Are you Australian by nature?

March 30th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

I was reading a marketing book the other day and it discussed how to asses a culture when marketing a product. In this case, they tackled the good ol’ Aussie stereotype. First of all, I’m disturbed by stereotypes of any kind, secondly, I can’t imagine making sweeping generalisations to the point of writing a book about it, or even a living. Generalisations result in diamond adverts that claim you’re not loved unless you have a cold, hard stone on your wedding finger.

I’m writing this post because I wanted to know if you thought the below sterotype was true or not. Some I agree with, others don’t apply to my friends and I at all.

What are Australians?

“Australia has a distinct culture. According to Hugh MacKay, in his book, Australia Reinvented: The Mind and Mood of Australia, Australians are:

Very casual: The don’t tend to treat people differently, even when there are great differences in age or social standing.

Direct: They don’t talk around things. To some foreigners, this may appear as abrupt or even rude behaviour.

Competitive: Some foreigners may find Australians assertive or overbearing, particularly in sports.

Achievers: They like to keep score, whether at work or play. They emphasise accomplishments, particularly in sports.

Questioners: They ask a lot of questions, even to someone they have just met. Many of these questions seem pointless (“How ya doing mate?”) or personal (“What do ya do fer a crust mate?”) ( I think this is a bit of a cop-out. A lot of cultures ask pointless Qs like ‘how are you’ without waiting for the answer)

Gamblers: Australians will bet on almost anything, even on insect races – and you can bet on it. 

Xenophobic: Australians mistrust foreigners, particularly when the foreigners speak in their own language in front of Australians – seen as sign of rudeness and ignorance.

Australians value leisure: They work to live, not live to work. Most effort is usually leisure oriented, even if material standards fall as a result.”

Some of these I’m proud of, others, not so much. I am a little too relaxed, while others are working night and day to be the top dogs in their work place, I’m more concerned with aiming for closer goals. I don’t play sport but I do have a penchant for getting to the point. As for the xenophobia, I do get pissed off when people are talking in another language when I’m in the conversation. I’m working on that.

Are these stereotypes accurate? In my case, yeah, I would say so. I wasn’t born in Australia and yet the culture has absorbed under my skin over the last 16 years.

What do you think is quintessentially Australian? More so, what is typical of your country? What are you proud of and what do you despise?

In the shadow of Gala Darling

March 28th, 2009 § 4 comments § permalink

Gala Darling, a New Zealand born, New York-based blogger is many things to different people. Her TiLTS (Things I Love Thursday) lists has gone viral, her fans are dubbed nonpareils and her online presence is insanely rich and deep. One could get lost in her blog of the last two years, thousands of flickr photos and splatter of tweets throughout the day.

c Gala Darling

© Gala Darling

I would describe my experience of Gala as an odd one, she’s someone who can’t be stereotyped but reminds me of many women in my life. When I first found her through ProBlogger, she struck me as a loud personality but I couldn’t see why I would continue reading her content, I subscribed regardless and put it down as research. I’m not interested in her daily outfit posts or raw food, but something about her, something about the slice of her life we get to see keeps me reading.

I think that like me, alot of women start blogs because of Gala. So much of her personality is injected into galadarling.com that she makes it look easy to give so much of one’s self to online readers.

But I let her influence me a bit too much.

I realised over the last couple of weeks that I don’t know what I’m trying to say on this blog. In trying to be girly, over the top, fabulously Gala-like, I’ve lost my voice. Her tone, love of cupcakes and all things sparkly sneaked into my blog and I’m not sure that it should be here.

Every time I read an 18th Century novel, words like “shan’t”, “demure” and “frightful solitude” are in my vocabulary for the next month. The same can be said of the blogs I read frequently. I need to be more aware of influences and subscribe to those that inspire but are still relevant.

I guess I’m facing one of the never ending challenges during a human life.

I need to figure out who I am and what I want to do with the time I’m alive.

If you want to read more about some interesting people, there’s Karin Elizabeth, a neuropsychologist photographer and Tahlea Moonwater, a modern day witch.

