Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Who would think it?

The previous post was my 500th in just under a year of blogging.

I could never imagine, when I embarked tentatively into the world of blogging last January, that I would achieve 500 posts, let alone blog for almost a year.

I'm enjoying the blogging world immensely.

A mug

This morning I have christened my Country Road mug, a Christmas present, with my morning orange juice. In deference to my age and body condition, the juice was laced with Metamucil.

Christmas in Brisbane

The flight to Brisbane on Christmas Eve was uneventful, if forty-five minutes late. For the first time in my memory of many flights into Brisbane we landed from the south-west rather than from the east. This photo was taken as the plane banked to the right swinging over the Gateway Bridge and aiming towards the runway which can be seen upper left.

(Click all photos to enlarge)

Rather than stay at Ll and Fd's home, where Mt had already made arrangements to stay, I was booked into Brisbane's Hilton Hotel where I had also stayed for Christmas last year. The rooms are comfortable and the hotel's CBD location places it in easy walking distance for many of the attractions and activities. This photo was taken in the hotel's atrium. My room was on the eighteenth floor.

Predictably the days were set around food and eating. Even more predictably I indulged heartily in every meal and now face a new year with the usual intention of eating more sensibly in the future.

For Christmas Eve, Fd prepared a seafood meal continuing the tradition of his native Austria.

On Christmas Day, we had morning drinks at Ml's place, followed by light lunch at Ll and Fd's and later a full Christmas Night buffet and get together at Rs and Gg's.

Boxing Day was a casual dinner and DVD night at Ll and Fd's clearing up what food remained from Christmas Eve and Day.

On Saturday Mt and I had lunch by the bay at Scarborough and at night we joined the others and Mg and family for a birthday dinner at a bustling Indian restaurant in Toowong followed by coffee and delicious cake at Mg's home.

Then on Sunday it was lunch at the Paddington Tavern with a fish and chips dinner in the open at Wynnum.

That was a whole heap of dining.

I did manage to fit in some touristy activities between all those meals. I visited Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art to see its Contemporary Australia: Optimism exhibition. It was a quite a diverse exhibition and I especially enjoyed the various video items. A sign of modern times, I suppose.

Brisbane is no longer the big town almost city of my visits in my youth. It is thriving and growing at a bewildering rate. There are four high rise buildings well advanced in construction just in the space of this photograph.

I did quite a bit of walking, perhaps not enough to balance the heavy food intake, but some activity nonetheless. This photo was taken as I walked riverside on Boxing Day. I must try out the ferry service, seen here dropping off passengers at Eagle Street, on my next visit.

The flight home yesterday was smooth and on time and within half an hour of returning to my apartment I was into the mundane task of doing my laundry.

Life goes on.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Home...sweet home

I'm home.

Will post about my stay in Brisbane later but in the meantime thanks to those who left comments on my blog whilst I was away, especially those who left their Christmas and seasonal wishes.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas...

to those who observe this festival...and compliments of the season to all.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Left...on a jet plane

If departure was on time then I just took off on a Qantas flight to Brisbane. All being well, I'll be back in Sydney and online (live) again next Monday.

Happy times with your loved ones, everyone.

At the lounge (again)

Have checked in for my flight and am now in the Qantas Club Lounge again. As usual, checked in very early and have just over two hours before departure. Will try to discipline myself and keep clear of the free lounge food. With so many Christmasy type meals coming up in the next few days my ballooning weight really will take off.

Now to wander around the lounge and check out the eye candy in attendance. the North Pole...

(The New Yorker)

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

In Slumdog Millionaire, Dev Patel from the television series Skins plays the Call Centre Chai Wallah (Tea server) who appears on Indian television in Who Wants To Be a Millionaire and causes a sensation with his run of correct answers. The police interrogate him believing that he must have cheated and in a series of flashbacks we learn about his tough upbringing in the slums of Mumbai.

This is a terrific movie. The sights and sounds of India are presented so vividly that I felt I could smell the country as well.

The film has a terrific soundtrack and as a bonus concludes with a taste of Bollywood over the closing credits.

