Sunday, 31 May 2009

Nerdy secrets


wcs has let it slip to me that he keeps his own records for the French Open tennis tournament, sheepishly admitting to nerdish behaviour.

Well, I couldn't let his admission pass without revealing my own nerdish hobby. I compile Excel spreadsheets of football attendances and have done so for years.

So, what are your nerdy secrets?

Friday, 29 May 2009

Two Dollar Millionaire


A man in Sydney is facing fraud charges.

It is alleged that he had a large number of slightly damaged Australian two dollar coins. It is alleged that he was feeding the coins into a vending machine and then pressing the 'refund' button to retrieve undamaged coins. What exactly is the fraud that would have been committed?

Well it seems that damaged Australian coins are sent overseas for disposal and no longer regarded as legal tender. Seemingly this man is alleged to have brought the damaged coins back into Australia and regardless of their status as 'damaged' they apparently were in sufficiently good enough state to be accepted by the vending machine as legal. It is alleged he had 9,000 of the coins.

I find this all quite curious.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

The Umbrellas of Roland Garros


I've been amused by the images on television of ball boys holding umbrellas to provide shade for the players in the breaks between games at the French Open. It makes me think of the days of the Raj in India.

I went looking for a photograph of the scene rather than simply stealing the photograph involving Roger Federer that tennis aficionado wcs has provided in his excellent blog.

I found the above photograph of what looks like Rafael Nadal's younger brother shielding the tennis great at the US Open. Apparently the days of the Raj live on in New York too. The French ball boys hold their umbrellas with arms fully extended which must get very uncomfortable whereas to judge by this photograph the American ball boys get to snuggle up with the players.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009


I have no idea why Josh Brolin is grabbing at his package but it seems as good a photograph as any to illustrate this post which is simply to inform you that Tm, my regular podiatrist, was away today on paternity leave - his first child just born - so I missed out on my favourite view of his crotch as he works away on my feet.

The view of the female podiatrists performing the same task does not interest me in the slightest.

When The Rain Stops Falling


When The Rain Stops Falling is by Andrew Bovell.

Set across a period of eighty years the play presents its characters in the 1960s, 1988, 2013 and 2039. But this is no science fiction piece. Family members grapple with love and loss. The play is intricately constructed with the generations on view simultaneously and separately. Putting the pieces together as character information is gradually revealed is part of the pleasure of viewing this play. I have deliberately not provided a precis of the play here so as not to spoil that pleasure for those who may be yet to see the work.

The simple staging is extraordinarily effective and the play is accompanied by a musician whose performance (and the sound design generally) perfectly complements the play. The ensemble cast is uniformly outstanding.

One of the best plays I have seen through my Sydney Theatre Company subscription.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Floating down the Nile again...


It appears that the Premier is about to backdown on the issue of gay adoption to appease the Reverend Fred Nile and effectively purchase his support for other legislation.

Of course we all know that religious heterosexuals are the only ones suitable to be parents and are the best role models. Just ask Mel Gibson.

Speaking of dangly bits.....


(Click to enlarge - the cartoon, that is!)

Monday, 25 May 2009

Bachelor Boy


As I write Mt is in the air on the return flight to Ballina and I am a bachelor boy again.

It was good to have company for the past week but having lived solo for so long it is also a relief to have the apartment to myself again. I can resume wandering around as and how I please without frightening the natives with the sight of my dangly bits or whatever else I might have on display.

My longest relationship was with En who had a fixation on my bits. His eyes were forever focused on them around the house and for a while I understood how women felt about men who talk to their breasts.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Written on the wind


Today is our fourth and last day at the Sydney Writers' Festival 2009. The festival which is mostly staged around harbour side venues has been battered by strong winds and plenty of rain, some of it quite heavy. Whilst we have been out and about a lot we have been very lucky to have missed the worst of the rain.

Mt and I have attended some sessions together but mostly we split up to pursue sessions in line with our individual interests. So I have been attending sessions with titles like Biography and Intimacy and True Crime Stories whilst the sessions Mt has been attending have titles such as An Evening with Germaine Greer and Is This the End for You, Me and Capitalism?

Mt is the serious thinker whilst I am only interested in the dirt. I haven't told Mt that half the sessions I selected were chosen for the cuteness factor of the speaker's bio photograph.

