Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 31. Day 151. Quite the appetite for this sort of thing

Sunday. The day of you could use for rest or you devote the day taking advantage of all the things on offer in the city. Today I had the appetite to do more than just lie down (although that was totally on the agenda too). Stop one was the Greek Club to take up an invitation to dine. The club is in walking distance from my home but I've never dined there. Bad mistake. The banquet (with a side order of white bait because my husband can't resist) is to die for. By the end I felt like Mr Creosote from that scene in Monty Python's Meaning of Life. I was ready to explode but in a good way. Stop two was to walk it off. Today there was only walk worth doing - Legacy Way. In a couple of weeks the 5 kilometre tunnel will be open to cars prepared to pay a toll. But today was a one-off opportunity for families of Brisbane to walk the tunnel. Brisbane over recent years has shown quite an appetite for building great big new tunnels under the city. My family and I have walked every one and today was no exception. At one point I was, apparently, metres under the dirt of Toowong Cemetery. This is not something you generally live to talk about. A walk like this gives you a whole new perspective of the city. You get a sense of just how amazing the projects are that driving through will never give you.  An estimated 20,000 people took the opportunity to walk the road with no need to pay a toll. (Personally, however, I'm glad I fueled up before the walk. It's not as easy on foot as it is by car).

Saturday, May 30, 2015

May 30. Day 150. Show a bit of backbone

According to that authoritative source Monty Python's Spamalot, "Broadway is a very special place filled with very special people who can sing and dance, often at the same time". It's what I love about musical theatre, my most favourite of all the wonderful stage genres. Musical theatre is the full package. Singing voices that send chills down your spine, the orchestra, amazing costumes, jaw dropping sets. Musical theatre is the ultimate. It is a populist art form almost guaranteed to put bums on seats. And even as front row cheer leader for musical theatre, I know that a big name musical is a safe option that theatres will opt for rather than try something experimental. Audiences are as much to blame in this process as the producers, promoters and theatre company. But I've decided it's time we all showed a little backbone. I reached this conclusion during today's matinee of Dirty Dancing. Sure I was cheering along with the rest when the big finale number The Time of My Life lit the stage. And it wasn't even as though it was bad. It was just lacking imagination and a cheap imitation of what a musical should be. Those awesome sets? All replaced with virtual sets created by large video screens.
Music? Yes, there was a band but there was also a fair chunk of recorded music. And as for that singing and dancing "at the same time", it didn't happen. Almost all of the singing was done by two of the ensemble members. Yep, they were great singers but it felt like cheating. That's not how it's supposed to go. So I left the theatre feeling just a little cheated. And then in what was almost Monty Pythonesque just outside the theatre I saw a group of people wrestling with a giant spine trying to
 to get it on top of a car. If only I'd seen a bit more of that backbone inside the theatre.

Friday, May 29, 2015

May 29. Day 149. Making waves

I think I might have a girl crush. To be clear it has nothing to do with the fact that George Clooney has bought the rights to his book Hack Attack and intends to turn it into a film (well it might have a bit to do with that but I shall pretend otherwise). No, I have a girl crush on Nick Davies for his candor and his courage. Any man who is prepared to take on the likes of the British tabloid press and Rupert Murdock and come out on top is a bit of a hero in my book.
But it's  not only that. What I loved about the British journalist's presentation at QUT Kelvin Grove tonight was his honesty, his humour and his belief in journalism and for the most part journalists.
My favourite moments from tonight's presentation were the following observations
  •  He's  seen "stuff written on toilet walls" better than most material written by citizen journalists
  • A tiny minority of "scumbag" journalists ruin it for the rest of us
  • There was lots of "extracurricular bonking" going on in Fleet Street papers while they criticised others for having affairs
  • The revelations of the inquiries into the British press mean that crime at the papers has dropped to about zero but for the most part it's same old, same old
  • The newspapers that invade people's privacy the most have the strongest sales despite people saying they don't like privacy invaded
  • Closing the News of the World was a selfish and ruthless action by Murdock
  • Exposing the wrong doing of the British press made Davies feel "iffy" because it meant many hard working foot soldiers were blamed and punished because of the orders of the generals
But I was also impressed by his personal honesty. His drive to stop the abuse of power, to stop bullies and to stand up for the oppressed came from his own childhood in a home where there was too much violence by adults on children. Good for you Nick Davies. Good for you for taking one for team journalism. I can't wait to see what George Clooney does with your work (professionally of course).
And for now Hack Attack can sit on my bedside table alongside Game of Thrones. The level of ethical behaviour revealed in both is about the same.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

