At Home

Your Home Town Tavern

There are few things more appropriate for the home than your own bar. It is a place for reflection, celebration, and the occasional loosening of the edge. One of the advantages of a home bar is that they can come in almost any shape or size, any colour or style, leaving you with plenty of options to decorate, customize, and adorn with your favourite bottles of liquor.

On a recent trip to Canada, I came across two very different kinds of home bars. The first was a very compact, simple table top bar that was both elegant and defining. A silver crested tray that displayed a few bottles of expensive whiskey, a decanter, crystal glasses and an ice bucket. It’s what one would expect from an upper class home of subdued elegance. The other was your traditional man-cave bar setup, complete with hanging glass rack, bottles of college party fuel and a presence and style that screams “I’m here to party”.

Both can be good for your home and depending on the kind of space and layout, you can easily see which one suits your abode best. Each has their own way of saying “let’s have a drink”, the ultimate end result and the most important reason for having one.

When Ms. 3013 and I decided on having our own home bar we looked at the various options available in Melbourne. While we do not have the means to build a traditional looking bar, we thought that perhaps a simple table top lacked the kind of character that suited us both. We shopped around and found that you can find many pre-made bars that while serviceable, lack the personal options of wild colours and customized finishing. It wasn’t for us.

What can you do when you’re stuck between a limited budget and the desire for something more than straight forward?

You look around the house to see what you have.

What we did have was an abundance of unused IKEA hardware- in this case, two Forhoja trolleys. We liked their look and their compartments, and most of all, their size. Compact enough to fit into small living room areas, but large enough that you could find space for wine glasses, wine bottles, liquor, and a bit of personalized decoration.

Their price tag and Swedish construction meant that we could easily customize the trolley to a design and colour we liked to boot.

The first thing we had to do was pick a colour- something that pops- and after some browsing (ME: How about this one? HER: No.), we picked a pink-streaked orange that not only stands out in any living room, but suits just about any liquor palette one may have.

Dismantling IKEA furniture is a lot less painful than putting them together but we wanted to reassemble the finished work, so having a large and flexible working space is important. We did most of the work outside as sanding, priming, and painting indoors is best done in limited amounts. Sanding and priming the dismantled trolley is a step best taken with care as it makes a big difference in the finished look.

Good primer and paint takes significant time to dry, so plan your painting so that coats on different sides can be done all at once. After your desired layers of paint are completed, and your trolley has been put back together, you can think about additional features you’d like to add and just what you’d like your bar trolley to stock. We wanted some place to put our wine glasses and took inspiration from our friend’s man-cave bar and chose some simple hanging racks we installed under the trolley. Inexpensive, looks good, and for some reason, hanging wine glasses always makes a bar look a lot more appealing to the senses.

 

The next step after you’ve put your glorious new bar trolley together is to stock it with the most inviting bottles of liquor you can. The choices are infinite, but class is not. So avoid the cheap stuff and get your bar the kind of liquor your hard work deserves.

I’m a whiskey guy and Ms.3013 is partial to gin, so our first two choices were Royal Salute and Hendrick’s. You can’t go wrong with one or two of the high end bottles to help solidify your taste. It gives whoever happens across your bar the sense that you’re not only willing to go far to create something at home, but you take stock in having the best.

So how do you go about stocking your bar?

While it’s certainly fun to visit your local alcohol apothecary, there’s one better way to plenish your bar AND show it off; a stock the bar party.

It’s exactly what we did.

 

You’ve got to be confident when you throw such a fete. It’s not always easy to throw a party then ask its attendees to bring the fun, but there are a few ways to make sure it all goes according to plan.

It’s important to be clear about the party’s reason and to let your friends know how much work and effort you’ve put into creating the bar. It’s not about getting free alcohol (okay, it is a little), but more about coming together to celebrate good friends, a good home and yes, a toast to it all.

While it’s great to receive, it is also vital to provide. In this case, giving your guests some basic drinks on the house, like beer, soft drinks, and food, is a key part to any successful party. Sure, they’ll be bringing some great bottles of liquor, but what says great service more than being welcomed with a cold beer and some food? Trust me, they’ll remember it. We also provided a signature cocktail for guests to have, an option as easy as picking an interesting concoction online. We chose something summery and provided clear instructions on how to make it themselves and the necessary ingredients. What we got was a simple, but engaging way for guests to interact with each other, and our new bar.

Our friends have impeccable taste as some of the wine and liquor we received were not only of high quality, but were perfect additional to any home bar with a bit of class. The party was a success and is a great way to not only introduce your newly minted craftsmanship, but your home as well. The bar is now a focal point of our living room and it can easily do the same for you. Having a home bar can be a small but significant DIY project, one that can brighten and bring a space to life. Most rewarding of all is that you’ll have a place where everyone knows your name, right at home.