Yes, I am that shallow.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Archibald Prize 2009

I took Mt to the Art Gallery to see this year's finalists in this year's Archibald Prize.

I'm no expert on art and my tastes in portraits tends towards 'vanilla' rather than the abstract. I prefer portraits where you can make out who has been painted. I enjoyed this year's finalists far more than last year's when there were fewer identifiable images.

Even so I found this year's winner, Guy Maestri's portrait of Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, too brooding for my liking.


I preferred Vincent Fantauzzo's portrait of Brandon Walters - the young actor featured in Baz Lurhmann's Australia - which won the People's Choice Award.


But if it were up to me I would have awarded the prize to Megan Roodenrys for her portrait of Australian footballer Ben Cousins for no other reason than that I could gaze upon Cousin's superb body endlessly.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Chicago The Musical

Taking Mt to see Chicago The Musical the day after seeing Guys and Dolls was like serving a hot Indian Curry after a Rice Pudding. The contrast could not have been greater.

Chicago The Musical tells the tale of two women in prison in the 1920s charged with unconnected murders and their scheming and dealing ways with a notoriety chasing lawyer and their manipulative prison warden.

Mt had never seen the show and knew nothing about it. I had seen the previous stage version in Australia ten years ago and the brilliant movie version and feared that it would no longer have that first viewing sparkle for me.


I need not have worried. This is a brilliant production. The witty songs and sensational choreography were as fresh as though we were seeing the world premiere. Caroline O'Connor and Sharon Millerchip are world class as the accused women whilst Gina Riley, of Kath and Kim fame, is a revealingly sassy warden.

The supporting ensemble is superb and even if they weren't it would be worth seeing the production for the men alone. Those fantastic bodies, the figure and package hugging costumes and their all round sexiness makes this one musical not to be missed.

A final indication of the impact of the performance on us was that it took both Mt and I hours to get to sleep afterwards simply because we were on such a high with the songs and images spinning around in our minds.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Guys and Dolls


Based on characters created by Damon Runyon, Guys and Dolls is set in New York in the post World War 11 period and tells the story of two gamblers, Nathan Detroit and Sky Masterson. Detroit has been engaged for fourteen years without any signs of proceeding to marriage and he bets Masterson the challenge of winning over a Salvation Army missionary in the expectation of winning money to finance his moveable gambling dens.

Guys and Dolls is very much a musical set in its time and this production, like the show itself, must seem very old fashioned if not alien to current generations. I think for its slim storyline the show is far too long and up to forty-five minutes could have been trimmed from its length.

The gimmick of Magda Szubanski playing a male, which worked brilliantly in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, is a dud in Guys and Dolls. Otherwise, the Australian cast performs very strongly with the visit to Havana scene and Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat number standouts.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Sydney Writers' Festival 2009



Mt is down from Ballina for the week and we will be attending sessions of the Festival. I may not post during that time. If so, I should be back with more mindless jottings about my routine life from next Tuesday including a post about Guys and Dolls which we saw last night.

Keep well, everyone.

At least it was hard...

Monday, 18 May 2009

Batman does Robin?


My blogger mate Sean might be able to tell me what Batman is doing to Robin in the above frame?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Angels & Demons


Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code, was an international bestseller which Ron Howard somehow managed to turn into a dull movie.

Now Howard has had another go at a Brown novel, Angels & Demons. Whereas I had read Da Vinci Code, I haven't read Angels and therefore have no basis for comparison as to how well he has adapted Brown's novel.

In Angels & Demons the Pope has died and the College of Cardinals is gathering to elect a successor. During this period of mourning and the interregnum, an ancient rebellious religious group has resurfaced and is threatening to kill off Cardinals and the future of the Church itself.

None other than Ewan McGregor is effectively Acting Pope in the mean time. The thought of McGregor, with his extensive body of naked work in movies, as the principal Fisher of Men is gob smacking but I heartily approve.

Who better to call on to hunt the group down than Tom Hanks? Hanks' uncanny ability to find crucial street gratings and floor murals in this movie, even under the feet of thousands crowding St Peters Square, is truly jaw-dropping.

It seemed to me that Howard has improved on his effort with Da Vinci producing a more exciting and energetic work this time but it is weighed down by its increasing implausibility the longer it runs.

