Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mr. Livin' La Vida Loca Himself, Performs His Famous Song Down Under and Triggers Some Memories

I've been a fan of Ricky Martin for a very long time. Yes, I do know he is gay. Trust me I never dreamed of a romantic connection with the Puerto Rican heart throb. I have admired his persona, outlook on life, showmanship, songs and of course his amazing chiseled good looks! Who would not admire his beauty? I mean really! Ricky 'has angel' is what they would say in Latin America, loosely translated to 'has charisma,' or a something special which can't be explained.

When I started my blog, back in 2008, upon arriving in Australia, I thought it would be appropriate to name it 'Livin' la vida Australia' because it sort of described the whirlwind life I was experiencing down under (a crazy life in Australia). Grant it, I didn't "wake up in NYC, in a funky cheap hotel, blah, blah, blah..." as Ricky's song says, but I have felt like I had bullet in my brain, more than once, but such is life, regardless where one lives.

Ricky is one of the judges on Australia's 'The Voice' and the other night he and the other three judges performed his infamous 'Living la vida loca' song, and upon watching it on YouTube, I was instantly transported to 1999. I was living in NYC, working as an Art Director at Time Inc.'s Parenting Magazine, just married and with a little baby on the way... pure bliss. Who would have guessed that Ricky and I would cross paths in Australia 14 years later? Still BLISS, only with three daughters, still married, and working for Property Portal Watch in a totally different role, Editor. I guess when you change hemispheres, you change your calling too.

One thing still true, I'm still a Ricky fan. Thank you Mr. Martin for funneling some awesome memories into my present.

Meaning of Tener ├íngel (to have angel) in Spanish... no Enlish, sorry.

Monday, March 11, 2013

I Can't Take This Heat Anymore

It's been over a year since my last post. Has my life been lacklustre and event free, that I have not had anything to write about? Hardly, quite the contrary actually. 2012 has been chock full of work and family responsibilities that, I have not had any time for anything else. So far, 2013 has been a repeat of last year, however I am in desperate need to vent today, and so I have taken to blog about that which troubles me... the heat.

I think I can only blame myself for the state I am currently in. Yes, I have brought on the terrible and scorching weather which has Victoria on its knees, due to the five years of daily complaints to God about Melbourne's dreadfully cold and gloomy weather. Now, I have been rewarded with the heat-wave of all heat-waves, and I recognise that I have gone too far with my prayers.

The message has been received, loud and clear. I now understand that I am most definitely supposed to live in a cold climate, and that my DNA was not programmed for this infernal heat. OK, lets turn back the thermostat dial now, please? God, are you listening? Pretty please?

Australian Bureau of Meteorology temperature map - with a new colour for 52-54C. (125-120F)

This is the current temperature, and it's evening.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

'Grease' the film had another Aussie associated to it besides Olivia Newton-John

"Good girl Sandy and greaser Danny fell in love over the summer. But when they unexpectedly discover they're now in the same high school, will they be able to rekindle their romance?" That's the brief description of the infamous film Grease

It was the summer of 1978 when I saw this movie in the cinema, with my parents, brother, and a family from church (the Sljivars). We laughed, sang, and eventually even danced our way out of the movie theatre to 'We Go Together'. 

Grease had such a huge impact on me! I dreamed of becoming an actress and being in a film some day myself. I wanted to be as pretty as Sandy (Olivia Newton-John), in both the goody-two-shoe and the vampy personalities she interpreted... and I hated the fact that my mother always had to put a damper on everything, even something as happy as this movie. Her walking out comment to me was: "You see how friends can be such a bad influence on a person? Sandy was such a good girl, and now she's a slut!" Way to look at the bright side of life mom... it's JUST a movie for the love of God! A musical at that! 

But I digress... I won't bore you with my childhood hang ups.

So, why bring up this classic? What does it have to do with 'Livin' la vida Australia' anyway?

My eldest daughter is auditioning for the role of Sandy at her school' production of Grease. She has been practicing 'Hopelessly Devoted to You' over, and over again. To the point that I find myself humming it everywhere, from the kitchen to driving to the market. I've heard it a little too much, actually. But I sacrifice my ears for the happiness of my daughter, gosh darn it! Break a leg my dear, and here's hoping you become famous some day. 


This evening we watched Grease as a family, here in Olivia Newton-John's hometown of Melbourne (sans my mother); all comfy on our sofas an chowing down on burritos. It was like finding some old pictures in a shoe box and reminiscing about the time we lived the moments and immortalised them in photos. My eldest is now 12 years old too, just like I was when I first experienced the movie. I wondered if she found John Travolta to be as unattractive as did I at her age? Isn't it interesting how our tastes change as we age? I see him now, and think "OMG, he was drop dead gorgeous!"

