Thursday, 30 September 2010

My world is blue

A beautiful blue, actually if a little cool.

Ll and Fd arrived last night to stay for the long weekend and Mt flies in tomorrow afternoon to join us. Ll, Fd and I spent a few hours at Coogee today and later moved up the coast to Clovelly and Bronte. It was lovely in the sun but the wind chill factor was noticeable.
The view from the southern end of the beach around midday today. We wandered back to the Legion Club and had our lunch on the club's balcony.

Part of the view from my seat at lunch.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Just an ordinary man...

Former Prime Minister, Paul Keating, has beaten a traffic charge. Two policemen charged that Mr Keating drove through a red light whilst Mr Keating argued that the light was not red.

Magistrate Carolyn Barkell found reasonable doubt and dismissed the allegation. From media reporting it appears the reasonable doubt was that two policemen said he did it and Mr Keating said that he did not.

Mr Keating said afterwards, ''I think it's important that ordinary people in the community, having received an infringement notice for an offence they didn't commit, basically understand that the system isn't weighed against them and they are entitled to have the courage of their convictions. And I hope some social good will flow from today's outcome.''

Maybe I am cynical but would the ordinary person receive the same benefit of doubt for their word against that of two policemen or was Magistrate Barkell just a teensy weensy bit influenced that the ordinary man in this case was a former Prime Minister?

Monday, 27 September 2010

18 footers

Met up with friends for lunch today at the Double Bay 18 Footers Sailing Club.
A Rivercat had just pulled up at the wharf as I arrived at the club
We had drinks on the back deck of the club before lunch. There appeared to be a fashion shoot underway on two boats tied up back of the club

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sydney Life (continued)

The winning photograph was Nicholas May's 'Australia Day 2010' showing people trying to cool down from 35 degree heat on Australia Day at Ben Buckler, North Bondi.

Sydney Life

Sydney Life is a photographic exhibition and competition; a part of Art and About in which enlarged photographs representing life in Sydney are on display in Hyde Park.
(Click photos to enlarge)
Here are few of the 22 finalists that appealed to me when I visited the exhibition yesterday.
'Based on a True Story' by Ernest Fratczak

'The Five Ways Theatre' by James Hill

The Five Ways is a village type intersection of five streets located about a kilometre from where I live. I drive through it about three times a week on my way to work at the hospital in the same direction as the cyclist pictured. The site of the old Five Ways Cinema is not in Hill's photograph - but around the corner - and it closed decades ago. An up market supermarket operates on that site nowadays.
'Anzac Day 2010' by Stephen Weissner

'Cronulla to Central' by Andrew Quilty

Cronulla is a southern suburb and Central refers to Central Railway station, Sydney's main railway station. The Cronulla to Central line extends into the Eastern Suburbs line which includes my home station at Edgecliff.
'The Osman Family, Southerly Storm Approaching Brighton Beach' by Tom Williams

A typical scene late on a hot summer's day in Sydney. The body of water is Botany Bay. Sydney Airport is located on the western edge of the bay.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Tonight at the football

Went to see tonight's National Rugby League preliminary final between the Dragons and the Tigers.
Tigers (in black) kicking off the match with the Dragons (in white) receiving. Dragons hit the lead for the first time in the match with the final point of the match just 6 minutes from full time, winning 13-12.
Dragons players thanking their supporters in the crowd of 71,212 at the end of the match as Tigers players walk disconsolately from the field, their season over. The Dragons will play the Roosters in next weekend's Grand Final, an all Sydney affair for the first time in years.

Art and About

Sydney's statues have been dressed up for Art and About 2010.
Prince Albert, consort of...
Queen Victoria, who as we all know 'was not amused'...
...not surprisingly, having been made to wear this outside the arcade that bears her name.

