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Friday, December 26, 2008

Decree: The following Phrase to be used more often.

"To cut one's teeth on the dishlickers..."

As in:

A: "How was last night?"
B: "It was great. Suffice to say that I cut my teeth on the dishlickers."


A: "What do you think of Brahms' music?"
B: "I think he cut his teeth on the dishlickers."

or even

A: "How about those Pies on the weekend?"
B: "Yes indeed. They definitely need to cut their teeth on the dishlickers."

Can in certain select circumstances be abbreviated to "on the dishlickers". As in:

A: "Dennis- stop the car!"
Dennis: "On the dishlickers!"

Songs that make me smile: Danish edition

I let this section go a bit... but it's back with a vengeance. And not only is it highly vengeful, but it is brought to you from Denmark, as I am currently sitting in Bang and Jensen's cafe on a murky, cloudy, drizzly, foggy boxing day in Cope-to-the-izzle-mutha-freaking-hagen.

Please do yourself a favour and check out Firekites - an Australian "low-fi accoustic guitar project" turned folk/rock/clappathon unit.

If you go to their myspace (above) you can listen to a song called "Last Ships". Yummy, no? If not, have a watch of the video for their song "Same Suburb Different Park" (below).

Firekites - Same Suburb Different Park from trainwreck 20/20 on Vimeo.

Question: Is the girl in the video the same girl that was in last year's tropfest winning film featured on this blog here? Probably not, just that she's riding a bike in both.

A big "tusand tak" (yeah... danish and that) to resident music guru Peter P for putting me on to them. Another winner for blended female/male vocals. See also The Swell Season (Glenn Hansard and Marketa Irglova)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Trip home

So I've been a bit negligent with posting of late. Somehow a broken camera is very demotivating in terms of keeping posts mildly interesting.

Below is a quick resumé of my trip back home to OZ before starting here in Paris. You'll notice that I fell in love with a certain girl.

The song is Abacus by Fionn Regan

Peace out.

Trip home to Australia 2008 from james on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Hell is meant to be a place you go when you die

Dave is slumped down on his couch, a beer resting on his paunch. Terry, his son, sits beside him. They watch the BBC news. A report about the credit crisis is followed by a special update on the progress made by the G20 and then an update about the massacre in India.

Dave: You know what I hate about earth?
Terry: What?
Dave: It's so fucking complicated... isn't it?

Terry looks at Dave blankly, not really sure whether that's meant to be the end of the story.

Dave: That. That India business. Complicated. Isn't it?
Terry: I don't really know what you're-
Dave: Eh? Isn't it?
Terry: Hey?
Dave: Don't you reckon?
Terry: You haven't-
Dave : Hey?

Terry continues to look at Dave but Dave is entranced by the news.

Dave: All this... falseness!

Terry looks back at the TV.

Dave: None of it- bloody- matters.
Terry: Dad!
Dave: What?
Terry: ...Don't swear.
Dave: Sorry mate.


Dave: But I mean fuck! Would you look at that?! Shooting each other... for nothing.
Terry: Isn't that what they're saying Dad? Take the money and run. It doesn't mean anything anyway. Shoot the people you don't like. Or stab the woman you love because... well... you can. The meek won't inherit the earth. Good won't come to those who are good. It's all just chance you know. Chance after chance after chance after chance.

Dave: (entranced by the TV) Eh?
Terry: I was just saying...
Dave: What?

A report on Christian Rinaldo winning the footballer of the year award comes on.

Terry: I was just saying that-
Dave: I fucking love this kid Rinaldo. Go on my son! Thank god there's something to live for eh?
Terry: Yep... That's... awesome, dad.

Dave drains the remainder of his beer then looks over at Terry for the first time.

Dave: Pass us another beer would you?
Terry: Sure.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Death cab for Cutie - The Bataclan

On a cold Sunday evening in Paris I trundled down to La Bataclan, a Parisian equivalent of Sydney's Metro to see Death Cab For Cutie, who, the singer was sure to remind us, are from Seattle.
What to say about this Concert? It was clinical. Death Cab charge out on stage, launch into a 50 minute set, duck out the back for 3 minutes, probably to fold the sheets back and put the electric blanket on, drag themselves back on stage to knock out an encore, then it's good night and a rather affected "Drive home safely Paris" from the guitarist.

Death Cab's music is fairly laid back, it's the sort of music I put on when I need to work. You don't need to concentrate to listen to it. Unfortunately, hearing their music live was much the same, except there was nothing to distract me.

