Sunday, 31 October 2010

Well, I'll be hallowed!

(St Stephens Newtown churchyard this morning)

Halloween; for me another one of those cultural oddities seen only in American movies and not, in my experience, practised in Australia.

But times are changing.
(Woollahra)

A few neighbour's homes have been decorated with faux cobwebs and the like presumably showing themselves receptive to a 'trick or treat'.

But all of this is a mystery to me. Who 'tricks or treats' whom; the one knocking on the door or the one who answers the knock? And what are the responses? I know that lollies ('candy' for North American readers) are a response to 'treat' but what is the response to 'trick'?

I need to know in case this 'treat', seen wandering through the churchyard this morning, should knock on my door.
(Trick or treat?)

I gather all types of costume are acceptable on this day.
(Redfern)

And it looks like cobwebs are not essential decoration either.
Meanwhile back at the churchyard it seems the artists have been busy at night.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Food Glorious Food

Much (publicity? marketing?) has been made of the gourmet food outlets in Westfield Sydney whose Stage 1 opened on Thursday.

Chef Justin North giving his staff last minute instructions and a quality assessment just before the opening of his gourmet Burger outlet.
Three of the said product on the griller a short time later.
The Italian gelato, cookie and cakes outlet and it's grand curved servery which the owner claims was built by the same Italian firm that makes Ferraris and flown to Sydney for assembly and installation.
Discussing the Gelati.
A rainbow display of Macaroons.
Seafood and fedora at another outlet.
A massive Reuben Sandwich was the selling point for the New York style Deli.
The Deli looks to be a hit.

Friday, 29 October 2010

You ought to be in pictures

Yesterday's opening of Westfield Sydney brought the cameras out; both the professional media and the ordinary visitors like myself.

What should we get next? The Deli or the Burger place?
Sound and pictures.
I want to be a sound recordist when I grow up.
On air.
Look! Up in the sky....
Is this woman famous? Cameras followed her everywhere.
Tomorrow: the food court.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Shop till you drop

Just what we needed. Stage 1 of Westfield's new flagship shopping centre in Sydney - imaginatively named Westfield Sydney - opened today. One hundred and thirty retail and food outlets with hundreds more to be opened progressively over the next two years.
I expected a largely empty centre when I arrived less than thirty minutes after the opening but found instead hordes of people in suits congratulating themselves on their contribution and fellow seniors like myself treating themselves to a day's outing. Not everyone dressed up for the occasion.
Construction workers had a ball soaking up the atmosphere and getting a little shopping done on the side.
Taking up every vantage point.
Checking out all the levels.
A senior settling in for the day.
Information staff were everywhere helping direct visitors. This especially cute guide was scandalously under-utilised so I stalked him with spurious queries until I was overcome with embarrassment at my brazen behaviour.
Other visitors relied on their mobile phones for directions.
I'll take a look at the media coverage and the food court over the next couple of days.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Easy A

I don't know what to make of 'Easy A' a film that has been well reviewed in Australia.

High school student Olive - do parents name their daughters Olive nowadays? - acquires the reputation of a sleeparound slut when in reality she remains virginal and as good as good can be and in a display of logic that defied mine plays up the image when fellow students refuse to acknowledge the truth.

Critics here have commended Emma Stone for her personality and comedic style and the film for it's above average witty screenplay and I can see some merit in those opinions. But the film itself left me quite uneasy.

At a time when bullying is a problem and young gay men are being encouraged that 'it will get better' here is a film that has a gay student paying a girl to make it appear he has had sex with her in order to end bullying and conceal his sexuality. The behaviour of the students in the film is almost without exception unattractive and often nasty.

A school teacher is depicted as passing on a sexually transmitted disease to one of the students and this is treated as just another humorous element.

The girl's parents are depicted as so hip and understanding (or whatever the current equivalent terminology) to the point that I found them to be an irritation and unbelievable. I longed for them to quit their endless wise cracking and knowing comments.

The film is, notwithstanding the above, a cut above what is usual in this genre but it's messages are regrettably very mixed.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

A dog's life

I'm not an animal or pet person and rarely have I succumbed to the charms of friend's companion animals although there was the period about thirty years ago when my parents were befriended for several years by their neighbour's dog D and I found him to be lovable. Otherwise I am neutral and unemotional in the presence of these highly loved creatures.

It is probably best that way if my only instance of pet 'ownership' is any guide. It was around 1979 and I had been working in Hong Kong for more than two years. One of my colleagues and his family were returning to Australia on completion of their posting and in a moment of supreme optimism they bequeathed their pet budgerigar - oddly named 'Butch' - to my care. B lasted a full two days when I discovered the poor thing rigid with rigormortis in it's cage. I imagined it died of heartache having lost it's loving family of previous years but I fear it sensed my total absence of animal sensitivity and thought it would be best out of this world.

