Thursday, December 27, 2007

Making greener packaging choices

Listening to History Never Repeats by Split Enz

I have been getting back into reading New Scientist. I don’t have much time for leisure beyond getting home, eating and getting onto the internet except on my days off, so it’s nice to catch up on that. It’s always been such an interesting read, full of nifty conversation starters and the occasional inspiration for an artwork. Some of the information presented is particularly pertinent to everyday life and our environnment’s well being.

There was an article about packaging (7 April, 2007) and how to be environmentally aware in the choices you make when shopping. Going by this and other things I've read, I would say the bigger issue these days isn't landfill but energy consumption.

Traditionally plastic has been seen as bad and paper things as good, the most obvious example being bags. However there has always been the little known fact that it takes a lot more energy to produce a paper bag than a plastic one. It's something I have mentioned to customers who argue that we should have paper bags. Did you know that the old fashioned, non-biodegradable McDonald's containers were actually much greener in terms of the energy consumed to produce them? When you think about how many of those are being made every year... I think the main issue with both of these examples is that the end users aren't disposing of their rubbish thoughtfully.

Anyhooo back to what I gleaned from the article and some facts to help you make choices next time you go shopping.

> The following is the simplest, healthiest and cheapest shopping choice you can make. If you find the rest of what I have to share from the article too confusing or too much effort then just try this one.

Reduce the amount of packaging you consume by buying more fresh produce.

Preferably shop at a green grocer, butcher, bakery, deli etc where you are given minimal, to no packaging if you bring your own reusable bags etc. Even at the supermarket choosing a fresh head of lettuce instead of packaged, chopped bag of it, is still greener and cheaper. Some produce will be in better condition when you buy it loose rather than in a bag, apples being a good example. Yes it will take you a little longer to prepare, and yes you may have more kitchen waste. That's why you need a compost bin or a worm farm :)

> Choose refillable packaging and refill it. Apart from dedicated refill packs - quite common with cleaning and laundry products - one way you might refill a pack is to...

> ...Buy in bulk. All of those little snack size convenience packs you see advertised on TV are a big NO! Buy a big quantity/container of the same stuff and serve it out in a bowl, or put it in little, reusable, plastic lunch boxes for portability.

> Plastics are now seen by sustainability experts as a less environmentally damaging choice, in particular recyclable plastics. Glass, paper, and metal are particularly demanding in terms of energy consumption. In the Netherlands soft drinks are no longer sold in cans for this reason. Recycled aluminium is actually okay energywise so if you do use it be sure to recycle it. Steel uses less energy than aluminium in manufacture but because it weighs a bit more it costs more to transport. Glass while easy to recycle or refill is heavy and uses a lot of energy in manufacture recycled or not. Avoid glass, aluminium and steel cans where practical, unless you can reuse or refill them.

EDITED: It's Plastic Free July 2015 and while most of what was said still applies, plastic is here forever. Avoid processed foods. Buy in bulk and bring your own reusable containers and bags. 

The best policy is to avoid single use packaging and single use plastic products.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mitaka Canal, Local Wildlife

Walking back to the station after seeing the Studio Ghibli Museum*, we went along the canal where there was a bit of local wildlife including, one golden koi swimming among dark koi and a tortoise sunning itself.

 photo goldenkoi0307_zps74382664.jpg
The Golden Koi, Mitaka Canal, drawing enlarged
March 2007
pencil and ink

 photo sunnytortoise_zpsf161870b.jpg
Sunning Tortoise, Mitaka Canal, drawing elnlarged
March 2007

*A must see for anyone who is a fan of their movies - fantastic! You do need to buy your ticket months before you go there. Selected travel agents outside of Japan sell them. While the shuttle bus from the station isn't a cat bus it was very cute and the bus stop itself was kinda funky as well :)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Venice Warming

Here's the scene:
In a busy Venetian restaurant 3 couples share a table for dinner. On one end is an English couple, in the middle is an American couple in which the woman is pregnant, on the end is an Australian couple (M and I). The English and American couple ignored us in terms of inclusion in the conversation. Frankly I don't think we had much to talk about with them anyway. The cartoon below gives you an idea why.

Venice Warming
Venice Warming
pencil, ink
March 2007

I found it incredibly ironic that this conversation occurred in Venice of all places.