May 28. Day 148. Not for the first time

There's this story from my late father's school days. He was sitting in one of the upper level classrooms of Saint Laurence's staring out the window, apparently in the direction of Somerville House, located just next door.
"Hetherbelle," the teacher exploded."Are you looking at those Presbyterian girls again?"
"Yes, Brother," my father replied.
"Would you like to go and join them?"
"Yes Brother," Dad said. He got the cuts for his trouble.
There's so much about that story that is a reflection of the time. Catholic schools taught by Brothers. Corporal (sometimes sadistic) punishment and, of course the way teachers addressed students. No given names back then. All surnames and apparently somewhat condescending versions of them at that.
Not these days. But fast forward a couple of generations to quite possibly the same classroom and Drama Teen being required to stack chairs as a punishment. He was taking an exceptionally long time to do. It terms out that was Eisteddfod time and there were whole dance troupes of young women warming up on the school oval before their performance in the school hall. You can't blame a boy for looking. Or perhaps you can. Drama Teen's no longer so sure staring at the girls is such an acceptable sport not now that his cousin Jess is one of those girls on the oval ... Perhaps they should bring back corporal punishment.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

May 27. Day 147. Greek tragedy

The ancient Greeks were seriously messed up. I mean seriously some of those Greek myths were dangerously perverted in a way that if I was to write them today I might just find myself subjected to the thought police or perhaps a best selling fan fiction author with a multimillion dollar fortune. It's hard to tell. But when it comes to dangerously messed up tales, Oedipus is top of the strange tree. He accidentally kills his father and marries and has four children with his mother. On finding out the truth, he gouges his eyes out and she kills herself. It is just the sort of stuff tabloids love. It's click bait  on steroids. This is probably the strongest take-home message of Brisbane writer Dan Evan's new modern interpretation of the myth Oedipus Doesn't Live Here any More which opened at the Queensland Theatre Company's Billie Brown Studio tonight. This is the type of story we should be appalled by - and we will say we are - while engaging in essentially tragedy porn and lapping up every last sordid detail. This is an intriguing work. Funny and confronting. Disgusting but charming. It will not be everyone's cup of tea (in fact I am told some people walked out of the previews). But for those who like theatre that isn't just more of the same, theatre that challenges and goes out on a limb, you could do worse than give it a go. It. certainly beat State of Origin for my idea of a way of spending a Wednesday night. And for the record, Drama Teen also loved it. But then he would. Last year, when set a drama task of creating a modern interpretation of a Greek tragedy, he decided to turn his hand to Pygmalion. In that myth, the Greek sculptor Pygmalion is so repulsed by the local prostitutes that he shuns women and instead devotes his entire attention to his work. He creates the perfect woman in stone and falls in love and as a reward for his devotion, The Gods bring his woman to life. In Drama Teen's vision, a man is so tired of meaningless Tinder-style Internet hookups that he turns his back on relationships and orders himself a blow-up doll.... He falls in love. She comes to life. Seriously messed up.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 25. Day 145. Let the history books show

Procrastination is not a noun. Procrastination is something between an Olympic Sport and a way of life.
It is also a (not very useful) tool in the toolkit of every student I have ever met.
As such the dining room table has this week been the home to just about every book on the Cultural Revolution held by the QUT Library. They have been there so long that Rumple decided they were clearly now a permanent feature and managed to get up and get among them today. They put him to sleep. He wouldn't be the first one they've had that effect on.
While they've been there, notes have been taken, sticky notes have been attached and as far as I can tell enough information to write a PhD thesis has been collected. But actual words written, not so much.
Because you have to put off to the last minute. The books sit there as though the mere act will make words jump out and write themselves. History shows this is not the case. History shows that no student ever actual used this knowledge to change behaviour. Or perhaps it is just that Drama Teen has inherited the procrastination gene from me. Either way, I feel quietly confident, something will be submitted tomorrow. I feel equally confident there will be missed sleep as a result. Do I think, the process will improve next time? It would be rewriting history for that to happen.

