Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Curiouser Than Usual Book Club - First Session

And here we are at last, our first ever book club meeting. I'm glad you could make it. Pull up a chair, move that Xing Dynasty vase over and get comfortable while I light the fireplace. There, much better. Now let's start sharing our thoughts on the first of our literary pieces The Great Gatsby.

How did you like it? What are your initial reactions to it? What do you think it's about? We want to know your notions about the book and why you think Fitzgerald used the characters and symbols he did.

Here's your chance to have your say. So comment on this post and let's discuss what you thought about it. Use the discussion questions I posted earlier to start you off. I'm very interested in what you concluded about the story and the meanings you've derived from it.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gatsby in the Sun

This was a little bit of my afternoon. Enjoy yours.

Member List

As the book club is growing the foundation members have moved their chairs over for a new row of seats, the Exclusive Ancillary Members. These are members that are added from now on. The first of these is warmly welcomed. The Curiouser Than Usual Book Club Member List is currently as follows:

Foundation Members

Tina B.
Luke S.
Jessica R.
Rachel F.
Nathan V.
Roddy R.
Rhiannon O.

Exclusive Ancillary Members

Emily P.
Sophie C.

Attn: Curiouser Than Usual Book Club Members

Here are some discussion questions for you to look at while you're finishing off The Great Gatsby. Have a look, ponder them, maybe even answer some of them on your own. We'll use them as a discussion starting point when we all have our say about the book from next Wednesday onwards.

1. What is the American Dream? How does Gatsby represent this dream? Does the novel praise or condemn Gatsby's dream? Has the American Dream changed since Gatsby's time?

2. Think about the two worlds of the Midwest and the East of America, as Fitzgerald describes them, and what they represent for Nick and for Gatsby.

3. What is Nick Carraway's role in the novel? Consider Nick's father's advice in chapter one: "Whenever you feel like criticising anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." What is meant by this? Does telling the story from Nick's perspective make the story more believable?

4. What is the meaning of the title? In what ways was Gatsby great?

5. Discuss Fitzgerald's use of symbols, such as the eyes of Dr. T. J. Ecklebur, the green light on Daisy's clock, and the valley of ashes.

6. Why did Nick become involved with Jordan, and why did he break off their relationship?

Use these questions to get your analytical brain whirring and get ready to have your say soon. Don't worry if you're not finished the novel, you can always finish it off in your own time. Just read at your own pace. So long.

Mind the rug on your way out of the library, it curls up and is a terrible liability.

Shade My Drink

It just occurred to me the other day as I sat looking at the glass jar shaped like a sitting bear full of cocktail umbrellas by my bed that cocktail umbrellas are completely and utterly pointless. like, really have no purpose at all. Other than of course making your drink a little shady and perhaps even a little bit fancy. But that's it. Who invented them? Why did someone, at some point in history, think an umbrella would be a nice addition to their beverage? It got me searching for answers, and I'll share them with you here.

The cocktail umbrella, it is thought, was first introduced to North America via Hawaii and other Polynesian isles through Trader Vic's, an apparently notorious little speakeasy down in San Francisco. And from here it spread into the ladies area in mens-clubs and bars, and eventually beyond the gender restraints and into full-blown society.

More interestingly, it does have a purpose. To shade your drink. I at first didn't think of this as a purpose at all. But now imagine yourself as an ice cube floating in a Long Island Ice Tea sitting on a pool tray by a deck chair in the sun. Now imagine a small paper umbrella in between you and the sun. See how much longer you last, cooling the drink? So it does have both an exotic past and a flamboyant future. Keep it alive, grab a packet at your local convenience store, and poke one in every drink.

Astral Plane

I bought a t-shirt the other day that fits loose, yet is a good shape for the leaner gentleman. It was made by The Astral Plane, which is a fashion company, "For the dedicated followers of fashion" we are told via the label. I just checked out their current season of stock and it's mighty fine. Here's a sneak peak, and be sure to check out their site here. They've even got a blog. I like them more for that.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

James Meets Oscar

The other night I popped in to my regular hairdressers and was rudely refused a cut due to being fully booked. How rude. So I then waltzed around the shopping mall looking for a suitable place to have a hair cut done instead of the original location. And did I find one or what! I stumbled across OscarOscar, a fresh, modern take on a salon full of lisping and spraying and snipping and good music.

I was immediately catered for, summoned to my comfortable chair, given a green tea and spring water to sip, had a back and neck massage before a full shampoo/condition and further massage, before actually starting the hair cut.

My hairdresser was incredibly good at his profession and tamed the wildebeest sitting upon my head and turned it into a James Dean quiff. I was more than happy. Plus all of their products and solutions are 100% organic. Nice effort OscarOscar. Pop in for your next cut (check out stores here), you'll feel amazing. And more like James Dean, which is always a plus.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Snail Mail

My cousin sent me a text today including this image with the caption "Real Snail Mail." Thought I'd share. Have a wonderful Wednesday.


