Wednesday, 30 December 2009
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Monday, 28 December 2009
Looking out from my kitchen window a few minutes ago. It is pouring with rain. And showers are forecast for the next five days through to New Years Day. This could ruin Sydney's NYE fireworks display.
This is the worst Christmas weather I can remember in Sydney for years. Pity all those overseas backpackers expecting to regale their relatives back home in the freezing Northern Hemisphere about their hot Christmas spent on Sydney beaches only to find the weather cool, grey, gloomy and wet.
Mt is flying in from Ballina this evening to stay until Saturday and when she gets here will probably wish she had stayed at home. I've warned her to pack her umbrella.
Sunday, 27 December 2009
A group of fourteen year olds is discovering relationships, love and (imagined) sex in and out of school. Viewing this film it seems that teenage schooling is little different in France from what we see portrayed in American movies. It wasn't what I remember from my mid-teenage days, around forty five years ago, no less, but then I went to an all boys school and at that age was already well and truly a gay boy.
Notwithstanding scenes of shared - but not mutual - masturbation, the characters in this film remain steadfastly hetero.
Saturday, 26 December 2009
The annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race gets underway today on Sydney Harbour. The starting gun is fired at 1pm on Boxing Day.
Photograph taken from my balcony several minutes after the gun with the fleet sailing up the harbour (away from the camera) towards Sydney Heads (to the right of the photo) where the yachts enter the Pacific Ocean for the trip down the east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait, down the east coast of Tasmania, into the Derwent River and on to Hobart (Capital city, State of Tasmania).
Yes, it is gloomy and rainy this Boxing Day in Sydney.
So, on Christmas Eve I uninstalled Chrome. Now it might be a coincidence but since that 'uninstallation' - is there such a word? - I have new problems.
For one thing I am having formatting difficulties creating new Blogger posts. Line alignment, font style and size have all gone awry at different stages.
Secondly, I can't get to my Hotmail email from the Windows Live Messenger box. Currently I have to Google my mail box.
Life was so simple before computers.
Friday, 25 December 2009
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Tuesday, 22 December 2009
This year at both the hospital and the nursing home I have received an embarrassing amount of gifts. I've even received a gift from an inpatient simply because she felt I put her at ease on her admission; that is, just for doing my job. The gifts include several hampers of goodies and far too many chocolates, the latter testing my sweet tooth addiction to the limit.
I'm sharing the chocolates around and trying not to get too big a head in awareness (to paraphrase Sally Field) that 'they appreciate me, the really appreciate me'.
Monday, 21 December 2009
Michael Sheen portrays Clough in an interesting study of genius, ambition, envy and revenge. The film does not require any knowledge of soccer; in fact the game itself only features occasionally. Sheen certainly is a versatile actor having recently played Tony Blair in The Queen and a vampire (I believe) in New Moon.
The film is also a fascinating reminder of the extent to which big time sport has changed in the intervening years.
Ironically, nowadays Derby County has dropped back into the second tier of English football whilst Leeds United is competing in an even lower division, albeit currently it's leader.
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Saturday, 19 December 2009
The Day Care Centre held its seasonal lunch on Wednesday; a buffet groaning under the weight of mainly seafood dishes. It was only the need for we able bodied volunteers to help serve the respite care guests that prevented a full scale assault on the table. It is extraordinary how some older people can turn into raiding marauders when offered a buffet of goodies.
The next day it was the Hospital's turn to provide a seasonal lunch for the volunteers. Once again a mainly seafood offering except this time the food was delivered to the table groups on platters, thus avoiding a Normandy landing type assault on the food. The service was loving if a bit haphazard. The Caesar Salad dressing arrived after the dessert whilst Ham and Turkey appeared well after the main course offerings. It would be churlish, though, to criticise such a generous offering and we had a fun time with our fellow volunteers.
Then last night I completed the week at dinner with a group of former work colleagues who selected a modest looking Thai restaurant at Newtown, Maggie's On Enmore, which served a delicious series of dishes. Thankfully, in light of the previous days, there was little seafood in the selection this time. By coincidence another, even larger, group of former colleagues was dining at the adjoining table so the reunion proved to be a much bigger night than expected.
I need to show some moderation this weekend.
Thursday, 17 December 2009
Actually, the plot details, it's consistency and logic, are of little importance. This is a large screen computer game where effects and imagination are the driving forces. On that score this is a very impressive film. It is the first time I have seen a feature film in 3D and it is certainly an involving experience. I felt myself dodging flying debris and other elements that appeared to shoot out from the screen and as no doubt countless others know you feel you can almost touch things that appear in the foreground of the action. The special effects truly are 'special'; not a single clunky one to be seen. The High Definition quality of the screening is excellent.