Those who know me will know that there's no use using my ipod playlist for a party. I tend to love the melancholy wallowers more than the upbeat electro tunes. But no one wants to go to a concert and not at least get a craving for a bit of spontaneous foot tapping.

However, the best song of the night, Brothers on a Hotel Bed, drew my attention to the beautiful sound of the Nord keyboards. I now have a burning desire to play one. The sound is yummy. Have a listen to the Brothers on a Hotel Bed below.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Palin on my mind

I'm sorry. I'm not sure I have the will power to leave this one alone. The emergence of Sarah Palin as the possible future President of the United States continues to engender an acute sense of disbelief in me.

Matt Damon agrees:

So does the New York Times:

"Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness." (full article here)

While many people might find comfort in that fact that they feel like Sarah Palin is "one of them", for the exact same reason, I am terrified.

Monday, September 15, 2008

MOVIE: Waltz with Bashir

I saw this superb movie yesterday. Spurred by the story of a recurring nightmare told to him by one of his close friends Ari goes in search of the source of one of his recurring images from his time as a 19 year old in the Israeli army during the war in Lebanon in 1982.

He seeks out friends who were also in Lebanon at that time, each of whom has their own particular nightmare to share. Fighting his own selective memory and feelings of guilt, Ari pieces the stories of his friends together with his own memories in order to journey to the source of his trauma, the witnessing of the aftermath of the massacre of Palistinean refugees at Sabra and Shatila.

The film merges documentary with animation as the audio of Ari's real-life interviews with his friends are spliced together and then animated in order to make the film. The animation allows the director creative license in illustrating the various accounts of the former Israeli solders' experiences and to some extent softens the grim reality of the content of their memories. Perhaps most effective of all however is the unexpected and paralyzing switch to real archive footage to remind the viewer of the fact that, despite the seductively comforting hues of the animater's brush, the story being described actually took place in a much more frightening reality.

I found myself reminded of the writings of Hannah Arendt on the Haulocaust. She writes of how the Nazi regime managed to rip the theoretical concepts of Heaven and Hell from the almost comforting realms of fantasy and render them in reality by creating Hell on Earth. The film is a potent reminder of the almost banal nature of the reality of a genocide when compared with the fear that the word itself can engender. When we think of genocide we think of a society out of control, which in its disorder has lost all sense of humanity. However, this film is a strong reminder that genocides tend to be highly-organised, specifically intended and carried out and often overseen by extra-ordinary people.

I know very little about the existence or attitude of the Israeli national conscience concerning the 1982 war in Lebanon. However, as I watched this film, I felt like I was witnessing the voicing of an important chapter, perhaps an as yet relatively unheard voice, in Israel's national identity.

The music is amazingly evocative and beautifully utilised.

Check out the trailer below.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

MOVIE: The Visitor

I went and saw this movie with Lauren on the weekend and was pleasantly entertained. If there's a criticism of the film it's that it maybe tries to cover too many topics in one film. You have the emotionally damaged (verging on autistic) professor who is unlocked by the strangest of friends, two illegal immigrants, who he discovers are staying in his abandoned New York apartment. Then the film takes a right hand turn as it delves into the injustice of US immigration policy, before doing a u-turn and getting back on the road to Hollywood with Professor Broken-Soul daring to find love after years without his wife. It's like watching Dead Poets' Society and Good Will Hunting and Rabbit Proof Fence and "any film where a guy gets over his wife's death by falling in love again with an exotic woman" all rolled into one... sort of.

Having said that, there are some nice moments which make you ask yourself some pretty harrowing questions. For anyone who has ever had a run in with the bureaucracy, there is a great scene at the end where our hero is asked to "step away from the window" by a unsympathetic immigration official. I found myself inscensed by the apathy of the officer as well as his cowardice in hiding behind the fact that he was "just following the rules". (Is it obvious I'm having issues with a certain French embassy?)

But it was enjoyable. Better than Batman. : )

Music is great.

All in all, treat it as a movie and not a Phd and you won't be disappointed.

To watch the trailer, click here.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Oh no! We're still in Kansas Toto

Sarah Palin, John McCain's recent choice of "running-mate" ( Being a running-mate sounds like so much fun doesn't it? J: Let's go running, mate. S: Where to? J: To the Presidency. S: But John, there's no real road to the presidency. J: Don't worry running mate. Where we're going, we don't need roads!) just gave a speech defending herself and attacking Barrack Obama.

Some of my favourite quotes where:

"This is a man who can give an entire speech about the war's that America is fighting and never use the word 'victory' except when he's talking about his own campaign!"

