Monday, 31 August 2009

Mutant Coffee


Last night I had the pleasure of meeting The Mutant for coffee and a chat. I'm pleased that he made time for me in his current road trip. Mutant is every bit as articulate and witty as he comes across on his blog and it was interesting to compare notes on our blogger experiences.

Sadly he didn't drop his trousers for me but I suppose even he has his limits when in a busy Kings Cross coffee house.

Drive safely back to Melbourne, mate.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

The Young Victoria


When I was at school we were taught more about British history than Australian history and much of that was about the Royal houses; the Tudors, Stuarts and the like. I don't remember that we got as far as Queen Victoria and apart from knowing that she ruled more than sixty years, much of it mourning her late husband Albert and mothered many of the Kings and Queens of 19th/20th Century Europe there was not much else I recalled about her.

Assuming that The Young Victoria is reasonably factual I didn't realise that the question of her succession to the Monarchy was clouded in such intrigue and attempted manipulation. The film mainly focuses on Victoria's approaching eighteenth birthday through her coronation, marriage and first child.

Emily Blunt makes a fairly feisty Victoria and Rupert Friend happens to suit the character of a tightly wound young Prince Albert.

The Young Victoria has the grand appearance it requires, much of it achieved through clever illusion rather than actual settings. It doesn't really go into much depth. The story is presented as a series of mostly short scenes touching on incidents much like a stone skipping across a pond.

I quite enjoyed the movie as did much of the audience, unsurprising as some of them looked old enough to have been alive during Victoria's reign.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Good parents/Bad parents


A couple (father and mother) have been fined for neglecting their children.

Leaving aside debate whether the punishment in this instance is sufficient for the offence the case shows yet again the innate suitability of heterosexual parent couples that gay parenting could not possibly provide.

When have we read of gay parent couples behaving in this way?

Friday, 28 August 2009

"Seven miles from Sydney...

...and a thousand miles from care" was the slogan used to promote the Manly Ferry service in my youth.

The half hour long journey from the City ferry terminus at Circular Quay to the seaside suburb of Manly is delightful. Manly is beautifully positioned between the eastern edge of Sydney Harbour and the western edge of an endless vista of the Pacific Ocean.

My and I made the journey yesterday on a sparkling winter's day to be met by Me for lunch.


We crossed on the Freshwater and on arrival wandered around to the Manly 16ft Sailing Club overlooking the Manly harbour side for a long lunch.


We picked a good table on the back deck (above) where My and Me both selected the healthy option of John Dory and salad whilst as usual I selected the least healthy option of Chicken Parmigiana.

video

I took a break from the gossip exchange late in the afternoon to capture the panorama from the deck. It was calm with a gentle breeze which my camera audio makes sound far louder than what we were hearing for ourselves.

As we walked back around to the wharf for the return ferry journey My and I wondered yet again why we don't visit there more often. Even just a half day visit on a leisurely weekday is rejuvenating.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Yeah/No


I wonder how faddish forms of speech develop?

Listen to a sporting star or 'celebrity' being asked a question. For example, 'don't you think such and such about this and that?' and it's fascinating how often nowadays the response commences with 'yeah/no'.

What an odd expression. Is the responder agreeing or disagreeing with the question? In fact the responder is almost always agreeing with the proposition put to them so why don't they say 'yes' rather than 'yeah/no'?

Is this only happening in Australia?

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Potato salad


I'm not sure that a diet of potato salad helps you do what these women were able to do - keep watching the clip - but they sure were flexible. I wonder how mobile they were when they reached 60?

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

It was good


There were no naked men at Sy's funeral but I'm glad that I went.

I left Sydney at 7.30am and the drive was slow in the morning city peak and then quite speedy once outside of Sydney's limits. Very strong gusts of wind buffeted the car but otherwise the journey was uneventful.

