Friday, August 28, 2009

The Da Vinci Machine's Exhibition!

Yesterday, I left the house early and bussed it into Brisbane city to see the Leonardo Da Vinci Machines Exhibition. And it's absolutely worth the trip in. This man was definitely a man ahead of his time and his ingenuinty was next to none. It's fortunate I was permitted to take photos of the interactive exhibition and found that each piece was brilliantly thought out and took my breath away that he thought outside the box as an inventor. However, to keep most of his inventions secret was most probably the hardest thing he had to do.
On display was his parachute, hang-glider, helicopter and string-operated wagon; as well as his idea of what an ideal city would look like and his mirrored box where you could see yourself from all angles all at once. It's a fantastic way of seeing how one person's mind worked and how all the things he created have come to be used in one way or another as the centuries came and went. Even his bicycle was put on display; even though it was built from just a drawing and a slight description. And as you can see from the photos, I had a wonderful time walking around the especially-made tent which is next to the Brisbane River.

The Da Vinci Machines Exhibition is on for only another week... so if you're in the Brisbane area,
do go and see it! It's worth every dollar you spend. And the souvenirs are worth getting too as they are reasonably priced. A t-shirt will set you back around $30 and a mousepad $10... now, I easily spent $30 there carefully picking out exactly what I wanted and I'm sure I'll treasure those items for a long time to come.
Also, if you don't rush too much to get inside, you'll
notice a large Mona Lisa painting outside with her face cut out. Do what I did and have the fun of getting your photo taken by either your family or staff... don't I look wonderfully like the Mona Lisa?

For the rest of the day, I wondered around the Southbank and the city looking for music for my piano. Yes, I have a lot of music for it; however not a scrap of beginners music or lessons. So, I ventured to 'Archives' on Charlotte Street and found one book for children and then went to 'Allen's Music' on the Queen Street Mall and found a good piano book for $30. 'Dymochs' was having a massive book sale. But I was good; I bought only one book by Alice Walker for $3.00. and after a meal at the Sushi Station, I jumped on a bus to Garden City, grabbed a coffee and waited for half an hour and grabbed the second bus home. What a big day! And I got all the things I needed to get done.

3rd, September, 2009 - I found out in the last few days that this exhibition has been extended. I'm not sure for how long. You'd have google it to find out. Take the opportunity with both hands and travel into Brisbane City to see this marvelous exhibition soon before it leaves our shores.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Unseasonal Heat

It's August and it's hot! Now, that's really weird. The unseasonal heat we're experiencing is dreadful; and it's at a time when we should be feeling the remnants of the chilliness of Winter. However, instead, we're mothballing our Winter Woollies and getting out the Summertime Sheets to put them onto the bed and breaking out the Barbie for the weekend parties we usually have in Summer and over Christmas.

What I'm not looking forward to at the moment is Summer. If this is what August is going to be like here in Brisbane, what is it going to be like in four months' time? Right stinking hot, that's what! And I'm wondering if we're going to be able to handle it; let alone survive Christmas with the oncoming storm season.
And how bad are those storms going to be? There's so many questions and I'd love to know the answer to them. However, the weather in Australia - as with the rest of the globe - is so unpredictable these days that not even the weatherman can trust what he's saying sometimes (no offence to the great ones out there; but really you know that at times, the equipment does tell fibs).

You never know, we may have a Summer of a time where we hibernate during the day because it's too hot to get out and do stuff and then at night, do our housework, laundry and gardening because there's a better chance of not getting sunburnt.

Now, wouldn't that be a better life for all of us if we could do that in the Summer seeing how much longer the days are anyway?

Friday, August 21, 2009

What's Old Is New Again

I've been looking at the movies lately and have found that remakes are big in Hollywood; and they always have been. I love movies as much as the next person, but there's gotta be a reason for producers who think it's a good idea to remake a film where the original was brilliant. Personally, I don't understand how remaking a movie is going to improve upon it; even if they change the script, the actors, the city, the technology and bring the whole darn thing up to speed. If you put in the best of actors and the story's weak, it's not going to take off all that well; even if those actors deliver the lines perfectly and with great conviction, it'll still be a rotten movie and people will talk with their wallets.

The main movies I absolutely adore watching is old Alfred Hitchcock films. He was a genius at suspense and he had his pick of the greatest actors around Hollywood; could he match them! I wouldn't miss a Hitchcock film
on a Saturday night for anything. Yep, I'd rather stay and watch 'Vertigo', 'North by North-West' or 'Rear Window' instead of going out to see a modern movie. The reason why was because he could really spin the storyline and keep you guessing right to the end. And once he got you guessing, he had you jumping behind the lounge too! But not with gross and gore... nope, Hitchcock could creep you out with the old smoke and shadows trick. There's very few directors who can do that anymore.

