Thursday, April 29, 2010

How old is too old to change your name?

Posted by lea at 11:05 PM 7 comments Links to this post
I realised a few days ago, with utter clarity, during a conversation in which my friend repeated my name several times in the span of a few sentences, that I don't like my name.

Leanne. Leanne. Leanne. Leanne. Leanne. Leanne! Weird isn't it?
When I think of Leanne, I think of a plump, white, middle aged woman from middle-America with permed hair and a nice smile. None of which is me.

So I wondered, how old is too old to change one's name? Is it weird to suddenly say, 'Oh by the way, my name is so-and-so now.'?

The whole history of my name is a bit unorthodox anyway. My birth name was Jae-Sun, apparently bestowed by a traditional Korean name-giver (imagine that as a job!), but my mum didn't like it so she decided to call me Hyun Joo. So until I was around 6 years old, I was called Hyun Joo at home and Jae Sun at school (often 'Jason' in sing-song by some uncreative teasing types). Then my parents decided we should assimilate at school with Anglo names and told us we could choose our own. My brother picked a sensible Simon. My sister chose Leanne. I chose to be named after my favourite flower of the time, Rosie.

Then suddenly there was a last minute change.

My sister had a girl-crush on her teacher Glenda Bell, and decided to make herself her namesake... but she didn't want to relinquish Leanne. As both of us already had two Korean names apiece, a fourth name would be a bit ostentatious, so she decided to do me a favour, and bestowed Leanne on her poor unsuspecting little sister. Goodbye Rosie, hello Leanne. Leanne. Leanne. LeanneLeanneLeanne!

So if I were to tell you that I've changed my name, would you think I was weird? Is it too late to make you call me something else? Because remember, in the words of Shakespeare, 'a rose by any other name would smell as sweet'. Even if that rose was called Leanne.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Niemann and three-thirty-itis

Posted by lea at 5:08 PM 1 comments Links to this post
Note to self: WAKE UP!!!!

Great cartoon by NY Times artist Christopher Niemann

I know it's not just me - lots of us get that drowsy mid-afternoon sensation. Head nodding. Bobbing. Closer and closer to the desk, the shoulder of the person next to us, to whatever surface will pillow our suddenly boulder-weight head. In the words of that iconic Victoria Bitter ad: 'As a matter of fact, I've got it now.'

How much do you love that Niemann cartoon? Here's another one that I think sums up love in a very cold place:

He says:
Winter is coming, and slipping into a cold bed is tough. But believe it or not, sometimes when I go to bed before my wife does, I will offer her the half that I have just warmed up.
I obviously love her very, very much.

I can't say my husband has ever done that for me (nor I for him!) but we've certainly been here:

Who hasn't right?

To see more of his cartoons, check out his blog Abstract City on the NY Times website. To see the whole gorgeous story from which I've borrowed these images, check it out this particularly charming post.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

So I called my husband an arsehole today...

Posted by lea at 12:50 AM 3 comments Links to this post
It was mean of me. He had just apologised after an argument in which neither of us were very much in the right, and throughout which I had been liberally dropping the f-bomb, which is kind of a new thing for me. Then I proceeded to give him a bit of the silent treatment. You know, just to show how very hurt I was. I knew I should apologise too, but instead, I simply said, 'arsehole'. And he became quite upset. Not just because I called him an arsehole, but because of the way I said it. Not fun, like the American 'asshole'. I said it with feeling. Emphatically, like 'arsehole'.

He gave me a bit of a dressing down, which I deserved, and basically told me in no uncertain terms to grow up. I've been swearing a bit lately and it's his opinion that the f-word is a novelty for me. I must admit that it's true. I didn't swear much growing up. Sure, after the odd volleyball game that our team lost, I would lose it even more and say every bad word I knew under the sun, which mostly revolved around 'shitty', but when I became almost puritanical (a phase in my Christian journey), I abstained from any swearing apart from the odd 'crap'. Now, since I feel so very grown up and believe in a more liberal doctrine, when I lose my temper I say f. As in fuck. Then, to my lovely husband who puts up with a lot of my crap, I called arsehole.

As it transpires, my husband used to swear a lot. No surprise to those who know him - he came into Christianity a lot later than I did and was a bit rough around the edges growing up, but he's put in a lot of effort to change. Even now he wears a metaphorical nicotine patch for swearing, much to my benefit, and then suddenly I'm all f-this and f-that - like blowing smoke in his face.