At least there are plenty of scenic views of Rome, its side streets and monumental buildings.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Nine

A trailer for the forthcoming film Nine; the musical based on Federico Fellini's film and directed by Rob Marshall who also directed the Award winning film version of Chicago.



With a cast that includes Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson and Sophia Loren - count the Academy Award winners and nominees amongst that lot - I'll certainly be lining up to see it.

Star Trek


I was never much of a viewer of the Star Trek television series and therefore not too familiar with it although I was aware of the multinational nature of its character list and of the half human, half whatever Spock.

I saw the early instalments in the movie franchise series but then lost interest and did not bother to see the later films. Now comes 2009's Star Trek complete with rave reviews.

This latest instalment takes the characters back to their beginnings with the birth of James Tiberius Kirk, destined to be Captain of the USS Enterprise, even as his father George Kirk is about to lose his life in confrontation with the villainous Nero. We see James Kirk's recruitment to the space academy, his somewhat rebellious nature and his rivalry with the young Spock. Eventually Kirk, having achieved his destiny, goes into battle with Spock against Nero.

Basically, as most of these films tend to be, the tale is of good versus evil. I won't spoil the surprise by revealing who wins.

Most of the dialogue is packed with Star Trek 'speak' delivered with the gravity of a declaration of war against a noisy background. I could get the gist, if not always the substance, of what was happening.

The film is superbly designed and the special effects as Eddy would say are 'awesome'. No kidding, those effects seemed seriously good to me.

I didn't always understand what was going on but the trip sure was fun.

By the way, Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are very easy on the eye.

Dawn

Sydney a few minutes ago as the sun rises.



(Click on photos to enlarge)

Friday, 15 May 2009

Charles 'Bud' Tingwell (1923-2009)


Noted Australian actor Bud Tingwell has died aged 86 years.

Scenes from home...


Guess whose three years' old refrigerator suddenly developed 'a problem'? The freezer door (upper section) started to pop open when the refrigerator door (lower section) was closed.

Guess who called in a technician to repair 'the problem'?

Guess who was mortified to realise instantly when the technician opened the freezer door to examine 'the problem' that 'the problem' was a stocked item jutting marginally too close to the door?

Are YOU looking at ME?

Thursday, 14 May 2009

He can ride my horse...


This is Chuck Wicks, a country music artist. I don't know him and I don't know his music but I saw photos of him elsewhere and couldn't resist posting one of him here.

He can serenade me anytime.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Courthouse meeting


After my 'almost meeting' with James the other day I finally have knowingly met another blogger.

Last night I had drinks with blogger Evol Kween who is on a brief visit to Sydney. It was lovely to meet him and share a few stories although on reflection I bored him with my entire history from womb to blog and I'm sure he must have gone away with a headache.

We arranged to meet outside the Courthouse Hotel at Taylors Square (pictured above) because Evol said that the Square was one of the few places he was familiar with in Sydney. Having met there we found it convenient to step inside rather than wander elsewhere for a drink.

My only surprise in meeting Evol was his height. I had imagined him to be of average height or even a little on the short side but he is very tall. It is said that television makes people look bigger than they are in real life. I can only imagine that blogs might make their authors look smaller.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Samson & Delilah


Samson and Delilah are indigenous teenagers living on an Aboriginal reserve in Central Australia. Samson is mostly indolent spending his days sniffing petrol or whatever gives him a high. He is most active when he gets a chance to play his brother's electric guitar. Delilah lives with her grandmother who she assists in creating dot paintings which the white local store manager sends to the city to be sold.

When separate events lead to their abandoning the reserve, Samson and Delilah find themselves homeless and penniless in Alice Springs.

Cast pretty well entirely with inexperienced performers Samson & Delilah is a slow moving depiction of life and challenges for Aboriginal youth.

There is little dialogue in the film. Much of the story is presented through visual clues. A glance here, a subtle movement of the fingers there and the messages given out by body language.

Not everyone's cup of tea, My didn't enjoy the film at all but I found it quite interesting although not as outstanding as some local reviewers have described it.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Gotta trust that geiger counter...

They don't test products nowadays like they used to. Imagine how much more comfortable you'd feel buying a new product that had been as thoroughly tested as this.