And if it's not Hitchcock, I love to watch Fred Astaire films. That man could sing and dance - even if he was a bit of a corny actor - but once he danced, he was a knockout! Fred was a man who, when he tapdanced or did
ballroom dancing, just floated across the room on what looked like a cushion of air. He had a distinctive voice too! And in history, since his appearance on the silver screen, there's been nobody like him. It was a great shame when Fred Astaire passed away in 1987, but he left behind a legacy of marvelous movies behind for future generations to adore.

To remake a movie - unless it really does need to be remade - I think is a total waste of money and time. What happened to having original ideas? Don't the scriptwriters have any of those anymore? I'm a writer of books and I'm never short of ideas (just check out my other blogs; especially Fry Nelson and You Can't Go Back and Other Impossibilities).

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Okay, I know David Bowie wrote one of the most wicked and catchy songs in the 1970's called that; but I thought to borrow it just for this blog, besides, I love his music. Change can be a good thing for some; bad for others and indifferent for the rest of us left behind. However, when you do want to change something about yourself, make sure you don't go in the deep end without thinking about it.

Around four years ago, I took up Yoga. It was something my GP suggested when I pulled the muscles in my lower back and said that if I didn't do something about myself soon, I'd end up locking up completely. So, I took out as many books on all the different types of Yoga as I was permitted from the local library and read up on it before I even got myself a Yoga Matt. I had to decide which kind to do; and the one I chose was the oldest one around: Hattha. And since then, after two weeks of my body asking what the hell I was doing to it, I haven't looked back. My chiropractor's pleased with me and my diet has changed completely! I went from eating some meat to eating none... yep, I'm vegetarian. But that took research too (which I had been doing for a long time before the Yoga thing anyway). Now, my Doctors from all fields in my life are really please to see that I'm so healthy, that I can sleep all night every night and I do get out of the house once in a while to do some exercise (I've taken up outsider art; which means a lot of walking). I love the changes I've made in my life... and they were big - huge - changes.

But change doesn't have to be big like mine.

You can make small changes. For example, have an unplugged day on the weekend where you don't sit on the computer or have the television blaring in the background all day. Instead turn on the radio and listen to a few c.d.s and read a book out in the garden. If you only have a balcony, begin creating that area on your balcony where you can sit and read your favourite book.
Or get in to a hobby you've put to one side until you've got time to do it again; this is the time to get into it again.
Another change could be environmental. Plants can make a huge change your mood, your house and your health; and they don't have to be high maintenance ones either. Succulents and cacti pretty much look after themselves in Winter and only need watering on the weekends in Summer... if that.

Change is something we can all do, it just takes motivation, time and effort. And if you can do it a little step at a time, you'll find that you will achieve big things in the time you've given yourself by having only one unplugged day a week... pretty soon, you'll be able to have two or even three unplugged days - or evenings - where you can delve into your own new/old hobby and create something out of what you thought was nothing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Loved and Lost Treasures Delivered At Last!

Today, the most wonderful, beautiful thing arrived in my home. It was the piano I talked about a few posts ago. There was a lot of excitement about its arrival and much cleaning up and a lot of clutter was thrown out to make the room needed for this instrument; because even though it may have looked small when it was at Grandma's house, it looks massive here at my small house. So, this morning, I moved all the furniture by 9am and sat around for a little over an hour. It was so good to see it being trundled out of the back of the huge van; which made my darling Palings & Sons piano look rather tiny packed all the way in the back in the dark covered in a large felt blanket. But once the sun hit its gorgeous chestnut surface, I remembered all the times I played it at Grandmas and wondered if it was going to fit. But there were no problems as it easily fitted through the side door and was maneuvered into place by the two guys who made it look so easy. Mum got quite a few photos and then got a final one of me and guys standing next to it. It was a joy to see my piano finally sitting by the wall.
Then, Dad opened it and began informing me about how to care for it - I really didn't know that he knew so much about caring for a piano as much as he did! - and I listened as he showed me how to open it and pull off the panels. After he began to get technical, I thought it would be a better idea if I left the more technical stuff for somebody who cleaned and tuned pianos for a living; but I didn't say so. I just let Dad keep talking until I thought it was time to put it back together and finish wiping the dirt and dust off the outside. The seat which hold the music was the next thing I had to look through; and I knew it. But still, Dad told me I had to go through it all. I nodded saying that was the next thing on my list. So, after they both had a coffee and went home, I took the piano stool outside, opened it and laid out last Sunday's newspaper and then, one by one, I carefully pulled out the sheet music and books; judging which ones I'll be keeping and which ones I'll put to one side to see what I can do with them. I ended up putting a lot the stuff that was too fragile into a backpack... I seriously don't know where to go from here with them. So, this is my treasure. Not yet lost, but it's loved. All I need to do is learn how to play it again... well, my right hand anyway; the base of the left hand always got me! Unless I look up the concertos written for people with the use of only their left hand to get it going! Now, there's a thought!

