Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"Spectacular Scenes at Sydney Festival" by Ian Lloyd Neubauer for CNN

Sydney (CNN) -- When winter hits, Sydney becomes something of a ghost town as its 4 million or so residents retreat indoors to acclimatize to the cold.

Yet for the past five years, they've been beckoned outside by Vivid Sydney, an 18-day festival of light, music and ideas that takes over after dark May 24 to June 10.

At the core of the carbon-neutral festival is Vivid Light. From 6 p.m. every evening, local and visiting artists use light installations and 3-D projectors to transform the 1,056,000 tiles of the Sydney Opera House, the Museum of Contemporary Art and other category-killing buildings into giant canvases of color and light.
Headlining Vivid Live, the festival's ticketed live music program, are German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk. Other acts included Joy Division and Vangelis from the UK and homegrown acts Cloud Control and Empire of the Sun. Bobby Womack called in sick.
Vivid Ideas, the festival's third and final arm, comprises more than 100 lectures, workshops and debates. Led by global leaders in the fields of fashion, film, publishing, architecture and design, it underlines Sydney's standing as a global epicenter for creative arts.
"Vivid now leads the world in sheer number and size of buildings projections -- no other city lights up its famous landmarks and skyscrapers the way we do," says creative adviser Ignatius Jones, who co-directed the 2000 Sydney Olympics' opening ceremony. "This year we're going to have 60 light sculptures -- nearly twice as many as last year. It's going to be really, really big."
Vivid Sydney In sync with the colder clime, Sydneysiders stray from the city's beaches and harbor to find fun in the retail and entertainment precincts of the inner city and beyond. Here are three of the
Surry Hills
During the Great Depression, Surry Hills was a Dickensian slum known for brothels and razor-wielding street gangs. But demand for city-fringe housing has seen the suburb embark on a journey of gentrification that transformed it into Sydney's Soho district.
Starting at the junctures of Oxford Street, Sydney's celebrated gay district, vintage clothing stores like Grandma Takes a Trip, Wheels & Dollbaby and Strawberry Hills (+612 9380 8809) make Surry Hills Sydney's capital of alternative fashion.
For contemporary threads, check out Japanese-Danish boutique Mushu, Via Alley Shop and Gallery and Flight 001, a travel store shaped like the inside of a jumbo jet. New York-style warehouse bars like Toko, The Winery and Shortgrain buzz with life on wintry weekends, while neon green spirits are served with aplomb at The Absinthe Salon.
The home of Australia's most innovative theater company, Belvoir Street Theatre is where Hollywood heavyweights Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush cut their teeth. From May 28 to July 14, Belvoir presents "Angles in America," a two-part Pulitzer Prize-winning play featuring Marcus Graham of David Lynch's "Mulholland Dr."
To get a sense of Surry Hills's working-class past, order a beer on tap or at The Cricketers Arms, Hollywood Hotel or any of the suburb's un-renovated pubs. Adherents of the if-it-isn't-broken-don't fix-it school of design, they are windows into Surry Hill's indissoluble bohemian heart.

The Inner West
When it comes to noisy and unsightly motorways, Parramatta Road, Sydney's major east-west artery, takes the cake. But a select number of its side streets and adjoining suburbs are vibrant hubs for food, fashion and art.
At the very start of Parramatta Road, the castle-like buildings of Sydney University were modeled on London's Westminster Abbey. Walk though its neogothic sandstone quadrangle to King Street, Newtown, an eclectic meeting place for students, rockabillies and steampunks. Lined with old pubs, cinemas and multicultural eats like Rowda Ya Habibi (+612 9557 5368), Sydney's best kebab joint, King Street is a people-watchers' paradise and then some.
Across from Sydney University is Glebe Point Road, home to Gleebooks, Sydney's most popular independent bookstore. On Saturday mornings, Glebe Markets provides a showcase for emerging artists with recycled fashion and bands on the side.
A mile west of here on Parramatta Road is Deus ex Machina's House of Simple Pleasures. A hanger-size oasis of retro style, it combines a custom motorcycle showroom, the Deus boutique and a pseudo-industrial function space that hosts everything from weddings to rock concerts.
Continue another mile and a half and you'll find Sydney's Little Italy on Norton Street, Leichhardt. With around 50 restaurants and cafés, the strip stakes a claim as one of Sydney's great ethic culinary hubs.
Discover your favorite Leichhardt eatery on a Buon Appetito walking tour. Run by Italian-Australian advocacy group Co.As.It, it visits Leichhardt's best food outlets, teaches the history of Italians in the area and culminates in a cooking demonstration and Sicilian lunch.