Woof, woof

Thanks to The Banal Chew.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Odds and Ends

Half a day on duty at the hospital, half a day running around in preparation for the overseas trip, half a day lunching with old mates from my paid working days. Wow, that makes one and a half days in one day; how did I fit it in?
Nothing much to report from the hospital where it was business...and usual. One very good looking young Irishman amongst the admissions otherwise nothing out of the ordinary. The Religious Sisters were all agog about this weekend's preliminary final football games. It is interesting how closely they follow the football. They have their favourite teams, almost without exception the old inner city foundation clubs. Must have something to do with the convents they were cloistered in decades past or else it is a question of tradition.

Spent a lot of time purchasing a new birth certificate from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to use in my passport renewal. My existing birth certificate was purchased in 1986 and comprised a certified photograph of the actual handwritten registration entry from 1949. It is a bit difficult to read some of the hand writing so I decided to obtain a new certificate thinking it would be of the modern typed style as in the photograph above. What a waste of money...and time...with the new certificate yet another photograph of my registration, only more smudged! How strange that the birth certificate in the photograph above for a birth in 1857 is the contemporary typed style but mine for a birth nine decades later is a smudged photograph.

After my tilt with the RBDM it was off to lunch at Hyde Park Barracks Cafe. I had never eaten there before. The cafe is a mix of faux posh and casual and pleasant enough. We were served by a young woman who I'd guess is a working holiday maker from Europe or South America and a rather stiff young man who...frankly my dear...was as gay as a cucumber. (A friend of mine once used that expression back in the 1980s to describe Cliff Richard and I've been waiting all these years to use it myself.) Three of us ordered the Altantic Salmon daily special and the fourth ordered the Ravioli pasta daily special only to be told that the last one had just been sold so he went for the Duck Omelette instead. When I told Ja earlier where I would be lunching she asked innocently whether my friends were in the army. Ja loves a man in uniform!

Returned home late in the afternoon to find a slip from the Post Office informing me they were holding a registered article for my collection. I raced down to them before closing time and was given a large envelope full of (more) photographs this time not of my birth but of my body. These were the full body close up photographs taken last July which the Skin and Cancer Foundation will use to monitor my health. I can't describe how gross it is looking at these photos; not a pretty sight.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire

The film version of the second book in the Millenium trilogy, 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' has opened in Sydney.

As with the first book and film, 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo', the second film sheds much of the sub plots in the book concentrating on the main story, the search for Lisbeth Salander accused of three murders.

The second film is not quite as 'edge of the seat' as was the first film but then the second book, in my opinion was not quite a match for the first either. I can understand James' enthusiasm for the film because it does show tantalising glimpses of Stockholm which I enjoyed as well.

Those who come to the second film without having read either book will probably find the second film no more than a mild thriller as it seems to assume the viewer has knowledge of the dense detail that hasn't transferred from Stieg Larsson's books.

Now I better get around to the reading the last of the books before the film version of that opens here, presumably early next year.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Trial

Last night Mk and I saw 'The Trial' adapted from the Franz Kafka novel and presented by the Sydney Theatre Company.

Junior Bank Manager Josef K (Ewan Leslie) wakes one morning to find that he is under arrest for an unspecified offence by unknown accusers. Initially Josef is confident that he will be exonerated from the baseless unstated charges but he soon finds himself descending into an endless spiral (or should that be 'spin' given this production's set design) unable to overcome the illogical and endless hurdles that he confronts.

I wasn't looking forward to the play expecting something dour and bleak but found that the play contains plenty of humour even as Josef gradually disintegrates when solutions to his plight prove frustratingly elusive. Leslie is a convincing victim and excellent in the role.

I enjoyed the play but Mk was not impressed.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Sunday, 19 September 2010

21 day letters

In a galaxy far, far away and a career long, long ago I worked for about four years in the forerunner of what is now the Australian Passport Office. Back then the process was performed as a section in another government department. When I worked there Australian passports cost $4! nothing like the $208 currently. I worked in the 'front office' attending to the applicants. The job suited me perfectly with it's attention to detail over the spelling of names, the accuracy of dates and the checking of documents. Everything had to be treated with confidence, of course, but I loved the exposure to personal information of others even though none of it could be disclosed to anyone else.

