

    House sign, Newtown. 19th January, 2005.


    I saw this huge hibiscus flower peeping over a neighbour's fence yesterday. I love hibiscus flowers, and their extravagant beauty. They are truly some of the biggest show offs of the flower world.

    Beautiful yellow hibiscus. 19th January, 2005.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2005

    Decorative Tiles

    Most of the narrow back streets of my suburb of Newtown are lined with small single story cottages, or two story terrace houses. Many of these date from the time of Queen Victoria and the 'Arts & Crafts' era, and are rich in decorative detail. Fortunately, many of the homes escaped 'modernisation' during the 60's and 70's when Newtown was a comparatively down-at-heel inner city area, and since the 80's and onwards the suburb started to go through a renewal and many of the home owners kept the original details intact.

    Decorative tiled panel, Newtown cottage. 18th January, 2005.

    In particular I love these decorative tile panels that are frequently found on the front of these homes, like this one they are often used as a panel between the two front windows. Sometimes the same sorts of tiles are use to line the front edges of steps also.

    Decorative tile detail. 18th January, 2005.

    These tiles are some of my favourites, and I especially like their slightly quasi-Medieval style. To me the tile above seems to refer to the Medieval 'mille fleurs' often seen in illuminated manuscripts or the backgrounds of tapestries, such as the famous Lady & The Unicorn tapestries, where small clumps of flowers and leaves dot the background.

    Decorative tile detail. 18th January, 2005.

    These tiles are in great repair, unfortunately the same can't be said for all of them. Quite a few have been removed, or even worse painted over. A house in the next street over from me, which is now derelict, had bas-relief decorative tiles which at some point have been painted over in very 80's looking pastel coloured paints. Fortunately though, there are still good examples like these.

    Wednesday Link-O-Rama

    In celebration of the fact that I'm sitting at my computer unshaved and in my dressing gown, I bring you some stylish linkage:
  • 70's street fashion by Ossie Clark and others at C20 Vintage Fashion
  • The gorgeous new book about the 60's and 70's stylish juggernaut that was Biba; fashion label, lifestyle and eventually grand department store
  • Mourning the fact that Pari, owner of the world's foremost collection of Biba fashion and collectibles, and supplier of most of the items in the above book, seems to have let her domain expire. [Check back and see if she renews, because her website has a fabulous amount of Biba clothes and info.]
  • The wonderful historical fashion collections of the Met and the Kyoto Costume Institute
  • Loving the easy to use, and comprehensive, fashion pages of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  • I draw the line though at making my own swimwear and posing pouches, like StitchBoy and friends
  • Tuesday, January 18, 2005

    Site Updates By The HTML Challenged

    I'm on a roll, not only did I get the picture posting thing to work (actually not that hard) but I've also been tinkering with the Blogger template I'm using to add some new sidebar goodies, such as a rather unique feature I like to call links.

    Next on the agenda, trying a suggested hack to override the requirement that you need a Blogger registration to leave a comment. That one looks a tad trickier though. There is cutting and pasting involved, and actual deleting of existing html and everything. Very scary.

    Can I just say, I added a site meter and now I'm obsessed with watching the little bugger tick over. Thankfully I saw that I could get it to ignore visits by me, otherwise that counter would be at least triple what it is now. I know, sad.

    This Makes Me Angry

    "Mr Curtis said entire sections of the city had been flattened and covered with gravel, paving stones that had survived 2600 years had been crushed by military vehicles, and decorative bricks around the celebrated Ishtar Gate had been cracked and dislodged by people who had tried to prise them out of the wall."

    Something new to add to a war crimes tribunal list, US crimes against archeology.

    Monday, January 17, 2005

    The Truth Will Set You Free

    I'm as sensitive to the pain of relationships break-ups as anyone, but if you want to find out the truth about Brad & Jen then check out this hilarious animated gif.

    Check it out, before the lawyers get to it.

    [Link via Defamer.]

    More Newtown Public Art

    As I mentioned last week, my suburb of Newtown is blessed with some really cool public art. A couple of years back I took these pictures of some murals which are tucked away in one of the back lanes of Newtown*. I'm happy to say that the murals are still there, and haven't been defaced with graffiti.

    I don't know who's work this is, but I think these murals are really sweet. Sure, it isn't great poetry or anything, but the combination of the text and pictures I find really charming. I also like the fact that you have to sort of accidently stumble on these to know they are there.

