April 28, 2009

On Bliss... OR DIY Get Happy

Biz Stone of Twitter demonstrated remarkable wisdom in choosing this image designed by Australian-based Yiying Lu to be the visual that pops up when the system has a brain fart and overloads (read my interview with Miss. Lu here .)

Just check that blissed out whale!

With his furiously flapping feathered friends keeping him aloft, the Fail Whale is taking out a second to let go. Meanwhile Twittaholics are slamming fists into cubicle desks and throwing Blackberries across the room in frustration, Fail Whale is taking a sec to smell the seafoam.

This is what enlightened folk call
"moments of grace" (I made it pink for you so it would have an extra pretty ring to it...maybe italics would work as well...?) Moments of grace people! That's the secret, I'm told, to all of this world and everything in it (no, not The Secret, sheesh do I look like an Amway fruitloop to you?)

These moments are mini celebrations of your own awesomeness and the awesomeness of others and life. Instead of waiting for the big revelation, it turns out, the happiest people in the world get off on the little things.

How To Get Happy!

  • Shake Up Your View: 2,000 years ago, the Greek philosopher Epictetus said, "We are disturbed not by events, but by the views that we take of them" so seize your brain (not like, seizure. like take control of the steering wheel) and start spin doctoring to yourself. Look on the bright side, just as an exercise, you might find you like it.
  • Deep End Plunging: Depression is characterised by slow thinking, seriously, scientists figured this out. So you have to start speeding up the synapses and the best way to get your noggin crackling is to jump out of your comfort zone. Take up a DIY project or do a sudoku puzzle (jeez I hate those things) or whatever gets your mind racing, you know you're doing it right when you are "absorbed" by the activity.
  • Connect: You already knew this one, but just a cheery reminder to let you know your friends are friends with you cos they like you, so it is these people you need to be good to and turn to for some comic relief. Fine and well to have a whinge to them when things are crap, but trust me, everyone benefits if you try to say your piece and move on to a thoroughly hilarious gas bag about someone else's miseries.
  • Magic Moments: I'm not telling you to get up at 5:30 am and greet the sun everyday like my grandma's neighbour used to do every morning, on her balcony with strange music blaring through my bedroom window... naked. But if that works for you, great. I'm just saying, stuff is pretty awesome if you take out a moment to appreciate it. Life is busy, I understand but a moment to be appreciative of something or someone is not too much to ask (and it sets the happy bugs off in your head... you know, the little ones that pump endorphins into your system... yes, we like the bugs.)

So take a tip from our fishy mate here and start noticing the good in your world. Get blissful. Cheer up. Have a giggle. Otherwise just kill yourself. Nobody minds propping you up once in a while but our wings are getting tired, your moment has passed.

April 26, 2009

DIY Jai Guru Deva

OR Learn To Pray (Like A Virgin.... ...joking, I’m having a pop song quoting flash. Ignore)

If you have forgotten how friggen nuts people are when it comes to religion and need to be reminded, you gotta watch the documentary “Jesus Camp”.

Watching the outright brainwashing of children into sobbing uncontrollably as they plead “No more, Jesus, no more” into the camera clinging to plastic figurines of supposed embryos (which looked suspiciously like small cupie dolls) is enough to make a normal person want to hijack a plane and drive it straight into their moronic heads.

But that’s not to say I don’t dig a bit of otherworldliness. Jesus is totally alright with me, even though he’s just an allegorical figure based on the ancient god Horace (have you seen Zeitgeist yet?)

The fundamentalist super right is causing all sorts of stirs everywhere these days, from teaching kids in the apparent leader of the free world intelligent design, to teaching them how to blow themselves up in the Middle East.

Since this site is all about doing it for yourself, I’m a complete advocate of hodge-podge spirituality. DIY Religion if you like, where you pick and mix all the best bits of other people’s religions and jumble them together, dance to your own divine tune and blaspheme your way to a better you.

Dinky DIY’s Guide to A More Spiritual You

  • There is a reason the evangelical churches are called charismatics. It’s because they are. They add a bit of pep into the dry, old-school style realm of religion. Next time someone gives you good news totally do a happy dance, be oddly and overbearingly enthusiastic about it, THANK profusely and exclaim that it’s AWESOME to be alive. A bit of hardcore gratitude can’t hurt.
  • Got a few sins to offload? Grab a chicken! The ritual of kaparot says all you have to do is read some of the psalms and swing a chook around your head three times and now you’re not the baddie as far as the Big Guy is concerned, he’s going to blame it all on the bird. Sweet deal.
  • “Celebrate the rather obvious idea that "god" is nothing more than a raw hot energy that permeates all things at all times in all places and it is meant to be shared like a long slow tongue-kiss across all genders and locations and hairstyles.” (Mark Morford) Can we so do this?! I know what you’re thinking – arsonist orgies! Safety first, kids.
  • Speak in tongues. I just love watching the Jesus Weepers pull this stunt, aside from being side-splittingly hilarious (have you ever seen one run out of made up words and then just go back to the beginning of Oooloogggulackamagucka again? They repeat their own nonsense... muahahahaha.... laughing alone, am I? Carefactor: 0) it really can’t be argued with. I mean, it’s the most infuriating way to trump an argument;
“Jesus loves me and I am imbued with the power of the Holy Spirit.”
“But he doesn’t exist.”
“Oh doesn’t he ? Oooloogggulackamagucka”
“Stop talking like that. I know it’s just you pretending.”
“Oooloogggulackamagucka, oh Holy Spirit, save this non-believer, gooeeebigillipliplipooosh.”

You can’t reply, because you don’t speak that language and you don’t speak that language because it’s just being made up on the spot. Next time you run out of good comebacks, just bust out a Holy Spirit ninja kick in your foe’s face, “Why didn’t you bring in the washing, like you said you would?” “Oooloogggulackamagucka!” It’ll work every time.
  • Bad face day? Get a niqub, one of those dinky veils that only let your eyes peep through. But for those times when you’re feeling extra frumpy, best to have a burqa on hand. They come in one shade of hail mary blue and covers you up so well, if you just sit still people might just assume you’re part of the furniture and ignore you altogether.

Plenty of other wacky things you can find out in the world that you could add to this list, so get soul-searching and see what you can come up with.

But don’t forget "religion constructed on a 'do-it-yourself' basis cannot ultimately help us," customised religion, says the Pope, is very naughty but then again, the megachurches have been wrong before (Salem anyone?)

This just cracked me up.

April 24, 2009

DIY Become A Struggling Artist

OR A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Bank

Last year I lived for 6 months with one of my younger brothers and (it seemed) the whole touch footy team, all the locals from his watering hole and a gang of miscellaneous other mates.

Being in a house full of farting, burping, drinking grubs was nothing new to me (growing up with three brothers) but it did pose something of a problem for bonding. Until I stumbled upon a novel idea on the way to the bank.

At the $2 shop next to the ATM one morning, I saw cheap, primed artist canvases and acrylic paints and was struck with an unusual query. Could these house guests be persuaded to paint while drinking, bbq-ing and horsing about?

Could they be encouraged to create something of a bohemian gathering of artists, rather than just a bunch of yobbos?

So I gathered up a bunch of big ones, some paints and brushes and trotted back home to conduct an experiment in masculine creativity.

They all insisted they couldn’t draw, so I reminded them of Pollack. They complained they didn’t know how to paint what was in their head, so I suggested they go abstract. They said they weren’t neat, I told them to invoke Monet and the impressionists as I forcefully stuck brushes in their hands and a canvas before them on the table.

This is how we started having painting parties.

Pack creatures that they are, it was amazing how they all got stuck in. A few beers to release the muse and we had people dropping into our backyard barbies, to grab a sausage and put their mark on the communal canvas.

Some would doodle around the edges and others were more grandeur in their approach. The ones who resisted the most, in the end, became the most passionate artists.

I sold the most collaborative effort at a garage sale before I left Sydney. The woman who bought it loved the story of backyard artists working together and it hangs, framed, in her Eastern Suburbs lounge room today.

She got a very good price.

I’m a poor art dealer, I drive a crappy bargain.

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beer holder.

Since leaving that funny little Bondi Junction terrace, I have carried on painting (something I never tried before the experiment) to mixed results. Now, unfortunately, it is a solo event so I can’t share the shame when people “don’t get it.” Carefactor: 0

This is a finished one that lives in my kitchen.

When some of my family visited Europe earlier this year (for the skiing, the fact that I was here seemed incidental) I proudly hung it up like a kindergartener sticks his fingerpainting on the fridge and my family politely ignored it. I think it reminded my mother of thearapy painting from the days when she used to run occupational thearapy in crazy houses.

The only compliment I received was from a Kazakh who the Russian invited over for the weekend but then got bored of after a day, leaving us to entertain him in awkward turns. His wife is an artist and he said he liked it, “Very Australian” was his remark... maybe that doesn’t mean he liked it at all?

This is my latest work in progress.

So maybe my art does suck, but by golly it’s fun.

DIY Have A Painting Party

- Buy cheap acrylics (they come in great colours)

- Get some brushes (fatter, longer ones work in group painting I find. The really el cheapo ones do leave bristles sticking in the paint, which then dry onto the canvas and look off.)

- Get some big inexpensive canvasses ($2 shops are stocking these lately, most sizes under $20)

- I bought a few metres of plastic to put under the painting, try a vinyl table cloth or an old sheet

- Get going with a bunch of mates and a few drinks

- Photograph the fun (my greatest regret is that I didn’t take pictures of the painting parties!)

April 20, 2009

DIY Get Smart

OR You Are What You Read

I went shopping this morning on Kevin Rudd but no frivolous purchases, I assure you. That would be like blowing uniform money on a Slurpee/chips and gravy spree and I had enough of that fun in highschool.

So I went on a quest to compile a list of books that might grow me some synapses, get the grey matter crackling and look cool lying around the place when people drop by (
Note; people never drop by, this is a sad fantasy. Those that do, don't read English... and would never consider me cool even if a gentle, face-caressing breeze blew through the room every time I entered it.)

My purchases were thus;

The God of Small Things: A Novel by Arundhati Roy
Won the Booker Prize in 1997
, I have a bit of a thing for books set in the East and this is set in the 60's in a politically charged India.

Midnight's Children
: A Novel by Salman Rushdie
Love Rushdie! Also set in India, this novel apparently plays around with Magical Realism my favourite genre - how can I go wrong with this combo?

The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the 20th Century

by Peter Watson
He has written for the NYT, The Spectator, The Observer, The Times and Punch, this is his gallop through the intellectual landscape of the last century or so.

Hotel World
by Ali Smith
Recommended by a very clever cookie in my tutorial class. I liked the reviews I read on it so giving it a whirl.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Have always loved the name but never read the book! By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes. But this is not Shakespeare, rather a fantasy/horror about a travelling carnival.

Altas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Rand, who I always read about but have never read, dreamt up a philosophy called Objectivism. This is meant to be her best book, so will tackle!

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence
by Robert M Pirsig
I have a friend who has this book. It's a bit of a running joke because he always mentions it/pseudo-quotes from it but I don't believe he has ever read it. But he did manage to get me curious.

After scouring the Best Books Ever and Books You Must Read Before You Die lists that abound on the internet, this list seemed to fill in the mosts gaps for me.

Random House's Modern Library had the coolest recommendations, I reckon, though I cast my eye over New York Times lists as well for good measure.

Either way, it's going to be an awesome package to receive (they really kicked me in the guts with postage, though, $AUD65 bucks!)

Now for shoes.... (joking.)

What are you spending your stimulus money on?

April 17, 2009

DIY Turning Lemons into Lemon, Vodka & Limes

(What Would Martha Do?)

Today whilst making out with a teaspoon as it emerged from a Nutella jar and having a great big internal dialogue waaaaah which sounded like;

Me: Damn those greedy, Zegna suit wearing, Porsche Cayenne driving fianance bastards for screwing with the whole world. Mmmm, velevty chocolate sugar hitting brain and making vision blurry... And damn stupid men. If men are from Mars why don't they all bloody stay there with their power tools and lawns to be mowed and superior navigation skills and leave everyone else friggen well in peace. Mmmmm... must scrape all chocolate out of corners... delicious Nutella... etc etc.

Yeah, it was as sad as it sounds.

But then, like divine light bursting through the clouds it was at once clear what I had to do. When times get tough, just ask - what would Martha Stewart do?

Well she probably wouldn't use Delia Smith's recipe, like I did, but I know for sure she would get baking.

Ingredients For Pancake Batter:
  • 110g/4oz plain flour, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml/7fl oz milk mixed with 75ml/3fl oz water
  • 50g/2oz butter

Method for Pancakes:

You can follow Delia's instructions by clicking on the link above or do as I do - chuck all the stuff together and beat furiously until there are no lumps. Pour into a super hot frying pan and keep already finished pancakes in an oven set on low.

During tougher times when all that kerfuffle about rorting huge fortunes and defrauding everyone was hanging around Martha like the bad smell of a poorly kept pantry, she kept her head her and went on TV to make salad.

Whilst furiously chopping cabbage and being grilled by the anchor Jane Clayson, Martha kept on cooking, head down eyes boring into the bowl -
"I just want to focus on my salad." She huffed.

Rightly said, Martha. Sometimes life is about focussing on the salad and turning lemons into vodka-lemonades.

So I made pancakes and we were so stuffed afterwards that a happy sort of peace decended on our little house.

Here's your Wiki link for the day. Tried this at an Ethiopian retaurant in Munich a few weeks ago - very cool finger lickin' fun.

April 15, 2009

DIY The Russian, The Witch & The Wardrobe

OR How To Survive The Recession Ikea-free

I have an Ikea wardrobe on eBay at the moment selling for a hundredth of its original price.
The experience is bittersweet because that wardrobe was my first serious Ikea investment only six months ago when we first moved here to funny little Austria and now, already, we’re on the way out.

Damn recession.

The Russian, I suspect, is chronically recessed. That’s what you are when you haven’t yet reached the technical definition of depression but you mope around irritated with the world in your pyjamas eating chocolate biscuits all day and questioning your purpose in life. Maybe everyone is a bit recessed lately.

But six months ago we were playing shining happy house-makers, merrily building things with funny names with nothing but an Allen key.

The wardrobe, however, was not a merry experience.

The thing is a beast. It took four people and a good many more tools than those provided in the cardboard flat packs it came in, plus copious amounts of brutal swearing in three languages and about five hours of serious manual labour to construct.

This must be going on in apartments all over Stockholm all the time.

And doesn’t Pax mean peace? What’s peaceful about that kind of stressful experience? And, hahahaha, sucked into that Brangelina kid that’s gonna wake up one day and realise he’s been named for a Swedish wardrobe. Ahahaahahaha...

Laughing alone, am I? Carefacter: 0

I read the other day that Ikea is apparently a recession-proof business. So now I loathe the shiny white Pax monstrosity even more. Immune from recession is it... but is it immune from my flying- ninja-demon-axe-wielding trick? Unfortunately we will never know, because we already have one bidder – and he/she is bidding on the Pax in the picture not the Pax post-attack (see my artists impression below.)

Other folks far craftier and clever than I, have channelled their creativity into the Ikea icon. I’ve mentioned before on Design Federation how fond I am of the good folks at Ikea Hacker (see article here) who reimagine Ikea bits and pieces into even cooler stuff.

I’m happy just reimagining my wardrobe as gone from my life.

I do like Ikea’s glass tumblers and the decent feed you can get at the Ikea cafe, though. But I think I had my nesting-with-Ikea experience and next time I need stuff I will be found at garage sales, on eBay and scrounging around flea markets.

How to find cheap stuff without having to go to Ikea:

  • Local papers usually advertise Garage Sales and stuff people are even happy to give away if you'll come and get it
  • Cruise around on a Saturday in the suburbs and you are bound to stumble upon a garage sale, flea market or church fete (look out for shabby signs scrawled on cardboard beer case boxes and tackorama balloon/streamer combinations promoting the event.)
  • Love Gumtree! Sold my car and a fridge on here once. Watch out for Nigerian scammers though.
  • Have your own garage sale and ask friends for donations (keep the good stuff) Had a super fun Saturday arvo garage sale last year. My mum put up a sign saying “Pilgrims Prices!” because we were en route to the Randwick Racecourse and it was the weekend the pope was in Sydney. Tightarsed pilgrims didn’t buy anything but installed my brother and his acoustic guitar as entertainment and made $150. Not bad for an afternoon in the sun.
  • Auctions. There is a creepy element to the thought that the stuff may have come from a deceased estate. But if the ghoulish thought of someone having died in your new rocker doesn’t freak you out I suggest you hit the auctions. My Dad is a fan, comes home with the most random stuff (like the tropical fish sideboard.) I think the papers advertise where/when.

April 13, 2009

Ode to the Humble Bicycle

O noble two-wheeled transporter
You make the world less drab,
You take us rolling in the sunshine
And combat inner- thigh flab.

How I love thee, bicycle!
Gallant steed of swift get-aways,
You whisked us off in 6 speeds
Every school holidays.

Hail me a rickshaw
It's the only way to ride,
A cyclo or a pedicab
To see the world outside.

Prostate squeezing saddle

And bottom bruising bumps.
Skin tight, neon cycle wear
Clings to BMXy rumps.

Ecologically sound vehicle,

Carbon neutral friend.
I hope we pedal-push through parklands
Together ‘til the very end.

April 11, 2009

Happy Easter From Dinky DIY

Watch out for the double demerits and don’t over-do the Cadbury Cream Eggs!

Have a breakkie of hot cross buns... mmm.

Have an easter egg hunt in the garden.

Sleep in on Monday (yesss!) and take time to notice the subtle switch to autumn.