When it comes to accelerated global warming caused by human activity, I am a believer. If you're not, then consider this.
What's the worst that could happen if the growing number of scientists, general public and myself are wrong?
We get a stuffed up global economy, but global life as we know it is saved for the most part.
What's the worst that could happen if you're wrong?
Increased worldwide 'natural' disasters, floods, droughts, rising sea levels, famine, disease, cyclones/hurricanes, species extinctions, habitats destroyed, biodiversity reduced and the list goes on.

I don't write all of this because I want a heated discussion with my readers. If I can convince any one of you to make a green decision rather than a hip pocket one, to read up on the topic and make yourself extra informed, then my blog has made the world a little bit better.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How to make a fascinator

Making my own fascinator is something I have wanted to do since they became fashionable attire during the Spring Racing Carnival. I've never actually attended the races, but I enjoy the millinery. Before that I always thought that dainty little black veils and dark lipstick looked especially glamorous.

So last month I combined the two and made my own fascinator.


I was well chuffed with the final result and received many compliments - especially when I mentioned that I'd made it myself. The veil is delicate enough not to hamper vision though if driving I would fold it up just in case.

Materials and how to choose them

Making a stunning fascinator is very much about strong composition. For some of us this comes naturally, others may find it hard to make it come together. Even if you have an artistic eye, for your first attempt I highly recommend doing a bit of research first. Some of the materials are fragile and don't take to reworking kindly.

I bought most of mine from Lincraft in October when they became seasonally available. When I decided to buy my materials, the cheaper round base with sewn on slide comb was not available. I had to opt for the more expensive base and separate slide comb, which I sewed on. I already had some sheer ribbon saved from a gift wrapping (see - hoarding stuff for years pays off!), and a small pick of plain black, trimmed feathers.

iris fascinator, $10.99
slide comb, 79c
hat veiling, 35cm at $5.99 a metre, $2.10
flower, $5.99
iridescent black, trimmed feather pick $4.99
total $24.86

While this may seem quite an outlay for raw materials, you will find this is only the starting price for a basic ready made one that isn't likely to be as well crafted or fancy as one you can make yourself. I estimate I put 4 hours work into mine. To buy one like it would definitely be over $50, and probably closer to $100. Part of the pleasure of such a project of course, is not just the monetary saving but the creative part and knowing you have something at the end that is unique, and made especially for you by you. That is priceless :)

Look around and see ready made fascinators.
Fashion shops such as Portmans and Sportsgirl, as well as the millinery department of Myer sold them this season. Notice the shape and composition. Some are spikey and architectural, others are softer or fluffier. This will give you a stronger idea about how to compose your own, and what will suit your style.

Think about the style and colour of the outfit you plan to wear it with and decide on a colour scheme.
I went for something that will go with a range of outfits rather than one in particular, and my favourite colours.

Choose your base first, then have a play around with the assortment of materials until you find a composition that is pleasing to your eye.

The feathers, flowers and etcetera you choose is the star, not the base. Make sure you have enough. I made 6 little fans in burgundy sheer ribbon to provide body, contrast and help break up the shape of the base. It makes a cheap and easy filler, but because it's gauzy it's not visually too heavy.

Consider your partner if you have one, by avoiding trims such as big, rigid feather quills that may take his eye out!

Hand sewing it all is best, though a little craft glue here and there may also be helpful.
Have a mirror handy thoughout the process as you are constructing the fascinator to suit your face.
Check out fascinators online to see how they are worn in terms of placement on the head.
In front of a mirror decide where on your head you will wear it. This will help you know how best to sew your slide comb or other hair accessory to the base. Take note of where it is in relation to a facial feature such as the corner of your eye, and draw a simple diagram of this. It will assist the fitting process and ensure consistency.

If you are making a veil this is where it gets fiddly and you can expect to have a few tries before you get the shape just right. Seeing veiled fascinators on the internet and the different ways they can sit is particularly helpful.
Trim the edges straight. I trimmed mine to each intersection.
In front of the mirror, put the base on your head. Fold the veil so that it wraps around your face.
For mine I did a bit of folding at the corners with a little bit of bunching in the middle. The veil material is fine so when it is a little bunched it isn't very bulky and easily concealed by a feather etc. Once I found the right veil shape I held it in place with my fingers while carefully slipping the base off my head. After lightly sewing it in place, I rechecked the fit and added a few more stitches.*

With the aid of a mirror I decided how I wanted the main feathery plume to sit. Note how its curve curls around my head, and does not stand up like a cockatoo. That is what makes it classy rather than sassy. Not that there's anything wrong with sassy but that wasn't the flavour I was going for.

