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Los Angeles: the darker side

December 29, 2013 Leave a comment

This is my first time in Los Angeles. It is a startling place of about 22 million people – about the population of Australia. There are a lot of things to love about it, but they are for another post.

Personal injuries lawyers advertising their millionaire dreams on the Metro bus …

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So many people fishing in rubbish bins (aka trash cans), looking for food. Here, a man is up to his armpits outside the LA Science Centre. In Australia, this happens, but on a tiny scale by comparison. Today’s news is that 1.3 million Americans will be having their unemployment benefits cut and returning servicemen and women will have their benefits reduced. According to Volunteers America, 46.2 million Americans live in poverty. Skid row may grow.

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Another advertisement, inside a Metro train this time, speaks of desperation without calling it out. In Australia, we have ads calling for the surrender of firearms.

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Bail bond services are advertised on benches across the road from the courthouse and public service signs are mostly bi-lingual.

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I was speaking with a private driver about how terrible it was that eight Americans had died from carbon monoxide poisoning, because their power was out (due to a recent ice storm) and they’d used BBQs and generators to warm themselves up. The driver may have revealed too much about himself when he said that in his experience, you could warm yourself up with candles.

This is the dark side of the glitzy dream. Still, no matter what, the locals love this place, fiercely. And good on them.

2013 Jupiters National DanceSport Championship_QLD Open

Peter + Rebecca Beardsley (QLD Professional ballroom champions)

Peter + Rebecca Beardsley (QLD Professional ballroom champions)

 

The Easter long weekend coincides with one of the biggest dates on the Australian DanceSport calendar: the Queensland Open, National DanceSport Championship at Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast.

This year, the turnout was fabulous and the competition, fierce, in a beautiful way. Congratulations to organisers, competitors and support crews. I was there in a supporting role. With camera in hand some of the time, I thought I’d try to honour the efforts of others by snapping and sharing. My gear for those who care: Canon EOS 5D Mark2, with 70-200mm 1:2.8L.

If you competed on Sunday and can’t see yourself in the images below, feel free to message me via the sidebar, with your competitor # and age bracket (and event # if possible) and I’ll have a look through what I’ve got. I’m happy to email people privately with their photos, free of charge, copyright free. If you use any of my images, though, please acknowledge me as the creator and refer to this blogsite. Also, if you appear in any of the images displayed, and wish them to be taken down, please send me a private message on the sidebar.

For those who didn’t participate, but would like a glimpse into this very special world, please enjoy. There were plenty of new frocks on the floor and feathers made a comeback. I wasn’t around for the professional events, (bar one floorshow) so, what you see are pictures of amateurs of all ages who love to dance. Their efforts are inspiring. If you’re looking for a social way to get fit, perhaps ballroom dancing will be for you. The great thing about it is that children can do it as well as adults of all ages: there is no limit, only your attitude.

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Link to this site through FaceBook / WordPress etc and let other competitors know that images from the comp are available.

UPDATE: Thanks for all the lovely comments through the sidebar. This has been a great opportunity to promote the sport, with about 1500 views already.

Cake Girl WOWs Daffodil Day

September 16, 2012 1 comment

Friends and co-workers know I can disappear cake faster than you can say ‘Seconds?’ But this Daffodil Day, I was met with stiff competition from my fluffy-walled podmates who didn’t PAUSE while I went to get my camera-phone. I HAD to share this day with you, because it was so inspirational and involves lots of cake.

Gillian Bell aka Cake Girl

Gillian Bell of Cake Girl wows Daffodil Day in our office yet again. And makes us all forget our diets.

Cheesecake *faints*

How gorgeous and what a great idea.

Lemon cake

Red velvet cake, anyone?

Lucky ginger is so good for you…

Thank YOU, Gillian. What you did for this cancer fundraising morning tea was astonishing.

Cake Girl is a Brisbane-based business.

 

 

 

Latest in wet weather shoes

March 22, 2012 8 comments

You know it’s been a wet year when high-end fashion houses start selling plastic shoes.

These little VWs followed me home from Sydney (oops) and could be seen walking the streets of Brisbane today.

Isn’t the Brisbane City street art gorgeous? Sandstone carved with an image of a traditional ‘Queenslander’.

All-plastic high heels by 'Melissa' and Vivienne Westwood. Just amazing what can be done with plastic. Sadly, I couldn't take them all....

Brisbane today:

Chanel gumboots, anyone?

Gumboots, up close (in case you didn't believe me).

Or, Chanel thongs? Translation: Expensive flip-flops (in case readers are looking for underwear. In Queensland, we call them 'thongs', whereas the undergarments are G-strings).

Olive festival: Watercress Creek Olives & Limes

March 16, 2012 5 comments

Scandals plague the olive  industry from time to time: be it oil that isn’t what it’s claimed to be, or Aussie farmers being bought out by Chinese business interests. Now, more than ever, it’s worth knowing who’s growing your food and where it’s actually coming from. Buying local isn’t a quaint legacy of a 1980s green-and-gold advertising campaign; it’s actually smart, environmentally sensible and fair (if you believe that what goes around, comes around).