All the processing and compilation of the passports themselves occurred behind the scenes; we on the front desk only had to check that the applications and supporting documentation were complete, accurate and met the requirements for passport issue. There was no backlog of work for us, no bulging in-trays of work unfinished from the previous day and no requirement to be involved in any of the follow up activity. It was one of my best jobs and I loved it.

I have plenty of fun memories of those days.

On one occasion there was an alert for the so-called 'Qantas bomber', a man who was wanted over threats against the airline and who was believed to be connected with a famous British football player of the day. One of my colleagues got excited that a client I was serving met the wanted descriptions and she summoned the Federal Police who took said suspect to a backroom where he was grilled for over an hour before being returned to me to complete the passport check once they were satisfied he was not the wanted one. The poor man was so bewildered he never twigged to the real reason for his grilling and on completion of the passport processing he muttered in a relieved tone that the passport checks certainly were 'thorough'.

Our supervisor was the 'front office manager'; the passports section having it's own manager behind the scenes to whom we only had to defer for any direction on passport policy or requirements. The passports manager was a WW2 veteran who smoked all day and never was without a cigarette hanging from his mouth with it's ashes spilling down his shirt. His hair was wild with dandruff and the poor man sweated profusely, his shirts always stained from armpit sweat. To complete his abject presentation, this manager's hygiene was questionable and his body odour was strong and unpleasant. This man gloried in his position as he was often the direct contact for what would now be regarded as celebrity applicants but otherwise he avoided actual work and more to the point actual decision making as much as possible. He was not a man to expose himself to the possibility of incorrect decision making being his responsibility any more than was absolutely necessary.

Those were the days when Australia was still involved in the Vietnam War and male passport applicants in a certain age range (which included my own) had to produce evidence they had been exempted from national service then in place. Some of these applicants would argue about the requirement but this was of little concern to us as the imposition was the responsibility of another agency.

Divorced men also faced an additional imposition of a type which might sound strange nowadays. They had to produce their divorce decrees and if they were under a financial obligation to their ex-wife and/or children they were required to have their ex-wife's consent to their passport application. In the absence of consent, we were required to get the men to complete statutory declarations and then notify the ex-wife of the application and she had 21 days (14 days, if living in the same state) to object to the passport being issued. Needless to say, many of these men complained bitterly about the requirements which were scrupulously observed. We became expert in predicting, simply from their appearance, which men were divorced before they handed over their applications and often whispered to each other 'this one looks like a divorcee'.

The passport handbook was our bible on any questions about policy and procedures. Some of Australia's off shore territories were linked to particular mainland states for the purposes of determining whether a 14 days letter or a 21 days letter was required for an applicant. One day I was interviewing an applicant whose former wife lived either on Lord Howe Island or Norfolk Island. I don't recall now which of the two it was but I remember that I was uncertain which period letter applied to him and when I checked the handbook I found the island was not listed. I had no option but to ask the Passports manager who I suspected would be reluctant to commit himself. I asked the question and the manager's immediate response was for me to check the handbook. When I told him the island wasn't listed, said manager's reaction was 'well, the island doesn't exist'! Useless man.

These reminiscences arise now because I am about to apply for a new passport. After quite a few years break since my last overseas travel I will be travelling, with Ae and Hn, to Europe next May and June. Nearly forty years after my first trip there, also as part of a threesome and as typical young backpackers back then, this time we will be travelling in style as senior citizens.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Please Give

A couple run a business selling furniture they have purchased from the families of deceased people. At the same time they have purchased the adjoining apartment to theirs which currently is occupied by an elderly woman and they are patiently waiting for her to pass on so that they can extend their home and create a master bedroom.