The trimmed feathers add a bit of volume and textural interest.
They were attached to the main plume with stitching and a bit of craft glue to hold the stitches in place.
Next I added the flower, again with the aid of a mirror, to ensure it sat right when worn. This was stitched and glued to the feathers, which in turn were stitched to the base.
Lastly I made a series of simple mini fans out of sheer ribbon. In addition to colour and contrast they also help conceal the ends of the feathers and the stump of the flower stem. To make them, I carefully folded them like paper fans about 1cm wide, stitched them together when I thought they were thick enough, then snipped them from the length of ribbon (rather than snipping lengths of ribbon then folding them). I quickly sealed the raw ribbon edges with a lighter to prevent fraying. I made about 3, sewed them on then decided I needed about 3 more.

Hope that was helpful :D

*Hint:If after all of that you find your veil isn't sitting perfectly you might be able to cheat a little by hooking it into bobby pins in your hair, as I did on one side.

[edit 16/02/08]
As promised (see comments) a photograph showing just the fascinator, which should make my explanation that little clearer, and the project a little bit more tempting as well!

fascinator only

EDIT November 2009:
Here's another facinator project to tempt you
How to Make a Fascinator: Part 2.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ron Mueck - Artist of Humanity

Sitting in my local library today I found a contemporary, Australian art magazine featuring one of my favourite artists, Ron Mueck. Why is he a favourite? I greatly admire the technical skill and thought he puts into his work; his attention to detail, the expressive, strong, simplicity of the statements made, the hushed awe being in front of one of his pieces inspires.

This artist's striking sculptural work is sometimes described as hyper-realist and more commonly as photo-realist. His pieces are a statement about the human body, its vulnerability and our humanity. Using specialist model making techniques, Mueck's sculptures play with scale, featuring lovingly added detail and bodily blemishes/flaws. Originally from Melbourne, and now based in the UK, Mueck's internationally most recognisable piece would be his giant crouching Boy as seen at the Venice Biennale. Locally in Australia, the expressive, 2 metre tall Pregnant Woman would be the best known. It's owned by the National Gallery of Australia and was featured in his first Australian show at the MCA, Circular Quay in Sydney in 2003. I was lucky enough to see that show .

Photograph by Pollyanna Sutton

Prior to becoming an artistic sculptor, Mueck produced models and puppets in advertising and film, starting out in Australian childrens' TV as a puppeteer. His most well known turn as a puppeteer is from Jim Henson's Labyrinth as the gentle giant Ludo, whom he also voiced. Check out Muppet Wiki for more info on his work with the Jim Henson Creature Shop.

The following clips provide insight into the production methods Mueck uses.
WARNING: These clips contain artistic nudity.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Even more fragile? Tastier!

Listening to: Starlight by Muse

Usually when a cardboard box contains something fragile the symbol used is a black glass shape, commonly a wine glass (probably red). The other week I was unpacking some games (which actually aren't what I would call fragile) and this was stuck to the box:

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So not only is it fragile, it also contains a liquid? I like how the fragile cocktail has a garnish. Delish!

I expressed to my colleague my mock disappointment at the box's contents including no cocktails {Where's my martini, dammit?!}, umbrellas nor arrows :P

Website of the Day
Muppet Wikipedia.
Enough said.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Wunderkammer, Melbourne

Listening to Funnyman by KT Tunstall

I haven't visited the store itself in a few months. For those of you in Melbourne, Australia with an interest in framed insect/arachnid specimens, taxidermy, carnivorous plants, and vintage scientific prints/objects/equipment you will find Wunderkammer (say woon-der-cay-ma) a delightful place to visit/shop. It's like a little museum as a wunderkammer should be. The owner selects his stock because he has a personal interest and affection for it. Due to the often antique, natural, rare or hand crafted nature of the materials, on no two visits will you see the same selection. There are a also few things N.F.S. as part of the owner's permanent collection.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Michael Sowa

Michael Sowa's quirky animal art was featured in the French film Amelie. Unfortunately there isn't much information available about him on the internet, with no official site though many poster sites sell prints of his works.

