Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Japanese Slipper makes it Hunky Dory.


Listening to: Oh! You pretty things by David Bowie

Digging:
0 David Bowie's Hunky Dory, esp. current track which I haven't heard before owning this album. Life on Mars has always been a favourite for the dramatic, sweeping strings and vocals in the chorus.
0 Homemade, Japanese Slippers (about 30ml each of Cointreau, Midori, lemon or lime juice shaken with ice).

Work was nuts this afternoon. SOOOO BUSY! Understaffed by one person. We coped but had to take a deep breath now and then. Went on autopilot at about 10am and stayed on that for most of the day.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Inadvertant anarchist :P

Listening to: Break it Down Again by Tears for Fears

Took my three bobby pins and hair band out and put them on the bathroom sink vanity. After my shower I noticed they were arranged something like this;

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(re-enactment on my scanner)
I am so deh hardcorez :P

Here's an unfortunate page divide in The Daily Mail (UK), from our trip earlier this year which amused me so I saved it for posting here;

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page 23

The first half of the headline on the other page.

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If you had folded the paper in half to make it easier to read (like on the plane) you would have noticed the bad choice of divide.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Goths in Spain

Listening to Fame by David Bowie

Over six months later and I deliver as promised! Click here to read scene relevant material from when we first got home. Be aware that this is written from the perspective of Australian Goth who had previously not been clubbing overseas at all. What I have to say may be standard for other parts of Europe.

It’s expensive! We have it good here let me tell you, cost wise. Your entry usually includes a free drink. You mix your own mixers. They give you the glass with spirit, ice and a bottle of whatever you wanted mixed in. You pour that part yourself.

It appears that the Goth scene is bigger in Madrid than in Barcelona. There are more clubs and clothing stores. According to a fellow clubber at Club 666, several new clubs and stores opened in February.

Club 666 website – we enjoyed it but get there at 10 because it closes at 1am! There’s a hotel next door to it. Ah the universal language of music. The goths were friendly :) An English speaker was helping out a German couple after the club had finished and we were outside so we got some info off him as well. Flyers were being given out at the end of the night for other clubs, one of which we walked and went to.

New Order Club website - as fun as it sounds, lots of synthy stuff. The venue is shared with another club. Small dance floor with video screen.

There was a goth clothing shop we discovered in our explorations off Calle Fuencarral, next to a fetishware shop. Unfortunately it had weird opening hours that they didn’t keep to. In the 3 times we were in the area it was closed.

Touch Me clothing website – 5 Calle Colon had friendly staff and some nice stock. They were just opening a new store around the corner (27 Calle Fuencarral)that month with more men’s clothing. Style wise there isn’t a huge difference in what is available in Spain compared to Melbourne. You may find less to no Victorian influence including corsetry, and a few more black items with little buckles and strappy bits.

Black lace fans are not a part of Spanish Goth club accessories. I guess it’s a cultural thing. You won’t see much of a Victorian influence in the fashions. If you want a fan there are more to choose from in Madrid than Barcelona. I got both of mine from souvenir stores for less than E8. Have a look around and see what is available before actually buying one. My burgundy, layered with black lace fan was from a souvenir store opposite the Prado museums and the GPO.

We went to one club in Barcelona and didn’t spend much time there. Sanctuary Club website – heavier music, annoying strobe light going all the time, weird floor layout. The venue is made up of several levels of floor but overall is actually only two levels with steps and sunken floors. This breaking up of the floor results in several impractical, small spaces.

There are a few stores in the side streets off La Rambla selling jewellery, accessories and clothing that would appeal to Goths.

Hope that helps :)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Keane - Under the Iron Sea: Reviewed

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Veteran readers of the previous incarnation of this blog will know that I enjoyed Keane’s debut album, Hopes and Fears. Fortunately it did well enough for them to have a second album, Under the Iron Sea.

The cover art - by Finnish artist Sanna Annukka - is cute and funky. You will have to buy the CD to fully appreciate it since it folds out to 6 panels in total. Starting at the surface of the iron sea is a mixture of good and bad equine waves. Underneath is a fairytale seascape featuring among other creatures a giant octopus, a whale, and a squirrel! Visit their website or Annukka's to get a taste of it.

Atlantic sets the tone, evoking the wash and rhythm of the sea with soaring, sweeping vocals and piano. Beautiful, it’s my favourite track.
Is it any wonder? opens with a heavy, U2esque bass before mellowing into piano. This album overall has a greater emphasis on the bass. Compared with their self-titled debut album, which was built around the piano/synth, this has a more of a rock feel to it.
Nothing in my way, is a piano based ballad. Lead vocalist Tom Chaplin has either improved his breathing technique or his gasps for air at the end of each line have been produced out – or a combination of both. His breathing was clearly audible on the softer or more passionately sung tracks from the previous album.
Leaving so soon? and A bad dream both feature longer notes yet they contrast nicely with each other. The first is a strong song of defiance and independence while the latter is a ballad about exactly the opposite sentiment. A bad dream has particularly lovely soaring and layering.
Hamburg song has an organ rather than a piano sound and feels more like a hymm. It isn’t clear why it has this title. Soulful, but depressing if you’re already sad, it’s feelings laid bare.
Track 7, Put it behind you ends at about 3:30, as a song but appears to have a secret piece within it. An atmospheric bass, synth and strings instrumental sweeps in then fades out 3 minutes later - another favourite for me.
Crystal Ball is an upbeat track though lyrically or musically not one of their strongest. The album title is derived from a line in this song.

