Sunday, 30 June 2013

Saturday, 29 June 2013

If I were a tradesman......

la, de, da, de, da, de, da, de, da, de, da, de, da, de, da..........

A man cleaning the gutter of a Paddington terrace, Fiddler on the Roof style, looks down upon a man strolling the footpath below.....


Friday, 28 June 2013

Childhood fantasies

There could never have been much doubt I was gay; not even at a pre-teen age. As a young boy with our first television (our family came late to television ownership) I grew up in the 1950s, in love with, or rather dreaming that I was, Donna Reed.

Each week we sat down to watch her television show, The Donna Reed Show, the stereotypical gentle family comedy, where one or other of the parents knew best and where each weekly problem was solved in the half hour. How idyllic it all seemed to me. How wonderfully WASPish it was; just as I wished my life and family would be.

I imagined myself dancing down the stairs in my pretty apron ready for the day's adventures just as Donna Reed did without fail.

Looking back in the following opening credits it is interesting to notice the subtle changes over the years.



Of course as I approached teenage years I no longer wanted to be Ms Reed. I now had a very keen eye on Paul Petersen, whose recent photo in the link betrays how gorgeous he looked to me as a child actor.

Little did I realise in those years that Ms Reed had won an Academy Award for her acting in 'From Here to Eternity', one of the great films of the 1950s for her portrayal of a....ssshhhh...prostitute. Then again, in those days I wouldn't have known what a prostitute was. Ironically in that role she was matched with Montgomery Clift, himself a gay man in real life.

Montgomery Clift & Donna Reed

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

World War Z (3D)


A retired UN Investigator is brought in to investigate the source a world wide infection causing huge numbers in the population to turn into death causing projectile Zombies.

I haven't read the book from which 'World War Z' is adapted but I hear that the book, written by the son of Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, is a highly regarded geo-political tale presenting the same set of circumstances from the differing viewpoints of diverse countries. The character of the Investigator apparently does not exist in the book but as he is portrayed in the film by Brad Pitt the film, unsurprisingly revolves all around him.

There is no point in observing that the film's story lacks logic and is far removed from reality. After all, it is about Zombies so unreality rules by definition. It is fascinating how quickly civilised behaviour disintegrates in the United States under the pressure of a major calamity; at least according to this film and turning my mind back to events following Hurricane Katrina perhaps not so unreal after all.

As Zombie movies go this one is of superior standard visually but it doesn't make much effort to explain events.

If you are not into Zombie films you won't be seeing it, if you are you will probably enjoy it.

★★★1/2

Monday, 24 June 2013

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Stormy moon


Sunset on a cold, wintery and wet evening. I reckon there is no chance we'll see the rise of tonight's 'supermoon' from Sydney.

Ahhh, but it's cold outside*

(* 'Baby It's Cold Outside' by Frank Loesser)

Yesterday was cold and wet and on my way back from the movies I decided to call into Coles Supermarket at Westfield Bondi Junction. This was an ambitious intention as I know from experience that it can be very difficult to find a parking spot in the centre on any Saturday afternoon and especially so if it is wet. And yesterday was very wet.

As I pulled up at one of the numerous car park entrances - there are at least five that I know of - the electronic sign indicated there were 52 spots available. Now, that effectively means that the carp park is full. To explain, when I arrive at the centre before 10am on a weekday the signs indicate there are 1700 and more spots available. So 52 is a very small number indeed. I should have moved on but against my inner judgement I entered the centre and spent the next 30 minutes in a slow crawl, as part on an unending line of cars, trawling the multi stories facility for a vacant spot or one about to be vacated. It was useless and I joined another slow crawl of endless cars queued to exit the centre from one of the equally numerous exits.

I drove on to my local Coles Supermarket at Edgecliff which is where I should have headed in the first place. The thing is my local Coles has greatly reduced its range of products in recent years making the two outlets at Bondi Junction with their much greater range a more attractive proposition. I only wanted bread and some fresh bread rolls - or as recent news revealed - 'faux fresh bread rolls from Ireland' - and as I expected the loaf was available at Edgecliff but not the rolls.