Bunny Dressing

Friday, October 19, 2007

Julia deVille's Memento Mori

Listening to Safety Dance by Men Without Hats

Julia deVille is a New Zealand artist based in Melbourne, Australia. Last year I had the priviledge of seeing her work in the flesh as part of the touring show Cicely & Colin Rigg Contemporary Design Award 2006.

This morning I got reaquainted with her work through discovering her steampunk flavoured website.

Her works combine leather work, taxidermy and gold smithing skills. Most of it is wearable art. It's exquisitely detailed, often combining the remains of (naturally deceased) small mammals with precious and semi precious materials. A major inspiration is Memento Mori jewellery especially of the Victorian period. All of her works deal with mortality, which some may view as morbid, perhaps even grisly though this is not the intention. Instead DeVille is interested in exploring the fragility and value of life.

Brooch: Bird Claw 2006
Sterling silver, black rhodium plate, Keshi pearl
9 x 4 x 2 cm

Friday, October 12, 2007

Natural History Inspired Art Overload

Emoto Hajime
mixed media, 2005

I started looking for a particular artist, Emoto Hajime (thanks Scoia)
then found this wonderful blog combining art and science,

which led to,
Morbid Anatomy (NSFW)

a well as a range of artists and fantastic works my favourites being:
Peter Callesen, poetic paper sculptor
Peter Milton, steam punk flavoured
Unusual taxidermy
Les Deux Garcon aka more surreal taxidermy
Custom Creature Taxidermy, quite a few squirrels some cute, some an aquired taste!
Jessica Joslin, fabulous skeletal animals, combining Baroque with steam punk.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Chai Tea with kick

Listening to The Way I Are by Timberland

Chai lattés right now are the hottest thing since ... café lattés a few years ago. Most cafés make them.
What about when you're at home?
Try this:
Brew some chai tea (I'm sure loose leaf is best but I have only bags myself).
Sweeten with honey. Sugar cubes daintily dropped into your cup with sugar tongs are fun as well :)
Sprinkle a shake of ground cinnamon, then stir it in.
Stir in a shot of Vanilla Galliano.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Quokka Nest Island

Listening to Ladykiller by Alice in Videoland

;) aka Rottnest Island
M took most of the photos since he had the SLR with him. Check out Cute Overload for his best quokka shot which made the grade!
Here are some of mine taken with the compact.

Our accomodation was so close to the beach we could fall asleep to and wake up to the soothing sound of waves softing breaking on the beach. The curtains on the windows were cute (if only they had matching tea towels in the gift shop!).
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We hired bikes and went for a ride each day. I took this pic on our first ride (it may well be an outdoor toilet but I thought it made a good photo anyway!).
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In lieu of going swimming - it was too cold even though the weather was fine - I lay down and made this:
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The quokka were adorable and mildly inquisitive. They are at their most easy to spot in the late afternoon around 4/5pm and into the night (they're nocturnal). They are macropods like kangaroos. At this time of year there are many mothers with their joeys out and about.
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Monday, July 16, 2007

Wind Chimes' Engrish

Listening to Luv Your Life by Silverchair

'The simplicity of design endows it with variations, each pipe is given the music score of life just as if a group of innocent children is singing blessing for you along with breeze'

'For your safety, do not put the aluminium alloy or chiming rod into mouth or near eyes as such actions would bring injury'

Friday, July 13, 2007

Labyrinth Masquerade Ball

Listening to Relativity by Grafton Primary

On Saturday we went to the first Melbourne, Labyrinth Masquerade Ball. There were party games, period style dancing, beautiful costumes, and much effort put in to looking fantastic by virtually all who attended. Hopefully they will have another one next year!

Website of the Day

Cute Overload for your daily dose of cuteness. Check out the dancing otter!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Pirate Macros

I've started a new community on Live Journal called Pirate Macros (link).
Not sure what a macro is? Explanation here.

Anyone can view it but only community members can post. Become a member and join in the fun, or link and bookmark us to keep up with the latest silly pirate thing we dish up :) It's small but growing!

