Thursday, December 30, 2010

Romance - the missing ingredient in the modern American rom-com

My favourite quote about "Love and Other Drugs," from this article whose link reads "Anne Hathaway's breasts are way distracting" -

"Removing Maggie’s and Jamie’s pajamas, however, does little more than make us wonder what, if anything, Hathaway eats, and how often Gyllenhaal goes to the gym."

Some may call me a bit of a prude, but I think a good romantic comedy shouldn't have lots of wild sex in it. Lots and lots of sex on screen is neither romantic nor funny. The romance is in the waaiiiiting for the physical contact, the wondering about whether the physical contact will happen, and when, and how.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ever heard of Kirsten Smith or Karen Lutz?

Didn't think so.

But I bet you've heard of:


10 Things I Hate About You
Legally Blonde
Ella Enchanted
She's The Man

Ms. Smith and Ms. Lutz - I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


OK,OK, they wrote "The Ugly Truth" as well.... so it wasn't exactly my cup of tea... still.... I'm printing this picture and putting it up on my bulletin board. Is there any better inspiration for an aspiring screenwriter? I think not.

I leave you with this:



To remind me of how much I loved Anne Hathaway before she became famous and starred in the most depressing, artificial, Hollywood attempt at a rom-com I've seen in a very long time.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Meet the screenwriters

So you've seen "Hearbreaker" and had a lovely laugh... time to meet the screenwriters:

Laurent Zeitoun, Jeremy Doner, and Yohan Gromb. Laurent Zeitoun has a writing credit for "I Do" as well, another brilliant French rom-com which one of my screenwriting teachers had used as an example in his class on the genre of romantic comedy. Thank you gentlemen for crafting such a satisfying story!


Next, I highly recommend you rush to see "The King's Speech." It doesn't often happen that a brilliant script is then developed by a fabulous director and a heavenly cast, so enjoy every moment of it. The audience clapped at the end, and I can't remember the last time that happened at my local cinema.

And may I introduce, if you please, the screenwriter of this extraordinary film: David Seidler.

'Tis the season to watch movies

I've been watching so many movies lately that my blepharitis is back, yep - I'm the crazy lady sitting in front of you in the cinema who throws her head back every 20 minutes so as to put in her eyedrops.

To summarise my cinema experience so far...

RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN TO SEE THIS FRENCH ROMANTIC COMEDY AT A CINEMA NEAR YOU. IT WILL MAKE YOU SMILE AND GIGGLE AND LAUGH AND BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF TRUE LOVE.

You'll also be humming that song from "Dirty Dancing" all the way home. What could be better?



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Teenagers get a bad rap

Reasons I love having teenagers:
(Dedicated to Froggie who is such an amazing High School teacher because she really loves teenagers)

They can give you a lift to the DVD shop when you can't drive because you had a couple of gin and tonics but you really need to watch "While You Were Sleeping."

They never heard of "While You Were Sleeping" so they cuddle up next to you on your new sofa and watch it with you.

They do chores. Even if you do have to (sometimes) ask several times and cajole a bit more, they can still DO the stuff - dishes, garbage, getting the milk from the corner store, laundries, mowing the lawn.

They sleep in. During the summer holidays the house is completely and absolutely silent until 11am. At least.

They are different from you, and that means they introduce you to a lot of stuff that happened in the world that you didn't know about, like Rosalind Franklin.

They generally have fabulous senses of humour, and because they know you really well by now they are able to make you laugh at your own peculiarities. Of which I have many, and which I need to laugh at more often.

When you argue you can use rational explanations to discuss the problem. And when things get too crazy for logic and one of you says something you regret, you can come back later and apologise and forgive.

You no longer have to supervise their personal hygiene.

You pretty much know who they are by now, so you can stop worrying so much about every.little.tiny.thing.that.happens.in.their.school.day. They go to school, they come back, they muddle through like we all do.

You can start to let go of that crippling feeling that people are judging you and that your children are reflections of how good a parent you are. Kids grow up, stuff happens, move on.

They bring their friends over to the house, and these friends are full of energy and life and general good cheer. And they are different from you, in so many different and wonderful ways, so it reminds you how amazing life is. No need to conform, colour your hair pink and wear really thick black eyeliner and study photography and hairdressing and molecular biology and bake cupcakes and live it up.

They are full of surprises, no more predictable milestones that have been written up in boring child development books but truly UNIQUE milestones that are all about the fully rounded individuals they are becoming.

Let the adventure continue!!!!

P.S. At the risk of totally overdoing the "I'm Jewish and don't celebrate Christmas" thing, I did want to link to this great post by a Sydney blogger I love. She sums up my feelings with much more wit and humour than I did, and generally her blog is a great, fun read.

So merry Christmas dear bloggie friends of mine, all my love, Eleanor from your commentbox.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Great article

One of my favourite writers - Marjorie Ingall - just wrote this article which perfectly summarises what I went through as my kids were growing up.

Only last night, over dinner, 19 year old Miss CB was reminiscing about the strange way I reacted to the "Madeline's Christmas" television episode she loved.

It also reminds me of another writer I adore - Journeymama - who wrote an angry post (well, as angry as I've ever seen the peaceful, gentle, loving Rae) a few years ago after having discovered that someone had told her children about the toothfairy's existence.

The line between truth and fiction is so very thin in childhood, but then that's what makes it so magical.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Quick catch up

I caught the bus home from the city today and discovered that it was a Christmas bus. This one was even more fabulous than the one photographed for the article, it had twinkling fairy lights in the windows, glittery mistletoe and berry decorations on the tops of the benches, plastic snowflakes hanging from the sparkly streamers which covered every single pole and handle, a fully decorated Christmas tree set up in the luggage compartment with assorted presents, and the green automatic ticket reader had a red skirt on it.

I was the only one on the bus, and I immediately had that totally illogical feeling that everyone waiting outside for their own bus was looking through the window at me and thinking "Look at that Jewish lady sitting on the Christmas bus all by herself, hahahahaha!!"