I’m sorry, I was sick, but without ado, Three Things I Love

March 26th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

My partner had a fever for a week and then straight after I was down for the count. Was so caught up in the veil of sick that had surrounded our apartment I didn’t even get time to learn Spanish! But nevermind, the daffodils are out in Washington D.C, so it’s time to celebrate.

one: A Finnish art student named Mari Kasurinen has created the best My Little Pony art I’ve seen in a while. There’s just something about My Little Ponys that bring out the glee in me.

two: An article states the obvious: journalists use Twitter for research and more people are finding it’s an excellent sources pool. Just type in the key words and you’ll find passionate people. I would have to agree. I tweeted Em from Lick My Cupcakes for a birthday recipe and within 12 hours I got a recipe in less than 280 characters. Not bad considering we’re on other sides of the world.

lovethree: A fortnight ago I had the good fortune of seeing Cirque du Soleil’s “Love” in Las Vegas. It was their usual spectacular show, but set to the music of the Beatles. There was speakers on the back of my chair. We were up close to the performers. Endorphins were running through my veins. I could almost forget that I was in a casino. Life was good.

During the show, I had an epiphany; the Beatles were so good because they loved each other and they loved their work. To be the most creative, the most brilliant I can be, I shall have to spend my time around people I love and admire and do silly, seemingly pointless things with them. Case in point: For some songs, like “The Octopus Garden” and “Elenor Rigby” I think someone just threw out one line and they created a story around it. How else can you explain magic so simple and captivating?

I’ve been figuring out iMovie and working on a video, so expect a clip in the next couple of days.

24 ways to tell you’re no longer goth

March 20th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

My sister, my gothic self and my mummy, five years ago.

My sister, my gothic self and my mum, five years ago.

  • Sometimes you look at your wardrobe and think you have too much black.
  • Eye liner is no longer your best friend. When you switch to autopilot applying, you think you look like a panda bear. On the eyeliner train of thought, you no longer hunt for men wearing the kohl.
  • You no longer get excited when you find a good quality black nail polish.
  • You budget tattoos, instead of starving for the next month.
  • You no longer have friends who are into your music, thus you blabber to anyone who’ll listen. Some call you a closet metal fan.
  • When you a meet a metal or goth culture fan, you jump for joy and talk like a rabid rabbit.
  • People sit next to you the train, when before you were a last option. They even smile. You smile back.
  • You go to gigs alone.
  • You quit smoking.
  • You no longer shop at that goth store an hour away, despite the coolness because you think the CDs are overpriced.
  • Fishnets and other see-through clothes are donated to a charity. You keep the red bra.
  • Hair is dyed a natural colour. Black is natural. Baby steps here.
  • A curse word isn’t every second word out of your mouth.
  • Corsets no longer fit. And you don’t want them to.
  • Piercing jewelery are gradually getting smaller or disappearing altogether.
  • High heeled leather boots that you used to go dancing in now hurt your feet.

    gothness

    Year 12 formal (prom).

  • When you see a man in a leather skirt, your initial reaction is no longer “Oh, Shagrath! Sex material right there.”
  • You have “normal” clothes and then the ones you wear to metal events. (I know, it’s pitiful to admit this to myself, let alone you.)
  • Cartoons are funny, and not just Daria.
  • You re-discover garters and whips only to put them away again.
  • T.V is watched. Regularly. How un-goth, mainstream garbage.
  • You get excited when someone is wearing a band t-shirt that you love, but then realise you look completely normal and you can’t compare.
  • Upon hearing of permanent corsetry, you were aghast and not in awe.
  • You pretty much stop wearing all black once the emo wave swept the world.

Were you goth? Are you still? What are some things you’ve done?

If you’re a goth, you might appreciate these goth-inspired photos.

Baby bok choy

March 12th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

I’m posting this cause it’s a rarity: yummy greens. Not only that, these greens I would eat over a burger any day. You heard right, Tash is officially crazy.

The ingredients are cheap, the food is fast and it makes you feel good afterwards.

Get cracking on:

  • A dash of sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • as much baby bok choy as you please. Remember that it shrinks down to 1/3 of the size.
  • 1/4 cup water
  • chopped coriander (cilantro), sesame seeds or anything else.
  • cooked rice, kept warm.

for the killer sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, brown or white
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  1. Put all of the sauce ingredients into a small pan and start it on a low heat.
  2. Splash the sesame oil into a big pot. Grate the ginger into the sizzling oil. Add the baby bok choy. Stir every now and again for a minute.
  3. Mix the sauce, it should start to thicken.
  4. Add the water to the bok choy, bung the lid on and it’s going to steam for four minutes.
  5. The sauce should be thicker, take it off the stove and let it cool a little.
  6. Get your rice plated. As fast as possible, pull out the bok choy, cover it in the magic sauce and serve.

You need to eat this as hot as possible, otherwise it gets limp, cold and not so yummy.

Tip: You can buy ginger in bulk, peel them, shove it in a ziploc and put in the freezer. Grate straight out of the freezer as needed.