And so to today with a forecast of heavy rain today and tomorrow, as if yesterday's rain was not sufficient.

It was only 10.5Âșc this morning, a temperature which may equate to summer in some parts of the world but for us Sydneysiders is pretty cold. Yes it is winter and we should expect cold but, well, it's cold and I prefer warm.

It rained this morning steadily and almost heavily but not quite. The weather and news reports all inform us breathlessly of a massive storm heading for Sydney but it hasn't quite happened. Maybe it still will or maybe the predictions are off the mark. It is even sunny at this moment but with lots of low, dark cloud about the promised heavy rain may yet eventuate.

For the moment the heaviest rain seems to be off the coast as per this recent radar scan;


So I'm taking advantage of the lull and off to shop some more today - at Edgecliff, of course - before the rain returns.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Cavalia


The hospital very kindly provided a few of us volunteers with tickets to attend 'Cavalia'.

Performed under a Middle Eastern style Big Top this entertainment contains dancing horses, dare devil horse riding, acrobats and trapeze artists. The performance is both daring and entrancing enlivened by skilful lighting and a fascinating ever changing backdrop.

Two hours of family friendly entertainment.

★★★★

Friday, 21 June 2013

Birthday tid bits......

The medical surgery I visited during my stopover in Rio de Janeiro last January has sent me a 'Feliz Aniversario' email that reads 'Muitas Alegrias' which I believe is 'Many Joys' in Portuguese. I don't get that service through Medicare nor my private health fund in Australia.

Lunch on my birthday was at the Bondi Icebergs;

Bondi Icebergs overlooking Bondi Beach and the Pacific Ocean

The view over a wintery Bondi Beach was still stunning even though bereft of the usual scantily clad bathers and packed sands.

Bondi Beach

I'm not much into seafood but enjoyed a very tasty Grilled Mahi Mahi meal even if it was more tropical meal than winter's fare;

Grilled Mahi Mahi

CZ and I shared a Lemon and Lime Tart and a French Apple Tart for dessert. I suspect not up to wcs standard but delicious none the less.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Send me a postcard, drop me a line......

.....today I'm sixty four.





When I get older, losing my hair
many years from now, 
will you still be sending me a valentine, 
birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I'd been out till quarter to three, 
would you lock the door? 
Will you still need me, will you still feed me, 
when I'm sixty four? Ooh
You'll be older too. 
Ah, and if you say the word, 
I could stay with you.
I could be handy mending a fuse 
when your lights have gone. 
You can knit a sweater by the fireside, 
Sunday mornings, go for a ride.
Doing the garden, digging the weeds,
who could ask for more? 
Will you still need me, will you still feed me, 
when I'm sixty four?
Ev'ry summer we can rent a cottage 
in the Isle of Wight if it's not too dear. 
We shall scrimp and save. 
Grandchildren on your knee; 
Vera, Chuck and Dave.
Send me a postcard, drop me a line, 
stating point of view. 
Indicate precisely what you mean to say, 
yours sincerely, wasting away.
Give me your answer, fill in a form, 
mine forevermore.
Will you still need me, will you still feed me, 
when I'm sixty four? Ho!


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Monday, 17 June 2013

Bridge


tonight, another tale of woe, 44.60%, 9/12, bad contracts, difficult breaks.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes

(Belvoir Street Theatre)

Belvoir Street is re-staging 'Angels in America' the Pulitzer Prize winning work that tells of the rise of AIDS in the United States in the era of an unsympathetic President Reagan.

The work is presented in two parts which can be viewed independently or as a pair although I wouldn't recommend just attending Part 2 without having seen the stronger Part 1.

Part 1 'Millennium Approaches' tells the twin stories of Louis and his boyfriend Prior who has been diagnosed with AIDS and of the lawyer Roy Cohn whose past involved the infamous McCarthy witch hunt of the 1950s and the trial of the Rosenbergs, executed as Communist spies in 1953, who is mentoring Joe, a newly married Mormon, struggling with his sexuality.

