Saturday, December 31, 2011

Glimpsing the Past

I had put a bit of thought into what I wanted to post on the last day of 2011. I was going to 'look back' at some of the things that happened in my life this year. Then, while looking through my craft cupboard this afternoon (yep, a rockin' New Years Eve afternoon spent sewing) I found the box of my old diaries. Remember paper diaries? It's what people wrote in before blogging. I used to be quite the diary-writer and have ramblings dating back to 1992, when I was seven years old. I had a look through them this afternoon- some stuff is hilarious to read now, a lot is too personal to share, some is sad, and most is melodramatic! I decided that instead of looking back over the year, I'd go back a little further and share a few snippets of my past musings with you. Enjoy...and keep in mind that I never thought anyone else would read this stuff, so I hope you all feel honoured!

2006: (Aged 22- living with my sister Lisa and about to start Honours in Performing Arts) "Lisa's crabby because we dyed her hair and it's gone kind of orange-y (was supposed to be blonde). Oh dear. I had some of the girls over last night- Katie, Georgie and Libby. I cooked dinner for everyone and we watched a sh** chick flick. It was really good to see them all. I'll be seeing heaps of Katie this year of course, seeing as we're both doing Honours, but Libby and possibly Georgie are off to Korea for 4 months to teach Drama to Korean schoolchildren. We all got offered the job- they need 10 people- but I don't want to go to Korea for four months. Was thinking of heading out to the RSPCA this arvo to walk some woofers and groom the pusskins. Hmm."

2002: (Aged 18- studying year 12 and living in a flat.) "I've got another sodding exam on Friday- 20th Century History. But I'm in denial. I'm lying fully dressed on my bed with a pounding headache, frantically eating an entire packet of Kool Fruits and staring worriedly at my work folder. The obvious solution would be to DO some STUDY but I keep putting it off...argh!" [Obviously this method of revision works, as I got one of the top marks in the school for that subject...if only more people knew!]

2000: (Aged 16- living in a small country town with my family and in Grade 10.) "You know what? Today was a good day. A lot of people were very tired after the Leaver's Dinner or, in the case of A, extremely grouchy, but I didn't feel in the least bit tired. I felt alive and happy. In Maths I turned to A and said, "You want to hear something wonderful? I'm actually happy!" She responded with a pissed off "Good for you." Ouch. But doesn't it make a nice change, Diary, to hear me say that I'm happy?"

1995: (Aged 10- same small country town) "We had to come into the city so Lisa could get braces put on. I'm in the waiting room of the orthodontist [nice job with the spelling, 10 year old me!] I am incredibly bored. I finished my Baby Sitters Club book and had nothing to do but watch crap soap operas on the TV. I couldn't change the channel because a boy appeared to be watching the crap. I was waiting for 4.30 because this game show, My Generation, is on then, but because it's Friday something else is on! Wouldn't you know it. I think the people who work at WIN TV are really ridiculous. Dad just told me Lisa is finished and he just has to go pay, so I guess once he parts with all his money for the braces we can go." [Some might say 'a precocious writer'. Others might say 'opinionated!']

1991: (Aged 7- my first ever diary entry. I'm going to type the words exactly as I spelt them at the time.) "Dear Dairy, Hi I'm your new writer. On Saturday we flew on an airiplain to meet Mummy's new family. Her real dad that she found. First we flew on an airiplain to Melbourne. On the plan Lisa and I got speicle childrens meals, you got to have a wagon wheel on the plate it was yummy. Then we flew to Sidney. Jeffrey who is mummy's new real dad picked us up and took us to Filisaties. She is my Mummy's new sister and is her real sister. I have new cusons and I love them allready."

I hope you enjoyed reading some of my old diary entries. It's been interesting reading back over them and seeing how much things have changed. I'm very lucky to still have them to look back on.

Happy New Year, everyone, and see you in 2012. I'm loving blogging and am grateful for all the kind words from friends who have been reading along in my own little corner of the Internet. To finish, I'd like to share a photo of one of my favourite experiences in 2011...

