Tuesday, 29 September 2009

A Streetcar Named Desire

We saw the Sydney Theatre Company's production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire last night. Directed by Liv Ullmann and starring Cate Blanchett as Blanche Dubois it was one heck of a night.


Joel Edgerton (Stanley Kowalski), Cate Blanchett (Blanche Dubois) and Robin McLeavy (Stella).

This is a superb production with excellent acting across the entire ensemble. I do not have the skill to put in words how wonderful is Blanchett's performance. Three and a quarter hours of extraordinary theatre.

The production will tour to John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington from 29 October to 21 November 2009 and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York from 27 November to 21 December 2009.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Surrogates




Some time in the future science has progressed(?) to the point where most of the world's population is living safely at home in their pyjamas and slippers whilst their Surrogates, or artificial idealised versions of themselves, go about daily activities on their behalf.

These artificial surrogates are easily replaced if damaged and with the real humans safely in their homes criminal activity has almost been eradicated and (we are told) so has discrimination; although I didn't catch why the latter should have happened. Never mind, this is not the type of movie to rely on logic or rationale.

Anyway, this cosy arrangement is threatened when a new criminal activity emerges. The real humans start to be murdered through some form of remote control when their surrogates are attacked.

Who better to sort out this state of affairs than Bruce Willis in both his surrogate and human form?

The surrogates are all Hollywood's idea of beauty; young looking, flawless skin and totally emotionless. Stepford to the Nth degree. This is a handy device giving a whole lot of young actors with the most wooden acting skills imaginable the opportunity to be their robotic selves.

It won't surprise you to know that Willis is up to the task of resolving the dangers and thankfully he does so in pretty quick time.

Something that intrigues me in these films is the wondrous power and speed of the computers on display. If only our home computers were similarly efficient.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

It'll be alright on the night

Watching yesterday's AFL Grand Final on television I noticed that once again the pre match 'entertainment' seemed reasonably restrained and organised. The AFL's efforts in this regard seem every year to be in stark contrast to what the NRL manages on it's 'one day of the year'

It is a rare year when some calamity or other doesn't befall the NRL's pre match festivities.

Those that remain in my memory include the year when communications sponsor Optus lowered a giant television onto the arena which fell apart prior to landing bringing the performance to a perfunctory halt.


Then there was the year when the flag bearing parachutists were blown off course by the wind and they landed on the stadium roof and surrounding car parks, none of them hitting the intended target; the playing field.


And what about the time when the entire cast of 42nd Street was left stranded across the field unable to perform because officials had forgotten to bring the music tape they were to use for their performance?


Or the year that Billy Idol was driven onto the field in some fancy car then waited an eternity to perform before being driven off again without uttering a note because of an electrical fault that crippled his sound system.

I wonder what will happen next Sunday?

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Dodo


Here is a rare sighting. A rarer sighting than the Dodo, I can assure you.

It's of me cooking. Well, you can't see me but you can...sort of...see what I'm cooking.

I simply don't cook. I eat...but I don't cook.

Anyway for some reason I decided to cook today and simmering away in that pot to within an inch of their lives are diced beef, celery, carrot, diced tomato, onion, garlic, sea salt and pepper. I've got some potatoes set aside to add later.

I've stuck it all on in time to be able to sit down in front of the television to watch the AFL Grand Final.

If the worst comes to pass after the match and the whole thing is a gluggy mess there still is time for me to get a pizza in from the gourmet joint down the road.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Slippery Eels


I could have hugged him too except that as a neutral observer of tonight's preliminary Rugby League final between the Eels and Bulldogs and I didn't have any emotion invested in who would win.

A good match to watch and the atmosphere from the large crowd was exceptional but why do these mega stadiums create so much noise with their endless announcements and advertisements and the blaring music.

My ears were ringing all the way home.

Oh...and the Eels continued their late season resurgence to eliminate the higher ranked Bulldogs and will play in next week's Grand Final.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Athol Bay to Chowder Bay

Ae, Je and I took the ferry across to Taronga Park where Sydney's Zoo is located in a magnificent position overlooking the Harbour.

