Friday, 31 July 2009

Fat chance

I heard that if you spent $5,000 on tickets in yesterday's $80,000,000 lottery your chances of winning were the same as your chances of parenting identical twins. Well, in my case those chances would be none.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Public Enemies

It is 1933 and the ambitious FBI Chief, J Edgar Hoover, (Billy Crudup) is waging war against Public Enemies, principally John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) who is embarrassing the authorities with a series of bank robberies. Hoover appoints the single minded Agent Melvyn Purvis (Christian Bale) to head the Chicago Bureau and to capture Dillinger, no matter what.

Depp, in a wonderful exhibition of understated cockiness, outwits the authorities time and again but Bale's character is certain the Bureau's scientific approach will win out in the end.

This is essentially a cops and robbers chase story told in a style I recall from my childhood Saturday matinee days. There is plenty of atmosphere and the movie has a great look although I could have done with a bit less of the hand held camerawork.

Despite the general simplicity of the story I found it difficult to identify the peripheral characters and work out who was who as they floated in and out of the film. An examination of the 'Goofs' section in Internet Movie Database to which I link above indicates that the factual events portrayed are well and truly astray but the movie makes for an enjoyable yarn anyway.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The City

Our latest play in the Sydney Theatre Company's 2009 season.

A bare stage. Eight steps spanning the width of the auditorium. Four characters; a father, mother, child and a neighbour. They sit upon, walk along, step up and down upon the steps. Each of the characters may be real or they may be imaginary. They discuss events in their real or imagined lives without any story line unfolding.

The scenes are separated by brief total blackouts which of themselves are (probably intentionally) unnerving. Somehow, during those brief moments, the characters manage complete costume changes in the total darkness.

I suppose this type of play leaves the audience with endless questions as to its meaning and worth. Me, who saw the play ahead of us last week, described it as incomprehensible and the worst play she had ever seen. On the other hand, whilst I generally don't enjoy works like this I remained attentive throughout and I liked the performances. Mk quite liked the work although he had no more idea as to its meaning than did I.

Monday, 27 July 2009


Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates are aging courtesans who maintain a relationship through necessity rather than genuine friendship. Bates asks Pfeiffer to take care of her nineteen years old son, Rupert Friend, who Pfeiffer nicknamed Cheri as a child. Pfeiffer takes on the role with gusto in the way that she knows best for the next six years with the approval of Bates until it becomes time for Friend to move on to an arranged marriage. That's when the proverbial hits the fan.

Cheri is based on two stories by Colette but as with Rhett Butler in Gone With The Wind, I didn't give a damn. The story belongs to a bygone era and whilst everyone dresses beautifully, lives lavishly and what?

Pfeiffer stands out as the beauty amongst a group of oddballs whose sexual attraction must have been an acquired taste and whilst Friend has his admirers, his anaemic looks did little for me although he proved a fetching image in naked silhouette.

There was the occasional tart line of dialogue to provide a lift but otherwise this oddly lit movie - most scenes are filmed in dark or subdued lighting - was much ado about nothing for me.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

A dog of a story

I tend to sleep in a bit on Sunday mornings laying in bed and listening in a sleepy haze to the short story that is broadcast on Radio National at 8.30am. The stories are read (acted out) by a single performer and run for no more than fifteen minutes.

I often fail to take in the first bit of a story then realise too late that it is really interesting. This morning I had the opposite experience. The story was about two men who have a falling out and one is bitten by a dog owned by the other. The longer the story went on, the stranger it seemed.

I felt like contacting James and asking for an explanation of this dog of a story. James is Content Director of ABC Local Radio 702BL, Radio National's sister station in Sydney. He probably has no role whatever in what Radio National does but I was bursting to understand what the public broadcaster was serving me for my 'eight cents' today.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Religious interruptus

I enjoyed a chat and coffee yesterday afternoon with Ae and Be. It was mostly the usual general gossip and discussion about health matters.

Then the conversation somehow turned to church going (not an activity I engage in) and Ae told us of the time she wandered into her local Catholic establishment and interrupted the service with an announcement inviting the congregation to assist a homeless man in need. No one offered assistance; not even any of the clergy present.

The look on Be's face as Ae related the incident was classic. He was aghast that Ae would interrupt a church service. On the other hand I was surprised that the church-going Be wasn't aghast that no assistance was offered.

Friday, 24 July 2009

The Hangover

On the eve of his wedding a bridegroom and his three groomsman go to Las Vegas for his buck's party that goes well and truly off the rails.

Hollywood seems to be fixated with crass, politically incorrect men's humour at the moment most of them with a connection to Seth Rogen or Judd Apatow and this is the latest to roll off the production line although as far as I am aware neither of them is involved.

