Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Hunt For The Wilderpeople

In 'Hunt For The Wilderpeople' a troubled teenager is fostered out to a couple who live near New Zealand wilderness from where he enters a whole new world of troublesome activities.

This New Zealand film is based on a series of books which I understand are beloved in that country and so it has proved very popular there notwithstanding that the movie departs at some points from the books.

When I saw the trailer my reaction was that I wouldn't enjoy the somewhat parochial humour and I only went to see the film as a companion for a friend rather than through personal choice.

I'm glad I did. Despite my misgiving I enjoyed much of the humour and the film itself has some quite heartwarming aspects.

Besides that, the wilderness scenes are often breath taking.

An unexpected pleasure.


Sunday, 26 June 2016

My lost timeline

A friend asked me recently why I hadn't acknowledged the birthday wishes she sent me.

'What birthday wishes?', I asked.

'The message I placed on your timeline', said she.

'My timeline? What timeline?', I asked.

'Your Facebook timeline' said she.


Ah yes.

I joined Facebook shortly after its launch. It seemed an interesting idea but it only took me a few months at best to tire of the countless friend requests from complete strangers around the world with whom I appeared to have little in common and what seemed like a mountain of emails pinging in my in tray all day long.

At the time it seemed there was no way to shut down an account so I took the next best steps and stopped using the service altogether not even as a curiosity for occasional enquiries or observation. That seemed to work. Apart from the occasional (annual?) email mentioning that I hadn't accessed my account in some time which offered help in restoring my password in case I had forgotten it, I was not bothered by the ubiquitous service again.

Until this week and the unrequited birthday wishes.

Fearing it was a dangerous thing to do, I accessed my account using a newly established password (for indeed I had forgotten my earlier password), found my timeline and the aforementioned wishes and I sent the desired acknowledgement.

Facebook is a more complex looking affair now. I have been conscious during my Facebook dormant era that others use it to keep loved ones informed of their travel and other celebrations and whilst I was never sorry about being inactive I did think occasionally how useful it could be in keeping those I want informed up to date about myself.

Inevitably I have been drawn back into the demon site. The effect has been immediate. Former work colleagues and friends have spotted me there and the friend requests are flowing. Someone I worked with in Beijing more than 35 years ago and with whom I have had not a single contact since and who now lives outside Washington DC spotted me after only two days.

I have tracked down some friends too, although without necessarily asking each of them to befriend me (again). Andrew is one I located on Facebook but as his site appears untouched since 2012 I decided to leave him be.

No doubt I will tire of Facebook yet again but for now, in the approximate dialogue from, I think, 'The Godfather' and with a New York criminal twang, I say that 'I keep trying to get myself out and they keep drawing me back in'.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Back At The Dojo

Belvoir Street Theatre

In 'Back At The Dojo' the playwright Lally Katz tells the story of how her father, after a misspent youth, met his future wife and her mother after he joined a karate club. The play tells the story in flashback with the present day set in a hospital where Katz's father sits vigil besides his comatose wife and their estranged transexual grand-daughter has come to visit.

Although a very personal tale - I'm not certain whether the transexual grand-daughter subtext is fictitious or also based on Katz's family history - I never really got into this play. The company performs the play well and the karate scenes with an actual Sensei leading the cast in karate moves are impressive. Unfortunately I didn't really develop an interest in any of the characters, apart from the Sensei herself.


Friday, 24 June 2016

Old and new

An interesting upgrade of an old building with new extensions, part of the Liberty Place complex in Sydney's Central Business District.

I think it looks better in reality than in my photograph.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence

Twenty years ago 'Independence Day', the story of aliens attacking planet Earth, was a huge box office hit. Hollywood finds such success to be irresistible and so the anniversary is celebrated with 'Independence Day: Resurgence' which as the title suggests essentially tells the same story again, only updated by technology.

The United States is preparing to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of 'its' victory over the extra terrestrials when the aliens re-emerge stronger and more dangerous than ever.