I think he's worried that if I keep going like this, it's going to coarsen my nature. And I agree, it probably will. So now I'm going to stop. No more f-s. No more calling people I love very unflattering body parts.

This post is purely cathartic - to confess my wrongdoing and announce my determination to stop swearing. Except for shit, which I will continue to use because I feel it expresses things so beautifully.

And to my husband, who occasionally reads my blog, let me lay another very emphatic word on you. Sorry.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chalkboard table: my weekend project

Posted by lea at 3:18 PM 4 comments Links to this post
Yay I finished my chalkboard table! I said I'd do it and finally I put aside a weekend and did it. Make sure you give yourself enough time for the paint to dry between layers, and open the windows because the paint fumes are pretty strong.

Start with a table and and a can of chalkboard paint. I used a 500mL can for my 8-seater table and it was plenty for 2 coats. If the surface of the table is smooth, it's recommended that you prime the surface first. Personally, I skipped the primer but it seems to have worked fine. 

Precautions first. Before you start painting, lay newspaper on the ground along the edges of the table to catch the drips. Also, place masking tape on any parts of the table you don't want painted over. 

This is the fun bit. Grab a paintbrush and paint on the first layer. Afterwards, wrap the brush in plastic wrap and tie it securely inside a plastic bag. This way, you won't have to clean it between painting layers. I used a pretty cheap brush deliberately so I could throw it out afterwards, rather than trying to clean it out later. Not only is it hard work trying to clean paint out of brushes, but all the excess paint goes into the waterways and is damaging to the environment. Pollution = bad.

Looks pretty good, eh? Once you've completed the second layer and the surface is dry to the touch, remove the protective masking tape and enjoy your handiwork.

Start writing. Use chalk or liquid chalk pen (dust-free) to write on the surface. It's the perfect surface for drawing kids' pictures, writing out difficult equations or making diabolical plans to take over the world. Or, of course, the more mundane things like writing memos to family members or drawing out place settings for dinner.

    With your leftover chalkboard paint, you can turn old picture frames into framed chalkboards, an old baking tray into a magnetic drawing surface for youngsters, or paint chalkboard labels on the canisters in your kitchen. The ideas are endless and it's heaps of fun.

    Also, liquid-chalk pens come in a variety of colours and they're perfect not only for chalkboards, but I love using them to write my monthly goals on the mirrored doors of our wardrobe. Easy to write, easy to wipe off. Grab one and go nuts!

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Kick-Ass, movie review

    Posted by lea at 9:40 PM 0 comments Links to this post

    I should not be this giddy about a film so chock full of extreme violence and an 11-year old girl with a potty mouth. I should not, by rights, be so enamoured with this film about a teen geek superhero-wannabe who wears a wetsuit to save the neighbourhood. But I LOVED it. Enough to see it twice in the opening weekend. It, quite simply, kicked ass.

    The script is funny, clever and very current. It's full of one-liners and hilarious teen moments that pepper the film and balance the violence and mayhem that escalate as the story goes on. The action, although violent, is never particularly realistic enough to be disturbing. It's stylised in the brand of Hong Kong super-director John Woo (it bugs me the number of reviews that refer to it as 'Tarantino-esque' – Woo is the original), and brings to mind the early movies starring Chow Yun Fat. But the graceful balletic violence is transferred to a comic book setting, which works brilliantly, and delivers most of its lethal blows through an 11 year old girl. This move has seen some major controversy in the media lately. Considering my belief system (Christian, and usually predictably conservative), I should've been joining in the ranks of the outraged, but frankly this movie got me from the premise and delivered everything it promised. It's become one of my favourite movies of the last few years at the very least.

    In a short summary (no spoilers), the story is about a teen geek, Dave Lizewski (played by British Aaron Johnson) who wonders aloud why noone's tried being a superhero in real life. Armed with his newly-purchased green wetsuit, a mask, baton and MySpace page for for his alter-ego Kick-Ass, he goes out to save the neighbourhood. 11 year old, purple-wigged Hit-Girl bursts into the scene during a rescue mission gone wrong, saving his life and delivering the devastatingly funny line to his attackers, 'Okay you cunts, let's see what you've got,' and then wastes no time laying into them with a flurry of bloody knife-action. Turns out Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz, 11-year old action prodigy) and her father Big-Daddy (Nicolas Cage in a career-reviving role) are pseudo-superheroes who are going after the bad guys to avenge the death of their wife/mother. The 'bad guys' are Frank D'Amico (the wonderful Mark Strong), the local mob boss with an artillery of goofy gang members, and increasingly also his teenage son Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, McLovin' from Superbad and Role Models), who creates his own superhero alter-ego, Red Mist.