    The Goddess goes searching. Newtown, Sydney, 2003.

    "The beautiful goddess leaves home to find the man of her dreams."

    The Goddess finds true love. Newtown, Sydney, 2003.

    "While the goddess found rare men who matched her list, none were "Mr Right". So she journeyed home from where she had taken flight. There she found a man she had missed, and she forgot her list, for he was charming and true. In his eyes she was always beautiful, and so true love grew."

    * In the old days the lanes were used to collect 'night soil', yup there was no sewerage in the neighbourhood so the toilets at the bottom of each garden had a pail which was collected each day. I know, gross. Consequently almost every house has a street front and a rear lane access - although thankfully we have sewerage plumbing and even indoor toilets now!

    Monday Link-o-rama

    Today I'm into:
  • The beautiful artwork and gorgeous colours of Gustav Klimt. Lots more Klimt pics can be found here.
  • My new book Gaudi: Complete Works by Aurora Cuito and Cristina Montes.
  • The mosaic technique frequently used by Gaudi known as trencadis [site in Spanish], which he used to great effect on the park bench at Parc Guell in Barcelona. A comprehensive look at the trencadis works of Gaudi (and his assistant Jujol) in Parc Guell can be found at Joy of Shards.
  • The Scottish art nouveau of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and his surviving works (which are quite numerous).
  • New Indian photoblogs I recently discovered, especially Vivek's, Sudarshan's, Deepak's and the previously mentioned Nilesh's 'Shutterbug'.

  • Sunday, January 16, 2005

    A Helping Hand

    A while back I started reading a lot of Indian blogs and photoblogs. In part because I have always had a fascination with India, but also because the fact that most of them are written in English makes them so accessible.

    It has been really remarkable to see the first hand work some of the Indian bloggers are doing to aid the Tsunami affected people of India. Case in point Kiruba (aka 'Kribs') has been purchasing fishing nets and cooking equipment for affected villages, and has been travelling with other bloggers such as Anita to distribute the aid personally. It seems that they are specifically helping to ensure that some of the smaller affected areas don't get overlooked, while the big aid agencies focus on the larger and worst hit areas.

    Amazing stuff.

    Saturday, January 15, 2005

    Buddhist Cultural Festival

    I had a wonderful day today at the Buddhist cultural festival. I spent about 4 hours on a stall for my local Buddhist Centre; handing out fliers; selling books, incense and prayer beads; talking to lots of people, and getting sun burned (despite the factor 30!). The crowds were quite good, especially given the baking sun and searing heat.

    This morning was quite cool and overcast, and I thought for a while that the weather forcasters had once again gotten it wrong. No such luck, by lunchtime there wasn't hardly a cloud to be seen and the mercury was rising. Tumbalong park only has shade around the perimeter and so, except for the oasis of shade inside each stall, it was hot and bright.

    Some of the stalls from the different Buddhist centers around Sydney. Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour. 15th January, 2005.

    Late in the morning monks and nuns from the different Buddhist traditions offered prayers, with a particular focus on prayers for all those sentient beings (human and animal) who lost their lives in the Tsunami disaster. Many other groups perfomed dances, songs and other cultural presentations, and dignitaries made speaches throughout the afternoon.

    Theravadan monks of the Thai forest tradition perform prayers. 15th January, 2005.

    A Korean nun performs prayers. 15th January, 2005.

    Vietnamese monks performing prayers. 15th January, 2005.

    The day had many highlights, not least of which was the kindness and respect that the general public showed towards all of the different cultural and religious groups represented. The generosity of people was noteworthy too, with one lady slipping a $50 note into our collection box for Tsunami relief. The tragedy was personalised for me by a lady who was discussing with me that she would be finding a centre to say prayers tomorrow for the Tsunami victims, in particular for her closest friend of 28 years who was killed on a beach in Thailand. A poignant reminder of how close the disaster was for many Australians and a sad moment in an otherwise happy day.

    Theravadan monks at Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour. 15th January, 2005.

    Friday, January 14, 2005

    Endless Summer

    I don't know what this purple flowering tree is, but everytime I walk under it I'm struck by its beauty. If I had more guts, I'd tuck a spray of it behind my ear.

    I guess beauty takes courage.

    Summer time! January, 2005.