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The finished product

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Reality Check

Suburban Stickiness

My friend Louise has a strict “no crossing rule” in which she refuses to cross the imaginary border between South East Melbourne and anywhere past Lonsdale Street.

Getting her to attend functions and events in suburbs like Collingwood or Footscray is an act of mammoth undertaking. She hates the North and would rather believe the West didn’t exit.

She’s not alone either.

Why is that some, once they settle into a particular area, really don’t like to leave it?

Melbourne’s inner suburbs have as much personality as the spectrum of people that inhabit them. Like cultures, they’re stereotype forming, and each locale’s cast of characters tends to act as road markers on your drive between them.

Start seeing an abundance of beard sporting, barista working hipsters? Probably driving through Northcote or Fitzroy.

Girls who go to the gym looking like they’re clubbing? Probably South Yarra.

Getting mugged? Probably out West somewhere.

Yet while we’re all drawn to our own comfort post codes, one discovers that venturing far out of them presents many richly rewarding things you’d never find confined within your own suburb. By venturing out, I don’t mean a Sunday trek to a revoltingly hip Thornbury café from your Hawthorn safety net, but rather picking up and moving from North, to South East, to West, or any combination of the above.

That’s what I’ve done since I moved to Australia. It’s worth it, and you really get to know the city and the weird, wonderful and differentiating qualities of each compass point. You discover hidden treasures that exhibit the quirks you tend to only find in the Northern or Western or South Eastern suburbs.

Sure, it’s easy to stick to what we like and become regulars, to get caught up in suburban stickiness. But from my experience, Melbourne is a much better place to live if you’re willing to transplant yourself every few years.

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Photo by: Mat Connolley

Preston, or Depreston, was the first place I lived in Australia and won’t ever land itself on the list of upcoming suburbs of Melbourne, but it’s not without its charms (no matter how far and few they may be). The suburb was ranked pretty low (all the way down at #145) in a 2011 survey of Melbourne’s suburb liveability, and I don’t think there has been much development since.

Median house prices are still decent for Australia but you can’t escape the dilapidated air of oldness that permeates through the area. I suppose the most endearing part of it was seeing the very worst before working my way up.

However, the one good thing about Preston is its proximity to some of Melbourne’s most hip-to-be postcodes- most notably Northcote and Thornbury.

Some of Melbourne’s coolest and most talked about venues are scattered through the North. Music, food, drinks; you really can’t go wrong with what you can find on Smith and High Street following its resurgence in 2005.

My two personal favorites continue to be the Northcote Social Club, where I saw a host of incredible bands come through and play and the Wesley Anne. The latter, a converted old church turned into a bar/restaurant, boasts a great outdoor area and terrific food. Both are great places to hang out, drink and if you’re so inclined, see live music.

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Moving to South Yarra from Preston is the difference between New York and New Jersey, night and day. The architecture is much nicer, the people are better looking, and you get the sense that you’re actually living someplace instead of being part of the background montage of the “Streets of Philadelphia” video.

You really don’t understand how convenient South Yarra is until you someday leave again, with the wealth of everything literally at your doorstep. Trains at an abundance and trams criss-crossing in every which way, the suburbs locality is its biggest asset. Sure, things are a little dearer on the wallet, but the advantages of convenience often outweigh monetary concerns (otherwise, how would 7-Elevens stay in business?).

South Yarra station is great because it is just a few stops away from Southern Cross station, meaning people too cheap to pay for a cab to the airport are within reach of the much more affordable SkyBus option.

Food was always great living in South Yarra. No matter your tastes, there’s something in the area to fill your stomach. My favourite was Pacific Seafood BBQ House, a Chinese joint that boasted cheap $10 meals and the pricier gourmet banquet style dishes. The hostess was the grouchiest, unhappiest person in the world (in 3+ years, I didn’t see her smile once) but getting your fill for a single bill in the area was always worth it.

South Yarra continues to rank high in its liveability but unless your bank account is constantly in the 7-8 digits, you can probably forget about owning property around here.

However, unlike Toorak’s glamorous living, South Yarra still has its character. Whether its cool bars like Maya Bar or affordable restaurants, they are hidden in plain view alongside the glitzier facades that line Chapel Street (avoid).

You can walk to just about everything in South Yarra, something you can’t say about a great majority of locales around Melbourne outside of the CBD.

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The trembling the West can cause to some…

I heard it all when I first arrived in Melbourne; don’t go out West. Terrible place everyone said; “unsafe!”

Truth is, anywhere in Melbourne can be unsafe if you’re not smart about it. And the kaleidoscope of culture you can indulge in over the West Gate Bridge is something well and truly worth your time.