You'd also be so confident in a product whose contact address is a post office box at a railway station!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

The Conversation


It's odd the things that come into my mind when I am showering, most of it seemingly unconnected with what is happening around me at the time.

This morning whilst showering I started to reminisce about my days of puberty and 'the conversation'. You know what I'm referring to; that occasion when your father sits down and tells you about the birds and the bees or how the stork really makes it delivery.

My father never engaged me in 'the conversation'. There I was, hit fair and square by puberty and responding to a strong sex drive at a very early age and yet incredibly naive about sex. I was an only child and therefore had no siblings to educate me about these matters. Perhaps sensing my sexuality or difference early on, I had few friends who might have educated me with their childish knowledge. I was blissfully ignorant about what it was that I was doing with, dare I write it, such gay abandon.

My uncle once attempted a version of 'the conversation' whilst he was driving me somewhere. Goodness knows why he attempted it as my father probably would have murdered him (metaphorically) if he had known. I don't recall much about what my uncle said except that he drew upon the work of some Psychiatrist or other (Freud, maybe) and mentioned something to the effect that humans were so distinguishable from other species because we were the only ones who made love face to face. In my naivety I found this quite a peculiar notion because face to face love was the least of what I was engaging in then.

I must have said something in response to my uncle that alarmed him because I recall he abruptly ended the discussion at that point and the remainder of the trip was completed in stony silence.

Formal education was little better for me. I went to an all boys school. More than a thousand boys at our school and the entire faculty bar just one also male. You can imagine the level of testosterone simmering away in that hot house. Ironically, the one female teacher in the school taught biology and it fell to her to deliver the sex education program to us all. This woman, Mrs L, looked like the archetypal crone and seemed to our youthful minds to be aged about 125 years.

I remember little of the day when it was my class' turn to receive the session except for her closing comment. We were aged about 13 years. That final memory clinching comment to the class was;


"By now boys all of you should find that your testicles have dropped. If any of you still hasn't had your testicles drop then stay back after class and see me."


Ahem. You've never seen such a rush for the door as when the bell rang to end that class.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Necropolis

I always try to visit my grandmother's grave around Mother's Day (this Sunday) both for myself and on behalf of my mother who no longer is able to make the visit to her mother's burial site. My grandmother's grave is at Rookwood Necropolis; also the resting place of my father. In time it will be the final home for my mother and myself too. The name Necropolis always makes me think of Dracula for some reason but it is the formal name of what is commonly referred to as Rookwood Cemetery.


(The old Rookwood Mortuary Station)

I try to avoid making the visit on Mother's Day itself because that is the busiest day at Rookwood with crowds resembling what you might expect at a football grand final. It is not surprising considering that Rookwood is one of the largest burial grounds in the world covering 283 hectares (700 acres). Established in 1868, more than 800,000 people are interred in the grounds.

I drove out after finishing work at the hospital at 3pm. Friday afternoon peak traffic may not be the smartest time to make the trip but it was still worth the crawl out and back rather than battle the numbers that will visit on Sunday.

I left flowers on both graves.

When I see Mum on the weekend I'll tell her about the visit but as is pretty always the case nowadays the information will mean nothing to her but I will know that the visit has been on behalf of us both.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Thailand to Peru


We had a beautiful day in Sydney today, surprisingly mild - in fact warm in the sun.

I had lunch with Ae, Hn and Ba, the last having just returned from five weeks in South America and the USA. We had lunch at the Thai restaurant in Victoria Street just up from the hospital in Darlinghurst paying the ridiculously low price of $10 each for our four dishes and entree apparently charged the lunch time special rate although we had chosen dishes from the regular menu not from the specials.

Then it was back to Ba's for coffee and a computer slide show from Ba's trip including her stays in Lima, Cusco (pictured), Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands. I was rather taken with the images in Cusco, a place I had never heard about previously.

Ae is pressing ahead with plans for us (Hn and I) to do a South American trip next year.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Wonderful World of Dissocia


Mk and I saw this Sydney Theatre Company production last night.

Lisa has lost an hour of her life through a quirk of timing whilst flying home from New York at the precise moment that Daylight Saving time ends. She travels to Dissocia to retrieve her lost hour but finds the task more difficult than she anticipated in this Alice in Wonderland type world.

