Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Mithras!* (or something)

I do love this time of year. I am not religious at all, mind you. I just like the idea of a celebration at the end of the year where you get to spend time with loved ones, eat lots of rich food, sing along to Mariah Carey and give lots of presents. I'm not so hot on the idea of celebrating the birth of Jesus. I prefer to think of the festive period as an extension of an ancient, ritual-filled Pagan festival.

It always makes me cock a skeptical eyebrow when Western religious leaders lament the loss of the "true meaning of Christmas" each year. Long before Christ popularised Jesus sandals, the ancient Babylonians celebrated the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) on December 25; involving wild partying, gorging on food and drink, the giving of gifts etc. There was Saturnalia in ancient Rome and Yuletide in Northern Europe, both of which are Winter Solstice festivals.

Certainly in this part of the world, there is never a greater need for a hearty celebration than on the shortest day of the year, just as the cold and gloom and overbearing darkness are becoming seriously oppressive. Just imagine what it would have been like before the invention of central heating, fairy lights and bad telly.

I'm not an avowed atheist, but I went to see a secular-humanist Christmas show Sunday night. It was brilliant - Stuart Lee impressed me with his wry delivery - "..when I look at something as complex and intricate and detailed as Professor Dawkins I think, 'Surely that can’t just have happened by chance.’" Jarvis Cocker sang beautifully about fate. Ricky Gervais tried out some (pretty crappy) new material. Robin Ince was charming as the geek in his element running the whole thing. Richard Dawkins did some surprisingly moving readings from Unweaving the Rainbow, and fellow Aussie Tim Minchin ended the night with a searing 9 minute beat poem in which he rips a New Age bimbo to shreds.

Anyway, whatever your beliefs, I implore you all to hold your loved ones close this Festivus - hug them and tell them you love them, hold their hands, ignore their short-comings for one day. Stuff your faces and give thanks for all the good things in your life. Wonder at the beautiful world around you - even in London in the middle of Winter, the bare branches make a beautiful pattern against a moody grey sky; mud squelches deliciously underfoot, and there is a hint of bonfire smoke in the cold air. There are so many tiny, simple, wonderous things to enjoy if you stop and notice your surroundings.

See you in the New Year!

*Pagan sun-god. Winter Solstice was the celebration of his birth - as the seasons change he grows stronger and warmer and brighter. Makes more sense than that whole "virgin birth" story, you have to admit.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Hot List*

1. Jemaine Clement & Bret McKenzie
Geeks + facial hair + the funny = volcanic hotness (nb. they only work as a pair).

2. Dave Grohl (circa 1997)
It's the combination of the rocker hair and the goofy smile.

3. Gael Garcia Bernal
Gael has the stunning eyes and exquisite cheekbones (and is definitely in touch with his feminine side)...

4. Benicio Del Toro
...but Del Toro has the hulking presence, the squint, and the dangerous streak.

5. Dylan Moran (as Bernard in Black Books)
Grumpy, surly, Irish, drunk - and all the more lovable for it.

* * * * *

Special Mentions

6. Jason Schwartzman
Love the eyebrows. And the eyes staring out from beneath them.

7. Zach Braff
Cute, funny, well-written. Ka-ching!

8. Richard Gere (in An Officer and a Gentleman)
Jesus, I never knew what the fuss was about until I watched this for the first time just recently.

* * * * *

Weird but good

9. Andrew WK
The wildcard - a piano-playing metal-head with brains. Lethal!

10. Jon Heder
Girly, goofy, mormon - yet hot.

11. Noel Fielding/Vince Noir
I know I'm not alone on this one.

12. Chevy Chase in the 70's
Those sideburns. That smirk. Ouch!

* * * * *

*you know, the 5 people you're allowed to cheat on your partner with if said crush was to happen to be in town and you happened to be sitting in the same bar and were drawn towards each other by an IRREPRESSIBLE force of nature. But I seem to have accumulated 12.

Whaddaya gonna do with all the hotness in the world?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Plan B

I feel I have been neglecting this blog somewhat since coming back from New York. Or perhaps I should say, coming down from New York. It was such a blissful chapter in my life.

It was hard coming back to reality. Back down to earth (literally - in New York I lived on the 29th floor and worked on the 30th, and spent many happy hours on the roof terrace of my building). Back to a job that has become rather uninspiring. Back to paying rent and bills. Back to a choice of two types of media: trash or doom; the only exception being the coverage of the US election. Even the notoriously gloomy UK media couldn't ignore the jubilant sense of hope beaming off the great American public in their coverage of the Obama victory.

Back to London in Autumn, which very quickly turned into Winter.

It hasn't all been bad - I have super busy going to loads of gigs and fun events, and there have been some interesting developments on the relationship front.

But it's fair to say that it has been a struggle. For a while there I really thought I was going to have to move back to Melbourne. I just couldn't see how I could possibly cope with living over here on my own any longer. Having my parents here was wonderful, blissful, so much fun - but when they left, I felt utterly bereft of their presence. All of a sudden, my world shrank. I was in a city on the wrong side of the world, heading into a particularly bleak Winter, and I don't think I have ever felt quite so scarily, overwhelmingly alone.

In reality, I am not alone. I have a small circle of friends here, and my great work colleagues, and my lovely flatmate. I have friends at home in Melbourne with whom I have (admittedly sporadic) contact. I have a brother in Sweden, practically next door in Australian terms. And of course, my parents and youngest brother are only a phone call (and a time-zone) away.

It has been a time of reflection and internal change for me. I guess I always assumed that at this point in my life, my main focus would be on having my own family, so I must admit (somewhat shame-facedly, given my feminist credentials) that I never focused that much on my "career". I just came out of Uni, looked for a job, stayed there until I got restless, looked for another job - and so on. It was a sense of needing to escape that drove me to London. I learnt one of the first big lessons of my life: that you can't run away from yourself. Hence my decision to stay in London for the moment - moving back home is not going to solve any of my problems (except the lack of parental/younger-brotherly contact) and would probably just create more complications than I can cope with right now.

So now I find myself at a cross-roads. I know I need to make some positive changes in my life; but what might they be? New job? New career? Back to Uni? Back to Melbourne? Go travelling? Become a mentor? Take up yodelling? For a person as change-resistant and cautious as myself, this is a scary time. But I am trying to take it slowly, in manageable chunks, taking small, exploratory bites before I make any big moves. I have started by booking myself into some short courses and introductory sessions to things that interest me.

2009 is going to be the year of self-development, y'all. I even bought a journal. An old-fashioned, lined paper journal. For writin' in. I'm not even sure I remember how to hold a pen.

I'll keep you posted.
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