Here are some quotes to start sentences with with complete strangers. They'll probably drop their bottom lip a little, furrow their brow, look askance and run for the concierge but it might make you an interesting friend, (pun intended).

"I just don't think Brooke could've done this. Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy wives don't shoot their husbands, they just don't."

Elle Woods

"Vanity plays lurid tricks with our memory."

Joseph Conrad

"Society exists only as a mental concept; in the real world there are only individuals."

Oscar Wilde

"I don't watch television, I think it destroys the art of talking about oneself."

Stephen Fry

Monday, November 29, 2010


This is a special shout out to the 55 hits from Russia this blog has had. I really don't know a whole lot about Russia other than its violent, revolutionary, luxurious past. I do know, however, that I'm more than delighted to have Russian people visiting my blog. Thus I've gone out of my way to find out some interesting facts about Russia. Enjoy.

It is by far the largest country in the world.

It has approximately 144,900,000 people living in it.

It's highest mountain is Mt. Elbrus standing tall at 5,633m.

Russia Day, a national holiday, is held on June 12th.

Russia's official name is The Russian Federation since 1991 when the Soviet Union split into 15 separate geo-political parts.

Well, now we can get along a lot better. And next time someone brings up the topic of Russia (The Russian Federation) over cocktails at a garden party you'll have plenty to say. Dasvidania! (Good-bye!)

Great Gatsby Spotting

One of our dear Curiouser Than Usual Book Club Foundation Members, (try say that over the phone receptionists of the world), sent me a photo of his copy of The Great Gatsby. He's loving it. So will you. Here's the picture to inspire you to get reading. Have a fabulous Tuesday everyone.

Swapping Collection

I've done something silly, yet somehow intelligent: I've got back into swap cards. When I was really little I remember being given a few hideous swap cards my sister didn't want. There was a 70s inspired cartoon puppy dog one, a horse head one, maybe one with a whole horse on it, lots of animal ones, and a kitten or two.

They're pretty awful, but I stumbled across the Swap Card Collectors Warehouse (an Australian company you can check out here) and they've got a huge range. I think I actually found one I used to have. Perhaps not the exact one. That would be weird. But while I was there I found a few I liked. Now they're on the way in the mail.

What on earth am I going to do with them? I'm thinking about bookmarks. Regardless, I bought them and I'm now reigniting that tremendously daggy trend. Let's get it going. Want to swap a yacht for a raccoon anyone?

Ex Libris

The elite and socially conscious Curiouser Than Usual book club has gathered select members already. The club list is as follows, in no particular order:

Foundation Members

Tina B.
Luke S.
Jessica R.
Rachel F.
Nathan V.
Roddy R.
Rhiannon O.

Feel free to join. Let us know via comment and we'll add you to the oh-so-secret-society list. Get reading The Great Gatsby as it's out first book. And copy the little nautical Ex Libris book plate crest onto your desktop, print it out, and stick it inside the front cover and write your name in it. That is now the official Curiouser Than Usual Bookplate. Let's get secretive.


You're stunningly preppy already, I know. But do you have enough in the way of monograms in your life? What do I mean you ask? Well dear, I simply mean what I say. Having your initials (or family name) emblazoned on various haberdashery is a must if one is to be a socialite. You can do it on big fluffy white bath towels, embroidered onto pillows, napkins, engraved into your cutlery set that your great aunt left you in her will, even as a decal on your wall in the foyer.

Yes, make it your symbol and feel linked to the old world. It's surprisingly cheap these days. But certainly don't tell grandma that you're just getting a computer to whiz the monogram onto your sheets. It's by hand darling, all by hand.


Just an update on the aforementioned lorikeet situation at my parents place: On Saturday morning, or perhaps Sunday morning - I forget now, we heard some loud screeching coming from a large tree in our front yard. Then more squawking coming from a tree in our backyard.

Our non-pet lorikeet who my dad had rescued from a car/lorikeet pileup was beside itself in the cage we'd lovingly provided for it. And then my dad realised this was its family. Apparently the day before mum had spotted a lorikeet screeching in a tree not far from our rescued bird.

According to lorikeet lore they search for their family if one's missing and then go back, round up the rest of the colourful family, and return to get the lost member. So they did. Dad opened the cage and the excited bird was reunited with its feathery family. The end. Thought you'd like to know. Ta ta now.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Curiouser Than Usual Bookclub

On this the 25th of November 2010 I am hereby instituting the Curiouser Than Usual Book Club. It will be a fashionable and much sought after club, much like a country club, a vintage car club, or that weird, dark clubroom at the bottom of the stairs down that alley near your house where men play backgammon. It will be all of those things. There are a couple of rules though, let me share them with you.

