Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Seventh Commandment Exposed

Carl Jung said (and this is one of my favourite quotes), "I'd rather be whole than good". Well, knowing what you know about my past as a hypnotherapist and about the exploration of the human spirit through my fantasy comics and visionary fiction writing, I thought you might be interested in this article I stumbled upon "What Kind of an Adulter are You?" which is a summation of a new book by Mira Kirshenbaum When Good People Have Affairs: Inside the Hearts & Minds of People in Two Relationships. Here are the 17 categories she mentions:
1. Break out into self-hood
2. Accidental
3. Sexual panic
4. Let's kill this relationship (and see if it comes back to life)
5. Mid-life crisis
6. Trading up
7. Healing up your marriage
8. I just needed to indulge myself
9. Ejector seat
10. See if
11. Distraction
12. Surrogate therapy
13. Do I still have it?
14. Having experiences I missed out on
15. Revenge
16. Mid-life crisis
17. Unmet needs
The article and the book provide examples of each, but I think the titles are self-explanatory. One of the things I'm learning and appreciating the older I get is that life is not as black and white as we think and it is easy being judgemental when we are not faced with all the facts and the points of view of the various parties involved. This book promises to be a fascinating read, and it may also be an interesting exercise for Jozef and myself to run some of the Elf~Fin storylines through filters such as these just to see where characters are placed. 

A Storyteller's Past

Some of you may not know this but I was a clinical hypnotherapist and a PSH therapist for 11 years. I had four years of training prior to starting up my practice which was in the Macarthur area of Sydney in the first instance before I moved to the middle of the Sydney CBD. I loved it, and always thought I'd be juggling my writing career with my therapy career until I started getting a gut feeling that it was time to focus on the former. That intuition was constant for about six months and then I thought – okay, I've got to take the risk. I wound down my practice over an 18 month period, only seeing my established clients and referring new ones to my colleagues. The irony is that my business was doing really well and 50 percent of my clientele were word of mouth referrals. Although it was difficult to say goodbye, I took away a wealth of insight both into myself as well as the human spirit. For me it was an absolute privilege to have worked with many of my clients who took responsibility for themselves and their presenting problems despite great emotional trauma in their history. Many were able to move beyond their self-perceived limitations to find their authentic selves and begin realising their calling. Well, I just had a momentary flashback to those days because I just had a short case study printed in the Australian Society of Clinical Hypnotherapists' (ASCH) The Australian Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy & Hypnosis called "Accelerated Healing for Foot Surgery", which chronicles client Tamsin's (not her real name) hypnotic preparation for orthopaedic surgery and the aftermath. So why am I telling you this – firstly, it's good to get another publishing credit under my belt in an area I still feel connected with and secondly, because what I have learned from my clients is being channeled into my present and future – my comic book/graphic novel writing and the visionary fiction novels I want to write. So when you read Elf~Fin – Hyfus & Tilaweed and the various sequels – when you read about soul mate love, passion, betrayal, and intrigue in a fantasy setting – you will know that these issues were inspired by the very nature of our humanity and the modern day dilemmas we face from day to day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

San Diego ComicCon Wrapup

Check out the ICv2 report on this year's San Diego ComicCon, which attracted 125,000 attendees and a huge press contingent numbering the thousands. Tickets sold out prior to the actual event. Themes that emerged were the increased level of marketing in the form of displays and banners both in the venue and on the streets; the inclusion of many "scantily clad models" on booths; the competition for limited edition release toys; free swag; the overwhelming impact of television and film on the convention landscape; as well as the frustration of some comics purists about the apparent vanishing act of comics from the Con. Word on the street is that the vibe and energy was fantastic. Darn it that we missed it, but we don't want to head back to the States or any of the conventions until our product is out on the market. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Budha With a Thousand Hands

