Sunday, 29 September 2013

Spring Sunday

A beautiful Spring sunday in Sydney today, 23ºc and sunny, perfect for being around Circular Quay and the Opera House. I was attracted to visit there today by the planned flash mob on the steps of the Opera House using the current production of South Pacific as the excuse (and, of course, marketing exercise). More about the flash mob in a later post but here are just a few snaps from the day.

Arriving at Circular Quay by train (the City Circle line) this must surely be one of the best views from a train platform anywhere in the world;

Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay Ferry terminal & Opera House
Opera Bar with some breakfast diners
The steps of the forecourt of the Opera House were the location for the South Pacific Flash Mob. Participants were asked to assemble at 10.30am to rehearse the steps with filming to follow around noon.

First arrivals around 10am
Participants were handed leis to wear;

Me and my lei
Rehearsals underway
Afterwards, a small section of the massive Sunday queue for the ferry service to the seaside suburb of Manly; a trip every visitor to Sydney should make.

The wharf is deep within the distant gloom
I'll post some photos of the Flash Mob separately. The official video of the activity is expected to appear on both You Tube and the Opera Australia website in the next few days. If it is any good I imagine it will get wide circulation through online social media.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

A grand final for the birds

The Eastern Suburbs Roosters will meet the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in next week's National Rugby League Grand Final. Two Sydney based teams with bird mascots.

Cs and I attended the Roosters' qualifying match tonight, the Preliminary Final, in which they defeated the Newcastle Knights soundly 40-14.

Roosters & Knights players shaking hands at full time

99.9

So read my scales this morning which seems an optimistically large drop from the horror figure of only a week ago but I'll take it. It places me back under three figures (just) but the important thing is that is the direction I want to be headed.

Friday, 27 September 2013

The shoe laces speak


Friday.

The day program. Young adults, mostly 16 to about 22 years. The same procedure each Friday. They come into admissions, have their papers checked and then I escort them to the ward. They are due at the same time. Sometimes they arrive together but mostly they appear, like the metaphorical Brown's cows, strung out over a couple of hours.

The walk to their ward is a long one. One long internal corridor linking four adjoining buildings. They follow me. Me leading the pack like a 21st Century Pied Piper. Occasionally there is conversation behind me - the latest haircut or do, a day spent at the beach, comparisons of their medication regimes - but mostly there is an eerie silence. Each patient insular, self reflecting, or head down texting silently on their mobile phone.

The corridor has a very long straight stretch. You could attempt the land speed record on it so long is the passage at that point. Others pass us by as we also pass them but each in my group is alone with their thoughts amongst the crowd.

My thoughts turn to sounds and balance. The sounds of silence. Are those my trouser legs swishing against each other? When the footsteps behind me fade I turn to check have any patients fallen behind? Disappeared? Run away?

My balance worries me. Others don't notice but I do. I have suffered a very, very minor sense of imbalance ever since I lost the hearing in one ear following nerve damage fifteen or so years ago. Damage exacerbated after I flew with a head cold from Brisbane on my 60th birthday. Occasionally I feel I can't walk straight. Especially when walking in confined passages. Surely they must notice. Yet I know they don't. Still I wonder. Do they fear I am about to divert into a side corridor that doesn't exist? Do they fear I am about to fall?

Still the sounds. My shoe laces slap against my shoes with each step. I hear them. Do they? Shoe laces. Speaking to me as I walk. What do they say? 'Keep walking straight'? 'Don't lose the patients'? 'Will we ever get there'?

Finally, patients safely delivered to their ward, I return to my post at Admissions. The long walk back. Alone. That long straight stretch. Strangely, no balance problems evident when I am alone. No sounds come into my thoughts. My shoe laces fall silent.

And then another lot of patients arrive. And it all starts again.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

South Pacific


Yes, it is only a year ago that I saw this Opera Australia presentation of the Lincoln Center Theater Production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'South Pacific'. That season resulted in the most number of tickets sold for a single presentation at the Sydney Opera House so it is unsurprising that OA quickly installed the production into this year's season.

I enjoyed it very much last year and had no hesitation dishing out the dollars to see it again this year. No doubt that's partly the community reaction OA was banking on for its financial situation. I notice that OA has programmed Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'The King and I' for next year. When you're onto a good thing, stick to it.

The same principals (Teddy Tahu Rhodes and Lisa McCune) appear this year and thankfully the amplification issues that impeded Tahu Rhodes' performance last year seem to have been resolved so that the sound balance this time around was excellent. The next three principals are all changed from last year with Blake Bowden as Lt Cable, Gyton Grantley as Luther Billis and Christine Anu as Bloody Mary. All three are able, arguably superior, substitutes for their predecessors.

It remains a terrific production and I enjoyed it again immensely.

★★★★1/2

Saturday, 21 September 2013

102.7

I knew it before I entered the doctor's surgery. I expected it. His look of disapproval. His words of reprobation.

I knew, from the scales at home, that I had put weight on since the last time he checked it about six months ago. I hoped the increase when checked in the surgery would be at the lower level of the range but no such luck. The reading was at the higher level.