1. Thou shalt read the novel prescribed in the given time (or at least Wikipedia the plot and ending).
2. Thou shalt make intelligent and insightful remarks and/or ask delightful questions about teh themes, characters and silverfish in their novels.

Ok, I think that's it. Now imagine your name is on a brass plaque hanging over a oak desk with taxidermy owl perched on a fake branch in the corner. It's a little dim, not too neat nor too disheveled in the clubhouse, just enough to look lived in and imposing at the same time. There's a potted fern in one corner that could do with a drink, and several solid wood shelves, all piled with books and important looking documents. The mat is slightly worn on the floor and the bell on the small lamp table next to you is a temptation none must give in to for whoever rings the bell must confront the dreaded yet enigmatically dressed club captain. So go grab a book and get reading. We'll all meet back in two weeks.

Your first book is: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Good Will Flying

The other day my dad was driving behind a car that hit a rainbow lorikeet. My dad, being the environmentally conscious person he is, stopped and put the stunned and potentially injured bird in a box and drove it to the vet. The vet checked it out and it seemed to have broken its leg and its wing had probably worked at some point although it certainly wasn't now so dad brought it home and popped it in an old cockatoo cage we had in the shed. That weekend I'd surprised my parents with weekend away for their anniversary so who got the job of feeding this wild creature? Me.

The rainbow lorikeet, substantially smaller than a cockatoo, managed to squeeze itself out of the cage and hide itself in the shed. The first time I went to feed it and it was perched on the yacht sail and mast hung up on the wall - a relatively easy catch. I got the big leather glove out, grabbed the surprised bird, and popped it back into its cage with new food. Mission accomplished.

That night I went in again to feed it and it was nowhere to be seen. Not that it wasn't in there. My dad's idea of organisation and arrangement is far inferior to my mother's so I had to poke around a lot to find it. It flapped and squawked as I fumbled for it. Eventually jammed itself between a box of mosaic tiles and the lawnmower so again i grabbed it and shoved it back into its cage.

The next few times it was on a paint tin, in a glass bottle, etc. And it learnt that if it was dead silent that it would take me a long time to find it. Anyway, the bird is now in a brand new cage made for birds just like him and its on the mend, getting fatter by the day.

Drive safe.

Pour Homme II

If you're like me and like a new fragrance for each season (I go through a lot, I'm the kind of person that keeps spraying 'til the neighbor's dog passes out), then you need to look for something fresh and vibrant. I've found my summer scent - Gucci's Gucci Pour Homme II. I'm not quite sure what happened to Gucci Pour Homme I, but II has taken over. It's light and has a multi-leveled fragrance with notes like violet leaves, myrrh, bergamot, hints of florals, tobacco leaves, black tea, and olive wood. Perfect for a modern-minded man, this fragrance has all of the best parts of summers past bottled up ready for you to start your new summer. Try it soon.

The Great Cover Up

I just finished a great book by Meg Rossof entitled 'The Way I live Now'. Not for the timid reader but has some great themes and images. But as always is the case when you finish reading one great book you instantly feel the need to fill the literary void with another tome. But what? I've gone back to an old favourite of mine.

Perhaps it is the most perfect novel ever written. Perhaps it is the epitome of fiction. Perhaps not. But I've dived into it like a tipsy party guest into a swimming pool and I'm loving it.

After starting to read the aforementioned gem I pondered over the book's cover; plain, orange, striped, a little text. Not very ornate yet simplicity is always underrated. So i got to thinking about other covers of the same book. How did other people package and market the book? Then I stumbled across something fantastic: Cover Browser.

Click here and type in a famous book title and see what ways your favourite book was covered. Fun fun. Happy reading.

Friday, November 19, 2010

You've Got (to get) Mail

There's something old-worldy about receiving a handwritten letter in the post. It breaks up the monotony of bills and printed envelopes. But ask yourself: Do I send handwritten letters? Do I even own anything to write handwritten letters on? Fear not. On my bi-monthly Etsy prowl I found these. They've got toucans on them, that's all you need to know. Get writing! You'll find them here.

Dwarf Gig Guide

Your weekend looking a little spare? Want somewhere cool to go? Not sure what's on? Just stained your favourite shorts with oil from a fajita burrito? I can solve all but that last one with the gig guide on - the coolest free online mag. Check it out. It's got all states covered.

And if you're still concerned about the fajita oil, try a Sard Wonder Stick. Works wonders in the laundry.

Afternoon Tea

Today was just beautiful weather. There really is no country with nicer weather than Australia. Well, minus the occasional hurricane, flash flood, drought and immense bushfire that has the potential to wipe out half a state in less than a week, yeah. Great weather. So to celebrate the arrival of such obliging meteorological conditions I headed out to the bay for a quick light salad on a decking overlooking the aqua ocean and then popped back home for some tea in the sun.