Chrissie Brissie holiday

I'm flying to Brisbane from Sydney tomorrow for a six days stay. It is a repeat of last year when I took advantage of the hospitality of friends (to misquote Blanch DuBois) and freeloaded into all their Christmas lunches and the like. And I did like, so I am doing it again this year armed with a backpack full of Gift Cards for a certain major Department Store chain for those who treat me best.

Coogee lunch

Had lunch (Monday) at the Coogee Legion Club with Rt visiting from Queensland, his cousin Jf, Ae and Hn.

We were not greatly inventive in our ordering. Apart from Jf who ordered a smoked salmon salad we remaining four all ordered a veal and prawn dish in a mustard sauce. The veal was a bit overcooked according to Ae but I enjoyed it anyway.

It was a lovely summer's day if a bit breezy and our balcony table provided a delightful view of the ocean and Coogee Beach and especially of the bathers crossing the road from the beach in their speedos.

Unfortunately I left my camera in the boot of the car and therefore failed to take any photos over lunch which was a bit unfortunate with so much eye candy on display. In the absence of my own photograph, I have illustrated this posting with the above pic taken from the web. The pic is perfectly relevant as it is taken from the Aussie Bum collection and is called Club Coogee.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Dear Dorothy Dix #2

This is the second in an occasional series where I ask readers to answer questions about matters that have puzzled me.

In case any readers are in doubt, I am a gay man. I have always been a gay man, except for when I was a gay boy. I always knew I was gay even before I knew what being gay meant.

I am an only child and lived in a household where there was only me and my mother and my father. For my first twenty years the only things I knew about living in a household with a female were what I observed about my mother. Everyone knows that mothers don't count as far as lessons about living with females are concerned.

So it is only in my adult years that I have observed a phenomenon about living with females (for however short a period) that has me puzzled.

Why do females use so much toilet paper?

Whenever males stay with me I notice no change in my household toilet paper usage. Now I'm sure it can't be that no male who has ever stayed/lived with me has ever used toilet paper and yet household usage when one has stayed/lived with me doesn't seem to change from when I am alone.

But let a female in my home, even for a five minutes visit, and the toilet paper usage is not only noticeable but extraordinary. Reams of paper disappear in the wink of an eye. Telltale toilet paper leaves remain in the bowl after every flush and what is left on the roll trails across the bathroom floor almost to the door; a quite different sight from the neat untrailing roll evident when only males are present in the home.

Now I know that there are certain biological explanations to account for female toilet paper usage but, still, why do females use so much toilet paper? What do they do with it?

Sunday, 21 December 2008

This is movement...

(Pablo Picasso, Guernica 1937)

Yesterday I watched This Is Civilisation, a history of Western modern art presented by Matthew Collings.

It was an interesting program except for the fact that it made me feel sea sick. Not because it was set on water nor that much, if any, water was featured. Collings seemed unable to stand still. He paced backwards and forwards across works of art and when not criss-crossing art he strode purposefully through gallery after gallery or down long colonnaded walkways. He was like the Duracell battery.

I thought that with all this ceaseless walking he should have the build of a marathon runner. Yet he appeared to have a stocky, almost heavy, build. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, he was constantly short of breath.

Next time I watch a program with Collings in it, I must insist that an oxygen tank is on standby.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

What a sales act...

I rarely watch mid-morning weekday television.

You know the sort of program they screen then. Jolly human interest stories about celebrities, fashion and gossip filling in the gaps between commercials dressed up as conversations between a presenter and the spokesperson for whatever is being spruiked at the time. These can be anything from lotions that magically remove hair from unmentionable parts of the body to pills that extend your and your partner' to home computers that will turn your child into a genius at the age of three.

So it came as a surprise to me when I did watch twenty minutes of Channel 7's version of this 'entertainment' during the week when the spokesperson spruiking women's makeup was none other than Courtney Act.

There she was in full drag, with the most beguiling of sexy feminine voices, extolling the virtue of some brand or other.

The conversation was supported by a series of before and after photographs of a number of women concluded hilariously by a before and after view of Courtney herself.

The before view was, of course, a photograph of Courtney's alter ego, Shane Jenek, looking - in my opinion - extremely handsome and far prettier than Courtney. The conversation/commercial concluded with Courtney landing a lipstick smudging kiss on the cheek of the male presenter.

