Dear Australia, It’s Okay to Celebrate Halloween

It’s my third Halloween in Australia. It’s not a popular holiday here, but according to the Australian social research company McCrindle, Halloween is growing in popularity with every generation.

Those in Generation Y (aged 18-31) were far more likely to have celebrated Halloween in the past than Generation X (aged 32-46) and the Baby Boomers (aged 46-65). When asked whether they had ever celebrated Halloween before, 53% of Gen Ys had, compared to 45% of Gen Xs and 40% of Baby Boomers.

Although I’m tempted, I won’t tell you that you “should” celebrate Halloween. Even though you should. Because it’s the most awesomest holiday. Instead, let’s talk about why it’s okay to celebrate Halloween in Australia.

Halloween is multi-cultural

The most common reasons that Australians offer for not celebrating Halloween is the perception that it’s American and the idea that it’s un-Australian. These sound like the same, but they’re not. Let’s look at them more closely.

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Halloween & Day of the Dead Prep Party

It’s my third Halloween in Australia! It’s not a very popular holiday here, but I’m fortunate to have some people in my life who love Halloween and the Day of the Dead.

Back in 2012, Theo and I hosted a pumpkin carving dinner party at our house and since then we’ve been gathering with my sister-out-law and her children to get ready for the big occasion. Last year, she made sugar skulls and we all gathered at her house to decorate them. This year, we gathered at the home of Theo’s niece and her fiancée for both pumpkin carving and decorating sugar skulls over a vegetarian Mexican lunch. Three years in a row; it’s officially a tradition.

Here are some of my favourite images of the day.


Every good cheese tray needs scary beetroot heads.

sugar skulls

My partner Theo decorating his sugar skull.

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Worldwide Photo Walk 2014

worldwide photo walk

Last year, Theo and I attended the Worldwide Photo Walk and we loved it so decided to do it again.

As the name suggests, Scott Kelby’s Annual Worldwide Photo Walk takes place in cities around the world. Photographers of all walks of life and skill levels gather to explore, shoot, and just hang out. Our local organiser was, once again, Robert Groom. Robert is a super nice, very skilled and creative photographer, and I know I can count on him to be awesome. Last year, he organised the walk in the Kyneton. Theo and I almost sold all our possessions to move there and take up residence in a dilapidated mental asylum. This year, the walk was in Trentham.

Trentham is a charming little country town about 97 kilometres (60 miles) north-west of Melbourne with a whopping population of 629 people. Although there’s not a whole lot going on there, it’s a nice place to visit. It has cute and colourful shops, cafes, and small town quirks. Its most compelling attractions are Trentham Agricultural and Railway Museum and nearby Trentham Falls.

This year, I snapped and processed all my images on my iPhone.

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Street Fight, Aussie Style

I don’t enjoy seeing anyone – or anything – fight and while I didn’t particularly enjoy this video, I found it fascinating. I’ve never seen such a thing other than in Looney Tunes cartoons. Behold, street fighting, Aussie style.

And then there’s these two arguing over who ate the last eucalyptus cookie and sounding like my dog’s squeaky rubber ball when it’s near the end of its life.

I’ve heard koalas can be vicious and, judging by those claws, I believe it. Drop bears, people.

Australian-American Roundup

Foster’s, Australian for beer. Throw a shrimp on the barbie. Lies, all lies.

As it turns out, Foster’s is an Australian brand of lager, but it was created by two Irish-American brothers who arrived in Melbourne from New York in 1886, and now it’s owned by a British brewing group. More importantly, Australians don’t actually drink it.

Outback Steakhouse? Yeah, that’s not Aussie either, but it didn’t stop some poor customer from complaining.

Image: themeandoggie, Reddit

Image: themeandoggie, Reddit

Outback Steakhouse is an Australian-themed restaurant, but prawns are called shrimp, chips are called fries, and I don’t recall the burgers having beet root or egg so what exactly is Aussie about it? According to its website, it’s the “consistently high-quality food and service, generous portions at moderate prices and a casual atmosphere suggestive of the Australian Outback.” I’ve never eaten in the Outback so I am unable to confirm the veracity of this statement.

By the way, if you’re a healthy type, it may interest you to know that Men’s Health magazine condemned Outback’s Aussie Cheese Fries as “The Worst Food in America,” with 182 grams (1,638 calories) of fat and nearly 3,000 calories per order. The signature Bloomin’ Onion sometimes goes over 1,500 calories.  And if you’re a political type, it may interest you that Outback and its founders are major contributors to the Republican Party. So, lies, heart attack on a plate, and Republican – three good reasons not to eat there. Your mouth is watering right now, isn’t it?

In other amusing Aussie-Americanisms, there’s this hilarious entry from my fellow expat Cristin, 25 Things American Expats in Australia Inevitably Think.

12. Where’s the closet?

13. Where’s the air conditioner?

14. It is FREEZING in this apartment.

I sympathise. Don’t skip the comments.

I think Cristin should consider expanding her list and submitting it to Buzzfeed. They are geniuses for listicles such as 25 Things No One Tells You About Leaving Miami.  I do miss Farm Stores, but it’s true that my hair looks better in Melbourne.

While I don’t normally condone experimenting on children, I’m certain that there’s research value in having American kids taste Vegemite. Science, people.

And finally, there’s this gorgeous timelapse video of Australia’s Gold Coast.

I hope you enjoyed this little roundup.

Have you seen anything awesome lately?

Metropolis Bookshop


I did not take this photo. I may have borrowed it from the web.

A long time ago, my sister-out-law took me to this incredible bookshop. At the time, I didn’t know Melbourne and the location of this store did not register in my relocated brain. We walked there, stepped into the building, walked up three flights of stairs, browsed for an hour, paid for our purchases, walked out,  down the stairs, out of the building, and I had no idea where this bookshop was, no idea where I was. I only barely remembered the book store’s name. However, I was certain I loved it and I made a mental note to ask my sister-out-law about the location, but I kept forgetting. Recently, I made a point to return to Metropolis Bookshop. Armed with the Google Maps on my iPhone, I easily made my way there.

Metropolis is that shop that has books you didn’t know you wanted – quirky children’s books, pop culture casebooks, creative artsy-fartsy hipster stuff, and serious volumes of fashion, photography, art, architecture, advertising, and design. Metropolis also carries humorous postcards and beloved Moleskin journals. It’s that store where you buy stunning coffee table books that you give as gifts with tremendous regret because you secretly want them for yourself and if only your friends were as good and thoughtful at giving presents as you are.

Metropolis Bookshop is tucked away on the third floor of Curtin House on Swanston St. It has a strict no-mobile policy and an open floor plan that makes browsing easy, but they kindly request you don’t take more than a couple of books off the shelves at a time. Many of them are large, heavy, and pricey so it’s understandable.

Metropolis Bookshop is one of my favourite book shops in Melbourne. I always spend more there than I intended. I went there with the intention of buying one thing, just a Moleskin notebook, but I couldn’t help myself.


Do you have a favourite book store?

Ello, How Long Will You Be Staying?

Ello logo

Have you heard about Ello?

Ello is all the rage right now. Ello claims it was originally built as a private social network for artists to share their artwork, but so many people wanted to join it that it overwhelmed the servers. They built a public version of it. It was created by white bearded hipsters so it has a manifesto. It declares that, on Ello, we are not products, unlike on that other social network that is “owned by advertisers” and collects and sells our data. It’s all very idyllic.

The site’s creator, Paul Budnitz, initially comes across as the male version of the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl.’ “I create beautiful things that change the world,” he says in his Ello profile. He lives in Burlington, Vermont selling the “most beautiful city bicycles in the world.” He founded Kidrobot, which makes designer toys such as a silver Homer Simpson buddha statue. According to his personal biography, he writes books, makes films, and collects “cultural wearable artifacts,” such as a classic pair of Air Jordans that he sold for $16,000. His eyes shoot lasers. -Kashmir Hill, Ello vs. Facebook

Ello says it’s about audacity, beauty, simplicity, and transparency.

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You Never Lamb Alone

Did you know Aussies love lamb? In fact, in 2010, roast lamb was declared the national dish by popular vote. It is a beloved Sunday night ritual, the roast lamb dinner. The roast lamb is typical prepared with rosemary and served with potatoes and other roasted vegetables.

Naturally, lamb gets a lot of media attention and some humorous advertising. Here’s the latest from Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

I like the ad, but where’s Sam Kekovich?

For 10 years, Sam Kekovich has been the “Lambassador”. He’s been warning Aussies on Australia Day of the dangers to the Australian national identity if it doesn’t eat lamb. Who could forget the Barbie Girl commercial?

Alas, after 10 years, Kekovich may have retired from his lambassador position and opened the way for a new body of creative ads, or perhaps we have to wait until Australia Day to see more of him.

I never ate so much lamb until I came to Melbourne. How about you? What do you think of the MLA commercials?

Advanced Style

Advanced Style

“I think good style improves the environment for everybody.”

Ari Seth Cohen roams the streets of New York looking for stylish older men and women. He documents them in his street style blog, Advanced Style, and they also appear in his coffee table book of the same name. Now there’s a documentary.

Advanced Style examines the lives – and style – of seven New Yorkers between the ages of 62 and 95. Check out the trailer.

The film opens in Australia nationally on 2 October and will screen in select theatres. Visit this website to find out if it’s playing near you.

The trailer alone is beautiful and inspiring. As someone who wears mostly black, I could use a little colour in my wardrobe. I look forward to seeing the film.

Who or what are your fashion inspirations?

Stop Before It Gets Ugly Campaign

Stop Before It Gets Ugly print

Recently I wrote about Australia’s drinking culture and one effort to change it – Hello Sunday Morning. Here’s another.  The NSW Government and agency JWT Sydney have launched a new high impact campaign called “Stop Before It Gets Ugly”.

The campaign targets potential aggressors and those who can influence their behaviour in an attempt to reduce the number of people that are victim of alcohol-fuelled violence in NSW. JWT Sydney’s Executive Creative Director, Simon Langley, explains that, like Hello Sunday Morning, the goal isn’t necessarily to persuade people to stop drinking altogether, but rather to recognize where the “tipping point” is and stop before it gets ugly.

“Our primary target in the campaign is would-be aggressors. These are usually young men aged 18 to 35 who regularly go out drinking with their mates. They are decent, likeable guys who wouldn’t normally behave in a violent or anti-social way, but need to be reminded that with too many drinks, things can quickly turn ugly,” he said.

The campaign also encourages friends to watch out for their mates.

What do you think of the campaign?

The Blog as the Hub of the Social Media Spokes


Image: DTTSP

When people ask me what’s the hardest part about blogging, I say it’s choosing a theme. After that, it’s making the time to actually sit down and write.

I haven’t been blogging much lately. It’s not because I don’t have anything to say. I have plenty to say. There’s more going on my brain than my mouth and typing fingers can keep up with. I could tell you about my recent experience working in Melbourne, my brother-out-law’s 50th birthday party at the historic Pentridge Prison, my thoughts on social media and community management following Swarm Conference, and the weird xenophobia I’ve been seeing. Coming up with ideas about what to write about is not a problem. Actually sitting down to write about it all is another story.

There are also times when I come across great images and stories and think that I would like to share those here, but I don’t because I question if that’s the type of blog this is, which led me to ask myself about what kind of blog I want this to be. I’m still an expat, of course, but after nearly three years in Melbourne, the honeymoon is waning, this is becoming home, and my experiences are much more than travel tips and first time visits to the local zoo.

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