I was emailed this vid a couple of months ago and have been waiting patiently to post it once I conquered the YouTube embed function and worked out the functionality of Blogger. This performance piece moved me to tears. The performers are deaf but their dance of the hands is stunningly graceful and so precise that it made me wonder how they could interpret the music so well – I found out in the last few minutes where I saw two conductors at the side of the stage. It solved the mystery but didn't detract from my enjoyment. Each hand and arm reminded me of an elegant crane head and neck. The music is quite lovely too, evoking memories of Disney's Mulan soundtrack. The piece relaxed and soothed me – it was like being in a state of hypnosis – until the dancers stepped off the pedestal and the tempo picked up and they got jiggy with it. Anyway, decide for yourself if this worth the watch or not ...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dream on Fellow Dreamer Whether Ye be Believer or Athiest

Speaking of inspirational quotes, I finally got to finish James A Owen's accomplished fantasy novel Here, There Be Dragons on the weekend after many many interruptions (including hunting for a missing person at midnight in freezing conditions) to my reading momentum. The book has a wonderfully original premise which will add to the reading pleasure of the literary ones amongst who have extensively read both fantasy and children's classics. One of my favourite sections from HTBD was on page 218, 
"A little prayer?" said Jack. "To a constellation?"
"To what it represents," said Aven.
"But I don't believe in what it represents," said Jack.
"Prayers aren't for the deity," said Aven. "They're for you, to recommit yourself to what you believe."
"Can't you do that without praying to a dead Greek 
"Sure," said Aven, "But how often would anyone do that, if not in prayer?"
Mr Owen – methinks there's more to you than meets the eye in any bio I've read about you 

Soul Manna from Heaven?

Synchronicity, a sign, mere coincidence or random pain-in-the-bum spam? I received an email this morning that unlike the other spam which is trashed immediately, caused me to bolt upright and take notice – it was an inspirational quote that was quite apt for what I was pondering and the agitation I was feeling from operating in the realm of no-man's (or woman's) land of not knowing what is going to happen in my immediate future when a creative project is finished but yet unpublished:
Not being tense but ready. Not thinking but not dreaming. Not being set but flexible. Liberation from the uneasy sense of confinement. It is being wholly and quietly alive, aware and alert, ready for whatever may come. Bruce Lee
The email address was Angelwingspan.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Grand Dame

A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to watch an Enough Rope interview between host Andrew Denton and fabulous British character actress Miriam Margoyles, who is best known for playing Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter movies. I've been a fan of hers for a long time, having seen her feature film and on television in Baz Lurhmann's Romeo and Juliet (the nurse), Vanity Fair (Miss Crawley), and for her voice over work on Babe and Happy Feet. She is also said to have been the first person to use the word "F#$%" on British television (I am not a prude about swearing; I am just aware that there maybe youngsters reading this blog!). Anyway, I must categorically state that this was probably the best interview I have ever seen – Andrew Denton didn't need to say much at all. He merely prompted and then let her take over. She was articulate, she was hilarious, she was poignant, she was completely emotionally honest and she was profoundly brilliant. I've found some of the clips on YouTube. Go and take a look for yourself and check out the related videos (there are several parts to the interview including one saucy one listed there) and beware if you have tender sensibilities because she reveals much of what other people would not dare to acknowledge to themselves let alone to a huge viewing public. Miriam ... I give you a standing ovation!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Choice To Come Or Go

I just discovered the musical talents of Matt Marfoglia. I got so excited about his music I chose to "demand" he come to Australia through a website called Eventful.

Now to "demand" he come to Australia, I had to join the website, which I did. You can track your demand, create and share groups etc, and get updates and all sorts of offers.

The moment I joined I was flooded with emails offering all sorts of events around the world, and I wasn't too happy about that for that was not the reason I joined. I then decided, I had done my duty in "demanding" the musical artist come to Australia, and from thereon, I was happy to leave this site, and cancel my account.

Well I looked everywhere on the site where I could cancel the account, and this led me to the FAQ, and this is what I found...

How do I cancel/delete my account?

Unfortunately, we don't have the functionality in place to delete or cancel accounts. You can unsubscribe from any emails you're receiving, however.

Currently, the best solution to this problem is to do the following yourself:

1. Log in to and click on your username (upper right corner). This brings you to your profile page.
2. Click on every event, performer, venue, group and calendar which you have created, joined, favorited, friended, or commented on.
3. Delete comments, withdraw demands, events, performers, calendars, leave groups, and unfriend users.
4. Go to your user's preferences and change your email address to something unrecognizable
5. Delete any saved locations inside your preferences as well.
6. Remove any description or interests from your public profile section in the user's preferences.
This lengthy process effectively removes any activity you've done throughout our system. There is still a small chance you may show up in certain situations, and your profile will still be accessable and visible.

If you would like, you can then re-join under a different username. 
I was appalled. They don't have this functionality in place yet? And they present "the best solution to this problem is to do the following yourself"?

I totally disagree with this system.

The best solution is that they create the functionality to cancel and/or delete the account in its entirety.

So I did what I had to do to make this site disappear from ever annoying me again. I was so angry that my choice to leave was taken from me. The homepage on the website does not hint at this non canceling system they have prior to joining. So I'm warning others. If you want to join, it seems a fine site, but be prepared – there's no real way to delete your profile once it's up there.

I believe any community you wish to join whether in the real world or online, should have an opt-out facility and the right at any time to decide it's not for you so you can leave. Otherwise to me it reeks of a cult.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mermaid Treasures 5

Bought this tall hand-painted mermaid bucket (which I've also used as a vase on one occasion!) in Perth in the mid-90s when Black Mermaid (Classic) was still together. Bruce and Jozef loved it and it had pride of place in our office for a long time. Now it stands in my dedicated mermaid room – still as lovely as ever. 

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lily-pad Floating Cities

Read an interesting article by Health Gilmore in the Sun Herald (13 July 2008 edition) about a self-sufficient, floating lily-pad city for 50,000 people, inspired by the giant Amazonian Victoria Regia lily pad. The city is Belgian architect Vincent Callabaut's response to the global problem of rising sea levels, predicted to rise by about 10cm by 2100 and to swamp several small islands, ultimately leaving entire populations without homes. 

Mr Callabaut's computer generated design is of an amphibious city without any roads or any cars... Each city has a lake at its centre to collect fresh water and uses solar, wind and wave power to create energy... The cities even have mountains to give the residents a change of scenery as they float around the world's oceans.
This is a watershed Waterworld moment to be sure, albeit this is design is far more attractive than any of the industrial pontoon or tanker cities we saw in the movie.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Whedon Wonder

The ever reliable ICv2 website has just reported another Joss Whedon initiative – Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog – a three-act musical starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day that will premiere on the Internet. Act 1 will debut on Tuesday 15 July (oops-I missed it!), Act 2 on Thursday 17 July, and Act 3 on Saturday 19 July 2008. The entire musical will remain online till Sunday 20th. I love Broadway and Hollywood musical, as well as Buffy the Vampire Slayer so I remember the musical episode in the latter "Once More With Feeling" with great affection – this may prove to be just as good. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Americanization of Julie

No, not the similarly titled 1964 Julie Andrews film ... I mean me – Julie of Black Mermaid. I caught myself using the word "frosting" today instead of the Australian equivalent "icing". I have been using the word "zero" for "0" instead of the more prevalent (and yes, incorrect) "O" we use down under to signify nought. I'm not alone. I heard an Australian woman using the word "prom" instead of "school formal" and "sweater" instead of "jumper" on a television interview. The word "flip flops" is making its way into our lexicon to replace our word "thongs". Hmm, not quite sure what to make of it. I really do like our ideosyncratic Aussie variations of the English tongue. I've been compiling a mini-dictionary and tutorial of Australian slang and 'Survival Tips for Australia' which I sent to the fabulous Colleen Doran about six months ago in anticipation of a trip to Sydney. Unfortunately, she couldn't make it this year but I'm sure she'll "have it down pat" by the time she finally gets to our shores. In the meantime, if you want to get some practice words in yourselves go to the Aussie Slang Dictionary, and remember the golden rule – we contract everything (mosquitoes=mozzies; swimming costume=cozzies; Australians=Aussies [pronounced 'Ozzies']). And by the way, so you don't get confused at the shops, what Americans call "thongs" we call "g-strings"!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wonderful Waterhouse

A few savvy art connoisseurs have noticed that my FaceBook and Black Mermaid website photo has me posing in front of a print of John William Waterhouse's painting The Mermaid. Well, I adore Waterhouse's work and many other artists in the Pre-Raphaelite period such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I was particularly delighted to actually come across an original Waterhouse in Melbourne earlier in the year – Ulysses and the Sirens – which is housed at the National Gallery of Victoria. It wasn't as large as I had imagined (I had a similar experience seeing Da Vinci's Mona Lisa in the Louvre for the first time which really is really quite small) but it was sumptuous in colour and in the imagery. Thought you might want to take a look for yourselves and put it on your itinerary if you ever make it to Melbourne. 

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Too Beautiful

Just saw some photos for the first time from a dinner party I held last year. Here is a shot of the peonies I used for the centrepiece. They are my all-time favourite flower and they're in season in Australia for a mere six weeks from November into mid December. They make me swoon just to look at them. It's worth just getting married to have them in a bouquet!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Stella Awards Exposed!

Received an email yesterday about the so-called illustrious Stella Awards, apparently so named after an 81-year old woman called Stella Liebeck who took the lid off a coffee she had just bought from a McDonalds in New Mexico, USA, and then proceeded to put the cup between her knees while she was driving. The coffee inevitably spilled all over her and she in turn successfully sued McDonalds. The email then went on to outline seven cases that typified this brand of justice. Here's an example of number seven on the list:
Kathleen Robertson of Austin, Texas, was awarded $80,000 by a jury of her peers are breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running inside a furniture store. The store owners were understandably surprised by the verdict, considering the running toddler was her own son.
I was suitably amused and shocked but also rather skeptical about the content of the email, as I have come across fake emails before. Turns out my instincts were correct. Another person on the circulation list provided a link to the Rumor Has It website, which exposes the Stella Awards and the claim of "six outrageous-but-real lawsuits showcas[ing] the need for tort reform" as being utterly false. 

This is a fabulous website and I'm adding it to my 'must read' list. Some of the categories that dispell myth, legend and innuendo and that I'll be reading first include: Disney, Titanic, Weddings, Critter Country, Hurricane Katrina, and Lost Legends. Check it out, folks!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Midnight Morning Book Launch

Aussie comics artists Matt Huynh, Haline Ly and Will Loeng are launching their new art book Midnight Morning next week in Sydney. The book is a fusion of illustration, design and typography across digital and traditional mediums and is
"... a limited and handcrafted publication ... celebrating shared experiences of love and devastation... Midnight Morning is a love letter in pictures to the precarious moments teetering between yesterday and tomorrow that presents itself simultaneously as first, second and final chances for finding new loves and farewelling old regrets." 
Support these major talents by buying the book and attending the accompanying exhibition. The launch is being held on 17 July 2008 from 6.00pm at 12 O'Connell St, Newtown.

Old Dog, New Blog Tricks

Hi there,

I've personally not posted a blog yet with links or with any pictures ... and to be perfectly honest I still haven't looked at how to do these things on here. I'm one of those people that never reads and just throws away (or more likely misplaces) the instruction booklet for every new appliance I buy, and then bemoans the fact that I don't know how to use it beyond the most basic of functions.

Julie is WAY ahead of me in understanding this blog's functionality, so I will be exploring these things for my next posting.

Mermaid Treasures I'm told are my next topic... ;-)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mermaid Treasures 4

Received this whimsical hand-crafted and painted mermaid basin for Christmas a few years ago from my wonderfully generous sister, Tanya, who collects dragons in her own right. Fire and water – that's the Ditrich girls. The basin sits in a wrought iron frame and is about knee high. It was created by Aussie artist Danielle McManus from the Hunter Valley, which is a major wine-growing region in country New South Wales. I LOVE this piece – there's something quite soulful about it. My black cat Pimpernel loves it too – I caught her making herself comfortable in it the other day and I raged and stormed about with such elemental ferocity that she will not be seeking it out as a sleeping spot again any time soon. This is DEFINITELY one of my favourite pieces.

Working Hard

Lean times on the Black Mermaid blogosphere the last couple of days – we've been having Elf~Fin marketing meetings; Jozef's been designing a logo for the ASA Comics/Graphic Novels Portfolio; been talking comics contracts, ezines and secret portfolio projects with Jeremy Fisher, Executive Director, and Susan Bridge, Legal Officer at the ASA; had the Comics Mentor/Mentee meeting last night at a Sydney pub; pouring over lots of new mermaid books Jozef has just added to his private collection; and gradually working through our TO DO List. More mermaid delights to come – we promise! Hassle Jozef about his new mermaid tarot card deck ... I know he's been wanting to show you his latest acquisition.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Sorcerer's Apprentices

Dragon-meister and illustrator-magician James A Owen of  The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica fantasy books fame has resurrected an idea popularised originally by Renaissance artists – a master artist working with apprentices – although James has modelled his studio on that of Japanese Comics Studios. It's an intriguing idea and it solves the perpetual problem about artists having too many ideas and too many projects they want to work on but far too little time. Check out James's live journal The Wonder Cabinet for more information.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Narcissism 101

I really need to start de-cluttering my office again – I've been so busy meeting deadlines lately that I've just been throwing paperwork into corners and letting things pile up. What would Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer say to that (them of the fabulous book The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be who are huge advocates of spring-cleaning your life)?

I gravitate between two extremes – being exceedingly messy and being excessively organised. The strange thing is that the interior of my wardrobe, desk drawers, bath cabinet and work cupboards are perfectly arranged – the coat hangers are all identical and facing the same direction; the clothes are coloured blocked in themes and in seasons; my hair products are together, the shoes are colour coded in their original boxes and so on. However, the floors have stuff strewn all over them. If my life were a movie then these images would be a symbolic reflection and representation of my character – you'll all have to figure out what it is for yourselves. But let me cut to the chase...

I had an interesting email discussion today with two hugely talent artists/graphic novelists about dysfunctional people in this world, the latter of whom hold grudges and plot revenge over slights and challenges to their self-proclaimed mystique. Then, while I was cleaning out a box, I coincidentally discovered an article I had clipped about ten years ago during my therapist days. It had appeared in a throw-away Sydney-city magazine full of ads, but it was astute and concise enough to summarise a lot about what I had been thinking, and use it as a learning tool for some of my clients. Alas, I do not know who the author is/was as their name did not appear on my original ragged and torn copy of the magazine – I actually rang the mag a few weeks later to find out who had written the piece, but the person I spoke to hadn't the slightest idea of what I was talking about. So to the author of the piece I am about to duplicate, I hope you will grant me permission in spirit to spread your words of wisdom around to the Black Mermaid readers:

The Good the Bad and the Ugly
[Source: Unknown]
When self-confidence crosses a certain threshold it turns into narcissism. Therapy today is concentrating on separating the 'healthy' aspects of narcissism from the 'unhealthy' ones.

Healthy: Feels good about oneself, even if others criticise.
Unhealthy: Needs constant buoying up from others to have a sense of wellbeing.

Healthy: Copes with life's many setbacks, although may be thrown off balance for a short time.
Unhealthy: Reacts to the hurts and injuries of life with fits of depression or rage.

Healthy: Feels confident about his or her own talent.
Unhealthy: Needs to feel superior to everyone else, and seeks out recognition for that superiority.

Healthy: May be stung by criticism, but the hurt soon passes.
Unhealthy: Incensed by criticism and broods for long periods about it.

Healthy: Appreciates praise, but does not live for it.
Unhealthy: Has an insatiable craving for adulation; seeks compliments to feel momentarily good about oneself.

Healthy: Self-esteem is unfluctuating, even after rejection, disapproval or personal attacks.
Unhealthy: Reacts to rejection, disapproval or attacks with bitter rage or deep depression.

Healthy: Does not believe he or she is entitled to special or favoured treatment.
Unhealthy: Feels entitled to special treatment because they are not ordinary.

Healthy: Is sensitive to the feelings of others.
Unhealthy: Is insensitive to what others need or feel.