Wednesday, March 31, 2010

D:Reamy Prof Cox the Fox rox my world*

Has anyone managed to catch Wonders of the Solar System on BBC2? I can highly recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in astronomy; or those among us who are simply interested in staring at sweet boy-faced men eulogising about something (anything) that they are so excited about that their eyes get all shiny and a sort of glow comes off them.

I mean, I find contemplation of our amazingly complex little solar system and the universe beyond absolutely mind-bottling, but honestly - astronomy's association with ancient, incoherent men who can calculate the elliptical rotation patterns of distant moons but are unable to buy a pair of fitting trousers, heat up a tin of baked beans or replace a pair of spectacles that are clearly beyond repair has made it a no-go zone for many women. Science on that sort of mathematical/astro-physical level just isn't sexy.

Well, get ready to have your preconceptions slapped around the face and covered in glitter:

Prof Cox

How d'ya like them space particles?!

Introducing Mr. Brian Cox, formerly of D:Ream (thiiings... can only get better) and latterly passionate crusader for science funding and visitor of schools (sigh!) to raise the profile of the least-cool subject on the curriculum.

Coming from this man, space is cool - literally and pop-culturally. He sprinkled his magic space dust on me and suddenly I am the proud possessor of information about the names of the moons of Jupiter (Io, Ganymede, Callisto and Europa, named for the lovers of the Greek god Zeus). The earth would fit inside Jupiter more than a thousand times. Something about volcanos. Shiny, shiny eyes.

*apologies for the tortured wordplay - I just couldn't resist.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

And So It Begins

I have been doing a lot more cycling down south of the river of late, largely because a certain stubbon mister lives down there and he starts getting twitchy if he leaves the SW postcode, poor rabbit.

There is a noticeable culture difference between the cyclists up norf compared to those down sarf. In my [slightly jaded and bedgruding] experience, cyclists in the Southerly parts of London are:

-faster, no question.

-more likely to be of a manly persuasion; yet

-less likely to sport a moustache.

-if of a feminine persuasion; less likely to be wearing heels and skirts.

-more likely to cycle in packs, like hyenas. Or is it a cackle of hyenas? Either way, like hyenas.

-more likely to wear hi-vis and helmets. Well, duh! South London roads are much meaner than the quiet back streets of Hackney that constitute my current commute.

-less likely to have a child seat on the back (see above).

- more aggressive. I copped an earful of bile this morning from a bunch of bad-tempered wheelers when I failed to take off the instant the light turned green (I was still folding my map back into my pocket). In North London, they would have waited patiently or maybe ding-a-linged their bell.

-more likely to wear full-body lycra and those hideous yellow sunglasses that don't look much like this:


-less likely to have a pair of bike polo sticks (bats? racquets? mallets?) attached to the back. Actually that is pretty specific to Shoreditch.

Melbourne Dreaming turns 4!

Melbourne dreaming turns 4!

Four big years, people! I'm finally feeling the thaw after a Winter that well and truly beat my ass down, down, down.

Spring is finally here. Happy days.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cut out and keep

cube of destiny

For bored office workers everywhere.

Ammend as necessary. I know a certain boy for whom all six sides would read "tea".

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Wednesday* what's hot + what's not


I have been talking up this brilliantly subversive little film since I saw it at Short & Sweet many months ago. A bit sad for Nick Park, but there again he has hogged the last four Best Animated Short Film Oscars.
Check it!

The Home Office
For getting my passport back to me in a speedy 6 weeks, despite their omerta-like code of silence surrounding the process. Now to get my teeth into the citizenship process...

Hayao Miyazaki
Saw Ponyo recently, and although it doesn't quite meet up with the mind-bending wonder of Spirited Away, it is certainly a beautiful film to be immersed in for a couple of hours. It takes a particular talent to capture the movement of a serious little 5-year-old boy, and Miyazaki makes it look so effortless. Sosuke reminded me a lot of the Little Prince: a gentle and self-contained little boy wise beyond his years.