Then two women popped their heads in and asked the driver if their daughters could hop on to have a quick look even though it wasn't their bus. These two girls were delighted with the bus, and you could tell how happy the driver felt as he watched them admire his handiwork (I had shyly said "Nice decorations" as I got on). As the girls left he gave them each a little rag-doll as a present, how nice was that??!!!

I really enjoyed that bus-trip (40 minutes and I was still grinning as I got off at my stop), which was surprising as I've been quite the Grinch lately. It's just that everybody at the shops, the hairdresser, the doctor, the dry cleaner, the petrol station, the vet... they all want to know how my Christmas preparations are going - "Finished your shopping yet? There's so much to do, isn't there?" and it just really starts to ANNOY ME THAT EVERYBODY TAKES FOR GRANTED THAT I BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE MESSIAH AND THE SON OF GOD.

There, I'm sorry. I'm hanging my head in shame. I swore I'd be nice and bite my tongue but I just couldn't help it.

So, as I said, that bus cheered me up.

In other news I have a fab, easy recipe to share with you. To make up for my rant above (oh look, Eleanor used capital letters, oooo, she must be REALLY angry) I'll go so far as to say that this makes a lovely addition to a festive meal, whether you live in the northern or southern hemisphere.

Take some sweet potatoes (you know, the orange kind) and peel them. Then continue using the peeler to peel the entire potato into shavings, arrange the shavings in one layer (as much as possible) on a tray lined with baking paper. Pop into oven at 150 degrees for 15 minutes, now mix them around and return them to the oven and keep moving them around every 5 minutes or so until they magically become crispy sweet potato chips. No oil, no fuss and tastes great with a glass of white on a summer's evening (had that tonight, hence am slightly intoxicated), also fab dipped in guacamole, but imagine they'd be awesome with the full roast meal as the snow softly falls outside.

I got a new sofa and armchair, and yes the delivery-men DID say "You're lucky we managed to get this to you before Christmas, I bet that's a relief" and no I did NOT question their interest in baby Jesus and his connection to my purchases of furniture. Ahem. So what I wanted to tell you was... oh right... this is a very big and exciting decision - to get new furniture for the lounge room, because we had our previous sofa for 16 years, purchased when I was pregnant with Master CB. I dripped breast-milk on that sofa, the kids used it as a trampoline when I was too exhausted to stop them any more, and Master CB peed his pants on that sofa more times than I care to remember. In fact, one end of the sofa was officially called "the pishy corner" and Miss CB would ensure that none of her friends ever sat on it. My mother remembers visiting us and being quite surprised to hear Me, Mister CB and Miss CB all yell in unison to Master CB "Not on the sofa" as he started to settle down for an evening of Wiggles viewing. "Not on the sofa" then became a popular catch-phrase with my parents which they liked to use with each other from time to time, just for a laugh, you know.

Oh, that reminds me of the time that I walked into the house with the kids and discovered that we'd been robbed. So I went back outside and called the Police and they came into the house with me, without thinking about it I placed Master CB on the sofa, and then as I was talking to the policewoman I saw him sitting on the sofa with a wet patch emerging, I let out a shriek and lunged for the sofa and I remember the look of shock on the policewoman's face as she said "Oh no, did you have a secret stash of cash in there?"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Singing the Torah


I haven't really spoken very much about my nephew's bar-mitzvah. You probably already know that a bar-mitzvah is a celebration of a boy turning 13, and it involves lots of parties and presents. But it's really all about learning how to sing the Torah (which you probably know as the "Old" Testament). The picture above shows what a typical Torah section looks like, what you see are only consonants - no vowels and no musical notes, those you have to know by heart.



In the sentence below the the consonants are in black, vowels red and notes (cantillation) blue:

It's not easy!

In Orthodox communities women are forbidden from singing the Torah in front of men, but they are allowed to sing in front of female-only congregations. There is just such a scene in that series called "Srugim" which I briefly described in a previous post. This scene brings tears of joy to my eyes and encapsulates so much of my love of the Hebrew language and culture, it starts around minute two.

This television series has been coined "No Sex in the City," and "Sex in the Holy City," and that cracks me up. But I tell you what, this series makes SATC look like a tawdry, crass and dumbed down exploitation of the lives of single women. And I'm a huge SATC fan from way back, so go figure.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Things that you can see from there you can't see from here

Frozen yogurt with fresh figs and halva, best combination ever:

Israeli halva is based on sesame seed paste and usually breaks apart like dreamy fairy floss.

Here is a picture of the best humus I have ever tasted (pronounced with a guttural h - "hoomoos"). My father and I walked around Tel-Aviv and he took me to this tiny restaurant in a back alleyway. The restaurant doesn't even have a name, nor a menu.

This is what it looks like:



This is the chef, greeted fondly by the locals, and working from morning to night in front of this barbecue which he fans occasionally with a newspaper. Best kebabs too, but I ate so fast I didn't get a chance to take a photo. Sorry.



In the mornings, I liked to eat this carob spread on my fresh bread. I had forgotten that carob (haroov) is something I picked from a tree on my way to school when I was eight, you could suck on the sweet pods. As I grew older far away from Israel carob became a weird replacement for chocolate which people bought in health-food stores, how had I forgotten my haroov trees?


I also ate this:


This is a chocolate "yogurt," I use the term loosely, called "Dani" (yes, it's a children's yogurt which has been given a boy's name). The taste of Dani is so intrinsically connected to my childhood that the experience of eating it again was sublime.


I had quite a few salads which had apples cut up into them. Great idea!!


Fresh mint leaves, called "aley na'ana" are superb in fresh lemonade. Also pour boiling water on them and, voila, the best mint tea you'll ever have.


An omelet sandwich people, it's all about omelet sandwiches. They are everywhere you look. Great idea! Make an omelet chik-chak (slang for "quick-smart") and slip it into a pita (you know, the pocket bread). Add some cream-cheese and a slice of tomato and you have the BEST meal ever.