But this is a good news story, so let’s get to the good bits.

Watercress Creek Olives & Limes

If you’ve ever wondered where places like Brisbane’s Cloudland source their delicious olives, I can let you in on a well-kept secret: Watercress Creek Olives & Limes, at Pine Mountain.

The property is near Ipswich and has bounced back remarkably after Queensland’s devastating floods of 2011. If you’re a dedicated foodie, you should contact the Mahon family by email and request an invitation to their next Olive festival. Entry is free, but unfortunately, you’re going to have to wait a year.

Tour of the grove

I had the pleasure of attending on 11 March 2012: the day was a stunning success, beautiful food and scenery. Be sure to get a tour of the olive and lime grove. And instructions on how to marinate your own olives.

Bernie giving a tour of the grove. What goes into growing your olives is simply amazing.

Some of the delights of the day…. There were products featured from other locals, including sheep milk cheeses, honey, natural soaps, woodturning pieces, to name a few.

What came home with me….

Limes & olive delights

The sheep-milk cheese was a lovely surprise, quite unlike cow or goat milk products. It made my Sunday night ironing in front of the tv something special, along with a few olives, figs and dark bread.

A tip for using limes: the green ones are best for your Coronas (beer) and other drinks; the yellowish ones are sweeter and best for marinating fish. A tip for storing limes: freeze them either whole (wrapped in plastic) or squeeze them out and store the juice frozen in ice cube trays.

I’m going to have a lot of fun cooking with my variously infused olive oils. They’ll make great gifts for the people I most love to visit at dinner time, also. Just sayin’.

Women driving in Saudi Arabia: hot music video

February 6, 2012 2 comments

M.I.A. – Bad Girls

I came across this jaw-dropping music video and had to share it with you because:

1. You won’t have seen anything like it before.

2. You won’t have heard anything like it before. Listen to it twice. It’s serious girl-swagger on steroids.

3. It makes a statement and it makes it well. Really well. Love it or hate it, but you can’t un-hear it. Its effect stays with you. It may even inspire me to work on my reverse-parking (because girls can do anything).

As you may know, women in Saudi Arabia are banned by clerics from driving. This restricts their ability to work, socialise and do many of the things women in the west take for granted. They are completely dependent upon males driving them and essentially supervising them in public. Read more about the stirrings of an Arab Spring for Women.

MIA, the British visual artist turned singer, will be responding to her favourite YouTube comments on 10 Feburary 2012. Go say hi.

What I love about this particular music video is that it mocks the arbitrariness of the unwritten rules which prevent Saudi women from driving as badly as their men and participating in society. It leaves their religion alone. Let people believe what they want without ridicule, but let fly at the way they conduct themselves in the world when it’s oppressive.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part I

November 21, 2011 2 comments

There’s only one way to watch this latest Twilight movie, and that’s with Twilight fans. In my case, I went with my usual gang of Twi-mums. It’s like watching a film with surround sound and 3-D, as opposed to watching it at home with your cat. Okay, your cat wouldn’t sit through it, because that’s what  friends are for.

I should probably admit a few things up front:

1. I hate vampire stories. Friends take me to horror movies and vampire movies to laugh at my reactions.

2. Chief Twi-mum has insisted that my review be a positive one, or else.

3. Twi-mums are scarier than vampires.

If you really need to know what happened in this film, Bella finally marries Edward, goes on a honeymoon and has a baby, in that order. Watch the film to appreciate the prettiness of the wedding, especially the dress. If you don’t like fashion, you might fall into a coma in the first half of the film. Or, the second half, when they go on their honeymoon and Bella tries to decide whether she should or shouldn’t.

Bella showed a little more humanness in this film (ironically, given how it ends) but was still high on the annoying scale. Why? WELL… Far from being a good role model for young women (which is what the religious author Stephenie Meyer would’ve hoped for), she keeps modelling what not to do. Ignore the warning bells in your head, saying RUN FOR THE HILLS or MAYBE MY PARENTS WERE RIGHT. Ignore the bruises after your wedding night. HE SAID SORRY. Don’t be upset that the father of your baby calls it A THING, as in “We’ll get that thing out of you”. He’ll come around eventually. YOU GO GIRL. Not so much. It’s all so peculiar in its well-meaningness (as in, don’t do that before marriage and don’t abort under any circumstances, even when it’s a demon-baby that’s killing you) that I’m trying hard to forgive the unsafe and confused message of Love conquers all, because frankly, sometimes, it doesn’t. Spend time with battered women and you’ll come to that conclusion quickly.

The film itself was a lot slower than one would’ve thought. The dialogue was as laboured as expected, but good for emos being cool. Stop here if you don’t want to know the ending.

Sure, it came together (weirdly) in the end, with Jacob the werewolf imprinting himself on the baby with the peculiar superimposed eyes, thus protecting it from a certain death from the werewolf pack. And, after the most horrific C-section birthing scene (not horrific enough, so imagine it with a whole lot of fang-biting), Bella eventually heals all the dreadful birthing/biting wounds (including a broken spine, I believe) and comes back with red eyes. But of course, that’s where the movie ends because we can all wait a year to see what happens next. She might look at Edward. He might look back at her. She’ll be tempted to bite her own baby until she remembers that Edward told her that it loves her.

