Sunday, 31 March 2013

Cruising

It is not uncommon for two cruise ships to be in port at the same time nor is it uncommon for two ships to arrive and/or depart on the same day but we don't often see them travelling on the harbour in relative close proximity.

Two ships arrived this morning within 30 minutes of each other and then each departed this afternoon within about fifteen minutes. Here they are departing.


(Click on photos to enlarge)

P&O's Pacific Jewel at Bradleys Head

Dawn Princess (left) and Pacific Jewel (right)
Princess Cruise's Dawn Princess at Bradleys Head


Saturday, 30 March 2013

A tale of two countries


I came across this photograph on another blog. Apparently the young man second from the left in the top row is the David Cameron, now the Prime Minister of Britain. The blog indicates the photo is of members of Bullingdon Club, described as 'the elitist Oxford University drinking and dining clique'.

Of course there have been Australian Prime Ministers who enjoyed a drink too. Only ours in the main have not been elitist.

Bob Hawke

Friday, 29 March 2013

Light and shade

 Good Friday morning, cloudy for those in Sydney's east and sunny for those to the west.


Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Trams of Lisbon

The arguments for or against returning trams to Sydney flare and fade periodically. One common argument against trams in Sydney is that many of our streets are too narrow and winding. Those using that argument may never have been to Lisbon.

Even if you have no interest in trams, this video has its charms which include some fascinating glimpses of Portugal's capital city. Enjoy the atmospheric music too.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

I have nothing to wear

In the lead up to our recent holiday in South America and since then with a female friend travelling half way around the world on the Queen Mary 2 conversation turned to clothes. In short, my female friends, looking to buy travel worthy and fashionable clothing bemoaned the paucity of suitable items for women of their age.



Like me, they are in their early to middling 60s. What particularly annoyed them was their perception that the men's clothing stores feature such a huge range of clothes. 'You (that is, men,) have it so easy' they have shouted at me more than once. Yes, they literally shouted.

Well, the irony is that I see it the same - but in reverse. All I see in those multiple floors of women's fashion is an endless array of choice for my lady friends.

My lady friends say - ahem, shout - 'there is so much menswear on offer and it is all beautifully laid out for your selection' (accusing fingers pointed in my direction).


No, I reply in vain, probably shouting too. It is all a mirage. Once I discount items that do not suit me because of colour, fit, size and/or inappropriateness, what I am left with by way of choice is very limited indeed.

Cliches come to mind; you know, glass houses and green pastures and the like.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Imposter


'The Imposter' is a documentary film featuring in depth interviews with the actual participants in a mysterious affair that surely falls into the category of truth being stranger than fiction.

In 1994 a 13 years old blond, blue eyed boy disappeared from his home town in Texas. More than three years later his family is told that the boy has been discovered in Spain and when reunited they accept him as their missing relative even though the boy they welcome back is clearly years older than he should be, has brown hair and brown eyes, and speaks English with a strong French accent. How could this be? What happened after they settled into family life together? Who got away with what?

You'll be left scratching your head yet apparently it is all true.

★★★★

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Driving Miss Daisy


In 1948 An elderly Jewish woman (Angela Lansbury) reluctantly takes on an African American chauffeur (James Earl Jones) at the urging of her son (Boyd Gaines) and over the next twenty four years the two develop a strong bond.

This poignant, yet delightful, reminiscence of an era of institutionalised discrimination is brought superbly to life by the illustrious star duo of Lansbury and Jones matched all the way by the lesser known Gaines.

The craft and skill of the performers is evident with every line delivered, each phrase provided with magnificent timing. Performers of this capacity must be a playwright's dream.

Effortless brilliance.

★★★★1/2

Friday, 22 March 2013

Zero Dark Thirty


'Zero Dark Thirty' begins with the sounds, but no vision, of events in the USA on 11 September 2001. The story that ensues relates to the work of the CIA to track down senior figures who might be plotting further attacks and eventually to tracking down the number one enemy, Osama Bin Laden.

The opening scenes of interrogation of prisoners are unsettling to say the least but the film becomes riveting when it eventually focusses on one agent's investigation and search efforts.

Employing a quasi documentary style, 'Zero Dark Thirty' is not the most accessible of films with occasionally unclear dialogue and references to names that mean little to those of us not expert in the events. Nonetheless these possibly deliberate deficiencies don't detract from what is overall an above average film.