Australia's Sam Worthington is the hero, an injured Marine, who with others provides his 'genomes' and brain power to drive 'Avatars' to replicate and mix amongst Pandora's natives. The storyline of powerful forces attempting to take possession of the resources of others, as fanciful as this one seems on the surface, is an eerie coincidence given the film's release at the very time of the international climate discussions taking place in Copenhagen.
As wonderful as the movie is to view, it gave me a headache; a product of an at times noisy soundtrack, the 3D glasses that felt heavier on my face as the minutes passed and some slight motion sickness from the 3D effects.
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
I feel for the grieving parents but am unable to conjure any words of comfort for them in those circumstances.
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
I had imagined that at 3.30pm two Tuesdays out from Christmas I would not find the monster mall up the road from me at Bondi Junction too crowded with seasonal shoppers. I was wrong.
The warning signs were there with the queue of cars into the car park; itself renowned as one of the most frustrating mazes in Sydney. As it was a parking space magically fell vacant for me only ten minutes into my search for one. Then followed an interminable wait for the lift to the shopping levels. Thankfully the one that eventually arrived was not packed with mothers and their triplet size prams nor with families steering shopping trollies overloaded with a month's supply of food that would feed the entire US army in Afghanistan.
My own modest purchase of Belgian chocolates - a rather mundane seasonal present for a friend - was accomplished comparatively quickly followed by the completely unnecessary impromptu purchase of chocolate creams to assuage my sweet tooth.
I should have made a hasty retreat to my car at that point but I am easily seduced by those familiar Christmas Carols broadcast across the mall and they were sounding especially joyous this afternoon. So I hung around a while just listening to a few, humming along until the realisation that I was in danger of further impulse purchases not to mention losing complete track of where I had parked.
I then made as speedy a departure as queues, lifts, car park boom gates and exit traffic lights would allow.
Sunday, 13 December 2009
The salesman, with the New Zealand accent, assured me that it is an ideal, simple camera for a video novice. The fact that he was cute to look at and (unknown to him) gave me a tempting glimpse of skin and his underwear as he leaned over to retrieve something from under the counter, of course, played no part in my purchase.
As is customary with technology that I am assured is ideal, I struggled with the ostensibly plain language instructions but eventually got the camera and computer downloads to work. My test videos, which I intended to post in triumph on this blog, proved too jerky for me to publish although the quality of the picture - unsteadiness aside - is excellent. I will need to work on my steady hand.
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
The current Sydney Theatre Company production is The Mysteries: Genesis.
The program notes informed us that The Mystery Plays were religious dramas, consisting of a cycle of plays, that developed in Medieval Europe. They were performed on pageant wagons that travelled around the town to various stations, the audience travelling from station to station to view an entire cycle of plays.
This production contains three 'plays'; 'Adam, Eve'; 'Cain, Abel' and 'Noah's Ark' - spread over three hours. For the first and third plays the audience is seated on chairs or the floor or standing around the performance space according to its preference. For the middle play, the audience joins the actors on the performance space and mingles with them as they perform that play.
In 'Adam, Eve' God creates the Universe, Adam and Eve and we see them in the Garden of Eden. All the characters (God, Adam, Eve, Male Lucifer and Female Lucifer) are completely naked throughout this first play. Once expelled from the Garden of Eden, the characters, now dressed, perform the subsequent plays.
I'm not into religious works as a rule but this work, with it's sparse staging is told in an interesting way. Within minutes you scarcely notice the nudity of the first play which given the subject matter comes across as perfectly natural and relevant. The acting of the young cast is excellent.
The Company warned patrons that this is 'theatre for the adventurous' but to my observation last night's audience of all ages accepted the adventure with ease.
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Monday, 7 December 2009
They produce small scale productions of a range of works and for them to attempt a work such as the Broadway musical Cabaret is very ambitious indeed. Any production of this work inevitably risks comparison with the brilliant filmed version which left an indelible memory in the minds of all who have seen it.
Mk, Rs and I attended a performance yesterday with minimal expectations and were pleasantly impressed by the quality of the production and performances. Sure, it cannot match the gloss and detail of what would be expected from a fully professional staging but the reasonably sized audience in the intimate surrounds of the New Theatre clearly enjoyed what was on offer.
Sunday, 6 December 2009
The trailers for The Informant! are humorous and suggest the film is a comedy or satire. The use of 1970s style whimsical screen captions and background music - odd, given that the story is mostly set in the 1990s - added to my impression that we are meant to find this film funny but all the humorous bits were in the trailers. The film itself is...well...unfunny.
It is all played out in a sort of monotone and only piqued my interest in the final twenty minutes. Some members of the audience walked out, presumably bored, before the film was half way through and yet I heard one couple comment at the end how clever it was. For mine, this film is a disappointment.