The commercial was a rare example of wit in the pantheon of mid-morning television.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Brandon Stoughton

(Pic from - click to enlarge.)

Brandon Stoughton is the man 'savaged' by Britney Spears in her Womanizer video.

Anyone who looks like he does in his underwear is hard to resist.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Security bells, security all the way

I'm feeling weary this evening.

I stopped by Country Road at Bondi Junction shortly after 9.00 this morning where they were holding the first day of a three days sale offering 30% and then a further 10% off that price on all purchases. The men's wear section was packed with people (mostly women) rifling through the men's clothing. I quickly selected a few T shirts and joined what was a pretty long queue for the cash register so early in the morning. There appeared to be plenty of staff accepting payments but the queue still moved at less than snail's pace.

I joined the queue at a point adjacent to the store's doors and my ears were assailed by the constant screech of the security alarms. I assumed the alarms were being set off by the security tags attached to our intended purchases as we stood in close proximity to the security readers.

But I couldn't work out why the queue was moving so slowly. Then I noticed that the staff were writing out credit card purchases by hand and using that old swipe machine system I haven't seen in years. It seems the computerised link to the Card Authorisers was down.

This was not the only difficulty. More than half the purchasers ahead of me had to return to the registers after their purchases had been completed because rogue tags still attached to some of their purchases were setting the alarms off as they attempted to leave the store. These people were buying so many items that the staff were failing to identify all the tags on their purchases.

To say I was having fun in that queue would be an overstatement. To add to my discomfort, half the women in the queue were pushing prams. These prams were proving unwieldy in the crowds and adding to the general sense of chaos.

I spent closer to half an hour than fifteen minutes in that queue and was glad to be out of the store (without further setting off any alarms) once my purchase was finalised.

Having survived that ordeal I ventured into Borders to look for a couple of books. Thankfully it was much quieter there and I was able to select and pay for two books without the noise and ado I had experienced at Country Road. Even so, whilst waiting for service at Borders I noticed the aftermath of a serious accident right outside the store. A bus had knocked down a woman in the street and she was being treated on the roadway with two ambulances and a hoard of spectators in attendance.

I made a comment about the accident scene to the young man processing my purchase. I had to repeat myself three times because he was wearing headphones (apparently listening to music) and could not hear me. He was totally unaware of the accident until I mentioned it even though it was right alongside where he was positioned.

From Bondi Junction I drove across to Broadway Centre to meet up with Kn for lunch. We tend to have our lunches there or at a small centre across the road during his lunch break from his job at nearby Sydney University.

(Broadway Centre today.)

The crowds were building at Broadway too and we had our lunch across from the centre where three 'hole in the wall' type Asian food outlets are located. We could choose from Vietnamese, Chinese or Thai and today we both selected from the Vietnamese outlet. In truth, the three outlets have similar menus despite their cuisine differences and my selection (Singapore Noodles with Chicken) was available at all three.

I enjoy lunching with Kn. I can be completely open with him about what is happening in my life and my mind. We usually update each other on our respective love lives, a report which rarely requires much time on my part. Kn, in his mid forties, is more active than I am but I was interested to realise that he too now is slowing down.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Mk and I went to the Wharf Theatre Monday night to see Rabbit.

I saw a new notice at the bar stating that patrons were welcome to take their drinks into the auditorium. I wondered whether this was one of the fresh directions taken by the Sydney Theatre Company's new creative directors, Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton. I'll come back to this point later.

The play has two threads running through it. The main thread being a birthday gathering in a bar by five late twentysomethings who, over plentiful drinks, discuss love, relationships and careers. The other thread, most of it in flashbacks, focuses on the birthday girl and her dying father.

The five party goers are well lubricated as the evening progresses and their conversation becomes increasingly raucous and argumentative. This was effectively portrayed by an attractive cast. There were plenty of laughs and my impression was that the largely young audience recognised the situation as one they had been in themselves and they enjoyed the work.

Mk, who is not averse to an evening of wining and dining himself, loved the play and its cast and thought the work had been well directed. I thought the cast had performed well but I was less enamoured of the play. As a non drinker the play reminded me of situations I had experienced when joining a sea of drinkers deep in conversations hilarious to them which remained coldly unfunny to me in my sober state.

