Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Last night we finally watched Everything is Illuminated. We've had it IQ'd for months and but never quite got around to watching it.

Films are rarely great. At best they are good and more often mediocre. Maybe, with the subject matter being close to my heart and my heritage, I could be biased. But I really thought it was great. It was everything a wonderful film should be: funny and moving, well written, well acted and well directed.

Some movies which tackle a difficult subject leave you feeling bruised and battered, emotionally shell-shocked (I am thinking Schindler's List and Nil by Mouth as two examples which spring readily to mind). However, (and not taking anything away from these amazing films) sometimes a subtle, more gentle, story can have just as much impact.

It is the story of a young Jewish American man who travels back to the Ukraine to visit the place his grandfather grew up and find the woman who saved him during the war. The story starts in Odessa, the city where I was born, and for me watching this film I finally felt the very first real inkling within myself that I would like to visit the place where my life began. I have genuinely never felt much of an interest in doing so before. But as much as it his and his family's story, it also the story of the young Ukranian translator and his grandfather.

Liev Schreiber adapted the screenplay (from the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, which I now must read immediately if not sooner) and directed this beautiful film and given the opportunity I will give him a huge hug and say "thank you" from the bottom of my heart.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A few pics from the weekend

Our Anniversary Weekend:

The Good

* Getting picked up in a private car from Melbourne Airport by my dear husband and a uniformed chauffer named Theo.

* The hotel. The Melbourne Grand Hyatt is great and being on the executive floors makes it even better. Not that the rooms are any better but you get to use the Executive Lounge on Level 31 which is where you go for breakfast away from the unwashed masses (not sure how many of the unwashed masses stay the Grand Hyatt) and where you go for drinkies and canapes after 5:30 pm. Wonderful service, great views and complimentary (almost up there with SALE in my vocabulary hierachy) food and drink. Bring it on!

* The tennis. The Men's Final on Sunday night was amazing. The atmosphere was electric and most of the crowd was on the side of super cute Frenchie Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Second = WINNER in my book, sweetie). Who wouldn't love a face like this:

(I tought him everything I know about tennis... luckily he ignored that and learnt to play properly!)

* The food. We got lucky with our eating out (I guess a bit of internet research didn't hurt). Saturday night dinner at Gingerboy in the city. Really fabulous food, great cocktails (my Gingerboy Iced Tea was superb) and a very funky atmosphere with just right service. Sunday yum cha at Red Emperor. Wow this sucks! How can my new favourite yum cha place be in Melbourne? That's just not right. But this place is very very good. The garlic prawn dumplings are the best I've ever had. Both highly recommended.

* The movie (yes, we managed to squeeze in a 2 hour + movie between the Women's Final and dinner on Saturday evening). No Country for Old Men was vintage Coen Borthers. I was annoyed by the non-ending but got used to it after a bit of perculating through the grey cell department. It's not Raising Arizona but it's damn fine as it is.

* The friends. Got to see Big Jay's brother T, his wife A and their little fella A. They are always good fun and good value. Love you guys! Also enjoyed yum cha with two other families we know through our Guatemalan-born children. While we don't see them often it's always great fun when we do (and then there's email for the in-between years).

The Bad

* The food at the Australian Open. Are you havin' a larf? Is he havin' a larf? Someone's having a fucking laugh, that's for sure. There is a conspiracy going on in this country and it involves sporting venues, food outlets and stealing money from a captive audience. Never mind committees investigating petrol price fixing and whether or not supermarkets are fucking us over on a daily basis (they are!). What about an investigation into the price and quality of food at sporting venues? Where do you stand on that KRudd?

* People are rude. Do I need to go on? Well, OK. They push in, yell out and generally behave in ways guaranteed to piss off all those around them. Hey, guess what? Acting like you are the only person who matters is not cool!

The Ugly

* The heat. Saturday's afternoon match was almost unbearable. If the Women's Final had gone to three sets I would have had to leave. While our seats were great view-wise, they were horrific heat-wise. I really felt like the ant under the proverbial magnifying glass. I don't recall being so hot and uncomfortable.