Be good, be careful, and see you next year!
Love Bebb xx

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

At the Movies with Bebb...Part Five...Lilya 4-ever

Welcome to another Wednesday movie review here at Bebb and the Bubs. I can't believe it's been 5 weeks since I started my little blog. I know quite a few people are reading it which is good and means I'm not just talking to myself.
Before I start the review, can I just say hooray for holidays! Today I finally feel like the holidays have arrived as I have a whole free day to just be at home. Not that I'm not enjoying catching up with people as well- especially my beautiful friend Dan who is home from the big smoke visiting her family. We caught up for lunch yesterday and laughed a lot about things that would make little to no sense to others, the way you do when the history of your friendship spans years. I wish I could see her more often but it makes the times we catch up extra special.
Anyway, onto today's review...

This film, made by a Swedish director but mainly shot in Russia, opens with a shot of Lilya, her face beaten to a pulp, running down a city street. We then jump back 3 months and begin the story of 15 year old Lilya (Oksana Akinshina) who is forced to fend for herself after her mother moves to America with her new lover and leaves Lilya behind in the nameless, poverty-stricken town they live in. Her aunt, appointed to care for her, instead moves Lilya into a tiny, squalid flat to live on her own, at the same time taking over the larger flat where Lilya lived with her mother. Lilya's best friend, 12 year old Volodya (Artyom Bogucharskiy) is often kicked out by his alcoholic father and seeks refuge with Lilya. With no money and no word from her mother, Lilya turns to prostitution. When she meets seemingly kind and gentle Andrei (Pavel Ponomaryov) and begins a relationship with him, things seem to be taking a turn for the better. But all is not as it seems and we are quickly thrust into the horrific practice of human trafficking and sexual slavery that occurs frequently in Europe.

I had first heard of this movie about 5 years ago. I read about it in a movie magazine and while offering very little in the way of plot details, the article praised it highly. I was intrigued and have been trying to track it down for years. I finally managed to rent it from Quickflix and sat down to watch it. All I knew was that it was an extremely well-made yet confronting and disturbing movie.

Well. What can I say, other than yes, it was very well-made with incredible acting, cinematography and directing, but it was one of the most disturbing, distressing and depressing movies I have ever seen. Throughout the entire movie, more and more terrible things happened to Lilya and when you thought it couldn't possibly get any worse, it did. Suicide, multiple rape scenes, violence, despair...awful things happened in quick succession and left us reeling.  It is not a movie I think I could ever watch again. I was even plagued by nightmares that night concerning the movie. It was made even worse when I looked it up and discovered that it was based entirely and very closely on a true story.

Oksana Akinshina was incredible as Lilya. She fully embodied the character and displayed both Lilya's tough survival skills and fragile vulnerability. I truly cared about what happened to her, which made it all the more upsetting. Likewise, Artyom Bogucharskiy was very powerful as her young friend Volodya. To see such stellar performances from two young actors (they actually were 15 and 12 when shooting the film) was rare and made the movie what it was- powerfully disturbing yet compelling. The director, Lukas Moodysson, created a truly outstanding film with a very dark subject matter and must be commended for bringing such a terrible story, based on events happening every day, into the public sphere. But as outstanding as the film was when you base your assessment on artistic merit alone, I find that I can't recommend this film to you simply because it was so difficult to watch and really did upset me. If you are brave, see it and make up your own mind, but go into it knowing that it won't be a pleasant viewing experience.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
This was a tough one for me to rate and in the end I'll say yes, it was a skillfully made movie, but I won't be watching it again.

Before I go, I just want to say how sorry I am for my best friend MM's loss. Her beautiful budgie Mellow passed away last night at the ripe old age of 12. MM gave Mellow such a happy life and cared for her so well, so it was no wonder she lasted as long as she did. I know MM is very sad and hurting as Mellow really was a member of the family. We lay ourselves open to pain when we let animals into our lives, knowing their lives are so much shorter than ours,  but the joy they give us make it worth it and I couldn't imagine a life without animal family members. It doesn't make it any easier to say goodbye though. Thinking of you MM, and rest peacefully little Mellow.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bebb's Busy Boxing Day

So for weeks I have been saying, "Oh, I can't wait to be on holidays and have Christmas over so I can sleep in and relax..." Come Boxing Day today and I was up by 6.15am. What?! I have no idea what's going on here. Though it was good in a way as Mum and Dad are staying with us over Christmas and are very early risers so I got to have breakfast with them. Mum (or Mebb as she has renamed herself after reading my blog...hi Mebb) was very surprised that I beat her out of bed on a non-work day as she knows how much I love to sleep in.