Although set in this year, 2016, the images are not of this time but of some time in the future perhaps not to scare any young ones exposed to the mayhem unleashed in this sequel.

The plot of this sequel is so ridiculous and inconsistent as to be laughable so it is just as well that the film is leavened with humour much of it referencing the earlier movie. In any event, plot is not the point of this film. It is vision and sound that drives the movie and the audience is treated to plenty of both. Visually the film is quite interesting apart from the sense that much of the live action is obviously photographed in front of a green screen.

Predictably Hollywood cannot resist some moralising platitudes about the human spirit and the final scene is the most unsophisticated set up for another sequel that I can recall.


Monday, 20 June 2016


Today I am

How the years fly. I am eight years older now than was my grandmother when she died in 1967. At that time it seemed to me that she was an old lady.

I don't feel nearly seventy. I don't consider myself as being old or elderly. I understand why my generation regards seventy as the 'new sixty'.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

A Man With Five Children

Darlinghurst Theatre Company

'A Man With Five Children' takes the 'Up' documentary series as its inspiration and transposes it into an Australian environment with a journalist interviewing five children each year on our national day.

His original intention is to cover five years only but the project develops a life of its own.

I was a bit slow initially to get into this play with its mix of live action and videoed action displayed on the back stage. However I got into it as the drama unfolded. The performances are top notch.


Saturday, 18 June 2016

Me Before You

A high flying young professional is seriously and permanently injured in a street accident and despite a growing relationship with his carer is intent on pursuing euthanasia.

'Me Before You' is a rather bland film detailing a growing romance. It has drawn considerable critics for its euthanasia sub text and I can understand why. The film portrays a wealthy man with considerable support and advantages not withstanding his crippling condition and the supposed pain he is experiencing to justify his intentions is scarcely evident. The euthanasia debate is a very delicate one and whilst I am in favour subject to safeguards this film is unworthy of that issue.


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Vivid Sydney

Some images from Vivid Sydney: Light, Music and Ideas Festival 2016 as I wandered around Sydney city following the theatre last night. The annual light display continues to enchant.

Sydney Harbour Bridge with Luna Park in the distance
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House
Circular Quay
Museum of Contemporary Art
Customs House
Customs House
Martin Place

Monday, 13 June 2016

All My Sons

Sydney Theatre Company

Arthur Miller's 'All My Sons'. Post second world war, small town, USA. A couple who lost one son in the war are concerned when their surviving son reveals his love for his late brother's girlfriend. The relationship brings some buried family truths to light.

To what lengths will people go to preserve their self interest?

A wonderfully acted and staged production of this classic play.


Sunday, 12 June 2016

Feel like a drink?

We spent the day in Maleny an arts and crafts type village north of Brisbane.

This was on sale at one of the stores.

I'm not an alcohol drinker. I wonder how good it really tastes?

Saturday, 11 June 2016


It's been a long time since I went to a thirtieth birthday party.

My own thirtieth was a milestone least wanted. I was happy to turn twenty-one, I was happy to turn forty, I was happy to turn fifty and I was happy to turn sixty. However, I remember that turning thirty was somehow an unwanted milestone. I was definitely no longer a teenager, of course, but I also was no longer in my twenties; an era which still seemed to mark me as being young. Turning thirty meant I was well and truly an adult. That meant I was old. That's how I felt then anyway.

Nowadays I wouldn't mind being thirty again, at least for a little while, as long as I have all my sixty-six years of accumulated wisdom (supposedly) and experience and financial stability. Not that I really think about it. I am happy to wake up every morning, realising I am in reasonable health and I have another day of life to live and enjoy.

Tonight we went to a thirtieth birthday party. The married daughter of good friends. She has a gorgeous husband, a lovely house they are paying off, a secure job and all those years ahead of them.

It was an enjoyable party which I spent mostly with other guests of my generation watching those 'youngsters' full of energy and verve (and who knows what substances).