I moved out to the postcode which this site is named after with Ms.3013 and while there are still severe rough patches that plague the West, there are so many great gems that one would be amiss not to discover them.

Sure, you could be happy living in the confines of the Yarra (South), but then you wouldn’t be just a walk away from places like the Cornershop (best scrambled eggs with parmesan, cavlo nero & soft herbs in the business) or the majestic old Sun Theatre. Lately, Yarraville Park has become home to a host of food trucks that make any weekend night a perfect outside spot for food ranging from American BBQ to Vietnamese street food. And who doesn’t like indulging in freshly torched crème brule from a tiny truck with the entire neighbourhood?

We’ve found a little space and a little quiet this side of town and while there’s a lot of work to be done Westside, there is an air of ascendance in its optimism- that these suburbs really are up and coming.

No matter which part of Melbourne you currently call home, there should be no reason to confine yourself to any boundaries.The best parts of the city are scattered all across its landscape.

Why would you limit yourself?


 

Photos credits:
St Kilda: Donaldytong
Smith St: Mat Connolley
Chapel St: Stonnington Council
Sun Theatre: Grayline

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Reality Check

Living, Mostly

It’s hard to believe that it’s been close to 15 years since I first started an online publication. It was a steep but incredibly rewarding learning curve- talking music, film and culture from the perspective of a third-culture kid who had just returned from a lengthy stay in the US.

I loved punk rock, I loved Hollywood and I had a lot of stories about growing up in Indonesia to tell. The outlet, Sound the Sirens Magazine (born from a Kid Dynamite song), was my way of reconnecting with some of the bands, friends and life I had left behind in Philadelphia and Stockton upon my return to Jakarta.

Online publishing was a different beast then, pre-out-of the-box content management systems meant the landscape for web publishing was relatively sparse, but ripe for those looking to find an outlet for their stories.

I connected, I wrote, and I communicated with old friends, new ones, bands, labels and writers who shared the same focus.

At its apex, Sound the Sirens Magazine received some 3000 unique visitors a day and interviewed artists and bands biting at their chance to find an audience. Some of the bands today are some of the biggest in the world, and looking back, it was a privilege to have connected with them during their ascendancy.

Travel and time changes a lot, and as the magazine shifted countries again to Australia, it had to evolve and change as the life around me did. It changed its name, to The Marshalltown, it spent a lot less time being updated, and somewhat found itself like many of its contemporaries- uneasy with transitioning from content and substance to journalistic instant gratification.

I tried it, and I hated it, and I still do.

So for the past few months I’ve been working hard to find a new spot on the already packed vista of online publishing; one free of click-baitism and marketing schemes.

Thus the launch of Three Zero One Three; a new publication about living mostly.

Every idea here, every story, every piece of writing is about a connection through shared, interesting, and sometimes towards-the-fringe ideas.

Ideas about travel, reality, at-home and life living the things we feel are worth it.

Some of the writing here will go against the grain because that’s who I am, and some of it, through age and grace, will be seeing familiar ideas with fresh perspectives. Along the way, there will be plenty of different voices who will share their own views and opinions; writers and individuals from all corners of the globe.

It’s called Three Zero One Three because it’s the postcode in Australia where I currently call home but there are no borders and boundaries here.

Welcome. Let’s make the act of reading and writing on the internet enjoyable and personal again, all of it.

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Trailers

Trailer watch: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Producer Michael Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) are bringing everyone’s favorite heroes in a half-shell back to the big screen and have unveiled the first trailer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; the reboot for the storied franchise.

The new film is the first live-action since TMNT III in 1993 and the first big screen venture for the turtles since 2007’s animated TMNT.

The reboot stars Megan Fox as April O’Neil and weirdly, William Fichtner as Shredder. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opens August 8th.

Check out the trailer:

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Trailers

Trailer watch: Transformers: Age of Extinction

The first full length trailer for Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction has premiered on Yahoo! Movies. This is the second piece of footage from the movie after the 30-second Super Bowl teaser we got back in February and shows the scope and new characters from Bay’s fourth outing with the franchise.

Age of Extinction takes places several years after the events of Dark of The Moon and features an all new human cast led by Mark Wahlberg, Kelsey Grammer and Stanley Tucci. The younger cast features the likes of Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor replacing the now-gone Shia LeBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. While the cast is new, we can see Michael Bay’s direction and style hasn’t altered much from the first three films.

Dinobots, an evil Kelsey Grammer and continued Bayhem packed into two and a half minutes of Transformers-charged footage makes for a great sneak peak into what June 27th (June 26th in Australia) will bring.

Have the humans finally turned on all the Transformers after the events of Dark of the Moon? Will the Dinobots be the final ally (or enemy?) of the Autobots? And will the fresh cast and direction of the film pump new life into an already successful global franchise struggling to win over critics and old-school fanboys?

