Friday, 30 December 2011

Two more sleeps

Yes, just two more sleeps until 2012. Everyone I know seems to be saying that the year 2011 has gone by faster than is proper. Is the phenomenon purely subjective? Is it only something experienced or imagined by the rather elderly; say, the over-40 demographic? What should we do about this nuisance-problem? To whom does one complain? Tell me your thoughts, or just have a jolly good whinge.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas meals

Lovely lunch at the Quinn residence to mark the special day in the calendar. Afterwards a nearly-two-hour walk on the tide-out flats of Flaherty's Beach in perfect weather, watching out for whales, basking sharks or tsunamis; conversation about books and other things, interspersed with serious pool paddling.

On return, Simon was about to leave to join his brother Darren at Marion Bay for the rest of the day. The Cliftons and then Donald (Santa Claus in last night street parade in Warooka) arrived for more food, talk, and brief encounters with Irish Cream for which we now have at least three recipes between us.

Greetings to everyone who has sent email cards, messages, news of expeditions more exciting than mine.

2012 draws near, regardless of its fate as the End of the World (21st December, isn't it?). Great, a whole year in which to catch up on all those yet-to-fulfil tasks, both actual and gunna-do.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Oh dear, reindeer alert

Only two sleeps until Christmas! My big problem might be finding a sock without holes to hang up on the mantelpiece. And yes, I do have a chimney - several  in fact. A universe with many mysteries has room for the minor additional wonders of  a) how the guy in red gets down thin sooty chimneys, b) how he gets into non-chimney dwellings, c) how he gets around several billion places, and d) why the reindeer don't fly away while he's down the chimney.

I can attest that reindeer are real because in 1962 I visited the (then) annual fair or gathering of traditional Sami (Lap) people in Jokkmokk, Lapland. Didn't trade for reindeer, but later - sorry 'bout this - we owned a reindeer skin called Percy for many years and its most memorable characteristic was its hair-shedding nature. It got donated to the props department of the South Australian Film Corporation.

You think THAT'S bad? Reindeer populations were significantly affected by the April 1986 Chernobyl disaster when radioactive fallout, carried to Scandinavia, damaged lichen-growth on rocks which the animals fed on. The lichen not the rocks.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Getting Along

Couldn't resist this one for sharing. Is it a message? Sure it is. Double-click the pic and get rid of the ad

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Adelaide or bussed. Beauty in Eden.

I have never actually travelled by bus to the state capital. My elderly Verada is looking at a serious timing-chain job in the new year now that it has hit the 200,000 kilometres. I wonder if they can do a similar job on humans.
Friday was another of my There and Back Again expeditions (7am to 8pm) to keep an appointment for retinal photography... one of those things that lets ophthalmologists refer business to other ophthalmologists and employ chirpy staff. It was a 35 degree early summer day with a breeze and pleasant if you're not standing in the sun. I even had time for some mild shopping with a Myer voucher from before I gave the flick to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program.
There was even time to fit in a movie at the Palace Cinema... I was the sole audience for a screening of The Ides of March, a review of which had intrigued me. Good film, horrible subject - chicanery in US politics in the Ohio "primaries", a fictional scenario with rival Democrat candidates in the lead-up to an unspecified Presidential campaign. From the play "North Farragut", the movie is the creation of George Clooney who directed, and also co-produced, co-wrote and co-starred (with Ryan Gosler and Philip Hoffman). Go see it if you need a downer after too much Christmas cheer.
I had the great pleasure of catching up with friends who have moved from Gawler to North Adelaide and have set up The Garden of Eden business in classy Jerningham Street. Rosie is a beautician of twelve years' experience and Jon has launched into Energy Work therapy. Both are inspirational to spend time around... a perfect antidote to the Clooney movie

Monday, 12 December 2011

A Weta Day, Danny Kaye, and Lebanese

You have to read the previous blog or this makes no sense whatever. I blame the Weta bush crickets. Yes, the New Zealand cricketers were triumphant and won the match in Hobart (drawing the two-match series for a fair and honourable result). A nail-biter, advantage see-sawing right up to the last-wicket win, with the Australians needing just 7 runs for the result to have gone their way. But then a two-nil series victory would have paid no respect to the fighting efforts of the visitors. If I sound pro-Kiwi you can put it down to my Scottish blood and the historical fact that any New Zealander who isn't Maori is probably Scots. Sort of. And the fact that I once had a house on the slopes of Mount Taranaki / Mt Egmont ( North Island), or started a round on the Dunedin Golf Course (South Island) with a pair of pars and a pair of birdies. Should've stopped there... it all went downhill after that.

Today in Adelaide I had the slightly weird experience of an MRI scan on my right knee. The knee goes inside a big machine that goes Whirr... for twenty minutes. AND I remain attached to the knee all that time. Wasn't there a scene like this in the Danny Kaye movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? Later the orthopaedic doc decided that there doesn't have to be any surgery which, on the whole, is A Good Thing.