"Victory is finally in sight in Iraq, and he wants to forfeit!"

I wouldn't have thought that even Bush would describe what is happening in Iraq as being 'victorious'.

And then there was this little doozy.

"Alqaeida terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on america and he's worried that someone won't read them their rights."

This is the potential future president of the western world.

And just as a passing note, what is it with the Americans' pantomime cheering at these conventions? It's like the candidates can sneeze and everyone would cheer. I'd like to see one of the candidates sincerely try to say something only to have the crowd mindlessly cheer him on.

OBAMA: People. I'm sad. (Cheer) No really, this is all pretty crazy. I'm not coping very well. (Cheer) Don't you sometimes just wake up and go "why bother?"(Cheer) Guys, I'm serious (Cheer) God... I'm just so lonely. (Cheer) Don't you people ever think for yourselves? (Cheer) ... Sometimes I wish I could go collect the morning paper in nothing but my favourite pair of rubber underpants. (Pause... Spontaneous Cheer!)

If you think I'm exaggerating, click on the image above and have a listen.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fête de la musique in Paris

Last Saturday was the Fête de la musique which sees every amateur band in Europe take to the streets with their guitars and amplifiers to knock out a couple of tunes. It's a great idea, and packed streets of Paris are testament to how much people enjoyed the day.

It was hard to find a quiet place to play where we would be heard (because we didn't have amps or mics or anything) but eventually we managed to play a couple of songs to a small crowd of passers-by next to St Paul metro station in the Marais. It was fun as always. I wish I had more photos of the day in general but unfortunately my camera battery was exhausted and needed to hibernate.

Fête de la musique from james on Vimeo.

Friday, June 13, 2008

We could all use a bit of huffy puffy in our lives

Another installment from the vault of Clarke and Dawe

Cick here or on the above image to watch.

Favourite line:

Nelson: "I forget the issue Bryan but I went into Parliament, got all red in the face, lot of huffy puffy, waved my arms about, lost a couple of kilos, Bryan, I mean, I'm getting quite fit."
Bryan: "Yes, what is the issue?"
Nelson: "Just forget the issue Bryan, but the point is I got quite het up about it and it's working!"

Also not bad:
Bryan: "Brendan Nelson, let's be honest, you're not going to be in office for a long while?"
Nelson: "I'm not going out of the office Bryan, I'm not going out of the office until all this finishes."
Bryan:"This what finishes?"
Nelson: "This quite impressive display of dedicated support behind me."

Nelson: (Whispering) "I'm not here. I'm not here... I wasn't here."

Monday, June 09, 2008

An impromptu reel

James et Lisa jouent un reel -

Sorry to harp on, but here's another video from our final night at the Boul Noir. There was a violinist in the house and she suggested a bit of Irish flare. The guitarist is slightly lethargic on the chords but the people can't resist the call of the dance.

Thanks to Catherine "the great" for this video of Lisa Demay playing so beautifully!

Big shout out to those who played at Fie's wedding. That was FUN!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Anna Banana: The Cheeky Monkey

Voila the latest installment in the photos of my niece. I may have hypothetically already promised her in an arranged marriage to Max's nephew in an attempt to further improve Franco-Australian relations. Don't tell Fie.

Rock and Roll that won't wake the kids.

That's the description of our last and final gig at Le Boul Noir in Montréal. Here are some photos. Thanks to those who came down. We had lots of fun.
He may have been looking for friends, who knows, but a guy came up to me after we had played and presented me with a business card and said, "I'm a producer, call me, I love your sound, I'll get you gigs in Toronto". I thought about telling him I was about to leave Montréal for Paris the following week, and the band would subsequently unceremoniously disband, but thought better of it and instead just nodded politely and said, "Thanks so much." What a career. It was over before it even began.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fun and Games with Rick and James II

This is the result of one of our late night games.

Three teams, each selects a leader and a model from their 15 members. Each team has half an hour to come up with the best fashion design using:
  • one white t-shirt
  • some string
  • some glue
  • some popsicle sticks
  • some glitter
  • some coloured pens
  • Tin foil
  • macaroni pasta
Ps. We're still finding pieces of macaroni and glitter around the house.

Voila les oeuvres d'art. Je suis sûr que on verra bientôt ces styles dans les magasins de Saint-Germain à Paris et Soho à New York.

Gardez vos yeux ouverts!