Saturday, 5 December 2009
Friday, 4 December 2009
I dread any occasion that I have to contact them about one of these services. Every call goes through automated 'gateways' to an operator who can be anywhere around the country. Bad luck if that operator cannot resolve my query because all follow up falls back to the customer. Telstra doesn't appoint a case officer to sort out the problem, nor does it initiate any calls to the customer or provide the customer with a direct number to pursue the follow up. Every follow up starts the enquiry anew.
My latest enquiry is why changes to my Foxtel service which should have occurred automatically last month have not proceeded. It has taken three calls this week (each one handled from the start as a new enquiry) to establish that the impediment is that Telstra, which has my address registered separately for each of those services, has my apartment number missing from one of those registrations.
Can you believe that this requires internal Telstra referral to its IT Department and an unspecified number of days for the missing apartment number to be added to that one registration? What's more I have to ring them in a few days time to check that the address has been re-registered and when it has to then request the automatic Foxtel change.
Only days ago, Telstra announced the appointment of one Robert Nason to head a new "Customer Satisfaction, Simplification and Productivity Unit" and improve Telstra's customer service. I've written to him today with my complaint and I suggest any readers with their own Telstra problems do the same.
Thursday, 3 December 2009
The traffic reports on the radio were reporting the break down and reporting that the traffic build up stretched right back to Hyde Park in the city, about three kilometres back. The reports pointedly noted that the taxi driver was refusing to allow his taxi to be towed away.
I was quite astonished by this. I would have assumed that police had the right to move a vehicle away that was obstructing traffic. These reports suggest otherwise.
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
As we continued to discuss it everything seemed so clear until I mentioned that a periodontist visit wasn't too different from the regular dental check up. Ja's face seemed to cloud over in doubt but she brightened and added that we all need 'happy feet'.
Now I was a bit confused. Turns out that Ja thought I was going to the podiatrist (foot health).
Mmmmm, a case of foot and mouth.
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Monday, 30 November 2009
In this case the short starter, a sort of Jewish fable, is entirely in the Yiddish language, with English subtitles and runs just long enough for half the audience to start to worry that they are in the wrong auditorium.
The main film that follows is set in 1967 in a Jewish community in a small Minnesota town where a Physics Professor is about to have his world unravel. His wife informs him that she is leaving him for another man, his free loading brother is engaging in increasingly bizzare activity, his foreign student appears to be bribing him for an improved test score and his employer repeatedly and unconvincingly tells him not to worry that anonymous allegations about his moral turpitude will affect his application for tenure.
All of this, and more, is played out in total deadpan style with the driest of dry humour. I imagine this film will make more sense if you are Jewish or at least are familiar with Jewish culture and practice but even then I suspect most viewers will scratch their heads and wonder how they might better have spent the two hours.
I rather liked the attention to period detail and also - as a lover of dry humour - had a few laughs but I would have been in the minority.
Saturday, 28 November 2009
The same cannot be said for my rediscovered aunt who also has dementia but surprisingly good short term memory. Having rediscovered each other after decades of separation my aunt now knows and remembers my single, childless status and has started to badger me about the joys of marriage and parenthood. She doesn't appear to notice the irony of what she is saying to me given that she was thrown out of her own home by her now deceased husband and has been completely cut off by her two children and four grandchildren, apparently for years, not one of whom maintains any contact with her.
Today my aunt told me that each week now she expects that this will be the week when I inform her of my impending marriage and parenthood. When I suggested that I was not likely to be making that lifestyle change now at the age of sixty, my aunt was undeterred informing me that it is never too late.
She must be influenced by Geoffrey Edelsten and Brynne Gordon who in a piece of 'celebrity' gossip disguised as news on television last night breathlessly regaled viewers about their wedding and parenthood plans.
Friday, 27 November 2009
With Australian politics undergoing historic fracturing I thought I would tune into this afternoon's broadcast of Senate debate on climate change legislation.
I sort of hoped, but in truth didn't really expect, to hear rational and reasoned debate from both sides of the political divide. The sort of debate that would assist listeners understand the issues and enable us to reach informed opinions.
Unfortunately, my worst fears were realised. The so called debate was an unbroken stream of abuse and disparagement - by both sides. Not a single speaker actually spoke to the legislation. It was non stop belittlement and mud slinging with the President of the Senate half heartedly attempting to control an endless run of interjections.
We, the tax payers, fund this kindergarten level of behaviour and we are not getting much value from our representatives.
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Of course many of those hits would be by people who opened my site randomly or unintentionally who then, being not interested in what they found, moved on in seconds. Fair enough.
For those who deliberately chose to read my site, and more amazingly to me return to read it again, thanks for your patronage.
Monday, 23 November 2009
The SMH's television guide this week previews the television series Hung which premieres in Australia this week and informs us that it 'is not just about a guy with a big penis who decides to become a gigolo'.
In an interview the lead actor, Thomas Jane, speaking about his character states
"He's looking around for a winning tool and he doesn't realise it's literally in front of him."
