Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Simply Sydney

Yesterday was a typical Sydney day.

I woke to the news of the latest bikie shooting.

So frequent have these shootings become that news of them doesn't necessarily lead the bulletins anymore.

Later in the morning Qantas baggage handlers went on a four hours' long strike disrupting airport operations nationally and traffic around the airport.

Shortly after noon a giant explosion in the penthouse apartment of a thirty stories Bondi Junction high rise badly injured two workers causing major damage to the large block requiring it and the major shopping precinct below to be evacuated. Hundreds of residents could not return to their apartments for the remainder of the day and overnight whilst investigations and repairs continued. Traffic in the area remains disrupted.

Then shortly after 4.30pm, a major electricity failure, still unexplained today, caused blackouts across the Central Business District and parts of inner east and inner west suburbs stranding thousands, closing the cross harbour tunnel and eastern distributor.

My bridge partner's apartment building was blacked out for some hours and our attempts to get to bridge last night were abandoned after we were stuck in traffic jams for nearly an hour.

To complete a memorable, for the wrong reasons, twenty-four hours the rains have returned to Sydney today soaking the city.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Summer Hours

Three adult children, Juliette Binoche amongst them, inherit their mother's house packed with artifacts created or collected by their great uncle. The three have to determine what to do with the estate.

There are many films like Summer Hours that come out of France. The characters enjoy leisurely hours spent over meals and in the coffee shop and they live stylish lives in stylish surroundings. And nothing much happens.

Despite the lack of action, drama and any real conflict I quite enjoyed vicariously viewing these peoples' lives. Jeremei Renier as one of the brothers and Clint Eastwood's son Kyle, in a very small role, are attractive distractions.

Totally safe for those on blood pressure medication.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Saturday in the park

It is Autumn but with daylight saving time still in place and the temperature in Sydney today more like Summer it was a beautiful late afternoon in Camperdown Park at Newtown. People lazing about and then...

...a young wedding party from the adjacent St Stephens Church assembled for their photos.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Grand Prix and Grand Pricks

I have sympathy for High Riser who doesn't like having the Australian Grand Prix on his doorstep.

Although I am a sports enthusiast, as a spectator that is, I have little interest in racing sports whether of the motoring or equine variety. When I lived in Hong Kong from 1977 to 1980, we used to travel across to Macau each year for their Grand Prix weekend. The weekend was always unbelievably noisy and dusty and the race itself this extraordinarily boring event in which a flurry of cars raced past our static viewing position in a complete blur at approximately 2 minute intervals.

I wasn't won over. In recent years though I have to concede that the one saving grace of the sport is the handsomeness of its drivers. Some are seriously sexy looking. Although I think he may have retired, Kimi Raikkonen (above), is one who has remained saved in this gay man's memory bank.

Thursday, 26 March 2009


I went to see Watchmen solely on the basis of all the blogging about its blue penis.

It is the 1980s...and the 1940s...and the 1970s...and some futuristic parallel time as well and the world is descending into anarchy against the background of the threat of nuclear war. Our retired costume heroes are being targeted by a murderer. Will the murderer be found and can war be averted?

I am no aficionado of comic books and apart from several episodes of the Superman and Batman franchises I have generally been unmoved by the attractions of the films that have been made from them. I thought the Spiderman series was seriously boring apart from the opportunity to gaze upon James Franco.

So Watchmen came as a surprise to me. The film is packed with historical, political and cultural references. So many are there that I am sure I missed more than I picked in this viewing. Watchmen also features references to movies past. The sequences where President Nixon is in his war cabinet mimic Stanley Kubrick's Doctor Strangelove and shots of the bug-eyed spacecraft flying through the clouds brought back memories of the Saturday afternoon serials I used to see at the movies back in the 1950s.

The music and songs featured in the film are interesting and the opening credits sequence, also packed with historical references, is simply terrific. The cinematography is excellent as are most of the special effects.

