Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The World According to ... Don Draper

As mentioned earlier this week, I am currently bingeing hard on Mad Men. 

Great stuff for a copywriter/content strategist and while he's not the only one on the show that inspires, Don Draper sure does come out with some absolute pearlers. 


 "Make it simple, but significant."

 “What you call love was invented by guys like me … to sell nylons.”

“It wasn’t a lie, it was ineptitude with insufficient cover.”

“There will be fat years, and there will be lean years, but it is going to rain.” 

“We’re flawed because we want so much more. We’re ruined because we get these things and wish for what he had.”

“When a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him. He has a million reasons for being anywhere. Just ask him.”

 “Advertising is based on one thing, happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams reassurance that whatever you are doing is okay. You are okay.” 

And if you ever find yourself in a tricky situation, wondering "what would Don do?" please refer to this handy infographic courtesy of The Oatmeal.

Make it simple, and check this out:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Expressions of Interest

This week I'm listening to ...

These guys are the winners of this year's Triple J Unearthed High and last week the show presenters were asking for people to listen to the finalists' songs and text in to let them know top picks.

The day before the winner was announced, I sent my take on the competition and my text was read out on Triple J's Breakfast Show (another item on the bucket list: tick!) I'm sure you'll agree it was such a witty and fucking insightful contribution.

.... I'm reading ....

An article on what inspires fashion icon, Valentino. "Red is a colour that is not shy." And neither is the man who had a Pantone shade of red named after him.

... I'm watching ....

I am well and truly Netflixuated. After discovering Arrested Development I ripped through 4 seasons in the blink of an eye. I have not roared with laughter so much in all my life. That family is so deliciously fucked up. Jason Bateman is a bloody revelation – definitely getting better with age even though he doesn’t ever look any older.

To fill the void in my life post Arrested Development, I have been steadily re-devouring Mad Men from season 1. At least one episode a night (sometimes 3) – I’m already making my way through season 4. That Don Draper. What can you say. The man was irritatingly, charmingly aloof. Sharp as a tack. Sexily confident. Even his detractors weren’t immune to his charisma.


... I'm thinking ....


Today I saw an older man dressed in a lovely suit, he had a brief case, an old fashion walking cane and wore a bowler hat. It was a pleasing visual moment in my day. Classic elegance never goes out of style.

You might also like to check out:
Expressions of Interest (June 2015)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Author Q&A: Claire Varley

Claire Varley

Claire Varley is a 29 year old Melbourne dweller, and the clever clogs has just had her first novel published.

This is her book:
The Bit In Between by Claire Varley, Macmillan Australia, RRP $29.99

This a story that explores identity, relationships, family, culture and the art of writing. It opens with a highly original and memorable beginning set in an airport lounge that may or may not have involved a full jar of sun-dried tomatoes and a lot of vomit. It is the meeting place of Oliver and Alison who fall in love right there and then (sort of).

With no other place to be, Alison follows Oliver to the Solomon Islands where he is planning to write his much anticipated second novel. But as Oliver's story begins to take shape, odd things start to happen and he senses there may be more hinging on his novel than the burden of expectation. As he gets deeper into the manuscript and Alison moves further away from him, Oliver finds himself clinging to a narrative that may not end with 'happily ever after'.

After reading The Bit in Between, I was lucky enough to quiz Claire on writing real, self discovery, inspiration and fate.

First of all – congrats on your first novel!
Thank you so much! 

Did you intentionally set out to write a lead female character that vomits, snorts and snores loudly but is still likeable and cute? (And why does she?)
As with all my characters, I aim to write people who are flawed and real. I didn’t intentionally aim for my characters to be likeable, just real. And real people vomit, snort and snore loudly, often in the same night if they have been imbibing.

Do you see family as an asset or a liability for the purposes of self-discovery?
Family are an absolute asset for self-discovery, you just have to be prepared for whatever it may be that you discover.

Was there any particular spark of inspiration that lead you to write this story?
I wanted to write something that explored fate and choice, and how much influence we have over where life takes us. I wrote it while living in the Solomon Islands working in community development, and wanted it set against the backdrop of a country so close to Australia that most of us know so little about.

Did you always know where the story would go/end or did it evolve as you wrote it like it did for Oliver?
The final scene was the first thing I wrote and then I had to work out how all the characters got to that point. It was lots of fun tinkering about working out how to pull the puzzle together.

Do you use specific incidents in your everyday life to your fiction?
Yes but not necessarily exactly as they occur. Sometimes it is more interesting (and fun) to alter the ending or repurpose the incident. I like to think of it more so as creating little Frankenstein monsters from all the things I have seen, heard, pondered or made up.

Do real life drama and experiences make for better writing?
Good writing is good writing, regardless of if it is based in real life experience. I would say that empathy and compassion enhance writing because they allow you to imagine your characters’ experiences, reactions and responses. It depends on the writer, but I write best from immersing myself in whatever I am writing about, so in my case I appreciate real life experience, but more often what I write is a pastiche of many many different experiences.  

Why did you include small asides to explain the backgrounds and circumstances of non-key characters throughout the book?
The book is both Oliver and Alison’s stories, and those of all the people they interact with on a fleeting or more meaningful level. I was really interested in the idea of fate and autonomy, and the fact that each of us is the product of the accumulated backstory that has led us to this exact point in time. The little asides are a way to explore these.

Why the Solomon Islands? (Was this just a brilliant tax write off?)
I was living in the Solomons when I started writing the manuscript, coordinating a project preventing violence against women and children in a remote province. It is an incredible country and I spent a lot of time listening to the stories of the both the locals and foreigners who found themselves there. In Australia, despite how heavily invested we are in the country in terms of aid and development and the logging and mining industries, we know so little about this country and I wanted to explore its history, cultures and beauty.

Who did you write the book for? Can you imagine who your readers are?
I know you’re not meant to say this, but I didn’t really write it with anyone in mind. I suspect most of my readers are related to me, but of those aren’t reading the book out a sense of familial obligation, I imagine they are lovely, open souls adventurous in their reading habits and appreciative of a well-crafted pun.

What’s your view on whether we all construct our own life’s narratives or are well mainly along for the ride and subject to fate’s whims or the plan of a greater power?
I suspect it is probably a mix of things. We’re at the helm of the ship but we can’t necessarily predict what the weather is going to do.

What is your drink of choice?
Water. I choose it above all else.

What is your dessert of choice?
The shared cheese platter for one.

Dream destination?
Driving first around and then through Australia, including sailing into the Tiwi Islands and Torres Strait Islands, and also hopping a ship to the Antarctic Territory.

What’s been the best little moment of your day today?
I have a head cold and managed to fit in a power nap between a radio interview and writing this. Subsequently feeling invincible and ready for my Wednesday night social netball game.

What or who do you read religiously?
Zadie Smith, David Sedaris and Annabel Crabb. I like to pretend that though we have never met, we are all actually very good friends.

What’s your current go-to music?
They Might Be Giants have been my go-to music since I was fourteen. I am a creature of habit.

How do you pronounce ‘project’?
Depends on if I’m saying project or project. You should pro-JECT your voice when facilitating the PRO-ject. I say both like a pro.

 You can find out more about Claire Varley here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Crane Kick

Image souce

One of the most exciting things ever to happen in my adult life occurred in the gym this week. During my Tabata class one of the sessions was dedicated to …. wait for it … The Crane Kick from The Karate Kid.

Finally! Here was my chance!! Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen to me as an adult. I’d all but forgotten it but my love for The Crane Kick has never left me. It has been woven into the very fibre of my being since I was a child. Make no mistake - when I was a kid I was The Crane Kick fucking master. For real! At the height of Karate Kid fever I discovered I could do The Crane Kick and from there on you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t great. 

I busted that move out at every opportunity. The Crane Kick to me was like singing is to Jamie Foxx – I was ready to unleash my talent on the world every time I had a captive audience whether they were even remotely interested or not!

Alas, as with many of youth’s immense pleasures (cartwheels, Coke spiders, sticking your fingers in your ears when someone is saying something you don’t want to know about) I stopped practicing The Crane Kick many decades ago.

Actually, I think I may have rolled out a revival performance in the kitchen late one Saturday night but my memories of this are hazy at best. 

So here, last Wednesday morning, was my chance at 41 years old to resurrect my old party trick. After a hiatus of many a decade, The Crane Kick wasn’t just a calling deep within me; it was a direct order from my TATABA instructor. Its execution was my mission for a dedicated 20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, repeat – alternating legs – for eight full on sets.

So, on her signal I unleashed hell. It was an all-out, continuous Crane Kick assault. Until I made two important revelations:

      1. While my right leg Crane Kick was still in top nick (all things considering), I’d never really refined my left leg technique. It took a lot more concentration and by the end it was looking less like a highly specialised martial arts weapon of death and more like an unco attempt at prancercise.

   2.   After the first 20 seconds, all-out continuous Crane Kick aint much fun.
The Lesson:
Look, practice may make perfect and all that bullshit, but too much practice is a pain in the arse. And the legs and the knees and you get the picture.

Upon reflection, I’ve also realised that there are a lot of fabulous things in life that aren’t much fun when you experience them unrelentingly repetitively. For instance:

  • Eating tuna on toast for lunch
  • Using the word ‘we’ to begin a paragraph
  • GIFs
  • The phrase 'Whoomp! (there It Is)’
  • The song Flashlight (soz, not soz - that song is like, never off the radio)
  • Lengthy web pages
  • The words synergy; benchmark; guru; leading edge; regroup; actualise; operationalise; anything ending in 'ise' or 'ize' 
  • Calling a journalist to ask if they got your press release
  • Facebook posts/blogs/tweets that self-promote
  • Puns (my son will disagree)
  • Rainy days
  • Croutons (I can give you the data on this one – too many will leave you feeling really nauseous)
  • Blatant sales pitches
  • Checking Instagram/Facebook/Twitter in the company of others
  • Photos/stories of your children
  • Requests for information via fax

  • Leadership spills
  • Doing things the same way as they ever were
  • The breastfeeding debate
  • Drinking shots
  • Excuses
  • The same friend running late
  • Giving (accidentally) bad advice
  • Fucking up their, there and they’re and you’re, your and yore (Seriously. How hard is it?)
  • Gratuitous email Reply All
  • Beards on young, gorgeous faces
  • Allowing a huge team to individually provide feedback on marketing initiatives
  • Bronnie B wears Prada

                  What about you? What have you had enough of already!?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015