The turn out at the Crematorium was large with the mourners overflowing the Chapel into the cold wind outside. Luckily the visiting Sydney contingent was early and we were snuggly inside the warmth of the Chapel. I caught up with old friends I hadn't seen for years, some of whom I have only had contact with for many years through the annual exchange of Christmas cards.

Mt, who took me under her wing when we were posted to London in 1974/75, was as mothering as ever and we resumed chatting and gossiping as though it were an ongoing weekly coffee shop routine.

One of the elderly mourners mistook me for Sy's son following the service and came over to console me over his death and to reminisce about past times. I didn't have the heart to correct him so just nodded in appreciation.

Following the service I made a quick detour over to DFAT for coffee and a sandwich with Da before making the trip home. My pre-trip prediction of a round trip drive of 7 hours proved to be spot on and I was home at 6.10pm.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Farewelling a friend


A friend and former workmate of mine, resident in Canberra, has died following a heart attack. The funeral is tomorrow.

I've rearranged a medical appointment I had for tomorrow so that I can attend. It will be about a seven hour round trip drive all told. I usually don't mind the drive down to Canberra but I often find the return trip on the same day a bit taxing.

I've left a message for long time Canberra pal, Da, in case she has time to meet up with me for a coffee and sandwich before I commence the return journey.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

District 9


A space ship has been hovering over the city of Johannesburg for more than twenty years. It carried millions of extra terrestrial beings who have since been placed in a camp named District 9. Community pressure and the breakdown of order have forced the authorities to arrange for these beings to be forcibly re-located to a new camp well outside the city.

At the outset, District 9 is presented as a documentary or current affairs feature with experts and observers providing face to camera comment on what is being broadcast. The references to refugee/stranger issues are pretty obvious in the early stages.

Then the observer comment recedes and the film seems to transform to a tale of conspiracy before then transforming again into a long final noisy chase/battle scene.

Films like Star Wars and ET The Extra-terrestrial have featured interplanetary creatures and their success has rested in part on their use of humour and charm.

There is some humour in District 9 almost all of it provided by its nerd like lead character performed by Shartlto Copley but for mine the film is totally devoid of charm.

As you'd expect in a film with Peter Jackson connections, the special effects are well done.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

All quiet on the Sydney waterfront

I had to go down to the Sydney Theatre Company box office to exchange ticket dates for a forthcoming production. The box office along with the Company's offices and two of the theatres it uses are located in a refurbished former cargo wharf.

After making my transaction I wandered along the adjoining wharf. It was still reasonably early - just after 9am - and cloudy and few people were about. The harbour was quiet too.

I couldn't resist taking a quick video snapshot of the scene.

video

Panning from east to west, some fisherman are nearby, a boutique hotel is in the refurbished wharf that sits in the shadow of the roadway leading onto the Harbour Bridge, a train is rattling across the Harbour Bridge, the North Sydney business district can be seen across the harbour, Blues Point Tower sticks out on the foreshore like a sore thumb, Balmain foreshore is in the distance looking west and then some more refurbished wharves where new offices and apartments are located are visible.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Coogee lunch

I know we lunch at Coogee RSL frequently but it provides a delightful outlook and is a pretty pleasant place to visit especially during the week and outside of official summer when the crowds are not around.


The weather was gorgeous again yesterday and the view from our table relaxing.


Ae and I both ordered the Rib Eye. Mine had a bit more fat than I prefer but Ae's looked fine.


Ce ordered a Seafood Salad.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Love birds


This pair was enjoying a long nuzzle and cuddle on my kitchen window sill this morning until they sensed me aiming my camera at them and then abruptly parted.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Saturn's Return


Tommy Murphy's play presents three characters in four loosely linked scenes which feature much discussion about sex, role play and relationships. The first of the scenes seems stilted and the last of them diverts into a bewildering extra-terrestrial tangent. Saturn's Return has the occasional bright moment but was pretty hard going at times.

My theatre-going companion, Mk, almost always can provide an explanation of a play's theme or intent that puts my mind at rest but after this one he was as clueless as I was on what we had seen.

