Friday, 29 June 2012

Ah-choo......


So many people I know are feeling poorly at the moment. Ja, with whom I work at the hospital, left work early this morning with gastric upset. Cs, whom I blame for my present cold, is recovering from his cold and so it goes.

Expensive cough mixtures seem to have no great effect on me. I had to miss the theatre last Monday because of my coughing and Mk also didn't attend because of a 'hacking' cough. What a sickly lot we are.

I do feel a bit better this afternoon, though, and Cs and I are risking the movies tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Pop up misery


This is my car key. It pops out of its container at the press of the circular button. At least that is what it is supposed to do.

It failed to do that this afternoon when I purchased petrol and went to open my car after paying for my purchase. This possibly probably happened because I dropped the key on the service station driveway as I reached for the door.

The container resisted all attempts in the next ten minutes by myself and a service station employee to activate the key. I rang my roadside vehicle assistance provider and was told I faced a 90 minutes wait for help and so settled down unhappily to wait my turn all the while trying to work on the container. After five minutes or so, the key suddenly activated.

Waiting only to cancel my roadside assistance call, I raced off to the safety of home and the comfort of a backup key.

Don't you love modern technology?

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Cough, splutter....


I've got a cold. I've been coughing, spluttering and occasionally my nose has been running. It started Monday night and as I type this on Saturday afternoon the symptoms are still around.

I think it was Cs who 'gave' the cold to me. We went to Belvoir Street theatre last Saturday after first having a pub lunch together. We walked from the pub around to the theatre. It rained the entire day and was very cold. Cs sneezed numerous times during the day and each time he did so, he sneezed precisely three times in quick succession. Never more, never less than three times. How neat...or anal...is that?

Anyway, I blame Cs. Tellingly, he has had cold symptoms all week as well.

On the other hand my condition could be a side effect of my purchase of the new apartment this week. After all, the cold symptoms emerged on Monday night within hours of an escalation in the race for the apartment deal to be sealed. I didn't sleep well that night, nor the next two nights either. Three nights in succession, three sneezes in succession. Spooky, Dame Edna might have declared.

Like a true man...even if a gay one...I haven't seen the doctor...yet. I've tried self treatment in the form of a well known cough mixture I had in my bathroom cabinet. It hasn't seemed to work so far. That could be because having finally looked more closely at the bottle I discovered this morning that its use by date is in 1995. Remind me to clean out my cabinet, someone.

I've purchased a fresh bottle today. Maybe that will work.

Friday, 22 June 2012

And now the view from the other side....


The flip side to my buying a new apartment is that I am putting my current apartment on the market. Things are moving at frightening speed.

I only exchanged contracts for my new apartment at around 4.15pm on Wednesday when informally I also confirmed my appointment of the same agent to sell my current apartment yet here I am on Friday at 12 noon and a battalion of real estate agents have inspected my place just so they can speak authoritatively about it to enquirers.

A tall willowy blonde Englishwoman has come through as well, pad and pen in hand, identifying herself as the copy writer. Another very attractive young woman has appeared with a digital measuring thingee to measure the place for the floor plan. The photographer was postponed to Monday because the sky wasn't the right shade of blue today.

Everyone agreed the view is faaaabulousss and most consider the 'study' (an alcove to my mind) from which I post these missives could be turned into a third bedroom at a pinch because it has a window. I couldn't think of anything worse...but they are the estate selling experts.

First viewing will be next Saturday.

Help!!!!

'Our service centre is closed at the moment but your call is important to us....'

blah, blah, blah........

I have a subscription with Australia's highest profile pay television service which as well as offering its multitude of, for want of a better phrase, 'themed channels' also retransmits Australia's five major free to air channels in addition to their subsidiary digital platforms. For ease of access I view those free to air channels through the pay television service rather than directly through my television. It is easier because it means I can switch between free to air and pay channels just by keying the number rather than exiting one set of services to enter the other. It also means I can use the pay service's recording, pause and replay facilities for the free to air channels.

Recently the retransmission of the free to air channels has started to play up. First the picture would pixilate slightly, then pixilate more to the extent the picture became unviewable and finally the signal would drop out altogether. Shows I had programmed for record failed because of the absence of a signal.

