Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Anomalously Pleasant

I stumbled across some music recently - one that combines the 'indie' guitar riffs of Band of Horses and the uplifting harmonies of She & Him. It's a soft and often unexpected sound. Trumpets peal in the distance, chimes clink in the foreground, a soft male voice sings through the cacophony clearly and casually. It's good. Really good. I found it after watching 'Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist' and have been listening to it on and off since. 

If you're going to have a listen to The Real Tuesday Weld start by giving the tracks 'The Last Words' and 'Anything But Love' a go. So strange. So good. 

And for something really different give 'Bathtime in Clerkenwell' a burl. Enjoy. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Wet'N'Wild Misadventure

When in Queensland one must visit various theme parks, jump off high platforms, dive into water slides, shoot around in rollercoasters and other assorted frightening activities. I was keen to experience a covered over water slide, something I’ve always been terrified of. In fact, I’d never been on one for fear of the following: A) getting stuck behind an obese water-slider, B) going too slowly and being hit in the back by a faster water-slider, and C) both of the aforementioned disasters culminating in one mega-squeeze resulting in drowning, concussion and loss of bathers. However, since 2009 was the year of me doing everything I’ve wanted to do for a long time (and all of the things I’ve been too scared to do for a long time) I bought my ticket for Wet’n'Wild water park early whilst still in Victoria and looked forward with some concern to my trip on a covered over water slide.

It was on the last day or so of my holiday that I decided to go and I arranged for my cousins and a few friends to come with me. It sounded like a swell day (pardon the pun) and I headed off with my aunt (who dropped me off at the gorgeously comfortable time of 9:00am, an hour before the park opened. I didn’t care though, the thought of careening down water slopes and getting slightly nauseated after being flung around on a rollercoaster spurred me on.

Eventually the park opened, still no sign of my cousins and friends but I didn’t mind. Maybe I could just have a look around, familiarise myself with the park layout (I thought to myself). Fifteen minutes or so into my water filled adventure I receive calls and messages from all of those that were supposed to come with me cheerfully informing me that they were no longer able to come. Wet’n'Wild is a fun park, but going on rollercoasters and screaming to no one but yourself, or travelling down water slides and telling no one about the scariest part afterwards is really no fun at all. And, Wet’n'Wild park tickets (which are incidentally like $50 or so) are non-refundable, nor can you leave and reenter the park.

So I looked at the looming rides around me, now partially miffed that I was alone. I decided that I would try the least wetting ride first, the roller coaster (something like “wave boarder” or “surf coaster”). While in line I found myself chatting to two friendly girls from Adelaide who then asked me if I would like to join them (after I told them my sad story). This was great, however as anyone who has been to these types of water parks would know that the rides generally take two or four people in tubes, inflatable boats and floatation devices. This posed a problem as there were only three of us at any given time. Of course, the two new friends would band together when it was a two person ride which left me with the option of either not going or of finding an unsuspecting water-slide volunteer. I chose the latter and made other acquaintances – Amy from Sydney, Jules from London, Sam from Byron Bay, and Mariah from Darwin. All lovely, all friendly, all on Facebook, and all happy to slide down a ride with me. I ended up meeting a huge band of people from Sydney also whom I then ended up spending half of the day with. I enjoyed the day far more than I ever would have with my cousins and assorted friends from the Gold Coast.

So, the moral of the story is, not to “organise yourself better”, “be sensible” or “don’t talk to strangers”. It is instead, “go to theme parks on your own, look friendly, talk to other friendly people, invite strangers to go on watersides with you, and turn your phone off so you can’t hear your cousins calling you”.

Polaroid Oddity

Here are a few curious pictures to amuse you. My favourite is the one with the tattered blind and assortment of pots and dead grass piles outside the brick building (taken at Alexandra, VIC) but the one with Rupert the cat drinking water in a glass was the funniest to witness. Enjoy. And stay curious. It didn't kill Rupert. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Drink Me Wonderful

Alice has long left the rabbit hole but last year I couldn't help but revisit her curiouser than usual trip down it. A friend of mine, Jacinta, happily modeled for me and I am more than happy with the whimsical result. Taken in a small parkland close to where I live I think the trees and prolific ground-cover make for an intricate and forest-like backdrop. I'm sure Alice would be proud. Enjoy. 

