Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bee the Hope You Want to See

I'm always full of self-congratulation, so tonight's no different. I just posted these photos (or similar ones) on my flickr site but I was so taken with the title I gave to the close-up of the bangles, that I had to post it here as well.
Actually, I wanted to call it 'Hope is the thing with feathers', which is the only line of Emily Dickinson that I can remember, but I didn't want to be too much of a wanker. So I appropriated the 'Be the Change You Want to See in the World' line, which is a personal favourite of mine.
I hope you can see the actual bees which would be a shame if you can't & would ruin the whole effect.
I've got loads more to say but it's now 8.39pm & I've made a commitment to stop using the computer at this time, because I can't get to sleep at night.

The Expectant Boots

 Our city apartment is in Kings Cross, which is the Bad Behaviour Capital of Australia. It's the Spiritual Home for those who Really Love getting Shitfaced & Who Don't Mind Throwing Up All Over the Pavement Afterwards. 
So, as I plod down the hill on my way to school each day, I often notice evidence of the previous night's revelry. It's rarely a pretty sight.
But this morning, I walked out into the cold & spied this sprightly pair of boots sitting expectantly in a doorway. For once, I allowed myself to wonder what was the story behind the boots & why they were waiting there. 
Of course, I'll never know.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Visit to the Boring Old Fart Gallery

For those of you that read my blog regularly, you'll know that I visit the state Art Gallery every week. Actually, why would you remember somebody else's weekly routine? But let's just say that you do. 
At the moment, the gallery is all abuzz because it's the Sydney Biennielle, which is a showcase of All the Usual Inexplicably Boring & Turgid Stuff  That is Considered Subversive by Artworld Aficionados.  The theme was supposed to be Revolutions - you know, things that turn.
What a yawn. Lots of tv monitors showing hands playing the piano, machinery that slowly turned if you pressed a button, a room devoted to Anger Management. Hey, that might be fun! There was a notice on the wall of the room informing us of the times for actual anger workshops, but sadly we'd missed them. Besides the notice, the only other thing in the room was yet another tv monitor showing two people facing each other & yelling.  I began to feel really irritated  & dare I say, angry, but I just had to Suck it Up instead.
After a short while, Sue, Trixie & I headed down to the gallery cafe where the people looked far more interesting than the exhibits. I just loved the little pink handbag with pearl handles owned by the pointing lady. I wanted to go & snatch it off her.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee!

One of the things I've discovered about Blogging & Me is the ever-presence of My Past.  It's not really The Elephant in the Room, but in fact, the Room itself. Everything that happens seems have some hugely evocative connection to some memory from long ago, usually some awfully traumatic event or a movie or movie star or TV series. 
Like most Only Children, I had nothing to do & no one to talk to, so  from an early age,I spent heaps of time in front of the TV. My father sold TVs & neither of my parents seemed to have ever heard of the idea that it was bad for children. So the TV was sort of the fourth member of our family, always ready to fill in the gaps & make us feel that there was company around.
I remember the Saturday night when I first saw 'A Summer Place'. It starred Sandra Dee, who went on to play another favourite of mine, 'Gidget' . But in 'A Summer Place' poor Sandra ends up being impregnated by the gorgeous Troy Donohue, whose real name was Merle Johnson, which doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?
Their sizzling teenage romance played out with the haunting theme music in the background, was a Revelation to Me.  I had no difficulty imagining that I would definitely grow into looking very much like Sandra  & considered that it wouldn't be terribly hard to find someone who looked like Troy. 
Of course, I grew up looking nothing like her & I was sadly unable to find My Troy. 
 These photos taken this past weekend on the beach near our weekend house are just an excuse for me to bang on about the movie, which I'm sure if I saw now, I'd think it was a Turgid Stinker.
   My daughter & I are frolicking around with our Pretend Chanel Quilted Handbags flying in the air. I'm so glad neither of us grew up looking as stitched up as Sandra looks. 
Mr. Middleaged doesn't quite look the Flawless Heartthrob, but at least he hasn't spent time being homeless on the streets of New York, which is what happened to Troy.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Original Mommie Dearest

I love posting pictures of Joan & her Adopted Daughter, Christina wearing Identical Outfits. After comparing myself to Joan, I just had to post The Real Deal.