* The three pissed cows. The three seats on our left were occupied by a trio of 50-something women who loved their tennis (had been at the Open for the last 10 years) and equally loved their cheap vino. They arrived tipsy and quickly got fully blotto. Each to their own, I say, but when you're so pissed you ask me the same question 20 times ("is it SONGA and T-SONGA?" and "look, there's Sting") and slur in my face with your alcohol soaked breath, then I start to get the urge to smash your stupid drunk head on the concrete steps over and over until YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!
One of life's mysteries: Why is there an A4 size laminated picture of Eric Estrada circa 1977 stuck high up on a pillar as you approach Terminal 3 at Sydney Airport? Would have missed it if I hadn't been on a bus coming in from the long term car park on Saturday morning.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Today is our 10th wedding anniversary. I'm home with the kids, Big Jay is in Melbourne.

Which isn't as sad as it sounds. We got tickets for the final four days of the Australian Open tennis and Jay went down yesterday for the semi-finals.

I'm flying down tomorrow morning after distributing the children to the various grandparents who are dumb, I mean kind, enough to look after them until Monday.

Jay gave me a gorgeous Pandora charm bracelet, which is exactly what I wanted. I've been coveting one for quite some time and dropped a fairly big hint when I got one for my sister as a combined bon voyage, birthday and Chrissie present before her recent departure. There are eight charms on it now (well some of them are what's called "spacers") the best being an angel and a heart with a key (corny, I know, but I do have a soft side underneath this cynical, brittle exterior).

I have scoured the Pandora website and sent Jay a wishlist for future reference - number one on the list being a too cute gold and diamond hand bag.

I wasn't that excited about the tennis (this trip being something special Jay has always wanted to do) but I am now that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is in the final. I always love an underdog story. A David and Goliath-type battle. However, it looks like there is a possibility there will be two Davids and no Goliaths in the final as Federer has just lost the first set in his semi-final.

At this point I am most looking forward to dinner at Gingerboy tomorrow night and yum cha at Red Emperor on Sunday morning. It's always about food with me.

Update on Monday. Have a great Australia Day long weekend everybody.

PS I got Jay binoculars. Really expensive binoculars. It's what he wanted. I know, I know... nothing yells romance like binoculars.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Select Venue:The Factory Theatre
Select Date:Sat 08 Mar 2008 8:00PM
I'm not sure how to hide my excitement. I know my dear sister will be mortified that she is so far away and not able to share the musical wonderment which is CocoRosie.

To quote from the Ticketek blurb:

"CocoRosie are truly an act that defy categorization - part folk, part opera, part gospel, part blues, part pop, part hip hop, part electronic, all blended together with a healthy dose of fantasy... [to create the sort of aural pollution you would gladly cut off your own ears to avoid]."

Holy mother of god, are there really enough tone deaf psycopaths in Sydney to warrant the return of these music murderers?
I tend not to check What Would Tyler Durden Do? as religiously as I do some of my other favourite celebrity sites.

But when I do it's always a treat.

Sometimes he can be less than subtle and perhaps even crass, like here.

But generally he's just bloody funny, like here.
Heath Ledger dead.

That is so sad.

I'll never forget how he blew me away in Two Hands. I was mesmerised by his raw sexiness and talent.

What a waste of a talented young life. No different to River Phoenix, I suppose.

Drugs fucking up another life and another family.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

We have embarked on some sort of shopping frenzy recently and it's getting out of hand.

Somebody stop us!

However, I love these shoes. They may have been $50 Myer post-Christmas Sale specials, guaranteed to be uncomfortable, unwearable and assigned to the back of the wardrobe. But they are not, they are cute and comfy. So now I need clothes to go with them. Thus, alas, the shopping frenzy must continue.

Yesterday's Daily Quote on my $1.89 desk calendar:

"You've got to create a dream. You've got to uphold the dream. If you can't, then bugger it. Go back to the factory, or go back to the desk." Eric Burdon

Which made me think: what the fuck?!

What exactly is wrong with the factory and/or the desk? The world runs on the labour of people who work in the factory and at the desk. People who do mundane jobs day in, day out. Furthermore there are too many people in this world for whom such a boring job is the very pinnacle of their dream; for a job, any job, means money and a home and food and drink. The sorts of basics we don't even think about because they are so far beneath our day to day concerns.