Perhaps the notice inviting the audience to take their drinks into the auditorium was a hint that drinking along with the cast is the best way to appreciate this play?

In any event it occurred to me that the play is not one for teetotallers.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Rebecca Hall and Scarlett Johansson are best friends from the USA spending two months holiday in Spain. They are like chalk and cheese in their attitudes to life and when befriended by Javier Bardem, a painter with few inhibitions and divorced from Penelope Cruz, they predictably react in quite different ways.

This is a Woody Allen film without the oppressive New York angst (Spanish angst replaces it). The screenplay contains Allen's trademark quips and dense conversational style. Thankfully Allen does not appear nor is he heard and I enjoyed watching the attractive cast as they struggled, each in their own way, to come to grips with their relationships, loves and passion.

I think I could watch Javier Bardem read the telephone directory. He is an effortlessly sexy man which makes his scary, sexless performance last year in No Country for Old Men so remarkable.

The Spanish settings (apartments, cafe, street and rural scenes) are gorgeous. Allen is back in form.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Circus with a twist

This young man has his own take on Britney Spears' Circus.

Watch the ending for a giggle.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

A heady night was had by all...

Friday night was supposed to be my adventure trip to Kings Langley for dinner with 'the boys'. Against my better judgement I had agreed, rather than driving myself from home, to travel by train with some of the others and then be collected at Blacktown station to be driven to the restaurant. I would have preferred to have control of my own travel, especially for the return journey, rather than to have to rely on the others but I couldn't be bothered arguing the point.

On the Thursday, I started to develop a head cold with a runny nose and sore throat. I was worried that I would have problems attending Priscilla that evening but somehow managed to get through the performance on lozenges without disturbing others sitting around me.

I worked at the Hospital as usual on Friday although my symptoms steadily worsened during the morning. If any of the admitting patients that morning had procedures cancelled because of sudden cold symptoms then I offer my silent apologies. By the time I returned home at 2.30pm I was feeling pretty shitty.

I still intended to go to the Kings Langley dinner but I was worried that the weather (heavy rain, cold and wind) would only make my condition worse having agreed to travel there by public transport and therefore exposing myself far more to the elements than if I were in my car. I telephoned Ne half hoping the dinner might have been postponed but it was going ahead. After some discussion I decided against attending the dinner and asked Ne to pass on my apologies.

That night I drank copious quantities of tea with honey and lemon and then it was off to bed. I usually sleep naked summer or winter preferring to let my bits and pieces dangle unencumbered as I toss and turn through the night but this night I wore a warm sweat top to counter any draughts and hoped to sweat the cold out overnight.

I had an interrupted night. I felt hot all night long and also had to get out of bed a number of times to piss all the tea I had drunk earlier. When I rose Saturday morning I was still symptomatic but clearly feeling better.

Staying home was the better option.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical

Finally saw this stage musical last night just prior to the end of its second Sydney season. Derived from the movie Priscilla Queen of the Desert the musical relates the journey by three Drag Queens from Sydney into the outback, a journey of rediscovery.

Bouncing with a seemingly endless array of gay icon music and hilariously embellished by the most extraordinary costume design this is three hours of fun for the broadminded. Whilst there were many gay men in attendance, the majority of the large audience was clearly straight and it was heartening to experience their enjoyment and acceptance of the subject matter. The standing ovation at the end of last night's performance apparently occurs at every performance.

(Fellow Blogger) Steven, you said you would "die" if you had seen a certain commercial depicting a same sex parental couple on American television. You better steer clear of this show should it come to Chicago or else make sure you are accompanied by a (cute) medical professional for support!

Mind you, there are other dangers at this show. Sitting five rows from the stage I was hit on the head by a ping pong ball expelled by a female character in one of the show's many raunchy moments. Those who have seen the film might remember this particularly exotic aspect of the storyline. Just my luck to be attacked by vagina droppings!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Swedish meatballs?

I wonder if James watched this show whilst he was in Sweden? Apparently these are straight men competing in some type of game show kissing competition.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Telstra magic...pulling bills out of a hat

This is a photograph of Telstra's CEO in the act of conjuring up my latest bill.