Unlike the hundreds on the ferry who headed straight for the Zoo as they disembarked the ferry we made our way to the adjacent Sydney Harbour National Park to walk the stretch from Athol Bay (where the Zoo is) to Chowder Bay. We took the walk in leisurely style - more like a stroll - completing it in about an hour and a half as we stopped to enjoy the sights and sounds along the way.



The view from Athol Bay with the City and Harbour Bridge in the background, Taronga Park in the right foreground, cruise vessels and ferries on the harbour and a sea plane to the left.

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More or the less the same view in movie form from a little further around Athol Bay.



A lizard on the pathway.


Finally at Chowder Bay we stopped for a light lunch and drinks at a hole in the wall type eatery, Bacino Kiosk which looked a little like a converted former men's toilet but was probably a former service facility. Either way it was great use of the tiny building. We sat in the sun overlooking the beautiful bay and adjacent Clifton Gardens watching the navy divers and other leisure seekers enjoying the weekday sun.



Bacino Kiosk.



A neighbouring Italian speaking diner as gorgeous as the view.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Dust


Sydney is experiencing a dust storm this morning whipped up by strong winds which has reduced visibility significantly and left me, an asthmatic, with an irritated gritty feeling in my mouth although I have not yet stepped outside my apartment.

The light, first thing this morning, was an eerie red and then yellow.

The forecast is for the dust to clear during the day. I hope it happens soon.

Monday, 21 September 2009

The Taking of Pelham 123


Having never seen the original The Taking of Pelham 123 I came to the remake without preconceptions and only a cursory awareness of the story.

Denzel Washington is the train controller on the New York subway system who finds himself a reluctant negotiator with John Travolta who takes control of the 1.23pm train out Pelham in The Taking of Pelham 123.

On the face of it there wouldn't seem much scope for action in a situation where the controller is sitting at a console in an office and the 'trainjacker' is miles away surrounded underground in the driver's cabin of a train but Hollywood is pretty inventive and the film manages two hours of sometimes dizzying viewing.

Clearly the remake updates the original with devices that would not have existed when the first film was made. There are lots of mini plot devices that go unresolved or unexplained; perhaps as red herrings.

Although logic takes a holiday in this plot, the film is a reasonably entertaining.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Skipped Skype


A couple of weeks ago I downloaded Skype so as to keep in contact with several friends who use that program.

Soon after I noticed that my access to the Internet started to slow especially in the afternoons and evenings my time. So slow did it become at times that it felt as bad as when I had dial up service.

I wondered why the problem was mostly at the times mentioned and it occurred to me these coincided with what are likely peak times in the USA and Europe. I became suspicious that my Skype connection might have something to do with it.

Yesterday afternoon I uninstalled Skype and guess what? My Internet speeds have returned to normal.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

One blow job I didn't enjoy


Last night six of us who worked together back in the mid 1990s had a meal at the Greek Islands Taverna. We dine out as a group every six months or so taking it in turns to select a venue. The Taverna was the choice of Sm who is of Greek origin and lives around the corner from the venue.

It seems to be a popular establishment judging by the packed and noisy clientele we encountered. The food was fine and I ate greedily from the platters set before us. Probably a little too greedily actually. Not only did I eat more than I needed but the after effects of the spicy food (sausage, souvlaki and the like) are still lingering this afternoon.

At dinner's end I offered to drive Pl home.

Not being a drinker, I stuck to lemon squash and a closing hot chocolate and was not concerned on the drive home when I was stopped by police at a check point and asked to undergo a breath test. Pl had been drinking but he was not asked to take the test.

The test was of the type where you count from one to ten into the machine. Not as potentially erotic as the old 'blow on this tube' type test of the past years.

As usual, one of the first questions the policeman asked me was whether I had drunk alcohol during the evening and I confidently (and truthfully) answered 'no'. When he checked my reading, the policeman asked was I sure I hadn't drunk alcohol. 'Yes', I replied. 'Are you wearing after shave?' he then asked. 'No' was my answer.