The lovely Miss Olivia Newton-John and the yummy John Travolta

As a side note, my daughters think that George Clooney is ugly... sigh... I have assured them that sometime later in life they'll think differently.
The equally yummy Mr. Clooney
When the film's opening credits began flashing before us, I found out the Aussie connection to the film... which is less obvious than the Olivia Newton-John link.

Barry Gibb - of the famed 70s disco group Bee Gees - composed the music and wrote the lyrics of such songs as 'Grease is the Word' and yes, the song which now permanently lives in my brain, 'Hopelessly Devoted to You', among others.

Barry Gibb was born in the UK, but at the age of 12 (there goes that number again) his family moved to Brisbane, Australia, which is where he began his musical career. And there you go! Mr. Gibb is the other Australian link in Grease.

I like it when puzzle pieces from the past fall into place. It's like hearing a joke you learned in your youth, and finally getting the punchline, because it was too mature to understand at the wet-behind-your-ears ripe age of 12.

There were many 'punchlines' in this film which I only got tonight, but they whizzed past my daughters' heads, keeping this movie very appropriate for them to watch, just like it was for me back then. I didn't give the lecture at the end of the film, by-the-way, my youngest saw to that, commenting that Sandy shouldn't have started smoking just to look cool.

Maybe some day, when my daughters have daughters, and they are 12, they'll screen Grease for them. It should be interesting. Who knows where they will be, and what link they'll find to the film.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Don't hide it, frame it!

I think that sometimes that which you have been looking for but somehow could not find, even if it bites you on the nose, just falls into your lap. Today is such a day. I've stumbled upon some great organisational ideas.
Organisation has always been a weak point of mine. My husband has even gone as far as accusing me of being a hoarder… a harsh label to be issued, when that is not what you identify yourself as, especially after reality TV has gone and dissected the personality of a true hoarder for all of us to gasp at. 
Mine is but a mere shadow of what is displayed for millions to gawk in bewilderment (how DOES a person get to that point anyway?). I am not 'that' woman, you know… the one who can't find her way through her house, due to ceiling-high mountains of boxes and unidentified debris which may or may not also contain a decomposing cat, gone missing over six months ago.
No, mine is a condition which many artists around the world have been stricken by in the beginning of their creative training. I don't believe it has an actual name associated with it, but if it did, it would probably be something like: Fear of not finding that 'thing' which you might need when making a comp or prototype.
If you are a designer/artist, I'm sure you can identify with this phobia. Just as an example… lets say you are in the middle of making the most beautiful prototype of a new innovative LEGO carrying box/bag for your product development class, and you just need the perfect latch for it. 
You've looked throughout your studio (bedroom), and can't find it, to then turn for assistance to your mother, who informs you that while she was straightening up (snooping around) your work area (bedroom) she may have misplaced it (thrown it away). 
Faced with this harsh truth, you release an internal scream, because if you actually released the appropriate scream, your mother's ear drums would burst. You then lock yourself away in the bathroom, where you sob quietly into a towel, until you have regained composure. The project is due first thing in the morning (of course), and your teacher is less than understanding of your woes.
This was just an example… of course (wink, wink).
Over the years I've learned to apply the philosophy of "If you have to think whether you need the object you are holding in your hand, then you don't. Throw it away." The great Creative Director, Carlos Castro Saura, planted this little gem in my head a long, long time ago when I interned as a then, very 'green' designer, at his company in Caracas, Venezuela. Even with this valuable lesson, I still have a hard time parting with certain items. I guess, had it not been for Carlos, I may very well be featured on a reality TV show for all the wrong reasons.
Since moving to Australia with a container full of everything and anything which my family has accumulated over the years, I have carefully and painstakingly discarded a great deal of the hard-to-part-with items. Some have contributed to the rise of the local garbage heap, and others have been 'adopted' by loving families.
Now, I'm at the stage of actually categorising, stowing and displaying whatever is left, so I'm actually in a very good place. I am getting myself organised. Did you read that? O-R-G-A-N-I-S-E-D… oh yeah baby! I am getting my act together. Woo hoo!!!
So, while not even looking, I stumbled upon some simple, inexpensive and creative ways of displaying and organising (there goes that word again, so cool) my belongings.
Today's theme has been named: If you can't store it, frame it.
Clothespin Frame  All rights reserved by taliachristine

I love how these photos are showcased creatively. This appears to be relatively easy to make, so it should be a nice afternoon project over the weekend, for me and the girls. They'll be happy to get crackin' on this, since they went photo crazy back in the States oner Christmas break, and they can show off their pics to their friends when they come over.
Now, who doesn't have costume jewellery lying around on the dresser, or hidden away in a drawer? Why not have them at hand, so to actually wear them every once in a while. You know what they say, "out of sight, out of mind." 