★★★★

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Little Mercy


(Sydney Theatre Company)

'Little Mercy' is a spoof on those movies where a childless couple who is unable to conceive adopt a child who turns out to be evil incarnate.

The 'child' in 'Little Mercy' is an eye bulging Bette Davis style terror played with relish and intent by Jill McKay. Her parents and nanny are played with full gender bending campness by Ash Flanders and Luke Mullins.

This at times hilarious, at times offensive piece of theatre will not be for everyone. I loved it.

★★★★

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

An old Queen in Sydney


The Queen Mary 2 in Sydney today as viewed from Mrs Macquaries Point. It is berthed at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay and in the above pic is seen between the southern roadway to the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. QM2 departs Sydney at midnight tonight headed eventually for its home port at Southampton but stopping first, for Andrew's benefit, in Melbourne.

My friend Sn will be on board as far as Durban in South Africa. This old Queen, that is to say; I, have promised Sn to farewell her by dancing nude in my bedroom window flashing the lights on and off so that she can identify my apartment from the vessel.

If I'm not heard from again then the best guess is that I have been detained for offensive behaviour. Either way, Sn's cruise can only improve after a start like that.

Here is another pic taken today from the same vantage point but without the zoom. It is a very popular photographic stopping point for tourists for obvious reasons.


Monday, 18 March 2013

Performance (A Late Quartet)


'A Late Quartet' has been released in Australia under the title 'Performance' apparently to avoid any confusion with the recent British release 'Quartet'.

The leader of a string quartet tells his colleagues he has to retire for health reasons after twenty five years of their partnership. This development triggers a reappraisal of relationships and stirs up emotions.

'Performance' is set in New York but this is not the city of Manhattan skylines. Often, but not always wintery in appearance, this is the city of art and values and of passions bubbling beneath the veneer of quiet civility.

What raises this film above the average is the fine ensemble acting especially from its four leads, Christopher WalkenPhilip Seymour HoffmanCatherine Keener and Mark Ivanir each of whom delivers an outstanding acting master class.

★★★★

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Broken City


Russell Crowe is a boots and all Mayor of New York who engages private investigator Mark Wahlberg to get dirt on his own wife in the lead up to a close re-election campaign.

Twists and turns, double crosses and the occasional dead body fill the screen in 'Broken City'.

A big screen version of a typical weekly television crime show.

★★★

Friday, 15 March 2013

'Order, order.....'

....the Speaker shouts, sometimes in vain, as she tries to bring the House of Representatives to order in Federal Parliament.

There was no need for order yesterday morning as the Leader of the House droned on whilst he tabled a series of new Bills relating to the media.


Notice the banks of empty seats behind him? You know, the ones that are usually filled with nodding heads during the cut and thrust of Question Time. Actually for a while there was no one behind him at all when the camera panned for a full view of the empty chamber. There was one, just one, Opposition member seated on their side facing him. I don't know who that member was but he must have drawn the short straw for 'duty member'!

For a while the number of officials present outnumbered our representatives.


Two Clerks, three Public Servants and one attendant outnumber the Speaker, the Leader of the House, one Minister doing his own thing on the front bench, the 'duty' Opposition member and one sole Government back bencher alone amongst a sea of empty seats. Come to think of it why is that one back bencher there? Hasn't he got things to do or constituents to see like all of his colleagues? If I were his constituent I'm not certain whether I'd be happy or angry to see him there slacking off on the back bench.

The newspapers huffing and puffing about the injustices of the proposed media legislation might lead one to believe these bills are a matter of great significance. Yesterday our elected representatives, by their absence, appeared far more sanguine.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Sail away

Is your doctor/lawyer/other professional not available Wednesday afternoons? S/he may be on the harbour participating in the mid week sailing races.


Where there's smoke....

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Bridge

tonight, 55.80%, 3/11, surprising result as I felt we were scarcely doing better than mid table during play.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

My cliche rules

Ashlee & Sophia - The Seven Network

Hey babe?

Yeah, babe?

I'm feelin confident tonight, babe.

Me too, babe.

We have to smash it tonight, babe.

Sure, babe.

We have to be on point tonight, babe.

Yeah, babe.

Our (insert ingredient of the day) has to be perfect tonight, babe.

Sure thing, babe.

Great, babe.

