Saturday, 31 January 2009

Immune to violence?

Am I becoming immune to violence? I have never considered myself a violent person nor have I condoned violent actions by others.

I really enjoyed seeing the movie Slumdog Millionaire just before Christmas and although I was conscious that it depicted violent actions I was not concerned by those scenes. I was far more focused on the triumph of the main character against great obstacles and scarcely gave the violence a thought other than as a fascinating insight into the tribulations faced by some in a world so different from my own.

At first, feedback from friends was that they had enjoyed the film just as I had done. Now I have three unconnected friends who have commented how much they disliked the film because of its violence. One friend tells me she was traumatised by the film and another walked out of it early.

Isn't it interesting just how different people's perceptions can be of the one movie.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Not a-twitter today

Just as well I'm not into Twittering as I would have nothing to twitter about at the moment.

It was busy at the hospital today without anything remarkable arising. The most out of the ordinary event being the patient who prior to being admitted to the ward took time out to seek some needy individual on the street who could make use of his travel pass for the remainder of the day.

Another patient facing surgery later in the day wanted a coffee and asserted his doctor had instructed him to drink plenty of coffee in the lead up to the procedure. Of course, this was the exact opposite of what the doctor had instructed him but I suppose it was worth a try in his view.

Anyway, in keeping with my day of unremarkable activity it's time to do the laundry. Mmmmm, yes I know, pretty boring stuff. Sorry.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

I'm an Ox

(City of Sydney logo)

I neglected to mention Chinese New Year last Sunday.

This year is the Year of the Ox and I am an Ox. So it is a milestone year for me in Chinese eyes and indeed in my own eyes as I turn 60 during it.

According to the City of Sydney's website;

People born in the Year of the Ox are placid, patient and have great physical stamina. They are born leaders who stubbornly defend their opinions against any argument. 2009, the Year of the Earth Ox, brings additional straightforwardness and solidity to the Ox making them loyal and focused, with honesty and kindness.

I won't tell you which bits of that accurately describe me and which bits do not.

Anyway, 恭喜發財 to those celebrating this festival.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

It's still the same old it again Sol...

Telstra CEO, Sol Trujillo, weaving his magic to conjure up my High Definition Foxtel service.

You may be wondering how I have progressed with my attempts to lure some service out of Telstra.

The answer is not that far.

My formal complaint to Telstra generated a speedy automated acknowledgement stating that a consultant would endeavour to reply to my correspondence within two days. Two weeks on, there has been no response.

I approached the Telephone Industry Ombudsman and was told they can only pursue complaints about Telstra's telephone and Internet services, not its provision of pay television. When I asked whether the TIO would pursue Telstra's failure to respond to my complaint, I was told the same thing; only in relation to telephone or Internet services. The TIO referred me to the NSW Department of Fair Trading.

I approached DFT and their immediate reaction was to refer me to the TIO. When I pointed out that the TIO had referred me to them, they told me how to make my referral to DFT which I did the same day. So far, a week later, no response, not even an acknowledgement.

I also wrote to my Federal Member of Parliament asking for his office's assistance with Telstra but so far no response or acknowledgement from him either.

I have also made two further calls to Telstra (making five calls in all) and spoke to three further operators (bringing to eleven the number of operators I have spoken to). The latest of these operators, An, seemed the most clueful so far and also is the first to acknowledge how appalling Telstra's service must seem to me. An kept me on hold for over half an hour whilst he attempted to sort out the problem and it may be that some progress is about to occur. According to An, he has been able to update my current Foxtel package on Telstra's system which is a prerequisite to then processing the High Definition upgrade.

However for reasons I don't understand, the package update takes 48 hours to work its way through Telstra's system so I have to wait that period before Telstra can then process the upgrade.

Watch this blog.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Revolutionary Road

It is 1955 and Revolutionary Road is the neighbourhood where the upwardly mobile families reside. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio and their two children are amongst them, publicly the ideal family but privately unhappy and yearning for something different.

Each day, DiCaprio, commutes to the city, just one amongst a sea of grey-suited male breadwinners who occupy meaningless positions in the skyscraper offices.