Mommie Dearest

I'm not quite sure why, but I've always been crazy about Joan Crawford. I guess it's her looks mainly - that amazing face with the huge eyebrows & mouth & the enormous shoulder pads. And all those roles - Self-Made Mildred Pierce who was no match for her Evil Daughter; Crystal, the Scheming Shop Girl who stole poor Norman Shearer's Hubby from her in 'The Women'; and who could forget Joan-in-a-Wheelchair being fed a Dead Rat Lunch by her mad sister, Bette Davis in 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?'
So many Roles, so many Parts of Me that she explored!
But one area of Joan's life that never appealed to me was her Parenting. When her adoptive daugher, Christina Crawford. wrote her explosive tell-all book, 'Mommie Dearest' I lapped it all up. I voraciously read the book & believed every word. I mean, how could you make up a child having to scrub every inch of the bathroom floor with a toothbrush, or be terrorised with wire coathangers? I even started to re-write my own childhood, imagining my mother performing similar acts of Domestic Torture on me.
As I moved into my thirties & was finally told I was adopted (something I'd always kind of known), I really felt sorry for poor Old Adopted Christina & her Siblings. I found it ghoulishly fascinating that Joan dressed them all in Matching Outfits, something I swore I wouldn't do with my old child.
Fortunately for all of us, I managed avoid doing this all throughout my daughter's childhood & adolescence. But now she's twenty, I've seemed to have embraced The Matching Outfit, as evidenced from the pictures above. On my recent trip to LA, I couldn't resist buying two incredibly cheap dresses from the dreaded 'Forever 21 ' for both of us. 

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sucking It Up

In the photo, I'm smiling, but just underneath I'm seething. It's taken me many years to realise that I have the Frustration Levels of a Knat. The minute anything even looks like it mightn't be going my way, or that people aren't falling over themselves being nice to me, I want to Angrily Scoop up My Toys & Flounce off in a Huff.
In the past I might have done just that, but lately I've learned to Suck it Up & Love It. The only clue in the photo that I'm a little tense is the slightly raised shoulders & prizefighter's stance - but that just might be a result of the generous shoulder pads inside my  newly-thrifted  'Jones of New York' wool jacket that I got in LA.
'Sucking it Up', along with 'Douche Bag', is a term that I learned from my daughter. Both of them have proved invaluable additions to my repertoire, although my students were quite shocked when I repeatedly referred to King Lear's evil daughters, Gonerill & Regan as 'Douche bags.'  Some of them even charmingly inquired if  I understood the meaning. 
The thing I really like about 'suck it up' is that it's punchier & naughtier than 'Get Over It!' I don't think that I've ever gotten over anything in my entire life, but I can certainly have a go at 'sucking it up'.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fashion Freedom

Today when I went to the Art Gallery, all sorts of little cartoon-like images & text were drawn in chalk across its sandstone facade. I'm sure it's a Terribly Subversive Act done in honour of the Sydney Bienalle (I can't even spell it) Anyway, I quite liked it, & particularly liked the words 'Fashion Freedom' that was right next to the front entrance.
Whilst viewing the wonderful early twentieth century portraits by photographer, Harold Cazneaux, I sneakily took a photo (when guard wasn't looking) of Harold's great portrait of a lady called Doris, taken in the twenties, maybe v. early thirties. I just loved her languid profile & that wonderful bun right at the nape of her neck.  I was trying to channel some of Doris' Majesty in my own Wardrobe photo, but  I look more like an advertisement for Weight Loss. Not sure if I'm the Before or After shot, though.