How I love Telstra! All those memories of dialling their service centres, choosing from those exciting automated telephone options and being disconnected from their queues. I'm so pleased I'm one of their valued customers. Imagine how boring it would be not to be valued by Telstra and just in receipt of their standard rather than their valued service?

Some years ago I 'bundled' my Telstra services to take advantage of the discounts they offered under those arrangements. Apparently they could afford to offer the discounts in part because of administrative savings through 'bundling' my accounts and bills. I eagerly awaited the first of these 'bundled' bills, waiting expectantly for one jumbo bill to replace the separate bills I had been receiving for years.

A lot of time passed before the first of those bills arrived. Actually years passed by without such a bill. Well, let me speak plainly, no such bill arrived.

I thought I would telephone Telstra to enquire just when I could expect my first 'bundled' bill. I know that I really just wanted an excuse to try out their telephone service centres again. After all it had been a while since I had experienced the excitement of choosing which enquiry option I wanted and of course I really wanted to spend countless hours listening to thrilling music, interspersed with Telstra messages until it was time for my place in the queue to be disconnected. As it happens, I had one of those rare chance opportunities and was connected to a service operator who informed me that whilst my services were 'bundled' Telstra had not yet found a way to actually 'bundle' my bill. Thus I was reassured that I was in receipt of the best service that Telstra could offer.

Then a few weeks ago I received correspondence from Telstra informing me that I would soon receive an exciting new bill with an even more exciting new account number to cover my 'bundled' services. Sure enough, a few weeks later a new bill arrived by email and as promised it did contain a new account number. I could scarcely contain my excitement as I logged on to the Internet to pay this 'bundled' bill through BPay and what a little surprise Telstra had in store for me. My 'bundled' bill was linked to separate customer reference numbers covering sub parts of the account. How convenient! I made separate BPay entries for each customer reference number to pay the 'bundled' bill. Effectively nothing had changed.

And Telstra had still another little surprise. In the mail yesterday was a paper bill from Telstra duplicating the email bill it had sent me earlier. My 'bundled' email bill had given birth to an identical 'bundled' paper bill.

As I I love Telstra.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Who would have guessed?

This report was just read on a radio news bulletin.

"Sydney's traffic is slower now than four years ago, and we're being warned it's only going to get worse.

The latest Auditor's report has found congestion isn't getting any better.

Morning peak hour motorists on Victoria Road are only reaching an average speed of 23 kilometres an hour."

Did we need an Auditor's report to know that Sydney's traffic is getting worse?

Monday, 8 December 2008

Ghost Riders in the Sky

The Ghost Riders in the Sky by Vaughn Monroe was the Number 1 hit on the day I was born according to this site.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Searching for myself...

(Artwork: Raphael Perez)

As my blogroll suggests there are quite a few blogs I follow regularly. I'm impressed how so many bare their souls with beautifully written posts revealing their inner most thoughts and emotions. Breenlantern is one such blogger who writes vividly. Another fascinating blogger with quite a different style is Kezza. These are just two examples.

The more I read these blogs the more I wonder about my own emotion and passion. A cursory examination of my blog will confirm that I reveal far less of myself than do these passionate men. And it has always been that way.

Before my mother developed Alzheimer's Disease she often commented that I may have inherited her looks but that I am my father's son in character. Sometimes the comment was spoken in jest but as often she was admonishing me for an action or behaviour of which she did not approve.

My father belonged to that stoic generation of men who were quiet and did not show emotion. There was no such thing as a metrosexual in their day. It was very difficult to know what he was thinking deep down. I saw him cry just the once and that was the night when the Police brought me home to my parents after entrapping me at a toilet and, I suppose, the realisation of my sexuality hit him. He never cried again in my presence nor did he mention that night.

I didn't really doubt that he continued to love me, although he didn't state it but I was never certain what it was he was thinking.

In 1974 I was posted to London to work there for two years. Although I had travelled overseas twice previously on holidays, this was to be the first time I had lived away from my parents. They saw me off at the Airport. Within a week of my arrival in London I received a letter from my father. It was the only letter he sent me in my life (other than the briefest notations at the bottom of letters my mother sent). It was a beautiful letter. I had no idea that my father harboured such passion and love for me.