The Little Prince


Studying for my Life in the UK test
Click on the link to get a taste of the ridiculousness - even the most British person in the office received a FAIL on the practice version. I haven't sat an exam in a long time, and I don't relish that long-forgotten feeling of dread and attendant procrastination.

My idiotic landlord.
If you get a package from me, Mr. Smith, I can assure you it won't be an early Christmas card.

*A tad late. Procrastination, etc.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Naked Breakfast

Many years ago now, I did something most people might consider a teensy bit crazy; especially people who know me now as the-sensible-one-who-hardly-drinks. So crazy in fact that when I remember this incident I find myself marvelling at my youthful courage/foolhardiness.

So here it is: in the late Summer of 2001 I, along with thousands of other Melbournians, posed in the pre-dawn chill, nude, for a Spencer Tunick photo. Several Spencer Tunick photos, in fact. Butt naked in every one. Butt naked waiting between shots. Butt naked walking between locations. Naked butts, all over the place. Are you getting the picture?

Just in case you're not:

Naked Breakfast

It was my zaniest, most alternative-lifestyle-embracing, lentil-and-veg-munching, green-voting, love-your-imperfections friend who sent me a link to a little article asking for willing volunteers. Shall we do it? she asked. I hesitated for a nanosecond and replied, yes. Think about the implications later, sign up now.

A good policy in life, generally. So I did.

Details were revealed to us in stages. Spencer has requested that all participants converge outside the Arts Centre at 4am. Please don't bring anything of value as you will have to leave it behind during the shoot. Please only come along if you intend to take part. My friend and I were beside ourselves leading up to the day - how many people will show up? Will there be any perverts hanging around the edges? Where will we leave the car keys?

As it turned out, none of these mattered. Approximately 4,000 people showed up, as well as a few keen members of the press and the odd bemused early morning jogger. Tunick briefed us all himself, via a loudspeaker and a ladder. There would be a countdown, then we would all strip and proceed to walk across Princess Street Bridge, whereupon he would give a signal at which we would all drop to the ground, like "puppets whose strings have been cut". 5,4,3,2,1. We start taking our clothes off a piece at a time, reluctantly at first, eyeing our neighbours furtively so as not to be the first fully exposed, until clothing starts dropping like flies and we are all out of our shells and all you can see is mostly pale flesh in varying degrees of pink. The atmosphere is incredibly peaceful and relaxed, and there is lots of pleased smiling shared between strangers. Stripped of our clothes, we are all one big mass of humanity. The barriers are down. We are all equally vulnerable. Big, small, young, old, male, female, fat, skinny, freckled, tattooed, scarred. All exposed as equal human beings; not so dissimilar after all.

We are swept along with the crowd walking towards the bridge, where we collapse at the signal and wait patiently for Tunick to take the shot. I remember thinking "I will always remember the feeling of lying here on the ashphalt". I always will. Then we all get up, brush our naked selves off, and head down to the banks of the Yarra for the next shot. By this time, the nakedness feels perfectly normal, and people are chatting away happily, joking and laughing as they make their way down to the muddy water's edge. The grass feels pleasantly soft after the road. The press take their photos, but there is a feeling that they are breaking an unwritten rule and eventually, one of them puts down his camera and strips so he can join in. He is welcomed with high fives and whoops of congratulation.

Eventually the photos are taken, the crowd heads back unhurriedly to their piles of clothes, and we all get dressed and go on with our weekend, buzzing from our collective experience.

Why did I do it?

I did it for Art, man. I did it to scandalise my future grandchildren. I did it for my lovely friend, whose utter fearlessness I envy still. I did it for my grandfather's delighted chuckle when I told him about it. I did it for Spencer. I did it for Melbourne, my lovely home town.

But most of all, I did it for me. As an act of art, as an experience, to prove that I could. For the memory.
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