Finally - there is no Starbucks in Israel and my brother says that it's because Israelis don't "get it". They don't get why someone would rush into a cafe, grab a coffee and take it away, even sip it ON THE RUN. Israelis are all about sitting down comfortably and having a REAL breakfast with their coffee - a big salad, cheeses and an omelet sandwich.


The title for this post comes from the famous (in Israel, that is) song by Matti Caspi - songwriter extraordinaire. The translation and transliteration is here.... it is a singalong after all.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kippa Sruga

I arrived back home yesterday morning, a whirlwind trip which has left me breathless and horribly jet lagged.

While I gather my thoughts, here is a post I put together before, inspired by the Bnei-Akiva flag-waving ceremony I attended. One of my nieces took part in it, although she explained to me that she actually has no plans to continue attending the meetings of the Youth Movement; my niece is particularly independent and sassy, and she simply wanted to have fun hanging out with her friends during the many rehearsals. Her one complaint about the event was that the Bnei girls have to wear a floor-length dark skirt for the ceremony, she bought one for 15 shekels (5 bucks) and refused to even put it in her closet next to her other (very short) skirts as it was "not worthy."



As I stood on the hill, looking down at the carpark which had temporarily become the Bnei-Akiva stage, I noticed that I was surrounded by kippot srugot - crocheted kippot. In Israel, the type of kippa (skullcap) a man wears defines his religious and political affiliation, and the crocheted kippa usually points to a "Modern Orthodox Zionist." I'm generalising for the sake of explanation here, but that's more or less how it works.

I immediately realised that my crafting friends would love to get a look at what a crocheted kippa looks like, so here are some samples I discovered on the night:











Here are some interesting kippot in the local shop - Metallica, Rolling Stones and Spiderman!

Which brings me to one of the most popular TV shows in Israel titled "Srugim" (the plural of "crocheted" and referring to the Orthodox characters in the show). Fascinating.



Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's me!

Here are three ways of showing a positive reaction to something wonderful that's happening in your life:

Ze mooshlam - "It's perfect"

Ze ahla

Sabbaba



video

Sunday, November 7, 2010

For Tuli

Tuli wrote in my commentbox:

Dearest Eleanor, I think you need to do videos of the Hebrew Phrase Of The Day. I *think* I'm pronouncing it correctly but I can't be sure!

Tutorial, please!

Cheers,
T

Dear Tuli,
My father was so impressed with your respect for the Hebrew Phrase of the Day that he agreed to provide a brief tutorial for your enjoyment.

Much love,
E x

P.S. Please note that the first "H" is guttural while the second is not. Tricky.


video

Friday, November 5, 2010

A literary window-frame

It is so hot today that I haven't actually left the air-conditioned apartment yet, this weather is typical of August rather than November. My nephew's bar-mitzvah festivities start tonight and continue until Sunday night so I need to conserve my energy. I would have offered to help with the last minute preparations but I am well aware that sometimes she who waits also serves. My father brought me back the newspapers and some chocolate babke. Chocolate babke, my old friend, we meet again on the eve of the Sabbath. How Eurolush would love to meet you, but alas, she is far away in a cold land. Oh well, more for me.

Last night I watched the Israeli version of Masterchef, their task was to make a pavlova and I was reduced to hysterical laughter. Apparently the Israeli take on the pav is to cover it in STEWED fruits. How Kim from Allconsuming would have loved to witness their ridiculous concoctions.

So I'm lying here on my comfortable sofa, reading through the paper and I come across the list of the ten top-selling books in the country. Thought you might be interested that out of the ten are three Israeli books, and then translations - two from the English (Harlan Coben and Aleksandar Hemon), German ("Alone in Berlin"), Norway ("Red Breast"), Italian ("The Lonliness of Prime Numbers"), Spanish (Mario Vargas Llosa) and Swedish ("The Girl...Fire"). That list fascinates me.

One of the Hebrew books which stands at number six this week and has remained on the list for the past 17 weeks is written by Sayed Kashua and is called "Second Person", I'm reading it now and really enjoying it. I looked him up to see what else he's written and discovered that he wrote a television show called "Arabic Work" which has been quite popular.

I'm having a wonderful time here in Israel, and now I'm off to shower and get dressed and celebrate my nephew's special day. I shall try to include you in the festivities dear friends.

E x

Haval al hazman

Please note, the "H" in the Hebrew Phrase Of The Day is pronounced with a guttural clearing of the throat.

Literal translation:

"It's a shame about the time."

Actual meaning:

"What an absolutely awesome time!!!"

Example:

"We went to Neve Tzedek today, what an amazing place, haval al hazman!!"


Most road signs in Israel are in Hebrew, Arabic and English.


Tel-Aviv is not a pretty city, this is a photo I took as we entered the city. This style of apartment building is typical of the entire country, as are the water tanks (each of which is attached to a solar panel).

But I do love the smell, the dirt and the chaos.

We drove by the Mediterranean for a few minutes and arrived at Neve Tzedek - me, Miss CB and my mother, three generations off for a brief adventure. It has been unseasonably hot - 30 degrees today! We took it slow and stayed on the shady sides of the streets.
Very beautiful buildings abound, many of them beautifully restored.



A man inside makes wooden chairs. The shutters are covered in fine sawdust:

A shop which sells only chickpea chips (made in the kitchen next door):

Almost all of the streets are named after famous people, this plaque explains that Shalom Shabazi was "The Zionist poet living in the diaspora of Yemen in the second half of the 17th century." Shabazi the STREET has some awesome cafes, boutiques and a fab bookstore called "A Simple Tale." If you have never read any of S.Y. Agnon's short stories I highly recommend them, many have been translated into English. Agnon is a unique experience.

This is "The Righteous Rabbi Yehuda Street - A kabbalist and exegesist who was the leader of 1500 rabbis who travelled from Poland to Jerusalem in the 17th century."


Citrus and olive trees on the balcony and roof:

The letters decorating this building denote the year in which it was built - 5689 - which is 1928/1929. When you don't believe that Jesus is the Messiah then you don't necessarily start to count your years from the time of his birth.