    Due to the controversial nature of the film, apparently no film studio wanted to touch it unless Hit-Girl metamorphosed into a 28-year old crime-fighting machine, but creators Matthew Vaughn and Mark Millar refused to budge. As a result, it was privately funded (largely by Brad Pitt, no less) so the directors had absolute control over the film.

    While the plot is quite simple, not unlike most superhero movies, there are layers in this film that take it beyond simple entertainment to potential cult status. Kick-Ass satirises the superhero genre (the heroes don't have any superpowers, Big Daddy's costume is a rip off of Batman and the hero at the centre of the action is a geek in a wetsuit), while genuflecting before its altar thematically and otherwise (good versus evil, Hit Girl's super-agile abilities and the incredibly choreographed fight scenes), all the while offering a smorgasbord of humour from light (the quips and banter of Dave and his friends) to dark (the comic book violence). Its irreverence is bound to resonate with teenagers while the cleverness of the script and brilliant action sequences will appeal to anyone who likes a good laugh and doesn't mind a bit of violence. Okay, a lot of violence, but slick and brilliantly choreographed.

    Most reviews that pan the film seem to focus on the irresponsibility of placing central focus on a violent and foul-mouthed preteen, and while I agree it's not healthy by any means, in this case it does what it's meant to: be shocking and entertaining and awe-inspiring all at once. Once in her costume, Hit Girl's charisma, casual swearing and violence become something of legend, and I, for one, would have been very sorry to miss it, had she been turned into the 28 year-old studio doll most likely with a big pout and sexualised leather costume. I'll take Hit Girl dropping the f-bomb any day.

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    2010 first quarter reading round up

    Posted by lea at 11:12 AM 2 comments Links to this post
    Brief review of books read between January and March, 2010:

    Stardust, Neil Gaimain
    Wonderful imaginative story of Tristan Thorn, who travels to another realm to find a star. It's fantasy with heart and head - Gaiman is a great author.

    People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks
    Brooks is Australian, so there's a great Aussie no-nonsense about the heroine Dr Hannah Heath, a skilled conservator, who travels far and wide to trace the history of the fictitious Sarajevo Haggadah and the people who sheltered it. It's a story with great richness and history.

    The Book of a Thousand Days, Shannon Hale
    Cross between fairytale, chicklit and young teen fiction. Not a standout.

    Finger-Lickin' Fifteen, Janet Evanovich
    Fifteen novels so far and Stephanie Plum is just as trouble-prone but no closer to settling down with Joe Morelli or Ranger. Still funny, but the shine wears off after a while.

    The Glorious Nosebleed, Edward Gorey
    Interesting. Very strange and interesting.

    The Slap, Christos Tsiolkas
    An interesting insight into the intimate lives of a group of Melbourne friends after one parent slaps the child of another person at a BBQ. Tsiolkas is a talented Australian writer but his characters aren't very likable.

    Fly Me to the Moon, Alyson Noel
    Why do I allow myself to read such terrible chicklit? Awful, awful stuff and total waste of time. Infuriated me so much I wrote a post on badly cobbled fiction.

    The Case of the Imaginery Detective, Karen Joy Fowler 
    Slow, gentle, forgettable. Not as good as her previous novel, The Jane Austen Book Club.

    This is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper
    I think Jonathan Tropper is a really talented and humorous writer, but his angst-ridden heroes tend to blend into one another after a while. Author review here.

    Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut 
    Why hadn't I read this before? Fascinating and weird stuff. Left me with a similar feeling as Catch-22 - something about futility and questioning human existence.

    Revenge of the Spellmans, Lisa Lutz
    Funny! I love all the characters in the Spellman books and Lisa Lutz is my new favourite humorous author.

    The Road, Cormac McCarthy 
    Bleak but beautiful. Sparse writing but it fills your reading world with a haunting sense of the apocalypse that this father and son walk through.

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Stieg Larsson
    Absolutely gripping books with a truly unique and fascinating heroine, Lisbeth Salander. Loved them. Review here.

    Unseen Academicals, Terry Pratchett
    Terry Pratchett rarely fails to deliver. This one took me a little while to get into but once you're in his world, he's got you by the funny bone.

    My Latest Grievance, Elinor Lipman
    Elinor Lipman is a great writer with a razor-sharp wit.This story about precocious 16 year old Frederica, child of two kindly hippy professors at a college campus, is intelligent, funny and quirky.

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