I doubt I have ever seen a play whose two acts are as different from each other as this one. To explain why would be to give away too much information about the play's underlying theme although that may well be guessed whilst viewing Act 1.

Justine Clark whose costumes almost successfully disguise her heavily pregnant condition is superb in the main role and she receives great support from the likes of Socratis Otto, Russell Dykstra and Matt Day.

I enjoyed the work although that was not the universal view of last night's audience judging by the number of non returning members post interval.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Elegy


Celebrity Professor and womaniser Ben Kingsley sets out to seduce his student Penelope Cruz in Elegy only to find more than he bargained for.

I love films set in New York. The apartment, restaurant and cafe scenes always are very attractive to me. How you react to this portrayal of a relationship across the generations will be a matter of personal taste but I think most people will be impressed by the performances of Kingsley and Cruz. Kingsley is always so convincing playing a range of characters and personalities regardless of whether he superficially has the looks for the part although in this film I think he very much looks and sounds the part. Cruz is impressive in a more restrained performance that I can recall seeing from her.

Peter Sarsgaard has a small role as Kingsley's son. Sarsgaard's sleepy eyed sonambulant acting style will not suit everyone. I have thought him very sexy even before he rather thoughtfully revealed himself full frontal in Kinsey and therefore I am happy to watch him in anything. However I felt several of his scenes with Kingsley seemed quite at odds with the rest of the movie.

There is something French about the style of Elegy, a tale of relationships and not much action.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Driving Miss Ditsy

On Saturday afternoon I was driving to Newtown to go to the movies. As I passed through Darlinghurst it suddenly occurred to me to run my camera and capture the drive.

That is the video below. Fifteen minutes of driving through suburban streets of Sydney. Nothing of any consequence happens. The camera falls over twice. You can hear a sports program on ABC Local Radio, the sound of my turn indicator blinking, my occasional coughing and the almost constant tapping sound of the camera as it bounces against the windscreen.

At about 5 minutes 40 seconds I am turning right at Bar Cleveland and suddenly notice James, whom I have never met but recognise from his blog photo, standing on the right footpath (out of vision). I attempt to open the window and shout out my introduction but miss the opportunity.

At about 10 minutes, as I drive past Sydney University, I notice almost too late that I am about to drive through a red light which fortunately for me turns green at the last moment.

At about 12 minutes and 20 seconds, the ABC Local Radio program starts to interview three Irish Priests who are to perform concerts in Australia.

The memory card runs out just as I reach Camperdown Park where I will park my car before walking to the cinema.

If you happen to want a virtual drive through Sydney or, for overseas readers, a sense of what it is like to drive on the left hand side of the road, watch the video. Everyone else may prefer to move on to the next item.

video

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Mother of Dorothy


The highs and lows of parents with dementia.

Yesterday I visited Mum at the nursing home which is a regular Saturday morning activity.

Her smile as I approached indicated this was a day when she would recognise who I am even if it has been fifteen months since she last called me by my name. Within moments of joining her I noticed, by the smell unfortunately, that Mum had soiled herself. I called a carer over who took Mum back to her room to tidy her up and dress her in fresh clothing.

I remained in the general lounge reading whilst I awaited Mum's return. When Mum walked back down the corridor a short time later and sighted me as if for the first time that day she immediately broke into spirited humming of Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

My mother may not always recognise me but even in the fog of her dementia that is a mother who knows her son!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Stephen Spielberg...definitely not

I finally managed it; and yes the problem was the file was too large. I've taken and now publish my first video. Here it is. Bear in mind this was just for test purposes and is of no sophistication whatsoever.

video

So what is it?

A cloudy, cool Sydney day as seen from my balcony last Wednesday. The harbour looks better in the sun than it does here but never mind. You can hear the traffic noise, the tweeting of birds and only those with the best of hearing might make out the sounds of The Ellen De Generes Show which was playing on my television in the background.

And, oh yes, the zoom on my camera stinks.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Stephen Spielberg...still not


Thanks for the suggestions to my previous post. I tried resaving my video through Windows Movie Maker then publishing it on Blogger but still didn't succeed. I'm doing something wrong and will have to work on it some more.

I have tried Blogger Help, as suggested by Evol Kween but find that Help facility exceptionally difficult to fathom. I rarely find the form of words for the input question that produces the help answer to the question in my head.