Friday, June 01, 2007


Found one of these in the garden today

Victorian Funnel Web spider

It popped out of an old pot thing I was trying to move. I gently nudged it back in with a stick and it retreated so not an aggressive spider. Eventually it popped out of another hole, crawled off and I gave it a quick flick to move it further along! Somewhat disconcerting since it was the biggest spider I've met while gardening ... The worms here are the biggest worms I've come across but that is cool not scary.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Recipe: Banana Smoothie

2 ripe bananas (over ripe is even better!)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
2 tsp powdered drinking chocolate

Blend all ingredients together :)
Serves 2.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

5 things about Italy you won't read in a book

Listening to: Policy of Truth (Art of Mix) by Depeche Mode

More Italians are riding motorcycles than scooters now. 10 years ago the mosquito whine was an intergral part of the Roman soundscape. There are still lots just not as many...
[purrs] Ciaaaaao [makes scooter revving motion with hands] ala Eddie Izzard in Dressed to Thrill...

It's funny watching the street vendors of fake designer hand bags/sunglasses all running along in a group, each with a bundled up sheet of bags or board of sunglasses bouncing about. You know the police must be in the area. It's funny because they are persistant/annoying when you normally go past them.

As ubiquitous as the fake designer ware vendors, are the vendors selling rattle snake eggs (magnetic 'eggs' that make a racket when you throw them together) at every major Roman tourist attaction. They are like magic you know, and made in Italy of course that's why they sell them, and you can't buy them anywhere else in the world...

Laser pointer vendors point their wares at your feet while crossing San Marco's Square at night making you think you're about to get burnt by stray cigarette ash... Presumably laser pointers are really easy to buy in Venice. 'Cause you need them there to point at the water. Otherwise you might miss it. I should be directing all of my customers there. "You can try Officeworks, a pen shop or St Mark's Square in Venice."

Judging by the billboards Italians dig fake breasts and tans in a big way :P Two campaigns in particular were prominent. One was for a luggage company the name of which eludes us. Clearly not an effective campaign. The two women featured were barely buttoned into their shirts, coyly handling the, ah, merchandise. I found it amusing to say 'Tits! :)' to M - he sometimes spotted them before me and said it - every time we went past them at Rome's Termini station as well as quite a few other places.

A more effective campaign in terms of remembering the brand and conveying a message is this one which I managed to track down online:

Seen at train stations in Rome, Milan and Naples. We saw this one on average every two minutes on our lengthy bus ride to the airport in Milan. Imagine the Hollywood Tape needed for this shoot!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Cocktail Recipes: Ski Lift and Tropical Hobbit

Warm drink, known as a Ski Lift in the cocktail book* I have.
Make a yourself a hot chocolate as you normally would. Add to your cup:
1/2 measure of Malibu
1 measure of peach schnapps
Gives you a nice warm glow :)

Cold drink - my own concoction. Do you think we could get the name kiwi fruit changed to hobbit fruit? :P
Tropical Hobbit
1 mango chopped
2 kiwifruit peeled and chopped
1 cup or so of orange juice
Blend ingredients together. Drink up!

* Walton S, Olivier S, Farrow J, 'The Bartender's Companion to 750 Cocktails', Hermes House (Anness Publishing), London, 2005
This book is excellent value, with a wide range of cocktails, juices, smoothies and an index by cocktail name and ingredient. It also gives you information on liquors you might not know a lot (or anything) about.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tokyo - Shopping and Gothic Subculture

Listening to: It's like that by Run DMC
We're back from our trip!
Our stop over in Tokyo was eye popping!

The shopping there is amazing. My favourite shop was Tokyu Hands, Shibuya. It's a department store that sells EVERYTHING you could need to make things/DIY/arty crafty from hardware, lengths of all sorts of materials to jewellery making and scientific glassware! I would have bought a lot more than a plastic pipette and some sculpting balloons if I didn't have to worry about lugging it around the world with me. Mobile phone danglies galore. Even scored a freebie one of a squirrel wearing headphones. Visited a shinto shrine which was nice for a change of pace. They are big on ladies' knee/thigh high socks. You see women in customer service wearing them and as street wear with heels and boots. I got some in stripey and lace tops.