But I would not be game to return for a second viewing just to check on missed references. Watchmen is also overlong and the scenes of our costumed heroes in plain clothed retirement are often dull, perhaps deliberately so to contrast with the eccentricity of the action sequences. And the film has some very violent moments.

Oh, and the blue penis? Well all I can say is that whoever, or whatever, is the model for Billy Crudup's blue body is very impressive.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Open a new window...

...as my Auntie Mame might have sung.

This spectacular photograph is of a window in my dining room. If you look closely you will see that the bottom edge of the top half is overlapping the top edge of the bottom half. My apologies for using highly technical window language but I do like to be precise.

Well, for reasons unknown and in just the past couple of days I noticed this window no longer closes properly. It falls just short of closing at the top and at the bottom and the problem as my highly technical mind has divined is that the two bits (very technical terminology) of the window are sticking in the middle and nothing that I have tried so far has prised them apart.

And I have tried. I've poked around with the ends of brooms, curtain rods and the full force of my bare hands but nothing has separated them. It looks like yet again I have to turn to a repairman to do something that others handle as a hobby.

Monday, 23 March 2009


We saw the Sydney Theatre Company's production of Tom Stoppard's Travesties this evening.

The play set in Switzerland in 1917 is the reminiscences, faulty or otherwise, of a British Consular official of his relationships with James Joyce, Tristan Tzara and Vladimir Lenin. Woven into the play are references to Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.

I first saw Travesties in 1974 during its world premiere season when I was working in London, ironically as an Australian Consular official. My recollection of the play was that it was wordy, dull and over my head. I had just turned 25 at the time.

I was interested to see how I found the play now, 35 years later and on the verge of my 60th birthday. Well, there obviously is a big difference between being 25 and 60. This evening I was in awe of the beauty of the language, the cleverness of the ideas canvassed and the humour of the piece.

I loved it tonight. The STC production was well acted and beautifully staged. The only downside to the evening was the outbreak of a chorus of coughing from the rear of the auditorium such as I cannot recall hearing previously at the theatre. Now I understand why Marcellous comments about this phenomenon when he attends concerts at the Opera House.

I can heartily recommend Travesties especially if you are closer to 60 than 25 unless you are a more worldly 25 than I must have been.

Sunday, 22 March 2009


Clive Owen and Julia Roberts are former Government secret agents in Duplicity who take on jobs for rival commercial companies. One company has a secret which the other wants to discover. Can the two former agents be trusted? Can they trust each other? Does a double cross lay ahead? Almost the entire two hours of Duplicity is a set up for 'the reveal' at the end.

This is the type of film that MGM would have made in the 1930s/40s and they would have used Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in the roles. However in those films the screenplay would have been filled with wisecracks, the characters would have had more fun but travelled less widely and the storyline would have been less complex.

The few laugh out loud moments in Duplicity come as a relief. There are other humorous moments but the screenplay tends to hide them in a cloak of secrecy and subtlety.

Whether Owen and Roberts click as a couple in this film is a matter of personal opinion but for me they were more like colleagues in their scenes together.

I liked the premise of the film but it could have been so much better.

Friday, 20 March 2009

A Complete History Of My Sexual Failures

Chris Waitt's documentary starts as research into why every woman he has ever dated has dropped him and then segues into an examination of his failure to sexually satisfy these women and himself. In doing this he engages in activities that are foolhardy and dangerous on any number of levels.

One wonders why he needed to engage in this research. He is scruffy throughout the documentary. Waitt's hair is unkempt, he has days of unshaven growth on his face and he seems to wear the same torn jeans most of the time. Waitt's personal hygiene also is doubtful given that he seems to wear the same underpants throughout and on the additional evidence of the state of his bathroom which his mother(!) comes over to clean for him. But none of these is a reason why women dropped him; they have other aversions to him.

There were some funny moments in this film but overall I was annoyed by it. The sound quality was poor and I was bit irritated that someone could secure commercial release of such a self indulgent work in a respected Art House chain like the Dendy Cinemas. Even more than that though, I felt Waitt's film was calculated and manipulating.