There are other tracks. The first album was less than 50 minutes and this is another shorty at just over 50 minutes. Quality not quantity. I have not felt the compulsion to skip any tracks except Hamburg song and only when I was feeling blue.

Overall there’s a nice balance of light and shade, ballads and upbeat tracks. The heavier use of bass, more complex vocals, and stronger, tighter production works well. It took a few listens but it has grown on me. I recommend it to anyone who enjoyed their first album.




Websites of the Day
Keane's Official Website
Sanna Annukka's portfolio
, which includes beautiful art for all the the singles from Under the Iron Sea

Friday, October 06, 2006

Meerkat goodness

Listening to: Crystal Ball by Keane

Quite a few hits to this website are meerkat related, probably due to my user name and blog title since there is very little here about meerkats. I feel obliged to provide a little meerkat info if only to make that hit worthwhile and talk about one of my favourite animals :)

1. Google this:
'emo meerkat'
I don't know why anyone would but someone did, and look what happens! Weird :P

2. It is my understanding that there is now a full meerkat group at the Melbourne Zoo. Last time I went a few years ago there wasn't. The matriach had died. This caused so much in fighting that the remaining group was relocated to join an existing group at Werribee Zoo. At the time when I visited there was a solitary meerkat on display. Not a natural situation since they need to have someone on sentry at all times. I watched this little fellow eventually nod off, asleep on a log. Cute, funny and a bit sad too. Aww.

3. Meerkats are not totally immune to the poisons of their prey. With scorpions they will nip off the stinger. With snakes it may look like they've taken a hit but in fact they've dodged it. As those of you who have been watching Meerkat Manor know, a meerkat can survive a bite but not without some suffering in the meantime. I suspect the ingestion of enough poisonous prey may provide some immunity. As long as there are no internal lacerations for the poison to enter the bloodstream it is safe for a meerkat to ingest it.

4. Meerkat Manor quotes the Cambridge University study as being 10 years long. It's actually older, starting in 1993. There was an article in National Geographic, September 2002 about the study in which the University of Pretoria is also involved. Why study them? To provide insight into the evolution of mammalian cooperation. Meerkats are the very model of this.

5. You can buy one as a pet in Madrid for E1000. I very much doubt you could own one in Australia. Apparently you have can't have a pet hedgehog here either. [pout] I wouldn't mind a hedgehog :)


Website of the Day

National Geographic, Meerkats Stand Tall

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Bauhaus concert, Barcelona, February 2006

I've been meaning to post this since coming back.

Bauhaus in Barcelona
Peter might be old and losing his hair but he rocked as did the rest of the band. Daniel plays a mean axe. Fine showmanship and camaraderie between Peter and Daniel. Highlights were when Peter paced around Daniel throwing rose petals at him, She's in Parties, and their encore performance of Ziggy Stardust. They are not a band I am particularly familiar with but it was well worth our while.


Concert Etiquette

Though I doubt the people who need to read this sort of thing would here 't is anyway. I wrote this back in early March while my annoyance was still somewhat fresh though not palpable ;)

O No big hair. Save the mohawk and any other kind do that increases your perceived height for elsewhere.
O If you have long hair, tie it back so people don’t have to look through/past your hair. Tie it back low so that it doesn’t go in the face of the person behind you.*
O Take photos if it's permitted but show some restraint and have some consideration for those behind you. I don’t want to watch some of the best parts of the concert through your f@#$ing mobile phone/digital camera because it’s blocking my view**
O If you’re 6ft tall don’t stand in the middle near the front. It’s f@#$ing selfish - particularly if you’re built like a bouncer.***
O Do NOT show your appreciation by sticking your fingers in your mouth and whistling loudly at the end of EVERY song.****
O Dance by all means but respect others’ right to see the concert without having your head come in and out of their view. ***** Don’t sway your head/body while moving from foot to foot. You take up twice the visual space. Bounce in your place, tap your foot, nod your head, jiggle, whatever.

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Bauhaus concert in Barcelona, February 2006
ink on paper
*Chick just in front of me, kept leaning back which put her high ponytail in contact with my face several times
**Same chick
***His saving grace is that he was bald, so no big hair. I have a vivid recollection of the shape of his head
**** My ears hurt! The music was loud enough without this git doing that.
*****Several people. WTF?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Caroline the Ladybug's Shrine

I made it over time at work, from bits of packaging and written off products. It's held together with sticky tape and PVA glue - a rough assembly made for fun, to kill spare time and bring a bit of silliness to the workplace. It inspired me to make at home, a shrine-like sculpture .

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Caroline the Ladybug's Shrine
card, paper, plastic, wire, cotton thread, mirrored glass, holographic film

It started off with the ladybug then grew outwards and upwards. Note the Albert Einstein, Mata Hari and a corgi combo at the top!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Beret not parade!

Listening to 'Maniac' by Michael Sembello

My next op shop pursuit will be to find a beret the colour of raspberries.

Just to see if it's possible.

Goths are not emos.

Listening to 'The Walk' by The Cure

Goths are not emos.