A disappointment really after Murphy's earlier very entertaining interpretation of Holding the Man.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Let them eat cake...


Today is Cupcake Day for the RSPCA.

I'm not much of an animal person but any excuse to eat cupcakes works for me.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Back in the saddle


It's been a while.

After all, I was hospitalised following my 60th birthday and then convalescing for some weeks.

But for those who just must know these things, I've finally had sex as a 60 year old.

That's all.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

White laces


As if I hadn't spent enough money this week I continued my unplanned shopping spree today by ducking into the Bondi Junction mega centre and picking up some new pants.

Just as an aside why was the centre so packed today? Why weren't we all outside enjoying the fantastic winter's day weather? After all the temperatures today are in the low 20s - around 70 Fahrenheit - ahead of a summery 30 - around 86 Fahrenheit - tomorrow, would you believe.

Well my excuse is that I tend to stupidity but what was the excuse of the others?

Anyway, having wasted another couple of hundred dollars I then sought out my final and cheapest purchase of the week; a pair of white shoe laces. I had noticed that one of my current laces in my white sneakers is showing signs of fraying and I didn't want to be caught out with them snapping whilst I was out and about somewhere.

I picked up a pair in the Bondi Junction Mall. Once home I pulled the laces out of my sneakers to replace them with the newly purchased pair only to discover and be surprised that there is virtually nothing wrong with the current laces. Certainly they look nowhere near being in danger of snapping. Their apparently frayed condition is an optical illusion.

Never mind, I thought, I'll replace them with the new pair anyway except that when I attempted to do so I found the new laces were not only a fraction too thick to comfortably fit through the eye holes but the bound bit at the end (whatever the technical name for it is) was too short to be threaded through a crucial thingamijig which holds the sneaker together.

So my cheapest purchase has proved to be the biggest dud. Go figure!

Anyone want a pair of barely used 120cm long white shoe laces?

Friday, 14 August 2009

My Sister's Keeper


A Los Angeles family with a teenage child stricken by cancer battles its various demons.

As well as my impromptu shopping to fill in time whilst my car was serviced yesterday I also killed time by seeing My Sister's Keeper simply because the timing suited.

I'm glad that I did.

Sure, it is a tearjerker and sad and it's depiction of childhood illness is sometimes confronting but the serious story is told in an interesting way. The acting is excellent especially by the younger cast members. Sofia Vassilieva is outstanding as the ill daughter and I also was impressed by Cameron Diaz in a rare serious mode.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Ka-ching!


It has been a bad week for my credit card.

- Saturday; new clothing and underwear for my mother at the request of her nursing home $200

- Tuesday; specialist consultation regarding my recent ear disturbance $209

- Wednesday; replacement hip protectors for my mother to guard against falls at the request of the nursing home physiotherapist $281

- Thursday; periodic car service and maintenance $437

- Thursday; spur of the moment clothing purchases for myself whilst filling in time during car service $320

I think I might just have a lie down now.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes


Today's post by Andrew brought back memories for me of the day I attended a lecture by Jane Elliott renowned for her exercises in exposing the effects of prejudice and bigotry.

As I entered the auditorium for her presentation she appeared in the foyer and took my companion, Rs, aside briefly. Rs, a workmate, was a very tall, fair haired and blue eyed man. When we sat down in the auditorium Rs informed me that Ms Elliott had invited him to come up on stage when asked during the session.

When that moment came Rs was called up along with a much shorter, dark haired woman of African origin. Ms Elliott engaged them in gentle banter then asked them to face each other and to identify differences between themselves. In turn the two identified the obvious differences; height, gender, hair and eye colour but no matter how much Ms Elliott pressed neither mentioned the racial difference.

It was a fascinating demonstration of how political correctness can be taken to extremes. Ms Elliott's entire presentation was brilliant and if you have never done so it is well worth seeing the documentary in which she divides her class into two groups, the blued eyed group who have all the privileges and the brown eyed group who are downtrodden. Then the two groups exchange places. It is a real eye-opener (pardon the pun).