Monday, May 25, 2015

May 25. Day 145. Driven to distraction

 Seriously how is a person supposed to get any work done around here? For months I have been driven to distraction by the following.
1) Noise. Just about every roof in my area has been replaced as a result of the great hail storm of 2014. Looking out my window you'd swear I lived in one of those new outer suburban housing estates such is the sea of shiny new roofs. But the change has not been a silent revolution. Throwing sheets of iron from high set tin and timber homes makes A LOT of noise.
2). Workmen. They park their cars blocking the street and they often parade around with very little on. Most distracting. They also like playing FM radio very loudly. There should be rules about this.At least it wasn't Alan Jones.
And today, just to join the noise and visual "pollution" the kookaburras decided it was all a bit of a laugh. Four of them circled and swooned and joined in the general chaos out my window. Yep, most distracting.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

May 24. Day 144. Birthday boy

Rumple added his best wishes in his usual furry way
I married a toy boy which I guess makes me a cougar.  Yes it does. Now it is true that we are talking only 53 days. But 53 days is 53 days, there is no denying it.
Anyway I officially reached the age where the government sends you a Bowel Screening Kit and Australian Pensioners Insurance will have you on their books 53 days ago. Today my husband Charles caught up.
As the experienced member of the family I chose and booked the birthday activities - breakfast at the civilised time of 10am with friends at a well-recommended and quite delicious cafe and then part-sexy, part-silly circus La Soiree in the early evening. And because we are old we were home by 8.30pm.
I think it was a celebration worthy of a half century.
So raise the bat Charles you old thing. Here's to the first 50 and 50 or so more

Saturday, May 23, 2015

May 23. Day 143. Festival forgiven (previously posted as festival fury)

***UPDATE: I have been contacted by the orgainisers who have apologised and assured me that cameras ARE allowed. It was a mistake of the security company. I have been assured it has been dealt with and it won't happen again. I was invited back but due to prior commitments (it's my husband's 50th birthday) I can't go. I will return next year (with camera). I accept the apology and I shall leave the post up because it was an accurate reflection of what happened and how it made me feel ******

This makes me sick to my stomach. Not because of the nausea-inducing positions the people on the rides have paid money to inflict on themselves but because I had to take the photos from outside the gates of annual Paniyiri Festival. I was denied entry to the festival despite having a valid ticket (ironically given to me by the promoters) because I was carrying a camera around my neck.
So instead of tasting honey puffs, I had the bitter taste of bile in my mouth. Let's be clear. This is in the terms and conditions of the Festival should you scroll down to term 24 of the fine print. **
So it is well possible that the organisers were withing their rights to prohibit me and my camera from gaining entry. This kind of thing seriously annoys me. There are rules against just about everything. And exactly how is "The Venue" - a public park - going to give me permission to do anything
But, and it is a huge but, this kind of thing is dead wrong (and almost always badly handled by security).
Here are some facts. Thousands of photos will be taken in the festival grounds this weekend. No questions. No-one will care and in fact they will be a huge promotional tool for the festival.
This is not an major international act. It is hard to see how taking photos breaches any copyright or intellectual property.
This is a festival in a public park. It is not on private property. The public should have rights too.
I live very close to Musgrave Park. I walk my dog there all the time. But at festival time big fences go up and the public can't access a public space. This situation continues for about a week.
This weekend I can't drive down one of the main streets to my local supermarket because it is closed for the festival. I accept these things without question because a festival of this type is good for the community. But I do not accept that I should be barred from taking photos. I would not profit from the photos. I take photos because I like photography and I use a Digital SLR because I like taking good photos. In fact, I have taken photos with the same model camera for the past three or four Paniyiri festivals.
My camera was around my neck because it never occurred to me to try and hide it. Like everyone else going through those gates my intention was to have a good time and take photos to prove it.
Any organisers with any brains would understand that public endorsement and photos should be embraced. Word of mouth is a much stronger motivator than advertising. Well here are the words out of my mouth. You know what you can do with your honey puffs. And, as you can see, if your intention was to stop me taking photos you failed in any case.