Anyway, Dad headed off to his shift as a volunteer ambulance officer in the city and Mum and I chatted, cuddled dogs and watched Sea Change, then set off for Hollybank for a bushwalk with the dogs at 9am...pretty good considering I had set my alarm for 9am.

We had a lovely walk at Hollybank and the dogs enjoyed it too.

The highlight was walking down to the river. It was the first time my young Bub hounds had visited a river and the results were pretty predictable.

Jack stood primly on a rock trying not to get his paws wet...

...while Johnny plunged straight in and swam around, ending up looking like a drowned rat.

Drowned rat standing behind 'Mebb'. After I took that photo, Mebb was heard to say, "That picture's going on the blog isn't it?"  I also copped teasing from Mebb who claimed I only wanted to go for a walk so I could blog about it! Not true...though having a blog does change your outlook slightly, I won't deny...especially when you find yourself planning blog posts in your head.

The water did look beautiful but I didn't have my bathers and we still had a 40 minute walk to get back to the car...can't imagine it would have been that fun in wet clothes. Next time...

After we drove back into the city we dropped the dogs home and then I took Mum (oh sorry, I mean Mebb- she has started calling herself that now which is a bit of a worry...) out to lunch at the Seaport.

After grocery shopping we headed back home, and everyone is now having some quiet time. Mum (Mebb!) is playing with Christmas presents- she is reading a book on the Kindle she got from Dad (look, I can't call him Debb. Mum's name is Deb and this is just all getting too weird).

I'll leave you with a shot of our relaxed Christmas lunch from yesterday. Here are my parents kicking back in our gazebo while I cooked steak, salmon and haloumi (the latter for my vegetarian self) on the barbeque.

Oh and was Johnny's first Christmas and Jack taught him the joys of ripping up wrapping paper and going manic amongst the shreds. I let them go for is Christmas after all. 

Merry Christmas from Bebb and the Bubs.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bookworm Time with Bebb...Part Four

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!I don't quite feel like I'm on holidays yet as I've had so much to do in the lead up to hosting Christmas lunch for the first time. I'm looking forwards to spending the day with family, but also having time to just do nothing in particular once it's all over. Saturday is Book Review day here at Bebb and the Bubs so I'm taking a break from cleaning/making Christmas crackers/making cauliflower cheese/making sorbet and ice cream cake/marinating salmon to bring you another of my favourite books. (One day I'll review some crappy books to keep it fair...but right now I'm enjoying sharing books that I love.)

by Barbara Gowdy

This collection of short stories from Canadian novelist Barbara Gowdy is populated by an assortment of highly unusual characters. Siamese twins, necrophiles, transsexuals, exhibitionists...they all find their way onto the pages. We meet Sylvie, who shares a body with her twin sister Sue, who is nothing but a pair of legs, and works as a circus freak. There is blind Terry and mentally handicapped Julie and their foster carer Aunt Bea. We peek inside the life of Ali, married to a wealthy doctor, dissatisfied with life and an exhibitionist. We see inside the mind of a young, beautiful, female necrophile in the titular story. All that is strange, out of the ordinary, disturbing and shocking are presented in this book, and it is easy to fall into.

Written skillfully and powerfully, this is a highly original collection of short stories that exerts a strong grip on the reader. Even while describing things that may sicken or disturb, the prose is elegant and beautiful and it is hard to stop reading. It is not for the faint of heart, for taboo topics are laid bare in devastating, yet straightforward fashion.

The stories are more than eye-opening, bizarre and disturbing, however- they are full of moments of poignant humour and often quite moving. Who would have thought that a tender love story concerning a necrophile could exist? Some stories are uplifting, others heartbreaking, and all are unexpected. While surreal, her stories are grounded in realism as we are shown the many different people that make up humankind, and the secret desires and character quirks that may only exist behind closed doors are brought into the light.

This is not a book to be read once, put aside and forgotten. Rather, it is a book to be returned to again and again, to be captivated by, thought over and not forgotten. Powerful, unsettling, and ultimately remarkable,

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I hope you enjoyed another book review. Let me know if you read any of my recommendations. Off to keep getting organised for Christmas now. We're all feeling the pressure of the Christmas preparations here in the house of Bebb and the Bubs...