Monday, August 10, 2009

This Disposable Lifestyle

I've noticed lately that things aren't lasting as long as they used to. Is it me or is it that we're now living in a throw-away society? A few months back, Mum and Dad helped me purchase a new bookcase (well, they were transport, I had the money to buy it; getting it home was another thing!). Well, I got it home and Dad helped me put it together. However, when I began putting my books into its shelves, I found that I had to moved some of the heavier books from it to another bookcase that could handle the weight.
This new bookcase couldn't handle the books I wanted to put into it; and it made me angry that I had to stuff around with my collection to make sure this bookcase didn't fall down... and yet it was only a few months old. However, my older bookcases (one of them is over 10 years old) have been going strong and are holding books without bowing at all.

Are our lives becoming so disposable? There's disposable nappies, phones and contact lenses, plates and other items that are piling up in landfill all around the globe. And it's not only on land where things are filling up. Between North America and China, there's been a floating dump which stays on the tide lines in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It's massive and disgusting; and it's getting bigger. And who is its main contributor? Us... humans. We are making this world our own disgusting, horrible little garbage dump when we should be looking at what our ancestors did and built. We should be asking how they made things that lasted for so long. Instead of making things that fall apart easier and need replacing sooner, we should be looking at products that don't break at a moment's notice and will last because that's what they used to do in the old days.

There's another reason why I'm questioning the quality of things in our world; and it's the future generations. What are they being taught now that will affect them when they are older? The fact that when something doesn't work the first time, well, that's it, chuck it out and buy another? No... I don't think that's the lesson we should be teaching our kids of tomorrow. The children who are going through primary school now should be taught that things can be fixed with a little know-how and guidance from a grandparent or somebody who knows how to fix things; no matter how small.

This world has turned into such a disposable world, our lifestyle has come to reflect it as well. We throw out so many tonnes of waste that we don't even think of cutting back on it all. All it takes it leaving the food wrapped in packages and grabbing some fresh produce and putting it a paper bag. Take those 'Green Bags' to the shops and back off using the plastic bags; which are made from crude oil and take around 20 years to break down. and even then, the gas they give off is harmful to the environment.
Instead of pointing fingers at the politicians and blaming them for our problems (and I'm not saying they're not part of the problem), we should begin looking at our own bad habits first and change them for the better. Why buy brand new clothes when you can get them at a Vinnies or Salvation Army store at a quarter of the price? It's recycling and feeding the poor at the same time.

Help stop this disposable lifestyle from taking over. It's bad for us, our planet and the future generations of our home.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

They Died Too Young

Yesterday, I was completely shocked by the sudden passing of one of my favourite writer/directors, John Hughes. He wasn't yet 60 and he suffered a massive heart attack in Manhatten while taking an early morning walk. The problem with this is that there's so many others out there that have passed away who were far too young; and they didn't need to be famous either, just close friends and family.

In my life, I lost quite a few people I thought were too young to die; who still had a lot to live for. I felt as though their lives had been wasted in some way because they were so young; and yet I had known them at school, through work or just as somebody I had volunteered with somewhere.
And it's not just me who feels this way, I know this. In the world of music, acting and the arts, so many of the bright young stars who die before they reach thirty leave this world before they really shine; and it's such a shame. So many movie stars have died in the past at very young ages.
There was James Dean, Natalie Woods, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Heath Ledger and many other stars have died before they had a chance to reach their absolute potential; and it's such a pity about it all. I hate to see them go as well.

I'm not saying that John Hughes was young - after all he had written and directed many films throughout the 80's and 90's and had become a household name - but he had become one of the people who could understand not
only the X-Generation but also the Y-Generation as well, and that's something not a lot of writers can get their heads around successfully and with the tact he did.

So, I'm taking this moment to pay my respects to this great man, and to anyone else who has passed on before their time; because I'd like to know what the world would have been like if they had stuck around. What kinds of movies and television shows would have graced our screens - silver and small - to entertain us all? Would 'The Doors' still be playing great music or just producing and encouraging new stuff? Would Jimi Hendrix be giving out massive grants to promising guitarists world wide?