An Aboriginal word meaning 'camp', Woollahra is one of the eastern Sydney's most affluent suburbs. Its streets are lined with elm trees, grand Victorian terraces and a village-like retail hub home to some of Australia's most prestigious art galleries.
The Gallery Walk starts near the corners of Oxford and Queen Street at The Art of Dr Seuss for limited-edition prints by the author of the "Cat in the Hat" series. Continue along Queen Street to Bewoulf Gallery for exotic and ethnographic ceramics. A detour through Hallis Lane leads to the Tim Olsen Gallery and Richard Martin Art on Jersey Road, where Sydney's art cognoscenti attend regular exhibitions.
Tucked behind rows of square hedges around the corner on Ocean Street is Chiswick, a glasshouse-inspired eatery with shaded outdoor seating. TV chef Matt Moran sources herbs from Chiswick's own vegetable patch, lamb from his own farm and small goods from Victor Churchill, a Woollahra butcher of distinction established in 1876.
Back on Queen Street, across the road from luxury perfumery Jo Malone, is Life.Style -- the boutique-gallery hybrid of global cosmetics tsar Napoleon Perdis. Trading from the heritage-listed original Woollahra Post Office building, it stocks IONIA porcelain dinnerware from Greece, Lucite and Perspex accessories from France plus lithographs and garments from the US.
"Woollahra is a micro cosmos that epitomizes the idea of Sydney as a city of villages," Perdis says. "It's not just a tourist attraction, it's the way we live."

Friday, May 24, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How to help Oklahoma tornado victims

If you're looking for ways to help residents of Oklahoma, ravaged by a monstrous tornado Monday, the following relief organizations are working in the area:

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross has several shelters open in Oklahoma and Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles have begun delivering hot meals throughout the affected areas. The Red Cross is also working to link loved ones in Moore who are OK through a website called Safe and Well. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, donate online, or donate by phone at 1-800-RED CROSS.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is activating disaster response teams and mobile feeding units to help residents and rescuers in Moore, as well as in other locations in the Plains and the Midwest that were impacted by tornadoes. Donate online or text STORM to 80888 to contribute $10 to the Salvation Army's relief efforts or make a donation by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY. If you're sending a check make sure you put the words "Oklahoma Tornado Relief" on the check, and mail it to: The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK. 73157.

Operation USA

Los Angeles-based international relief agency Operation USA announced it's providing emergency aid where needed to community-based health organizations across Oklahoma. Donate online, by phone at 1-800-678-7255, or by check made out to Operation USA, 7421 Beverly Blvd., PH, Los Angeles, CA 90036. You can also donate $10 by texting AID to 50555. Corporate donations of bulk quantities of disaster-appropriate supplies are also being requested.

Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief

Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief says it has deployed at least 80 volunteers to respond to severe weather in Oklahoma. Those interested in helping can make a tax-deductible donation to the BGCO's Disaster Relief ministry online or call (405) 942-3800. You may also send checks to: BGCO Attn: Disaster Relief 3800 N. May Ave. Oklahoma City, OK 73112

...courtesy of Alia E. Dastagir, USA Today


Sunday, May 19, 2013

There was magic and love in the air on the Finale of "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice"

Trace Adkins is the first to win All-Star Celebrity Apprentice for his charity, The American Red Cross. The challenge:

In second place came Penn Jillette of the magic act, Penn & Teller for his charity, Opportunity Village which believes that people with intellectual disabilities and their families should have choices in where and how they serve. Opportunity Village provides a variety of programs for men and women, boys and girls, with all levels of disabilities the chance to lead a life that had previously been unattainable.

And because I can watch the magic of magic as often as eating, following is a wonderful magic act with Penn & Teller in the audience trying to discern how "Piff the Magic Dragon" performs his trick. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats...a story of the power of love...

Dear Rumpelstiltskin: A passage from The Art of Hearing Heartbeats:

My beloved Mi Mi:
Five thousand eight hundred and sixty-four days have passed since I last heard the beating of your heart.  Do you realize how many hours that is? How many minutes? Do you know how impoverished a bird is that cannot sing, a flower that cannot blossom? How wretched a fish out of water?
It is difficult to write you, Mi Mi.  I have written you so many letters that I have never sent.  What could I tell you that you don't already know? As if we needed ink and paper, letters and words, in order to communicate.  You have been with me through each of the 140,736 hours--yes, it has already been that many--and you will be with me until we meet again.  (Forgive me for stating the obvious just this one time.) When the time comes, I will return.  How flat and empty the most beautiful words can sound.  How dull and dreary life must be for those who need words, who need to touch, see, or hear one another in order to be close.  Who need to prove their love, or even just to confirm it in order to be sure of it.  I sense that these lines, too, will never find their way to you.  You have long since understood anything I might write, and so these letters are in truth directed to myself, meager attempts to still my desire.