Harajuko for Goths
Was strange seeing the tourists wandering around taking photos of goths. Yes there were 'wow!' outfits though most were wearing a Japanese flavoured outfit of what I'm already familiar with. The idea that members of my subculture are a tourist attraction makes me feel weird. Why isn't it happening at Flinders Street Station? Okay don't answer that! Maybe we better dressed goths need to go there and congregate every 4th Sunday dressed to the 9s ... or not because it could be boring :P It's interesting that goths are part of the streetscape everywhere else but here there is such a fascination with them. A few of the Harijuko goths had little wheely suitcases with them. I suspect they contained a change of clothes and make up remover so they could go home like nothing had happened afterwards.

It was sooo hard to choose something to buy there what with stylish things, very reasonable prices, and the current Australian dollar to Yen exchange rate. Got a cute, black tutu skirt from Bodyline (they don't have change rooms but a skirt with an elastic waist wasn't a big gamble fit wise) and a wrist cuff combining metallic, red PVC, black lace and silvery chain from Putumayo (best range of jewellery/accessories). Alice in Wonderland is a major influence. Lolita style is HUGE with one boutique dedicated to it (very cute Strawberry Shortcake-like things). Lots of oversized bows, frills and lace. There is a heavy metal influence as well. Printed Engrish text as a pattern on black gaberdine/cotton drill fabric is the bread and butter of more than one shop. Quite a few men had what I described as the Jareth or Bowie hair cut ala Goblin King. Kabuki and traditional influences could also be found in the individual outifits but not so much the boutiques. A local goth checked out M's pinstripe sneakers :)

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Street performer/busker, Harajuko.
He was nuts!

*As a woman - there's still not a lot for men :(

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth - Review

Listening to: Long, Long Time Ago from Pan's Labyrinth soundtrack

Wow. It was so wonderful, I was blown away. Everything good you have read about it is true. After one viewing it's on my list of favourite movies.

In short, it's a fairytale for adults. The dark, gothic sensibility ranges from earthiness to brutality, visceral to brooding, making the scenes of sweetness, beauty and light even more brilliant and delightful. Visually rich, attentive to detail, scary, gruesome, emotive. You feel such empathy for Ofelia, the film's little girl heroine.

The fairytale magical realm, Ofelia's world, and the rest of the world are intertwined. You can't be sure which one is real or intruding on the other. Is all of this magic really happening or is it just in her head? Right up until the end you can't be 100% sure. After a while you figure, "that couldn't have happened otherwise so it must be real".

Definitely not to be confused with Jim Henson's film Labyrinth. It's absolutely nothing like it. The story is set during the civil war, 1944 in Fascist Spain. The MA rating is well justified, this is NOT a family film. There are several particularly gruesome scenes. Two of these made me wince and screw up my face though I kept on watching because I didn't want to miss anything. I won't say which ones but those who have seen it will probably guess. I could hear others in the audience making stifled sounds of alarm at the time.

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The Pale Man was terrifying - I felt scared for Ofelia. It wasn't just the creepy eyes in his hands, it was the pictures on the wall letting you know what he could/would do, the way he staggered about and ripped into ... things.

Pan himself was a bit creepy. You couldn't be completely sure if he was noble in his intentions. Traditionally fauns are ambiguous creatures. That certainly made him more interesting as a character. He made rattle noises like the alien from Predator and had a temper, yet his blue eyes were seemed to have such a kindness about them. How did they made him walk? Was he was a man in a costume with some animatronics or CGI? After revisiting the website it looks as if they have added extra features, and I have my answer.

Another creature of note is the giant toad. It was kind of cute in a way that only toads can be. The scene with it and Ofelia reminded me a bit of a scene from the NeverEnding Story. Atreyu the warrior child is in the Swamp of Sadness covered in mud and encounters the giant tortoise, Morla. I guess it was the mud soaked, brown haired, wide eyed child and cold blooded, moist critter splattering the kid in mucous-mud-goop that did it :P Don't take mention of this to mean I think it's derivative because it isn't. This film is nothing like anything else I have seen and I'm a connoisseur of fantasy and magic :)

I can't recommend it highly enough. Loved it.

Website of the Day
Pan's Labyrinth Official Website
Features multimedia and excerpts from Del Toro's sketchbook, character design sketches and behind the scenes make-up photos. You can also listen to the entire movie soundtrack as available on CD.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bad luck

Listening to: Love Action by The Human League

Does bad luck come in threes?
Any tips for stopping it from happening?
Do you believe in karma?
What did I do wrong?

Yesterday I bought a teapot to match my tea cups at 20% off at House in Melbourne Central and broke it in less than a minute of leaving the shop.