Take the time to sit back and think about how the world would be if these people had survived and lived to see the world instead of leaving us without them in it.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Warm Days of Spring

I love to see the seasons change over; however, I detest what it does to my sinus'. I sneeze and feel as though I'm coming down with a flu when I'm not. Spring has always - and will always - do this do me whenever the seasons change. However, it's when the flowers bloom I cop it the worst; as does every asthmatic I know. It just doesn't seem fair, does it? And it's also the time when I want to get out into the garden again, when it's cool enough still, and everything's still dormant enough to be moved around and re-potted. It's not just the hay fever that bothers me, the days get longer too. I wake up to the alarm and the sun's already peaking over the horizon and lighting up the sky. Fog sometimes hangs in the air as a sign that it's going to warm to be a hot day after a cold morning; and it's those mornings that I wish for a longer Australian Winter instead of what we have. Even though I was born here in Australia, I find that I really don't like the heat of our Summer. It dries me out and dehydrates me to no end. Being fair-skinned, I feel as though I was destined to live in another country yet, I'm living in this one anyway. So, I wallow in the coolness of the brief Winter this Summer Land has to offer and hope it lasts just that little bit longer each year (and I know it won't; it's just wishful thinking). Brisbane in Winter may sound like a silly dream, but we do get a few lower temperatures from time to time; and I love them. It's when Summer comes along that I tend to hide from the sun and try to read more in the shade and in the breezeways of my garage. Summer does have its attractions. Here in Summer, we have our Christmas. On the way to it, there's Halloween (for all you pagans out there) and I also celebrate my birthday - along with a lot of my family's birthdays and anniversaries. So, it's pretty cool. I do enjoy the days getting warmer little by little. It's just Summer I'm not really looking forward to when it gets too hot. However, I do get a lot of reading done when the heat stops me from doing anything else. Just me, a good book, a bottle of chilled water out in the shade where a breeze passes through with my cordless phone next to me. That's the life... it's the best way to keep cool on a hot day.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Ekka

I remember when I was young, my parents would take me to the Royal Annual National Show... or the RNA. Us kids called it 'The Ekka'; a place of wild rides and a huge pavilion that sold sample bags - the most expensive being around $10 or so.

We loved it! And I was always getting lost because I was the shortest person in the family. So, when my back was turned, my folks and older brother would decide something and think I was listening and they'd walk off... of course being little and young, my mind was on other things (exactly what? I couldn't tell you right now, but at the time they were important). I'd turn around and - *poof* - they'd be gone. Now, you'd think that I'd would've panicked and run screaming around the place like most litttlies do today; right? Wrong. My parents had back-up plan in case this happened ( and this was for most places we went). I was to walk straight to the police station and sit outside it and wait for them. The police station at the Exhibition was right next to the Sample Bag Pavilion - you couldn't miss it! It was huge! On the years I did get separated from my parents, it was like a homing signal... I'd turn around and walked straight there, sit on the seat outside and wait. About ten minutes would pass, and the next thing I'd see them walking up to me saying: 'Well, there she is! Can't say she doesn't follow directions!'

But I did love the exhibition. It's big. It's noisy and there's so many rides! And the food there...well, it's not always the healthiest, but then, when you're out at a huge amusement park, you can't have everything!
My favourite thing about the Ekka is the rides. There's so many of them and there isn't a single one that nobody will hate. I used to love the Pirate Ship, Dodgem Cars and The Swings (the one that spins around and then rises up, lights up and almost feels like it's going to take off! It's up near the Royal Brisbane Hospital). However, I wasn't one to go upside down... it just made me feel like I was going to puke. So, I picked out rides that made feel like I was going to fly, but my stomach wasn't.

I remember one time, I went there with a group of friends. We were old high school friends and two of us were in wheelchairs. One wanted to go on all the rides and I organised with the engineers to get her out of her chair in to the ride when our turn came up. She had such a great time that when we got her home, she went to bed really early after a light dinner. I'm sure she still remembers that time fondly; I'm not sure as we don't keep in contact any more. Even though we don't, that day still brings a smile to my face; that I brought joy to her day at the Ekka when she had never been on the rides before.

However, the Exhibition has been around for so long, I don't think Brisbane has seen a year where it didn't exist. Even in the hardest of times, the show still went on and
people still attended. And I remember when World Expo '88 was in town, it was still as popular as ever; and the Brisbane City Council thought it would be empty.

Life without the Exhibition would be pretty dull around Brisbane. It's an event we all look forward to every year no matter what age we are; whether we're going or not. And it's a matter of whether we've been there in our youth that shows how well we remember it. It's the joy and happiness of the fun and excitement of each year that the Exhibition brings to Brisbane each year - where the Country and City meet - and let's hope it keeps going for generations to come.