The husband of the couple, Oliver Platt, sails through life with equanimity but his wife, Catherine Keener is troubled and seeks to compensate by offering assistance to those in need without achieving satisfaction.

'Please Give' is quirky and so low key that I nodded off at times. The humour is very dry and did appeal to me but would not be to everyone's taste.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Indian Banquet

Fs is in town from Canberra for the weekend to do the Bridgeclimb tomorrow. I met up with her for dinner at Darbar in Glebe. Fs' cousin and her gorgeous fiance joined us.

It was our first experience at the restaurant which appears unremarkable from the street approaches but is very stylish and surprisingly large inside. We took the easy way out and ordered the banquet for four. Six entree dishes and five main dishes plus rice were more than sufficient and all of them proved very tasty. Not only that but the banquet was very reasonably priced at $35pp from which we received a $25 discount overall by producing the discount coupon printed off their website.

Well worth a visit.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Not exactly an anaesthetic

There she was, an attractive young patient with husband by her side, reading a popular celebrity magazine and waiting to be wheeled into the operating theatre for her procedure. Other patients lay in the beds around her awaiting their turn, perhaps less than reassured by the only image they had of the magazine she was reading so keenly; it's cover with the banner screaming 'Surgery ruined my life'.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Yellow suitcase

Just one more post related to the tenth anniversary of the Sydney Olympics; I promise!

I'd forgotten until late this morning that I still have the little yellow souvenir suitcase that was placed on every seat in the Olympic Stadium for the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympics. I've dragged it down from the top of the cupboard, dusted it down and here are a couple of photos.

(Click photos to enlarge)
The labels came with the suitcase.
The contents include a souvenir program for the games, souvenir programs for both opening and closing ceremonies, green and gold socks (never worn), small yellow torch, a wrist band with flashing lights (the lights still flashed today!), various adhesive games related labels and a numbered ceremonies card; my unique number being 45,307. Presumably there were about 110,000 of these cases as that was the approximate seating capacity of the stadium.

I suppose this package might prove valuable one day.


(Click on photo to enlarge)
The Olympic Flag flying on top of the Bridge this morning to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney games.

Citius, Altius, Fortius

Ten years ago today, the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games was held on a windy and cloudy evening which gave way the next morning to the crispest and clearest of days followed by two weeks of carnival atmosphere during which Sydney seemed like paradise on earth. It all succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.

A year later, almost to the day, and events in New York and elsewhere changed everything. Innocence was lost. Ansett Airlines, the official carrier for our games disappeared virtually overnight. North and South Korea who marched together at the ceremony retreated to their former entrenched positions. Marion Jones, the star turn of the sprint events was stripped of her gold medals and disgraced by her admission of drug taking. And so on and so forth.

Nevertheless all manner of celebrations are planned for today perhaps in silent hope that we might somehow return to those idyllic conditions.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Phantom of the Oprah

A certain world famous personality who just happens to be one of the richest women in the world is coming to Australia in December to promote herself  perform in the building pictured, whose name bears an uncanny resemblance to her own, and the Australian taxpayer will be contributing towards the cost.

I'm happy for her fans that some will have the chance to view their idol up close and I accept that the publicity and carefully managed images might help promote economically valuable tourism for Australia but I am in dread of the groveling media coverage that lies ahead.

Madam will no doubt be treated like a divine potentate with much breathless bowing and scraping from a star struck journalistic fraternity.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Hard Days Night

It was a busy day at the hospital today with a number of very confused patients and a load of urgent admissions. I was glad to get home and rest up before bridge which proved to be equally heavygoing tonight especially as partner's concentration started to wander during the last hour and her bidding and play turned quite eccentric.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Bledisloe Cup

I took Kn to see the Bledisloe Cup match at the Olympic Stadium last night.
The National Anthems
The Wallabies watching the All Blacks perform the Haka

With twenty minutes to go Australia led 22-9 but they were run down and New Zealand won 23-22 before a crowd of 70,288.