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Designer Profile: Lauren Smales

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Lauren Smales, an up-and-coming designer of all things unique and decidedly sui generis. Still undergoing her creative education, Lauren finds inspiration in many places and likes to create all things wonderful. Mostly dabbling in fashion sketches and couture she designs herself, this is what she had to say. 

CTU: "What do you plan to do in the future? (Once you've finished your schooling)."

LS: "I'm tossing up between fashion/styling and visual merchandising, though I think a gap year would be needed before then. Peru is looking pretty good."

CTU: "What or who are your inspirations?"

LS: "The inspiration changes everyday, depending on my mood. It could be a song, a photograph. Anything. Though, in terms of people [I get inspired by] Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine, Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood and Garance Dore."

CTU: "Excellent choices."

LS: "Oh, and any film by Tim Burton. Any!"

CTU: "How would you describe your individual style?"

LS: "Chameleon."

CTU: "Oh, nice!"

LS: "I tend to mix up the genres a bit, between vintage and modern basics. But there is usually a grandpa cardigan involved."

CTU: "What is something you're currently working on?"

LS: "I spend a lot of time doing portrait sketches, fashion illustration type things."

CTU: "Describe something in particular, perhaps a piece of clothing?"

LS: "I'm currently in the production process of my formal gown, which is a mix between Alice in Wonderland and Pebbles from the 'Flintstones'. Imagine a cute cave-girl falling into a rosebush... but better. [Laughs] I'm not sure how to describe that any better or worse than that."

CTU: "No that's great. Now, what quote inspires you?"

LS: "It's times like these I think life is amazing and everything is going to be okay."

CTU: "Who is it by?"

LS: "I came up with it myself. It inspires me to look forward and not be so negative."

CTU: "Ok, well I think that's it. Thanks."

LS: "Wow. That was harder than I thought it would be. Okay, awesome."

CTU: "[Laughs] You did well."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a voice of the future of fashion. 

Australian Artscapes

Jason Benjamin has a knack for painting and representing the Australian landscape. Whether it be a solitary stringy bark in an amber-toned paddock, or a billowing sky above a sun bleached hillside Benjamin's works never cease to amaze. Yet they come at a price. Starting at about $15,000 you might need to get the piggy bank out. Have a look at some of his works online here.

Oh Possum!

Snuffles, holding one of his beloved Cheezels. 

This article is so much weirder than the words "curious" and "unusual" warrant but I think you'll enjoy it just the same. 

Meets Snuffles, the delightful possum who was found as a youngster by a friend of mine's grandmother and kept as a pet for many enjoyable and heartwarming years. They played together, had afternoon tea together, but probably didn't climb any gumtrees together. They did, however, eat Cheezels together. 

In fact, Cheezels become Snuffle's core dietary intake. The powdered cheese and corn starch served him well though, and he lived to a ripe old age. And when he sadly passed away many years after being adopted by the sweet woman, she wrapped him up in a plastic bag and popped him into the freezer. 

The other family members are still not quite sure why she did this, but when they found Snuffles wedged between a bag of peas and the some spaghetti bolognese sauce in a Tupperware container they buried him. With dignity. And potentially a box of Cheezels. 

How strange. 

Spook Magazine

Are you like me? Do you become disappointed with the tawdry dross that is often mistaken for quality magazines and publicly available intellectual articles? I do. But that was until I stumbled across a very impressive and culture-rich publication known only as SPOOK Magazine. SPOOK has articles about actual musicians (not the commercially produced million dollar puppets found in most other sundries), interesting and rare quips about lesser known celebrities and people of importance, realistic yet sharp fashion advice, and a myriad of strange and hard hitting articles about everything from politics to zine production. 

Do yourself a curious favour and buy a copy of Issue 3 out now (and go straight to page 102 and see a little article about me too). 

Also, check out the fabulous promo video for the latest edition (dubbed the Mental Health Issue) here and go have a look-see around SPOOK's own website here

Ron Mueck's Curious Creations

The Incredibly large newborn. 

The curiously small dead man. 

Ron Mueck is an amazingly curious man. I recently visited his small yet unusual exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria and was more than intrigued by
his surreal fiberglass and polypropylene creations. As I entered the artspace I sensed an uneasiness about me. About forty people had gathered around a pure white rectangular plinth, in the centre - a small naked man lying on his back, eyes shut, as if dead. But he was of impossible size; no bigger than two feet long. He was perfectly proportioned, but oddly pale under the fluorescent lighting. 