For reasons not that apparent to me the creators of The Hangover miss no opportunities to show men in their underwear, or bare arsed or urinating. None of those images was particularly tittilating; not for this gay man anyway.

Despite the general silliness and mostly illogical aspects of the storyline I have to admit that I laughed a lot in this film.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Come closer, dear...

Apparently New Zealand's south island has moved 30cm (12 inches) closer to Australia following last week's earthquake.

That gives new meaning to a closer relationship.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

You don't say...

I've written before how bemused I get by Da, my co-volunteer at the Day Care Centre, and her strange reactions to events.

In the latest example we were leaving the Centre at shift's end today when we came across a mobile phone which had been dropped on the street and with no-one else in sight. Da's immediate reaction was to inform me that she didn't know to whom the phone belonged.

That wasn't stunning news to me. I wonder why she thought that she might have known the phone's owner?

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Every little spin I take...

Not much to report as I gingerly return to normal activity.

I feel like I am taking two steps forward and one step back each day. Periods of reasonable stability are followed by periods of unsteadiness. I felt reasonably stable working at the hospital yesterday but then today I battled a fuzzy head most of the day.

And Murphy's Law came into play. I found myself wobbling everytime I had to check for patients walking behind me as I escorted them to the wards so of course one after another today a series of friendly, chatty patients chose to chat with me forcing me to spin around unsteadily to make eye contact.

I'm sure some of them must have wondered whether their friendly volunteer escort was drunk on the job.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Every Little Step

Every Little Step is a documentary about the audition process for a Broadway revival of the musical, A Chorus Line, which itself is a show about the audition process for a Broadway musical.

This is a terrific documentary which not only conveys the extraordinary effort that goes into casting a show but also provides fascinating insight into how the original Broadway show was conceived between 1974 and 1976. Some of those involved in the original production feature prominently in the revival.

How the Directors choose between so many talented performers amazes me but I suppose that is their job.

My favourite moment in the documentary is when one of the candidates delivers a monologue about the time when his parents see him perform in drag for the first time. It is not often that a movie scene draws tears from me but this moment did.

There was something else unusual about the audience reaction at the session we attended yesterday. Not a single person rose to leave the cinema until the closing credits had ended. When that happens you know that the movie has made a significant impression on the audience.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Art imitates my life

My current read is David Leavitt's book Martin Bauman written in 2000. The fictional Bauman is a young gay man struggling both to be a published author and to come out of the closet.

The novel contains a scene in which Bauman, reeling from a romantic disappointment, allows himself to be picked up by a stranger who takes him back to his apartment only to be mugged by the stranger on the stairway.

Other than that the fictional incident occurs in New York, it reads eerily similar to an actual mugging I experienced in 1974 within my first week of arrival to work in London.

It felt very strange indeed reading that scene.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

What's cooking?

As I've written previously I spent a lot of time during my enforced home rest watching rubbishy television, especially daytime programs. But in addition to viewing the daytime shows I became a late convert to Masterchef. I wish I had watched the series from the start because what I have seen in the past three weeks has been most entertaining, tension filled and informative to boot.

Apparently a lot of others feel the same as myself because I have read that last Wednesday's elimination program out rated the broadcast of the State of Origin football, traditionally one of the year's highest rating screenings.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Step by step, number by number

Today I took my first tentative steps back to my usual volunteer activities by returning to the Day Care Centre. I found myself a little disoriented by unsteadiness but managed to get through my regular chores serving and cleaning up after morning tea and lunch by when it appeared to the manager that I was starting to tire. She suggested that I take on Bingo calling during the afternoon rather than work on the afternoon tea which is what I would usually be doing after lunch.

It proved an interesting change calling bingo numbers for a group of aggressive senior citizens jockeying for the available prizes.

Oh...and I definitely was not dressed like the bingo caller pictured.

Afterwards I rang Ce and cancelled bridge tonight. My day at the Nursing Home had definitely proved sufficient exertion.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Poor Boy

Mk and I saw Poor Boy last night. It is described as a play with songs by Matt Cameron and Tim Finn (of Split Enz fame).

On his seventh birthday Jem informs his startled parents that he is not their child but a deceased adult named Danny. What ensues is a tangled relationship between the Glass family who see themselves losing their son Jem and the Pryor family stunned to apparently have their deceased Danny returned to them.

It is an interesting tale beautifully staged and performed with a contemporary and at times haunting musical score.

This was the latest in our Sydney Theatre Company subscription series. The production originated with the Melbourne Theatre Company.

By the way, this was my first visit to a theatre or cinema since my hospitalisation three weeks ago and it was good to get back into the swing of things even though the effort left me a bit wobbly on my feet by night's end.

