Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Canary Meets Famous Ave

There is a new check mark on this canary's life list! ...Now, in my last post I mentioned that me and my lovely friend Kirsten have long been planning to visit some of New Zealand's most prominent, native birds. Well, a few weeks ago, Kirsten, Kevin, and I had the honor of meeting none other than Sirocco Kakapo. We originally wanted to dress Tilly up as a kakapo but you had to be at least three years old to attend the tour so Rhys had some great Dad and Tilly time. Not only is Sirocco indubitably Aotearoa's most noteworthy celebrity bird, he has also been named the "Spokesbird for Conservation" by the Prime Minister.

Sirocco spends most of his days down south on Maud Island but he certainly laps up the praise and prestige he receives from his many adoring fans. So, he is known to occasionally pull himself away from life on his little island to do a New Zealand tour. Meanwhile, Kir and I spend most of our days in Auckland getting hassled by our friends for loving a celebrity bird. soon as word reached our ears that Sirocco would be coming up to the Waikato, not only the farthest north he's been recently but also a mere 2(ish) hours away from Auckland, we went into a planning frenzy. Our hopes were nearly dashed when the Sirocco tours sold out before we had a chance to book tickets, however Sirocco extended his tour and we jumped on our second chance to meet him.

The day finally arrived for Kev, Kir, and I to sally forth to meet Sirocco. So we donned our homemade Sirocco tribute t-shirts and made the 2.5 hour journey down to Maungatautari Ecological Island. The t-shirts made us very popular with the volunteers at Maungatautari and it felt like we got special attention from them because of it. After a short slide show which included funny little tales about Sirocco and his love of people, the three of us boarded the van for a winding moonlight ride to meet him. We may or may not have been snickering to ourselves about someone in the tour who pronounced his name "Sir-row-co."

(Real Sirocco plumage)

In starstruck glee, we power walked up to Sirocco's enclosure and then had to wait for the rest of the group to catch up. And then, it happened; we saw Sirocco! Unlike other bird exhibits where you are cautioned to be silent, Sirocco loves people so you are encouraged to talk and get his attention. The greatest highlight of the night came when Sirocco strutted over, looked straight at us, and mustered a mighty "Skraaark!!!"

The photos may seen dark and grainy but we were actually lucky to get such good ones as flash photography was not permitted.

What's that, you'd like to hear some interesting fasts about Kakapo? Well for starters, like many of New Zealand's native birds, Kakapo are flightless. Something unique about kakapo is their call; when male kakapo want to capture the attention of kakapo ladies, they dig a bowl in the ground and "boom" which is actually a very drum-like sound that can be heard up to two miles away. When they boom, they puff out into a fluffy ball. Another interesting fact is that kakapo can and do live up to 100 years. Probably the most interesting fact about kakapo is that there are currently only 125 left in the world which makes meeting Sirocco such a rare privilege.

All that considered, rebuilding the kakapo species is a work in progress but hope is not lost as was believed about 20 some years ago when researchers thought there were no more female kakapo left in the world. Also, with their lifespan, kakapo aren't especially in a hurry to do anything and don't mate every year. For any Lord of the Rings fans out there, are you thinking of Ents like I am?

Almost as amazing as meeting Sirocco was waking up Monday morning to find that we got a personal mention on Sirocco's facebook page. The three of us were very pleased and look forward to our next adventure!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Things Old & New

It's true, the canary has been gone way too long. My blog neglect started with having a few house guests awhile back, followed by a broken computer, a new computer, and then a lot of busyness and *cough*lazy-canary-ness*cough.* In any case, I am back now so let me tell you a story...

A little over a year ago, Kirsten and I, who knew each other through a mutual friend, decided it would be nice to go out for tea together and, to quote Casablanca, "it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship." Many tearooms, chocolate boutiques, Indian restaurants, holidays, takeout nights, rugby games, macaron missions, and curiosity shops later, we still often text message each other midweek commenting how it feels "like an age" since we last hung out and what should we do this weekend?

Kir and I even make lofty, longterm, plans like visiting all the exotic birds around New Zealand, searching for kakapos (a rare, native parrot) in Fiordland, and even a Nancy Drew-like reconnaissance mission on an interesting nature-loving community in our area. Any ND fans out there, think "The Secret of Red Gate Farm" 

Anyway... On one of our first few tearoom outings, Kirsten and I discovered our shared love of antiques and vintage things. Now, being small, New Zealand doesn't have scads of antique shops and when you do find a good one, it can often be very pricey. As I told Kirsten about all my favorite antique shops in Pennsylvania, I mused that it would be wonderful if one day, we could go antiquing together in America. We concluded that next time I visited home, that she could stowaway in my suitcase. 

Fortunately for both of us, wishes can come true and especially fortunate for Kir, she won't have to scrunch up in my luggage. Come the holidays, we will both be in Pennsylvania for the wedding of our friends Nick and Bekah. Some antiquing will certainly be on the todo list! 

Of course we needed to train in preparation for the big leagues; so, this past weekend we went trawling through two very curious antique shops. We bravely resisted temptation at the first shop, (except for Rhys who found a cool vintage camera) though I did make a mental list of a few items I'd like to revisit.  For the second stop, the boys and Tilly bowed out to go play video games at home while Kir and I meandered through a tiny yet packed to the rafters shop called Antique Alley. 

                                                                                                                                            (photo source)

As you can see, this shop is quite the treasure trove. Kirsten and I carefully inspected every nook. We each oooohhhed and ahhhhed over a number of items, namely teacups. I fell in love with one teacup in particular and also took a fancy to this old clock.

In the end, I reminded myself to save my pennies for America. So I just bought a few mismatched teaspoons since all mine have...errr...gone missing with a certain someone's packed lunches. Eventually the guys text Kir and I complaining that they were getting "hangry" so we said goodbye (more like see ya later) to Antique Alley and headed to the supermarket. Until next time...



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars" : A Film Update

If you consider yourself a bookish person, a sucker for cinema, or a bit of both, you probably heard the buzz last year that Baz Luhrmann took on the great feat of remaking the quintessential American novel; The Great Gatsby. As I mentioned in my previous post, despite Baz's upcoming film being the seventh Great Gatsby adaptation to date, no one seems to have hit the nail on the head. I suppose it must be hard to adapt a literary masterpiece. 

I thought I'd share the recently released trailer with you. (*Disclaimer* it's slightly PG) Although I was quite skeptical of Baz's choice to film in 3D, I now think it might just be the Ace up his sleeve...

I think Baz must have read my blog and taken my advice on mixing jazz with modern tunes for the musical score, heh heh. I am loving the use of Kanye West in the trailer. Regarding the 3D filming, of course I will have to see the movie before I make any final judgement but it does seem to capture the zeitgeist of the roaring 20s; the decadence and the decay. In any case, Baz Luhrmann has undeniable style. His cinematography and use of colors... I mean, who doesn't feel tough while practicing their best "WE ARE SPARTA!!!" impression in front the of mirror? Just me? Ok...

While I am much more open to the 3D filming, I am still licking my wounds over the casting of Toby Maguire as Nick Carraway. I'm practically beside myself; these are wounds that time just can't heal. Why couldn't it have been my original wish for Jake Gyllenhaal? Even Ryan Gosling would have done nicely, anyone but Toby! I want a redo! "Can't repeat the past?... Why of course you can!"

...Keep your eyes open for this one, it premiers at Christmas

Monday, May 28, 2012

Books, Overcoats, and More Books

This past weekend, Rhys and I checked out the entire library...or at least it feels like we did. It's pretty rare for us to leave with more than one or two books at a time --and those are usually ordered in --as our local library is severely lacking in the eye-catching book department. This time however, we hit the jackpot; what started as a trip to renew a couple of books turned into a grand adventure. I actually lost Rhys and in my search, I picked up several books along the way. When I finally found him, he had a hefty  stack himself. 

Our book finds weren't the only rare and random event in the library. Within seconds of walking in the door, this old lady wondered over to me and said, "I couldn't help but notice that your beautiful overcoat with it's beautiful color still has the manufacturer's seam in the pleat." I explained that I had suspected as much but wasn't sure so I hadn't wanted to rip it out. We parted ways but a moment later, she came back, "As a matter of fact, my grandson gave me just the thing for my birthday," she said, rummaging around in her purse until she produced a mini sewing kit with a mini seam ripper. As she removed the seam, she told me that "just the other week she had helped a young man who was disappointed that his suit had no pockets" when, in fact, they had just been sew shut for the shop. The whole thing was very adorable and I half expected her to disappear into thin air once she said goodbye. So wherever you are cool old lady, I think you must be the patron saint of haberdashery.

In any case, my "overcoat" now "pleats out beautifully; as it was meant to" and we left the library feeling very happy...well happy on the inside; we more skulked out hoping no one would notice our embarrassingly steep stack of books. Thank Heaven for self checkout. 

xo, Joy

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Hip Canary

The other day I was introduced to this Youtube video. As much as I love The Hunger Games, I must confess, I got quite a kick out of it and so I wanted to share it with you. Without further ado, I would like to present The Hipster Games by Wyoma Films. 

Heh heh, love it! I don't know, maybe it's because I'm a firm believer that one of the best medicines is to never take yourself to seriously and to be able to laugh at yourself. Or maybe I'm a little bit hipster myself: 
(Note the coiffed hair and sweaters)

In any case, I think it's pretty clever. Also, I must have short film on the brain as this past weekend we participated in our second 48 Hour Film Fest; a nationwide contest to create a short film in just two days. Our film debut is tomorrow night. As always, "May the odds be ever in our favor." 


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Makey Makey

Hello hello! 

 Canary & Co have finally moved to a bigger aviary. Ahhh, finally some room to spread my wings and and get up to some crafty mess-making. So I thought I would share with you some of my current creative muses as well as some that took place at the old nest. Heh heh, sorry if you are not appreciating all the bird puns. I blame Curious Acorn; whenever my blog hiatuses go on too long, she sends me a barrage of canary related puns on how I have to get back to my blog. 

Anyhow, so far today I've done some sewing (more on that at a later date) and attempted my first batch of homemade baby food. No, I am not an Earth mother; while I love farmer's markets, I ashamedly admit that I love out of season fruits and vegetables as well. I don't worry too much about the hazards of store bought things although I do love to cook. Mostly, Tilly is a hungry hungry hippo and baby food is expensive! So while I'm not an Earth mother, I'm feeling like a domestic goddess today. 

One of my most recent and finished projects was sprucing up a piece of furniture. In case you haven't noticed already, I love vintage. I also love French country style. There is a French antique shop near my house that I love to peruse from time to time. Believe me, I must be a glutton for punishment because everything in the shop is amazingly beautiful and exceedingly expensive. I drool the whole time and I always imagine the the shop keepers are whispering in French, "ugh, there's that girl that never buys anything."

Since I cannot afford real French antiques and since I loving doing things myself, I decided to try my hand at antiquing furniture. I started by consulting the great and powerful Google to learn how.  After watching a wonderful tutorial on how to do antiquing, I then set to work scoring the internet and local antique shops for the perfect piece. In the process, I'd like to think I've be come a bit of a pro on furniture names and styles. I finally decided on a hulking, break-your-back-carrying manrobe. It's a great art deco piece and perfect for giving a makeover. 

After showing Rhys the tutorial, he wanted to help out too which was good since I was still pregnant and wasn't really meant to be painting. I did, however, get to use the power sander and beat up on the manrobe a bit. I also picked the color; French blue, which seemed fitting. I have to apologize for the poor photos as the manrobe was in a tight space for photographing but I think you can still get the idea. I will include a better photo in a later post.



Now that it's done, the manrobe actually belongs to Tilly (the lucky duck!) though, I have thought of usurping it many a time. Let me tell you, it's love between this manrobe and I...and commitment; when we were looking at flats, a few had to be turned down because the manrobe wouldn't have fit through the door or up the stairs. In any case, it was a very fun experience and one that I hope to repeat. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hungry for Mise-en-scène...

No it's not some exotic soup, though we all know I am a bit of a foodie...I'm talking about The Hunger Games. No, I will not spoil anything for those who have not had the chance to see it yet. I'd like to think I will enhance your viewing experience, if I do say so myself. This will just be a short post and I hope it gives you something interesting to look for when you do venture out to the theater. 

I just saw The Hunger Games this afternoon at a Moms (Mums) and Bubs showing and without giving anything away, I felt compelled to share my particular love for the film's Mise-en-scène. What exactly is Mise-en-scène? Pretty much, it is a word that encompasses a film's visual or design aspects. 

From the very start, the costumery and styling used in The Hunger Games brings so much life and emotion to the story. This becomes especially apparent in the contrast between the people from the districts and those from the Capitol. The best example of this is seen in the main character, Katniss and that of Effie Trinket, though I am mostly focusing on Effie.

Effie and the others from the Capitol look exaggerated, garish, plastic, and decaying, which captures their inhumane and animal-like nature. This seems so fitting for a group of people who are entertained by watching youth fight to the death as an olympic sport.  

In addition to the Mise-en-scène, the cinematography also builds the characters of The Hunger Games. Effie Trinket is often filmed in close up shots which makes her appear looming, ruthless, and larger than life. 

This similar style was also used in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho to capture the characters that were meant to be obviously intimidating or posed a threat to Marion, such as Tom Cassidy and the police officer. 

I haven't read The Hunger Games books yet but it is always interesting to see how filmmakers translate the emotion and style of a book to the screen. It is also amazing how such attention to detail can either make or break the story. For those of you who have seen or plan to see The Hunger Games, I would love to hear your thoughts on the film.