The Mother and Daughter Reunion

Every Wednesday evening, I attend a lecture on Baroque Art at the Art Gallery with my two colleagues Sue & Trixie. As we are all Great Creatures of Routine, we happily do the same thing every week. We arrive at 4pm & always magically get a park right outside due to my special connections with Parking Celestial Beings. Then we go inside & have a quick look around before heading for the Gift Shop where we pour over DVDs & art books & little trinkets. Most weeks we buy things & don't give it a second thought. Then I get my daily wardrobe picture taken next to a favourite painting before heading downstairs at the stroke of five to have dinner in the cafe. I consider eating this early a Real Luxury as I'm always hungry at around five & hate to have to wait until after 7 or even 8 to eat.
Whilst in the cafe this evening, I took this photo of a Mother & Daughter. I just couldn't resist taking it because they looked so fabulous & looked like they liked each other.
I'm missing my daughter who I haven't see for a few weeks as she goes to University in Canberra. Here we both are having breakfast together at a local cafe last time we met.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Young Me

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After the excitement of posting Old & Young Bernadetta Barzini in my last post, I decided to post a picture of Young Me.
The picture was taken in 1983 in a strange little apartment in 'Hell's Kitchen' in New York, that was rented by Robyn, an independent Australian woman who at the time was trying to make films. I remember not being able to open the front door of the building as it was like a bank vault. It was then that I realised that I wasn't tough enough to live in New York.
All the furniture in the place was from the street, but it was quite comfortable. I'm sitting back on the couch with her cat, Annie. I'm trying to look sophisticated as my boyfriend & I were about to go out to a nightclub called 'The Red Parrot' & see the great John Waters' star, Divine perform.
I'm still wearing red tight & boots & thrift clothes.

Nasty Comments

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One of my Great Time-Wasting Pastimes is to read ALL the comments posted on certain photos on The Sartorialist I never really mean to do it, but it seems that once I start, I can't stop. I'm sure it's because I become almost mesmerised by the nastiness of some of the comments.
I must say that even though I enjoy a little nastiness particularly if it's not directed at me, I don't really approve. Isn't the World Nasty Enough without people having to Slag Off about someone else's daggy clothes on a site that thousands of people see?
I often imagine these Nasty Commentators sitting up in their miserable little studio apartments eating cheese on toast in their pyjamas happily sneering about some other Poor Soul who dares to have their photo taken by The Sart. I bet none of them get asked to have their photo taken by him.
Anyway, this Lady appeared a week or two ago. I immediately pounced on her because she's, let's face it, Old. Sart endlessly features a Passing Parade of Old Fart Men who to me look a bit like Colourful Racing Identities, but rarely does he post pictures of Old Boilers like me.
Her wide tie-dyed pants teamed with a floral top provoked quite a few nasty remarks. But what seemed to get in everyone's claw were The Birkenstocks. How could she? Unflattering comparisons with Elderly Potters from the Pacific Northwest were made. Other people claimed to know who she is which really wasn't so hard to find.
She's Bernadetta Barzini, a fabulous ex-model from the sixties. I dug up some pictures of her from her modelling heyday that you can see below. Wasn't she sensational? I'm sure I spent many a wasted evening as a schoolgirl pouring over her photos in some magazine & wondering why I couldn't look like that. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I really did think that way.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Not Exploring

Originally uploaded by middleagedteacher

This was the view from my Japanese Hotel window five days ago en route to Sydney. My bangle, freshly bought from The Los Angeles County Museum gift shop says it all - EXPLORE. I've got it propped up next to the window which warns NOT to open it because a Dewdrop or a Nasty Insect might come inside. It seems that I decided to ignore the command of the bangle, & instead obey the instructions on the window. Don't open up or I might be contaminated or attacked by Aliens.
So, what did I do during my just under 24 hours stopover in Tokyo, a city I've never been to before: I stayed in the hotel room,taking advantage of the extremely fast broadband internet connection & then I got the shuttle bus back to Narita airport & stayed in the JAL lounge for the rest of the day shovelling in large quantities of mysterious but superb Japanese food & sampling the electronic massage chairs. I've never felt so relaxed at an airport.