    I Must Have Missed The Sign That Said Caution Dip Ahead

    I've avoided posting much in the way of personal commentary this week, and mostly stuck to posting odd links I've found and pictures I've taken. To be frank, things have been pretty shitty this week and I haven't felt much like talking about it.

    I'm not sure that I want this blog to be an exercise in baring any of the dark corners of my soul; I don't much like reading those kinds of blogs, I don't spend much time not feeling good about things anyway and I don't feel that I would particularly gain anything by posting those kinds of entries. Carthasis maybe, but I'm more of a 'retreat and lick my wounds' kind of guy.

    So, to cut a long story short I had a bit of a 'crash and burn' emotionally this week. Nothing too dramatic, but I've been struggling with the typical insomnia I get during summer, feelings of panic and paranoia about my jobless state, and a complete lack of motivation to do much of anything about it. No I don't think I'm depressed; maybe small 'd', but not the big clinical 'D'.

    So, I know that it may seem contradictory to be talking about not talking about something (huh?), but the point of this is that I'm feeling much brighter. I did some job applications this morning and have rung around some recruiters I spoke with a little while back. I can now look myself in the mirror and say that I'm doing something other than sitting in my underwear reading blogs. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

    This afternoon I'm off to do some volunteer cleaning at the Buddhist Centre I attend and this Saturday I'm manning a stall for the same centre at Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour. I worked on the same stall at the Newtown Festival in November, and had such a great time that instead of being on the stall for two hours I stayed on for six! If anyone from the Sydney area is around Darling Harbour between 12 and 3 on Saturday, stop and say 'Hi' won't you.

    Thursday, January 13, 2005

    File This One Under "People In Glass Houses"

    I think the folks at Defamer may need to fire an intern or two. On the same day that they rightly lambasted the sloppy proofreading of Star and their piece on Moetly Cruee's [sic] singer, they presented a juicy item about "Michael Jacskon"[sic].


    [Drat, I couldn't get the Defamer links to work. Check the 12th January 2004 entries on the Defamer website for both pieces. Sorry.]

    I Kiss You!

    I love this building with its decoration of a giant set of sexy red lips. It's about a 10 minutes walk from my house in Newtown, and whenever I pass it it always makes me smile.

    Today has been a frustrating and unproductive day, so if you're having the same sort of day that I'm having then I hope this piece of whimsy lifts your mood, as it does mine. Whoever the person who lives in this converted wharehouse is, thanks!

    Luscious lips. August, 2004

    Tuesday, January 11, 2005

    Is There A Kongourikishi Dream House?

    Why bother with Barbie or Bratz, when you could have a Spritual Warrior on your side?

    P.S. I so want a set of these!

    The Discerning Lens

    I am in awe of the gorgeous photographs taken by people such as Nilesh of Shutterbug. Case in point, his beautiful pictures of Namdroling Monastery, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Bylakuppe, India. Beautiful!

    Rightfully so, he is nominated for Best Indi-Photoblog in the 2004 IndiBloggies.

    Monday, January 10, 2005

    Juicy Salif Conquers The Universe

    There is some fantastic public art in my neighbourhood, and this is one of my absolute favourites. The choice of an iconic yuppie object which looks convincingly spaceship like, and the classic golden age of Sci Fi font style, makes it a winner in my books.

    Although it does give me pause when I consider the fact that three of my friends all own these juicers...

    Paving stone art. Newtown, Sydney.

    Sunday, January 09, 2005

    Homes Of The Future?

    Somehow I completely missed the fact that last year was the Year of the Built Environment, and I'm kicking myself because I love architecture and design, and especially concept houses. Case in point, this project slipped by unnoticed, as did the exhibition. Fortunately it seems that the exhibition might be moving to Sydney Olympic Park during 2005.

    (I have to admit though that I'm disappointed that by 2005 we aren't living in homes like this or like the ones this guy predicted. Don't even get me started on jet packs or hovercraft.)

    Some of the six houses in the exhibition look quite cool, but a few just look impractical. An all glass nanotechnology house? Umm, sure. I love the idea of the temporary cardboard house (so long as it actually keeps the weather out), and if this could be prefabbed quickly and cheaply it could be a useful way to provide an emergency housing solution. It would certainly be cheaper to transport.

    The Universe Strikes Back

    Remember my last post? You know, the one about being all introspective and stuff? How, I needed to get going and not spend so much time in my head? Well, I found a cure!