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

If I wasn't already feeling ill...


I visited my local Medicare office today to claim a rebate for my visit to the Specialist and was bemused to notice that the office was festooned with official Australian Government posters announcing in the boldest font imaginable that

'You can now claim your Medicare rebate at the doctor's'

The doctor's 'what' I wondered? Who edits and clears these Government posters? The same affront to grammar and punctuation appears throughout the Medicare website.

Those bosses of mine back in the 1960s who used to compose their messages with the same attention to detail as though they were writing 'War and Peace' must be spinning in their graves.

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Ugly Truth


One of the ridiculous aspects of Hollywood style comedies like The Ugly Truth which have the premise of a lead character who is unable to find a partner is that they usually cast obviously attractive people in the role making that premise unlikely. Admittedly in this case, Katherine Heigl's difficulty is that she sets standards that are improbably high which might make the premise more believable if not for the fact that it is then improbable that she would be as influenced as she is by a character such as that portrayed by Gerard Butler.

Heigl is the television producer who is stunned when Butler is brought in as a shock jock type journalist in a bid to improve ratings on her faltering morning television program and who then falls under his mentoring influence in her search for a relationship.

There are odd double standards in this film. Butler shies away from saying masturbate whilst the innocent looking Heigl intones suck, cock and fuck with..dare I write it.. gay abandon.

I found a lot of this film quite unfunny and it seemed to me insulting to women but clearly a number of women in the audience I was part of didn't agree judging by their loud and frequent laughter.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Spectator sport

Predictably, I was as interested in watching the cute spectators as I was in the more attractive competitors in this morning's City to Surf race.

(As usual, click on photos for the enlarged version.)


The local fire brigade took a prime position with two firemen at a time being hoisted up high to get an eagle eyed view. The tall building that can be glimpsed at extreme left is my apartment block.


This man in a nearby high rise was still dressed in his undies.


Firemen, police and ambulance officers relaxing under the wintery sun and a passing anonymous cutie too.

My apartment block in left background above.


And the winning spectator in my opinion - who rolled up on his bicycle before the race start and frustratingly for me kept his full frontal view well away from my camera's range. There is nothing wrong with his back view though.

City to Surf

The City to Surf is Sydney's annual fun run/walk over 14 kilometres from Hyde Park in the Central Business District to Bondi Beach. This year's event was the 39th running and more than 70,000 entered. The course passes within 50 metres of where I live which is approximately at the 2 kilometre mark of the event.

For the first time in a few years I bothered to wander down to the corner to watch the competitors pass by. I arrived around 8.40am with the race commencing at 9am.


The street was cleared of traffic by the Police with all cross roads closed off.


The elite leaders passed by just short of 7 minutes after the start. The winner completed the course in 41 minutes and 2 seconds. This is a section of later competitors.

(Click on photo above and you can see a man on his balcony in the overlooking high rise - still dressed in his undies. I zoomed in for a pic of him; see subsequent post.)


And still more competitors passing by.

Some competitors dress in costume. I was generally too slow with my camera to snap the passing parade of Supermen and the like but I did capture pics of a few costumed folk.


Wigged competitors.


Tutu competitor.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Bronson


Bronson is about Britain's most famous prisoner who has spent thirty four years in jail, thirty of them in solitary confinement and without a current release date.

A young Michael Peterson is sentenced to seven years jail for robbing a post office of less than fifty pounds. His violent behaviour is a constant problem for the authorities and usually met with violent responses which only reinforces Peterson's behaviour. On release Peterson is drawn to his uncle who suggests he changes his name - Peterson chooses Charlie Bronson - and soon finds himself back in the prison system.

Clearly influenced by A Clockwork Orange, Bronson features highly choreographed violence against a background of classical music and even moments of Clockwork Orange like face and eye make-up.