Why on earth was I a reluctant thirty-something all those years ago?

Friday, 10 June 2016

Money Monster

A flamboyant television finance journalist (George Clooney) is taken hostage during a live program by a young man who has lost his savings by following the journalist's investment recommendations. The program's director (Julia Roberts) tries to diffuse the situation without drawing attention to her actions and endangering the journalist.

'Money Monster' is entertaining in parts but never quite reaches the levels of tension to have me on the edge of my seat. Roberts is as watchable as ever and Clooney has his moments but the increasingly improbable plot, whilst reflecting 21st Century issues, misses the mark.


Thursday, 9 June 2016

Up, up....

...and away.

A long weekend in Brisbane with friends coming up.

Take off, over Sydney
Sydney Harbour
Sydney's northern peninsula
Gold Coast, Queensland
Landing at Brisbane

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Back at the DOG

For a couple of years Cs and I spent many a Tuesday night having dinner at the DOG. Two meals for the price of one. Two main meals for the single price of just the dearer selection.

The menu didn't change and truthfully we were probably bored with the food but it was a cheap meal out and the clientele, heavily based on British and Irish Tradies on working holidays in Australia still wearing their construction work clothes provided irresistible eye candy.

Oh, this is the DOG;

The affectionate nickname for the Duke of Gloucester Hotel in the Sydney suburb of Randwick.

Then came disaster. The restaurant section changed hands. The menu changed and the two for one Tuesday became two burgers for the price of one. The real disaster, though, was that the Tradies stopped coming.

That was about six months ago.

I suspect that the hotel regretted that change. The management of the restaurant has changed again. So has the menu and two for the price of one has returned. Not so, it seems, have the Tradies returned. The menu is slightly pricier but at least a degree of choice has returned. We enjoyed out meal there this evening and whilst Tradies were not in evidence there enough eye candy to encourage us to return. For a while at least.

Sunday, 5 June 2016


Plans for this weekend included a barbecue on Sunday to mark the birthdays of numerous Geminis in our circle of friends, the almost obligatory weekend cinema visit on Saturday with Cs and the almost as regular emergency visit to sort out another friend's computer 'difficulties'.

All of that went down the drain - almost literally - when a huge rain and wind storm affected pretty well all of the eastern seaboard of Australia from Southern Queensland to Tasmania.

Some damage in Sydney and surrounds has been horrendous. I am lucky. No damage or injury suffered although rain and wind forced water somehow through windows or brickwork and lay in small pools on my kitchen floor.

The house next door, sold only last week, lost a tree which landed on our property. The volunteers of the State Emergency Service were on our grounds in horrendous conditions late Sunday removing the tree.

Those volunteers are wonderful and I thank them for all that they do.

The barbecue was cancelled. The cinema visit was cancelled too and Ae's computer difficulties have to wait for a calmer day.

All in all, from Thursday night to Sunday night I only went outside twice, for about thirty minutes each time, to shop at the nearby Woolworths.

Friday, 3 June 2016


I'm always in admiration - but not envious - of Andrew and his Do It Yourself attitude and abilities. He solves many problems with his own hands and no doubt also saves himself considerable maintenance costs.

I've never had an aptitude for DIY. It has never interested me, although I have noticed that DIY types are often rather delicious looking.

This morning I was ready to depart for my volunteer work at the hospital. It was 6.20am and it was dark. The sun was still to rise. Sitting in my car I pressed the remote control for the garage door to open. It rose several centimetres and then froze. I pressed the remote again and the door closed. I pressed the remote once more and it opened only to again freeze several centimetres up.

In a scene fitting for a Marx Bothers movie I repeated this loop - open and close, open and close - another four or five times finally conceding that something was wrong and someone must fix it.

It took a while for me to find the documentation for the garage door. Actually, I didn't find it. I noted the name of the garage door device and looked the company up on the internet. There was a 1300 number to call. I called it and a recorded voice told me (in effect) to wait for their business hours which commence at 8am. Only on weekdays. Bad luck if your door jams on a weekend or worse still on a public holiday long weekend.