This is a movie full of unhappy people and if you weren't feeling depressed before seeing it the odds are you might feel that way when you leave it.

There were some light moments although I wasn't certain whether these were intended or a consequence of weaknesses in the screenplay. The performances are mostly strong with occasional moments of melodrama. Michael Shannon, nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in this movie, stands out in the flamboyant role of an acquaintance under treatment for a nervous breakdown and regarded as crazy who ironically is the only one who sees what really is happening.

Sunday, 25 January 2009


At a Catholic school in New York in 1964, Meryl Streep is the feared Nun at odds with Philip Seymour Hoffman's Priest whom she accuses of acting improperly with a schoolchild.

Set almost entirely within the grounds and rooms of the school, the film depicts the discord between traditional religious beliefs against progressive religious views and contrasts the austere lives of the Nuns versus the chummy comfort of Priestly life. The audience observes the central conflict driving the story and is left to reach its own conclusions or doubts about where the truth lies.

This film, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning play which I saw a few years back at the Sydney Theatre Company, is superbly written and acted. Unsurprisingly, the four key performers all have been nominated for Academy Awards.

The score is love all

Last night I tuned into the Australian Open on my new super-duper 46" LCD television screen as Fernando Gonzalez was doing battle with Richard Gasquet.

It was close to the end of the third set and it appeared that Gasquet was about to win in straight sets. But Gonzalez fought back and with Gasquet struggling with injury the match turned into a thrilling slug fest of brilliant hitting and sensational winning shots.

Every now and then, I turned over to catch glimpses of the Rafael Nadal/Tommy Haas match being played at the same time but it seemed very tame by comparison. Not that the players were tame; on the contrary all four men are sexy - each in their own way.

But getting back to the Gonzalez/Gasquet match, each player had to call for medical attention and I was able to view close-ups of their tortured looking feet on my huge screen but more interestingly close ups also of their nice hairy legs. Well, at least Gasquet had hairy legs, it seemed that Gonzalez's beautifully tanned pins were smooth like professional cyclists' legs. I wonder if Gonzalez shaves his legs?


Anyway, Gonzalez eventually won the over four hours long match 12-10 in the fifth set. It was a terrific match and a great (sexy) view.


Saturday, 24 January 2009

Hot and cold

This hot swimmer is a cool image on another heatwave Sydney day.

Friday, 23 January 2009

After heat...

In case anyone out there is wondering how I got on in last night's heat the evidence of my subsequent post, after midnight, of the Academy Awards nominations would indicate that relief was not to hand (so to speak).

Well I made a pretty vigorous fist of it (to coin a phrase) around 2.30am and almost completed the job but as I predicted did not reach home base. Thankfully, though, it was enough for me to finally find sleep. Still, I feel exhausted this morning.

81st Academy Awards

The nominations are being announced as I post.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is nominated for 13 Academy Awards and Slumdog Millionaire is nominated for 10 Academy Awards.

Best Film

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Reader
Slumdog Millionaire

Best Actor

Richard Jenkins - The Visitor
Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn - Milk
Brad Pitt - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler

Best Actress

Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie - Changeling
Melissa Leo - Frozen River
Meryl Streep - Doubt
Kate Winslet - The Reader

Best Supporting Actor

Josh Brolin - Milk
Robert Downey Jr - Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Doubt
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
Michael Shannon - Revolutionary Road

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams - Doubt
Penelope Cruz - Vicki Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis - Doubt
Taraji P Henson - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei - The Wrestler

Thursday, 22 January 2009


It is too hot. It has just passed 10pm and the official temperature is still 29c after a day in the high 30s.

I know it will be difficult to sleep tonight especially as I am in need of another type of relief just at the moment that I would usually manage for myself but in this heat will find difficult to achieve. I better not say any more.

There will be a lot of fruitless tossing and turning in bed tonight.

As easy as...0000000

I pay most of my bills through the Internet using the BPay system and certainly find it far more convenient than the 'olden days' of writing and sending off cheques or lining up at the Post Office to make payments.