Some of us more than others, it would seem. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Backyard Happenings

So today was the last day of school for students. I got lots of hugs and had a few of my gorgeous girls literally clinging to me in tears and begging me not to leave the school. I wish I could stay there too but alas it's not up to me. Last night was Presentation Night and I was given the role of 'prize coordinator'...hmmm...a fancy way of saying that as each presenter was called to the stage I had to collect the associated prize from a table and meet them at the foot of the stage stairs to give it to them. I was told to dress up as I was 'on view'...I felt very much on view and conscious that several hundred people were watching me as I appeared at the foot of the stairs with prizes all night. At one point I even made it on stage as a presenter hissed "I can't carry all of those- come up with me!" So prize girl did her bit...I actually felt slightly like this... 

After the evening finished, one of the presenters (some random politician) came up to me and said, "You did a great job with all of those prizes- very coordinated and you looked very confident."
"Oh thanks," I replied, before adding jokingly, "Yes, I have my Wheel of Fortune audition tomorrow!"
"Oh really?" he asked seriously. "That's great. Well, good luck with that. At least you've got teaching to fall back on if you don't get the role. Good, good." He then walked off leaving me somewhat speechless.  

So anyway. Let's move on from politicians who lack a sense of humour and irony.

After I got home today, I spent half an hour wrestling with metal poles, flapping canvas and surprisingly straightforward and easy to follow instructions in order to erect this in the backyard.

I will be having Christmas Day lunch here with my parents and decided it would be nice to have some shade, as if the weather is nice we are planning to have a barbeque and eat outside. It will also be great for barbeques with friends, and just to sit under and read, chat, relax, etc.

After we got it up I harvested some of the amazing bounty my garden is starting to put forth.

Snow peas, peas, parsley, cauliflower- lots more still growing! Pretty good for my first attempt at growing vegies on my own. There were more peas but I stood at the sink and ate a lot straight from the pod- delicious. We'll be having lots of fresh homegrown vegies on Christmas Day.

While I was outside I decided to take a photo of Jack lying on the grass, and just as I was about to do so, Johnny zoomed into shot and stood there like a little poser. I love this photo of my gorgeous boys.

It's quite a warm evening and we have all retreated inside now to relax in each other's company.

I'm still feeling exhausted but am starting to get very excited about finishing work for the year tomorrow and enjoying some glorious holiday time. And no, Mr Politician, I will not be joining Wheel of Fortune. They'll just have to get along without me as best they can.

At the Movies with Bebb...Part Four

Well, it's Wednesday and you know what that means- Movie Review day here at Bebb and the Bubs. And also...tomorrow is my last day of work before summer holidays! Very exciting yet I'm also feeling a little sad at leaving this school tomorrow and starting over at a new school yet again. There are some kids I've gotten to know really well, and friends I've made among the staff (particularly Lisa) who I'll miss. Ah well- onto new adventures! I know I'll keep in touch with Lisa and make new friends at my new school.

So today I am reviewing another Australian movie...

Lucy (Emily Browning) is a university student. She works three thankless jobs- as a test subject in a medical research lab, as a waitress, and in an office- to support herself. Lucy appears cut off from the world around her, completely disconnected from her housemates and engaging in meaningless liaisons with men she meets in bars. Her only real connection is the one she shares with her friend Birdmann (Ewan Leslie), an alcoholic who does not leave his flat. Their relationship is both intimate and strangely formal, and it is only with Birdmann that we see any vulnerability from beautiful, distant Lucy. Answering an ad in the student paper to work as a lingerie waitress, Lucy soon finds herself working for Clara (Rachael Blake) who runs a mysterious establishment in which young women are willingly put into a drugged sleep so that older men can spend the night with them- to look and touch only. As time passes, Lucy begins to grow increasingly curious as to what happens to her in the lost hours while she sleeps...

I wanted to love this movie. I really thought I would. The previews showed an ethereal, atmospheric arthouse movie, and I was excited to see author Julia Leigh's directorial debut. (She wrote, among other things, The Hunter, upon which the recent movie was based.) I had also noted that Julia Leigh had been mentored by Jane Campion, who directed one of my all time favourite movies, The Piano. 

But. Yes, but. I found the movie to be vastly disappointing. Though Emily Browning's acting was impressive, we had no chance to get to know Lucy on any real level as she was so detached and distant. I feel this was a deliberate effort to show her as being disconnected from the world around her and reckless in the risks she took, but instead it made us feel like we were only watching her from the outside with no view into her motives, feelings or thoughts, which was very unsatisfying. The times when we did see emotion and vulnerability from Lucy- during her scenes with Birdmann and in the final scene- were powerful moments when I did feel connected to her, and I was left wanting to feel the same way during the rest of the movie.  