The mainstream media would have you believe otherwise but believe me, we are NOT the same. To the very casual observer there are similarities. Emo is commonly believed a spin off from goth. Not quite true.
Rather than wax lyrical on what goth is - we like to navel gaze - here's a couple of links for those who would like/care to know the difference. The goth definition is comprehensive, by no means definitive, and reasonable in its breadth. The Emo one isn't quite so long but it will give you a basis for comparison so you can see we are different.
Wikipedia on Goth
Wikipedia on Emo
I haven't included a picture of a goth because there is a huge variety of styles. Personally, I lean towards Victorian goth favouring lace, ribbon, frills, long swirly skirts, and a corset.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Round like a roundabout

Listening to 'I love it' by Sneaky Sound System

Ever been waiting to go into, then driving, in a roundabout while 'Spin me 'round (like a record)' by Dead or Alive was on the radio? I did, today! It was fun :)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

For punctuation sticklers...

...after reading another LJ user's interests I noticed they were into
80's music.
I am also into that but I had used
80s music.
Apparently the the correct way to write this is
80's music
as this is a case of something being possessive. Whereas
This music is from the 80s
does not describe possession but a period in time.
You don't put an apostrophe for the unseen 19.
Source for this information here.

These aren't mine but to illustrate our apostrophe class:


Wrong but could also be a good album :)


Right but judging by the listed tracks, possibly a bad album (too much mush!) ;)

I bothered researching this because when I looked at my dozen or so 80's compilation CDs I found three different ways of writing it which wasn't very helpful. I bothered writing it up because I like sharing knowledge. It will help me remember it better as well! So there you go for those who didn't know.
You learn something new every day :)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Art of Alex Gross

Came across The Art of Alex Gross via atomicthreat.com

My favourite painting so far is this one.

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Siren

She has a serene yet cold beauty about her. I like how he's used the body of a male peacock to create a female siren. The blues and greens in this work are lovely. There's a certain naivety in the representation, yet there is also great technical artistry. Like a well illustrated children's book.

Go and check out his site!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Welcome to Meerkat Clippings

Welcome to Meerkat Clippings, the reincarnated version of Lady Meerkat's Unadventures. It's a bit like the original blog. AS you can see it's still at the same address for existing readers and linkers.

What has changed?
The look obviously.
I've played around with it a bit to reflect the change. It's a bit more me.
The content.
You won't read about my personal life here unless it's in the archives. I've got an LJ for that! Expect more reviews, opinions, recommendations, tips and curious clippings.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lady Meerkat's Unadventures are over.

There's no point blogging in a vacuum.
Have a nice life.

The End.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Unnatural History Museum

For those who were unable to make it to our exhibition, here's what my part of the space looked like.

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The proud artist

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What is Left?
paper collage, ink, card, duck egg, wallaby jaw, wood straw
The piece featured on the invite

Link to an old blog entry featuring a collage from the show.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Favourite Childhood Books

Listening to: M's cat purring on my lap

What were yours?

From the 'Favourite Childhood Books' thread on MGF.

I have a small collection of beautifully illustrated children's books, all bought as an adult from op shops :D I don't own any of my childhood books except two. The rest were op shopped away.

I think I was in grade 5 or so when Animalia came out. 'Our principal, Mr Tidy, is Graeme's uncle', we were were told as the librarian settled us down to read it to us. I was blown away by how intricate the illustrations were. I didn't own any of his books as a child but bought some as an adult. I love Graeme Base's illustrations. It's interesting to see how his style and technique has evolved since Animalia.

Green Eggs and Ham - my hard back copy was held together with tape as I recall, it was such a favourite.
The Wizard of Oz - Golden Book version.
The Hungry Caterpillar - beautiful colours and those holes through the pages were such fun!
Books by Jeannie Baker - tactile collages, photographed for illustrations. I'm still in awe of her work.
Fantastic Mr Fox
The Magic Faraway Tree - I had a collection of hardback Enid Blyton on my bed head shelf.
The Silver Crown by Robert O' Brien.
Snuggle Pot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs.
World Tales - This is an enthralling collection of stories from around the world, a brief description of their history, interspersed with illustrations by a wide variety of artists, including Brian Froud (Labyrinth, Dark Crystal ). My parents gave this to their 'little book worm' :} back in 1984 or maybe 1981 I think, and I still have it. It's a book I'll always treasure.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Freedom (Furniture)

Listening to 'Suffer Well' by Depeche Mode

Is it a good or bad thing that when typing 'freedom' into google.com.au, search Australian sites only, that Freedom Furniture comes up first? It was what I was looking for.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Unnatural History Museum & Cats of Melbourne

My brother Mark, and I went to the printers yesterday to submit the file for our exhibition invites. We got some proofs printed up and it looks as good as I hoped. Am rather chuffed with my work in Illustrator. My choice of fonts, layout and selection of artwork from each of us, gels so well.

We'll be distributing invites at various stores and cafes in the Melbourne CBD, Footscray and Fitzroy areas for those who are interested.

Goth Meme tells me what I already knew..




You scored as Romantic Goth.
You are a romantic goth,
better known as a tradtional goth.
You are probably quickly identified
as a goth by outsiders. Black lace,
bats, and moonlit cemetaries are
just a few of your favorite things.

Romantic Goth


58%

Old-school Goth


54%

Perky Goff


54%

Industrial/Rivet-Head


50%

Ethereal Goth


42%

Anything-Goes Goth


42%

Fantasy Goth


33%

Cyber-goth


21%

Death Rocker


21%

Understanding Outsider


21%

Confused Outsider


17%

What subcategory of Goth best fits you?
created with QuizFarm.com

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Fun with Spanish Packaging

Listening to 'Too Young' by Koo De Tah

When you want some sweet luvin', it's time for a

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Chester the Cheetos cheetah doing Bela Legusi.