Waitt presents as a clueless and gormless man but I never quite believed that his documentary was on the level. He comes from a comfortable middle class background and from the evidence of the documentary he has completed a reasonable degree of education. I'm sure he is more intelligent then he makes out in the film and I suspect that some of the 'documentary' moments were staged.

Having said that three of the six people in the audience at the session I attended laughed happily throughout and clearly enjoyed what they were viewing.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Mutant...stop it!

I guess Mutant had sex last night.

Apparently the earth moved in Melbourne.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Matchmaker, matchmaker...

I feel that I have finally shaken off the attentions of fellow nursing home volunteer Da who apparently decided on her husband's death bed that I should be his replacement. It has taken over a year to get to this stage.

I should be relieved but Da's attentions have been replaced by Day Centre member Le, all of eighty-five years of age, who has pursued me during her past two visits as her new 'friend' and 'companion'.

Why does this happen to me? Over the years three women have proposed to me and now Da and Le have thrown themselves at me. But no man has ever proposed. If only men - of my age - had shown the same attention that women seem prepared to lavish on me.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Isla Fisher is a journalist addicted to shopping who lands a job at a finance magazine working for Hugh Dancy as a stepping stone to her goal of a position in a leading fashion magazine.

This stylish looking film might have the feel of a Sex In The City but it is deeply unfunny and the antics of many of the characters make them fairly unpleasant people.

A strong cast of the calibre of Kristin Scott Thomas, Joan Cusack, John Lithgow and Lynn Redgrave can't save this film which is best left for a wet winter's day of DVD viewing, or better still for insomniacs.

That is not to say that film has no redeeming features. The talking shop mannequins are cute and enliven proceedings whenever they appear and typically for this type of film there are plenty of handsome male actors.

The cliches are all there too right down to the 'in the know' gay office receptionist dispensing perfect advice with the aplomb of a relationships counsellor.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Preparing for St Pat

I came across preparations for the St Patrick's Day parade whilst in the city yesterday. The parade is held on the Sunday before the day itself.

For a city of Sydney's size I don't think we do parades all that well. Most of the ones I see have that small town feel. This year's parade looked like being the same.

It is hard to criticise the participants though. They are enthusiastic amateurs and presumably most are funding as well as making their floats. There were quite a few cute men working away in the sunshine putting the finishing touches to their floats as I wandered by.

I tried to photograph some of them but it was difficult to capture them discreetly. This was the best I managed.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Easy Virtue

This could be the title of my biography. A cheap joke, I know.

Ben Barnes, the youthful heir to a country estate returns from the Riviera shortly after World War 1 with his American wife, Jessica Biel, much to the shock and horror of his snooty mother, Kristin Scott Thomas, and the indifference of his father, Colin Firth.

Born of significant gay influences, a Noel Coward story, Noel Coward and Cole Porter music and Director Stephan Elliott in charge, Easy Virtue could have been sparkling and edgy but a surprisingly large audience on a Saturday afternoon, overwhelmingly women aged more than 70, clearly was confident that no heart attack inducing material was likely.

So it proved. The film is replete with all the cliches of the British stiff upper lip, cultural clashes and the like and it camouflages all the nasty bits so as not to frighten the viewers. It is all rather pleasant and quaint.

Barnes and Firth provide the male eye candy; Barnes in particular being prettier than any of the female cast.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

"Pass me a napkin, please"

"Marine Napkin – The flap on the front of the traditional 13-button US Naval enlisted uniform trousers."

When I was a teenager Australian sailors wore trousers that had a flap in front rather than a fly. To a young gay sexually precocious man these flaps were just too erotic for words. The pants were tight and the flap hugged that interesting part of the sailor's anatomy in the most advantageous of ways.

Standing alongside a sailor in a public lavatory whilst he undid the flap generated a sense of anticipation and arousal in me that makes me sigh even now more than forty years later.