Five kilos heavier than when I weighed in six months earlier. My heaviest ever weight. My first ever readings in three figures.

That was bad enough but I wasn't expecting the double whammy. My blood pressure readings, so good for so many years now, were a shock. Both readings. Lying down and standing. I remembered that I had forgotten. I'd forgotten to take my medication that morning. That might have had some impact. Wake up to myself, all that additional weight must be a significant culprit.

Less food. Healthier food. Exercise.

Here we go again.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Blue Jasmine


The trailer for Woody Allen's latest film 'Blue Jasmine' gives the impression this darker than usual Allen offering is a take on Tennessee Williams' 'A Streetcar Named Desire'  but seeing the film as a whole the comparisons are less intrusive and the story stands on its own.

Apparently Allen wrote the story with Cate Blanchett in mind for the title character and the Aussie actress does not miss out delivering a stellar performance that dominates. Blanchett plays a woman in mental disintegration after losing all that she values in life; status, esteem and financial security. Its a terrific performance that is an obvious tip for honours in the awards season ahead.

A strong supporting cast may be overshadowed but does not disappoint each making strong contributions of their own.

★★★★

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

I go to Rio

Having had the pleasure of spending four days in Rio de Janeiro last January and before that several days at the Iguazu Falls on the border between Brazil and Argentina I was particularly interested when a friend emailed me the following video.

The time lapse photography enhances the spectacular setting of both locations. Enjoy.

UPDATE: for some reason the video won't post here even though I have used the embed code provided from the original site. That site has a Christian connection. Perhaps they don't approve of their material appearing on a gay-related site?

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Sunday scenes

Some scenes today in and around Sydney's Hyde Park South.

Hyde Park South @ Elizabeth and Bathurst Streets
War Memorial in Hyde Park South
Three high rises in Liverpool Street overlooking Hyde Park South
I wonder how those high rises compare with Andrew's Melbourne high rise?

For sale by auction
The sign reads '2 rough diamonds ripe and ready for reno' (ie renovation). Realtor alliteration! Inner city residence or office or restaurant; or all three?
Terrace houses
Coloured terrace houses
Modern terrace houses

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Paranoia


The Sydney Morning Herald this week stated that 'Paranoia' is the worst film of the year which might explain why it had only taken $140,000 at the Australian box office last weekend. If so, that's a pity because it is directed by Robert Luketic and stars Liam Hemsworth and features Julian McMahon. All three are Australian. As an aside, McMahon, son of the late Prime Minister Billy McMahon, has had so much face work done that his waxen features look as if he performed the job himself in his television role as a plastic surgeon.

Not deterred by the newspaper's assessment and spurred by the thought of spending ninety minutes in the dark with the handsome Hemsworth I went along to see it.

In essence 'Paranoia' is thriller set in the high tech world of smart phones in which Hemsworth becomes involved a convoluted case of espionage. It is mainly plot by numbers with implausibility mounted upon further implausibility.

The two puppeteer protagonists steering Hemsworth are Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford.

Hemsworth displays the requisite amount of skin in his topless scenes and for the most no brain power is required from the viewer. Best viewed at home on a cold/wet day when no other activity appeals.

★★

Friday, 13 September 2013

Frances Ha


Frances (Greta Gerwig) has a close relationship with her female flatmate, Sophie. They are not lesbians nor do they engage in sex with each other but they enjoy the closeness of lovers.

Frances is stunned when Sophie moves out without warning leaving her homeless and lost for companionship and she turns to a number of acquaintances in her search to fill the hole created in her life.

I've found Gerwig, or to be more precise her characters, to be irritating in the past and I expected more of the same but 'Frances Ha' turned out to be quite enjoyable. I can always enjoy movies set in New York or Paris and this one has them both in liberal doses with the rather bland Sacramento for contrast in between.

Filmed in black and white, Frances Ha is very reminiscent of Woody Allen at his best. The characters are mostly self centred and selfish but their 'first world' problems and blemishes had me chuckling throughout.

★★★★

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Jobs



'Jobs' tells the story of Steve Jobs, the founder of the Apple computer company from his days at university in the early 1970s through to his founding of the company, his ousting by the board and eventual return in the late 1990s. Ashton Kutcher plays the iconic technical and design visionary.

Steve Jobs was revered by many as indicated by the outpouring of distress at his untimely death but if this film is even only half way accurate the man himself was a rather difficult and at times unpleasant individual. Driven by a combination of his dreams and ambitions Jobs used and abused the talents of others. That in itself is not so unusual in the stories of successful individuals but the lack of empathy for those discarded is represented as having been particularly brutal.

I think Kutcher does a reasonable job in his portrayal, given his limited acting credentials from the evidence of his earlier work. I assume his simian manner of walking deliberately reflects Jobs' actual style; if not it certainly looks odd at times.

As a relatively recent convert to Apple products I found the film to be of some interest but it probably has greatest impact on the real aficionados who are more familiar with the subject matter and the peripheral characters.