Would you be surprised that I wasn't satisfied with this level of service? I telephoned the pay television provider and was, inevitably, transferred to a call centre somewhere on the subcontinent. I was guided to unscrew one cable and reattach it tightly. The problem seemed to be solved and I was happy until the next day when the pixilation returned. Instead of calling the pay television service this time I followed the steps I had been guided through previously and the problem was fixed again. Until the next day. Repeat my steps, and the same sequence continued for five days in succession.

Yesterday morning I had enough. I decided to call for a home service. I would ring first thing, I decided. The pay television service advertises that it operates its Technical Centre seven days a week between 7.30am and 11.00pm Melbourne time. Note that, Andrew!

I rang at 7.40am to be greeted by a recorded message that the Centre was closed and that I should try again during the aforementioned hours. What the #$%@^! I rang every five minutes until just after 8am each time to be greeted with the same recording. Obviously Melbourne time is at least half an hour behind Sydney!

Finally I got through to what sounded suspiciously like the same subcontinent call centre I had previously been put through to. Anyway a home consultation has been arranged for this morning. Of course, as Murphy's Law always decrees, the pixilation problem has disappeared today of its own accord. Luckily I have recorded a section of the problem which I can replay for the consultant when, if(?), s/he attends.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Going...going...gone!



On 6 June I mentioned my interest in an apartment which had come on the market in my building. It would make a great upgrade for me, I believe.

I made an offer some weeks back and ahead of the auction which is scheduled for 2 July. I was told the vendors were inclined to sell to me ahead of auction day but wanted to make certain they weren't losing out on potentially better offers. They wanted to see the response to open viewings that had not then occurred. Fair enough.

Anyway, after two weeks of open viewings, another person matched my offer. On Monday afternoon the agent told me the vendors preferred to sell to me but would sell ahead of auction to either of us whoever was the first to raise our offer by a figure that represented a 5% increase of our offers. If we didn't want to offer that amount the vendors would wait for the auction.

Things moved fairly quickly. I thought about this for a couple of hours and felt the requested increase was a bit steep in one step. I wasn't prepared to make that single jump but in weighing up the issues realised that my desire to secure the property was strong. I decided to offer 2.5% more rather than 5% to gauge the reaction. Whilst waiting for the vendor's response I mentally decided that if he wanted to halve the remainder that I would agree. That's what happened.

So within three hours there was an in principle agreement between us. The race to exchange contracts had begun. The solicitor obtained a strata report yesterday and arranged for a building and pest report this morning. I was present whilst the latter inspection occurred and the inspector provided me with an oral report of his findings ahead of his formal report to be delivered tomorrow. Given that I live in the building already there was nothing unexpected in his findings and, more importantly, nothing to give me concern.

I rang my solicitor to give my oral OK to proceed and then went to the bank to draw the deposit cheque. My solicitor saw me at 3pm today and by 3.45pm I had signed the contracts. I took the bus home and had not yet reached my driveway when the agent telephoned to congratulate me that contracts had been exchanged. When I reached the driveway minutes later a smart looking young man, obviously an estate agent in training, was marching towards the advertising hoarding at the street front with a SOLD sticker in hand. They move quickly don't they.

Humorous postscript. About half an hour later my phone rang and a youngish voice (almost certainly the 'apprentice' I had seen earlier) rang to inform me the advertised unit had been sold privately ahead of auction and he was doing a ring around the building in case we would like to use their services. He clearly had no idea I was the purchaser.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Strange Interlude


'Strange Interlude' is an adaptation by Simon Stone of the experimental play by Eugene O'Neill which dates back to about 1928. O'Neill's play ran for about five hours and included a meal break for the audience and presumably the cast. This production staged by Belvoir Street Theatre is a far more manageable two hours plus twenty minutes interval. I gather this adaptation includes all of the original characters which isn't that many actually; nine by my count and three of those appear in only one scene each.

The character around whom the play is structured is Nina (Emily Barclay) whose true love and fiancé is killed at war. She marries another, with whom she does not share the same love, only to learn that he unknowingly carries a 'madness' gene, and thus she should never bear children with him. She falls pregnant, and in love, with another but raises the child with and as her husband's.

This adaptation is interesting. The staging is the usual spare Belvoir Street performance space, the cast themselves changing what few items pass as sets.

I think this is about the fourth Simon Stone staging we have seen in the past year or so and like the others there is a nude scene, in this case Nina and her husband separately shower naked on stage. I'm not sure what Stone's fixation with nudity is nor whether it is essential to this production but as nude scenes go it is handled fairly tastefully.