Sunday, 22 November 2009
Saturday, 21 November 2009
2012 is an update of the biblical tale of Noah's Ark with all sorts of modern nuances relating to good and evil. The planet is about to disintegrate because of a once in 640,000 years alignment of the sun and planets and this demise was foretold by the Mayan civilisation.
All of this is good stuff as far as disaster movies go although the test as always with this genre is how effective are the special effects. The answer in this case is that they are pretty good. Of course these movies are beset with implausibilities and inconsistencies and in that regard 2012 is a bit of a shocker. The viewer is best advised to switch off all logical thought for the nearly three hours it takes for the tale to reach its predictable conclusion.
There is a surprising amount of humour in the film; I assume intended, with Woody Harrelson, in particular, revelling in his kooky role. There is also plenty of irony; again I assume intended. One of the characters is named Noah and one of the escape vessels is named Genesis and on and on it goes. George Segal is wheeled out from his nursing home to take one of many minor cameo roles; another characteristic of disaster movies.
There is disappointing news for our esteemed Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, who is deemed by many to be seeking a prominent role for himself and Australia on the international stage. Regrettably for our Kevin, neither rates a single reference in this film.
On the other hand there is reassurance that in the planet's final moments, the world's mobile phone networks continue to operate very effectively in the remotest of locations, thank you very much.
Friday, 20 November 2009
From the outset his photographs have suggested to me a scruffiness and less than appealing standards of hygeine and now, if magazine reports are to be believed, he has admitted his personal hygeine 'is disgusting'.
Thursday, 19 November 2009
'Water views' is the mantra for desirable living in property obsessed Sydney and my friend Me's home meets that criterion in Sydney's ocean side suburb of Manly; or more precisely North Steyne.
I had lunch at her home today together with My, the three of us being workmates in the 1980s and later.
This is the view from her front terrace on which we ate our lunch. As you can tell from the sound, it was a breezy day.
Not a bad view to wake to every day, is it?
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Here is a photo of potential 20th Century movers and shakers. Well maybe not; I don't really know. It is the Double Bay Public School Transition class of 1955 (that is, the class between Kindergarten and First Class in Primary School).
The 'cherub' second from the right in the top row would not have known what a computer was in 1955 but now in his retirement he maintains a blog. Yes that is me, aged six.
Monday, 16 November 2009
Sunday, 15 November 2009
We moved to another spot about twenty metres away and continued our picnic there as preparations for the wedding continued. It turned out to be a Jewish wedding with a canopy and violinist playing Jewish tunes and melodies from Fiddler on the Roof. The violinist had to compete with the thump, thump, thump music drifting off the harbour from nearby leisure craft but he provided a pleasant background to our picnic.
The fairly formal dress of the wedding guests looked a bit strange in the park environs but gave us plenty of opportunities for gratuitous bystander assessments.
Turned out to be a good afternoon.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
It is the first time they have qualified for the finals series in twenty-eight years and the capacity crowd in the stadium erupted in joyous scenes at full time.
The scenes reminded me of the night four years ago when Australia beat Uruguay in Sydney to qualify for the finals for the first time in thirty-two years.
Australian players celebrate winning penalty 2005
Congratulations to New Zealand and best wishes to them and also to Australia who qualified again this time a few weeks ago. It would be ironic if the two countries end up in the same group at the finals.
Friday, 13 November 2009
I am lucky that I didn't lose the first of my parents until I was fifty-four and my mother is still alive; albeit with little memory or recognition due to dementia.
On the other hand I only ever knew one of my four grandparents; my maternal grandmother being the only one still alive when I was born and she passed on when I was seventeen. So I had only limited experience of grandparent attention.
I find it a bit odd that at sixty years of age I have acquired, uninvited, a proxy grandmother in the form of one of the other hospital volunteers who has taken a shine to me and off her own bat decided to guide me.
This woman is ancient. I'm not sure what her age is but to give you some idea of what she might be just consider that she completed more than fifty years as a nurse at the hospital and now has passed twenty-five years as a volunteer! I'm sure some of this must have been concurrent otherwise she would be close to a hundred or more now.
She wears rows of badges on her volunteer's blouse to mark the many milestones she achieved in each role such that she has the appearance of a Russian General bedecked in his service medals.
After my recent bout of vertigo following ear damage, proxy grandmother took to giving me advice on healthy eating. She started bringing in empty packages of food items she purchases for her own dining and runs through the cooking instructions for me (as if I am unable to read the instructions for myself) whilst patients queue up behind her waiting to receive attention from me.
Of course she is well intentioned but her total lack of awareness of the impact of these impromptu mentoring sessions is a bit embarrassing. I don't have the heart to cut her short and so bear with it until she feels she has provided me with the guidance she so clearly thinks that I need.