We stopped at a beautiful restaurant for lunch, and I shall post photos of food, YES, FOOD. But tomorrow. Because I am exhausted!

Off to bed.

E xxxx

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shetihiye bari

I'm back at the apartment following a lovely family dinner (humus, tehina, pita, chicken kebab). I stupidly forgot to take photos, sorry, I was too busy listening to my brother's stories about the day he and his friends decided to test out whether it was faster to hop onto their bikes, following the swim, with the shoes already clipped onto the bikes, or not. So they put on their full wetsuits and jumped into the local pool and then practiced racing out of the water onto their bikes while one of them timed the whole thing, over and over again. I just kept thinking of what it would feel like to ride without wearing socks, which I still don't understand. My sister-in-law's brother (a gorgeous New Yorker who arrived this afternoon) then described his latest rock-climbing experiences. I countered with a fully detailed account of my latest power-walk up and down my local beach, wearing my sun-lotion and wide-brimmed hat. They were suitably impressed.

I told my parents about your excitement concerning Yiddish and Hebrew phrases. My father feels it would be remiss of me not to immediately teach you this Hebrew phrase:

Shetihiye bari.

Literal translation: "You should be healthy."

Actual meaning in everyday usage: "You should drop dead."

It's a true classic.

Off to bed, more tomorrow.

P.S. It is definitely faster to hop onto the bike which already has the shoes stuck onto the pedals. You're welcome.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Israel - day 1

Miss CB and I landed in Tel Aviv late last night (that would be Tuesday night Israel time). We made it. Quite a journey for two women who suffer from terrible travel-sickness.

Here we are this morning, posing outside the apartment building in which we'll be staying for the next week. It's an apartment which we're sharing with my parents, a five minute walk from my brother's house.
Behold my brother:

Miss CB and I arrived at his house at 7 this morning and were enjoying breakfast with my sister-in-law, three nieces and nephew when my brother came in looking just like this. He had just returned from a one and a half hour bike ride. My brother and I are pretty much, well, complete opposites. While I spent my childhood hiding in my room and reading, my brother was running, jumping, swimming and generally on the go, non-stop, forever. He's an Ironman several times over and is constantly training for his next Event. He is also an amazing husband to the loveliest and cutest woman, and their four kids are each a gem. A GEM I say!!

Even their dog is awesome.

Behold Oskar (note - with a "K"), he's a Cairn Terrier who reminds me of Eurolush's Tex, only beige and somewhat furrier.

Oskar immediately took a liking to Miss CB as she joined her cousins in working out the daily crossword over breakfast.

I shall try to take photos every day and share my experiences with you. I realise that these photos don't capture what Israel actually looks like from the outside, I'll try to show you the neighbourhood but for the moment it's all about the mishpocha.

Monday, November 1, 2010

One more random thing before I go

I highly recommend this film (and the trailer for it is great too):



The film's publicity consistently mentioned the screenwriter (the amazing Aaron Sorkin) which is quite something in an industry which hardly ever gives credit to any writers.

Although the story hangs on the lawsuit, it's really our story - the story of people who are living in the age of digital social networks. But now this one particular blogger must finish packing and go on a real trip.

See you on the other side bloggers.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A brief interlude

I can't sleep, too excited about my upcoming trip, so I'm listening to music on YouTube. You probably remember that one of my favourite movies is "International Velvet," and listening to the theme from the film always makes me happy. So I listened to it here:




And it suddenly occurred to me to see if the composer of this theme wrote any other music for films.

His name, it turns out, is Francis Lai, who knew? And he wrote this as well:



And this:



Fame is such a strange beast, I had never heard his name before. Why?

Monsieur Lai, you have a place in my heart,

love,

Eleanor x

Can you ever go home?

Tomorrow morning Miss Commentbox and I shall be flying to Israel to celebrate the bar-mitzvah of my brother's son. It'll be a bit of a family reunion as well as a trip down memory lane. My father's Israeli, Mum's American, and I lived in Israel for six years from when I was two until I was eight. So those were formative years in my life, I started school there, learned to read and write and made my first friends and memories. I have very very beautiful memories of my childhood and the nostalgia I feel for those years is immense. I shall not be talking politics in my posts, both because it's so complicated and because I am so ambivalent, also because that's not what this trip is about for me.

To get started here is the song I was listening to way back then - it was a winning entry in the Israeli Children's Music Festival and was THE playground hit that year.


Friday, October 29, 2010

I never thought this day would come

I never thought the day would come that I'd post about my car. I just don't really notice cars, well I didn't until now. Here is my original "Noddy Car" - a Nissan Pulsar which we bought second hand in 1996. It has served me so very well, but lately the entire dashboard sort of came apart, the turn signal started clicking reallyreallyreally fast, and then just when I got used to it the clicking would be slllllooooowwwwwslllooowwwslllloooww, the lights on the radio stopped working so I couldn't see the buttons at night, and every time we took poor Noddy Car for a service we'd end up spending enough money to buy a new car.



It took me an entire year to agree to purchase a new car, I just had no interest in doing the research and then spending such a huge amount of money. But sometimes it's cheaper to buy a new car than to keep repairing a wreck (sniff, Noddy Car, I still love you). So behold my Honda CRV in Sparkle Grey. I ended up buying the one car I always swore I wouldn't - yep, the kind of car petite blond Eastern Suburbs housewives drive(those of you who live in Sydney, you know what I mean).

Please note that I'm posing in two different pairs of jeans. Yep, I also swore way back when that I would never wear jeans again. How the mighty have fallen.

What do I love most about my new car? Being so high up, the brakes really working, the bluetooth phone system (had to get a new phone for that, my circa 1995 phone wasn't making the grade. Powder blue plastic, if you're wondering), and the CD player. I have never had a CD player (I know it's all about plugging in your iPod, but I'm taking it one step at a time). So I grabbed a CD, which happened to be Jennifer Lopez, I had forgotten I had it, and blasted it as I drove around aimlessly for an hour.