★★★

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Miss Julie


Belvoir Street Theatre is presenting 'Miss Julie' in an adaptation by Simon Stone of the original play by August Strindberg.

The original dates back to 1889 and in this production the timing is contemporary and the setting evidently Australia. In this update Miss Julie is the daughter of an ambitious politician and the object of her attentions, Jean, is employed as her driver and general security officer. The third character, Christine, is the housekeeper/cook and and long time fiancee of Jean.

In this version of the play events are modern and whilst the ending of the original play has been altered significantly the outcome remains believable and consistent with the events portrayed. Taylor Ferguson, in what I understand is her first professional stage performance as Julie, is outstanding and well matched with Brendan Cowell who is very effective in his tricky role of Jean. Blazey Best makes the most of the less defined character of Christine.

Warning: the play includes nudity and sex scenes

★★★★

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Would you (insert your preferred objective) from this man?

For enough people the answer seems to have been, 'yes'.

The look - from our next Prime Minister - doesn't inspire confidence
Yesterday, under a Labor Government, it was 31ºc and sunny in Sydney, today under a Coalition Government it will be 22ºc, cloudy with the possibility of rain. The weather gods are speaking.

We have survived worse - Billy McMahon, anyone? - we will survive again.

Meanwhile in Queensland they have done the unthinkable and elected some pups into Parliament. Truly you'd sometimes think our compatriots in the north come from a different planet.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Best Offer


A celebrity auctioneer with a difficult personality, Geoffrey Rush, becomes intrigued by an unseen client who contracts him to value her household artefacts.

Rush is engaged in dubious, well actually downright fraudulent, practices and within the first ten minutes most viewers will guess that some sort of sting action is underway to bring about his downfall; the only question being how and when.

It takes an awfully long time to explain the answers to both questions and in the interim we have to endure a somewhat creepy love affair. 'The Best Offer' contains some interesting and occasionally beautiful moments but many will wonder if the journey was worthwhile.

★★1/2

Vote 1

Election day for Australia's Federal Government
My local polling booth this morning

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Stoker


The opening scene is a funeral, Nicole Kidman furiously fanning herself with a sullen Mia Wasikovska alongside her noticing a stranger Matthew Goode watching on from a distance. It's not too long before we learn the funeral is of Kidman's husband and Wasikowska's father and that Goode is the mysterious and hitherto unknown brother of the deceased.

The uncle's arrival seems to foreshadow danger and so it proves. 'Stoker' is more style than substance and while it all bubbles along reasonably enough as a horror/thriller for its duration the moment the film is over you're left scratching your head over the lack of logic of it all.

★★1/2

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Lefties

I'm left handed but no one who knows me would argue with conviction that I am left leaning politically. I live in the electorate of Wentworth. My postcode is mentioned annually as Australia's richest suburb according to the Australian Taxation Office but I can assure you that my contribution to that wealth is modest to a degree. Our Federal representative is Malcolm Turnbull whose antecedents as a Merchant Banker mean that he is regularly portrayed in cartoons wearing a top hat such is his image as a 'toff'.

So, I and my electorate would be to the right politically. Right? No, that's wrong! Who says? The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's excellent Vote Compass site says. More than a million Australians have used Vote Compass - I'm one of them - and its findings about Australia's political complexions are fascinating.

Almost unbelievably, my electorate of Wentworth is the tenth most left leaning of Australia's 150 electorates.

Electorate of Wentworth

Six of the nine electorates that are more left leaning than mine are so far to the left they are almost in North Korea, so it astonishes me that we sit so far to the left in the overall spectrum. My own results on the Vote Compass survey apparently contribute to our placement.

In the predicted lurch to the right in next Saturday's election, this toffy, rich, left leaning, latte sipping, chardonnay drenched electorate will do its best to stay left. Well, our sort of left, anyway.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Enough already.....



I've been laid low by a cough turned head cold which emerged on Wednesday and still has my nose running and me sneezing this Sunday morning, the start of Spring in Australia.

I've felt lethargic, and am facing 'cabin fever' stuck at home. I had a ticket for the Opera yesterday and toyed with attending right up to an hour before performance time but my condition would not have endeared me to my fellow patrons I'm sure; so that was $275 down the drain. I couldn't negotiate a transfer - or at least didn't even consider doing so - as the ticket was for the final performance of 'Tosca' for the season.

I've been watching and snoozing through movies and sport on television and have fast scrolled through those horrendous election advertisements at every opportunity. And then there is this posting, my first attempt at any serious blogging activity for days.

Don't feel sorry for me. I certainly don't. I endure one of these colds once a year or so. They last a week or thereabouts and whilst I'm in the midst of one it seems like I may never feel well again. I always do. Eventually. And today it is spring. And this day next week the election will be over. And we won't be happy regardless of which disliked leader has been elected the Prime Minister.

And although I am not feeling recovered yet, I believe I am feeling the best I have since Wednesday so I will be going out with friends today and to the movies no less, my most favourite activity. Enough already.