Entry A: Macaroni Man.
The Winner overwhelmed by all the emotion, falls to his knees, clutching his hard won 1991 swimming trophy!Eric: The Master of Ceremonies says, "Hey you! You're about to take a ph- [click]!"
Posing with the Winner. There was no way I could compete with tin foil underpants, a visionary move... almost Andy Warholesque.
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my team for all their hard yards. They put in 110% every single one of them. Some of them put in more. 120%. 140%. Some of them were putting in around 180% i reckon. Even 230%. They never gave up and went right to the final siren. Full credit to the opposition though, who fought hard all night and deserved a win. Can I just give a big shout out to the Tuggeranong Rabbits who are struggling a bit at the moment. Hope you pull through boys. And to me old man John. Luv ya big fella.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

From my Bookshelf: Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson

Recently read this book after the recommendation, "If you want to understand love, you need to read this book."

Here are three passages that made me make a sort of painful audible groan of agreement when I read them.

"I'm thinking of a certain September: Wood pigeon Red Admiral Yellow Harvest Orange Night. You said, "I love you". Why is it that the most unoriginal thing we can say to one another is still the thing we long to hear? "I love you" is always a quotation. You did not say it first and neither did I, yet when you say it and when I say it we speak like savages who have found three words and worship them...

...It's the clichés that cause the trouble. A precise emotion seeks a precise expression. If what i feel is not precise then should I call it love? It is so terrifying, love, that all I can do is shove it under a dump bin of pink cuddly toys and send myself a greetings card saying, "Congratulations on your Engagement". But I am not engaged I am deeply distracted. I am desperately looking the other way so that love won't see me. I want the diluted version, the sloppy language, the insignificant gestures. The saggy armchair of clichés. It's all right, millions of bottoms have sat here before me. The springs are well worn, the fabric smelly and familiar...

...I miss you Louise. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. What then kills love? Only this: Neglect. Not to see you when you stand before me. Not to think of you in the little things. Not to make the road for you, the table spread for you. To choose you out of habit not desire, to pass the flower seller without a thought. To leave the dishes unwashed, the bed unmade, to ignore you in the mornings, make use of you at night. To crave another while pecking your cheek. To say you name without hearing it, to assume it is mine to call."

Give it a read.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Timelapse: In the end, there's just a chair in there

Here's a little video of our party last saturday night. It was an awesome night. We started off in the park, bit of soccer, bit of boccé, bit of frisby, bit of highland games egg-tossing (that's right Fie) and then it was back to the house for bbq, dancing and a t-shirt making competition using just macaroni and paddle pop sticks.

Thanks to all who came and made it so much fun, and if by any chance the neighbours are reading this, we're sorry.
Fun and Games with Rick & James from edemay on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Partay chez nous... finalement!

En tant que designer, mon colloc Eric ne pouvait pas lasser passer cette chance de créer une invitation spéciale pour notre fête. Voila le resultat.
The plan is to start the afternoon in the park next to our place, play some football, boccé, maybe even the odd egg tossing competition (a game I learnt at the many Scottish Highland Games I went to at Bundanoon as a kid). After we're all sufficiently sported out, it'll be back to the apartment for an Aussie-style BBQ and a couple of beerios.

Eric and I are even threatening to play a couple of songs. Should be a fun night.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

War! (Wo!.. Good God! Huh!) What is it good for...

April 25th is ANZAC day in Australia and represents our national day of remembrance of those who fought in the various conflicts to which Australia has committed troops.
The date chosen commemorates the landing of Australian troops at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915 . The Gallipoli campaign is infamous for its poor planning and execution, which saw Australian troops land on a beach only to be faced with towering cliffs which they had to scale under heavy machine gun fire from entrenched Turkish forces. After approximately nine months of throwing men "over the top", heavy casualties on both sides, and very little territorial gain, the Allied forces conceded defeat and retreated in what was perhaps ironically the greatest tactical manoeuvre of the whole campaign. Given the terrain, and weather conditions, large causalities were expected in the evacuation. However, through the using of self-firing rifles, (which worked by dripping water into a tin connected to the trigger so that rifles would fire sporadically and give the impression that the Allied troops were still in their trenches) the evacutation was carried out without the loss of a single life.

The battle of Gallipoli was significant for both sides, being widely regarded as the birthplace of the national consciousness in Australia (After Gallipoli, Australian forces demanded to fight under the command of Australia Generals rather than British ones - a significant mental step in our ongoing transition from British colony to independent nation), while at the same time laying the foundations for the Turkish Republic and the rise of its first president Atatürk, who was a military commander in the campaign.

