Friday, 31 December 2010

Pre NYE harbour activity

Just after 3pm and with nearly nine hours still to go to 2011 the harbour is busy with water craft of all shapes and sizes. A small container vessel is departing Sydney whilst leisure craft dart around it. Others have started to take up their positions to view the two sets of fireworks later tonight. The early evening family targetted fireworks go off at 9pm and then the New Year welcoming fireworks commence, naturally, at midnight.


Thursday, 30 December 2010

Love and Other Drugs

At the beginning of 'Love and Other Drugs' salesman Jake Gyllenhaal loses his retail job and takes a new job as a representative for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. These early scenes are an interesting insight into the industry where company representatives engage in dubious and at times unethical behaviour to get their product favoured by the medical profession. This subject would be worthy of a film of it's own but in this case it gradually fades into the background when Gyllenhaal meets patient Anne Hathaway. From that point the film becomes a typical and predictable romance albeit with an above average amount of naked eye candy.

Another subplot device in which senior citizens are bussed across the border to purchase medication they cannot afford to buy in their home country also makes for an important subject but is portrayed matter-of-factly.

Gyllenhaal and Hathaway make an attractive couple and the film has it's moments but almost every character behaves badly at some point making this a not especially admirable work.

The King's Speech

It is well known that Britain's King George VI had to battle a stammer but what has been little known is the part that an Australian, Lionel Logue, played in his battle to overcome the impediment. That is the story of 'The King's Speech'.

The British do these period pieces so well and 'The King's Speech' is as good an example of the genre as you could want to see. It is brilliant.

Blessed with a superb screenplay and typical of British films packed with a wealth of talent in the many support roles this is a wonderful drama of the relationship between two men; not to mention a fascinating portrayal of class roles at a time and in a country where class and the monarchy were such significant issues.

Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush as 'Bertie' and Lionel respectively are sensational in their roles and amongst the brillliant support cast there is a magnificent cameo from Guy Pearce as the feckless 'David', soon to be King Edward VIII.

A memorable film.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Iceberg on a warm day

Cs and I wandered down from his beachside home to the Icebergs Club this afternoon to renew our memberships for next year.

(Click photos to enlarge)

There were plenty of people about on what turned out to be the best day so far of the festive season this year in Sydney.

We shared a plate of wedges over drinks in the club and propped up against the bar whilst lucky ones enjoyed their balcony tables overlooking the beach.

There was a surprisingly large crowd on Bondi Beach for what after all is technically a working day albeit within many people's holiday period. This was the scene at 1.25pm. You might be able to make out a large silver structure just jutting over the sand about mid-beach. This is a temporary stage under construction for the bands that will play there at a New Years Eve party. To the left of the stage is long structure with a roof like a row of tent tops. These are Portaloos erected for the NYE party.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas*

(*'White Christmas' by Irving Berlin)

Apropos nothing in particular, I heard on the radio this morning a USA correspondent discussing recent blizzards and as an example of delays at New York's JFK Airport he mentioned a Cathy Pacific flight from Vancouver whose pasengers sat on the tarmac for ten hours before they could disembark because there were no gates available for the plane to park.

Ten hours!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

NYE rehearsal

Late at night in the days leading to New Years Eve the organisers test out the symbol that will be lit on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Tonight at about 11.45pm this was the test that was carried out.

It seemed to me a rather simple and unspectacular cross and no match for the symbols used in previous years. Then around 1.15am this was tested.

So there will be more than just a cross. In fact after I filmed the second vid further swirls and shapes were tested.

As seems to be the case every year, the organisers are promising that this year's fireworks display will be the most spectacular yet. We'll see.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Sydney - Hobart

The 66th Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race gets underway on Sydney Harbour minutes ago. I suppose the line honours winning vessel should reach Hobart in 3/4 days.

A dog of a day

Christmas Day 2010 will be memorable mostly for the wrong reasons.

