Tuesday, 31 March 2015

With a song in my head

From time to time I have a song or tune stuck in my head. Infatuated with that song I hear it and/or silently sing it sometimes for weeks on end until I lose interest in it. These songs are not from singers like Taylor Swift or Kanye West whose work I wouldn't recognise if they were standing in front of me performing live. No, as a stereotype older gay man I often have a tune from a musical on perpetual repeat in my head.

The latest one is from Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'Carousel' This is not one of R&H's more high profile works but it contains some glorious melodies. Based on a Hungarian play from 1909, 'Carousel' is unfortunate to contain a plot that comes across as somewhat ludicrous nowadays.

The musical is completely heterosexual in theme and one of its best tunes, 'If I Loved You', is a duet between the principal male and female characters but it could easily be a gay torch song without changing any of its lyrics. That is not the reason I like it. The song's soaring and romantic melody wins me every time especially when sung as beautifully as it is by the tenor in this version from a night at the BBC Promenade Concerts.



By the way the tenor is Julian Ovenden and, yes, he is the actor who plays one of Lady Mary's suitors in television's 'Downton Abbey'.

The tune has been stuck in my head for weeks now. I know it will fade away to later be replaced by another song.

I know that will happen.

Eventually.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Pelicans three

These three pelicans circled the fisherman as they cut and scaled their catch of the day and were rewarded with some evidently juicy off cuts (if that is the correct term).

Oatley Bay

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Cinderella


I guess everyone knows the 'Cinderella' story. No need for my usual synopsis.

The new Disney version had a cinema full of young children enthralled in rapt attention for its 105 minutes. As expected it is a slickly assembled combination of live and computerised action peppered with gentle humour and nothing too frightening for the children.

Cate Blanchett is the highlight with a glance here, a turn of the head there and the occasionally evil eye all conveying a deliciously wicked step-mother.
★★★

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Ban names

I'm not one who is into banning things willy nilly but one thing I sometimes wish was subject of banning orders is names. Particular sort of names. Those weirdly spelt given names like Jaxxsen or Caytie and so on which those poor children will have to repeatedly spell and explain for the rest of their lives. Those spellings would be a priority for banning in a world ruled by me.


But also high on my list is a short name that is not weirdly spelt but which always leaves me uncertain about its pronunciation. Marie. A simple name. Quite a gentle and nice name. But is the bearer a Ma-ree or a Mar-ee. I can never tell nor remember.

Ban it!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Love is Strange


A mature age gay couple marry in New York after many years of partnership. When the income earning partner is fired from his employment the couple is forced to sell their apartment and spend time separately living amongst family and friends.

'Love is Strange' is not the film I expected from the trailer. It is quite claustrophobic and mournful in tone. Very slow with long, lingering French cinema style scenes, the film's plot raises many unanswered questions making it a somewhat frustrating experience.

The redeeming feature of the film is the fine ensemble acting.
★★★

Off my game


I've been playing reasonably well at Bridge in recent months making contracts that should be made and also making some that are, well, a little tricky and not necessarily makeable.

But last night I was off my game. I didn't get to play many of the early hands. About two hours into play a very nice couple reached our table. Their play was slow, oh so slow. They used most of the allotted twenty minutes playing the first two of three hands. Privately I was annoyed with them. I had to play the third hand with only minutes left and my private annoyance got the better of me. I was distracted, played the hand badly, really badly, and that was a bad result for us.

Next round I got to play a couple more hands. 'Focus', 'concentrate', I willed myself but my brain had shut down. The hands were makeable but not the way I went about playing them. Now I was annoyed with myself for becoming distracted but nothing was going to get my brain back on track last night.

I was simply off my game.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Insurgent


'Insurgent' is the sequel to 'Divergent'. The same characters are still fighting the powerful controllers of what remains of planet Earth and are engaged in the race to decode a relic which contains secrets the controllers would prefer to have buried.

There isn't really much plot in this film which relies on computer enhanced images and wizardry to maintain interest.

Enjoyable enough visually but little else to recommend it.
★★1/2

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Prime Ministerial chalk and cheese

Yesterday, Australia's 22nd Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, passed away.

Malcolm Fraser

Mr Fraser was not the most popular of Prime Ministers during his term of office yet at the end of his life colleagues and opponents alike have looked back with respect, even admiration, for achievements which included refugee resettlement, multicultural policies, Aboriginal land rights, the Human Rights Commission, the Special Broadcasting Service and the fight against the Apartheid policies in South Africa.

In the fashionable statement 'du jour', Mr Fraser ended up on the right side of history.

This week, Australia's 28th and current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, provided - yet again - a contrast.

Tony Abbott


During the week Mr Abbott spoke against bullying in a speech to mark 2015 National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. The sentiments sounded fine. What a pity that only a day earlier Mr Abbott had displayed all the hallmarks of a bully in referring to an opponent in Parliament as 'Dr Goebbels'. Did Mr Abbott even for one moment consider the irony of his words versus his actions?

Then yesterday Mr Abbott reflected on the achievements of Mr Fraser identifying a number of those that I mentioned above. The contrast of Mr Abbott's history of actions in the very areas he was praising Mr Fraser could not be more different nor damning.

Those of us who remember life during Mr Fraser's Prime Ministership could not have foreseen then that at the end of his life he would be the subject of deserved acclaim for his lifetime's work.

Many of us who are experiencing Mr Abbott's Prime Ministership cannot imagine there is a chance in hell of him being the subject of equivalent acclaim when his time comes.

Chalk and cheese.