Part 2 'Perestroika' advances these intermingled relationships and also delves further into spiritual themes which I suspect play more into the psyche of church going North Americans than we heathens down under.

Part 1 runs for about three hours and ten minutes whilst Part 2 runs for about three hours and forty minutes. Some will see the two parts on the same day as we did yesterday. Others will, perhaps wisely, separate their viewings by days or even weeks. It is a matter of personal preference and capacity to sit on a hard theatre seat for a solid seven hours. There are four short intervals and the plays include adult themes, the depiction of sex acts and nudity.

We had no problem with Part 1 which seemed to fly by in no time at all. This portion is brilliantly written and a wonderful mix of drama and comedy with no flat moments. Part 2 is less successful with the spiritual aspects a bit of a mystery to me, especially the convocation scene in heaven. Thankfully there is still a sufficient amount of the earlier drama and comedy present. I doubt that Part 2 would suffer too much if it was pruned by about 45 minutes.

This production is elevated by exceptional staging and acting neither of which flag at any stage.

Part 1: 
Part 2: 

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Bridge


Tonight, 38.40%, 12/13, poor bidding.

The Great Gatsby 3D


Baz Lurhmann's version of 'The Great Gatsby', the fourth movie based on F Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel has been received mostly coolly. Lurhmann has a reputation for excess upon excess and I certainly felt his style overwhelmed his previous two films 'Australia' (in particular) and 'Moulin Rouge!' (to a lesser extent).

However, I am at odds with the critics this time. I was impressed with this Great Gatsby. It is far more interesting than its 1974 predecessor and better acted. Yes, it is lavish but not unreasonably so given the era and social class the story portrays. Unlike the critics I didn't find the musical score over the top apart form the scene where Gatsby himself is introduced to a burst from 'Rhapsody in Blue' with dazzling fireworks backdrop.

Joel Edgerton is impressive as Gatsby's hard nosed rival Tom Buchanan and Elizabeth Debicki is a real presence in the key supporting role of Jordan Baker.

Lurhmann's film is a much clearer exposition of the newly wealthy and mysterious Gatsby's efforts to win the affections of Daisy Buchanan from her mansion, and husband, across the lake. I liked it.

We saw it in 3D but I doubt the 2D version would lose anything by comparison.
★★★★

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Fiddle-dee-dum, fiddle-dee-dee


This is Barry O'Farrell, the Premier of New South Wales. I generally don't like to ridicule people by posting odd looking pictures of them but, really, politicians just ask for it sometimes.

Mr O'Farrell led his party into Government a couple years back after decades in the wilderness of the Opposition benches. He did so with a thumping big majority. He deserves credit for that achievement which his numerous predecessors failed to achieve even if the constituency was so desperate to remove the other party from power that we may well have elected Kermit the Frog had been the only choice.

Anyway, Mr Farrell has that huge majority and he had the goodwill of the constituency to effect change and improvements but he has proved a huge disappointment. He would rather send a matter to a committee for endless consideration than make an actual decision. He seems afraid to make any decision that might not be popular. He has made the mistake of trying to be all things to all people.

At the moment he has a problem with one of his Ministers who had to be helped out of the Parliament the other evening when it appeared he was too drunk to participate. Now, this is not the first time a Member of Parliament has been found to be drunk in the house. Most have survived to continue their prosperous public careers.

This situation may prove different. The Minister has since been accused of making many interstate trips, at taxpayer expense, apparently to attend major sporting events. This may have been understandable if the minister's responsibilities were for sport or a related field but they are not. It seems the Minister has been rorting public funds. Significantly, said Minister is the Minister for Finance!

So what has this to do with Mr O'Farrell? Well, he is the Premier of the State. He is the leader of the Government of which the recalcitrant Minister is a member. Asked today, what Ministerial responsibilities apply in this situation Mr O'Farrell stated that he didn't know - an astonishing admission for the State's leader - and that a reason why did not know is that he, himself, has never been a Minister - a rather silly excuse in the circumstances.