This is the song on the JLo CD which I had forgotten about, oh how I loved this song in 2001. My favourite aerobics instructor at the local gym would play it and teach us a routine. "Get ready for the chorus ladies, and cha-cha-cha."

Oh, and I wore my Dior foundation and new lipstick, and I swear the combination of makeup and new car took a good ten years off my age.

P.S.
Stay tuned, I'm off to attend my nephew's bar-mitzvah in Israel next week, and if all goes well I'll blog about it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Eternal youth

Is beauty synonymous with youth?

I've been researching make-up for a project I'm working on at the moment, and it suddenly hit me that the cosmetics industry is geared towards a youth-obsessed marketplace. It's all about looking younger, minimizing wrinkles and age-spots, camouflaging the body's natural ageing process for as long as you can get away with it. How did I not notice this before? I've been living in blissful make-up free isolation apparently.

I suppose I can afford to be so surprised, I'm still in my early forties and I seem to have lucked out by inheriting my mother's wrinkle-free skin, so far anyway. But still, I feel personally offended at the way ad campaigns blatantly target women's biological realities and offer to fix them.

Can I ever be happy with the way I look, naturally, as I age? Or will I always have that nagging thought at the back of my mind that if I only try harder, find the right product, do more, research the options and spend the money...then, I might look more beautiful? I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Then I read this article in Zoe Foster's wonderful blog (one of my favourite Aussie beauty writers, she's so funny and sweet and adorable and ...um...young). The main point of the article is not at all about the ageing process but one particular phrase really caught my attention:

"And kind of ageing, to be honest"

Blake Lively is 23 years old, and yet even SHE should stay away from colours and styles which make her look old?

Is it possible for a woman to wear lovely make-up which makes her look beautiful but also HER OWN AGE? I'd like to think that when I'm 80 I'll be able to put on lipstick which will suit me rather than one which will make me look younger. Or is that a physical and/ sociological impossibility?

And before I leave you can I just add one quick thing? I've noticed that make-up and beauty blogs are all written by women, about women, and for women. It's women commenting on famous women's make-up and then advising "ordinary" women what make-up is best. This industry has absolutely nothing to do with men. I don't think men notice what make-up women wear, but women do. Case in point, I took it as my professional duty to buy some new make-up, for research purposes you understand, and then experiment with it. Miss CB and I had great fun, and I even went so far as to apply foundation (a Dior sample tube which is exquisite and a perfect match to my skin tone and is therefore to be referred to from now on as the HG). But then I stood in front of Mr. CB and asked him if he could see anything different about my face...ummm.....not really (he said this hesitantly). To further prove my point, I had my eyebrows shaped today and I thought that the difference was remarkably enhancing, but Mr. CB was perplexed, he saw absolutely no difference in my eyebrows whatsoever (he said this hesitantly again).

P.S.
HG is Holy Grail, it took me a while to realise that beauty bloggers who were referring to this were not writing about an actual product called "HG."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

French scarf-tying

Watching this video is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, and style to your wardrobe.


And her method really works too.







I also love her hair, dress and glasses.

And confidence.

And accent.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Venomous Villains

Wishes do come true - here's the proof:




M.A.C. and Disney have joined forces to create the perfect make-up for me.





The key to wearing this collection is "straight up confidence".

I'm working on it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

From over the fence

The nanny next door popped by this morning to borrow my kitchen scales. Her two charges (Mr. Man 4 and Missy Moo 3) were at preschool for the day and she had promised them that when they return this afternoon they would make jam together. Because that's just how fabulous Ninny is, because Mr. Man thought it would be nice to make jam for his dad's birthday and decided it should be melon jam, and Ninny did not say "Don't be ridiculous, we'll just make him a lovely card instead," which is certainly what I would have said. So she needed the scales to measure out the melon so it would be all ready for this afternoon's activity. Dear dear Ninny, where were you 14 years ago when I needed you most? Ah, yes, that's right... you were looking after Charlie and Annabelle in their New York penthouse. Of course.

Naturally, I invited Ninny to join me for a cup of tea and a slice of cake and a good old chit-chat. I really wanted her to stay and read me a story and make me Vegemite sandwiches for lunch and put me down for my nap, but she didn't have that much time today. Ninny was, however, delighted to have a little chat and to tell me all about the trouble she has with the very naughty David Tennant. She explained that despite being a great Dr. Who fan, she highly disapproves of Mr. Tennant, and has reprimanded him in writing twice already.

You see, Ninny has a passion for children's books. This is not a general passion for juvenile literature, but a very specific passion for the books which her babies (that's what she says - "my babies" - with a Mary Poppinish sparkle in her clear blue eyes) adore. Mr. Man and Missy Moo are crazy mad in love with all of the Hairy Maclairy books. This is of particular delight to me because it was I who bought them the very first book in the series, and this book has therefore formed a very strong bond between me and Ninny. Books do that sometimes, and apart from anything else it was Hairy Maclairy (from Donaldson's dairy) who first taught my own sweet baby Ms. Commentbox to rhyme, and the day she remembered that Schnitzel von Krum had a very low tum was a particular highlight of my younger mothering years. But I digress.

So Ninny wrote to the Maclairy books' author - Lynley Dodd, telling her how much her babies love her books. Ninny included the cutest photo of the two babies posing sweetly with their books, and a little "thank you picture" they each drew for her. Ninny thinks that Lynley Dodd is wonderful because she replied immediately with a handwritten letter which included the sweetest sketch of Hairy waving his paw and saying hello to the babies. Darling.

Such was Ninny's enthusiasm for this literary bonding that she proceeded to write similar fan letters (together with her babies, who were terribly excited as well) to Lucy Cousins whose Maisy books bring such joy, as well as to Jane O'Connor of Fancy Nancy fame. Maisy's creator wrote back on a Maisy card, Nancy's creator wrote back on the sweetest Fancy Nancy stationery. They are both wonderful authors.