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If they ever make a Plan 10 from Outer Space...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Barcelona

With links :)

Food and Drink
Don’t expect the sort of service you expect in Australia. It’s rare.
0 According to our Indian waiter at Mickey’s Pizzeria
“Sangria is a very romantic drink.”
Therefore E3.95 for a pint of it, at the Irish pub down the street must be more special than we thought.
0 Maoz falafels are delicious, healthy and cheap. An excellent vegetarian’s option.
0 Freud b’ Art. A restaurant with gallery walls. Attentive service, relaxed atmosphere, and inventive, delicious, well priced food. We found it by accident, looking for another restaurant.
0 Cafe Lirica, La Rambla. For service, hot chocolate and tapa basics.

Art
Museum Gaudi @ Park Guel is the least interesting of the 3 main Gaudi attractions (there are others). Park Guel is nice but see it first then Casa Batllo, then the unfinished, awe inspiring, masterpiece that is the Sagrada Familia cathedral. We saw them in the opposite order :P Don’t bother with the ‘free’ audio tour at Casa Batllo. It’s goofy.

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The roof of Casa Batllo

Take a train to Figueres to see the Dali Theatre Museum, and the adjacent Dali Joies. This must be the world’s best Salavador Dali museum duo. Dali was involved in the Theatre Museum’s creation. You’ll see a few of his famous works some of which are murals. There’s also a real Mae West room with a special viewing lens so you can see it a bit like it is in the well-known painting. Dali Joies showcases his jewellery designs, which are exquisitely decadent. A few of them are animated. Be aware that you can buy basic Dali souvenirs (postcards, some of the sculptures, floppy watches galore) in the neighbouring shops. If you have time, I recommend checking them out before going to the museum so that you can see what is available as it’s generally cheaper than the official museum shop.

Shopping
Kukuxumusu! It means ‘kiss of the flea’ in Basque. It’s a design studio from Pamplona that designs quirky, funny, graphics for t-shirts (kids and adults), keyrings, stationery, postcards and several other products. The visual humour used is universal. We found the main store in Barcelona by accident. I got a pink t-shirt of Little Red Riding Hood kicking the wolf in the soft bits, and postcards to share the lurve. Their stuff is so cool!



Be aware of the Barcelona Card for train travel. It also entitles you to discounts at many of the main attractions, and a selection of restaurant and shops. This includes the well-stocked BCN Original Shop souvenir store under the main square, Placa de Catalunya and the smaller store near Placa de Sant Jaume. Both are also tourist information points.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Chocolate and wine

With Easter and my brother's gallery opening (then there's M's upcoming housewarming) I have scoffed what is probably too much of the above over the last fortnight, and am waiting for the bodily repercussions of this. The pimple on my forehead could be the first sign.

I write this as I nibble on a mint Aero bar and contemplate having a glass of red.

At work today the back room was so warm and I felt so tired I was fighting off sleep while on my meal break. Had to have a nap when I got home. Have been spending too much time on the internet of late.

Have cut back on my hours at work to 4 days a week. I want/need to dedicate more time towards getting my art work together, and creating new pieces for an exhibition I will have with my brother in early July. Am really looking forward to getting back into creating art since I haven't done anything in probably over a year!

Plus I should really be getting myself out there and building up a client base for my business. I currently have one excellent client.

Last Saturday M and I took the boys to the Helen Lempriere sculpture exhibition at Werribee Park. I thought it would be a good opportunity to expose the boys to art whilst in a less formal setting than a gallery, allowing them to run around and burn some energy. Apart form the inevitable fighting in the car and park it went alright. From what M had said, S got something out of it. Two of his favourite pieces were my favourites as well :) There were a LOT of VERY WANKY artist's statements. Many had a fondness for using several multi-syllable words in sentences that made no grammatic sense if any. There should be tighter word limits.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Garden Nibbles

Listening to 'Pride (In the Name of Love)' by U2

In my garden...

...the other week I heard a buzzing. I thought it was a bee caught by a leaf curling spider. Instead it was this, which was much cooler:

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‘She’ killed the blowfly by biting into its neck. She then proceeded to eat it from the head down, consuming legs and wings. It was interesting to watch Nature taking its course in my humble backyard. I also got to see what fly innards look like while they’re still in the fly and not squashed.

The ever so slightly disconcerting but also charming thing about the praying mantis is that unlike many other insect eyes, you can tell when it’s looking at you.

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From my garden

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Most of this year’s lemon crop from our dwarf lemon tree, harvested this morning. Photo by my brother who may be painting a still life of fruit some time :)

Random thought on Barcelona No. 1

It seems to be a growing trend to make people pay more and give them stuff they don't want - instead of paying less and paying extra for extras. It started with the weekend paper years ago
“Why am I paying extra for a great big wad of the Classified section? They’re already paid for by the people who place the ads. I don’t want to read them but I’m picking them up anyway because I’ve paid for them now. :P”

A recent example is entry tickets at Casa Batllo, Barcelona with the stupid but ‘free’ audio guide* with a posh man and woman cooing,
"See the big, colourful window. It creates the feeling of light and space. Gaudi was really clever.
There were no windows before he was born. Before Gaudi blessed the world with his genius, if people wanted light in a building they would knock holes into walls or light a candle made of their own ear wax...

...See the bumps on the ceiling. Are they breasts? Is it a splash from a drop in milk? Or just pretty bumps? We can't be sure because Gaudi died a loooong time ago."