But that was it. He never really opened up to me again except for something he said to me less than a week before his death. He was in hospital and I was helping him from his bed to a chair by the window and he whispered to me "You really do love me". It was said as a statement of surprise. He was dead before the week was over.

And so here I am, my father's son - pragmatic as ever - keeping most of my thoughts to myself. This particular post notwithstanding.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

"I've been advised..."

Our new Premier, Nathan Rees, has the unenviable task of turning around the under performance of the NSW Government which has been lurching from one debacle to another.

I was listening to a radio interview with him during the week and his answers to question after question began with the phrase "I have been advised...".

Apart from the repetition being irritating this phrasing which seems very popular with our politicians at the moment seems a convenient way to avoid responsibility and hide behind the views and actions of anonymous public servants.

We elect politicians to make decisions and whilst it is appropriate for them to inform themselves on issues through advice and other sources, in the end they ought to take ownership of their decisions and expressed views.

Should I pack my passport and visa?

Every four months or so I have dinner with a group of former work colleagues and generally these are at restaurants in the Eastern or Inner Western Suburbs. These are areas convenient to where I live and with which I am reasonably familiar.

Following the usual email exchanges the next hookup has been arranged for Friday December 12 and this time will be at Kings Langley in a restaurant that one of our dining group has opened since we last got together.

Where the fuck is Kings Langley?

Friday, 5 December 2008

I can see clearly now....

I live on the fifth floor of a twelve stories apartment block whose external windows are cleaned every quarter by a company which employs fit young men who abseil the building to perform the task.

I'm rarely at home when they do the cleaning but one of my fantasies has been that I just happen to be in bed masturbating when one of the young men pops down to do my bedroom window. Of course, the fantasy is rounded off by him popping in to give me a to speak. Needless to say that fantasy, like so many others of mine, has never remotely come close to happening.

As it happens I was at home on Wednesday afternoon when one of the cleaners made his way down the wing adjoining my side of the building. Here he is cleaning a side window to my neighbour's apartment.


Australia is perhaps the most heavily promoted of movies in this country and any resident who is unaware of it can only have an abode six feet under. For their benefit, Nicole Kidman is the English aristocrat, Lady Sarah Ashley, who travels to Australia to confront her no good husband at his cattle station only to find he has inconveniently died. Instead she meets Hugh Jackman, the Drover, and then....well, you can guess.

I went to this film with Hn and Ae (with whom I holidayed in the Kimberley and Darwin only a few months ago) and with Je (who had visited the same region earlier). We all were interested to see the locations we had enjoyed on our holidays captured in the film. Ae had shared a convivial drink and more with neighbours earlier in the day and I was annoyed that she turned up so drunk that for a moment I had wondered if she had suffered a stroke. She tried unsuccessfuly to mask her state with makeup that reminded me of Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

We found our seats, in Ae's case robotically a la Herman Munster, and then endured thirty minutes of pre film advertisements mostly incorporating excerpts from the film to the extent that it seemed as though we had seen the entire film by the time the familiar 20th Century Fox fanfare trumpeted.

Finally, the film was underway and the first twenty minutes was an embarrassing representation of Darwin as it might have been portrayed by the Beverley Hillbillies. Kidman was all swagger and shriek during these scenes. At that point I reappraised my opinion of Ae. She had found the perfect state in which to view the film. My heart sank at the thought of nearly three hours more of this embarrassment.

As I was thinking the worst, Ae leant over, placed a sweaty hand on my arm and in a Vera Charles like 'stage whisper' heard by the entire audience conveyed her opinion, "this is dreadful". Her comment was so powerful that the film almost immediately settled down, dropped its - until then - cartoonish qualities and began to improve. Even Kidman toned down her 'performance' from this point.

The film's improvement now seemed to infect Ae whose stage whispers became fewer and less audible with each passing scene until she no longer resembled Vera Charles and started paying respectful attention to what was happening on the screen.

The horrendous first twenty minutes aside, the remainder of the film was not without its interesting moments. I tended to focus on the background scenery rather than the foreground action but elements of the storyline grabbed my attention as the film progressed. I have to admit that overall I enjoyed the film but it is not the masterpiece we might have hoped.