Friday, May 22, 2015

May 22. Day 142. I'll have what he's having

You know "that" scene in When Harry Met Sally? The one that ends with the woman in the restaurant announcing "I'll have what she's having" after Sally's exuberant display of delight? Well today my 87-year-old neighbour Margaret said quite a similar thing after being greeted by a Rumple far more enthusiastic and energetic than we've seen for a number of days. I was telling Margaret that I was about to take Rumple back to the vet for a follow up visit after this week's serious illness. She told me to

a) Tell the vet, that the medication is clearly working and

b) put in a request for a few extra doses for her.
Margaret and Rumple love each other dearly. She giggles like a little girl when he's around. It's actually a delight to watch. I know Margaret appreciates my company and the little chores I do for her but I am by no means the favourite neighbour. I may be able to buy some bread and milk but can I was my tail? Can I put a paw on the arm? Do I lick a face? Well no, not recently anyway. See Margaret and Rumple and the case for having animals in nursing homes is closed. Open and shut case. They bring so much joy. Perhaps I should hire out Rumple to be a home visitor. I might need to if he finds new and improved ways to clock up mounting vet bills ...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

May 21. Day 141. We butchered that

Seriously, this motley crew not only solved the puzzle but did so in record time
Jumping for joy to celebrate the win
Today I was blindfolded and abandoned in a locked room with no obvious way out. Although the light was very dim, the walls were clearly smeared with blood and there were severed limbs - lots of them. Ominous sounds piped out of nowhere. The clock was ticking. Well wasn't this going to be a bit of fun?
Enter if you dare
Puzzle rooms where you are locked in and have to work as a team to solve your way out are the latest must-do thing taking the world by storm. I've been to one before and we might still be there had we not begged for clues to bribe our way out. I was just waiting for my chance for revenge and redemption. And today it came. I took up the invitation to try out Escapism the latest puzzle room to be launched on the Brisbane market. My team was made up of my son Oliver, my niece Scarlett and her boyfriend Alex. We were allocated Butcher's Burrow, a game with a degree of difficulty of 8 out of 10 and a recommended age of 15 plus. This was not going to be for the feint-hearted especially since they took our phones and all electronic devices off us before we entered. That alone is enough to get my pulse racing. You have just 50 minutes to get out and the room is full of objects which may or may not be clues. You don't have a clue what's a clue and even then you're often not sure what to do with it. Your only contact with the outside world is a phone that's a direct line to your minder and the sure knowledge that by law they have to let you out eventually. It sounds macabre  and terrifying but it is in fact exhilarating. And what's more we escaped before the clock ticked down and better still we set a new room record (Okay, the attraction has only been opened two days but a record is still a record, right?). I can say no more in case you decide to try it (and you should). Beat our record if you can. I dare you.

They make you hand over and lock up your phones before you even start. This is no picnic in the park

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

May 20. Day 140. The fog lifts

 Isn't it nice to see a bit of clear air and blue sky after a period of thick fog? I am, of course, speaking metaphorically as well as literally. This morning wasn't exactly a pea-souper but Harry  
Potter's cloak of invisibility may not have been needed if you were one of the Brisbane's sky scrapers trying to hide from view. The city was heavily veiled in a thick blanket of mist.
 At home, also covered by a thick blanket, was Rumple. With him back safely where he belongs I feel like my head has emerged from the fog of anxiety. He's not yet fully himself but he's doing a much better impression of the Rumple we know and love with every hour. And I have to say his restricted diet of only poached chicken breast and rice is just about the best thing since sliced bread as far as Rumple is concerned. The medication he'll have to take for the next five days, not so much

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May 19. Day 139. Back where he belongs

In the Harry Potter universe, a patronus is an ancient and mysterious charm that conjures a magical guardian, a projection of all your most positive feelings. Harry's is a stag. Dumbledore's is a Phoenix. Susan's is a furry little King Charles Spaniel Shih Tsu cross. He's the fairy godmother to my inner Cinderella, the blue fairy to my Pinocchio. The point is that Rumple is a ball of devotion. If I want a walk, he walks. If I want to sleep, he sleeps. I have a bath and he sits by the tub. I grab the car keys and he is waiting by the car door. So am I pleased and relieved and delighted to have him home? You bet I am. Do I resent the $964 vet bill? No not a bit. Will I sleep easier with him in the bed tonight? Too right.