Just a memory that came to mind with the fleet in town.

Hello Sailor!

There are more than 4,000 sailors in town this weekend.

I better steer clear of the Kings Cross area. Those sex starved sailors, getting a glimpse of an experienced sexual being like me, would not be able to restrain themselves.

Just kidding!

Thursday, 12 March 2009

On my knees

(You can enlarge the photograph by clicking it.)

I was searching Google Images for side-on photographs of a knee (don't ask why; that's another story) using "Knees" as the search request and this photograph was one of the responses. I don't see the connection myself but maybe I need to be more imaginative.

I can only wonder at the celebrations leading to this situation and more to the point what the view from the other side is like. I note that the crowd on the other side mostly has wide grins...I suspect I would have been grinning too. The only ones not grinning are those who are taking the opportunity to photograph whatever it is that has attracted their attention.

The football matches I attend never seem to end in this fashion.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

For Andrew

I forgot to mention for Andrew's benefit that The Reader includes scenes of German trams.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Blow Wolverine

One for my gay comics loving readers.

The Reader

Kate Winslet's Academy Award winning performance as the former Concentration Camp guard who has a relationship with a schoolboy who she has read books to her.

The Reader unfolds slowly and the point of so much early focus on the schoolboy relationship in 1958 becomes evident when the film eventually moves forward to 1965 and the events that transpire from then.

I have no knowledge of the book on which the film is based but the film's story is poignant and thought provoking. The Reader proved more interesting and worthwhile than I was expecting.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Shoot!....I've been tagged.

I've been blogging for over a year and have managed to avoid being tagged until now.

I (and you too dear reader) have Ben to thank for what follows.

1. Would you do crystal meth if it was legalized?

No, I would not. Other than prescribed medicines I have never been a drug user. I smoked two cigarettes when I was fifteen which I didn't enjoy and never smoked again. I'm a dull non-druggy gay man

2. Abortion: for or against?

I am for women deciding this for themselves but I have to concede that as a gay man who has never had sex with a female let alone come within cooeeing of impregnating one I can't imagine how I would feel if it was my child that a woman was contemplating aborting.

3. Would the country fall if there was a woman president?

Well firstly, this constitutional monarchy with a foreign Queen as its Head of State doesn't have a President. I'm hoping the inevitable day when we will be a Republic with a President is not too far off and if that President is a woman; so be it. There is nothing about the male of the species - no matter how tempting his cock and balls may be - that makes him intrinsically more suitable than a female to be President.

4. Do you believe in the death penalty?

No, I do not.

5. Do you wish marijuana would be legalized already?

Not especially. For one thing it is not something that I am interested in using and secondly there seems to be enough evidence that usage eventually proves deleterious to your health.

6. Do you believe in God?

I don't know although I sometimes blame bad things that happen to me as punishment delivered by some unseen being for misdemeanours on my part. (And when I was more sexually active in my younger days there were oh so many incidents of misdemeanours to be punished for.)

7. Do you think same sex marriage should be legalized?

Yes, although I am ambivalent about whether it has to be called 'marriage'. I might have stronger views about this if there were a 'significant other' in my life at the moment.

8. Do you think its wrong that so many Hispanics are moving to the USA?

I have no opinion on this as I am not in the USA nor am I a US citizen.

9. A 12 year old girl has a baby... should she keep it?

I think this is an issue for each girl - and their legal guardians - to determine. I wouldn't want to be the one to tell a mother of any age that she must be separated from her child. Who is to judge that the 12 year old wouldn't become a good parent to her child?

10. Should the alcohol drinking age be lowered to 18?

Oh dear, now I reveal how boring am I. As well as being a non smoker (see above) I also do not drink alcohol for the simple reason that I don't enjoy the taste. I don't object to others drinking but I do think many young Australians drink too much alcohol and over drinking comes back to 'bite them on the bum' through poor behaviour and health problems later in life.