Check it out:

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Trailers

Trailer watch: Guardians of the Galaxy

The first interstellar trailer for Marvel’s anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy premiered on Jimmy Kimmel Live and is now online. Star Chris Pratt was a guest and brought along the trailer; the first extended footage from the film. Set to hit cinemas August 1st, Guardians of the Galaxy will be the first big Marvel venture into their universe’s lesser known characters, and is the final part of Marvel’s Phase 1 films before the next Avengers movie.

Anyone who stayed for the end credits scene in Thor: The Dark World would have gotten a taste of Benicio Del Toro’s character The Collector from the film, but now we get our first real look at wacky characters like Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Guardians of the Galaxy stars Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper.

The film’s official synopsis reads as follows:

In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill / Star-Lord finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan. In order to evade Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a group of misfits including Gamora, Rocket, Drax the Destroyer and Groot. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand — with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

Check out the trailer below:

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Film Reviews

Film Review: RoboCop (2014)

In 1987, director Paul Verhoeven made a subversive film detailing the destructive nature of human corruption, greed, capitalism and privatisation masquerading as a man in a suit of armor. The film of course, was RoboCop, about detective Alex Murphy who is brutally wounded in the line of duty only to be brought back to life as a half human/half robot dichotomy of machine-like efficiency and human emotion. The film was, on all accounts, a resounding and violent success; the accompanying gravitas added by the burgeoning excess of the 1980s.

Fast forward more than two decades and Brazilian filmmaker Jose Padilha’s first venture into English-language film is Hollywood’s revisit to Verhoeven’s classic. Looking at RoboCop (2014) from a distance, its easy to point out what fans of the original may have issues with. Among them is the film’s PG-13 rating, toning down the original’s purposeful violence and bloodshed. Yet as Padilha makes his way through modern Detroit’s Omnicorp-laden landscape, we’re given a brand new palette in which to immerse ourselves in- one that succeeds for the most part.

The Killing’s Joel Kinnaman is the new Alex Murphy- boasting the same kind of disheveled, gravely tone Peter Weller had in the original- he does a great job of being both human and robotic. And while the dystopian picture given in Verhoeven’s original isn’t quite as present, we’re given the backdrop of continued Middle East tension as to why America needs robots to defend the streets instead of humans. At the head of Omnicorp is Michael Keaton’s Raymond Sellers, an astute businessmen whose motives seem to be driven more by money and success than crazed megalomania. His towering corporate stance is given an opposing shadow by Gary Oldman’s Dr. Dennett Norton (a scientist whose primary role was to create robotic prosthetics to those who have lost their limbs). Through this we see that not even Keaton’s character is decisively evil, just focused on turning over political law to suit his corporate needs.

The crux of the film’s problems may stem from Samuel L. Jackson’s annoying media figure Pat Novak. He serves as the host of the political talk show The Novak Element, which serves as the political commentary of the film. The cross section of this plot progression is a little clunky and somewhat distracting, and while attempts to help bring home the corruptive and unproductive nature of politics, seems to act as a very unsubtle way to hammer home the idea that the film is making political statements. It doesn’t quite flow as well as the same tactic did in Verhoeven’s other cult subversive statement Starship Troopers.

From here we see Kinnaman battle the aforementioned elements once he becomes half man, half robot. The robot suit is actually quite refined and very well done. While the original RoboCop was literally a giant walking tin can, Padilha has managed to craft a sleek, agile and contemporary version of the suit that plays well into the character’s ability to undertake advanced police work. The best parts of the film are when Alex Murphy battles himself to overcome the robotic sedation of his human side. Credit to Padilha for giving RoboCop agility not only in combat, but in connection as well.

The biggest gripe of the film is perhaps Padilha’s reluctance to let the film become bigger than it is. Perhaps in fear of becoming a by-the-numbers action vehicle, the final third of the film is lacking one last big set piece. It would have been a great way to truly pay homage to the original but replicating its destructive violence- not for it to become just another action film- but to resonate a point the way the 1987 film did.

Fans of the original will undoubtedly complain about RoboCop (2014) shortcomings in comparison to Verhoeven’s. In truth, these two movies come at two very different times in our society and what was cultural shocking and subversive in 1987 needs to be finessed to an impatient and smart audience in different ways. The film is good, and is enjoyable as it is- a sleek, rather subdued but emotionally deft action film- just don’t take it for anything more.

[rating=3]

 

RoboCop is now playing in Australian cinemas and will open in US cinemas February 12th.

 

ROBOCOP
Directed by: Jose Padilha
Written by: Joshua Zetumer
Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Abbie Cornish, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman
Released by: MGM/Columbia
Running time: 118 minutes

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