It was wrapped in one sheet of paper which under normal circumstances would probably be adequate. The shoes I was wearing wearing have from time to time clipped the ground when I've been walking along but they're not clown shoes and I haven't exactly stumbled in them :P Anyhoo. I walked out of the shop and went to take the first step on the stairs just outside but stumbled - perhaps on the bumps put there to aid the vision impaired, perhaps on my clown shoes. Naturally I put my hands in front of me to stop my fall . I was okay but the teapot hit the stone steps with a heart sinking tinkle. Back into the store I went, told them what happened. We unwrapped it to find the handle was beyond repair. I asked what they could do for me. I wasn't expecting a refund or even a replacement for free. That would be unreasonable. They took 30% off a replacement teapot and used some bubble wrap. [sigh]

Tonight M did the green thing and cycled down the shops to buy stuff for dinner. He used his new cable combination lock which he had just figured out. I suggested using my U-lock until he had it licked but he was insistent. 45 minutes later I get a call saying he can't the lock open! Safeway doesn't sell any kind of saw in its 'hardware' section. Fortunately I had packed a small kitchen saw when I moved over here. We were able to saw through in less than 15 minutes with no questions asked by passers by.

So let our bad luck be a lesson you dear reader:
Insist on well wrapped crockery.
Cable locks are pointless unless you're leaving your bike for a VERY short period. I recommend a U-lock. It's heavier but it does the job well.
$15, combination, cable locks from Big W are unreliable.
Keep a hack saw with a metal-cutting blade in the house.

I'm thinking of getting a fire blanket :(

Monday, February 05, 2007

Cocktail Recipe: The Meerkat

Listening to: Flute Concerto in D, Op. 27; I - Allegro moderato by Luigi Boccherini

I have developed a cocktail. Nothing fancy - it's a sexed up and sophisticated version of a vodka tonic. Tonic water has such a distinctive, strong flavour so it isn't used in many cocktails. You have the G&T and the V&T. This is my ode to tonic water which I think is delicious and worthy of being in more than a simple 2 part cocktail. I've added my own flourishes to make it special. It's so very refreshing on a hot day and because it's built rather than shaken, no fuss at all to make. Like all good inventions it was created out of necessity. We didn't have any lemonade!

Here's how to make The Meerkat.

The Meerkat
Build over ice in a tall glass:
1 measure* vodka;
half a measure of old fashioned lime cordial;
half a measure of lime juice.
Fill with tonic water.

Garnishes to try:
A slice or curl of lime.
A slice or curl of lemon.
An intact or lightly crushed (between your fingers not muddled), fresh mint leaf. Delicious!

*measure = 30ml

Website of the Day
I saw the figures at my local toy shop this morning.
Mega Bloks (ala Lego clone) does Pirates of the Carribean
OMG there's an animation of it on the website! [lol 'til my eyes water]

Friday, February 02, 2007

Nuke an instant artefact

Listening to : All is Full of Love by Bjork

Got dud CD burns or other CD/DVD material you don't want? Perhaps you want to jazz up your existing CD coasters. Or maybe you just want to do something slightly dangerous with an element of science/experimentation ala Myth Busters.

Nuke an instant artefact!

You will need a:
microwave oven
paper towel or a piece of paper

Put the paper/paper towel on the microwave oven carousel, and place CD on top on it, label down.
For 1500W ovens: nuke for 2 seconds
For 800W ovens: nuke for 5 seconds
Don't press your nose to the glass but watch as you nuke it for the exciting blue sparking and a small cracking noise as the tracks go pop!
Take care when removing the disk from the microwave as there will be a small amount of fumes. Give it a little rinse with cool water to remove loose label fragments.
Take a look at it. It should have gone from something new and shiny to something that looks instantly aged with interesting track patterns. Nifty or what? If you use a piece of glossy paper like I did, you will see the track patterns on it.

Thanks to Pandita for this one :) The lady is a fount of interesting things. She showed this trick to me with a demo Olivia Newton John Christmas CD at work. Mwahahaha!

Disclaimer: Lady Meerkat accepts no responsibility for damage to equipment or persons who try this experiment for themselves.

Irony @ Safeway

Listening to: Living in America by James Brown

My local Safeway* doesn't sell brake light bulbs.

*Interational readers: it's a supermarket.