It is truly fucked up to think your life only has meaning if you are doing some sort of creative pursuit and, better still, making yourself a celebrity through that pursuit. Meaning does not come from fame or wealth. From my experience fame and wealth are much more a product of luck, possibly (but not always) in combination with actual talent, intelligence, creativity and/or hard work.

We are fed this concept not only via quotes on desk calendars but through all forms of media. It is better to die trying to reach for the top than live a life of a million tiny obscure steps. But that isn't and can not be true for that is exactly how the vast majority of the population lead their lives. There needs to be more celebration of the mundane because it is reality. We are poisoning ourselves with these so-called "dreams" because we are constantly de-valueing the lives of normal people who through choice or circumstance will never be rich or famous.

So I say "here's to the little people in the factories and the offices" and while you're at it "fuck the dream"!

Monday, January 21, 2008

For those of you who don't just check this blog for endless favourite Leonard Cohen lyrics and references to the Red Hot Chili Peppers:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Look... I know... you're all over it. But it is my blog so indulge me, please. I promise this obsession is nearing it's natural ending.

How about this for fabulous song writing. I love these lyrics:

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you've been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you've been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

From "Everybody Knows".

And from my new favourite song off I'm Your Man, "The Future":

Give me back my broken night
my mirrored room, my secret life
it's lonely here,
there's no one left to torture

Give me absolute control
over every living soul
And lie beside me, baby,
that's an order!

Give me crack and anal sex
Take the only tree that's left
stuff it up the hole
in your culture

Give me back the Berlin wall
give me Stalin and St Paul
I've seen the future, brother:
it is murder.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
has crossed the threshold
and it has overturned
the order of the soul

When they said REPENT REPENT
I wonder what they meant
When they said REPENT REPENT
I wonder what they meant
When they said REPENT REPENT
I wonder what they meant.

Sung by Teddy Thompson it is pure musical ecstasy.

(Have ordered TT's solo CDs from the US, since I love his voice so much I'm looking forward to hearing what he can do without Leonard Cohen's magical lyrics.)
Talk about when worlds collide. What the hell does this mean?

Ben Lee to marry Ione Skye

Ione Skye has mythical status in my life. Not only did this woman play Diane Court in Say Anything (my all time, head and shoulders above all else, favourite movie); a character I both love, envy and admire (smart, gorgeous and ends happily ever after with Lloyd Dobler/John Cusack) but at the time of making this fantastic film she was dating (nudge nudge wink wink) Anthony Keidis in the very early days of the Chili Peppers.

I mean, if I died and was reincarnated, I could not imagine coming back as anyone better than Ione Skye circa 1988-1990.

Sure her career hasn't hit any highs following from 1989 (when she not only made Say Anything but also the very wonderful The Rachel Papers) and she did marry one of the Beastie Boys (who cares which one) and that didn't end well, but I'd still be her in a heartbeat.

So here she is at the age of 36 marrying 29 year old Ben Lee whose music I love and who went to school with my baby sister.

Go figure.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I would have made a good Catholic. I love a bit of a confession. So here's another one:

I am seriously addicted to Girls of the Playboy Mansion. What is wrong with me???!!!

It's gotten to a point where I'm almost afraid to flick through the Foxtel channels in case it's on (and it's on a lot of the time, like on Sunday afternoon when they had a GOTPM MARATHON for god's sake). What's a girl to do?!

As a feminist I don't know how I can stomach the show but I can. It's a love/hate relationship. The girls mesmerise me and the goings on are fascinating in the most inane way you can imagine.

And I have to put it out there. I love Bridgette and Holly but I wish Kendra would spontaneously combust. She shits me in a major way and that laugh... don't get me started.

If anyone knows of a safe cure (which doesn't involve electrotherapy) please let me know. I'm desperate.
The Bill's Reg Hollis cuts wrists after sacking

This is so sad. Really! It must be horrible when your work is your life. Sounds like he may be in need of my friend Kath's (otherwise known as Milly Moo) newly published book Work/Life Balance for Dummies.

Big Jay and I were fans of The Bill for many many years but in the last few we've stopped watching. It's just become a tedious soapie with more attention paid to the sex lives of the increasingly attractive cast than the crimes. I think we finally went off it when Cas was murdered by the serial killer. It just wasn't the same after that.