Monday, 13 July 2009

This woman is dangerous

Spending the past three weeks recovering in front of television I have seen enough of Miss Marple to last me...well...a lifetime.

I don't know anyone in their right mind who would spend a weekend at the same place as her. If you weren't murdered during the stay you would at least find yourself being accused of murder at some stage by one or other of those in attendance.

Yes, far too dangerous. A bit like going to live in Midsomer really.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Father and son

Returning from coffee at Ae's yesterday, Hn asked me about my interest in football. Gay men are not thought of as being into sports usually. There are in fact plenty who are interested just as there are professional footballers who are gay although generally they do reveal themselves until after their careers have ended.

This conversation got me thinking to my childhood when I had no interest in sport whatsoever and how that changed completely from about the age of fourteen.

When my parents discovered my sexuality - and I was very young at the time - their initial reactions were, what I believe now is regarded as typical. They wondered where they had gone wrong. This included each 'blaming' the other for what their son had turned into.

Dad believed that Mum had been 'too mothering' of me. Well mothers and their sons do tend to be very close especially when the son is an only child and I must confess my mother in many ways is probably my oldest and closest friend. Mum on the other hand felt my Dad was too remote and had not done enough to influence my behaviour and development. Indeed my Dad had been of that generation that did not show their feelings and therefore on the surface seemed distant. Whilst I never doubted his love for me it was only much later in our lives that my Dad gave demonstrative indication of his love through words and touch.

Anyway, at the time there was much finger pointing and my parents pursued a number of strategies to repair, as it were, their homosexual son. One strategy was that my father started to take me out every weekend in winter to watch a football match. It is not as though my father was already a football goer. I don't think he knew much more about what he was taking me to than I did but that was what my parents thought would help 'fix' me.

At first we used to sit in the grandstands with his workmates. This exposed me to adult male hetero behaviour as they skulled their beers and became increasingly leery and noisy. As I was too young for alcohol and not interested anyway, this was a very strange example to set which I ignored.

Initially, I was baffled by what I saw happening on the field. I didn't know the rules, or the teams or the players or even how the scoring worked. But it didn't take long for me to develop an interest in the games and to look forward to each weekend's outing.

My father no doubt imagined at the time that I was being drawn into a natural hetero liking for manly activities but what initially was attracting my interest was actually the beauty of the men playing, their sexy physiques and the wonderful glimpses of their bodies. Unlike footballers in America who seem totally covered by their football uniforms and protective gear, the rugby, soccer and Australian Rules codes of football provide plentiful glimpses of skin and occasionally much more.

Indeed back in those days, Aussie Rules footballers used to get down on one knee and urinate on the field during the quarter time breaks in full view of the crowd. You can imagine how un-hetero was my interest in this activity as I viewed it through binoculars. Unfortunately but understandably this practice now seems to have been banned by the authorities.

Anyway what was at first an interest for the beauty of what I was seeing developed into an understanding and then enjoyment of the context in which it was presented. It was through my parent's attempts to turn me into a hetero that my homosexual inclinations transformed this gay boy into a sports fan.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

My Psycho Moment

OK, this isn't funny any more.

First came the illness followed by the disappearing contact list. Could anything else be far behind?


This morning I was showering away minding my own business (actually I was examining my orifices and crevices) when the shower screen collapsed on top of me. Poof...the whole thing fell imploded on me just like that.

Did you know that the two sliding glass doors are heavy? Actually they are very heavy. No, make that f@#*&ing heavy. Luckily I was uninjured but I must have been an odd sight, naked and dripping wet, struggling to get these heavy doors off me and out of the bathroom to somewhere I could store them for the time being.

I've called a repair man in to survey the damage and advise on repairs. I don't think I'll be buying any lottery tickets this week.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Finally, an outing

No, not out of the closet; that sort of happened by degrees over the years. My outing was to the nursing home to visit Mum who I haven't seen since before my hospitalisation two weeks ago.

Ae generously offered to drive me and luckily the heavy rain of the morning cleared into a reasonably sunny day as we set out. The last time Ae accompanied me to see Mum was somewhat unpleasant as Mum turned on one her dementia turns of aggression so I left Ae at the Home's cafe today whilst I first checked on Mum's temperament.

Of course, with her dementia, Mum had no idea that I hadn't been to visit her for two weeks and pleasingly she was in a very contented mood which continued when I then brought Ae along to see her. Mum looked very well and I was really pleased that Ae, who remembers Mum well from her pre-dementia days, had finally seen her in this light at the home.

On the way home, we stopped at the Drummoyne Sailing Club, where I treated Ae to lunch and drinks in thanks for the lift. It is a lovely setting there on the Parramatta River, the scene today being particularly tranquil.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Hey, hey, I've done it again...