The Lost Opportunity

it's embarressing
Originally uploaded by middleagedteacher

I arrived back home in Sydney early Tuesday morning absolutely full of Japanese food. I didn't even see one piece of sushi or sashimi. Instead, it was steaming plates of seafood congee with pickled shallots & perhaps plums; dainty portions of sea bass & a lone sea urchin; prawns sprinkled with fish roe. Actually, some of the tiny delicacies I couldn't really identify, but it didn't stop me shovelling them in & loving it.
But there was one Vital Item that I had been sorely missing for the past two weeks : a decent latte. Ovr the years, I have learned to accept that the US just can't do coffee the way we do coffee, so while I'm there I meekly go to Starbucks or The Coffee Bean & dutifully order a Tall Non-Fat Iced Coffee with No Whipped Cream. I tell myself that it's only for a short time. And it kind of works. Plus, my friend Marge has now got a Cappucino machine which makes all the difference.
So as soon as I got home, it was down to my local cafe - Zinc. The owner, Peter, reminds me of one of those All-knowing Bartenders in films of the forties - always there to listen & not afraid to dispense a little wisdom when required. When I told him that I didn't go into Tokyo during my stopover, he was disgusted, telling me that it was an embarressing that I didn't. He's probably right.
Mr. Middleaged agreed. He thought that I was a real wus. To tell the truth, I was frightened that once I got on the train into the city, that I'd become lost & never get back.

Smugness Never Pays

I quite like returning home after a short time away. It's always a relief to get off the plane & know what you're going to expect. When you fly Qantas, a smug Male Flight Attendant often announces upon touchdown, 'Welcome to Australia, Gods Own Country' or something similarly cringeworthy. Nothing like that was said by the JAL flight attendant. It was just all smiles & bows. In fact, when we took off from Los Angeles, the entire Japan Air Lines groundcrew stood to attention on the tarmac & waved & smiled until the plane was just about in the air. I had never seen anything like it in my life. It was kind of wonderful even though it looked a bit silly & naf.
As I got off the plane, there was a spring in my step. I knew the drill, this was MY TOWN.
Wrong. As I walked into the Customs Hall that I had judged would be empty as this was one of the first planes to touch down in the morning, my heart sank. The place was literally crawling with PILGRIMs arriving from all over the planet for the rather stupidly named 'World Youth Day'. It's more like 'World Youth Week' or 'World Youth Eight Days' as the whole thing lasts for days & days.
I stood at the loathsome Baggage Carousel desperately searching for my bag & again realising for the millionth time that it Never Pays to be Too Smug.

Above It All.

The Garden Refuge
Originally uploaded by middleagedteacher

Ah, 'World Youth Day'! It seemed that Sydney had been completely taken over by it. Large groups of marauding PILGRIMS roam the streets wearing tasteless outfits, brandishing flags of their country & chanting 'Alleluia' whilst playing the bongoes. Overhead, helicopters whirl around, protecting The Pope from some Dreadful Attack.
You'd think that Sydney's main newspaper had turned into 'The Catholic Weekly'. Page after page is devoted to recording the minutiae of Pope Benny's movements & the progress of the Stations of the Cross through the city. The Harbour Bridge has been closed for only the second time in it's history. Tomorrow, The World's Largest Mass will be held in Randwick Racecourse.
Victims of Abuse at the hands of the Clergy are cranky. The organisers of World Youth Day are cranky at the Victims because they are Raining on Their Parade. Cardinal Pell, The Archbishop of Sydney has Come Out as a Climate Change Sceptic & urged all young Catholics to 'Populate or Perish', which is perfect advice to give at a gathering of so many Ecstatic Young People.
Meanwhile, I'm above the action in my city apartment, quietly tending The Kitchen Garden even though most of it's plastic.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Women & Me

Some characters I've collaged & painted to make a picture book for girls aged 12+.
The Mum playing cards is a composite of Ellen de Generes & Doris Day. They kind of go together in an unexplained way, maybe.
The daughter is a lookalike for my Real Life daughter, Billie-Mae. She has Lily Cole's head & an Anonymous body. Lily is an English Model.
The Showy Off lady is a composite of a Holocaust Survivor & Diana Vreeland's talon-like hands.
The text has been appropriated from various magazine ads.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Would a Narcissist Post This Photo?