The birthing scene put me right off my movie-munchies. The Maltesers (thanks Donna) and Twisties came home (and that’s never happened). The only bit of light relief was when the vampire drove his bride away from the wedding reception in a Volvo. Volvo – for safety.

I’ll line up for the next instalment of the franchise because I rather fancy the Cullens’ house. Architecture fetish, as opposed to a fang-fetish.

Besides, love it or hate it, Twilight has changed the world. It’s now okay for women in their 40s to cheer Team Edward or Team Jacob, have a latte and go home to iron uniforms.

The Twi-faithful love this film. To them, it’s about eternal love, male bodies that ripple not wobble, and how being determinedly female can even bring a monster to heel. Or, maybe it’s about having a perfect wedding, being taken to an amazing honeymoon destination and living the happily-ever-after cool life in a modernist masterpiece in the forest.

The Queen, Super hornets and B105′s Stav.

October 25, 2011 2 comments

It’s been another great week for Brisbane. There have been several good reasons to skive off work ….

The streets near the Brisbane River, full of people waiting for THE PLANES.

Twenty Super hornets ...

First, we took delivery of another four Super hornets. Half the city came out to the river, looking in precisely the wrong direction (down the Brisbane River, ‘cos that’s what happened for River Fire, all right?!) when the cluster of twenty Super hornets whizzed over the city, from behind us. It was a moment of WOW, quickly followed by WAS THAT IT? And, ARE THEY COMING BACK? Sadly, a few thousand people had to go back to work sooner than they had hoped.

Then, a certain classy lady came to town on Monday 24 October 2011.

Photo by Anthony Cox, used with permission. Copyright Anthony Cox, 2011.

Sure, she only spent 4 hours in the state that bears her name, but she made the most of the time. We’re still twittering about it. Kids have embedded the day in their memories of childhood (and somewhat embellished it – thanks S for tricking us all into believing that you shook her hand!)

Today, feeling almost sad that there was nothing big going down in the town, my luck turned. Local FM radio personality, Stav, from B105, came to my local cafe as the coffee-making apprentice. Being in the right place, at the right time, I scored my favourite gluten-free coconut biscuit and lactose-free flat white for free! Sure, we had to shout FASTER STAV! but he managed in the end, and that’s what matters.

Who could resist?

Stav from B105, probably wishing that he was back behind the microphone.

Occupy Brisbane, Part 3. In honour of the Queen’s visit.

October 24, 2011 3 comments

Possibly in honour of the crowds drawn into the city today, on occasion of Her Majesty’s visit, Brisbane’s Occupiers found some friends and pitched a few more tents. They probably, very nearly reached the overly generous estimate of 40 tents, which I published yesterday. They also kindly put out some new signs for me to photograph today and most generously did not display the offensive anti-American anti-Jewish sign of last week. So, everyone’s happy. More or less.

Great juxtaposition.

The Occupiers' camp-craft could do with some up-skilling. They wouldn't survive in the wild.

Art lessons for those who hate cats.

Why are animals going extinct? (Why is literacy dead?)

Nice, for cannibals.

Now I get it. The signs were written by science students. (Where are the arts students? CHOGM?)

Occupy Brisbane, or not…. Part 2

October 24, 2011 2 comments

This is Part 2 of the riveting story around Occupy Brisbane. If you’re missing the plot, you’re not the only one.

Imagine, peak hour Brisbane City, in Post Office Square...

People are on their way to work and the Courier Mail warns us that "Jobs are on the line"

Our Occupiers have put out some signs saying “What does our society value?” and “This is what I fought for”. To be honest, putting a sign on a statue of a serviceman is disrespectful. Servicemen and women fight for something, namely their country (the whole 100%). Five people and forty borrowed tents doesn’t quite equate, no matter what your perspective.

Finally, an explanation of the 99% and 1%. Poor Occupier was sticky-taped inside his tent all day (poster being on his door and all. What commitment.)

Why not bring Einstein into it? Makes it seem ...clever?

Occupiers looking occupied, but clearly not here...

Sign says, "Love is the Answer. What was your Question?" Well, after a whole week, I'm still wondering what your point is.

To be fair, they eventually found 2 people one morning, late in the week.

Newspaper columnists, keen to seem edgy, have put all sorts of intelligent arguments forward for this group. But, investigative journalists (as opposed to creative writers, such as myself), might’ve come down, taken a look at the empty tents and nonsensical signs and made a rational assessment for themselves. Anyone who’s a camper from Queensland, knows that you’re not going to be sitting inside a zipped-up tent at almost nine, on a humid October morning. The pram parked outside of one of the tents was theatrical but again, an unlikely prop. Anyone who’s been camping with a baby or toddler knows that said baby or toddler is up before sparrows and will not under any circumstance, stay silently inside a zipped-up tent.

Taking people for fools is impolite. Professional protestors should know better.

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