The system seems to work well and is pretty simple. However one of my recurring payments has a reference number of twenty digits. Twenty! There is so much scope for miskeying that reference number, especially as there are seven, count em, seven consecutive zeroes within the reference. Is such a long reference number really necessary? Most of my other bills make do with far shorter numbers; one recurring bill manages with just a three digit number.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Hope for the future

At about the moment that this (pre-ordered) post is scheduled to appear, Barack Obama is being sworn in as President of the United States.

There is a lot of excitement and anticipation surrounding Obama's Presidency. Let's hope our expectations do not overwhelm him, that his actions and achievements justify the current hopeful mood and that he is well supported rather than impeded by the Government agencies and bureaucracy.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

I've Loved You So Long

Kristin Scott Thomas on release from prison goes to stay with her sister and family where they discover each other anew.

The French approach their films so differently from how Hollywood would handle the same storyline. There are no great pyrotechnics apart from the climactic finale. Key details are revealed quietly and at intervals and for the majority of the film the scenes unfold slowly allowing for character development.

Friends had raved about this film before I saw it and probably oversold its qualities to me so that it wasn't quite what I was expecting but I still enjoyed it as an interesting story well told.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Its all Greek to me...

Last Saturday night was the night we were to have attended Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical. We had received our tickets but were sent refunds when the show closed earlier than scheduled just before Christmas.

Fs still had her air tickets for Sydney for the weekend and flew up for a bit of R&R and shopping instead. I caught up with her on the Saturday afternoon and we went to the movies to see I've Loved You So Long which I will post about separately. We met up at Dendy Opera Quays which has a great location for a visitor to the Sydney who is going to spend time at the movies. The backdrop of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, the milling crowds and imaginative buskers late on a sunny Saturday afternoon constitute a minor tourist experience all of their own.

As we made our way around the Quay after the movie I heard my name being called. Amongst all those crowds were Ly and Mt with whom I worked for years prior to our respective retirements. They had just completed a sunset Harbour dinner cruise, a Christmas gift from their sons, and were waiting to meet up with the boys. As it was only 6.45pm and with still more than an hour of daylight to go I thought it odd that they had already completed a 'sunset' activity and their dinner too. They didn't seem to mind; a sign of our age group I suppose.

We chatted a while and then Fs and I caught a bus downtown to have dinner at Diethnes, a Greek restaurant as old as I am. Fs had a posting to Athens a few years back and was keen to have a Greek meal so this old warhorse located reasonably close to where she was staying at the Haymarket seemed a good idea. I hadn't been to Diethnes for at least fifteen years and that last visit was probably at least fifteen years after my previous visit.

It is not bad value. A lot of the mains are less than $20. The servings are hearty and the service is speedy and fairly attentive. After a lot of umming and ahhing about what to order we settled on sharing a Mixed Dip for starters and then each ordered the Diethnes Special, which was lamb with a selection of their savoury mains.

This meal, just twenty four hours after Dear Doctor had instructed me to watch my diet and exclude almost every tasty food I love was perhaps not such a good idea. The lamb was tender and the savoury selection enjoyable but overall the meal was much more than I should have attempted to eat. I could feel the meal sitting in my stomach as we chatted at the table and I worried that I might stop breathing at any moment.

Rather than disgrace myself by falling ill at the restaurant I suggested to Fs that I walk her back to her hotel without delay. This would help me digest all that food sitting in my stomach and recover some sense of well being.

I have Afod's exhortation to eat smaller portions ringing in my ears even as I type.

Sunday, 18 January 2009


(The New Yorker)

As Eddy is inclined to sucks that gays have to come out again and again.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Friday, 16 January 2009

Physician: Heal thyself

I went to the doctor this morning to have my ongoing prescriptions renewed having reached the end of my 'repeats'.

I was expecting the visit to be straightforward as I have been feeling fine and am unaware of any new health issues. He checked my weight, blood pressure and body fat - checks he routinely carries out on most of my visits and for good measure (not to mention a higher fee) he also got me to undergo an ECG as it had been a while since I'd been tested. I don't like the ECG test. Those clamp things give me a creepy feeling as though cockroaches are crawling over my body. I'm sure my blood pressure soars when I have the ECG test.