This was quite an uncomfortable film to watch. Seeing Lucy, naked, unconscious and completely vulnerable, being handled by older men who seemed to have no regard for her wellbeing or safety made for difficult viewing. Dialogue that seemed intended to shock had the effect of distancing me further from the film. The script was well-written, but I question the desire to show humankind in its basest, vilest, most lust-driven form, and the decision to leave the audience so cut off from every single character. Another issue is that in such a controversial film, there were many scenes that I actually found quite dull. I debated whether to stop watching on several occasions, not because I was disturbed but because I was, quite simply, bored.

Visually, the film was beautifully shot and lit. Emily Browning looked breathtakingly stunning but her tiny, waifish frame made the scenes with the older men all the more uncomfortable. The film left me with many, many more questions than it answered and while this is all well and good and I do enjoy discussing the meaning behind movies with others, this movie went too far in leaving us with too much we did not know, understand or hope to understand. Overall the acting was good, and I had respect for Emily Browning's brave performance in particular, but this is not a movie I could say I enjoyed. I was left feeling churned up inside, uncomfortable, sad and confused. Certain scenes were with me that night as I tried to sleep, and were not scenes that I particularly wanted to revisit. Disappointing viewing and not a film I would recommend unless you really just need to satisfy your curiosity.  

My rating: If my rating was based only on the acting, I would give it 4 out of 5 stars. However, overall I give it 2 out of 5 stars. It has potential, but does not deliver.  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Moving Slowly Through Wet Cement

...or, On Being Tired.

There are days when just moving seems like an effort.

There are days when all you want to do is sleep in.

You just feel like sprawling out in a state of utter and complete relaxation.

Then you feel like perfecting this state and sharing it with others.

Maybe even encouraging your friends to take up this position, too.

Hopefully the word will spread on how great it is to just relax and let it all go.

It really is something that everyone can enjoy.

There are days when all you want to do is cuddle up with someone special.

Sometimes a lot of time can pass, and you become older and wiser, but you still love cuddling up with that same person.

You look around, and realise that other people are relaxing and resting.

Or just sitting back and watching the world go by.

"Why can't it be me?" you despair. You may even find yourself getting cross with those around you.

Or you just want to tear everything up and throw it on the floor.

Most of all, you just want to tuck yourself in with someone you love.

Then the day finally comes when all the hustle and bustle slip away and you can take a breath, smell a rose, read a book, lie on the grass, or even just sit in the ocean and contemplate life.

I'm ready for that day. It's been a long year. I'm ready to recharge and rejuvenate. I'm ready to garden, to read, to watch, to sleep, to hug, to potter, to sew, to chat, to swim, to walk. Three days of work to go...

All photos taken by Bebb, at Penguin Island WA, Perth Zoo WA, East Coast Tasmania, and my home, also in Tasmania.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bookworm Time with Bebb...Part Three..."He Died with a Felafel in his Hand" by John Birmingham

Saturday is Book Review day here at Bebb and the Bubs. Today I thought I'd share an old favourite with you that is great for anyone in need of a laugh.

"A rat died in the living room at King Street and we didn't know. There was at least six inches of compacted rubbish between our feet and the floor. Old Ratty must have crawled in there and died of pleasure. A visitor uncovered him while groping about for a beer."

The most disturbing, and yet hilarious, thing about this book is that it's all true. Australian author John Birmingham lived in many, many different sharehouses in the 80's and early 90's before his career as a successful writer took off, and had a variety of housemates- eighty-nine, in fact. He kept notes on all of them and the colourful stories of sharehouse hell make up this very funny book. He has lived with albino moontanners, fridge pissers, nitrous suckers, mushroom farmers, hardcore separatist lesbians and obscurely tiger-suited Japanese girls, to name a few. The stories do not run in any particular order and tend to jump around a bit, with one anecdote giving rise to another, making for fast-paced, fun reading. The titular housemate is a junkie who shuffled off the mortal coil on JB's favourite bean bag while clutching a felafel. This anecdote begins and ends the book and in between we are treated to tales of a host of very strange, or very unclean, or very messed up individuals.