Next, I find myself standing in front of a newly born baby approximately 8 meters in length! Its eyes just slightly open, umbilical cord still attached, it just lay there as people milled about exclaiming in soft whispers at how lifelike it was. Too strange. 

I strongly suggest taking yourself on a little misadventure and seeing some of Ron's beautiful works. See more about him here (NGV site) or here (Life Casting Profile). 

The man on his lilo. 

Dress Code Annoyance

This is probably more frustrating than curious, but it's becoming prevalent and I'm downright sick of it. 

Is it just me, or are dress-codes becoming more incoherent and harder to apply than ever before? I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but I have received several invites and have stumbled upon several neat and nondescript signs at the front of various establishments, informing me that a range of dress-codes are in place. I have a few problems with this.

1. What on earth does “Smart Casual” mean?

It isn’t the fact that I don’t understand the concept, well it is but that can be the topic of a whole other blog post, but it’s to what degree the code applies. It’s like saying you need to have warm water. I know what warm water involves – a happy balance of hot and cold, but how much exactly of either do I put in, and what exact temperature should the water be? You see my problem. There is “Smart”, which involves suits and ties and polished leather shoes, and there is “Casual” which entails t-shirts and jeans or shorts, open toes footwear, hooded jackets, etc. So Smart-Casual would suggest that there is some kind of blend of the two styles. So technically you could wear a t-shirt under a suit or sport jacket with jeans and runners…? Right? WRONG. You see, if you wear this outfit you can be sure when you arrive at the function that everyone will be wearing polished leather shoes (except the creepy computer nerd milling about the drinks table telling unsuspecting victims how he saw the real Captain Kirk in Las Vegas at a Star Trek convention and bought the metallic space pod boots he is currently wearing from a stall at the convention too). So it’s you and the metallic boot wearer, you’re in the same boat.. Eek. So how exactly are people supposed to know to what degree you can dress “Casual” without losing the “Smart” factor? I have no idea, thus this ‘Smart-Casual’ nonsense needs to stop.

2. Why can’t girls wear open-toed high-heels in many establishments?

Okay, this I don’t get. You can wear delicate shoes that allow you to perch your entire body weight on the heel surface area of a pinhead, but if those weapons of mass destruction have opened toed shoes it’s, “I’m sorry madam, you’ll just have to stay outside tonight, we have a strict no-toe policy”. To be honest, if the girl’s going to do any damage to herself, it’ll be self inflicted by breaking her leg after toppling down a staircase or rolling into a fireplace after snapping one of the narrow heels on a chair leg. I can understand no thongs or sandals, they are ugly, display less-than-charming toe and foot hair, and belong on the beach, but some of these heels are anything but ugly. I think this ridiculous and unthoughtful code of dressing needs to be reconsidered and revoked.

3. The issue of the collar.

Some places will only allow patrons to enter if they are wearing a collared shirt (this applies to men only, of course). So what if I don’t have a collar? What do they prove? Some of my t-shirts are worth more than some collared shirts I own, so it can’t be a ‘cost’ thing? Apparently it has something to do with the image of a collar. It appears collars mean high-class and good-taste. Really…..? I thought they just meant having an extra 4×30 strip of backed cotton attached to your neck. I mean, these shirts are usually unaccompanied by a tie and they are quite often unbuttoned a fair way down a man’s chest anyway, so where’s the good-taste and glamour in that? Personally, I like shirts, love them in fact. I wear one out all the time. But why should you be disallowed access just because you do not have one on, even though you are allowed to wear jeans and sneakers to the same venue? It just doesn’t make any sense. However, I am thinking of patenting the ‘apply anywhere’ collar. It’s a nifty little collar that be clipped onto any existing t-shirt to instantly make it collared, just in case..

These are three things I have been festering over, and I’m glad it’s out. What are your thoughts? Do you agree/disagree? I’d love to hear what you think, drop me a line and add a comment.

Curiouser Than Usual

This blog is an ode to all of the things in this that seem a little curious and unusual. No one is "Usual". I'm not. You're not. In fact, 'usuality' is something rather foreign to most. So come and join me on an anomalous journey into life's curiosities.