Apparently I was registering alcohol on the meter but thankfully not enough to break any rules.

I was flabbergasted that I was registering at all. Was it possible that Pl's alcohol consumption was registering from where he was sitting in the passenger's seat? Perhaps some of the Greek dishes (dips?) were prepared with lashings of alcohol?

I have taken many breath tests over the years and to my knowledge this was first time I have ever registered any alcohol intake.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Blessed


A day and night in the lives of a number of troubled children occupies the first half of Blessed followed in the second half by the perspective of their mothers for the same period and events.

This is the latest in a long and seemingly endless line of Australian movies containing grim and dark story lines.

The children, pretty well all unknowns, are excellent and their mothers played amongst others by Frances O'Connor, Miranda Otto and Deborra-Lee Furness are outstanding.

Some older patrons found the sexual references in an early scene too confronting and walked out. I wasn't too worried by the content but it would be a relief to see some quality Australian films with lighter content for a change.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Strangers in the night...

...exchanging glances, wondering in the night, what were the chances...


A memory from my past.

I was at a popular Sydney gay venue prowling the wet sauna which was a notoriously dark room where an aging queen like myself often had to judge the attractiveness of other prowlers by touch and sound as my eyesight in the gloom was not up to seeing who they were or what they looked like.

On this occasion the touch was very appealing and the sounds (mostly moaning) as my mouth attended to his...well, you can guess...indicated that the pleasure I was feeling was reciprocated.

After a while, the recipient of my oral pleasuring, leaned forward and in a hoarse whisper suggested we adjourn to a nearby private cubicle for some enhanced activity. That wasn't the term he used but again...you get the idea.

So we moved from the blackened darkness of the wet sauna through the slightly more visible gloom of the adjoining showers from where we could make our way to a cubicle. Despite the gloom in the shower room the light was sufficient for us to recoil in instant recognition.

He and I not only worked for the same organisation at the time, we had adjoining work stations there. Neither of us was aware, until then, that the other was gay.

The ardour of the wet sauna disappeared immediately and instead of continuing to a cubicle we decamped to the cafe area for a friendly, non-arousing chat over coffee.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Murphy's law


As I finished up in Day Care last Wednesday, the manager reminded me that we would have a big group to host this week with extra people coming down from the Central Coast for the day. She jokingly warned me not to be off sick as my services would be required.

At the time I wondered whether her joke would jinx me and sure enough on Monday evening I noticed the tell tale signs of a runny nose and irritated throat. Yesterday I was in full cold mode so got myself to bed early and rugged up to sweat the cold away.

I'm a bit better this morning but still have symptoms and will have to keep my distance. I won't be too popular if my cold spreads through the group.

Monday, 14 September 2009

(500) Days Of Summer


Two twenty somethings meet at work. He falls in love with her but she is only interested in being his friend. A sensitive Joseph Gordon-Levitt and wide eyed Zooey Deschanel are well matched in (500) Days of Summer. It's all pretty gentle stuff.

The movie wins points for showing it is possible to have fun at Ikea.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Doin' what comes naturally...


The Sydney Star Observer has a small par this week advising that;
ACON will run a free four week cruising workshop for men interested in saunas or sex clubs. During the course, participants will learn how to cruise, how to reject unwanted advances, information on sexually transmitted infections and how to get the most out of saunas and sex clubs.
How times have changed. Training courses now for activity that I did naturally at...um...well...a very early age, albeit at beats rather than organised venues that were unknown to me in those times.

Probably not a bad idea actually. I bet the practical training exercises are fun.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

The September Issue


It is common wisdom that 'the devil' in The Devil Wears Prada was modelled on Anna Wintour, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue. The September Issue is a documentary that follows Ms Wintour as she and her team prepare the September 2007 issue. Apparently it is this issue each year which is the magazine's blockbuster and obviously each year it must be the best ever.

I had read that what The September Issue reveals is nothing like what was portrayed in 'Devil' but I'm not so sure. To my mind there were many undercurrents on display in the documentary that feature, albeit in exaggerated form, in 'Devil'.