11. Should the war in Iraq be called off?

I would prefer that wars and civil conflict were called off everywhere, preferably with strategies to ensure that anarchy does not fill the subsequent vacuum.

12. Assisted suicide is illegal... do you agree?

This is a moral question which requires wisdom beyond my capacities and even then it is a matter of individual circumstances and opinion. Thankfully I have not been in a situation where I or anyone I know has wanted to end life in this way.

13. Do you believe in spanking your children?

Well, as earlier answers make clear I do not have children and at almost 60 years of age I am never likely to now. My father gave me a smack on the bum once and only once when I was being a little shit disturbing his sleep. I don't recall my mother ever smacking me. Somehow, both my parents got me to behave without the need for spanking. I am not averse to others smacking a wayward child provided that the punishment is not excessive or abusive.

14. Would you burn an American flag for a million dollars?

I can't imagine so. National flags are important to the relevant citizens and I wouldn't want to insult them by such actions. Besides I can't imagine becoming so angry about an issue to want to burn a flag.

15. A mother is declared innocent after murdering her 5 children in a temporary insanity case... what do you think?

I think (feel) sadness for the mother, children and other relatives involved.

Now comes the most difficult part of this tagging business. Apparently I am supposed to tag five others to post their answers to these questions. Here are my 'taggees' but they can feel free to ignore the tagging if it is against their principles.

Evol Kween
Bore the Arse Off

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Feeling thirsty?

Baghdad Wedding

Attended Baghdad Wedding last night, my third play this week.

A group of Iraqi students in London befriend each other before returning to their home country where a wedding sets off a chain of events set against the USA's 2003 invasion of Iraq.

The drama unfolds in flashback. Whilst I had some difficulty following the dialogue the representation of Islamic practices and Iraqi life was interesting and to my uninformed eyes appeared authentic. The play contains wry humour even during torture scenes and typically for Belvoir Street productions great use is made of lighting and a simple set; in this case a sandy floor, tall concrete barrier, milk crates and a single chair.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Autumn Lunch

The humidity was missing this morning and the slightest of chills filled the air signalling the approach of Autumn. The sun was still powerful enough though for it to feel very warm sitting on Cs' back deck enjoying pre-meal drinks and savouries as he hosted Ai, Jl, Da and I for a leisurely five hours long lunch.

We moved indoors for lunch where Cs served Lasagna

accompanied by salad and then for dessert, Pavlova.

Typically it didn't occur to me to photograph the healthiest item; the salad.

It was a great afternoon of food, gossip and laughs.

How Gay Is Your Suburb?

So screams the latest cover page of my local weekly magazine the Wentworth Courier.

Four categories of answer are provided;

Pretty in Pink defined as suburbs that are pretty gay.

The Usual Suspects defined as suburbs that are a little bit gay.

Ordinary People defined as suburbs that are mainly 'straight'.

Minority Report defined as suburbs that are overwhelmingly 'straight'.

So how did they reach their findings? By identifying the proportion of people aged over 15 in each suburb who have never married according to the 2006 national census. Not exactly a scientific study, I would think.

So where does my little suburb (Edgecliff) fare? With 47.5% of our population aged over 15 having never married we are ordinary people; ie, a suburb that is mainly 'straight'. If it is any consolation to this gay man Edgecliff sits on the cusp of the usual suspects.

The adjoining suburb of Rushcutters Bay with 61.3% having never married is pretty in pink.


Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Anthropomorphic Works

No, I didn't know what it meant either. It is the attribution of human characteristics to non-human creatures and beings.

This evening I attended the opening of an exhibition of new work by Ben Smith at the Dickerson Gallery. The artist has a convoluted connection with my bridge partner who invited me to the opening.

I don't have any pretensions to a knowledge or understanding of art. My taste in art probably tends to what would be described as vanilla if we were discussing sex.

Ben's work is not exactly vanilla. But he is doing well. His first exhibition two years ago was sold out and the majority of the work on display at this evening's opening already had red 'sold' stickers attached by the time I arrived an hour before the official speeches.