But then, one day, the babies were given a present (not by me, I swear it) of a CD of Hairy Maclary, narrated by David Tennant (it's now on the iPad too, apparently). The babies were so taken by his narration that Ninny thought it would only be right to write immediately to Mr. Tennant so as to tell him how adored he is in this little household in Sydney, Australia. Mr. Man and Missy Moo both dictated short letters of thanks, posed for the photograph and eagerly awaited Mr. Tennant's response.

Several weeks later, to Ninny's delight, an envelope arrived which she opened with great fanfare while watched excitedly by the babies. The envelope contained a small photograph of Mr. Tennant dressed as Dr. Who, with a scribbled signature on the bottom right corner. Ninny was deeply offended. What idiot, she wondered, would receive a fan letter from LITTLE CHILDREN and not realise that a PROPER response was needed, preferably with some understanding of the fact that they were not tiny Dr. Who fans but, in fact, INNOCENT LITTLE CHILDREN WHO LOVE HIS NARRATION OF HAIRY MACLAIRY.

So Ninny sent off another letter, explaining this fact (most politely, of course) and including a stamped self-addressed envelope for ease of return communication. Several months passed with no response. The babies have not forgotten this and still, months and months later, check the mailbox DAILY to see if Mr. Tennant has responded to their fan letters. So Ninny sent a third letter, still polite, but somewhat more.... adament, especially as Missy Moo (particularly heartbroken) has taken to proclaiming that Mr. Tennant is very naughty and rude.

You see, Ninny doesn't only teach her babies to love stories and pictures and make jam from scratch, she also teaches them the importance of going out of your way to thank someone even if they live very far away from you and have no idea who you are.

Ninny admitted to me that she doesn't have a computer and never goes on the Internet, but I must say that her spirit is a blogging spirit of the highest order. As she cheerfully talked and sipped her tea I had the craziest vision of the kind of blog beautiful Ninny could create, how popular she'd be, and how much love and happiness she would spread around the globe. But for the moment, she's all MINE (and the babies' too, naturally).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Studio Ghibli can do no wrong

Watched "Whisper of the Heart" last night. A film which perfectly captures the struggle a young emerging artist feels upon realising how much more work is still ahead of her. In my perfect Film School, all first year students would watch this on their first day and all teachers would simply say "Let me accompany you, to find the lapis lazuli vein" whenever one of their students would be overcome with fear, exhaustion and helplessness in the ensuing years.



Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Collections

I've been collecting a range of different experiences, mentally bookmarking them to share with you in posts.

For example, I have a Jamaican neighbour (at the other end of my street) who has a karaoke machine, and last night as I walked past his house I heard him singing this. Now, he can hardly hold a tune (sh...don't tell him), and I could hardly make out what he was singing other than the lyrics. So I googled the words and of COURSE, Bob Marley, and then I actually realised that I preferred my neighbour's out-of-tune version. I think he lives alone and just sings to himself. Love that.

So now I have decided to challenge myself, and a certain other German blogger. Next time I see my Jamaican singer in the neighbourhood I'm going to ask him if I can come over one day and sing with him. Update to come. And let this be a challenge to Eurolush, who has returned home and is still hiding out in a blogfree zone, to take on the challenge of finally asking her neighbour Hawkman if she can hold his hawk (it's been over two years Lushy, shame). Let the challenge begin I say.

And now to a different topic. One of my favourite writers has actually dedicated an entire post to me. I've been Margie's fan ever since I met her, truth be told...even before I read a word she had written. Around the time she started to write for Sassy I was looking after my newborn Miss Commentbox and I would greedily devour Margie's eloquent say-it-like-it-is articles, dreaming that one day my daughter would read exactly that type of magazine. Turns out Miss CB now reads Frankie, which I also love, and I still claim that some of the Sassiness I consumed during her first year of life came through to her in my breast milk.

Moving right along, I'd now like to discuss my recent interest in makeup. Having worn nothing but sunscreen for years I am on the hunt for some fun items with which to decorate my face. But before any purchases are made I realise that it's really all about the people involved, and I'm referring to the "makeup girls" who smile sweetly, and not so sweetly, from behind their soft lit counters. I have fallen in love with each and every one of them; from the fabulously Goth pixie who helps me find the right eyeliner at the Mac counter, to the bejewelled Russian matriarch in her white Clinique lab coat who insists that brown lipsticks are ageing.

Oh, and by the way, a chic French lady standing next to me at the cash register was buying this. She caught me looking at her and she said in a sing-song voice "You should buy some. I see you are tempted."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Happy

OK...not sure how it happened that I stopped my "happiness list" at number 2. Honestly, I haven't really been that unhappy, case in point:

Jasper and me at Kim's place which is always filled with allconsuming love and really really good food.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Happy day 2

Last time I wrote about Japanese animation my friend Yuki mentioned that her favourite Studio Ghibli film is "My Neighbour Totoro." I have to agree with you Yuki, it makes me SO HAPPY. It's the story of two sisters whose mother is sick in hospital, so they spend the summer in the country with their father who teaches Archaeology at the local university. The scene which makes me the happiest is the one in which the two girls are waiting to meet him at the bus-stop with an umbrella, but he's late, and Totoro joins them and waits with them. Oh no, wait, my favourite scene is actually when they catch the bus that's shaped like a cat and it takes them to visit their mother and they sit on the top branch of a tree and look into the hospital window and see her talking with their father. No, no, I've changed my mind...I think my favourite scene is when the lovely old lady who is looking after the little sister brings her to the school where the big sister studies because she won't stop crying, so the little sister joins the class for the rest of the day.

I'll stop now and let you watch the trailer in peace and quiet.




This then doubles my happiness, Totoro making an appearance in Toy Story 3 as an homage to Studio Ghibli. Miyazaki and Lasseter are friends, that makes me so so happy:


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Happy tag

The beautiful Duyvken tagged me, so I'm going to come up with 10 things that make me happy. Thanks Duvvy xxxx

I hope it's still within the rules if I post one thing every day. For ten days in a row I'll post what made me happy on each of the days, all right?

So, here goes....