Pretty well everyone is deferential to Ms Wintour and I was bemused to see so many, including very big names in the fashion and photography fields, reluctant to express any opinion in her presence until hers' was revealed to them. Even her strongest staff member, Grace Coddington, expresses most of her critical opinions out of earshot of the all powerful Ms Wintour although to be fair it is clear from Ms Wintour's closing comments that Ms Coddington is no shrinking violet in her presence.

I found the documentary more interesting than I was expecting and was surprised by how much "cut and paste" work goes into the magazine even in this computerised age. The issue's cover girl, Sienna Miller, must have burning ears from the comments Ms Wintour et al express about her hair, teeth and neck. And then there is Mr Talley (I think that's his name) whose manner and dress are obviously designed to set him apart but are so outlandish as to make him a stereotype.

And one final (bitchy) comment from this gay man who claims no fashion sense or awareness whatsoever. How come Ms Wintour wears what looks like the same necklace almost every day?

Friday, 11 September 2009

Balmain's backstreets

(Click all photos to enlarge.)

The narrow criss crossing back streets of Balmain contain many interesting homes from Sydney sandstone colonial times residences to modern constructions.

Disembarking at Balmain's Thames Street wharf the foreshore contains the delightful and tranquil Mort Park to the right hand side constructed from and using some of the features of the dockyards that formerly occupied the site.

To the left hand side are two connected multi story buildings still bearing the words Colgate Palmolive as evidence of their former usage but which now are water frontage apartment blocks.


As viewed from the street it seems the buildings contain very large apartments. Those on the harbour side must have gorgeous views.


The roadside approach to the apartments complex is by Colgate (naturally) Avenue which to my mind is less of an avenue and more a quiet lane. This set of angled attached residences sits just up the avenue from the apartments looking down upon them and catching what the estate agents happily call 'water glimpses'.


Around the corner, another quiet street this time with some stone houses and attached terrace houses further along.


Around yet around another corner, a set of colourful terrace houses with lacework balconies.


Further along and into Darling Street which leads back down to the harbourside and the other Balmain wharf, is this lacework house.


Further down Darling Street, a small sandstone house.


Finally, at the end of Darling Street, peaceful Thornton Park which sits adjacent to the ferry wharf.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Ferry to Balmain and Darling Harbour

I took advantage of a fine day doing the ferry trip from Circular Quay to Balmain and Darling Harbour and return. (Click photos for enlarged versions.)


On Wharf 5 at Circular Quay as the ferry approaches for the commencement of our journey. Other ferries and river cats are in the background manoeuvring for their journeys. The Opera House glistens in the sunshine.


I disembarked at Balmain's Thames Street wharf and took a stroll through Mort Park and Balmain's back streets and then on to pick up a later ferry from the Darling Street wharf which is located in the distance at the end of the street in the photo above. I'll post more photos from Balmain's back streets separately.


A couple of sandstone homes located alongside the Darling Street wharf.

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A view from the later ferry of the western side of Sydney's Central Business District, cruise vessels and the King Street Wharf adjacent to Darling Harbour.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Tarantino teaser


Cursory readers of this blog will have noticed that I go to the movies a lot. It is not through duty. I love the movies and have done so since childhood. My taste in movies is very wide to the extent I will see some simply because they feature good looking males.

Most recently I saw Inglourious Basterds and as my posting on that film indicates it left quite an impression on me. I'm still enjoying the film in my mind days later.

Thinking about it I realise that Inglourious Basterds is the first Quentin Tarantino film I have seen. This was a most surprising realisation. I wonder why I haven't seen any of Tarantino's films before?

Actually I had previously seen about half an hour of one Tarantino's Kill Bill films but that doesn't really count. That viewing was in the screening lounge of a...ahem...sex on premises venue whilst I was resting between...um...dalliances.