Thankfully all these tests were satisfactory but dear Doctor was in a mood to be difficult and he gave me a hard time about improving my upper body. No doubt he was speaking with an eye to my waistline which I know is a couple of inches above the ideal. He once again banished me from eating everything that I find remotely tasty and this time suggested I take up yoga. Previous 'prescriptions' have included running around Centennial Park, swimming at Boy Charlton Pool and (best of all) daily masturbation to ward off prostate cancer.

I wouldn't mind these exhortations so much if it wasn't that dear Doctor is no svelte figure himself. He is at least twenty years younger than I and possibly as many kilos heavier despite being centimetres shorter. He always appears red faced to me.

But I know he means well so I suppose I should try, yet again, to work on trimming my weight. After the appointment I went across to Centennial Park and walked one circuit as a show, to myself, of good intentions. Unfortunately I did undo the value of that activity by stopping at the cake shop immediately after for an apple slice but, hey, I have to start somewhere.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Marley & Me

Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston embark on married life by moving to South Florida and acquiring a dog, the incorrigible Marley. The film traces their lives and the impact of Marley upon them.

It occurred to me watching this film that it is a movie version of a blog diary documenting the daily highs and lows of marriage and family life. Nothing remarkable happens to the family but the story is engaging anyway. I have liked Aniston every time I have seen her and I feel she is an underrated performer. I am less keen on Wilson mainly because his voice irritates me somewhat but I quite liked the way jeans and trousers sit on his body in this film.

Although I have never been much of an 'animal person' I enjoyed the antics on view.

A surprisingly pleasant movie.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

You can say that again!

"Prepare to be amazed", the Telstra advertisement boasts. Well, I certainly am but not in the positive way Telstra intends.

I subscribe to Foxtel (pay television) through Telstra as part of a 'bundled' package that is supposed to deliver a discount per bundled service. After my new television was connected on Monday I called Telstra to order an upgrade in my Foxtel service to its IQ HD+ service. I thought the request should be straight forward but I failed to reckon with Telstra's amazing lack of customer service.

I called a generic 13 hundred number which seemed to be Telstra's sole way of permitting customers to contact it by phone. Every call to this number involves a battle of wits with its automated answering 'voice' which steers you through various gates then places you in a queue listening to mindless music and the occasional Telstra message. Eventually you are put through to an Operator who can be anywhere in Australia (and perhaps overseas too, for all I know).

So what happened?

Operator No 1 asked how he could help me then asked me to provide my telephone number, full name and date of birth for identification and security purposes. He then started to process my order and placed me on music hold whilst he did so. After about ten minutes he returned to tell me their systems were frozen and it might take a very long time to clear. He said that I should call back after an hour and try again.

Hello? Telstra, Australia's biggest provider of Internet systems which it wants all Australians to take up, has frozen systems? I see.

Operator No 1 gave me a so called direct line (an 18 hundred number) to use for my next call.

An hour later I called the 1800 number. After the automated voice, music hold and queue process I got through to Operator No 2. She asked how she could help me then asked me to provide my telephone number, full name and date of birth for identification and security purposes. She then started to process my order and placed me on music hold whilst she did so. After about five minutes she returned and told me that my account had been upgraded to a new system but she only had access to an old system so she needed to transfer me to another Operator.

Hello? Telstra has staff using superseded systems?

Operator No 2 transferred me to another Operator.

After the automated voice, music hold and queue process I got through to Operator No 3. She asked how she could help me then asked me to provide my telephone number, full name and date of birth for identification and security purposes. She then started to process my order and placed me on music hold whilst she did so. After about thirty minutes (I kid you not) she returned to say the systems were going slowly and my order was somewhere in transit. She said she would need to monitor my order the next day and promised to call me late on Tuesday to confirm that it had transmitted and was proceeding.

Hello? Telstra's systems 'go slow'?

I asked Operator No 3 how I could follow through with her and she airily answered just ring 'the same number' I rang to get to her. I knew this was not a goer but was not up to arguing the point with a night of bridge ahead for me.