*The author accepts no liability for the reader's deemed 'word for word' accuracy of this transcript.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

F**k Max Brenner...

...and his scribbly Bald Head.

Listening to 'Sweet Dreams' by the Eurythmics

G & I decided to give Max Brenner at Melbourne Central another chance this evening. This time was not much of an improvement on last time.

We sat outside at a table instead of on stools at the counter/bar. The customers before us at this pair of tables had left barely touched* food and drinks, which the staff had yet to clear away.

We were ignored for too long (didn’t keep track of it this time) and the service was indifferent to us, refusing to make eye contact. Back when things were new - around a year ago - the staff here were consistently attentive, making sure we had all we wanted before and after ordering.

I decided to take matters into my own hands.
“Kerplunk”,
went the metal fork as I dropped it on the ground. No sign of being noticed yet.
“Ping!”
went the fork a minute later. G and I joked about upending the whole table. I snakily growled that I was prepared to use every ‘hostage’ on that table top, one by one, until we got service.

Fortunately the second piece of cutlery did the trick. We got menus. However we only got as far as the menus last time, as I reminded G. Our waitress did nothing to change our fallen expectations.

The quality of the goods consumed is irrelevant. This isn’t the only place in town to get a good hot chocolate, though admittedly it has the biggest range of hot chocolate. I can not vouch for the QV Max Brenners. It may well be different.

I’m not going to bother telling them this, but I’m telling you and via this blog I’m going to spread the word. The service at Max Brenners, Melbourne Central was slow and the staff don’t give a s***. Try Koko Black, or Brunettis in Carlton instead.



*So little was consumed we weren’t sure if they weren’t coming back. I don’t think this is why we were ignored bytheway, since it was not on the table we were sitting at.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Madrid Part III – Banco de Espana, The finishing touch

Prior to visiting Madrid I had always assumed that carved, stone ornamentation on a building was carved in the workshop then cemented into place. Not quite so - at least not in the case of the Banco de Espana. It looks like they block in the overall form then make it part of the building, carving it to its final form onsite. I guess it makes sense when you're dealing with forms that use more than one piece of stone.

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Overall view of new, unfinished facade

At first, because we approached the building from the end they were working on, I thought it some kind of modern, almost Art Deco, ornamentation. We soon figured out what was really going on. It’s one of the many things we saw over there that you certainly see don’t over here. Stone masonary is one of those ancient crafts practiced by few due to scant demand. With the way modern buildings are constructed and devoid of remarkable detailing, I expect that even over there such a sight isn’t exactly pedestrian.

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Detail views comparing new, unfinished additions with original stone work

This new addition to the building should replicate the stonework of the existing corner facade except it will have no clock (see Madrid Part I, Rule 3)

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Original corner facade

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Pets, chocolate iced donuts, films ... alcohol

Have finished a four day stint housesitting with no internet, caring for 2 cats, 2 dogs, one tank of tropical fish, and a pond of goldfish. Couldn't figure out how the microwave timer worked. Ate lots of fresh produce to keep my food costs down. Plenty of salad, pita bread, fruit and vegies. Didn't want to sit around watching DVDs all day. With G & P's collection I could have done that for every hour they were away and not have gotten though 5% of what they own. Consumed a fair amount of vodka and a bit of Cointreau. Got covered in dog and cat hair. Sketched the animals as they rested. Was cute how for the last couple of days the cats were totally relaxed with me when I picked them up.

Ate my first Krispy Kreme donut tonight. G & P, whose house I was minding, brought a box back from Sydney. Good texture but not the best donut I've ever had. The way I've heard/seen people go on about them I was expecting something with a bit more melt in the mouth fluffiness, and certainly much better icing. The 'chocolate' icing was no better than Donut King's.

I have a fond donut memory from my uni student days. I would occasionally indulge in a real chocolate iced donut from the Asian style bakery near Daimaru in the old Melbourne Central. They were the best donuts I've ever had.

In other news...
I now have 11 reviews published at the Four Word Film Review site, as well as the 80s Childhood Memories accolade :D
link to my reviews here


PS (30/03/06)
G wasn't able to do the same run through of housesitting tasks as he did last time. There were two big, fat sausages at the bottom of the fridge. Got a call from G yesterday morning. He reckoned the dogs must have loved me. It turns out I'd been feeding the dogs food for people and not pet food! I had thought it smelt rather good. One was fritz the other was pet food. P discovered this when he went to make sandwiches. They both found it funny. :)

PPS (20/04/06)
Now have 57 Four Word Film Reviews published. I rock :}

PPPS (01/06/06)
160 reviews published. It's fun :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Every home should have...

...scientific glassware. No, not really though I do have some.

I starting collecting bits of it after creating a sculpture using the empty glass vials – they look like test tubes, but have no lip - from my father’s expensive cigars. My brother helped me make a wooden test tube rack for them to sit in. This work inspired me to jot down ideas for companion pieces to this sculpture.

My father bought some from Camberwell market and others from Industria in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. I found 3 pieces at op shops.

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At the moment they’re all just sitting in my room next to my stereo. I do have two definite ideas for the beaker and the smaller of the petri dishes. I haven’t given much though to the others. I would like to expand my collection. They have a simple utilitarian beauty about them. Apparently glass petri dishes aren’t as common as they once were, due to the fact that they aren’t made anymore. They’re all plastic now.

So, back to my opening sentence. What would lead me to make such a statement?