The young Aboriginal boy, Brandon Walters, steals the film and of the rest I thought that Bryan Brown did the least damage to his reputation in a comparatively small but important role. Jackman is presented as eye candy in figure hugging clothing and shirtless moments. Kidman's performance waxes and wanes rather like her lips appear to do from scene to scene.

I don't know what overseas audiences will make of this film and its strong Australian and Aboriginal references. One thing that Australia does not possess is moderation. Baz Lurhmann displays an unerring eye for cliche and not a single one is missing from the film.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Son knows best?

People of my vintage might remember a popular American family comedy television series in the 1950s called Father Knows Best. It was a hit series in Australia. The wise father who triumphed at the end of each episode with his unfailing wisdom was Hollywood star Robert Young. In that series the parents were always wiser than their children. This was scarcely surprising since they were alert, enjoyed good health and had the advantage of experience over their still adolescent children.

I wonder how those children would have managed in today's world taking on responsibility for their aging parents?

I am in the situation where I have taken on virtual parenting responsibility for my widowed mother who has advanced Alzheimer's Disease. I took over her care full time when my father died six years ago following a short illness and until her condition became too advanced for her to safely remain at home. Now she resides in a nursing home.

A long time family friend rang me this week to enquire what gift he could purchase my mother for Christmas. He hasn't seen my mother since she entered the home and I suspect cannot visualise what little awareness she has now of her surroundings. In these circumstances I feel that any gift is really just a waste of money as she simply would not be interested nor take any notice of it.

When I give her a card for her birthday and read the inscription to her, she looks at it briefly without really seeing it and then takes no notice of it at all. It is gone from her mind within seconds of me showing it to her.

I felt bad telling him not to bother with a gift both from the point of view that he might feel that I am brushing him off and for denying my mother a gift. I tried to explain the situation as gently as I could hoping he might understand and promised I would pass on his and his family's best wishes to my mother.

I do this regularly anyway, even though my mother no longer knows who I am referring to when I tell her about friends from her past. Indeed she rarely remembers her own name let alone mine.

In these circumstances I sometimes wonder does son really know best?

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

It has started....

Yesterday I attended the first of three works Christmas (or end of year) parties that are happening within eight days.

The first was the volunteers' party put on by the hospital which is very good at recognising our role. Each year the party includes the handing out of service badges and certificates recognising five, ten etc years of volunteer service. I received my five years' badge at yesterday's party which was accompanied by complimentary comments about my performance which were very nice to hear. Others received badges recognising five, ten, fifteen and (in one instance) twenty years of volunteer service.

I knew I was to receive the badge but I was surprised later during lunch when I was singled out for further mention and given a generous Department store cash voucher as further recognition of my efforts. I blushed with embarrassment when called to the podium.

The lunch was cold seafood and salad topped off with a fruit platter. There were no hot dishes (meats, pies, quiches) of previous parties. Seafood is not my favourite cuisine and I have to be cautious as I have sometimes suffered bad effects after a seafood meal. I stuck mostly to the smoked salmon and salad but risked eating a few prawns. Thankfully there was no adverse reaction and surprisingly I felt quite replete despite selecting a modest amount to eat. I really need to discipline myself to modest servings if I am to lose some of the unwelcome weight I have added to my frame in the past year (which coincides with my blogging life). Blogging is a weight hazard!

Unfortunately there were no cute men of the calibre in the photograph at the party.

Tomorrow, the Nursing Home is staging its volunteers' party and then next Wednesday it is the turn of the home's Day Centre.

The 'just ask' policy

(Taken from Post Secret)

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

American Teen

American Teen is a reality style documentary covering a year in the lives of a graduating class at a high school in Warsaw Indiana.

The film focuses on five students representing a spectrum of predictable types. I found the nerdy student, despite his acne, more attractive than the main sports jock although a secondary jock was better looking than them both. The secondary jock also seemed much older in looks than his classmates yet his behaviour at times was immature. Similarly the odd one out female student was far more interesting than the supposedly attractive class favourite whose behaviour at times was reprehensible.