At the dawn service at ANZAC Cove that occurs on the 25th of April every year, it has become a tradition to read the following words written by Atatürk to the mothers of the Allied dead:
"Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives;
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
who sent their sons from far away countries,
wipe away your tears;
your sons are now lying in our bosom
and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have
become our sons as well."

The Ode, a stanza from English poet Laurence Binyon's For The Fallen, is also read out, after which there is the playing of the Last Post:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

The last Australian Anzac, Alec Campbell, died in 2002, aged 103.
This slide show recently appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald and shows another side to the war we usually commemorate. Click on the above image to check it out.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Australia in 'Focus' - (focus as in camera, as in photo... it's like a pun... and stuff)

The Sydney Morning Herald is celebrating 100 years of herald photography. To see a collection of photos of Australians at work and play over the last 100 years, click the above image.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Australia's 2020 Summit

"Without a vision, the people do perish."
- Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia, opening of Australia 2020 Summit.

"A stand may be made against the invasion of an army; no stand can be made against invasion by an idea." - Victor Hugo.
The Australian Government is currently hosting the Australia 2020 summit in Canberra, a conference bringing together 1000 prominent Australians in various fields to debate and develop long term options to the challenges facing Australia's future. The idea is to "throw open the windows of our democracy to let a little bit of fresh air in", by turning to the people of Australia, "indigenous and non-indigenous, early settler families and those recently arrived, city and country, industry and labour, academics and non-academics, women and men, our youth and let's face it our not so youthful" to identify new ideas and directions for Australia's future as well as insights into possible ways of governing Australia as a nation.


In opening the summit, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd lamented the fact that, "The old way of governing has been creaking and growning, often and triumph of the short term over the long term, often and triumph of the trivial over the substantial, often and triumph of partisan over positive."

Mr Rudd stated the necessity of such a summit was intensified by the unprecedented complexity of the challenges facing Australia's future:
  1. Climate change
  2. The drying of what is already the world's driest continent
  3. Economic rise of India and China
  4. The rolling structural vulnerabilities of an increasingly inter-dependent global order.

The "summiteers" will discuss 10 critical areas of Australian governance:
  1. The Productivity Agenda – education, skills, training, science and innovation
  2. The Future of the Australian Economy
  3. Population, sustainability, climate change and water
  4. Future directions for rural industries and rural communities
  5. A long-term national health strategy – including the challenges of preventative health, workforce planning and the ageing population
  6. Strengthening communities, supporting families and social inclusion
  7. Options for the future of indigenous Australia
  8. Towards a creative Australia: the future of the arts, film and design
  9. The future of Australian governance: renewed democracy, a more open government (including the role of the media), the structure of the Federation and the rights and responsibilities of citizens
  10. Australia’s future security and prosperity in a rapidly changing region and world.
The summit has the following objectives:
  • To harness the best ideas across the nation
  • To apply those ideas to the 10 core challenges that the Government has identified for Australia – to secure our long-term future through to 2020
  • To provide a forum for free and open public debate in which there are no predetermined right or wrong answers
  • For each of the Summit’s 10 areas to produce following the Summit options for consideration by government
  • For the Government to produce a public response to these options papers by the end of 2008 with a view to shaping the nation’s long-term direction from 2009 and beyond.
REACTION to the Summit has been mixed. Some have called the Summit a mere talkfest (see Clarke and Dawe sketch here), an opportunity for the government to engage in a process of aimless gasbagging and backslapping, little more than a democratic charade masking the government's already pre-determined policy objectives.

Already the summit has produced some novel ideas, including the adoption of a high school by corporations, the installation of a bill of rights in Australia, the legalisation of all drugs, the move to become a Republic within two years, the overhaul of Australia's tax and child care systems, the creation of a scheme to encourage an enable renting Australians to by their own homes, as well as the signing of a treaty between "black and white Australians".

No matter what side of the fence you wall on, the summit must be said to represent a divergent approach to governance than the one employed by the previous Australian government, which preferred a highly centralized power structure, which involved leading ministers making a concerted effort to limit and discourage public debate on important issues. In this sense, the summit does represent "a breath of fresh air". In this instance, just the fact that justice is seen to be done can be comforting, regardless of whether justice actually ends up being done or not.

See the closing address here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Les examens: Tout un monde entre mon lit et mon bureau

Being exams, my world pretty much consists of these two places, my bed and my desk, and the one metre space between them.
Look how nice it is outside!

Dr Nelson tries to outrun the past

Another installment from the vault of Clarke and Dawe, this time on Dr Nelson, the leader of the Liberal Party (who, contrary to their name, are the conservative party in Australia), and are currently in opposition.