Late Tuesday, I returned from my day in the Blue Mountains but there had been no call nor message from Telstra. I called the 1800 number again. After the automated voice, music hold and queue process I got through to Operator No 4. She asked how she could help me then asked me to provide my telephone number, full name and date of birth for identification and security purposes. I did so and although I tried to restrain myself I started to complain about Telstra's appalling service. This turned out to be a mistake. Operator No 4 said her area was not the correct one to handle my booking and she promised to transfer me directly to a competent relevant Operator. The phone appeared to go dead. No music, no recorded message, nothing. I assumed that Operator No 4 had cut me off.

Now I was angry.

I looked up Telstra's website for its complaints procedure but amongst endless words of customer service, assurances, promises and the like only an email address or the same 13 hundred number I started with on Monday are provided.

I rang the 13 hundred number. After the automated voice, music hold and queue process I got through to Operator No 5. He asked how he could help me then asked me to provide my telephone number, full name and date of birth for identification and security purposes. I told him I have a complaint but it turned out he sold mobile phones and couldn't handle complaints. He transferred me to another Operator who he assured me would be able to deal with my problem.

After the automated voice, music hold and queue process I got through to Operator No 6. He asked how he could help me then asked me to provide my telephone number, full name and date of birth for identification and security purposes. He then told me Telstra's systems were frozen and he couldn't investigate my order at that moment.

Hello? Telstra's systems are stalled again?

There was nothing I could do but ring back later Operator 5 told me. He added that he had worked at Telstra for a long time and this was the first time he had known the systems to stall. That's funny I said because the systems were stalled twenty six hours earlier when I embarked on what I thought would be a simple order. He sympathised but said he couldn't really do anything at his location whilst the system was down but suggested he try transferring me to another office where the systems might be working.

After the automated voice, music hold and queue process I got through to Operator No 7. I asked her first whether the systems were working at her location. She hesitated momentarily but said, yes they were. She asked how she could help me then asked me to provide my telephone number, full name and date of birth for identification and security purposes. I explained the full story. She said she would look into my order and placed me on music hold whilst she did so.

Ten minutes later, a new voice appeared online asking how she could help me. This turned out to be Operator No 8. I explained that I was waiting for Operator No 7 to return as promised but it transpired she had just transferred me to Operator No 8 without taking any new action herself. I went through the whole sorry story yet again and Operator No 8 (who sounded the most informed of the lot) said the obvious (that the others should not have been transferring me around the country) and she asked me to wait whilst she tried to sort it out.

I was placed on music hold. This continued for over thirty minutes and at times I wondered whether anyone was actually still attending to me. I held on because I had become determined to outlast Telstra.

Amazingly Operator No 8 did return. She told me that my order had been placed but that it was marked with an error message. The upshot of it, according to Operator No 8, was an IT problem at Telstra.

Hello? Telstra has IT problems?

Operator No 8 told me that programmers had updated the computer systems and the changes were corrupting old accounts like mine that hadn't changed with the updates. Operator No 8 went on to tell me that she had emailed the IT unit explaining the problem but that it would take at least five days to resolve and she asked me to call back on the generic line after that time to check progress. Why did I have to call back? Because Telstra had no provision for Operators to initiate calls to customers. I doubted this but by then I was truly amazed; just not the way Telstra had promised.

I will change providers.

In the meantime I have initiated a formal complaint with Telstra. I expect they will amaze me with their response in due course.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

A blue day in the mountains

I was reminded by Firehorse's posting that it had been a long time since I last travelled the couple of hours west from where I live in Sydney to visit the Blue Mountains.

These are not mountains in the sense of the Himalayas or the Alps but they certainly are an easily accessible scenic location. Having nothing else organised for today and the weather forecast being promising I drove up to Katoomba, one of the main towns in the vicinity, this morning and then on to nearby Echo Point where the main lookout is located.

Although the day was clear with a cloudless blue sky a haze surrounded the mountains giving them the promised blue hue.

The adjacent three outcrops known as the Three Sisters were in much clearer light and quite a few people were making their way down the track to view them close up. If you click on the photograph you can just make out the walking bridge from the track to the first of the 'sisters' on the left.

I was happy to view from afar. After soaking up the sun and the view I drove on around to Scenic World to see the Cable Car close up...