Tom Hardy is totally convincing and mesmerising as Bronson. He is never more dangerous than in his eerily still moments from which he inevitably erupts into extreme violence.

Won't suit all tastes but Bronson is worth a look for those who like a walk on the dark side.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Friendly and cordial


Don't you love politicians?

The NSW Government is floundering trying to find some traction to avoid being voted out of office at the next election in March 2011 and the latest gossip is that Health Minister John Della Bosca will mount a challenge to oust Premier Nathan Rees.

Both are furiously resisting the allegations with a burst of politician speak and they faced the media today to refute the gossip. Through bared teeth they described their relationship as 'friendly and cordial'. Out of the mouths of these politicians those words sounded like death threats.

Ironically, the best chance of the Government retaining office remains the fact that as detested as it is by the constituency, the opposition continues to be even less appealing.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Radio Daze


Sydney's radio stations all broadcast their breakfast programs from Martin Place this morning to promote the introduction of digital radio.

I listened to a few of the stations on my non-digital receiver and they were all busy promoting the joys of this 'wonderful' service. Enthused by this marketing ploy I checked the Sydney Morning Herald's 'Guide' which this week reported on various digital receivers noting their pros and cons. Nothing could be less encouraging than that report.

All the receivers are expensive. Whilst that wouldn't necessarily deter me from purchasing a unit the fact that almost every receiver reviewed contained failings ranging from poor screen scrolling through weak output to one that barely produced a digital service(!) means that I won't be rushing to sign up.

I'll wait until there is more digital product on offer, the receivers are of better quality and the price is more reasonable.

(Sorry, James.)

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The Proposal


Sandra Bullock is the high powered publishing executive who bullies her executive assistant Ryan Reynolds into a sham engagement in order to avoid deportation from the USA.

At the outset The Proposal echoes The Devil Wears Prada with its bullying boss and cowering staff but once the deportation scenario is established it switches to rather silly territory becoming increasingly ludicrous and implausible.

The film is redeemed in part by the attractive 'Alaskan' scenery (in reality Boston and computer generated) whilst Reynolds, whose attractiveness matches the scenery, does a nice comic turn. Betty White provides some interesting moments although her native Indian scene competes with a male stripper character for the movie's most ridiculous aspect.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

I was only asking...


"Hi, I haven't seen you for weeks. How have you been?"

I was signing off after my seven hours shift today, a bit weary and keen to leave. Fellow volunteer Jr, who I hadn't seen in ages, was present and I uttered the unremarkable polite query above. Well, she certainly told me.

First I received a complete rundown on her health; high blood pressure and all. Then without any prompting from me Jr moved on to her quarreling cousins and a series of testy telephone conversations they had exchanged. By now my head was reeling from this information about people unknown to me but Jr wasn't yet finished. She turned then to whether she should work on Thursday with My who Jr breathlessly informed me could chatter away endlessly and seemed unable to notice that whoever she was talking to wanted to be left alone. "Do you know what I mean?" Jr asked me, finally taking breath before continuing.

Yes, Jr, I did know and I was only asking.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Juggling water


It's not easy trying to do the right thing.

I was in the Broadway Shopping Centre this morning having completed my business in the public toilet and attempting to wash my hands. I pressed the soap dispenser and then turned my attention to the push button tap (faucet; for North Americans). The water would only flow for as long as I applied pressure to the button. Each time I released the button to actually get my soaped up hands under the flowing water and the water stopped flowing.

So there I was like a juggler, sans juggling items, switching my soaped up hands with as much speed as I could muster backwards and forwards between the button and the non existent water flow.

A bit like a mime artist really.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

My blogging education


I've found that one of the benefits of the blogosphere has been exposure to ideas, issues and even words that are new to me.

Today I came across a word I hadn't seen before. So I looked up "santorum" on the net.

Well, maybe there are some words that I don't want to know the meaning of but what can you say about the reputation of a Senator whose name is adopted in that way!