Dr Nelson's popularity is pretty much at an all time low. It couldn't get much lower, (see previous post). This sketch alludes to the fact that the old guard in the Liberal Party still linger on and that Nelson cannot miraculously distance himself from his role in endorsing the policies which recently led to the Liberal Party losing office (ie. The decision to go to war in Iraq, lack of funding for education, interest rate and inflation management, hardline immigration and refugee policy etc).

My favourite line = "If [Australian Prime Minister] Kevin Rudd's popularity comes back maybe 60, 70 per cent, wooof! Watch me go, Bryan, I'm in."

Click on the above photo to watch the video or if not, click here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Beached Whale

This is an animation by Jarod Green, a friend of mine from university. I had a chuckle. For those who don't know, New Zealand accents sound funny.

He's also responsible for this:

Monday, April 07, 2008

Exams and Papers: In the form of Rodin

I'm currently in the middle of writing papers and studying for exams. I'd like to feel like this:However, unfortunately, I have to admit I feel more like this:
And quite frankly would rather be doing this:

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Dylan Moran: Men, Women and Relationships and his take on Australia

On the female design:
"Funny stuff, a secret thing, drinks holder, get them out there."

la petite mort:
"After a romantic night in with yourself, there's a very acute sensation of failed suicide."

In this performance in front of an Australian audience, he opens up with, "We're travelling in Australia and... It's a jail and... you're all prisoners."

Nice work.

"In the plane the children were pressing the buttons and not sleeping and actually getting energy from the hatred they inspire in you."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


"I suppose I do have one unembarrassed passion. I want to know how it feels to care about something passionately."

- Susan Orlean, Adaptation.

Pete: I wish I liked anything as much as my kids like bubbles.
Ben Stone: That's sad.
Pete: Totally sad. Their smiling faces just point out your inability to enjoy anything.

- Knocked Up.

Do you ever feel like you're missing out on something very important?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Songs that Make me Smile.

My favourite song at the moment is: (drum roll...) Fake Empire by The National from their latest album, Boxer.

Favourite line is:
"Turn the light out, say goodnight.
No thinking for a little while.
Let's not try to figure out everything at once."

To hear it, click Here and it will start playing. Hurrah.

Not to be too nerdy, but the simultaneous 3/4 time, 4/4 time piano at the start is awesome and then the syncopated trumpet arrangement at the end just brings it all home. Who said trumpets were uncool? (I don't know James, who did said that? You tell me.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Beasty Boy

Here's a funny advert from design group EatPes which was pointed out to me by my flatmate and eternal websurfer, Eric Demay. A very simple concept, but it gets its point across. ummmmmm... yeah.

Beasty Boy from james on Vimeo.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Oportunidad Fotográfica

Cubans are crazy about their baseball. Here some kids improvise a game in a park in the middle of Havana.
Revolution Square in Cuba, the day after Raoul Castro was announced as the first new President in Cuba in 50 years. Safe to say that not much was happening.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Brendan Nelson - "You still like me don't you Bryan?"

For long time readers of this blog you will know of my affinity with the work of Clarke and Dawe, who produce a weekly sketch on Australian politics for an Australian current affairs program.

I am aware that this post is a bit Australia-centric, but quite frankly, everyone should learn a little bit about Australian politics, so do some research on who/what they're talking about and join in the fun. Think of it as character building. For the Euros amongst you, with your 2000 year history and your schengen agreements (he says, shaking fist in the air vehemently), this is Australia's crack at "culture": Being able to relentlessly take the piss out of ourselves.*

As I've said before, what I love about these guys is their ability to absolutely nail the essence of a character without wearing a costume, or even having a set. The lines, "Can I get a haircut? I haven't had a haircut for a couple of hours" and the sporadic and nonsensical repetition of "I'm a doctor" are just spot on for the leader of Australia's opposition party.

Another great line: "You're popularity is less than the interest rate."**

Check it out. Click here.

*to take the piss out of someone = to mock someone.
** Brendan Nelson's approval rating was recently polled as being just 7%. The national interest rate in Australia is a ball breaking 7.25%.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Friday, February 29, 2008

Falling in Love: A Feeling Explained

I came home from Cuba today to randomly find Nobel Prize winning Columbian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez's book, Memories of My Melancholy Whores to be a new addition to our living room coffee table. I decided that reading it would be the perfect way to pass a lazy Friday drifting in and out of a travel inspired sleep whilst waiting for my washing to dry.
The book recounts the story of a 90 year old man who falls in love with a prostitute. This excerpt (pg 65) was particularly honest in its description of the giddy all-enveloping catalytic nature of new love or as the NY Times review described it, "a profoundly immature and not especially healthy emotion: the painful, idealizing, narcissistic romanticism of adolescence."