I better pull my finger out, so to speak, and catch some of Tarantino's back catalogue.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Inglourious Basterds


In World War 2, a small band of Jewish American soldiers, under the leadership of a menacing Brad Pitt, is trawling occupied France searching for Nazi scalps (literally). Meanwhile the deceptive Christopher Walz revels in his nickname of the Jew Hunter as he tracks down Jews who have escaped the Nazi occupation net.

These and several other story lines inevitably intersect in Quentin Tarantino's cheerful and fanciful re-writing of history as depicted in Inglourious Basterds.

Cheerful may not be the best description given the occasional gut wrenching scenes of violence but the interesting and unusual structure of the film completely won me over after some initial reservations during it's early moments.

Inglourious Basterds is basically five long scenes, each containing a twist and exquisite moments of tension.

I suspect the film also contains many references to movies of the past but all of these went over my head. Nevertheless once I got into it I really enjoyed the film's style and tempo.

A memorable film.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Day and night


Not much to report today except for being really tired tonight.

It was such a busy day at the hospital with Admissions packed for long periods. On the plus side the day's work passed in no time at all but on the negative side I was weary at day's end and still had three hours of bridge to play tonight.

Despite yawning my way through the night's cards we ended up with a quite good score.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Balibo


Anthony LaPaglia is the journalist who goes in search of five Australian television journalists who have gone missing in East Timor during Indonesia's invasion of 1975.

Balibo realistically recreates the times and tragic events when Indonesia suppressed the former Portuguese colony's independence aspirations.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Friday, 4 September 2009

Adam


Rose Byrne moves into a new apartment where she finds Hugh Dancy as a neighbour. Dancy has Aspergers Syndrome. The relationship that develops between the two provides the slim storyline in Adam.

There isn't a lot to this 'small' film. Perhaps it is derived from a short story but the acting is convincing and it has some pleasant moments.

I give the movie credit for not ending the way I expected.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Thursday trivialities


(The Zoo Bar in Bondi Junction)

A leisurely start to the day with breakfast at The Zoo Bar in the mall at Bondi Junction. I don't know why the waiter asks me what I want as I always select exactly the same breakfast, scrambled eggs, bacon, tomato, toast and a large orange juice. This morning was no different.

Following breakfast I managed some completely unnecessary shopping at Country Road in Bondi Junction where I picked up four polo shirts all of them discounted by 30%.

Later on I drove across to the Broadway Centre to meet up with Kn for lunch. He shouted me lunch at an adjacent Asian restaurant in honour of my birthday (only two months late but the thought is what counts). I settled on a chicken based Nasi Goreng.

Then it was back to Bondi Junction for my appointment with the Podiatrist.

By then the forecast rain had arrived dropping the temperature back to an un-Spring like 16c.

All the above 'advertisements' were totally unsolicited.

And now I am home ready for a quiet night of television viewing catching up on a bundle of programs I have recorded during the week.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

On The Beach


My workmate at the hospital, Ja, is going to Hawaii tomorrow and will be staying at Waikiki Beach. She was offered the trip, all expenses paid, just last Friday by an acquaintance who is going to compete in a triathlon there. The acquaintance is a man she has known for six months and who drinks at some of the clubs and bars she frequents.

Ja has been so excited about the trip she has been telling all our co-workers about it and yesterday one of the younger ones asked her whether she will have to stay in the same room as the acquaintance.

I hadn't really thought about it until hearing the question which initially I thought was an odd one and then realised that I probably had assumed that Ja would be sharing a room with this man. I don't know whether this reflects my thinking as a man, or as an older man or even as a dirty old man.

Ja did not miss a beat in answering the question. Interestingly, the answer was pretty non-committal and could have been code for anything from 'I don't care or know' through to 'mind your own business'.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Beautiful Kate


In Beautiful Kate, Ben Mendelsohn comes back to his remote boyhood home to visit his dying father, Bryan Brown.

The visit stirs memories of his beautiful sister Kate and other family issues that have dogged their relationship over the years.

Filmed in South Australia, the film superbly depicts life deep into the Australian country, the hardships and barren nature of the environment. It is a dark film, slow moving and well acted.