Yeah babe, great babe.

babe, babe, babe, babe, babe, babe, babe, babe, babe, babe, babe,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Monday, 11 March 2013

I Give It A Year


It is fairly ominous when the trailer for a comedy isn't funny as is the case with 'I Give It A Year' so I didn't have high expectations of the film which is about a couple who marry following a whirlwind romance and soon find that they may not be as suited to each other as they believed.

I didn't notice until after the screening that the film is directed and written by one of the the writers of 'Borat'. This would explain the endless tasteless jokes and the host of irritating characters.

A rather unpleasant film which badly misjudges its impact.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Toxic

Watching last night's television coverage on the ABC of the Western Australia state election was not the most riveting of evenings.

Julie Bishop speaking (as usual) whilst Steve Smith turns to his phone


The result was obvious from the start so there was no suspense nor tension, apart from Labor Federal Minister Steve Smith's gnashing of teeth as one dire voting return after another was posted for his party. Smith is a nice fellow and I felt some relief for him as several results turned his party's way later in the evening. Sure, mostly those later swings only meant his party had lost a seat by a lesser margin than earlier feared but still it constituted some element of good news.

The Conservative's Julie Bishop induced gnashing teeth on my part, her manner being particularly irritating. Each time she spoke it was like chalk scraping down a blackboard. Unlike Smith who maintained a regal political impartiality Bishop missed no opportunities to rub the result in Smith's face. When Bishop surmised the State result was a product of Labor's toxic brand nationally I decided enough was enough.

I turned to the radio for the remainder of the evening which mostly constituted the two leaders' victory/concession statements. The Liberal leader's statement was fairly typical without being unduly triumphant. The losing Labor leader, unknown to me, seemed positive enough in defeat but what I took away most from his statement was a peculiar mannerism of repeating his sentences. I wondered for a time whether my digital radio had developed a transmission blip.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Side Effects


A young married woman (Rooney Mara) finds herself unable to cope when her husband is released from gaol after being found guilty of insider trainer. She turns to a psychiatrist (Jude Law) for help but experiences 'Side Effects' from the medication he prescribes.

For much of its length this is an interesting study of the world of pharmaceuticals and their marketing but after about an hour the movie takes an unexpected turn into something different. For one moment I thought I must have fallen asleep briefly and woken into a new movie altogether.

Overall, an entertaining albeit far fetched movie.

★★★1/2

Friday, 8 March 2013

Scenes from the food court

What the men about the mall are eating......

A healthy salad from Sumo

These fitness trainers eating KFC and Subway!

Two young cubs getting stuck into Oporto chicken
I was hiding behind my $9.98 one curry (butter chicken), one plain naan and one can of drink (Pepsi Max) lunch.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Mrs Warren's Profession

(Sydney Theatre Company)

So what is 'Mrs Warren's Profession'? Yes, you guessed it. This is the 1890s and Mrs Warren is keeping her daughter financially secure in Britain whilst she pursues her profession across Europe. When Mrs Warren returns to Britain with three of her ardent admirers in tow, the daughter, a wilful young woman of her own, learns a thing or two about her mother...and life.

The Sydney Theatre Company's staging of George Bernard Shaw's play might seem a little quaint in language and costume today but the feminist message comes across as very modern.

The cast is strong with Helen Thomson (Mrs Warren), Lizzie Schebesta (the daughter) and Eamon Farren (the daughter's pursuer) stand outs.

★★★1/2

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Monday, 4 March 2013

Save Your Legs!


Cricket and India, a combination pregnant with visual and humorous opportunities. Based, as 'Save Your Legs!' is, on an actual Australian club tour of the country in 2001 I was hopeful of seeing a comedy with subtle observations of the event.

Sadly this is not a subtle film. Instead it trots out characters and situations that are stereotypes and cliches. A pity, because the occasional fleeting image promises much more than what is delivered.

Disappointing.

★★1/2

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Friday, 1 March 2013

Anna Karenina


This umpteenth adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's tale of the doomed 'Anna Karenina', a married woman whose affair with the dashing and arrogant aristocrat Count Vronsky can only end disastrously, is certainly an unusual mix of choreography and tableaux style posture. Sumptuous images and costumes fill the screen to the background of a lushly romantic soundtrack. Joe Wright's imaginative production is of the style of Baz Lurhmann without the latter's frenetic editing.

I'm not sure if this interpretation is much more than an indulgence but it is a delicious one.


★★★1/2