Today, I was very happy to discover this piece of music:








This music is actually one precious link in an entire necklace of musical happinesses. I first heard this tune on the television programme "In Treatment," which makes me very happy whenever I watch it. This is the story behind the music:

Mia was Paul's patient when she was in her late teens, she returns to him as a patient twenty years later and blames him for a decision she made in her youth. She also claims that he didn't truly care for her when he originally treated her. Paul gets up from his chair, walks towards the stereo and presses the play button - this music comes on. It's a tape which Mia had given him many years ago of her own piano playing, and which he has saved all these years. That scene makes me happy.

Each of Paul's patients has a musical theme, and each one makes me happy. For example, this is Sophie's theme:



April's theme:



Paul's own theme when he visits his own therapist Gina:



Sometimes happiness is soft and thoughtful, with an undertone of a good type of sadness. Today my happiness is like a salted caramel - it's sweeter and better because of the salt.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back home

Hello all,

If you're still here reading this blog then it means you knew me back when...you know...back when I used to post regularly.


It took me several weeks to feel "at home" again at home, and I just didn't feel like writing about it. This is a time of big changes in my role as mother/housewife/woman and some days I seem to be completely lost. Miss Cb is working in America for a few months, Master Cb is very independent and happy in his own world of school and friends, and for the first time ever I'm suddenly reminiscing about the "early years" of the family and wondering what exactly my role is in the present years.

I watched this film last week - "Only Yesterday" - and I had the most wonderful cry at the end of it. Such a wonderful feeling to cry at the end of a movie, really it is! I think the Japanese audience especially loves a good cry, and I'm so thankful for that. It's all very well to watch clever, fast-paced, witty or three-dimensional Hollywood films, but sometimes all you want is a good cry.

I love the idea of a woman in her mid-twenties taking along her younger self as she travels to her summer destination. I love the interweaving of the two love narratives - her first love with the school's baseball star and the deep love which she slowly discovers while picking safflowers. And then there are all of the perfect, tiny details which are added in the animation (painstakingly hand-drawn by the wonderful Studio Ghibli) - the father's puff of cigarette smoke, the cat walking past, her glancing at the mirror while talking on the phone, and best of all - the catcher's mitt glimpse when the little girl and little boy agree on their favourite kind of day.

Thought it might brighten your day as well.....



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dinner with a blogging legend

This is what I looked like as I sat at a table in a wonderful restaurant with EL, bb (and B the lurker, naturally). Lurkers.are.always.with.us.

I only took a break from smiling and laughing so as to eat, that goes without saying though, doesn't it?

Here I am again, smiling and laughing. At one point, bb&EL&B took part in what can only be described as a Funny Competition in which each competed "in the round" with each other, coming up with one-liners in at attempt to outdo each other. Soon, EL had folded (I know. Stamina. She had it not) and oh my but how well did B do against the hysterically funny bb!!! I cannot even begin to imagine what the other diners thought of us. Some very good wine may have been consumed as well, so, you know, it was a very very good night.



Sitting with bb, the wonderfully petite blogging legend who introduced me to EL, and of course to each and every one of you, was indeed a true highlight of my trip.
Ah yes, the miracle of blogging. If blogging was a religion, I'd convert, because it has brought me so much happiness.
I'm now off to the airport to return home.
See you back home.
E xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, July 5, 2010

When I win the lottery I will fly each and every one of you to Tuvalu and:

I will rent out this place every evening. Cocktails and mini-burgers and some wonderful tunes playing on the piano. Then more cocktails, fries dipped in mayonnaise and gushing over the murals. Repeat.

On the very first morning we will convene here, we will take full advantage of the free Wifi and the Reading Room. Although I have no doubt that EL and Coffeelady would end up here.

We'd have breakfast here every single morning. We'd also eat a great deal of the time here, here and here.

We would often find ourselves exhausted - sore throats from talking so much, sore facial muscles from laughing so much etc. So we would have to take a break and relax in these grounds. We would also walk up and down here, especially at sunset.

Free banana pudding every single day...and night....from here, and we'd only eat cupcakes from here. That's a RULE, by the way, because a HUGE amount of research went into this. HUGE.

To be continued......

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My Grand Manhattan Adventure

Long time no post, huh?!!

So... this post will officially start the catch-up. I will tell you where I've travelled, what I've done and who I met in the past three weeks.

But first let me share this photograph with you, this photo which is my all-time favourite out of the many photos taken during my Grand Manhattan Adventure.


No photoshopping was used on this photo, Eurolush truly is that drop-dead gorgeous, cute and lovable. She's everything she is in her blog, but even more witty, clever, funny and AWESOME. If you can imagine! Which I don't have to any more, because I MET her!!!!

Seeing as Eurolush is just so damn fine, she never ever travels without her trusty entourage of lurkers, and indeed she was accompanied this week by her most experienced and professional lurker - the infamous B. True to form, B never left our side...we could always see her out of the corner of our eyes, but then we'd turn around and....poof....nobody there....just some anonymous passerby staring into the window of yet another Cupcake Shop. You know that commentbox you just received on your blog signed by Anonymous? That was B. You know that "follower" who won't let you know who she is? B. You know that reader you imagine...the one who follows the details of your life but never shares anything in return?

B

She is always in disguise.

Spot the lurker:


Spot the lurker:
Spot the lurker:


And now I must come to the reason for my Grand Manhattan Adventure (aka Tuvalu Travels). Do not for one moment think that I was sent here for pleasure. God forbid. Ladies, it was all business, risky business, challenging, and at times, I must admit, exhausting.

There are not many people who can head up the International Cupcake Commission, and it was an absolute honour to have been chosen to be Co-President of said Commission - alongside Eurolush. Our personal assistant B was an ideal choice, she's there....but completely unobtrusive...as all good lurkers are.



Hmmm....not sure...5 points for atmosphere and comfort, 5 for the superlative icing, but the cake itself...hmm.....not...quite...sure....

A second round may be needed for a true and exact judgement call.