    Break a toe!!

    Yup, I misjudged the step up from my kitchen to my hallway the other night and kicked the step instead of stepping up onto it. In bare feet.

    So I did the standard toe stubbing procedure: 1. grab said toes, 2. hop up and down on other foot, 3. roll eyes, 4. throw back head and let rip every expletive known, 5. make up new expletives, because the others just aren't cutting it. 5 minutes in and three little toes where heading back to normalcy while one recalcitrant (the second toe, the one next to the big toe) was not.

    Fortunately it's summer here, so I can get away with wearing sandals at the moment, but the poor little thing is sitting there bloated, purple, black nailed. Hey, I have a Goth toe! Cool.

    Friday, January 07, 2005

    The Introspectacle

    introspection n the examination of one's own thoughts, impressions and feelings.

    spectacle n 1. a public display or performance, esp. a showy or ceremonial one. 2. a thing or performance seen, esp. an unusual or a ridiculous one: he made a spectacle of himself. 3. a strange or interesting object or phenomenon.

    I am by nature quite an introspective person, someone who can quite happily spend time lost in my own thoughts. Yet, I'm not all that much of an introvert. Maybe a part-time one. Sure I can be a bit shy around people I have just met, but so long as I have even a whiff of a comfort zone with people, well then look out because the all-singing, all-dancing extrovert can emerge.

    Sometimes though my nature to be quite introspective can tip over into something that's not quite all healthy, something that encourages inertia. Something too that (to put it into a Buddhist framework) stops me being present, stops me being awake to how my thoughts, words and deeds might affect others. A while ago I termed this showy perfomance of introspection my introspectacle. It can still be a spectacle, even if I'm the only that get's to see it, can't it?

    So this past week has been a bit of an introspectacle week. Not a big one, but enough that I have spent a lot of time in my own company, mulling things over and not getting a hell of a lot done.

    So, the action plan from here on in; a night out tonight with my best friend of 27 years (and who is departing on Sunday to Korea for a few years), job applications and more job applications this weekend, putting together the storage units I bought at Ikea yesterday and cleaning up my room and especially meditation.

    I know it probably seems strange to talk about meditation as helping to break out of a cycle of introspection, isn't that where you just sit there, like, thinking, dude? Well yes, and no. One of the hardest things to do early on in meditation is to start to develop single pointed concentration, ie. the ability to concentrate on just one thing, in this case just observing watching your breath in, and your breath out. Try it and try not to think about your feet going to sleep, the sound of a car in the street, what you plan to make for dinner tonight... it's hard.

    The payoff though, even if you you only get momentary tastes of what that sort of concentration is like, is mental rest. Sort of like a nap for your brain and what some Buddhist writers refer to as the first stage of 'stopping the war within' or 'taming the tiger'. In addition there are specific Buddhist meditations which shift your focus to caring for others, on developing loving kindness and on strengthening your resolve to help ease the suffering of others wherever you can. Quite the cure for the introspectacle I think!

    Wednesday, January 05, 2005

    Summer In The City

    Two reasons why I love Summer.

    My neighbour's Frangipani, which blooms over my side fence.

    An Azalea from my courtyard.

    Tuesday, January 04, 2005

    Bolly Alright For You, Pats?

    It is embarassing to admit, but I suspect that inside my 40 year old man's chest might beat the heart of a 15 year old Indian girl. Yes folks I bring you my latest crush. Aftab Shivdesani, Bollywood actor of such films as the deeply silly Masti [warning, slow loading Flash animation for days].

    Bollywood films and music have always been two of my more obscure guilty pleasures. The liking for which is also shared by my friend John. The other night he leant me a couple of DVDs he had bought from his local Indian grocer (which his wife refuses to allow him to watch, on account of a low threshold for camp sillines), one of which was Masti.

    If you have read point 67 of my previous entry 100 things you will know that I frequently find Indian men attractive. What my ex-boyfriend Stephen, who is himself Anglo-Indian, refers to as men with a 'a touch of the tinge' about them.

    Monday, January 03, 2005


    Two viewings of The Incredibles later and all of a sudden I have become Edna Mode.

    What am I currently saying about 100 times a day?

    This has confiscated my life, darling!

    Saturday, January 01, 2005

    Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2005 is a great year for you, and for all of us.