Saturday, 11 September 2010


Now in the third year of it's run in Australia, Wicked is clearly very successful and highly regarded. It takes the most popular of shows to achieve a run of that length with our comparatively small population and whilst my friends have commented favourably after seeing it, I have not felt motivated to go...until  two nights ago.

I'm wary of musicals where only one tune, 'Defying Gravity' is used in their marketing campaign. In addition, the Australian production features Bert Newton as the Wizard and a little bit of Bert can go a long way...too long...with me.

As I expected, Wicked was slick, colourful and peppered with theatrical tricks. I was pleased to hear a number of reasonable tunes in the musical although the only one that stuck in my mind afterwards was the ubiquitous Defying Gravity which provides the obligatory Act 1 musical hum dinger ending and that recollection was no doubt the product of brainwashing marketing.
Defying Gravity

Thankfully, Bert was restrained and not his often dominating self. It may have helped that his character doesn't appear until about an hour into the show although that must be a temptation for him to go for broke once he makes it on stage. I did find his accent strangely uneven with occasional southern twang amongst a mostly Australian lilt. The performances of the other cast members were pretty impressive.

All in all I quite enjoyed the evening but there was an aspect of the show that bemused me.

I was intrigued by the number of staging references to earlier musicals that I noticed in this production; so many that I can't believe I was imagining it. Are these references deliberate?

I noticed at least four references to Phantom of the Opera (POTO). Early on a character seamlessly disappears into the stage just as in the ball scene that opens Act 2 of POTO. Later Elphaba appears magically behind a mirror, Elphaba and Fiyero slide across a fog filled stage and Elphaba's witch's hat sits on stage as the sole trace of her after she has melted away; all images reminiscent of moments from POTO.

Then there is the scene where Galinda delivers a speech from a podium on high with her arms raised in front of her, palms turned inwards at eye level. This is virtually identical to the moments in Evita when Eva Peron speaks to the masses from the Casa Rosada. Other references reminded me of The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and even Jesus Christ Superstar.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Storm over Sydney

(Click to enlarge)
A storm cell passing across Sydney minutes ago.

Going The Distance

In 'Going The Distance', journalist intern Drew Barrymore meets Justin Long in New York whilst she is on a six weeks summer placement. When Barrymore has to return to her San Francisco home, the two confront the difficulties of maintaining a long distance relationship.

There are no prizes for guessing the likely outcome in the rom-com situation although the resolution is achieved with less than the usual angst for films such as this. Barrymore and Long have good screen chemistry; unsurprising given that they are a couple in real life.

I can watch almost anything set in New York and whilst we see less of San Francisco, the other location in this film, both are their usual attractive settings.

There is not much to this film and although some of the humour is crude I chuckled a lot throughout and really enjoyed it.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

So that's what he meant by 'versatile'...

A line from 'Going The Distance'.

'You cut your own suck your own are a human Swiss Army Knife.'

I'm waiting to meet the man I can say that to.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Three hats or two?

The Sydney Morning Herald's Good Food Guide has announced it's 2011 'hatted' ratings for NSW restaurants. A couple of very famous names have been downgraded from Three Hats (the top rating) and predictably were not happy at the news. At least one was reported to have walked out of the announcements function upon hearing the decision and has since ridiculed the judgements. Some other chefs have echoed that criticism thereby lending some credence to the views.

I have no pretensions as an expert on food and therefore would not offer a comment on whether the criticism is justified. However, as an impartial observer I note that these chefs maintained their top ratings for some years without, to my recollection, calling the judgement process into question during that period. Their sudden lack of confidence in the process just when they were downgraded might therefore be looked upon as 'sour grapes'.

Interestingly, the two most famous names downgraded, amongst others, both appeared during the year as expert guest tutors and guides in the popular television cooking contest 'Masterchef'. I wonder whether snobbery - or inverted snobbery - played any role in the downgrades?