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I caught this spider next to my bed the other morning. A petri dish was the best thing I had handy to capture it. Teamed with a bit of card then flipped over to add the lid it’s a great way to take a closer look at your temporary prisoner.

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Going by my Australian Geographic, ‘Common Backyard Spiders’ guide, this may be a male, Whitetailed spider. The females are supposed to be 20mm long. Male spiders are always dwarfed by the females. The MO sounds right ‘...in summer may enter houses, often taking refuge in clothes left on the floor...’ Not a good one to get bitten by (may cause headaches, nausea, chills, blisters and ulcers) but not a deadly one either.


Thought for the Day
Stop faking it! Click here


[edit 23/03/06]
Website for the Day
Victorian Spiders
Apart from helping you identify them, there's also other interesting information about spiders at this site including the origin of the word arachnid

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Madrid – Part II

Listening to ‘Listening’ by Pseudo Echo


Only in Madrid*, La Taurina restaurant

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Urrgh ... creepy. I’m not keen on steak. With those bull heads on the walls I don’t think I could enjoy a mouthful of any sort of meat.

Not everyone who calls themself a vegetarian actually is one. It just makes things easier than trying to explain that you only eat certain meats. M, being an example of such a person, eats seafood.

When M and I started going out I took note of the days when I hadn’t eaten meat and felt really good about that from a philosophical point of view. Now that we spend more time together it’s just an everyday thing, going meat free. I doubt I’ll ever be a vegetarian. Meat curries, stir fries, satay chicken skewers, and seafood – big juicy prawns in particular – are too yummy to give up. Unless I develop an allergy I’ll never be a vegan. I may eventually give up red meat altogether. I feel healthier eating less of it and more fresh vegies and fruit.


*As far as I know. If not, then ‘Only in Spain’!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Madrid - Part I

Rule 1
All plazas of significance will feature a statue of a man on a horse.

Rule 2
In Winter, you can’t walk down a street during the day without encountering a woman in a fur coat. She will always be:
Wearing a full length coat;
Old;
Accompanied by someone, usually on their arm.
She will usually be a very slow walker.

Rule 3
The grandeur of a significant building is not complete without a clock built into its architecture.

Rule 4
The throne room will always be the most impressive room in a palace. It was my favourite room at the Palacio Real de Madrid. The armory had some beautifully crafted pieces including an especially fine pair of gloves from a suit of armour.

Other things of note
O Non-smokers are the exception.
O Snub nosed dogs like French bull terriers, British bulldogs and pugs are quite popular, followed by cocker spaniels.

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O Medieval religious art gets boring VERY quickly. This happened last time I was overseas as well. Here in Australia you don’t see much of it, so it’s special. In Europe it’s abundant so you soon lose interest.

Recommendations
O Goat’s cheese is good.
O Seafood paella is a winner. Don’t be afraid to try the squid ink version. It’s tasty :)
O Have tapas at least once; try the garlic prawns, tortilla and potato bravas
O Have some wine with dinner.
O Splurge on dessert. Chocolate in 3 textures was excellent.
O The best chocolate con churros can only be found at a chocolateria. Only some of them have churros available all day. They are best when they are freshly fried (morning). The churros we tried back here in Melbourne were better :/ The hot chocolate was rather good.
O Do not rely on websites for subcultural information unless they are clearly being updated ie. Club website showing current events.
O Don’t rely on a guidebook for everything. Explore things for yourself. Have a wander down the side streets. There is such a satisfaction to be had, in discovering something unusual on your own.
O Get a tourist train ticket. You can walk between most of the things you want to check out. However it’s nice to have the unlimited use of the trains for things further apart or when you want to save your feet. It’s an excellent train system with clean, punctual, frequent trains.
O The Alcazar of Segovia (regional Spain, catch train from Madrid): pay the little bit extra on your entry ticket to gain access to the top. Like the view from most old buildings you will be breathless from climbing a steep, spiral stairwell. Rest assured it is breathtaking for a more sublime reason:

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Art Museums
The 3 in 1 ticket for the 3 major art museums (Museo Del Prado, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza) is good value.

The Prado was a must see for me, due to Bosch’s ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’. Like all great paintings you can’t get very close to it, so I was squinting to see some more detail. You will see more in a book. Nonetheless it was special to stand in front of this amazing work of art. The Prado also has a few other works by Bosch. Plus a strange still life of a dead lamb, its little feet tied together. They didn’t have a postcard of it. You can take photos but no flash please! Like that ever stopped people :( Don’t make the special effort to get to the upper floor at one end of the building (near works by Goya), unless you like kitsch, Spanish oil paintings of unremarkable technique.

The Thyssen-Bornemisza is like a walk-through art history. They have a broad, chronologically hung collection with an example of work by most of the great artists. There’s a few nice Impressionist pieces, though none of Pointilism, a cute Miro on paper and a very fine Dali (‘Dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate’). The gift shop was larger than other museum shops we saw, with a good range of stock.

Centro de Arte Reina Sofia has a good selection of Dali. Be aware that you cloak your bag before you buy your ticket.

Shopping
Chueca’s Calle de Fuencarral has some interesting shops. It’s definitely worthwhile exploring the side streets in this area.

We were looking in the window of an exotic petshop on the way back from a museum near Atocha. There were the usual petshop things, a puppy, some lop eared rabbits and some ginger kittens. Then a head popped up amongst the ‘kittens’. Oh, that’s no kitten, that’s a meerkat! I was so surprised. After a few minutes of watching them, M asked me when I’d be moving to Spain :) When we got back to the hotel I started wondering how much they were.