...and then the Scenic Railway. Being a little whoozy with heights I didn't use either although I probably would have if I had a friend accompanying me to give me courage (and a soothing hug).

As it was I was happy to view the 'sights' beyond the sights such as these two standing on the right...

...and these two on the left...

...not to forget these three...

...and best of all to my taste, this sexy soul who I would happily have stalked all the way around the mountains.

Monday, 12 January 2009


The new television was connected this morning. does it work?

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Today I am One

This is the first anniversary of the birth of my blog. I think I will have a slice of cake.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Lunch at Palmie

Hn hosted lunch yesterday at Palm Beach for Bt visiting from England and Sn who was down from Queensland.

Hn's place is not one of these water frontage Pittwater properties but a comfortable home two blocks back with just as pleasurable a holiday feel as the more upmarket properties.

There were twelve of us at lunch, each of us contributing something for the feast. Apart from barbecued chicken and sausages and chicken schnitzels there were green salads galore mostly with fruit features; mangoes being the most common. Two tarts, one fruit the other Strawberry, were dessert accompanying coffee and tea afterwards.

The overcast and cool weather evident in the photograph I took above gave way during lunch to sunny moments with the temperature rising to the comfortable low 20s Centigrade.

We lunched out the back looking across at Pittwater (above photograph) and it was the most enjoyable of the lunches I have attended there in some time.

As is our usual practice after lunches at Palm Beach we walked back down to Pittwater for a stroll along the beach. We love checking out the waterfront homes, seeing which is occupied that day and imagining the glamorous lifestyle being pursued in them. Every now and then we are lucky to see Speedo wearing groups of Adonis like men but there were none of those on display yesterday. There was a sole fit looking youngish man swimming long laps parallel to the beach for a while but otherwise the beach was eerily quiet by the time we got down to it. Not so surprising, I suppose, for a Friday afternoon, already after 5pm and rapidly cooling down in the face of fresh breezes.

We spent quite a long time discussing a huge new four level property at the southern end of the beach which is nearing completion. Our 'informed' and unanimous view was that the new building was a monstrosity that none of us would consider purchasing. The fact that none of us is within cooee of being wealthy enough to purchase such a home was left unspoken.

When we returned to Hn's six or seven Lorikeets had arrived in anticipation of being fed. They fluttered around a lot and I had difficulty getting a good picture of them. This photograph was the best of a poor lot. Unfortunately my camera's zoom facility is not the greatest so this picture is grainier than the others.

After another a coffee, it was time for the fifty minutes drive home.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Dump those Blogs

My stomach has been a this morning. It could have been the pepperoni pizza I ate last night.

So there I was browsing some of my regular blogs this morning feeling that any moment I will need to pay the bathroom another visit when in succession I read this followed by this.

You can guess what happened next.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

The ups and downs of my day so far...

I arrived at bridge for my occasional Thursday lunchtime game. We play on the third floor of a building at Bondi Junction where I use the stairs as a token gesture to exercise and fitness raising. The many older players in the club gladly use the only elevator.

Today, however, that elevator was out of order and many of the players struggled up the stairs. My bridge partner usually arrives early for the game and I suspected something was up when she was not in the club when I arrived. I called her mobile and she was at the movies. We had mixed up our days.

Not a problem, I thought. There was plenty for me to do at home but when I returned and got into the elevator to go to my fifth floor apartment it wouldn't budge. There I was having avoided an out of order elevator at bridge only to be stuck in the elevator in my own building. After ten minutes the elevator door opened with me still on the ground floor. I changed over to the other elevator which thankfully was operating.

I think I shall walk down the stairs rather than risk more elevator hi jinks when I have to go back out again this afternoon.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Your next patient is here, Doctor

What seems to be the problem?

(Excerpt from forthcoming episode of Nip/Tuck)

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

My expensive resolution

I don't tend to make New Year's resolutions probably because I can't discipline myself to keep to them.

However, I decided last year that sometime in 2009 I would buy myself a flat screen television. I suppose that amounts to a sort of resolution and it is amazing given my lack of discipline in other areas that I seem to be able to meet commitments that cost me money. And so it has proven yet again.