The Hamburglar
Originally uploaded by middleagedteacher

Nothing If Not a Narcissist

I know I sound like a Mean Cow, but I've been loving the upset surrounding the publication of a book about online fashion called 'What I Wore Today'. This is a subject very close to my heart as I am one of these so-called 'Narcissists' who insist on posting my daily outfits on line for all the World to See. 
Fellow flickr wardrobe_remixers were approached by the author to give approval to use their online photos in the book. From reading w_r's discussion thread, many people gave approval to use their images but weren't told that the sub-title of the book was going to include the word 'narcissism'. Who wants to be called that?  
I know that I'm always the first to jump in & call myself one before anyone else has a chance to do so, just in case anyone would. Not that I'm paranoid. 
Definitions of Narcissism have been flowing thick & fast - ranging from the guy who falls in love with his own reflection to the Seriously Disturbed Personality Disorder Type.  
Personally, I prefer to see myself as having 'Healthy Self-Aggrandizement'.  
I'm posting a particularly unflattering wardrobe remix photo of myself taken earlier this year at the school's annual swimming carnival holding a hamburger. Would a Narcissist do that?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Nancy Drew Rules!

As I write this, I'm sitting at Narita Airport near Tokyo waiting for a flight to take me back home. I've been pretty much sitting up here all day eating pickled shallots & plums & other curious delicacies from the One World Lounge Bar. 
 Already I'm nostalgic for my trip to LA. 
I just had to post some pictures of front covers of Nancy Drew books I found in a secluded corner of a genuine bric a brac shop in Burbank. I just love them. 

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Smart & Final in LA

Yesterday was my last whole day in LA.  What better way to spend it than at the Huge Salvation Army Depot right across from the curiously named bulk store, 'Smart & Final'.
So far in our Thrifting Adventures, I had collected almost a whole wardrobe of winter clothes. I'd bought four wool jackets with labels like, 'Jones of New York', 'Nordstrom' shoes &  some swing skirts. But now, I was going for broke. Could I find any more jackets to stuff into my already overflowing suitcase?
Surprisingly I could. Marge helped me find a couple more, wisely steering me away from the more matronly brands like 'Sag Harbor', which specialises in big shoulders & wide lapels. She got into the swing of things herself, trying on a particularly arresting Commodore's blazer from perhaps the early 90's, & optimistically trying to squeeze herself into a couple of winter skirts. Soon, we were complaining of hot flushes, & marvelling how in sync we were with each other having them at the same time until we remembered that there was no air conditioning.
But who cares about a little discomfort when you're getting bargains.
We walked away with a whole garbage bag of stuff, mainly for me. Apart from the jackets, I bought this particularly fetching polka dot matching skirt & top, but decided that the orange shoes were too nasty to buy.
 That's the thing about buying thrift - some if not many items give off nastiness or just plain meanness. I don't know whether it's because of the quality of the materials or the character of the previous owner or maybe it's just me. 

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Holiday to Enlightenment

What with spending The Whole Day at the Day Spa & then going to Yoga four times in five days & then making healthy food & drinks, this holiday is turning into a DIY Health Retreat. 
I've got to go home looking reasonably trim because Mr. Middleaged has been losing weight. While I'm here in LA, he's at home in Sydney eating raw green beans, cooked up to nothing asparagus & 'Corn Thins' (Cardboard Crispbread) I've warned him that if he loses too much weight, people might think he's got cancer. 
Patricia Field, the 'Sex & the City' dress designer says that being thin & middleaged ads another ten years. I wonder if she was thinking about Carrie when she said that. 
Which brings me to the SATC movie  which I saw a couple of nights ago. Marge had already seen it twice & by taking me, she was making it a third.  We both loved it which again reveals us as being Really Shallow. After we got home, we read a whole truckload of lousy reviews including one by Uber-Critic, Roger Ebert, whose opinions I value. We both thought it was a Fab Fairy Tale with Great Handbags. 
But back to the Yoga Classes for a moment.  On Sunday, the LA Times said that gyms are the 'new barnyards', full of people who smell & sound like farm animals. You can at least SEE that we certainly aren't like that.  We're more the types who sit around contemplating Hindu sayings like the one quoted in the LA Times article:
Ridding my mind of distraction,
Single pointed,
I shut out sounds & all the senses,
And I am here.