Ae, Hn and I linked up for a low key lunch before doing the rounds of hospitals and nursing home to visit Je, Kn and Pg. Ae and Hn were at each others throats from the outset with Ae in a morose mood which resulted in lunch being eaten (as distinct from enjoyed) in a silence only interrupted by Ae's repetitive complaints that this was the worst Christmas ever.

At the Nursing Home Ae got stuck into a man who opened the doors for us because of earlier difficulties contacting Pg on the phone all the time oblivious to the obvious fact that the man was a visiting relative who happened to be in the foyer and not a member of staff.

The two hospital visits were marginally better although Ae's mood remained a dampener. Hn decided that enough was enough by this point and made a relieved exit leaving me to accompany Ae to Rt's place for what was to be a quick five minutes long 'hello, greetings and goodbye' visit.

The mood at Rt's place was distinctly more upbeat, sufficiently so to mostly mask Ae's by now maudlin behaviour. Despite us having already eaten a meal Rt cajoled us to join his lunch which was clearly an afternoon long drawn out affair.

Watched by Rudi, a delightful English Setter...

...our five minutes visit turned into six hours of eating, drinking and improving merriment.

What the Dickens, I suppose it was a bah hum bug type of Christmas Day, past, present and future.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

The one day of the year

St Joseph's, the church neighbouring my apartment building, will enjoy it's day of the year today as locals and visitors crowd it for Christmas Day services. When the wind is in the right direction I can occasionally hear the sounds of the organ and choir.

Compliments of the season

Friday, 24 December 2010

Hospital visits

It is a sign of my generation that three of my friends have had reason to be rushed to Emergency Departments in recent months and two friends underwent major surgery last Monday and will be spending their Christmas in hospital.

I have been visiting my friends on alternate days for the past six days.
Kn is at Prince of Wales Hospital after having countless gallstones removed in a 3.5 hours long operation. He is in a lot of pain and his hospital stay has been extended as his blood pressure has risen and he may also have picked up an infection. He has to undergo further surgery late next month to remove what couldn't be attended to during Monday's procedure.
Je is at St Vincents Hospital following a triple heart bypass. She is recovering splendidly and appears to be a 'star' patient although she had a scare last night with some bleeding that is being attributed to a colonoscopy she underwent a week before the bypass. Her stay is being extended as well.
My group of friends jokes how our main topic of conversation at get togethers nowadays revolves around our respective health issues.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Tron: Legacy

Picture it. Flynn Senior (Jeff Bridges) and Flynn Junior (Garrett Hedlund) are reunited after twenty years separation.

Flynn Senior: 'You're here, you're here'
Flynn Junior: 'I'm here'
Flynn Senior: 'You're big'
Flynn Junior: 'You're old'.

Yes siree, that's dialogue! They didn't write em like that in the golden age of Hollywood. Willy Shakespeare could have been writing just those lines had he lived in the 3D generation.

At least those lines from 'Tron: Legacy' are comprehensible. Much of the dialogue is pompously pretentious as the grossly outnumbered goodies brace themselves to outwit the battalions of baddies. For two thirds of the film I was in a haze as the two Flynns, evidently trapped in something called 'The Grid', battle someone named Clu (who?). Filmed in permanent darkness this film, of course, is not really meant to make sense rather it is meant to impress visually and, for the most part, it does that very effectively.

Mr Hedlund is of the lean, smooth, blue eyed ilk so loved by impressionable people (just like me) but appears devoid of any personality whatsoever. He wears an almost permanent scowl across his face and displays not a ounce of charm. Mr Bridges has more fun, no doubt gleeful at the salary he now commands as an Oscar winner.

The scene stealer is Michael Sheen who casts aside his career impersonating ex British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a campy cameo. A case of the PM turning Queen?

I quite enjoyed the look of this film, when I wasn't nodding off. Just don't ask me to explain what it is about.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Full moon over Sydney

I was awoken a few minutes ago by the full moon setting over Sydney's CBD.

Saturday, 18 December 2010


Lunched with friends at the Manly Skiff Club today. We were seated undercover on the terrace and a few minutes after I took this photo a passing shower sent all these people scurrying to any spare tables around us.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Oh me of little faith

(Downloaded from the net; Photo by Richard H Martin, 2009)

OK, I give up. I made light of Oprah Winfrey's powers to influence the weather but the fact is not a drop of rain fell on Sydney during her visit, notwithstanding forecasts to the contrary. Before her arrival, Sydney was experiencing it's wettest spring/summer and this afternoon, just hours after her departure, a series of thunderstorms accompanied by rain and hail is passing across Sydney.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The Grenade

Our final play for the 2010 subscription series.

An Australian comedy about a politician who finds a live grenade in his home and sets about neutralising his real and perceived opponents who he presumes planted it. There is a younger second wife, a precocious older daughter, her weird boyfriend, a suspect outsider and a gung-ho political staffer in the mix.

The play has drawn generally unfavourable reviews and it is not exactly the most mind challenging work. There are quite a few laughs in it however, if you are receptive to cheap and often obvious laughs and at that level this provided a pleasant, undemanding end to the season.

Garry McDonald's expert comic timing draws more from the script than it possibly deserves and new comer Gig Clarke is striking as the weirdo.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Do what I say, not what I do

It seems to me that for a country so sensitive to perceived intrusion in it's affairs, China spends a lot of time telling other countries what they should or should not do.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Kim Jong-il looking at things

Now why has it taken me so long to discover this important blog?
It will be essential daily viewing from hereon.

Sunday, 12 December 2010


The Sydney Opera House is being 'Oprah-fied' in preparation for the Great One who will be recording two of her television programs in the forecourt here next Tuesday. A glorious day yesterday and more of the same forecast until Monday but alas the forecast for Tuesday includes 'showers'. However that may not prove a problem. As one sycophantic 'news' reporter breathlessly noted about the Presence in Melbourne, poor weather magically cleared when she appeared there just as has happened wherever she has stayed on her Australian sojourn and significantly (the reporter noted) just as happened for the Pope on his visit. So there.

That's it; no more cynicism in this post.

(Click photos to enlarge)
Much of the forecourt and all of the front stairs have been fenced off. A stage is being erected on the left and you might just make out one of the camera/lighting towers mid-photo.
A bit closer now. The edge of the stage to the right with a large television screen being raised into position. You can see several of the camera/lighting towers and the beginnings of temporary 'stadium seating' to augment the forecourt steps which will make for some uncomfortable viewing for those allocated seating there.
Another view of the stage from the front.
Workers climbing all over the place.
Thankfully the northern promenade on the harbourside of the Opera House remains available to the public and was it's usual gorgeous sight in yesterday's glorious weather.
The ever present runners remained undeterred by the construction impediments.
Sydney's water taxis continued a roaring trade at the Man O War Steps wharf on the eastern edge of the Opera House. The Royal Botanic Gardens are in the background and a temporary marquee is visible in the distance, perhaps to cater for Ms Winfrey's visit to the Gardens yesterday or, more likely, in preparation for the forthcoming annual Sydney Festival.

Saturday, 11 December 2010


Fireworks on the harbour this evening; evidently for Ms O.

Is she on the harbour this evening?

Is Ms O on the harbour this evening? A rather fancy looking yacht which I saw berthed during the week at The Rocks has appeared this evening off Double Bay which lies down hill from my home. A fleet of luxury cruisers pulled alongside at one point, I assume to disgorge members of the glitterati, and now a bevy of brightly lit vessels are vultures. Of course, they could just be admiring a fine looking vessel.

In between I took this brief video. Forgive my jerky photography but I am still a novice with the movie making facilities of my camera and besides I was using full zoom in the gathering evening light.

I'll see your nerd...and raise his hum drum...

wcs has shared his 'nerdy' pastime whilst Andrew has come out of the closet about his love for the 'hum drum'.

Well, I have my own nerdy and hum drum hobby. I maintain speadsheets of football attendances. All year round I record attendances for England's Premier League and Australia's AFL, NRL and A-league. I can't recall why I started this hobby but I have been doing this now for about ten years.
Week by week.
Club by club.
Season by season.

I can't explain it but the hobby gives me pleasure.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Passing parade

Cotton on body, indeed @ Broadway Shopping Centre.
'Let's play security guards' @ Sydney Town Hall.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Sydney Town Hall

Sydney Town Hall, based on the design of Philadelphia's City Hall, today. It was hot and steamy and as ever people came to sit on it's steps to watch the world pass by or engage in other activities.
Waiting (sweating) patiently in the sun whilst his lady friend (wife?) was inside taking photographs.
Seeking divine inspiration?
Checking phone messages?
I attended my final school Speech Day in this very hall forty-five years ago this month. It was my last formal school activity.
Looking back from the entrance to the hall, the partly lit chandelier graces an ante-room that looks like it would be used for smaller receptions and ceremonies, through to the bright sunshine emanating from George Street.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Open day at the Wharf

Last Sunday an open day was held in the arts precinct at Walsh Bay. In this area old wharves have been converted into the administrative and performing homes for various artistic companies as well as luxury harbourside apartment complexes complete with personal jetties for luxury water craft.
Piers 4/5 (pictured above) are the home for the Sydney Theatre Company (middle and top levels) and the Sydney Dance Company and the Bangarra Dance Theatre (both bottom level).
The 'outdoor' verandah on the middle level sits alongside the foyer to the Sydney Theatre Company's Wharf Theatre 1. There is a bar inside the foyer and a quality restaurant with spectacular harbour views adjacent.
This group was chatting on Piers 2/3. Second left wearing hat and dark glasses is Barry Otto and second right holding a pamphlet is Jacki Weaver. I assumed they were there simply for the open day but only noticed later that a theatre walk has been created around that pier.
As it turns out the group had been standing around Jacki Weaver's plaque.
I located Barry Otto's plaque further along the walk.
A short time later I came across our State Premier, Kristina Keneally, chatting with Jacki Weaver and actor, director John Bell (another plaque honoree and wearing hat) and other theatrical identities at what I assume was an official ceremony marking the creation of the theatre walk.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Building the bridge

I love viewing film or photos of the construction stages of Sydney's Harbour Bridge. Construction of the bridge commenced in December 1928 and continued throughout the heights of the Great Depression.
Construction of the arch of the bridge began in 1929, with two separate teams building the arch from the north and south sides of the harbour using creeper cranes. The two sides of the arch joined on the afternoon of 19 August 1930.

The southern end of the bridge was worked on a month ahead of the northern end, in order to detect any errors and to ensure that they did not happen on the northern side.
A berthed ship and a harbour ferry with the the arch of the bridge nearing completion in 1930 in the background.
The roadway, incorporating two sets of train and tram tracks, under construction by suspension from the now completed arch. Four granite pylons also under construction at the ends of the arch.
Trams and motor vehicles on nearby George Street north in 1931 with the arch of the bridge just visible in the murky sky background.
The bridge was completed in 1932. This poster celebrates the opening.
The opening ceremony on 19 March 1932.
Captain Francis de Groot who was a member of the right-wing paramilitary organisation called the New Guard, which was politically opposed to the rather more left-wing government of the Premier, Jack Lang. Captain de Groot was not a member of the official party, but dressed in his military uniform he was able to blend in with other soldiers on horseback who were guarding the dignitaries. Mr Lang was about to cut the ribbon to formally open the bridge, when Captain de Groot rode forward, drew his ceremonial sword and, reaching down from his mount, flamboyantly slashed the ribbon, declaring the bridge open "in the name of the decent and respectable people of New South Wales."

The ribbon, restored, is officially cut by Mr Lang.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge as it appears nowadays.