What's your soap box topic?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA After writing this post about people who are completely passionate about their work, I got to thinking about things that really get me revved up. Things that make me talk like these people talk: on and on and on, because I'm really into what I'm talking about.

And right away one topic came to mind. It's my go-to soap box topic, except I'm not really complaining about anything. It's something that I honestly find MIND-BLOWINGLY FASCINATING and I am always mildly surprised and a little bit sad when I realise nobody else is there with me.

So here it is. Please imagine me talking faster than usual, and gesticulating wildly, letting my tea go cold or my wine get warm. It's possible my eyes are just a little bit cray-cray. If that scares you (erm, why would it?) feel free to click away now…

One day when the kids are all grown up and the mortgages are all paid off (in other words when I'm 90ish), I want to go ahead and undertake a PhD on the origins of religion and mythology. Proper research study, not anecdotal or speculative "the gods were aliens because you can only see the Nazca lines from above" stuff.

Because to my mind there are just too many similarities in the world's spiritual stories for there not to be a REASON. Look at the resurrection themes in the Christian and ancient Egyptian stories. Or the creation texts of the Jews and the Mayans: there's water, separation, a serpent, so many symbolic parallels. Water and a great serpent are at the centre of a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories, too. Now look at the demigods of the ancient Greeks and the Romans: they are the offspring of a human-divine pairing, and they are great and powerful heroes. Now take a look at the story of the Nephilim in Genesis of the Bible/Torah scriptures: they are the offspring of angels and human beings (other translations say "the sons of god and the daughters of men"), and they are known as "the giants and heroes of old."

I get that some of these stories travelled through cultures through wars and along trade routes, which COULD explain story parallels in, for example, the Middle East. But what about South America? Australia? There are SO MANY stories with similarities, all over the world and throughout the ages. Where did they start? Is there truth in any of these? If so, what IS that truth? Who started this millennia-old game of Chinese whispers?

Once upon a time our ancestors didn't worship any gods, and then one day they did. Archaeologists can trace the beginnings of spirituality and religion in our ancestors, through signs of belief in the afterlife. A long time ago when someone died, we left them and walked away. Presumably we grieved because presumably we loved, too, but once a person was dead there was nothing more to be done for them. But then we started burying our dead, and burying them with items of significance. Items to go with them into the afterlife, to ease their passage or make their existence easier once they got there.

WHY? Why did we start believing in life beyond the material? What happened? Did it happen in just one place and then word spread, or did it happen everywhere all at once and then the different peoples and cultures developed their own stories in isolation from one another? Was it an actual god? Many gods? A spectacular and/or catastrophic natural event? Heck, let's indulge all the theories for a minute. Did aliens teach us how to build the pyramids? Were the "heroes of old" actually just another race that existed parallel to us, like the neanderthals (who, btw, also believed in an afterlife)?

Mind blown, right? Right?


So that's my little soap box rant and probably you won't be that into it and to your face I'll say "that's cool" but in my head I'll be thinking WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD? WHY DON'T THEY GET HOW AMAZING THIS IS?

Deep breaths.

And now I want to know: what's YOUR soap box topic? What gets you REALLY excited, as in, almost as excited as the mystery of the origins of myth? I promise to listen. I do. I really want to know. Go!

Fan girl

AutographBookSometimes I really love how the Internet works. For example: A London-based actress by the name of Kate has a bit of a love for snail mail, and she stumbles across my Airmail board on Pinterest. This leads her to my blog, which leads her to my Instagram, where she leaves a lovely comment. That leads me to her Instagram, which leads me to her blog, which leads me to these very funny "Fan Girl" mock documentaries, that she made. And whammo, my breastfeeding entertainment for the afternoon is set.

Kate's idea for the spoofs came from a similar one that she made as an entry for a competition to bang the gong like the guy (you know the one?) at the beginning of the Rank Organisation movies. She won it.

So now, in case you're in need of a random little giggle too, I thought I'd share that original "gong" spoof with you here. And if the mood takes you, watch your way through the cute little Fan Girl episodes. I'm still smiling from my afternoon foray.

Meanwhile, I'm typing this post with my thumb on my iPhone during the 11pm feed. It will go live at around breakfast tomorrow morning, less than 24 hours after Kate first popped by to say hi. Shazam, speedy Internet.

(And now we will return to our more leisurely paced snail mail activities, which is how this all started in the first place).

~ Photograph of 1888 autograph book via Playing With Brushes, licensed under Creative Commons


naomi-bulger-laughter-NYWe all need it. Sometimes we really, REALLY need it. I needed it this week. The past few days have been, well... awful. Some pretty horrible stuff has been going down. Anyway, WE WILL ALL BE OK. Which is why it's definitely not as bad as all that, you know? And last night, I took a little break from it all. A friend and I went out to see Three Stuffed Mums, as part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival. There's nothing quite like a good belly-laugh with The Sisterhood, as we bond over those toddler Abs of Steel that appear when you're trying to wrestle them into a pram or car seat; or the fact that the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end when walking past a teenager's room because of all the static generated by their numerous electrical devices (not to mention the funky smell); or the sad reality that after performing the miracle of pregnancy, childbirth and often breastfeeding, most of our body parts now seem to want to head south.

I'm really grateful to these funny mums for comping me the tickets because not only was the show a great laugh and very close to home, it was also such a treat just to get out at night! It's so rare that I do, I'm always mildly surprised to see everyone else out and about and enjoying the evening, just as though it's a normal thing to do. I keep forgetting. This novelty was so profound that it wasn't even ruined by the fact that after getting all dressed up (read: put on lippy, swap flip-flops for heels and unearth a jacket without have spit-up on it), I couldn't find my umbrella so I had to walk down the street carrying Madeleine's miniature, multicoloured and spotty number to keep off the rain.

If you want to go see these mums and laugh along with them (and me), you can get your tickets here.

(Photo is an old one of me with two of my dearest girlfriends. It makes me so happy to look at this.)

Everything is amazing and nobody's happy

This clip just gave me a big ole belly-laugh. It made my morning and I hope it makes yours, too.

"Everything is amazing and nobody is happy" by Meowbay

"Everybody on every plane should constantly be going 'Oh my god! Wow!'... You're sitting on a chair in the air."

ps. Simpler days. Photograph by Charles W. Chushman is of New York in 1942, looking up 4th Ave from Astor Place with Cooper Union at right, from here. More about this incredible collection here.

Cat philosophy

Meet Henri, the feline philosopher. Oh how he breaks my heart! The mournful way he hangs his head while submitting to the indignity of having his butt hair trimmed. His slow turn to camera, bringing home the irony of a little sign, "Pay attention to the cat." ("Not that they ever do.") And oh! Henri! "Immortalised on the wall. Forgotten on the floor." I sob.

[youtube] Credit: I first saw Henri on Hila Lumiere's blog, le projet d'amour. You should visit her lovely blog now and if you like what you see (which I'm quite sure you will), vote for Hila in the Best Australian Blogs competition. (There are several pages of blogs, listed alphabetically, and Hila's blog is listed under the letter 'L' on page three as "le projet d'amour.")

Elsewhere: Today I'm back on the English Muse, bringing you a taster from the stunning Hindu Festival of Colours. Won't you pop in and tell me what you think?

Image from Pison Jaujip


Somewhere on Route 66 It was more than 100 degrees outside the car. As I rolled the window down to place our order at Burger King, I swear my eyelashes singed. The sun-faded speaker box asked what I would like for lunch today.

Me: One fish burger, and...

Speaker box: Chicken nuggets, yes. Y’all want somethin’ else?

Me: No, a fish burger.

Speaker box: Ah beg pardon, two chicken nuggets. Got it.

Me: No chicken nuggets! None at all!

Speaker box: Take a deep breath, honey. We’ll get there. Speak slowly.

Me: F-I-S-H burger. Fish, like, um, fish swimming in the water.

Speaker box: Got it. One water. Anything else?

Dance for joy

Happiness is infectious. Just seeing someone else's joy - like the little girl in this picture* - makes me grin, and a little of her happiness rubs off on me.

Do you remember Matt Harding? He shot to Internet fame a few years back for nothing more than dancing (badly) at numerous sites around the world. What a wonderful and ridiculous celebration of life. Go Matt!

Once, on the bridge in Avignon, France, I danced in public too. I knew I was supposed to dance, because the French song from my childhood told me so. Sur la pont, d'Avignon, l'on y dance l'on y dance, the song goes. (Rough translation: "On the bridge of Avignon, one dances, one dances." Please excuse my French spelling if it is off, it's been a decade or two.)

After this video became a bit of a YouTube sensation, Matt managed to get funding for a couple more world journeys, just so long as he was willing to dance in public again. Take a look at to find out more about his story.

[youtube] Now tell me: when joy takes you, just takes over and you are truly happy, what do you do? Me, I want to go sing with a camel.

*This image is all over the Internet, but I can't find the source to link to it. Does anyone know?

My dog the critic

This is me with my dog Oliver. People like him. Everywhere we go, he gets stopped and patted. And we go a lot of places. This dog has lived in Sydney and New York, traversed the east coast of Australia, and travelled through 22 States of the US of A.

So today I took my dog with me for a walk while I got my lunch and, on cue, an old man stopped us and started patting Oliver. "Floppy ears! Floppy ears!" he said to Oliver, and then to me, "Have you got time for a story?"

I didn't, but by then the story was already underway. The man told me he wrote Christian poems about Bible characters and some of them were quite long (oh goody). Then without warning, he proceeded to recite one of his poems.

I couldn't exactly pick the Bible character in it. It went along the lines of "I went to the beach with my girl Stella / But when I came back from the surf she was having sex in the shallows with some fella." I kid you not.

Stella, it transpired, was a dog with (and this part is very important) pointy ears. The poem continued for quite some time, while I shifted my feet and Oliver shifted his feet and the rain clouds gathered. I'll spare you the rest and simply cut to the stunning and compelling punchline, in which Stella gives birth to puppies with (wait for it) floppy ears.

"BAHAHAHA" the poet roared, holding his sides as he laughed and clearly very proud of his wit. It started to rain.

And in the pause that followed while I struggled to find something polite to say, Oliver said it all for me.

He walked directly up to the poet and vomited something white and yellow and foamy on the grass in front of the poor man's feet.