Presenting the Cupcake Van, 4 points for cuteness, but lack of freshness and overwhelming diesel fumes left our Co-President unimpressed. And yet still fresh as a daisy and cute as a button:




The judges are ecstatic. The icing is as thick as the cake itself. A grand effort indeed.



Presentation outstanding, the judges are immediately at ease. All is well with the world.

Random photo of me kissing Eurolush.

Just because.

To be continued......the next episode may well include a tiny blackbird, a Chinese restaurant, and several glasses of Sancerre.

Then we shall probably return to the cupcakes, and an Italian restaurant in which we may or may not have waited for an hour and a half at the bar until our table was ready.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Monday, June 7, 2010

Watch my smoke

Kim at allconsuming reminded me of an old favourite from my teenage years. I can remember the LP record and putting the needle down over and over again on that ridge just before "Let's hear it for the boy." Sigh...

I was also really loving the Fame TV soundtrack. This was a favourite of mine, and if this clip doesn't make you laugh then I don't know what will!!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Thrilling

I watched the Coen brothers' "Blood Simple" last night. It's their first film and absolutely fabulous. If you like a really good thriller then I highly recommend it, plus...look how adorably young Frances McDormand is in it. This interview cracks me up:



But it doesn't pass the Bechdel test.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Bechdel Test

Something to ponder:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday morning

I've been so busy and anxious lately that I haven't really noticed the wonderful things which have been happening around me. That's no way to live a life. So I went to the bookstore a couple of days ago and bought "Hunting and Gathering" by Anna Gavalda, because I enjoyed her latest book "Consolation" so much. This morning I woke up with a half hour to spare and it was pouring with rain outside so I settled in to reading the last few pages of the book, in bed, with the shutters open so I could look out at the rain. The experience was made doubly wonderful because I knew I had a time limit - Master Cb cannot be late for school.

I should explain here that Anna Gavalda ROCKS the endings of her stories, so I just knew each page of the story would make me feel happier and happier. Then, Mr. Cb (who is addicted to watching the Airbender series every morning while having breakfast) came upstairs during the ad break with a perfect latte made in my orange Grumpy Cafe mug. He placed it on my night-table, and I told him that this very moment was indeed the happiest moment of my entire life. He smiled, kissed me and went back to the Airbender. Then....then....Blue came jingling up the stairs, jumped on the bed and lay down on my feet, and then I read the last five pages of the book while sipping my coffee.

That's all I need. Really, I tell you. That's all I need.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Say yes to the dress

Miss Cb and I are completely addicted to this show. The combination of family/friend relationships and fashion is, in my opinion, exactly what my writing teachers mean when they say they want life and death stakes and a ticking time bomb in the first 15 pages.

And it's all real life.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Louise Bourgeois

I just heard that Louise Bourgeois died today, she was 98 years old. That's a long and beautiful life.

I never met Louise Bourgeois, and yet she had a profound effect on my own life. Ten years ago I visited my parents in London; Miss Cb was eight, Master Cb was five, and my parents were eager for me to go off and enjoy myself so that they could spoil the grandchildren. I obliged, with pleasure. One of the places I visited was the Tate Modern, and I was lucky to enough to experience Bourgeois' incredible sculpture entitled "I Do, I Undo, I Redo," a more apt title for my emotional landscape at that time I could not have found. I stood on line and waited patiently at each of the three towers, I walked up the stairs, I sat on the chairs and stared at the giant mirrors, I walked down the stairs and stopped at each tiny sculpture on the way. Louise Bourgeois had somehow managed to physically sculpt my feelings, and I shall be eternally grateful to her for that.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Consolation

It's been a while since I read a book, it really has. I've been spending most of my time reading scripts and watching films, so when a friend of mine gave me this book and assured me it was "my type" of book I was simply annoyed. But she was right, it is completely and absolutely my type of book and it is exactly what I needed to read this weekend.

I shall link to this article here, which I think does a very good job of describing the many joys hiding between the covers of this book. The joys and treasures are indeed hiding, because the beginning of the story is dark, slow and mysterious. The way to read the first few chapters is to be completely open to the not-knowing, what I mean by this is that you have to almost pretend that you understand the intricacies of characters and plot, go with the flow, and have faith that all will become clear. It all eventually becomes miraculously clear, and then you suddenly feel this tremendous surge of love for life which could only have been created through those final revelations.

It's a story about parenting and mothering which actually, really and truly, I swear, captures that painful struggle and those moments of joy. It's a story which I wish I had read a decade ago because I could have used some of its consolation; then again, reading it now is pretty much damn perfect. So many wonderful scenes at the end of this novel, oh boy, so many smiles I smiled. I don't want to give anything away, but there's a scene with a selection of cookie-cutters that simply kills me, and a story told by a little girl after an architect builds her a play-house, and...all right...I'm not going to say anything else. I'll leave it for you to discover.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Oh my gosh Eleanor's posting photos!!!

Here is Blue in the library, supervising me as I finish my scene breakdown at 2am. As you can see, he's concerned.

Miss Cb is enjoying her gap year. Before leaving for a trip overseas she is very busy getting the house in order, which includes sorting through Mister Cb's 367 ties which he no longer wears because his office has a very casual dress code. Blue is pleased, yet still somewhat concerned.

Here I am, posing in front of one of Fifilastupenda's artworks, on the opening night of her exhibition last month. I am wearing my "best" glasses and a scarf which I had hoped would allow me to seamlessly blend in amongst the artists. Unfortunately, upon entering the gallery, I immediately began gushing loudly (much to Miss Cb's horror) about the BEAUTY and the JOY of it all, and how jealous Eurolush would be if she knew where I was and "Don't you WISH, with all of your HEART, that all these people drinking wine would disappear so that you could lie down in the middle of the room and look around at the paintings and feel like you are swimming with Fi?"

These are lollies, which Miss Cb just made this afternoon, from SCRATCH. The red are strawberry, purple are rosewater, and they are all about to be placed in a glass jar and presented to her friend tonight as a birthday gift.
Needless to say, Miss Cb is self taught. Her mother was napping at the time.