✩✩✩

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Take This Waltz


Michelle Williams is in a happy, if unexciting, marriage to Seth RogenRogen is an author of chicken cookbooks and this means the constant smell of chicken in their kitchen and a recurring menu of chicken for dinner. Their relationship is comfortable but Williams is receptive to something more.

When Williams, on a regional trip, has a chance encounter with dishy Luke Kirby who happens to be a neighbour, the excitement and danger he represents proves irresistible.

'Take This Waltz' is a curious, oddball film. Scenes that will be confronting for some, such as a female full frontal nudity shower scene or Kirby discussing in frank language how he will engage in sex with Williams, mix with scenes of homely family gatherings.

Williams is a fine actress and this performance maintains her reputation. Kirby is a charismatic individual and I can perfectly understand Williams being drawn to his charms.

I liked it.

✩✩✩

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Cinema memories

I rather like Cinema Paris although I don't tend to frequent the complex. It is part of the Hoyts conglomerate without the downsides of that cinema chain. Cinema Paris focuses on art house films, its four screens and auditoriums are well maintained and you don't find yourself battling with giant pop corn carton wielding noisy patrons with a predilection for sticking their feet across the row of seats in front of them.

I went to a morning screening there today. There were only four other patrons in attendance. It was all very serene. We were in Cinema 2 which I think is the largest of the four auditoriums and I know is the only one with giant photograph panels on the side walls depicting Hoyts Cinemas from the 1940s/50s/60s. Those panels bring back memories.

The left wall

The second panel from the left is a photo of the Regent Theatre. I'm sure it's the Regent in Melbourne which still is in operation but as a live venue. I saw Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Love Never Dies' there last October. The panel shows the cinema was screening 'Anastasia' starring Yul Brynner and Ingrid Bergman. That would date the photograph as 1957.

The right wall

The second panel from the right is Sydney's heritage listed Regent Theatre which was demolished virtually overnight in 1988 and subsequently replaced by a high rise apartment cum retail complex. The panel shows the cinema was screening 'Do Not Disturb' starring Doris Day and Australia's Rod Taylor. That dates the photograph as 1965/66.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Traffic

Andrew is a hard taskmaster. He wouldn't let me get away without fully meeting his 'then' and 'now' challenge. My earlier post refers.

Here is the remaining 'now' photograph taken from my car on Victoria Road at Drummoyne this morning.

(Click to enlarge)
The traffic in my direction was not as clear as it seems from this snap. For one thing, we were stopped at a red light and the traffic ahead had managed to clear the next block. Second, there was a bus in the lane to my left picking up passengers at a bus stop and so blocking heavy traffic behind it. And, of course, there was heavy traffic behind me.

It was 8.48am.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Prometheus 3D


On the eve of the 22nd Century a team of scientists and other adventurers travel to a distant planet in search of the antecedents of Earth's mankind after discovering a series of cave markings they deduce suggest our origins are from elsewhere in the universe.

'Prometheus' is a prequel of sorts for 1979's 'Alien'. In its 3D version 'Prometheus' is a fine film technically with some impressive visuals but I suspect there is not a great deal value added from the 2D edition.

Whether the plot is to your liking probably depends on the extent to which you tolerate your science fiction tempered with slimy threatening creatures.

I liked the look and the technique of the film. I wasn't as fussed by the later stages of the plot.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Then...and now

Andrew set the challenge yesterday with his 1950s/60s photographs of Sydney trams and streets. Generously he selected three locales close to my home so I was able to photograph the three sites this morning.

Here are those three locations in the same order as Andrew's post. (Click on each to enlarge.)

New South Head Road and McLachlan Avenue, Rushcutters Bay

Oxford Street and Greens Road, Paddington

Edgecliff Road and Wallis Street, Woollahra

How did I do, Andrew?

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Lunch at the MCA

After seeing 'Maori Boy Genius' Cs and I wandered around the Quay for lunch at the Terrace Cafe in the new extension to the Museum of Contemporary Art.

I've mentioned previously it is a great location for a casual, reasonably priced meal or coffee break. Here are some snaps from today.