Reading this book makes me very grateful that I escaped the true perils of flatmate hell. The worst I had was a housemate who consistently left the kitchen in a filthy mess and then smugly informed me that "There's no such thing as the washing up fairy," if I dared to leave a single plate in the sink to wash later. That kind of petty nonsense really pales in comparison to JB's housemates engaging in a competition to see who can last the longest without changing out of their jeans, or the scream-the-house down arguments over whether the pineapple chunks go on the third or fourth pantry shelf. This is a truly hilarious book that never fails to have me bursting out into laughter while reading it. JB's writing style is quick, concise, wry and with a razor-sharp wit running through even the most nightmarish scenarios. He has also called in various former housemates with whom he is still friends to provide anecdotes of their own. 

The sequel, The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco, is a much more linear book and covers the events of a single week rather than spanning years, but is equally as funny. Felafel has been made into a movie and I love that also. This is a great book to dip into for a laugh or consume at several sittings, though if you happen to be a landlord it may terrify you. JB is a standout on the Australian writing scene and does not disappoint. (Incidentally, I recently started following Mr John Birmingham on Twitter. To my great surprise, he started following me back. This discovery led to me emitting a most undignified squeal. Maybe it's because I'm a Tasmanian and he does like us Tasmanian Babes after all.) 

I always enjoy a bit of Felafel and I think if you have a sense of humour, you will, too.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

A new school, Christmas shopping, and a fierce old lady

This morning I had to go into my new school (I have been made permanent as of next year and have been transferred to a new school, teaching Kinder) to meet the principal and the other two Kinder teachers. The great thing about my new school is that it is literally 5 minutes walk from my house. I would love, love, love to stay put at my current school but...c'est la vie. Things work out the way they are meant to. Teaching Kinder will be interesting- I did a bit of it this year, filling in while another teacher was overseas and it is fun, but full on.

Anyway, it all went smoothly and I was out of there by 11.30am. Friday isn't one of my usual work days unless I am doing relief so I had some free time and decided to head into the city to finish my Christmas shopping. I had the mistaken belief that the city wouldn't be as busy on a weekday...Wrong. Christmas-crazed shoppers were everywhere and the footpaths were packed.

 As I negotiated my way through the crowds, I heard shouting. I soon saw three very rough, angry looking men standing right in the middle of the footpath bellowing at each other. Some people in the crowd had stopped, others were trying to get around them without going too close, and the result was that everyone was pretty much stuck, whether they wanted to ogle the scene or not.
"Well, why the *&^% would I have told you that if it wasn't true?" Oaf Number One was shouting.
"You tell me mate, you tell me. All I know is you are asking for a smack right up the *&^%ing arse and then out your head!" Oaf Number Two bellowed back. (What a charming visual, Oaf #2. Thanks for that.) Oaf Number Three just stood there looking tough and menacing. On it went, and just as they were getting right up in each other's faces, violence seemed certain and I was still trying to get through the crowd, there she was. A vision in floral. A grey-haired, floral-dressed, sailor-voiced old lady pushed her way through the crowd and began shouting at them. Phrases such as "Go on, get out of here! Take it to your home! Your mothers would be ashamed of you! Everyone is watching! Get out of here you filthy little fools!" were flung at the startled looking Oafs, who nevertheless turned their backs on the floral-robed citizen of the peace and continued to argue. Undeterred, Old Lady lifted her sizeable, sensible brown leather handbag and threatened them with it, while shouting, "You want something rammed right up your arse and out your head do you?" The use of his own, colourfully descriptive threat against him stopped Oaf Number 2 in his tracks and he stared at Old Lady in shock before turning and disappearing into the rapidly parting crowd. Oafs Number One and Three made to follow, but a wordless shout from Old Lady, accompanied by her handbag waving precariously close to their faces, stopped them, too, in their tracks and they beat a hasty exit in the opposite direction. Old Lady shook herself, returned her handbag to her shoulder and disappeared into the chemist, the crowd dispersed and I went to the Body Shop. Just another quiet day in the Mall.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

In the Kitchen with Bebb, Part One

Happy Thursday, everyone, and welcome to another (semi) regular feature here at Bebb and the Bubs. I love to cook and am looking forwards to sharing new recipes and old favourites with you. Unlike At the Movies with Bebb on Wednesdays and Bookworm Time with Bebb on Saturdays, In the Kitchen with Bebb won't occur on a set day...just whenever I feel like sharing some cooking with you! The header is temporary- I couldn't find a cooking photo and I figured I am holding a glass, which is kitchenware, which is near enough. And the 1940's hair and makeup fits cooked in the 1940's too you know. Ha! I've got it! Rice Krispies Treats were invented in 1941 (thanks Mr Google) and my recipe today features Rice Bubbles, which are Rice Krispies to us Aussies. See, the photo fits in after all...