On another day we went in. While I bided my time to enquire after the price* I watched them some more. The puppy in the enclosure next to them looked a bit mopey**. I reckon it was miffed about all the attention the meerkats had.

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Meerkats in Atocha, drawing enlarged
pencil
There was a small gap (about 7mm) in the door of the enclosure. I put my finger to it and one inquisitive meerkat sniffed then touched my finger tip! I was gleefully stoked. I’d touched a meerkat :*D For the next few days, every so often I would say to M with a big grin on my face
“I touched a meerkat.” Its paw pad was soft like my late guinea pigs’. Its claws, though pointy, were not sharp like a cat’s.


Website of the Day
Fellow Earthlings' Wildlife Center aka chock full o' meerkat goodness!



*1500 euros. I’m glad they’re not cheap. Stops people buying them on a whim. Though you would need to buy the whole troupe (at least 4) if they were to be happy pets. How cool would it be to have a big hill on your back yard and a little troupe of meerkats scurrying about?
**Though maybe I was anthropomising a typical, solitary puppy face: big, brown eyes and a doggy pout, chin down not up.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A day in Singapore

We spent one day there to minimise our jet lag when we arrived in Spain. It wasn’t too hot and humid fortunately. There isn’t a lot to do there apart from look at shops.

At one shopping complex on Orchard Road there were two large aquariums full of tropical fish and some small sharks. In the first one we observed strange behavior in two little, yellow fish and a lone shark. The two fish were swimming together being pursued by the shark who would occasionally open its mouth a little wider. We watched this for several minutes. After lunch, hours later we happened to come past this aquarium again. They were still at it. We concluded that they must be really bored and this was a way for the three fish to relieve that boredom through a mock pursuit. We dubbed this, the TFE: TriFish Entourage. TFE = another term for bored

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TFE*, drawing enlarged
pencil

While walking along the waterfront precinct we came across a laneway which had three giant, white, plastic (?), phallic objects. Definitely a WTF moment. Walking around to the back of them didn’t make it any clearer.

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We’d never seen anything like this before. Walking along further we came across some more. I noticed a small white streamer blowing in the breeze from of the rear, eyeball socket holes. Aha, it’s a from of climate control ... in an uncontained – save for the roof – outdoor space. They didn’t feel like they were doing anything in terms of comfort levels. Perhaps it would be more obvious in warmer weather. What a disgusting waste of energy. The shape was amusing at least.

At Barajas airport in Madrid we saw similar vents but their housing wasn’t phallic and they were inside the building.

We checked out the world’s first – and possibly at this point, only – night zoo. The Night Safari zoo opens at 7:30, which is when the sun virtually always sets in Singapore. It closes at midnight. It features an assortment of mammalian nocturnal animals, and at least one reptile (a large python). There are several types of wildcat including tigers and leopards, lots of possum-like things such as bush babies, fruit bats, various hoofed animals, rhinos and tapirs.

No flash photography allowed. Might as well not bother bringing a camera you say. No, because there are some funky animal light sculptures outside the zoo that made suitable subjects after our visit.

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Unfortunately there are no postcards of the animals, or any merchandise featuring photographs of them. This was surprising given that there are enough on their website and brochure.

I recommend forking out a little extra for the tram ride tour, as it will take you around most of the zoo fairly quickly. It stops at one place for you to get out and explore on foot. You get to come face to face with fruit bats. You’re in their enclosure and at times you may need/want to duck as they fly over you. They have a flying squirrel but it didn’t oblige us with a flight that night. It was content to sit in the shadowy fork of a tree and peer down at us.

There are three, count ‘em, that’s 3 otter exhibits plus they’re also in the Creatures of the Night show. They provide what has to be the world’s cutest demonstration of how easy it is to recycle. Towards the end of the show after a couple of raccoons raid a rubbish bin they put out 3 recycling bins. One for paper, one for metal and one for plastic. The contents of the raccoon bin are scattered on the ground. Two otters scurry out and start putting things in the recycling bin.

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Recycling Otter, drawing enlarged
pencil

The metal recycling otter was reluctant to let go of his/her one tin, repeatedly chewing at it, and popping it in the bin only to half hop into the bin to retrieve it and chew on it some more.

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Recycling Tin Otter, drawing enlarged
pencil

Finally a third otter, Pedro I believe, comes out to put away the plastic.

Website for the day
Official Night Safari Site


* I guess I should mention that these are my pencil sketches, drawn from memory. I've got one more from Madrid, and a pen sketch for Barcelona.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

We’re back

Here’s a bit about our trip to Spain. More details, reviews, tips, and images to follow in subsequent posts, after I’ve had a good night’s sleep and sorted out stuff one has to sort out when coming back from holiday. I’ve got so many things share :)

At times we looked blank as we smacked into the language barrier. Almost always instead of using the very useful phrase ‘No hablo espanol’ we tried to figure out what was being said. In Barcelona we found there were more English speakers, since it’s more tourist oriented than Madrid.


A renactment of how we probably looked when we didn’t understand something.


I was extremely disappointed that we were in town at the same time as Depeche Mode but couldn’t see them! The tickets had gone on sale 6 months ago and sold out in minutes - long before we were contemplating a holiday of any sort together, let alone an overseas one. Later we discovered that Bauhaus would be playing in Barcelona so we went and saw them there.