The Harbour Bridge to the north
The 'Toaster' buildings to the East
The Opera House and the 'Toaster' to the North-East
The East entrance
The arrow marks the spot
The inscription on the ground below the arrow reads;

IN THE LOCH
BLOOD STRICKEN
TIME HIDDEN LAY LOST
UNDER THIS PLACE OF BIRTH
UNDER YOUR MIND LIES A TUNNEL
UNDER THIS STONE SALTY DARKNESS
FORGOTTEN PLACE OF DOCKS AND SHIPS

Maori Boy Genius


'Maori Boy Genius' is a New Zealand documentary screening at the Sydney Film Festival. Cs and I received complimentary tickets to see it. Neither of us had heard of the film previously.

The subject is Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti, a young man who is determined to reassert his Maori culture and who from childhood has been seen by his community to be destined for leadership. He was a bright child who obtained a University Diploma at the age of 13 but then was thwarted in attempts to further his education in his home country because of his youth. He turned to Yale University in the USA for advanced studies and new challenges.


It is an interesting film which takes Ngaa's story to the age of 16. He is now 18, studying Law in New Zealand, and was present with the film's Director at the screening to answer questions from the audience.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Friends with Kids


Three couples, long time friends, deal - and at times fail to deal - with changes in their relationships when children enter their lives.

Two thirds of the way through, 'Friends with Kids' turns dramatic revealing the serious reality that simmered just below the surface of what till then had been a fast talking, wisecracking comedy.

A quite interesting premise is undermined by predictable plot developments and an ending which is disappointingly pat.

The main couple are portrayed by Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt. I had difficulty with their characterisation as a couple because Scott's character, clearly straight, behaves for the most part in his relationship with Westfeldt's character as though he were her gay best friend. Westfeldt not only leads as actor but also is listed as the film's director, writer and one of a team of producers. A busy lady.

'Mad Men's' John Hamm, another producer of the film, must be a good sport to also act in the film given that his character is mostly a shit of a man. Come to think of it, so is Hamm's character in Mad Men.

The film has its moments but it could have been so much better.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

At home with Russell till the clouds roll by

I'm at home (yesterday) and a young Russell Crowe is creating mayhem in the background in Channel 7's midday movie. Something to do with Japanese Yakuza, right wing racist zealots and an irritating novice blonde air hostess.

Oh and the sky is darkening slowly ahead of a promised turbulent storm of rain and powerful winds the weather boffins have promised for the past thirty-six hours is about to hit Sydney.

Why am I at home at this time when usually I would be prowling the halls of the hospital with patients in tow? Well, I took the day off. I had an appointment with 'the bank'. No, I'm not in trouble. I went to discuss finances. OK, that's pretty obvious. I wouldn't be discussing my next dinner party, would I?

You see, an apartment in my building is coming on the market. It's bigger than my apartment. It's in better condition than my apartment. It has a better view than my apartment (which admittedly has a pretty good view of it's own) and it's on a higher floor than my apartment.

This is the first apartment of it's configuration in my building to come on the market since 2006 and the last one to be available before that was way back in 2002. My building has a great reputation so apartments here are rarely on the market and when they are, they never remain unsold.

Competition for it will be brutal but I'm putting myself in the mix.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

What To Expect When You're Expecting


The answer appears to be...expect no humour.

'What to Expect When You're Expecting' has some moments of drama but is presented basically as a comedy. Why then is it so unfunny? How can it be that Hollywood, with all the creative resources at its disposal, can produce such a dud?

The audience I was amongst viewed the film in silence. Not a murmur, a titter, a guffaw, let alone a full throated laugh to be heard. Eventually there was a tinkle of laughter. About 90 minutes into the film - I checked my watch when it happened - some laughed when a pregnant woman farted. Classy!

The film's title says it all as to what passes as the overall plot. There are too many story lines each battling for space, few of them succeeding to make an impression. Maybe the result would have been better had those story lines with no apparent point been removed? Might the film have been more interesting if it only revolved around, say, two story lines such as the couple adopting a child from Ethiopia and the couple struggling to fall pregnant who find when eventually they succeed that it's not all that they expected.

Australia's Rebel Wilson tries hard in a small supporting role using a strange accent that, as best I could tell, swings wildly between Ocker and Southern Belle, and maintains a pained expression throughout. She's wasn't the only one.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Rubber and ice

Was I checking out the ice creams or the wet suited young man waiting for his bus?


Here's a clue. It was probably a little cold and wet for an ice cream today.

'Just Do It'...indeed