It only took me to the afternoon of 2 January to purchase the television after spending the afternoon of 1 January and the morning of 2 January researching outlets and comparing prices. My new baby is to be delivered this afternoon and I am spending today at home awaiting its arrival.

I hope I am not jinxing myself posting this before the television's safe delivery. Each of my last three large household goods purchases has gone awry at some point through retailer's incompetence. I must write about this sometime.

Monday, 5 January 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Based on a short story by F Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button spans close to ninety years, multiple continents and is very long. Presumably the film's makers have elaborated somewhat on Fitzgerald's story.

It is an atmospheric film focusing on the visual and its images are often beautiful. I found the softly delivered accented dialogue a bit difficult to follow at times but the story moved so slowly I rarely felt that I was missing anything.

Both Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett have plenty of opportunity to dazzle with their beauty, he as he grows younger and she as she ages. Without giving too much away, Cate also appears in aged form from the outset to enable the story to be told in flashback. Tilda Swinton is delicious in a small but significant role.

I thought that the best sequence in the film was a montage in Paris reflecting on the role of fate in our lives. Tellingly this scene is the fastest paced in what otherwise is a leisurely paced film.

An interesting and, yes, curious film.

Sunday, 4 January 2009 the cricket...

(Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 2009)

"Bare facts . . . a streaker runs onto the pitch during the Test between Australia and the ICC World XI at the SCG in 2005 and inset, Michael O'Brien and that police helmet remain famous."

Must be time for new balls.

At the wedding

I have survived the wedding.

The predicted showers did not eventuate nor did a threatened storm late in the day when dark clouds covered the sky for a while as the reception got into full swing.

The ceremony started 35 minutes late after Ry, the bride's father, held back her arrival insisting she should arrive fashionably late but forgetting that once at the Cathedral steps the photographer would insist in another quarter hour of photograph taking.

The ceremony was at St Mary's, Sydney's principal Catholic Cathedral, for no other reason than it was the only Church the bride and groom found that could fit their wedding in at their preferred day and time and then only because of the cancellation of another booking.

As a consequence, the 150 invited guests were boosted by a similar number of tourists who happened to be touring the Cathedral at the time and who happily observed proceedings from the rear.

The reception was held at Watersedge which if nothing else has a terrific location on the edge of the Harbour adjacent to the bridge. This photo taken from the venue's website gives an indication of the setup and venue location.

Our table was in the corner at the bottom right of the photo giving us a splendid view of happenings in the reception as well as on the harbour.

The setting became more spectacular as day merged into evening and the city skyline, including the Luna Park across the harbour, became transformed by night lights.

The nibblies on arrival at Watersedge were sufficient in quantity and diversity to constitute a meal of their own almost making the subsequent dinner irrelevant although the white chocolate mousse dessert proved a rich and satisfying finale. The toffee topping reminded me of a scene from Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Thankfully the friends at the table I was placed with were congenial company and my fears of being odd man out did not eventuate. They were virtually the only people I knew at the wedding apart from the parents of the bride and two other couples elsewhere in the room.

There was plenty of man candy at the wedding, pretty well all of it far too young for me. Once again I had that odd experience of setting eyes upon one attractive man early on in proceedings and then finding him popping into my view time and again in the following hours.

This time it was a good looking, late twenties, blondish type sitting across the aisle from us in the Cathedral. I noticed him from the outset and cast occasional glances his way. As it turns out he was to deliver the first reading so I had the pleasure of hearing him speak in the fine acoustics of the Cathedral early on.

Later on as the reception got into swing I became aware that one of the guests had taken over the microphone and was singing impromptu to us. It was the same blondish man and he was doing a very professional imitation of a Frank Sinatra type.

Then once the dancing got underway, there he was again easily the sexiest male dancer on the floor moving sinuously around and, to my delight, dancing closely and sexily with both men and women, obviously completely confident and comfortable with either gender.

It would be thrilling to imagine that he was gay and even more so that he might be available but my intuition strongly pointed to him being a straight man totally at ease.

Friday, 2 January 2009

The Day The Earth Stood Still

I quite like disaster movies. Generally they follow a well tried formula.