That brings me to these three dogs.
My good friend Ae has owned dogs for the past twenty five years or so. First there was N a black Labrador (I think) who was a lovely dog and who finally called it a life aged around 12 (maybe a year or two older). N was replaced by T, the Golden Retriever disdainfully refusing to face my camera in the photo above. She has also been a lovely dog, beautifully behaved but now at 15 years is a rather tired lady who has to be lifted around quite a lot and for whom going for a brisk walk is but a memory.

Poor T has developed a growth near her mouth and a very emotional Ae told me her fears that T has cancer. Everyone knows that T is nearing the end, not the least Ae herself as she bought P - the Golden Retriever standing next to T - to be T's successor last July. In fact Ae took me with her to choose P; one of two remaining available from a litter of eight. Ae is extremely fragile about T nearing her end, behaviour hard-hearted me finds a little over the top but I keep those thoughts to myself.

The other Golden Retriever in the photo - the one standing in the background - is K. P and K are sisters (is that what you call females from the same litter?) and in a situation of humans imitating their animals K is owned by Hn who just happens to be Ae's sister (but they are not from the same human litter). K and P are aged about eighteen months and their personalities are as different as...well...as chalk and cheese. K is the Duracell bunny endlessly jumping all over things, especially me, and generally outwrecking Whelan - a reference there for Andrew). P, on the other hand, is more restrained and less of a handful although lively enough. Oddly the two sister owners are similarly different...but in reverse.

In a further twist, eighteen months' old sisters K and P are related to fifteen years' old T through some doggy family tree that defies my capacity for explanation.

One day fairly soon...maybe too soon...T will bid us farewell. Ae's tears will be flowing.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Life As We Know It

Does it seem like Groundhog Day to Katherine Heigl every time she starts filming a new movie? It should. Her films are starting to form a pattern. Attractive woman finds herself in a relationship with the anithesis of her ideal man only to fall in love with him at the end.
Sorry. I have given away the premise of the pompously titled 'Life As We Know It' which is not as one might consider a David Attenborough nature documentary but what Hollywood nowadays regards as a romantic comedy. Actually if you have seen a Heigl movie in the past it is exactly what you'd expect. This is at least the fourth movie, following on from 'Knocked Up', '27 Dresses' and 'The Ugly Truth' where the poor woman is having trouble finding a permanent relationship. Can someone offer her a role as a serial murderer or an inspirational athlete with disabilities...or anything else...to break the mould into which she is being stereotyped?

The setting this time for what I will now name the Heigl premise is that she and the impossibly pretty Josh Duhamel - he wearing the underpants in the poster - find themselves the unwilling and unprepared joint legal guardians for a recently orphaned baby. I can watch Duhamel in anything - especially when he is wearing only underpants - because I find his prettiness very attractive but he is also becoming 'pigeon-holed' in this type of mild romantic comedy which provides a few - too few - chuckles. Sadly his screentime in underpants is briefer than the pair he wears.

Unsurprisingly, the baby steals the movie.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Here comes the storm

A storm approaches yesterday afternoon...
...looking north west...
...and to the south west...
...rain falling minutes later in the neighbourhood...
...and upon sail and steam too.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Chloe

Well to do gynaecologist Julianne Moore suspects that her husband, music Professor Liam Neeson, is having an affair so she engages prostitute Amanda Seyfried to meet him with a view to seeing whether he is tempted by her.
The arrangement leads to all manner of unexpected sexual liaisons. If this sounds like a French situation then it shouldn't surprise that 'Chloe' is a Canadian adaptation of the earlier French film 'Nathalie'.

Set in a snow bound and wet Toronto this is a stylish thriller of sorts, slow moving and mysterious in the French style. Not everyone's idea of fun, especially some of the sex scenes and the somewhat off kilter ending but I enjoyed the journey. Moore and Neeson are their usual impressive selves and Seyfried sheds her 'Mamma Mia' image completely.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

MDCCCLXXXIV

The Supreme Court in Sydney, one hundred years ahead of George Orwell.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Monday, 18 October 2010

Evening Rhapsody

The cruise vessel Rhapsody of the Seas departing Sydney Harbour en route to Noumea in the French Pacific Ocean territory of New Caledonia.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

An 'event'

In the past the Weather Bureau has reported on the weather which could be described as sunny, dry, cold, wet, windy and a multitude of other conditions.

But recently the Bureau has discovered something new...the weather event. Mostly as a 'serious weather event' too.

In this context I would think that 'weather' and 'event' amount to a tautology but I suppose we should allow the Bureau some idiosyncrasies.