The above weathered frame is similar, but in this case a wire mesh has been installed in the back, to easily hang earrings on it. Again, pretty easy to execute for the crafty folk out there. 
The below frame is more along the photo arranging concept, but still functional.

This should be fun to tackle over the weekend, and not too expensive to make. I will post pictures if I'm proud of the creations, and if not, maybe I'll save them for later, just in case I have a special project (haha)... old habits die hard.
My next obstacle should be to attempt to categorise the army of shoes which patiently awaits my family's feet's affections, in the laundry room. If anyone has some cool ideas and suggestions for this endeavour, do share. I am open to suggestions, no matter the complexity or simplicity.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Two months later

My family and I leaped over the Pacific Ocean to the US this last November, and just came back two nights ago.

It has been wonderful to re-connect with family (some whom were not in great health unfortunately - get better) and experience the great tourist sites of New York, Washington D.C., Florida and California... a true adventure for both kids and adults, but now we are home. Did I say 'home'? Yup, Australia feels like home now. I'm reminded of the Marvin Gay song 'Where ever I lay my hat (I call home)' also made popular in the 80s by Paul Young.

This experience has made me realise that we could live anywhere in the world, and that we travel so great together. Not one whine, not one complaint... OK maybe one, but... we were all on one page, and truly enjoyed our time together, and all the while working remotely on Australia time, making it for some extremely long days, and odd weekends (Thursday in US = Friday in AU, and Sunday in US = Monday in AU).

So...lesson learned? Go more often and stay shorter time. Do not pack even half...NO, not even one quarter the suitcases we packed this time around (do I never learn?). Be honest when declaring contents in luggage, as you will probably (fingers crossed) not be taken aside and checked out for "illegal" foods/animals/wood/etc...and, ask politely of the traveling rugby team players, to help with the heavy bags, and most likely they'll do it...they did for me. God bless the NZ Chiefs! Such good guys.

It's great to travel, and wonderful to come home again.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

And why are all these points sooo bad?

I found this list on Twitter, but had to post it on my blog because... it applies to me almost 100%.

My husband doesn't get me either...he should have read this list before he married me. Alas, now he is stuck with my 'weird' self, studying patterns in his shirts, comparing the minute differences between Arial and Helvetica, and getting all agitated over it.

Why is this SO bad? I could be cut from the same cloth as everyone else, eating not so tastebud simulating foods and listening to ordinary music. Nah!

Originally here: http://t.co/koWYu6rG

50 reasons not to date a graphic designer

1. They are very weird people.

2. There are billions of them in the world, like colors on the screen of your computer.

3. They will analyse conversations in layers.

4. You will spend the day assembling furniture from IKEA.

5. They drink and eat all kinds of weird shit just because they like the packaging.

6. They hate each other.

7. You’ll come out the last out of the movies because you have to see the full list of credits.

8. They cant change a light bulb or without making a sketch.

9. They fuck up all the tables with their cutters.

10. They rather study the paisley pattern on your outfit than listen to what you have to say.

11. They will fill your house with magazines and whatever is out there that has drawings.

12. You never know if it is really an original or a copy.

13. They make collages with your photos.

14. They do not know how to add and subtract, they just understand letters.

15. They idolize people who nobody knows and speak of them as if they were his colleagues.

16. They take pictures almost daily and all are cut in weird shapes.

17. They ask your opinion about everything but they do whatever they want.

18. Everything is left justified, right or center unless they arrive late.

19. They hate Comic Sans with the same passion they love Helvetica.

20. They use iPhone for everything, because everyone has one.

21. You can not decorate the house without consulting them.

22. They steal street signs.

23. Always carry their hands painted with something.

24. They buy dolls unfinished for them to paint.

25. Everything becomes something other than what it really is: cards as tickets, cards as …

26. When arguing, you will be nicknamed like the OSX spinning wheel (not affectionately)

27. Do not know how to dress without consulting the Pantone book.

28. They hate Excel.

29. They read comics.

30. They want to save the world only with a poster.

31. You will spend the day brainstorming.

32. On vacation they will take you to countries that you do not know exist and have no beach.

33. Museums are their second home.

34. They know more positions than the Kamasutra.

35. They can’t go to a restaurant without secretly critiquing the menu design.

36. They listen to music you have never heard of.

37. They can´t cook a normal dish, they always have to experiment with new ingredients.

38. They read rare books: stories of children, Semiotics …

39. When you are going to tell you something, everyone has read it in their facebook and twitter.

40. They have own iPods before you knew they existed.

41. The orgasm they remember is when they heard that Adobe was acquiring Macromedia.

42. They have their own shops just for them and there are the most expensive in the city.

43. They want to spend all the money in the Apple Store.

44. You will never understand their gifts.

45. They see ordinary objects and laugh.

46. You wake up in the middle of the night hearim them screaming “When is the deadline?”

47. They see CMYK and RGB like Neo sees the Matrix.

48. They dream of the day nobody will make a single change to their designs.

49. They rather pay for a font than for a special birthday gift.

50. They are always sleepy because they work 24/7.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hamilton Island

A rare opportunity fell into my lap (via a dear friend of mine) to experience Hamilton Island, for a work/holiday.