I drove the car down to the shops and back this morning. It is the first time I have driven since I developed disequilibrium and as I am still not fully recovered - and it was raining at the time - that was not the smartest thing for me to do.

At the start I seemed OK but then as the traffic got heavier and I started to navigate bends and intersections I realised I was a bit wobbly. I imagine that any onlookers would have thought they were seeing Mr Magoo in action.

It will be back to public transport and walking for a bit longer.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Hello? Is anyone there?

What a disaster.

I was prompted yesterday afternoon to download an update for my Nokia phone and PC suite which I dreamily followed almost step by step without attaching too much thought to the process.

Unfortunately the one step I didn't follow was to backup my existing settings and information.


My phone was stripped of all my personal settings lovingly developed over the past eighteen months and more annoyingly my entire contact list - over 120 names and even more numbers - was deleted.

Now I am slowly piecing the contact list back together item by painful item.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Private Practice

I had an appointment with my GP today to check on my recovery from disequilibrium. My appointment was 10am, his first of the day, so I was optimistic that for once I would be seen on time and not be kept waiting.

Wrong. He arrived at the the surgery late and the second appointment of the day was already waiting along with myself. At least the GP called me in without further delay on his arrival but then he spent ages keying around on his computer whilst asking me the occasional question. What are doctors doing on their computers during consultations nowadays? Do they they check their emails, complete crosswords or pay their bills?

The GP's examination indicated visible improvement in the condition of the outer ears but he wasn't pleased that the specialist's appointment for a more thorough assessment was not scheduled until 11 August and was then further displeased when he rang through to get the appointment moved up only to reach the specialist's voicemail. Join the queue GP, that's the service patients get too.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

It's a delirium I tell you!

Good grief, I must have had a relapse.

Of all the rubbishy programs available to me through Foxtel, I've just realised I have had New Zealand Parliament's Question Time broadcasting for the past hour!

Duelling bookstores

I don't understand the dynamics of the mega sized shopping centres. There are businesses in the centres that appear to me to be thriving and always full of purchasing customers that come and go like zephyr breezes on a summer night and then there are businesses that never seem to have a customer present that remain open in the centres year after year.

My nearby mega centre at Bondi Junction contains one of those enormous American bookstores, Borders, that is always alive with customers and seems to cater for every type of interest in books, magazines, discs and moving pictures. It even has its own Gloria Jeans notwithstanding that Gloria also exists in its standalone form not that far away in the same centre. Borders is enormous and occupies several floors of the centre.

Now a Dymocks bookstore has opened in the same corner of the centre and one floor above Borders. It is little more than an alcove in comparison with the huge star spangled neighbour.

Dymocks has been an iconic bookstore in Sydney for as long as I have been alive, especially its large city store (pictured) that for many years was (or at least seemed) the largest of its type anywhere in Sydney. But Dymocks and its erstwhile competitor, Angus and Robertson, seemed to have slowly slipped off the radar ever since Borders and its ilk arrived on our shores.

I wonder how Dymocks will fare at Bondi Junction especially in such close proximity to the behemoth nearby?

Saturday, 4 July 2009


Had lunch at Ae's today (lasagna and salad, fruit tart and coffee) with Je, Be, Hn and Cn. The new baby in Hn's family, Katie, was there for us to coo over - all of nine weeks old and cute as anything. She certainly has grown since I saw her with her seven siblings at the breeder's place just three weeks ago.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Salt and Pepper

I tend to shave daily even though it is an activity I detest and wish I didn't have to do.

However I haven't shaved since my hospital discharge last Saturday revelling in any excuse for slothfulness during my recovery. I don't grow a very attractive beard. It is quite uneven and...oh my...all those grey whiskers! I look like a poor man's Ernest Hemingway.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The upside of recovery

This afternoon I felt the best that I have done since last week's hospitalisation. Still a bit wobbly on my feet from time to time but getting steadier.

And the best bit? I have lost four kilos in the past week and for the first time since purchasing those jazzy digital scales I registered under 90 kilos this morning.

Weigh to go!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Brave Bernadette

I know, I know. There have been few photographs of women on my blog even when they are of gay 'icons' like Bernadette Peters.

This is my fifth day of recovery from my hospitalisation and illness - recovery is proving very slow, unfortunately - and a lot of the time has been spent on my back - no not what you think, just on the sofa - watching television. Ellen De Generes every day, Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters; all the shows that should bring a gay man back to life.

And I've just watched a recording of Bernadette Peters' recent Adelaide concert. Boy she is good and she is brave too. What a surprise to hear her sing There Is Nothing Like A Dame (intended for a male chorus) and Some Enchanted Evening (strictly for baritones only) and do both of them so brilliantly.

A terrific performance.