Autumn morning

I often post photos of views from my balcony such as the two below but usually these are taken in sparkling sunshine. This morning at 7am the sky is filled with dark low hanging cloud, with showers forecast, and the light is darker to my naked eye than my camera (Canon EOS 700D) suggests. I needed a steadier hand for the second photo. Click on the photos to enlarge them.



Thursday, 19 March 2015

Focus


Will Smith and his team of pick pockets and con artists take on Margot Robbie as an intern and they embark on a series of ever wilder and complex heists from New York through New Orleans to Buenos Aires.

'Focus' is so full of twists that you start to foretell them the longer the film proceeds simply because by then you have been trained not to take what you see at face value. It is all increasingly implausible but fun nonetheless.
★★★1/2

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Bridge

Tonight, 48.40%, 9/14

Biblical sails


The traditional Wednesday afternoon sailing races on Sydney Harbour today beneath the type of clouds favoured by Hollywood for its biblical epics. Passing storms (out of photo left) influencing this interesting late afternoon light.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

St Patricks Day


Seemingly everyone has a little bit of the Irish in them on this day. I have no Irish in my ancestry but I'm happy to celebrate anyway.

May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies and quick to make friends. And may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Inherent Vice


A Private Investigator (Joaquin Phoenix) is asked by a former girlfriend to trace her missing boyfriend only for her to go missing too.

'Inherent Vice' is set in the California of 1971 and is full of 1960s hippy, surf and drug culture. The languid atmosphere of the film's design had me dozing off frequently. It's an overlong film noir 'wannabe' with some ironic moments.

'If you can remember the 1960s, then you weren't there' is a popular saying. If you can make sense of this film's plot and characters then you must have been high.
★★

Friday, 13 March 2015

Eastern Boys



'Eastern Boys' is a French film set in Paris about a man who falls for a East European rent boy who is part of a gang of boys and young men who prey on and rob their pick up victims. The rent boys are themselves victims and hostages to their 'boss', a stand over pimp of a man.

In the French film style events move slowly with minimal dialogue and it is difficult to tell over what period the plot is set.

Despite potentially distasteful aspects the film manages a surprising tenderness between the lead characters.
★★★

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Evacuate...evacuate......

Interlopers in Australia's best city.

There have been sightings of Highriser and his accomplice R in Sydney.

Worry not citizens, I am monitoring their movements. Yesterday they infiltrated Centennial Parklands  and even found their way onto an ivory tower in the Eastern Suburbs where they posed momentary threat to Her Majesties Mary and Victoria.

Once discovered they were quickly placed under guard in a safe house in a shady area of the city.

They should be eradicated by Tuesday at the latest.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Political speak

My carefully calibrated policy...
...is your thought bubble
...and vice versa

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service


I'm not particularly familiar with Kingsman the comic book series but a viewing of 'Kingsman: The Secret Service' I suspect gave me a firm idea of what the series is like.

A group of hand picked and tested mostly gentlemen using code names from King Arthur's court save or protect people from difficulty under the guise of a select Saville Row Gentlemen's outfitter. The self appointed group of nerdy looking individuals have access to an unlikely array of high tech weaponry that would be the envy of James Bond and his ilk.

I quite enjoyed the low key dry humour in the general premise of the set up. However the over the top stylised violence which probably looks OK in comic panels struck me as overlong and tiresome in movie form.
★★★

Friday, 6 March 2015

Strictly sugar

Oh dear how will I look my best for next week's visit by Andrew and R? (That's not Andrew R as in 'Elizabeth R' but Andrew and his partner R.) I've just experienced the sugar binge from hell.

An entire packet of party mix on Tuesday.


Another entire packet of party mix on Wednesday.


An entire block of Rum n Raisin chocolate on Thursday.


I am a wicked, wicked man.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Footsies

I visited the podiatrist today, an appointment I have every six to eight weeks. I have problem feet. I need to wear orthotics to improve my balance and without them my feet become sore if I have to spend even a moderate amount of time walking or standing. I've been attending the same Podiatry practice for about ten years now.

I suppose over that time I've been treated by about half a dozen different Podiatrists. All of them have been young; that is, aged in their 20s or 30s.

A 'model' Podiatrist from Newcastle University

None has been the senior, revered General Practitioner type of my youth. I'm not complaining, some of the men who have treated me have been almost as good looking as the smiling fellow above.

But I wonder why it is that someone fresh from school, or of similar age, decides that playing around with feet for the rest of their lives is the career for them? I don't think that any of my practitioners has been a foot fetishist as such. It's an interesting career choice but not one I would ever have contemplated.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Unfinished Business


In a Jerry Maguire inspired moment Vince Vaughn resigns his job and sets himself up in competition with his former boss, would you believe Sienna Miller? He takes with him the aged retrenched Tom Wilkinson and a goofily naive Dave Franco. This trio end up in Europe causing and responding to all manner of mayhem; none of it especially tasteful.

I can't say that I have liked Vaughn in his recent films - most of his characters being nasty to some extent - but in 'Unfinished Business' he is almost decent which is more than I can report for the level of humour the film contains.

I did chuckle occasionally but I am almost embarrassed to admit it.
★★

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


How clever is the film title 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'? This sequel to the delightful hit 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel' is clearly, disappointingly and perhaps predictably inferior to its predecessor.

Most of the earlier characters reappear in the sequel but for the most part very little of consequence or development occurs to them. This is mainly a rehash of the earlier film with a bit more focus on the Indians a little less on the interloper foreigners.

It is a mostly pleasant film and there is the occasionally humorous moment but neither element matches the charm and delight of the first film.
★★★