Another tip? Oh ok: Buy most of these ingredients at your local Chinese store, it’s cheaper, fresher and you get more.

The sesame oil on the left cost $7 from a Chinese market, the one on the right cost $14 from Safeway (Woolworths)

Balsamic glazed strawberries

March 6th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Balsamic vinegar has a sharp tart flavour but this draws out the sweetness in the freshly sliced strawberries, add a tablespoon of sugar and the whole thing caramelises to give you a rich sauce.

Run to the shops and grab these items:

  • 2 cups strawberries, washed and sliced in half
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Wash then cut the strawberries in half. Remove the tops.
  2. Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Mix very gently.
  3. Leave to sit for 45 minutes at room temperature.

I normally make the strawberries before I make pancakes, so that way they’re done around the same time. Or, if you want to be really decadent, put seven grapes at the bottom of a wine glass, fill with strawberries and top with whipped cream. A fancy and healthy breakfast. Yum.

For those of you enjoying Summer, take full advantage of the abundance of strawberries. As for me, Winter is just ending so I’m making frozen strawberry smoothies to pass the time.

Novels were my education

March 5th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

When I was a teen I used to make an adventure of visiting Sydney’s library with my father, as I mentioned in a previous post. Before I was old enough to make the hour trip into the city, my dad used to bring me books on a weekly basis. Sometimes, like when I discovered Roald Dahl at the age of nine, he would have to visit the library three times a week in order to keep up with my appetite, others, when my brain’s appetite had subsided, he would choose the books for me.

It’s the knowledge from this variety of fiction that I draw on in my day to day life, more so than my university degree. There’s little details you learn from reading that you just can’t get from a text book or the film-adaptation.

When I was twelve, my Dad brought for me a Peter Dickinson novel called The Kin. It was one of those “novels” for children with really big font, and thus, huge amounts of pages.  I’d carry around the heavy tome with glee, my back and shoulders aching. The accomplishment in finishing one of these epic stories!

This particular book was about six stranded children roaming around Africa two hundred thousand years ago. It taught me three things:

one: Before humans as we know them today ruled the chook pen, there was different mixes of monkey/human kinds. This, more than my Catholic upbringing, told me that we were descendants of chimps.

c6154two: Children who grow up together can fall in love, like the way I pined for a boy called Llewellyn in year six. We were in the same class two years in a row, and during assembly, our last names meant that we sat next to each other, our knees sometimes brushing. It was somewhere between sitting cross legged on the cold wooden floor and singing the school anthem, I knew that our one-sided love was meant to be.

three: Salt was used as a commodity. I can still remember the paragraph; a strange man opening up a tightly bound leather package to reveal a cool, white rock. He scrapes off a sliver of the rock and places it on our heroine’s tongue, where her mouth promptly explodes with flavour. During the next chapter, the girl and her friends scrape off sliver after thin sliver for further mouth explosions until they have to trade the salt like currency. It was like the nectar of the Gods. Apart from teaching me how and why currency was created, this also gave me a convenient explanation of why I used to steal salt when I was a kid. After sneaking into the kitchen, snatching the salt and running away, my younger sister and I would pour the stuff into our palms, lick our forefingers, dip them into the salt and lick, repeat. Yes, I ate salt straight from the container, no, I haven’t got any major health issues because of this. But this book gave me the excuse I needed to eat salt! I was only reliving my ancestral need for mouth explosions.

My favourite book-based memory is when I visited my grandfather in Sri Lanka. He was a school principal and had stacks of books piled into every corner of every room. During the last day of my visit, he caught me rummaging through his books and said I could pick whichever books I want. I picked three economic books (I don’t know why) and a novel by Carolyn Slaughter, a now out of print book, Columba. I only read it when I was back in OzLand, and to this date, it has been the most beautiful and at the same thing, the most saddest thing I’ve ever read. When my grandfather died within months of bestowing this book on me, it esteemed his book to the most prized possession on my book shelf.

Here’s a random excerpt from the novel, so you can capture how each word was beautifully written:

Weeks passed gently. It was nearly September; the days still hot but the humidity gone and the light dying earlier. It was almost Anna’s season and she waited for the leaves to turn. The sea had had enough of bathers – she tossed them roughly away with cold breakers. Soon the beaches would be completely deserted, apart from the dogs taking their masters for strolls among the sand.

Sigh.

When has reading a novel come in use for you? What are some fond memories of your book-consuming days? Please tell.

Subliminal Message eh?

March 5th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink