Book Review: Weatherland by Andrea Harris

Book Review: Weatherland by Andrea Harris

Weatherland by Alexandra Harris is a sweeping panorama and magic carpet ride through the history of England using a quirky weathervane to measure the changing culture - the weather. Author Alexandra Harris’ debut book won The Guardian’s Book of the Year. It’s no surprise either because this is a far-reaching, expansive book written in an…

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Book Review: Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism by Camille Paglia

Book Review: Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism by Camille Paglia

Contrarian feminist Camille Paglia’s ideas infuriate most feminists. Her ideas are not for the faint-hearted or lilly-livered - she is a sex-positive, pro-abortion transgender woman with a no bullshit, straight-talking style that she combines with playful erudition and poetic pyrotechnics in this book. The New York Times review of her book basically called her a…

Travel: Wellington’s Chinese New Year Lantern Festival

Despite all of the media beat-up around Corona Virus, the Lantern Festival to celebrate Chinese New Year went ahead on Wellington's waterfront the other night. It was really beautiful, bustling full of people and one of those sacred and special Wellington evenings where there was virtually no wind and all was peaceful, balmy and summery.…

Book Review: The Future by Nick Montfort

Book Review: The Future by Nick Montfort

As long as people have been on this planet they have been formulating, imagining and planning for the future. And their individual and collective visions of this – their future-making and how they frame the future says a lot about the present. The Future by Nick Montfort is a fascinating look at futurism. From the…

Film Review: Corpus Christi (Boże Ciało)

*Contains no plot spoilers 4.5 stars Readers of this blog will know that I do love Polish culture and Polish films. Here’s another great Polish film that has come out recently and is currently nominated for an Oscar for best international feature film. Corpus Christi, or Boże Ciało as it’s known in Polish, is a black…

Strange Victorian Journeys Into the Fourth Dimension

Strange Victorian Journeys Into the Fourth Dimension

The last gasp of Victorian spirituality infused cutting-edge science with old-school mysticism. Theosophy was all the rage; Many weird and and wonderful ideas being developed at the turn of the century around death, ghosts, the fourth dimension filled the Victorians with a palpable sense of possibility.

Book Review: A Beginner’s Guide to Japan Observations and Provocations by Pico Iyer

Book Review: A Beginner’s Guide to Japan Observations and Provocations by Pico Iyer

Time magazine journalist and author Pico Iyer has lived in Nara (land of the rabid deer) in Japan for the past 30 years. In this book, Iyer follows his instincts to uncover the depths of the Japanese psyche, Japanese soul and character. This is fascinating to me because I am (in case you didn’t know)…

Travel: Eileann Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland. Copyright Content Catnip 2010

Ancient Word of the Day: Kawaakari

Kawaakari (Japanese) The glow of a river or stream in darkness or dusk, the gleaming surface of a shadowed river (Japanese 川明かり). Kawaakari can refer to the reflection of the moonlight off flowing water, or the gleam of late sun at dusk. Obumbro (Latin) To shadow over and over: to make dark with shadow; to…

Seven Tips for Writing Top Notch Travel Articles http://wp.me/p41CQf-5h

Ancient Word of the Day: Grimmelings

Although similar to the gloaming, grimmelings is a slightly different natural phenomenon at both ends of the rotating sun's traverse across the sky. Grimmelings - The first or last gleams of the day (Scots, esp. Orkney). From the Norwegian "grimla", to glimmer before the eyes, to twinkle or blink. Also "grimlins". Or “the harlot’s hour”:…

Book Review: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Book Review: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

In this funny, odd-ball and deeply emotional novel by Japanese debut novelist Sayaka Murata, we follow the book’s heroine Keiko, who is in her late 30’s and is working as a sales assistant in a convenience store, while living unmarried and childless (a mortal sin in Japan). Keiko has been bullied and friendless for most…

What do the longest living people in the world have in common?

Ancient Word of the Day: Rema

Rema (Shetland Scots) The mirror-calm surface of the sea on a calm day. A body of water with a surface as smooth as cream. Comes from the Scots word "reyme", meaning "cream"). Rjómalogn (Icelandic) Cream-calm, used to denote  profoundly tranquil weather or sea. Arafin (Welsh) Calm or slow weather in Welsh. blikkstille./ blekkstille (Norwegian) A…

Ancient Word of the Day: Philoxenia

Ancient Word of the Day: Philoxenia

Philoxenia comes from Ancient Greek. This literally translates to be "friends with a stranger". Philo - Friend, Xenia - Stranger. In Ancient Greece, hospitality was ranked highly as a personal virtue. Great honour was bestowed upon a guest by a host. If a stranger was to appear on your doorstep in Ancient Greece, you were…

Book Review: The Heading Dog That Split in Half by Brown and Tait

Book Review: The Heading Dog That Split in Half by Brown and Tait

Aotearoa has a rich and varied history of folk legends and urban myths in addition to the rich history of Maori myth and legend. The Heading Dog Who Split in Half collects these half-realised dreams together with stunningly beautiful graphics. This book makes for engaging and captivating reading experience for readers of all ages. The…

Te Ao Maori and the aesthetics of cosiness

An indepth exploration of the aesthetics of cosiness

There’s a lovely subreddit I recently found called Cosy Places, which calls for people to submit their log cabins, hideaways and cosy loungerooms. This is a veritable treasure trove of different ideas for cosiness. Someone even parsed the photo content in the subreddit and came up with the recipe and criteria that make up a…

Travel: A roadtrip through the remote Eastern Cape, New Zealand

People seldom visit the Eastern Cape of the North Island because of its complete isolation from the rest of the country’s bustling travel routes. It’s quiet in terms of other cars – there are none, except for the occasional local farmer and logging truck ferrying wood from forests to the port in Gisborne.  It’s an…

Political and cultural freedom in New Zealand has reached its most vulnerable point in history

Political and cultural freedom in New Zealand has reached its most vulnerable point in history

In the past week writ large across the world, we have seen how millions of people have protested extradition laws in Hong Kong. This would allow Hong Kong authorities to extradite Hong Kong residents to China for crimes they have committed instead of being tried in Hong Kong. New Zealand enjoys a free trade agreement…

Book Review: Life in a Medieval Castle

Book Review: Life in a Medieval Castle by Frances and Joseph Gies

Life in a Medieval Castle is one of a series of compelling historical reference books written by acclaimed husband and wife historians Frances and Joseph Gies in the 1970's. Life in a Medieval Castle (along with companion books Life in a Medieval Village and Life in a Medival City) were re-released in 205 under the weight…

Every Picture Tells a Story: A brief and enchanting history of Australian milk bars

A brief and enchanting history of Australian milk bars

Originally the concept of the milk bar in America was also a spin-off from the ever-popular apotheke-style pharmacists who dispensed medicines and often refreshing milk-infused tinctures to waiting customers. The customers often milled around or sat on bar stools at a long galley-style counter top. Originally, the pharmacists mixed the medicine with their backs turned…

A fat guy wears a T shirt saying - 'There are rumours floating around that I may be divine' - Chodza pogloski ze jestem boski

Travel: Kolejcowo is a cute and creepy version of Poland in miniature

Currently, I'm in Poland and I didn't hesitate to visit the Kolejcowo in Świebodzki Station in Wrocław. This is the largest model railway in Poland, but also a rather amazing depiction of how life in Poland actually looks. Everything, right down to the petrol stations, graffiti, and the shops actually exists in real life in…