Nice catching up with friends on Sunday, with a meal at Lebanese Restaurant Kibbi's in King William Road. I chose the barramundi, even though I had never heard of a Lebanese barramundi before.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Lord of the crickets

First there was William Golding's Lord of the Flies -- quite spooky in its own way -- then Peter Brook's film version in atmospheric black and white. Can it be true... no screenplay? Yes, with amateur cast Brook worked directly from the pages of the novel.... a tough call, but I heard it from Golding's own lips in the flesh.

And the singers and dancers among you will register the name Lord of the Dance... rather impiously used by Michael Flatley for his own company after he parted from Riverdance. That's Chicago Irish for you.

But we're not talking of any of those. As I blog, New Zealand looks to have a slight upper hand in their second innings in Hobart at cricket (where the heck is THIS going?) and a New Zealand native bush cricket is a wee animal called, on its home turf, a WETA. It gave its name to Richard Taylor's Weta Workshop, in Wellington, which did most of the incredible models and sets and creature-prosthetics and (rea!) armour for those three amazing Lord of the Rings movies, directed by Peter Jackson (and co-produced and co-written) from J.R.R. Tolkien's epic tales.

Are we there yet?

 Here's the hook. In good company I've been viewing those films again, along with their informative DVD special features. Wonderful trivia. Who would have thought that the flying Fell Beast's swishing tail is there in the film as a sound effect created by a cheese-grater whirled on a piece of string. If that kind of thing interests you, then you're my kind of film fan.

And though it's now a decade since the movies were released, their re-watchability is a sign of a classic job.
Stand-out for me is composer Howard Shore's music. Trivium: for the second film, The Two Towers, only 12% of the music soundtrack from The Fellowship of the Ring was used; the rest was all new. Similar stats for the last, The Return of the King. 'Nother - and last - bit of trivia: Tolkien always objected to the dividing of his monster novel into three parts, each given its own title. Rayner Unwin did that, and good on 'im. JRRT especially didn't like the title The Return of the King... because it "gave away the ending." :)

Now back to the cricket.

Saturday, 3 December 2011


Refreshing to see the ALP National Conference join the 21st Century and move away from its homophobic stance on same-gender lifelong relationships. For those who are upset or uneasy, or merely locked into an unhelpful mindset which they grew up with (possibly encouraged by an affiliation with some church or other - whose history includes the torture-killing of women called witches), let me say this: the term "gay marriage" is something of a misnomer. The deep issue concerns any persons, regardless of gender or orientation, who choose to live as life-partners, and the natural justice that they shall have access to the same rights of bequeathing property (the shared home etc) and recognition in other ways.

There is some amusing irony in the fact that in the 19th Century (to cite only that era) it was regarded as entirely respectable - and even necessary for social propriety - for a woman, when neither married nor still in the parents' home, to share a place with another woman. So also for men. It was "not OK" for men and women to co-habit unwed. And what misery and abuse that frequently led to, in the bonds of matrimony. What have we learned? Sadly, not a lot.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Cat of Simon

If you don't know about the famous Simon's Cat videos, here's an entry to the whimsical world of artist Simon Tofield:

Thursday, 1 December 2011

End of year looming and beware hobbits

We all know it can't possibly be December... but it is. I've heard by phone, letter and email in past days from David and Kevin and Julie in reasonably distant places (that is, further than Stansbury). In the last-named, on Wednesday our little concert was well-received - they keep asking us back! - then yesterday some of the company watched the digital video record of the 92-minute event without wincing hardly at all. Well done, everyone. Thanks for coming along and bringing the nibbles, and to the several pianists among you who road-tested the restored piano in my front room - like, there's probably one in every room :)  Ha Ha

Today Robin the Piano Man has emailed good advice - yet to attempt - for curing the couple of sticky keys. I mean, sticking keys... not sticky ones. I know about that. That was just because of someone with sticky fingers. Well, it was me actually. I think it was the cold orange juice, or else the warm chocolate biscuits. Good little party... more than afternoon tea and less than an orgy. Late stayers got to watch the second part of Lord of the Rings ("The Two Towers"); my favourite bit is where Treebeard steps on and squashes the orc that is about to eat the hobbits. I complicated matters by observing that one hobbit is Scottish and the other Irish and then had to explain that I was referring to the respective actors (Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan). Mind you, I don't see why the Scots and Irish couldn't turn up in Middle Earth as well as everywhere else. The Aussies seem to have cornered the roles of elder Elves (Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett). Orlando Bloom of course is American (his elf character Legolas was once neatly described to me as a black-belt assassin with charisma).
The movie, as you may know, was shot in New Zealand a decade ago, employing almost every available stunt person in that country, directed by Kiwi Peter Jackson abetted by Kiwi Richard Taylor's amazing Weta Workshop facilities in Wellington. Oh, there are a few Brit performers too, some even with knighthoods. Will the good guys win?? Tune in again next week...  Spoiler alert: I suspect they do, but my memory is such that it is always possible that they DON'T. P.S. I felt sorry for the Balrog... and Smeagol (Gollum) is brilliant. Andy Serkis had to slim for months to look the part :)