I suppose the bottom line is that any assessment based purely on personal judgement is always open to question and debate.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Tomorrow, When The War Began

I must confess that I was not familiar with the name John Marsden let alone his books which publicity in connection with 'Tomorrow, When The War Began' informs me have been best sellers and so I have no idea whether the film is faithful to the related book.

A group of seven teenagers from a small rural town make a camping trip over the Australia Day weekend and on their return find their homes deserted and electricity and communications systems shut down. They soon discover that a foreign force has taken control and as a group the teenagers begin a resistance.

The film contains a mix of stereotypes; for example, the camping group comprises conveniently diverse characters whilst the invaders are visibly 'different' and cruel.

The production is slick and on images alone could easily have been the product of the Hollywood system. I did like how the film is unabashedly Australian. The flag flutters strongly in various scenes and the country images are typically Australian too. Aussie accents abound, indeed Colin Friels in a small supporting role seems to have stretched his accent close to snapping point.

The film moves along at a snappy pace and maintained my interest throughout. I enjoyed it more than I was expecting although it was somewhat alarming to contemplate that Australia might be as easily and totally overrun as portrayed here. The ending (or rather non ending) clearly is designed to easily allow for sequels.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Sunrise and storms

Sunrise over the Pacific Ocean that woke me in my hotel on Saturday morning. The high rises at Broadbeach are starting to rival those at nearby Surfers Paradise in number and height.
The view towards the hinterland the next day whilst looking out the window at the domestic terminal at Gold Coast Airport. Ominous clouds overhead signalling a change in the weather.

Announcements that flights to Melbourne were delayed because of bad weather in that city had me thinking of Andrew but the smirk was soon wiped from my face when similar announcements commenced in relation to Sydney flights.

As is the contemporary fashion, the delay announcements had passengers rushing to make their mobile calls.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Titans Tame Toothless Tigers

On Friday night we went to the Titans v Tigers match. It was the last of the home and away rounds and with both sides needing to win for the chance to take the coveted second position in the finals series a stirring, high quality match was expected. The Tigers team and officials travelled on the same flight from Sydney on Thursday as myself and should not have been suffering from jet lag but in the event they played so poorly anyone would have thought they had come straight to the ground from an around the world flight in cargo.

The final score was close but this only flattered the Tigers.

The home team, Titans, are sponsored by the airline company. Perhaps they nobbled the visitors? The airline used the match to promote it's 'destination of the week' encouraging the spectators to wave banners proclaiming that destination and also awarding one 'lucky' spectator two free return tickets to said city. Which city you ask? Well, twelve hours later that promotion looked a little unfortunate with news of a severe earthquake hitting Christchurch.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Bam Spam, No Thank You Man

Some of my readers have started to receive spam messages from someone using my identity. These did not originate from me and I regret any inconvenience or stress caused to those to whom the messages were addressed.

I've taken some action which I hope will end the spam and as added insurance have a new identity for my genuine messages.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Gold Coast

By the time this post appears I will have departed for a flying visit to the Gold Coast and amongst other places the above venue, Skilled Park in Robina, where I will go to a football match along with a couple of friends from Ballina.

I'm taking the opportunity to also visit other friends at Banora Point and at Maudsland and will be back in Sydney by Saturday afternoon for mundane housework like washing and ironing.

As usual I'm not likely to post for the couple of days I am away but I'll try to capture some photos for later blogging.

Ballast Point

Andrew has written about Ballast Point here which reminded me that I visited the point as it turns out almost exactly a year ago on 10 September 2009.

I posted about my visit to the area the next day without me realising that my visit there included Ballast Point and without me posting any pictures that I had taken at the point. Funnily enough Muzbot even asked me if I had visited the point and I said that I didn't know anything about it!

Well, in his post Andrew asks 'who is silly enough to put photos up on the net for me to steal? I am and here they are from that unknowing visit last year.