A few months ago I grabbed a banana lounge at Freedom for $14.50 which was originally around the $40 mark. Great buy. So I got that out of cold storage and propped open it out under the bay tree and the camelia hedge (still in it's early stages). Next I brewed a pot of 'Botanica' tea from T2, cut a lemon and added a dash of it to the tea (and a slice of it to my glass of Coke), whipped out Tender is the Night, which I've been meaning to read for weeks now, and got comfy.

I adored it. Here's a taste of it all. Prices of items included at the end. Go and get some sun if you can. Enjoy the day.

Tea Infuser Pot - $17.95 @ IKEA, Beach Towel - $49.95 @ Country Road, Penguin Classsics Tender is the Night - $9.95, David Jones, Banana Lounge $34.95 @ Freedom, Botanica Tea - $12.95 @ T2

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sharp Shooter

Alan Sailer takes photos, very quickly. Alan specialises in high speed photography, often capturing the explosion of various items after their being shot at. Brilliant. Have a look for yourself on his Flickr page here.

Club Member

As you may already be aware I simply can't get enough of Two Door Cinema Club, the band that make you 'single ladies' walk around the office and swing your head around enough to give yourself a bulged disk. Yes. They're great and I'M GOING TO SEE THEM! They're coming to ye olde Melbourne (which I found out is the 5th most expensive city in the world to buy a house in, but I digress). So yes, I'll be there. If you haven't heard them, do treat yourself to a listen of 'You're Not Stubborn' or 'Undercover Matrin'.

Diarise it!

It's that time again. Heading into November with engagement parties and wedding invitations coming out of my ears I realised now was the time to invest in a diary for 2011. Whilst parading my new self-perceived gym body around Chadstone I waltzed into Kikki.K and found a diary that I knew would be perfect. I got the larger size and then proceeded to cut strips of various magazine images out to cover up the areas of patterns I didn't like so I'm already making it unique and all my own.

You'll love the bonus stickers and address book too, (which I incidentally gave to a quaint Italian lady I sat next to in a meeting the other day). So go and check it out here and get organised.


I happened upon this wonderful song and equally wonderful video the other day and it's fast surpassing Kickstarts by Example as my summer anthem tune for 2010/2011, (I know, I'm very fickle). Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think. This is the extended version but it shows you the full 'story line'. It's hilarious. Plus I really want Martin's manager's outfit in its entirety. Including those glasses. Have fun and get grooving.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Summer Planning

Every summer I make a 'wish list' in which I write down the things I'd like to do and achieve. For example, last year I had lots of things I wanted to do that I'd never done before, like go on a covered-over water slide, and try octopus as a food (which was awful, never again). Then you can tick things off as you go and when it comes to the end of your summer vacation and someone asks you what you did, which they will inevitably do, you'll have plenty to tell them. I've given you a list to print out so no excuses. Happy planning.

Hawaii Five Oh!

I just can't escape the mysteriously elusive pull of hawaiian nostalgia. I'm not sure if it's the muted vibrancy of the colours, the exotic feel, or simply just the inviting smiles of the hawaiian people depicted in them but I find vintage hawaiian postcards a little bit fun. Here's a few to brighten your day.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Do you like the sound of the old gramophones? That crackling, distant sound of music wafting through the air, magnified by that oddly massive funnel. Well now you can just plug your iPhone or iPod into one and listen to your own music via gramophone. It's called the iPod Gramophone (I know, terrible name. We could've done a lot better) and it's $499 worth of molded ceramic. A bit steep perhaps but what a great thing to pop in the corner of your lounge room. Sip some sherry and tune into the wireless while you're at it darling.

Sea Fort Sale

I want one. Apparently these nifty things were built during the second world war to stave off invading forces coming in via the sea and to provide waterfront housing for fashionable army generals. Now it seems some are left out to rust away, others are up for sale as homes, still others have become tourist attractions.

I hadn't heard much about them to be honest and only really found these beauties by accident. So check them out for yourself and maybe even purchase what can only be described as the perfect hideout for a Bond villain. The top one is for sale for a measly 4 million pound. Ouch. I suggest a pirate life to get the booty.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kickstarting Love

This song is good for so many reasons: 1. It's true. Love does need a kickstart occasionally. You fall in love, and then the novelty wears off, so you kickstart it and hey presto! You're back in it again. 2. "I may be holding your hand but I'm holding it loose." This happens. And it's awkward, but strangely fun to hear in a song. 3. The film clip is amazing. YouTube it. 4. The film clip is in mostly pastel colours. Awesome. 5. The song sounds great in my new Sennheiser headphones. 6. It's my summer anthem song. Self-chosen.

So check it out. And watch the film clip here.