He is doing well.

Driving Miss Da

(Photo: Steve Bennett)

Have you ever suffered a mental blank about something that you tend to easily know about at any other time?

Once every six weeks we take the members of our Day Centre out for a picnic. The members are driven to the picnic site by bus accompanied by the Centre Manager and Assistant Manager. Da, the other volunteer, and I drive there in my car separately from the buses. Although Da drives herself to and from the Centre for the day's work she has fallen into the habit of coming in my car to the picnics. This means that even if the picnic is in the opposite direction from my home I have to return her to the Centre afterwards so she can pick up her car.

Da started coming in my car after she was widowed. I believe this was part of her plan to snap me up as husband number 2 and she has continued to do so out of habit even though I hope that she finally accepts this gay man is not inclined to heterosexual marriage.

These return journeys are a slight annoyance for me but far more irritating is the mindless chatter Da engages in the instant we drive off until we reach the destination.

The venue for the latest picnic was Lane Cove National Park which has a delightful picnic area suitable for elderly, less mobile people like our Day Centre members. You might think that Lane Cove National Park would be located in the suburb of Lane Cove but it is not. Departing the Day Centre you have to turn into the exact opposite direction from the suburb to get to the Park. We have picnicked there before and I am well aware of its location. Da should know its location too as she drives past it to and from the Centre for work.

I set off for the Park with Da chattering away and for the next ten minutes tried to effect polite attention whilst in reality shutting her from my mind. All the while road signage indicated we were heading for Lane Cove but my mind was a blank with Da chatting endlessly in the background. After a while it dawned on me that I was driving in the wrong direction but my mind was still a blank and unable to make me think of the correct way to the Park. I could picture the location in my mind but over Da's chatter I simply could not retrieve the information to adjust my route.

Finally I turned to Da and told her that I felt I was going in the wrong direction and asked her opinion of how to get to the Park from where we were. To my amazement Da said that she had no idea of how to get to the Park and that she had no idea where the Park was even though she drives past it every week. How could she not know? Perhaps she even bores herself silly with idle chatter so that she doesn't take in her surroundings.

Thankfully just as I was thinking those dastardly thoughts my brain finally clicked into gear and I realised where I was and what I needed to do to get to our destination. Da didn't miss a beat and kept on gossiping.

By the time we got to the Park, the members had been unloaded, seated and served and they were well into the picnic lunch.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The Removalists

Mk and I saw the first play of the Sydney Theatre Company's 2009 season tonight, David Williamson's The Removalists. This is a revival of a thirty-seven years' old play. From my experience of seeing these revivals, Williamson's plays do not last the passage of time very well. This story of the Police Sergeant and his first day Constable responding to a report of domestic violence with bizarre and tragic consequences seems stuck in its 1970s roots. It still contains some funny moments and the acting in this production was fine but I was left bemused by the play and its abrupt ending.

I wonder why the STC chose to commence its season with this play? It is neither new nor fresh nor does does it provide a dazzling season opener. The next play is Tom Stoppard's Travesties, itself thirty-five years' old but at least one which should present more wit and style.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Take Me Out

Mk, Rs and I saw Take Me Out yesterday. Staged in association with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2009 the play tells the story of a star player with a mythical New York baseball club who comes out of the closet. An all male cast of eleven portrayed the team players and several other characters with most of the action taking place in the team's locker room. A mix of comedy and strong drama the play was performed on a simple set.

Some of the nuances of the play, relying as they do on the close links between the history of baseball and 20th Century US history, may have been lost on us as baseball is a minor sport in Australia without similar links to our history. However we felt we had a good sense of the play nevertheless through substituting AFL/NRL clubs in our minds for the baseball club.

Those of sensitive disposition should note that eight of the eleven cast members appear completely naked on stage at times as they shower and change into and out of their clothing. Luckily none of our group was of such disposition. The cast's acting, clothed and unclothed, was of a good quality.