A calm opening is followed by a sense of unease before disaster descends and then a hopeless situation is rescued at the last moment by a miraculous escape topped off by a happy ending. It all works so well. Your favourite heroes survive and the dastardly villains drop by the wayside. Occasionally a hero also is lost which can be quite annoying when it involves a blue eyed, blond haired cute male although even that is excusable if the loss occurs near the end so that you still get full perving value from the Adonis.

The Day The Earth Stood Still is a disaster film set in science fiction mode and is a remake of the 1951 film of the same name. This remake uses the same premise and even some of the artistic concepts of the original film updated with 2008 technology.

The unintentional star of this remake is Jaden Smith, son of Will, who gives the nominal star, Keanu Reeves, a lesson in screen acting. Admittedly, Jaden is playing a human whereas Keanu is not and I have to concede that Keanu's robotic acting style makes him a competent alien. Furthermore, Keanu's previously unrevealed capacity to speak Mandarin comes as a surprise.

As with most disaster films, TDTESS is best viewed with a blank mind. Any use of brains is a decided disadvantage as it simply highlights the implausible and inconsistent aspects of the plot. The film does contain plenty of technical mumbo jumbo to add weight to proceedings and the special effects are impressive without going too far over the top.

This remake makes do without the typical calm opening opting for unease from the outset and the ending is sufficiently vague as to leave plenty of scope for sequels. TDTESS is a message film that should interest Greens Senator Bob Brown although I doubt he will be adding the DVD to his personal collection.

All in all, quite a reasonable way to spend a mindless two hours but don't waste a beautifully sunny afternoon on it like I did.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Get me coupled to the church sublime

In early November I received the invitation to this Saturday's wedding of the second daughter of my longtime friend Ry. The invitation posed an immediate uncertainty for my straight challenged mind. (My apologies Steven for adapting your clever appellation for my own purposes.)

I have known Ry for forty years and for about thirty of those years we, together with Tm, Tp and Jm played squash and/or tennis together. All five of us are now in sensible retirement from such exertions. The other four, all straight, have married, produced children and grandchildren leaving me the one partnerless and childless member of the group. I'm sure this has presented the others with the occasional dilemma of 'what to do with Victor' when straight rites of passage arise.

Tm chose not tell me about the wedding of his second daughter two years ago to which the others were invited, a ploy which backfired for him when Ry innocently discussed the nuptials with me on the day preceding the event. In fact, I was quite happy not to be invited, not to have dress up, not to have think of a wedding present etc but Tm was mightily embarrassed (and I suspect not a little pissed at Ry's disclosure).

When Ry's invitation arrived I checked it carefully noting that it only mentioned my name and did not call for a partner or friend to participate. I was quite happy with that, although already starting to feel anxiety at once more being the odd man out at a table of coupled wedding revellers. I sent in my solo acceptance.

Then, two weeks ago I received a call from Ry asking whether I had wanted to bring a partner to the wedding and apologising profusely for the omission from the invitation. I should have said no but I didn't. I had in mind inviting Da to accompany me. Da is known to the group and well liked and she hasn't visited me in Sydney for sometime and I thought it a good opportunity for us to catch up.

I phoned Da who readily accepted the invitation and then passed the news on to Ry. He informed me it was too late for the printers to do a name card for her and he hoped Da wouldn't mind being identified as 'Victor's friend'. I thought it odd that in this day and age a printer couldn't produce one card with two weeks to go to the wedding but I didn't pursue the point.

In the meantime Da booked the return bus trip Canberra/Sydney and all was set for our coupled participation. Other movie and dining arrangements were made to fill out the weekend.

Then yesterday, disaster. Da called distressed by an illness that has befallen her and will prevent her travelling to Sydney tomorrow and that she won't be able to attend the wedding that she was now really looking forward to.

What to do? I could ask either Hn or Ae to accompany me but they are both involved in hosting Sn, visiting from Queensland, for lunch at Palm Beach on Saturday so I can't really expect either of them to drop that arrangement to help me out. If I had someone special in my life I should simply bring him along and let us be the odd couple at the table but there is no special man in my life at present.

So it is back to being what I have been for much of my adult life, the odd man out.

Happy New Year

to all my readers.