I do feel for poor old Jeff Stewart. He's given 23 years to a job which has unceramoniously discarded him at a time when getting a similar acting job may prove rather difficult. I mean HE IS Reg Hollis and the public wouldn't take kindly to him in a different role I would assume. And he's not likely to be stealing any work from Brad Pitt in the near future. So it's a future in children's pantomimes and community theatre for Jeff, I'm afraid.
As you may be able to tell I am ever so slightly obsessed with Leonard Cohen and my I'm Your Man CD right now. I have to play it constantly and it causes me a great deal of pain and joy and heartache and reminds me that I'm a living, breathing, feeling human and not just a work-wife-mummy-bot.

Approaching 40 (which may be the new 30 but it sure doesn't feel that way from where I'm standing) this line from Tower of Song is particularly meaningful "I ache in the places where I used to play".

I am in such awe of Leonard Cohen (and other songwriters who I admire such as Nick Cave, Antony) because in a few simple words they can so eloquently describe the human condition, make us cry, smile, feel. What I wouldn't do to have that talent.

And because I can't stop myself and because this song keeps calling me back over and over until I feel my heart may explode I'll leave you with the lyrics from Tonight Will Be Fine.

Sometimes I find I get to thinking of the past.
We swore to each other then that our love would surely last.
You kept right on loving, I went on a fast,
now I am too thin and your love is too vast.

But I know from your eyes
and I know from your smile
that tonight will be fine,
will be fine, will be fine, will be fine
for a while.

I choose the rooms that I live in with care,
the windows are small and the walls almost bare,
there's only one bed and there's only one prayer;
I listen all night for your step on the stair.

But I know from your eyes
and I know from your smile
that tonight will be fine,
will be fine, will be fine, will be fine
for a while.

Oh sometimes I see her undressing for me,
she's the soft naked lady love meant her to be
and she's moving her body so brave and so free.
If I've got to remember that's a fine memory.

And I know from her eyes
and I know from her smile
that tonight will be fine,
will be fine, will be fine, will be fine
for a while.
I spend more time than is probably reasonble for a healthy-ish almost 40-year-old thinking about the music I want played at my funeral. I think music at a funeral is very important, especially if the funeralee (?) loved music. For example, recently at Big Jay's great uncle's funeral they played a few Al Jolson songs as Uncle Den was known for his love Jolson's music. It was really special because everyone there knew how much that music meant to Den.

So I thought I better put my thoughts down in writing (you never know when fate is going to send that runaway bus into your path).

1) The Guests - if Antony's version is ever recorded then I want that played first, if not Leonard Cohen's version will do nicely.

2) Dream a little dream - The Mamas and The Papas (no other version - EVER).

3) Bird on a wire - Perla Batalla's version from the I'm Your Man CD. ("Like a bird on the wire, Like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free.")

4) Soul to squeeze - Red Hot Chili Peppers off the Coneheads soundtrack. Well, obviously a RHCP song must be played at my funeral. I couldn't rest in peace otherwise. This song is in some ways the essence of RHCP. It's perfection.

5) Satisfied Mind - Jeff Buckley from Sketches (For My Sweetheart The Drunk).

That should probably do. If I think of something a little bit more upbeat to add for the final song I'll update later.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Something I learnt from the previews at last weekend's movie outing: Regina Spektor is the new black... when it comes to soundtracks. Her song/s appear on both the 27 Dresses and Juno soundtracks. Way to get on the bandwagon people! Remember: I found her first.

Speaking of Juno, I'm obviously partial to adoption themes but this looks like a great little film.
So Anthony is enjoying being a dad. Fantastic! Wait until they're waking you up at 1:00 am demanding to be taken to McDonalds. Then we'll talk.

But this picture is gorgeous. Everly looks a little like his dad, especially with that long hair. Sheesh I miss Anthony's long long hair. I know it's not befitting a 45 year old man but it was so rock way back when.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Went to see P.S. I Love You with my friend C on Sunday night. I was so tired (from staying up until almost 1:00 am on Saturday finishing T is for Trespass, goodbye for now Kinsey, I'll miss you) I thought I would fall asleep in the middle of the film... but I didn't.