Having been a bit stressed lately, I accepted the offer wholeheartedly, and off we went.

I had heard of Hamilton Island, but knew not what to expect. Apparently it looks like Hawaii and it smells like Hawaii, but it's on the Great Barrier Reef, and no ALOHAs are ever extended as a greeting.

Our flight from Melbourne was approximately three hours long. We arrived to a microscopic airport, which much to my surprise, had no luggage carousel. When the luggage arrived, we descended on it like ants on a pic nick basket. It was a bit of a pandemonium.

The local temperature can be compared to any tropical city in the world...Cartagena, Honolulu, Miami or Denpasar. They all have that common balminess to them, which you experience upon exiting a temperature controlled aircraft.

My hair immediately becomes wiry and out of control in all of these places. I must have been a desert Bedouin in another lifetime, for in this current one I cannot be exposed to humidity. My body rebels against it. I absolutely adore the tropics, but my body does not.

It's the hair first, then the face (pores produce way too much oil), and eventually the local mosquitos detect my presence and descend on me to feast on my internationally renown 'sweet' blood, marking my flesh up with itchy red welts for the next month or so. There must have been one mosquito somewhere who tasted my blood and sent an email to his buddies around the world, telling them to keep a lookout for me. An almost "top ten best blood"...and I'm number one.

My Hamilton Island adventure thus far (thank God all mighty) has been mosquito free. Almost too good to be true, and I have not spritzed one drop of mosquito repellant. Go figure. However, the hair is beyond repair and my face shines from a mile away, I'm sure light can be reflected off it at night to act like a lighthouse.

The island is lush and very green; apparently 75% of the island is bush land and it is intended to remain that way. The tallest buildings are hotels, but they are a far cry from Honolulu's skyscrapers, which allows for the nature to outshine the man made structures.

There is a quaint marina, with the strip of shops and restaurants. The restaurants are beyond expensive, unfortunately, so I have opted to cook most of my meals.

There are no true locals. Most people living here are from other parts of Australia, brought to the island to work in the tourist industry. They are for the most part friendly and helpful, all except one...there always is one, isn't there? The free shuttle bus driver lady...she is a little 'challenging', to say the least. I've attempted to engage her in conversation, to no avail. On the other hand, the night bus driver is super friendly, and plays Elvis music ALL the time. The foreign tourists absolutely love him! His bus can be heard blocks away, because of the roaring laughter from its passengers.

As this is a work holiday, I've been dutifully working wherever I can find free WiFi. My favorite hot spot has been the Reef Lounge, a large open area with comfortable rattan chairs spread throughout. I sit in the same spot, see the same bartender and wave at little kids who wonder in with their folks looking for the bathroom and recognize me. My favorite though, is the daily group of newly arrived Japanese tourists and their guide.

Around 10:00am each morning, a soft spoken young Japanese woman (different each day), brings in about a dozen Japanese couples, and she begins her presentation. I don't understand Japanese, but because I've heard the instructional speech several times so far, I've been able to decipher the word 'restaurant' and 'buggy'. I'm sure she lists the restaurants in the marina, then warns them of the rogue buggies.

There are approximately 1,500 golf buggies on the island - this according to my Elvis aficionado bus driver - and all road rules which apply to regular cars, do also to the gulf buggies. They seem innocent enough, but apparently folks drink quite a bit, and accidents happen. I don't doubt it...I've heard lots of spine chilling screeches of sudden breaks being applied. I know that, if i see one on the road, I run for cover. But, buggies are better than cars, since they don't produce toxic exhaust fumes...so, I give the idea a great big thumbs up.

Cockatoos are native to Australia, and I think they have found their ideal paradise here on Hamilton Island. They are everywhere! The reception desk girl actually warned us about them, stating that we should always close our balcony doors before leaving our rooms. The cockatoos have been known to wonder into the hotel rooms looking for food and completely trash it. As many as 40 cockatoos have been found in one room, going at pillows, drapes, whatever they can destroy, they do. They are the 'rock stars' of the animal kingdom.

The water surrounding the island is crystal clear, turquoise blue. Breathtaking! The tide goes out toward the evening and families go sea shell scavenging.

I haven't ventured to the actual coral reef yet, because of my unfortunate experience on a boat while in Apollo Bay back in October, but if I find a really big boat, I'll go.

My take on this celebrated island is, that it is what Hawaii (Honolulu) may have been 40 years ago. Hamilton Island is tranquil, natural, quaint and family friendly. It's definitely worth coming back with the kids some day, even if no one says ALOHA to us.