Anyway, make up your own mind:

"I became another man. I tried to reread the classics that had guided me in adolescence, and I could not bear them. I buried myself in the romantic writings I had repudiated when my mother tried to impose them on me with a heavy hand, and in them I became aware that the invincible power that has moved the world is unrequited, not happy, love. When my tastes in music reached a crisis, I discovered that I was backward and old, and I opened my heart to the delights of chance.

I ask myself how I could give in to this perpetual vertigo that I in fact provoked and feared. I floated among erratic clouds and talked to myself in front of the mirror in the vain hope of confirming who I was. My delirium was so great that during a student demonstration complete with rocks and bottles, I had to make an enormous effort not to lead it as I held up a sign that would sanctify my truth: I am mad with love."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cuba's Calling!

It's "reading" week here at McGill, a one week break in the school term. Traditionally, in an effort to break up the long Montréalian winter, most of the Law Faculty generally seeks sunnier pastures in which to graze. As such, I'm heading to Cuba with three mates from the LLM program. With Fidel Castro's shock resignation having been announced yesterday we will now quite randomly happen to be in Havana this Sunday when the Cuban parliament "elects" its first new leader in fifty years. Havana may throw a party. Similarly, they may throw a grenade. Probably much more likely to be the former than the latter. Either way, it's going to be fun. : )

As the old Cuban saying goes, "If two [expletive deleted] bears argue in a dark forest, be sure to bring out the carrot cake, because your youngest cousin's about to learn what it feels like to polka in a fur covered volkswagen and we all know what that [expletive deleted, followed by the sound of a cat be squeezed]... and stuff." (Probably much more elegant in Spanish.)

Photos to follow.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Tropfest Winner 2008: Marry Me

2008 Tropfest winner: Marry Me
2008 Tropfest winner: Marry Me

Tropfest is a short film competition that takes place annually in Australia. Each year's competition has a theme which must be somehow included or incorporated into each film. This year's theme was "8". Here is this year's winner, a short film entitled Marry Me by Michelle Lehman from Leichhardt in Sydney. Click on the photo above to watch it. Hurrah!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Australia says Sorry

Click the above image to view an audio slide show
courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald

Tomorrow, the 13 February 2008, the Federal Parliament of Australia will apologise to the Aboriginal people of Australia, for the government's role in the forcible removal of aboriginal children from their families and the placing of them with white families.
According to Bringing them Home, the 1997 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report that blew the top off the policy, over 100,000 children were forcibly removed and made wards of the state between 1910 and 1970. These children became known as the Stolen Generation. Forced to work on isolated outback farms, or to live in State boarding houses, where physical and sexual abuse was reportedly rife, the Stolen Generation's legacy is largely said to be one of the reasons behind widespread social dysfunctionality and disharmony amongst aboriginal communities in Australia today.
The struggle to recognise the Stolen Generation has been a long one. Australia's previous government, led by John Howard, controversially refused to apologise for the the Australian government's role in the Stolen Generation, claiming that his government could not be held accountable for actions of past Australian governments.
The refusal to apologise was indicative of the Howard government's obstinate "if I don't have to I won't" style of leadership (see previous post "A crack in the shell and it all fell apart..."). As such, tomorrow's gesture will mark a clean break from the policy of previous governments toward the Stolen Generation issue and will represent a significant step in the process of reconciliation that is currently taking place in my country.

It's difficult to understand Australia's story without understanding the story of Australia's aborigines. Tomorrow's apology marks a new and necessary chapter in both of those stories.

Below is a selection of media coverage in Australian and International newspapers:
The full text of the Australian government's apology can be seen here.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Frida Kahlo: Are we prisoners to our passion?