I didn't fall asleep because it was a really good film. Overall I loved it, just the kind of thing I felt like watching. I'm sure everyone knows the storyline: happy young couple, husband dies, sends letters to his wife from beyond the grave as she struggles to re-start her life. No, it's not a supernatural film (though the father from Supernatural plays a sort-of love interest and I just couldn't take him seriously, kept expecting his eyes to turn red from yet another demon possession, you know how it is).

I had a few teeny weeny problems like not being a particular fan of Hilary Swank as a romantic heroine (those TEETH, and that friggin' giant plastic headband... what the?). Don't get me wrong, I loved her in Boys Don't Cry but here she just doesn't ring my bell. Who does ring my bell (and could do so anytime he likes) is Harry Connick Jr. Whoa baby I love that man. It jumped out at me that he has a likeness to Hugh Grant with that foppy hair so maybe that's what attracts me though I would have to defend myself by saying NO, there must be something else. And Harry was super cute, in a getting older sort of way, but that's good, I can't keep being superficially attracted to men who are terrifyingly starting to be young enough to be my sons.

The script was sad and funny without being too much of either. I wish I could write a script like that. Best of all there was a fantastic soundtrack featuring The Pogues and that's a band you don't hear much of these days. Another CD to add to the mess in the car. Sheesh I wish someone would invent a good and easy to use car CD holder, I need help!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I've never been brave enough to make real custard. It's always seemed like something a little too difficult. Not sure why I have suffered from this particular phobia, similar to my scone making phobia.

However, since Pavlova Roll is one of my staple desserts for entertaining (easy, delicious and popular with everyone) I always end up with spare egg yolks which I diligently put in the fridge with the aim of finding a recipe to use them in and then always end up throwing them away after a week at the back of the fridge.

So finally I found a custard recipe which seemed simple enough and I'm here to tell you that it's not only simple but it's the best custard I have ever tasted, even if I do say so myself.

As a community service announcement here 'tis: Traditional Vanilla Custard (for dummies... who like yummy custard).

PS As an added tip I recommend having a husband on hand who is happy(-ish) to stand there stirring constantly for 15 minues while you get on with more important things.
Armed with my 25% discount voucher I raided Borders for a few New Year gifts of music for myself.

1) Amy Winehouse "Back to Black". I couldn't go on being the only person on the planet not to own this CD. Why do the great voices so often come with the shit life?

2) Guy Sebastian "The Memphis Album". OK, stop screaming! Bless me father for I have sinned: I voted for Guy to win Oz Idol. There! it's out in the open so let's get on with our lives. This is the music his voice is so well suited for and it's full of damned fine versions of some great classics. And Big Jay loves it too. Bonus.

3) Ben Lee "Ripe". Look it's taken some work to get over the mental hurdle of being a fan of someone my much younger sister went to school with but I loved (and continue to love) his last offering "Awake is the new sleep". It's on constant rotation in the car. This promises to be more of the same.

4) Soundtrack "Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man". Well, (this almost deserves it's own blog entry) almost exactly three years ago my life was changed forever when I sat alone (with a few thousand strangers) in the Opera House Concert Hall and had what can only be described as being as close to a spiritual experience as I'm ever going to have. Came So Far For Beauty was the most beautiful, amazing, life shattering concert I have ever been to and this is the CD of some selected songs from the Sydney and Brighton, UK performances of this show. Some favourites amongst the full sixteen magical moments:

* Song 2: "Tonight Will Be Fine" Teddy Thompson (who is this guy? and why does he make me want to cry?).

* Song 7: "If It Be Your Way" Antony (well my thoughts and feelings on this beautiful strange man-angel-creature are well documented). This song tears out my heart (but I still wish they had instead or as well as included his magical version of "The Guests").

* Song 9: "Famous Blue Raincoat" The Handsome Family (superb!)

* Song 10: "Bird on a Wire" Perla Batalla (Perla was one of Leonard's original back up singers and her love of his music is painful and exquisite - this song is magical).

* Song 11: "Everybody Knows" Rufus Wainwright (can this man possibly be any gayer? I love him and I love this wonderful song).

Some great music for my summer 2008 life soundtrack.