When Julia Win's father disappears one morning without a trace, the day after her graduation from law school, her family is left unsettled and confused.  It's not until a few years later that her mother finds a piece of the puzzle--an unmailed love letter to a Burmese woman named Mi Mi.

Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father's past, Julia puts her career and her life on hold to travel to the village where Mi Mi once lived.  Her journey takes her to the small mountain village of Kalaw, where she is approached by a man who claims to know her father, and who seems to have an uncanny knowledge of Julia herself.  Intrigued, she returns to meet him every afternoon and listen to his incredible tales of her father's youth--of his childhood blindnesss, his education at a monastery, and most of all, about his passionate relationship with a local girl.

At first Julia is unwilling to believe that the romantic boy in this poignant story has anything to do with her reticent father, but soon she can no longer withstand the almost mystical invoking of mysterious past events, entwined as they are with the influence of the stars and with a love larger than life.

The Art of Hearing Hearbeats is a magical and uplifting tale of hardship and resilience and the unyielding power of love to move mountains.


Your love is forever a part of mine is yours...where no one is hurt, for love would not allow it...

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Empty Chair

Since my mother's passing January 9th, I've been grieving for the loss of my best friend.  In the book, The Empty Chair, Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Occasions, is a lovely memorial...
for anyone who has recently lost a loved one.  I hope it brings comfort as it did for myself and family members on Mother's Day.


An important part of the grief process is to pay tribute to and remember on this special occasion the one who has died.  This memorial tribute is designed for use with four candles, arranged either in a circle or in some other manner in keeping with your own personal taste.  This tribute can be used alone by an individual or in a small family setting.


As we light these candles, we remember Gerlinda, who was important to us.  On special occasions and holidays past, you created a wealth of memories with us.  We are mindful that a significant change has occurred with your death.  You were so special to us, and now you are no longer here.  How we wish you could return.  We feel an empty place in our hearts and lives that had been filled
with your presence.  Now we grieve for all that had been--all that used to be with you--and all that we did not want to end.  The harsh reality that you will never again share a holiday or this special occasion with us is painful to acknowledge.  We agonize and grieve for you.  We know in doing this that we will slowly heal.  But we will never forget you and how you enhanced our lives and contributed to what we have become because of you.  Therefore, these four candles honor your presence on earth.  We light one for our love for you, another for our memories of holidays or special days past, another for our grief in the present, and one for our hope for the future.

As we light this first candle, we are warmed by our love for you and the love we shared together.  You hold a treasured placed in our hearts and minds as a person we laughed with, argued with, perhaps at times were angry with, and yet someone we could reconnect with and feel close to.  You gave us joy in the relationships we shared with you.  Thank you for sharing your life with us.

This second candle represents our memories of holidays or special days past--the traditions we created together, the things you did to add to the uniqueness of the day.  We thank you for the gift your life brought to our lives.  We created meaning for the holidays and special days together.  Now that you are dead, the traditions will never be quite the same.  There remains an unfilled place--an empty chair--because you are no longer with us.  We need to say good-bye to the possibility of things being the same and recognize that with your death our lives will be different.  Thank you for contri-
buting to our wonderful memories of meaningful holiday celebrations.

We now light the third candle, which represents the grief we experience as we contemplate living the rest of our lives without you.  We treasure the fond memories, but we understand that we no longer have a relationship with you beyond those memories.  You have left this world, and we are left in this world without you.  We resolve to find ourselves complete in and of ourselves.  You are in a better place; we will make this place better for ourselves as you would have wanted.  We will find the courage to persevere in the work of grieving so that we confront our sorrow and move through the pain to the other side of grief.

The fourth and final candle we light signifies our hope for the future.  We resolve to start again--to feel new life surging through our hearts.  We will go through the fire and the pain, but eventually our mourning can turn to dancing.  There will be a new beginning, the start of a new volume in our lives.  This new beginning may be muted and unclear right now, but with work and trust and hope, the sun will again be bright.

For you, mother, the person who graced our lives for a time, and for our hope for the lives ahead of us, we light these four candles in your honor and with our hope.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Candy Girl at Bayonne Pool with The Four Seasons

I was a young girl of 12 years when The Four Seasons' Candy Girl aired. I and my friends would go wild when we heard The Four Seasons, esp. when they sang Candy Girl. You see, my nickname was Candy among my friends. My brothers, sister, friends and I would dance every summer around the jukebox at Bayonne Pool, Bayonne for years. Six years exactly, until I became one of its camp counselors for two summers before going to college.

Exemplary of a Pisces fish, I spent nearly all day in the pool except to eat and dance around the jukebox. What wonderful, happy memories being Candy Girl at Bayonne Pool with The Four Seasons.

And to this day, I dance around the house with The Four Seasons, Candy Girl, et. al.! :))

**petra michelle**