Politicians are only human but, gee, they can be very stupid - even at the highest levels.

Yet more Vivid Sydney

Some further moments from the Vivid Sydney display on the Sydney Opera House;





Monday, 10 June 2013

More Vivid 2013

The sails of Sydney Opera House provide a wonderful backdrop for the Vivid Sydney light displays. Here are some from this year's display;





Sunday, 9 June 2013

Vivid 2013

This is the last weekend in 2013 for Vivid Sydney, the city's annual festival of light. We joined the crowds, shoulder to shoulder, elbow to elbow, to view some of the displays. There must have been hundreds of thousands in the precinct tonight. A few snaps are below with some more to be posted over the next few days.


We are the last to disembark a ferry at Circular Quay arriving from Darling Harbour. Hundreds wait on the other side of the barriers for the signal to enter the wharf to make the reverse journey.


The authorities urge sightseers to travel to Circular Quay by public transport (bus, train or ferry) yet hundreds of cars continue to crawl north down Macquarie Street to the edge of the Opera House where all they can do is drive around the roundabout and return back in the southerly direction away from the precinct.

The creation of Earth depicted in traffic cones


Customs House is brilliantly lit again this year. Here are several moments from that display;





Friday, 7 June 2013

Happiness Never Comes Alone ('Un bonheur n'arrive jamais seul')


A woman literally falls into an instant attraction with an exuberant musician.

This French romantic comedy follows the classic 'boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy etc' formula so there are few surprises in 'Happiness Never Comes Alone'. Nevertheless this is a charming and vibrant film. The leads are attractive in their distinctive ways and the film contains a wonderfully diverse musical score. Throw in the the background scenery of Paris and New York and what's not to like?

★★★1/2

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Monday, 3 June 2013

The Other Son


In 'The Other Son' two men approaching their eighteenth birthday discover that they were switched shortly after birth. This discovery would raise extraordinary problems for resolution under any circumstances but when you consider one of the men is an Israeli Jew and the other a Palestinian in the Occupied Territories the religious, political, cultural and personal ramifications appear insoluble.

I've read that such a situation did occur in reality but I'm not certain whether the events portrayed in the film are based on fact or are fiction.

Either way, this is a fine film, very sensitively played out by an excellent cast. The scene where the two sets of parents receive confirmation of the switch is most moving; certainly it drew tears from me as the parents, mostly wordlessly, portray the shock, bewilderment and confusion of the situation in which they find themselves.

The film is presented in French, Hebrew, Arabic and some English.

★★★★

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Dead Man Down


A man seeking revenge for the murders of his wife and child is coerced by blackmail to assist a woman seeking her own revenge against another who damaged her in a car accident. This set up would have delighted Alfred Hitchcock who might have filmed just such a plot in the 1950s in his distinctively sophisticated style using perhaps Cary Grant as the hero and a tastefully disfigured Grace Kelly as the heroine. The dialogue would have been witty and expletive free and any violence would have been hinted at but not seen.

But this is the 21st Century and high technology, sprinkled with bursts of crime with grime and gore are de rigueur. That is how this Hitchcockian setup is handled in 'Dead Man Down'.

I had no foreknowledge of this film and wasn't very hopeful whilst viewing its opening ten minutes or so but when the plot finally emerged I was pleasantly surprised to discover quite an interesting, if occasionally fanciful, action story.

On the surface this is just another modern blood and guts noisy mess but in the quiet moments that intervene lies a story sound enough to attract performers of the standing of F Murray Abraham, Isabelle Huppert, Terrence Howard and Armand Assante, as well as current 'names', Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace and Dominic Cooper.

★★★1/2

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Parklands

Beauty on an autumn afternoon in Sydney's Centennial Park.



A quarter for entertainment

This morning at the Entertainment Quarter nee the Royal Agricultural Showground, late Fox Studio.

Tent tops for the current touring circus style show on the EQ reserve

Saturday market day at the EQ