In 2007, on a plane home from Europe to Sydney, I saw Frida, a film portraying the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907 - 1954). Frida was married to a famous Mexican artist and relentless womanizer, Diego Rivera. Their relationship together, as is depicted in the film, was as notorious for its passion as it was for its affairs (both illicit and open). I remember being traumatized by the fact that this woman seemed to have suffered so much, both in terms of her health (she contracted polio at a young age, was in a bus accident that almost prevented her from being able to walk and left her with spinal injuries, and later in her life she had to have her leg amputated due to gangrene), but mostly in terms of her love life.
This was a woman who didn't know how to be anything but passionate... even at the expense of her own health, dignity, and happiness. I always thought that passion was a great quality. I unquestioningly put it in a basket marked "things that lead to a life of fulfillment". Here was a person who's life posed a tangeable challenge to the (over)simplicity of my hypothesis. Here was someone who had given everything of herself to every situation, someone who had laid out her soul, who had made herself vulnerable, someone who engaged in and was irrepressibly engaged by life. However, looking at her art, and reading her letters, it's easy to see this was someone who often found herself submerged in deep and all-pervasive physical and emotional pain.
After watching the film I was left with an overwhelming feeling of having misunderstood something very fundamental about love. I remember thinking that somehow Frida maybe understood something about love that I didn't. Most important of all, I remember feeling that I wasn't sure whether I wanted to understand or not. I felt that understanding would not necessarily lead to my being happy, as was the case in Frida's life, but I was also aware that not seeking to understand left me feeling shortchanged, as if I was stopping short of experiencing fully and completely what life, love, people, relationships are all about. There was something incredibly seductive about Frida's carelessness, her recklessness, her unrepentant, uncompromising search for the zenith of human emotion. At the same time, just as her recklessness seemed seductive, so did it seem perilous and fraught with risk... Je voulais aller jusqu'au bout, mais j'étais à la fois conscient que d'y arriver ne serait pas nécessairement aussi épanouissant que peut-être j'attendais. Au contraire, je pensais que le fait de comprendre ne répondrait pas nécessairement à toutes mes questions.
I was recently browsing in a book shop on St Laurent in Montréal and I came across Frida by Frida a book that gathers together and publishes a selection of letters, texts and notes written by Frida throughout her lifetime. The truth is, Frida's story still haunted me and I jumped at this chance to get inside her brain. I want to share one letter she wrote with you all. It will appear long on this already long and unusually verbose post, but it's revealing in its frankness and its poignancy, and I think it really gets at what I've tried to explain above. So if you're thinking, "What the hell is the point of this post. I don't understand a f&%king thing this guy's saying!": read on.
To set the scene, it's 1935. Frida is 28. In the last two years she has suffered a miscarriage; had an abortion; has undergone foot surgery; dealt with the death of her mother; and suffered from appendicitis. To add insult ot injury, in October 1934 Kahlo separated from her husband Diego Rivera after she found out he was having an affair, this time with, of all people, her little sister Christina Kahlo.

On the 23 July 1935, nine months after separating from him, she writes the following to Rivera:
(extract taken from pg 158 of
Frida by Frida by Raquel Tibol [translated by Gregory Dechant])

"... a certain letter that I saw by chance in a certain jacket of a certain gentleman, and which came from a certain miss of distant and goddamned Germany, and who I imagine must be the lady Willi Valentiner was kind enough to send here to amuse herself with "scientific", "artistic" and "archaeological" intentions... made me very angry and to tell you the truth jealous.

Why must I be so stubborn and dense as not to understand that the letters, the skirt-chasing, the 'English' professors, the gypsy models, the 'good will' assistants, the disciples interested in the 'art of painting', and the 'plenipotentiary envoys from distant parts', only signify amusements and that at bottom you and I love each other very much, and even if we go through countless affairs, splintered doors, insults and international claims, we shall always love each other. I think what it is, is that I'm a little stupid and just a bit of a dissembler, because all these things have happened and happened again for the seven years we've lived together and all of the rages I've gone into have only led me to understand better that I love you more than my own skin, and though you don't love me in the same way, in any case you love me somewhat, no? Or if that's not true, I'll always have the hope that it may be, and that's enough for me... [my emphasis]

Love me just a little. I adore you


I am intrigued by what it takes to write a letter like this one, a letter which so openly admits to the fallacy of monogamous love, a letter which challenges the supposed link between love, the type so intense it almost manifests itself in physical pain, and fidelity. Are we capable of loving someone more than our own skin, whilst at the same time acting in a way that seems to betray that very feeling?

True to her word, Frida walks through a number of "splintered doors" throughout the remainder of her life. A month after sending the above letter, Frida falls in love with Ignacio Aguirre and writes him a letter exclaiming, "how marvelous it is to be able to love you". The following year she has an affair with Japanese sculptor, Isamu Noguchi. The year after that it's Leon Trotsky. Then American photographer Nickolas Muray. Then Heinz Berggruen. Finally, in 1940, she remarries Rivera, the man she loves more than her own skin. Barely a year after her death in 1954, Rivera marries his art dealer Emma Hurtado.