So today I made some Christmas treats for my friends and co-workers. They are...

White Crackle Snowballs

-250g packet of marshmallows
-75g of unsalted butter, softened
-4 cups of Rice Bubbles/Krispies/Puffs
-2 cups dessicated coconut
-2 tablespoons of silver cauchous (or go crazy like I did with silver and blue)

Mix coconut and cauchous in a shallow bowl.

Heat a large saucepan of water until it is simmering. Place marshmallows and butter in a heatproof bowl and sit over water.

Stir butter and marshmallows until melted and smooth. Now, the recipe I found called for white marshmallows, but I already had a packet of pink and white in the pantry so I went for it.

Remove bowl from heat and pour Rice Bubbles into marshmallow mixture. Stir to combine.

Eat some of the mixture. (Oh come on. You know I did it, and I know you will, too. Let's not fool ourselves).

With wet hands, take a teaspoon of the mixture, roll into a ball, and roll in coconut and cachous mix. Place on a tray lined with baking paper. Re-wet hands each time. I found it easiest to have a bowl of water there to dip my hands in.

Refrigerate, covered, for an hour. Once set keep them in the fridge for up to a week.

Voila! Very simple and yummy. I bagged them up to give some of my colleagues on Monday and have an extra bag for...well, myself.

Let me know if you have made any festive treats lately- I always love new recipes!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

At the Movies with Bebb...Part Three...Once Were Warriors

Wednesday is Movie Review day at Bebb and the Bubs (as well as being one week to go until summer holidays!) I've been getting some great feedback from friends who have read my first two reviews and am enjoying writing them. I was planning to review another Australian movie today but realised that would be three Aussie movies in a row (I do love good Australian movies) so I decided to review a New Zealand movie instead. Next week I may even branch out further and move out of the region!

Jake Heke, of Maori descent (Temuera Morrison) seems, at first glance, to be a loving husband and father. He and his wife Beth (Rena Owen) live with their five children in what seems to be near-poverty, though our first sight of him has him surprising the children with fresh seafood and passionately embracing his wife. Very soon, however, we see that beneath the charm is an extremely violent man who does not hold back from using his fists on those around him, whether it be a man annoying him at the local pub where he spends much of his time, or his wife for being 'lippy'. Beth deals with her husband's violence by drinking and denying the abuse to herself and those around her, though the bruises are plain to see. Beth and Jake's oldest son, Nig, detests his father for his violence and drinking ways and seeks a new family unit in the form of a Maori gang he hopes to be initiated into. Their teenage son Boogie has been caught stealing cars and is removed from the family. Thirteen year old Grace cares for the younger children and escapes from the turmoil around her by writing stories. When a horrific event occurs, the already crumbling family begins to disintegrate further and tragedy and loss seem inevitable...

This movie is hard to watch, yet compelling viewing. I feel I should warn you that it merits its MA rating- some scenes are quite graphic and very violent and I found them very confronting.  Temuera Morrison delivers a solid, nuanced performance as the violent, brutal, tormented Jake. Rena Owen gives a slightly mixed performance as Beth- at times she delivers a very believable character and at times her performace seems slightly 'clunky' and wooden and comes across as slightly forced. There are a few other lesser characters that suffer the same problem, but overall the acting is fairly solid. Rena Owen's final speech, in which the significance of the title is explained, is one of the standout moments of her acting. Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell is heartbreaking as beautiful, sensitive Beth, and her performace will stay with you.

I do not know a great deal about Maori culture but my New Zealander husband assures me that the film paints an accurate picture of the ways of life for Maori gangs and those living below the poverty line in New Zealand. At times the movie seems that it will not recover from the dark events that we are shown, and it can be very, very dark indeed. Yet there are also moments of humour and a glimmer of hope among the blackness. See it if you are interested in New Zealand movies, or a gritty, confronting, hard hitting yet compelling film. Stay away if you can't handle scenes of graphic violence, particularly domestic violence. A haunting film that will stay with you and is worth watching despite the grim subject matter.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars