Living Life Through The Newsroom

The stellar cast of The Newsroom

The stellar cast of The Newsroom

As some of you know, my latest TV obsession is The Newsroom. I first read about this program leading up to the launch of Series 1 last year. I taped each week’s episode, but just never had the time to watch them. Eventually the recording box reached it limit and the still unwatched season of The Newsroom was deleted to make room to record something else that I probably would never get to see either.

Anyway, one day last week while I was sick I stumbled upon a re-run marathon of all the episodes which I taped and watched without delay. Ten minutes in to Episode 1 and I was hooked. And then things just got better and better.

Like millions of people around the world, I was previously a West Wing-aholic and remain a big fan of Aaron Sorkin’s storytelling. He is the master of a slow, dramatic build of the issue of the moment, told through intense dialogue between quirky and imperfect yet admirable characters. The crescendo seems to envelope everyone involved in different, compelling ways, followed by a resolution that always seems satisfyingly right – no matter your political or moral ideals.

The Newsroom has all this – scandal, romance and intrigue mixed with the unravelling of characters and relationships, and all while the audience is schooled on the social, economic and political headlines that have dominated world news in recent times.

I love the acting, particularly from Jeff Daniels (Will) and Alison Pill (Maggie) who I believe are the stand outs in a stellar, intergenerational cast.

My love of the news goes back to my youth where I dreamed of being a television journalist. I went to university, I studied media, practiced my presentation and delivery and got all the experience I could for a girl with no connections in the field.

Sadly my dream was not to be, the space filled instead with other unexpected and amazing twists and turns of life, love and adventure. But through The Newsroom I can live my dream and imagine how things might have been. So thanks Aaron Sorkin and thank you Hollywood …

PS: OK, so let me interrupt that potentially vomit-worthy ode to Hollywood to tell you that I have now watched Episodes 1 and 2 of The Newsroom Season 2 and it is great, but different. The storylines seem to be rolling over from episode to episode which is heightening the drama, relationships are changing and something’s gonna blow?! Catch up and keep watching.

In Australia The Newsroom is shown on Showcase on Foxtel or pick up the DVD of series one in store now.

Have you watched The Newsroom? What do you think?

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Show and Tell Online

Show and Tell OnlineI love it when I find a new website that brings me ideas and inspiration just when I need it.

Show and Tell Online has news, food and interviews that will make you smile and feel good.

Go to On the Couch for some great videos about fantastic women who are doing their thing and sharing their stories.

Some of these women (including co-founder of Show and Tell Online, Monty Dimond) were at Clare Bowditch’s Big Hearted Business Conference which I was lucky enough to attend earlier this year in Melbourne. This event was the true gift that keeps on giving.

I hope you enjoy Show and Tell Online.

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This Great Gatsby

“Anyhow he gives large parties…and I like large parties. They’re so intimate.” As said by Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby

This is just how I felt watching Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. You can always rely on Baz to give us something large, to make us feel like we are actually at his big party and to dare us to have a very personal, intimate response to the story and its characters. And I like it.

I have read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel a handful of times and seen Mia Farrow’s Daisy captivate Robert Redford’s Gatsby on screen many times.

Compared to the 1974 film, Luhrmann’s version fills in more of the blanks in the story, perhaps making it more accessible to a global audience and to those who may not have read the book. For example the use of sweeping panoramic shots travelling across bays and landscapes helps us to locate and understand the distances between Long Island and New York City, while dramatic historical flashback scenes flesh out this Gatsby’s story.

The acting wasn’t without fault, but I haven’t been a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio since his last film with Baz, Romeo + Juliet. Leo’s baby face has always made it hard for me to take him seriously in adult roles, yet in this film he looks much older that the character’s 32 years.

For the most part Carey Mulligan is appropriately vapid as Daisy, a Venus and a vixen who manipulates and is manipulated at every turn. Poor Daisy can’t win, but she is hardly an innocent and certainly not a ‘beautiful little fool’.

I loved Tobey Maguire and thought he had just enough quirk to suit what is a Nick Carraway with a greater sense of depth and mirth than I ever imagined was present in the text. Some of his scenes – such as the afternoon tea where Jay and Daisy meet – have the comedy amped up so high that they verge on slapstick.

A movie for the hat lovers amongst us.

A movie for the hat lovers amongst us.

The design and costumes were impeccable as expected. I know I take Catherine Martin’s skill for granted, so I want to recognise her epic effort and attention to detail. I’ve always been obsessed with cloche hats. Yes, I am aware this is strange addiction, but a girl can’t control what tickles her fancy. I certainly got my fill of fabulous headwear in this film.

Gorgeous Tiffany & Co. gems were gratuitously flaunted as a key element of the glamorous depiction of flapper fashion, but this was also indicative of the huge marketing machine shadowing this production. I mean we have been talking about this film for a couple of years now, ogling over leaked photos from the Sydney set during filming, being disappointed by a delayed release date and now-at last-it is here for our amusement. As a case study on how to promote a movie, this one has certainly set a lofty benchmark.

I loved the use of modern music magically blended to suit the 1920s styling and I highly recommend the soundtrack – which I am playing as I write this. There are some great surprises (like Beyoncé singing Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black) and memorable melodies (Lana Del Ray’s Young and Beautiful) from some of the greatest contemporary artists. Special mention to Gotye’s Heart’s a Mess which perfectly suits the subject matter and is inventive in its sound.

Watching this new Gatsby made me wish I could experience the story for the first time all over again through Baz’s eyes. Yet this is a film I’m sure I will view over and over again, always seeing something new in this tale filled with glitz and grit, where the going is good and life is grand – until the rot sets in.

Loved your party, Baz. Thanks for the invitation.

Have you seen The Great Gatsby? What did you think?

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Glamourflage

Glamourflage – i.e. to style yourself in a way that distracts from or covers something; or to dress as the person you need to be in that moment.

What?...Too much?

What?…Too much?

I came across this term recently on an episode of Rachel Zoe and loved it. In researching it more I found it has been used in some fashion circles for a couple of years – but isn’t it great? It’s similar to one of my other favourite words Glamping – i.e. glamorous camping where a decent coffee is never too far away!

When feeling less than perfect about themselves – and they actually have to leave the house – I think girls fall into one of two groups. They either head straight for the Trackies or they Glamourflage it up. Of course both options are entirely legitimate ways to feel more comfortable.

When I am in the midst of a clusterf**k of emotion, I’m more likely to head towards Glamourflage – a colourful scarf or a bright lippy usually feels like enough trickery to get me through the day.

Of course the moment I get home I relax into my trackies – but these days I prefer them to be stylish trackies that make me feel good even when public artifice is no longer required.

Back when I was working in an office, my grown up Glamourflage work wear seemed to transform me into the Marketing Manager I needed to be for those few hours, until I reverted back into Mummy mode with its matching sartorial selection.

Glamourflage is certainly one of the tools in my survival kit to make it through each day and week.

What about you? Are you in the Trackies camp or do you go for Glamourflage?

Talking about Trackies, have you seen this short film from Bonds? Lost in Translation

Also, Glamourflage is the name of a Melbourne-based skincare brand. Have you ever used their products? Looks pretty great.

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Vue To Make You Smile

Novelty hot chocolate - unexpected, but it made me happy!

Novelty hot chocolate – unexpected, but it made me happy!

The Heide Museum of Modern Art in Templestowe, Victoria is one of my favourite places. At any time of year, it is juncture where art, history, nature and food combine in a space that displays the best of modern culture, yet is an intriguing throw back to a Melbourne of times past.

Heide sits on 15 acres in the midst of what is now a residential-heavy Melbourne suburb. Back in the 1930s and 40s the property was owned by John and Sunday Reed and became a hub for Australian artists including Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker, Joy Hester and John Perceval. As you wander around the property it is easy to imagine how the Reeds and their guests lived back then and appreciate the legacy they left. It is truly amazing in this era of mass development that this unique destination has been able to survive and flourish throughout the decades (recently with lots of corporate philanthropic support).

I’ve been to Heide half a dozen times in recent years, most often with my three kids in tow. The experience is a juxtaposition – open, green hills and garden-rich outside areas perfect for running, rolling and exploring, against the white and tight gallery spaces inside where Don’t Touch is de rigueur. So it can be a bit confusing for kids, but we try to balance lots of outside time with short bursts of the art within.

Our visits are always memorable, such as the time about five years ago when our then three year old son wanted his photo taken in front of every outdoor sculpture, but he insisted on squishing his eyes closed in every shot. Very funny photos.

A recent visit was sans kids. Instead I joined girlfriends for lunch at Cafe Vue at Heide.

The Friday afternoon crowd was less frenetic than the weekend crush, when a wait for a table can prove longer than any preschooler can bear.

I was keen to try the kitchen garden menu where the chefs use fresh produce straight from the extensive herb and vege plots on site.

A crispy duck salad with garden greens was followed by snapper fillets with broth served on a mound steamed chard and topped with a fragrant fish foam. It was simple, seasonal, light and flavorsome – all washed down with a generous glass of bubbles (there’s nothing worse than a skimpy pour). My friends chose a mushroom broth with a light garlic custard which looked, smelled and tasted superb. The waitress mentioned that we might catch the waitstaff sipping mugs filled with the rich mushroom broth, instead of coffee.

Small sweet things were shared to finish, including my semi-sweet hot chocolate presented in a way that made me smile and remember the delight that Heide brings to people of all ages.

Have you been to Heide?

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A Tribe of Scribes

This post was originally published on my business blog www.straightshooter.com.au but I felt it also had relevance here.

I have a new theory that we are all connected. When I say all, I mean all of us that are compelled to share our story with the world – bloggers, writers, songwriters, dancers, artists and creators of all kinds. Those of us who have an innate inkling that we have something to say that just might be interesting enough for someone else to appreciate. Those who feel and act upon that moment of confidence or nagging curiosity which implores us to test our instinct, to make our work available and to steady ourselves to react to the reactions.

Storytelling is unquestionably the most effective way to teach, to learn and to understand about yourself, about others and about the world. For those of us who are incurable storytellers – those who simply cannot resist the urge to share – we play an important role in history, for our families, for our communities and potentially something much bigger.

You see I believe that at some point, many years from now, sociologists studying this period will refer to it as ‘The Age of Sharing’. An unprecedented time of chronicling, enabled surely by technology, but delivered by an army of storytellers enthusiastically brandishing their thoughts, ideas and experiences. Scientists may dig a little further to uncover a part of the brain that specifically relates to compulsive storytelling. They will trace this genetic link back through the lineage of the great storytellers of our time to hypothesise and prove that we are indeed direct descendants of ancient scribes who chiselled in stone and painted cave walls and gilded castles and churches to document the stories of their generations. They will find that we are all connected as one large, enduring tribe of scribes just trying to make sense of life and do our part to record our history.

So today I want to celebrate storytelling and revel in my place as part of the tribe. To seriously and responsibly fulfil the legacy of all those who have gone before me.  To teach, to learn and to understand.

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Movie Review – First Position

first positionKids that are Meant for Ballet

Today I spent a lovely morning in Carlton indulging in some of my favourite things. First, book hunting in Readings… for over 20 minutes …without kids or complaints. Then I moved on for coffee and a pastry at Brunetti (What? It’s not a fasting day!). Then it was time to join the impeccably groomed retired ladies for a bit of a flick at Cinema Nova.

I love going to the movies, especially something a bit less commercial, viewed in one of the tiny cinemas right down the end of one of Nova’s rambling corridors. So I turned left, then right, then left, then right and right again and found said cinema with only one other occupant – practically a private screening.

Now I am a fan of a good doco film.  I read a glowing review about First Position some weeks ago. I was hopeful this piece would be packed with the wonderfully insightful and honest moments and engaging characters that we have come to expect from the very best modern verite style documentary films. I wasn’t disappointed.

This award winning film, by first time director Bess Kargman, follows the story of seven aspiring ballet dancers and their families as they prepare to compete in the prestigious ballet competition, the Youth America Grand Prix.

Surely this Director could not believe her luck? How could she have possibly predicted that the four girls and three boys she cast would have such gruelling and compelling journeys? Yet these scarily skilled children and teens were clearly on the verge of stardom. Despite their young ages, each had already been working at their craft for many years, displaying unswerving dedication and commitment at the expense of many other childhood activities, just to be offered a chance to train at one of the elite ballet schools and ultimately work in one of the world renowned ballet companies. These kids were meant for ballet.

It is a really wonderful film and it still makes me happy to think about the experience.  I was excited before I even saw it and was immediately and totally engrossed in the stories.

I particularly learned a lot from watching the parents’ behaviour as devoted custodians of their talented offspring. It was fascinating to get a sense of the immense support it takes to guide and boost a child in a world where nothing less than perfection is permitted. I’m still not sure if it would be a blessing or a curse – probably both in equal measure.

Please try to catch First Position at the cinema or grab the DVD once released. If you are keen to show older children exactly what it can take to reach success in a chosen sport or activity, First Position is certainly family friendly, but kids under 10 might get a bit wriggly.

Ballet and Me

Me at about 10 years old. Not exactly Prima Ballerina material.

Me at about 10 years old. Not exactly Prima Ballerina material.

Of course this film caused me to reflect on my own stellar ballet career. From an early age I begged my mother to let me have ballet lessons. For years Mum resisted, citing something she heard on the radio once that stated for a fact that girls should not start ballet until at least nine years of age. Something about girls’ bodies needing to develop and the alarming risk of deformed feet, permanent injury, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Now I have no reason to doubt my mother on these points, but her theory sounds very much like some of the ‘loose truths’ I  kinda sorta use with my  kids when they are really into something, but I am really not. For example, ‘No kids, the Lolly Shop is closed on Saturdays’ or ‘Sorry kids, the park is being mowed at the moment’. See – just harmless little twists of logic that are a convenient quick fix for a moment and will surely have no lasting impact on my children?

Anyway, as soon as I turned nine I hotfooted it down to The Ashgrove School of Dance. For the next four years I tried valiantly to bring my mother’s vision of mangled tootsies to life in pursuit of the perfect pointe. I wore acres of tulle and eons of blue eyeshadow. I stretched and strained and imagined myself as the personification of gracefulness. I loved ballet – most of the time.

But then as high school approached and ballet lessons encroached upon every weekday afternoon, my father made a decision. He cut me off. No more ballet.

Now I’m sure he had his reasons. I’m sure the demands on my time – and his back pocket – meant that sacrifices had to be made. But all I heard at the time – and the thing that stays with me today – was one specific comment from my father. It was a thinly veiled reality check, intended certainly to lessen the hurt and numb the disappointment. ‘Leah’, he said. ‘You are simply growing too tall to ever be a prima ballerina.’ Way to let me down easy, Dad.

Funny thing was at 12 years old I was 5 foot, 2 & 3/4 inches – the exact same height I am today. But I’m sure it seemed like logical reasoning at the time.

So I guess my mother was right and ballet had indeed halted my development and stunted my growth. I guess the use of parental ‘loose truths’ is genetic. And I guess I thought ballet was meant for me, but – in the end – I was not meant for ballet.

What about you? Have you seen First Position? What did you think?

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The Pursuit of Happiness – Change Your Career and Change Your Life

Are you looking for a change in your career? This article might be just what you need to read.

So many of the points made resonated with me. I am certainly happier since I gave up my corporate career to have more family time and to start my own business Straight Shooter Marketing.

Enjoy The Pursuit of Happiness – Change your career and change your life.

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Searching for “The Good Life”?

A friend mentioned to me that her mother had bought Hugh Mackay’s latest book ‘The Good Life’. I’ve read Hugh’s work before so was keen to find out more.

Here is a link to an interview with Hugh about his latest offering:

Hugh Mackay talking about ‘The Good Life’ on Radio National

Have you read ‘The Good Life’? What did you think about it? Are you already living The Good Life?

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The Universe Provides

$10The other day I was out with my son. We had a quick lunch then went to the newsagent to grab some mags (magazines are an addiction I fear I have passed onto my kids) and a sneaky little chocolate bar for the afternoon ahead. There were a handful of people waiting for service from the one busy lady behind the counter. She patiently dealt with questions and tallied up purchases. It was our turn. ‘That’s $20.40 thanks’ she said and I handed over the money, turned to leave, then stopped. ‘I think she overcharged me’, I said to my boy and we both looked around to the counter that was still swarming with customers. Was $8.00 worth another lengthy wait? We let it go and moved on with our shopping.

The next day I was drinking coffee in the sunshine at my local cafe. An elegant older lady came up behind me. ‘You have too much money’, she said. The caffeine had not yet kicked in so I was not so sharp at this point. ‘Pardon?’ I said. ‘You are throwing your money away’ she added and she leant down under my table to retrieve a $10 note below. ‘Here you are’ and she placed the note beside my coffee cup and returned to her table.

Now this is where the moral dilemma kicks in. I wish I was the type of person who could just take the money and run without looking back, but I am naturally of the ‘goody-two-shoes’ persuasion.

‘That’s not my money’ I said to my donor and her companion. ‘I might hand it in to the cafe or could I pay for your coffees?’ She laughed kindly. ‘Don’t be silly’ she said. ‘Buy yourself a coffee today and tomorrow!’ And that was that.

Of course I stewed over the decision as I sipped my cappucino. In the end I took the money and paid for my coffee – that day and the next.

Short-changed one day and a small windfall the next. The synergy of these experiences made me smile.

What would you do? Would you take the money?