I had a few laughs watching this and found the film an interesting glimpse into the American education system, so different from the system and school from which I received my education.

Overall, though, I found it difficult to believe that everything we see in the film was natural activity occurring without interference or direction from its makers.

Monday, 1 December 2008

World AIDS Day

1 December 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. In 1988, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the first World AIDS Day in an effort to raise public awareness about HIV/AIDS issues, including the need for support and understanding for people living with HIV/AIDS. The day is also an opportunity to highlight the need for continued development of education and prevention initiatives.

Over the past 20 years, World AIDS Day has been established as one of the world’s most successful commemorative days. It is now recognised and observed by millions of people in more than 190 countries around the globe.

All Australians are encouraged to wear a red ribbon during AIDS Awareness Week and on World AIDS Day.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Tripping the light tram-tastic

This post is for Andrew who leaves me green with envy over his detailed descriptions of tram travel undertaken on the extensive tram system in Melbourne.

Unlike Andrew, I could not say that I caught tram number X, then changed to tram number Y and ended up on tram number Z when I took Sydney's light rail to the Casino today to purchase my new Priscilla tickets.

Once the owner of one of the largest tram systems in the world, Sydney now has the one partially novelty, partially commuter service.

I took the light rail from Capitol Square (at George Street) to Star City where the Casino and the Lyric Theatre are located. I could have travelled for free as the conductor seemed to assume that I was Casino employee and did not seek my fare but being the honest soul I am I summoned him back and paid the $5.70 return fare. Most of the seats were taken on the outbound trip when I boarded and some of the passengers departed at the various Darling Harbour stops.

By coincidence I had the same conductor on the return trip and perhaps he remembered me or else once again assumed I was a Casino employee because again he did not approach me about the fare. I don't know why he would have thought I was an employee as I was dressed in casual shorts and a white T-shirt.

When I returned to George Street, the Christmas Parade was in progress and I caught the very end of it as it was passing by the Sydney Town Hall.

I had thought about using the monorail for the return trip but in the end didn't bother. I am still a monorail virgin having never travelled on it in all the years that it has been operating. My original resistance to using it was ideological as I was aghast at the eyesore spoiling Sydney's CBD when it was constructed. It has been around now for so long that it has become a part of the city and my resistance has dissipated.

See the light

The See the Light T-shirt in the photograph has been specially designed by Chris Cheng and will go on sale from World AIDS Day tomorrow. Thirty per cent of the proceeds from the sale of the shirt will go to the AIDS Trust.

If the model in the photograph is sold with the shirt then sales should go through the roof.

Joern Utzon (1918 - 2008)

Joern Utzon, the Danish Architect, who designed the Sydney Opera House has died in Copenhagen at the age of 90.

Sydney, in particular, and Australia, in general, have much reason to be grateful to Utzon.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Priscilla deserts us...

A couple of months ago Fs, in Canberra, suggested that we go with Bn to see the stage musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert which is currently on its second Sydney season. The first Sydney season was a huge success but none of us had gone to see it and this second season was scheduled to end on 18 January.

For reasons too complex for me to explain the only weekend that suited the three of us was the final weekend. I hasten to explain that I was available virtually every weekend but both the other two were heavily 'booked'. How is it that other people lead such hectic social lives?

Anyway Fs booked tickets for the evening of January 17, the second last performance, which we have been eagerly awaiting. Fs booked flights to Sydney for the weekend and had obtained the theatre and flight tickets.

Then yesterday, I was reading the Daily Telegraph and found deep into the paper a small paragraph stating that Priscilla is closing earlier on December 21, a victim of the financial crisis which has left its January bookings a disaster. I rang the theatre which confirmed the early closure and text Fs who had not heard the news. Fs is being sent a refund for the theatre tickets and with Bn will not be able to see the show before its closure.

My basically free diary allows me to seek an alternate performance but Fs and Bn are both disappointed. For once my lack of social life has worked in my favour, although I would have preferred to see the show with the others.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

A piece of Australia

Baz Lurhmann's Australia has opened. Much of it was filmed in the Kimberley District of Western Australia where I visited in August/September.

This is one of my photographs in the region, our wide land brown at the end of the dry season.

(Click to enlarge.)