At 8am, I called the number back. I was offered the choice of two repairer/dealers. One located 49 kilometres away and the other 16 kilometres away. Guess which one I chose. I rang his number. He asked me numerous questions about my device including colours of buttons on the remote and the wall pad. I dislike these questions. I have colour defective vision (colourblind) and always have a sense of uselessness when a tradie or call centre asks me (for example) 'is the displayed light red or green'?

'I'll be there by 12 noon', the repairer assured me. Filling in time I noticed a rusted spring on the garage floor and nearby a small ring which seems to have snapped away from it. Looking further at the door itself and I noticed one newish looking spring at the eastern end of the door and no spring at all on the western end. Even my non-DIY mind registered that the problem may be a broken spring.

The repairer called from his car to announce his arrival around 11.15am. Good sign, he was on time, even a little earlier than promised.

A quick examination of the 'crime scene' and some chat about his latest golf holiday to Las Vegas and Palm Springs followed and within about 20 minutes my garage door had a new spring on its western side. My forensic assessment had been correct.

$231. Yep, a new spring and 15 minutes labour plus the holiday chat.

The door works better (smoother) than ever now.

I took the repairers business card. He was on time and he fixed the problem. That's all I need to become a loyal customer.

He wasn't as good looking as the DIY man in the photograph nor was he better looking than Andrew either.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Queen Of The Desert

In this era when we lament the paucity of meaty roles for women in films, surely the story of Gertrude Lothian Bell provides the ideal opportunity to redress that situation in at least one movie. The British woman Bell played a significant role in the establishment of various of the Middle Eastern Arabian Kingdoms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. An extraordinary feat for her gender, in that part of the world, at that time.

As far as I can see, Bell's story has only featured once previously in film, in 1983's 'Al-mas Ala Al-Kubra' which appears to have originated in the former Soviet Union.

So 'Queen Of The Desert' is a long overdue effort from the Hollywood or British film communities.

What a pity, therefore, that it is so burdened with deficiencies. Nicole Kidman plays Bell but it is not one of her better performances. She is less than convincing in the film most of the time. Less convincing still is James Franco badly miscast as a Third Secretary in the British Embassy in Tehran. Franco is unable to sustain a British accent for more than two syllables at a time making his renditions of Omar Khayyam's poems sound very mid-Atlantic indeed. Also unconvincing is Robert Pattinson playing no less an historical giant than Col T E Lawrence ('of Arabia').

The film is beset with needless errors or inconsistencies. When Franco first translates some Khayyam for Kidman he does so by correctly reading the Farsi script from right to left. Later, when he teaches Kidman some Farsi Franco incorrectly reads from left to right. Bell was a prolific writer which Kidman portrays throughout by writing right handed except for one late sequence when she slips into her own natural lefthandedness. Little errors like that can diminish much better films than this one.

Bell's story told straight would have been fascinating but instead this film is presented as a series of romances whether platonically with others or with the cultures she encounters. The British Embassies and Consulates are portrayed as opulent palaces fit for the Monarchs rather than the clerical functionaries who worked in them.

The most positive aspect is that the film contains some stunning images but that is barely sufficient for the lost opportunity it represents.


Wednesday, 1 June 2016

A case of pedantic spell check

Two bloggers I follow loyally - although neither may realise it from the rarity of my comments on their postings - by coincidence both use only lower case for their identities.

marcellous has a legal and musical bent whilst wcs posts glorious photos from his adopted French home. Apple's spell check doesn't like them; at least in my experience. Whenever I type their IDs spell check stubbornly tries to change them to marvellous and was respectively. Even the links above were only accepted after fierce resistance by me.

I can see why Apple might try to change the entirely lower case marcellous. A capital M could be more to Apple's taste. But in regards to wcs I assume case is not the issue, rather that Apple doesn't cope with lesser known acronyms.