From what we saw, the Melbourne Goth scene compares favourably with the Spanish scene. They may all wear New Rocks but we’re generally more glamourous, we have cheaper cover charges and drinks, and cover a broader range of ages. Interestingly, though it may be different in Summer, there was no use of lace fans and very little lace in general. M suggested it might be because it’s historically a part of the Spanish culture. Very little corsetry or Victoriana style. More PVC, simple black garments, metal, studs, some beadwork.

In terms of dance style there was much swaying and stepping side to side, with no Gothic 3 step – though let’s be honest very few people actually do that anyway – only the slightest allusion to it. Virtually no hand gesturing. I think we’re more interesting, and certainly more recognisably Goth in style. We’re probably drawing more on the English roots of Goth aka the history of it whereas as they are doing something else.

There’s something to be said for walking into 666 at the Moon in Madrid, and for the first time on our trip, feeling right at home. At that point I didn’t recognise the music playing. Despite the differences I think the mentality and taste unites us. We saw someone who strongly reminded us of someone we know from the Melbourne scene. We kept expecting to see someone we knew; it felt that familiar to us. We spoke briefly with a pair of Madrid Goths who were very welcoming and helpful. They were assisting a German couple who were also checking out the scene and slightly befuddled by the lack of up to date club/shop information on the internet. I’ll post something here to try and help out with that soonish.


Website for the Day
Save the whales!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Cool Websites to keep you busy

Mouse update:
We still have a pest problem. The little buggers are out on the shop floor, during the day, while there are customers around. It took a customer to bring it to my attention. Seconds after he mentioned it I saw a small dark shape flitting along the floor. He said he’d seen them amongst the plush toys, where at first he thought they were native critters then realized they weren’t. I went over to the area and he pointed out one especially cheeky mouse crawling about the t-shirts. It slipped down the neck of one so we caught it there. I took it to the counter area and put it into a small bag. It peed on the shirt. I excused myself to the customer while I dispatched the mouse by thwacking it against a ceramic incense burner. Thank goodness the customer was cool about it all. Seemed as amused by it as I was.


Links for your entertainment
In addition to the links on the right, I have found the following amusing:

Pop the bubbles, pretty colours, pop all of one colour, clear the screen of bubbles.
Addictive online, Shockwave game

Silly reviews of sex toys
Sarcastic Sex Toy Blog

Something was definitely Lost in Translation
http://www.engrish.com

This one is already in the list however this link takes you to my published review on the site
Four Word Film Review

Comprehensive Melbourne weather updates. Not exactly fun but interesting. Found it when I was calibrating the barometer I bought my dad for Christmas. Updated every 15 minutes.
Caulfield South Weather Station

It should be a pleasure to read whether or not you’re in the Goth scene
Gothic Charm School

Featuring one of my favourite skits, the aliens and the telephone. Still hilarious so many years later :)
Sesame Street: 25 Of My Favorite Memories - Progressive Boink

Rather funny short film about Emos. Don't know what an Emo is? You will after watching this!
I must be Emo - The film

A series of 5, hilarious Flash film episodes. It's about a drunk who, through his beer goggles, thinks he's a superhero.
The Bottle


A clue as to why I won’t be blogging for the next 3 weeks**:
Quiero cambiar esto en euros.



* Churros! Sampled some at Hairy Canary in the city and oooh boy [drools]
**Instead of the usual nothing to blog / can’t be bothered blogging

Now with more back slashes!

Listening to: ‘Peek-a-Boo’ by Siouxsie and the Banshees

This blog turned one year old back in November. Please wish it a belated Happy 1st Birthday. Here’s a couple of pics to mark the occasion. They are of the coconut shells mentioned in my first blog post.

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Ludo


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Astro Boy

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dark and Moody

Took a few shots pre-Golgotha, Australia Day Eve. Here's a couple of them


Friday, January 06, 2006

Mouscapade

I discovered late in the afternoon that one of my secret Lindt balls at work had been nibbled into and hollowed out.

At about half past eight this evening I was in the back room and saw a small movement near the toaster. When I looked closely I saw a small dark shape under the toaster. I lifted the toaster up and there it was just sitting there, a nonchalant, mousy brown mouse. I said to it quite loudly
"I can see you! Yes I can. I see you there."
... And it just sat there

Later on I was putting stuff away at the end of the night and it was still under the toaster. Its tail was hanging below the shelf against the wall. The wall mounted shelf is on brackets with about a 1cm or so gap between the edge of it and the wall. I knew it wouldn't be able to go anywhere or bite me if I were to get its tail. So I held it there, pressing its tail against the wall

My coworker was scared of it so we got my brother - who was there to come home with me - to bring me a plastic bag. We moved the toaster away. The mouse squeaked quietly and tried to move but of course it couldn't. I put my hand in the bag and did the dog poo treatment to the mouse - capturing it in the bag, turning the bag inside out, closing it shut. Then I did what my dad did to a mouse years ago*. I took that bagged mouse and gave it a solid whack against a hard object, killing it in one strike. I gave it a couple more just to be sure.

I left a note for my manager saying 'I caught and killed a mouse! It's in the bag in the bin.'


*We had left a wok of cooking oil to cool overnight. In the morning there was a small, sorry looking, oil soaked mouse struggling to get out, running up the side of the wok but slipping back in again. He poured the oily mouse into a plastic bag and gave it a hard whack against concrete step. Dead on the first strike.