Monday, May 18, 2015

May 18. Day 38. Paw thing

If I lived in the Victorian era, it is most unlikely that I would have been the swooning type prone to the need to resort to smelling salts.
I was never the kid who went down in the school playground no matter how long they had us standing perfectly still in the blazing sun at double arms distance.
Others may get squeamish at the sight of blood. I make sure I turn to get a good look at a blood test.
But not today. Today the room started swimming. I went cold and clammy.  I felt woozy and I knew I was only seconds away from hitting the floor. A nearby seat saved me. It was about 7am. I'd had two hours sleep and hadn't eaten. The room was hot and stuffy and my fur baby was vomiting and about to be admitted.
But none of that really explains what happened - but it did. I love my fur friend like a child and when your child hurts, you hurt. But he is in good hands and I have to trust that. With good luck, good medicine and good vibes he might be home tomorrow afternoon. I miss him dreadfully. I'm pretty sure the feeling is mutual


Sunday, May 17, 2015

May 17. Day 137. Paw use of a Sunday

If you go down to South Bank today, you're in for a big surprise. If you go down to South Bank today you'd better go in disguise. For every dog that ever there was. Was gathered there simply because. Today's the day the puppy dogs have their walkies.  Million paws walk. That's about a million reasons to drag the family out of bed and join just about every other pooch in Brisbane for the annual RSPCA fundraiser. Rumple was wearing a tie and face paint but was otherwise relying on his natural charm and good looks. We were all wearing normal street clothes. Clearly we are amateurs at the Paw Walk thing. Team Rumple probably should have been wearing matching dinosaur onsies or something. But while we were under-dressed we still enjoyed the walk and the delightful autumn weather. The occasional shower was hardly enough to rain on our parade.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

May 16. Day 136. Not happy Jan

There was a bit of protesting going on at my place today.
Rumple was putting on the sad eyes and threatening to call the RSPCA over the fact that he had to have a bath. I know. That's so unfair.
And in the afternoon I joined a community action meeting at the office of Councillor Helen Abrahams. As someone who spent years in the press box reporting council, I am well aware that change does not come easy. It is not just a case of NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) but often it seems like the BANANA  (BUILD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ANYWHERE NEAR ANYTHING) principle is at play. So it should not be surprising that residents are up in arms at plans to change traffic arrangements in my area. Yes, it is true that the "what's-in-it-for-me" motivation is at play when I say the proposal on the table is about as stupid at I've ever seen. The ability to turn into our street will be seriously restricted which will be personally massively inconvenient. So I would be voicing my opposition regardless. But the thinking is crazy. Part of the plan is to stop accidents at that intersection. That's a fine ideal but it's based on old traffic statistics. A bus stop at that intersection was moved a number of years back and there hasn't been an accident there since. So they are trying to stop accidents that don't happen. But worse, the plan is to direct turning traffic further down the street - to an intersection where there are accidents. Putting a U-Turn facility there will quite literally be another accident waiting to happen. The people at the meeting were united in their opposition and hopefully the planners will see that.

Friday, May 15, 2015

May 15. Day 135. Duck off

Friday afternoon. Time to duck off and go for a week-ending, head-clearing walk.
This afternoon the walk with Rumple took us off to the University of Queensland, a venue which Rumple finds packed with possibility. He sees every bird, lizard and turtle as a potential conquest. I'm pretty sure he thinks it is only the lead that comes between him and a duck for dinner. I'm pretty sure he is entirely wrong. Not only is he hampered by the fact that he can't swim all that well and can't fly at all but deep down he's a lover not a fighter. The only way he's going to have a feed of fowl is if someone orders it for him. I love my fur friend but not that much. The ducks, for their part, stayed just out of reach and quietly preened themselves like they were preparing themselves for a big Friday night on the town. But not this little black duck. I was home on the couch by just after dark which after this week was just about perfect.