Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February 28. Day 59. Make yourself at home, why don't you?

You know how there are some people you may go years without seeing but when you do it is just like yesterday? Within minutes, perhaps seconds, the same old banter, the same old comfortable conversation is back. You remember why you liked them and wonder why you left it so long.
The arrival of The Fed back to our home is always like that. Fed has been coming here since he was a pup and Rumple was only one. Winkle has known Fed her whole life but has spent only a fraction of the time with her beagle cousin as Rumple. But if there's one thing you can be sure of about Winkle it's that she's a very accommodating little lady, quite happy to share the love. She's certainly not neglecting her prime motivation for living - annoying Rumple - but she's making sure Fed feels right at home too. The three of them get on like a house on fire.
 I'm not saying for a second Feddy doesn't miss his family - of course he does - but if work keeps them apart here is the place he'd most prefer to be.

Monday, February 27, 2017

February 27. Day 28. The juggle begins

Day 1. Semester 1. Now the juggle really gets serious. In addition, today was the first official day of my gig as a TV reviewer on ABC Radio Brisbane. I've been filling in for four weeks and now my bum is in the chair. It would be totally wrong to even suggest something which is as much fun as this is work. It's not. It's a highlight of the week but I do have to fit it in. And a third dog joined the pack for a week with the return of my brother's beagle The Fed to our abode. And, of course, Drama Teen started Drama School today. Yeah, it's all happening. So it's perfectly fitting that today's pic is all about juggling, specifically the poi. According to that reliable source Wikipedia, the poi is
 a style of performing art and the equipment used for engaging in poi performance. The art, which has its origins with the Maori people in New Zealand, involves swinging tethered weights through a variety of rhythmical and geometric patterns. As if that doesn't sound dangerous enough poi artists may also sing or dance while swinging their poi. Advanced performers add fire. And I sometimes think what I juggle is impossible. I encountered a pair of young blokes practicing the poi in Musgrave Park as I was walking towards the ABC. They put on a bit of a show for me but I was told if I really wanted to see some advanced action with the fire and so on Kangaroo Point on a Sunday afternoon was the place to go.
I'll see if I can juggle a few things to fit it in

Sunday, February 26, 2017

February 26. Day 57. The knives are out

I still remember my first Tupperware party. I was in my early teens when our neighbour invited us. Bizarrely, I even remember the ice breaker. Find a way to describe your ideal self using the first letter of your name. As I recall I said: "I'm Susan and I want to be sexy". Asked the same thing today and I'd say: "I'm Susan and I want to be sleeping". How times change. Then there was a time when Drama Teen was but a Drama Toddler when I was at a Tupperware party almost every weekend. Everyone in the day care centre was hosting a party to ensure the person before them received free gifts. With small children none of us got out much so we made the most of our free passes and they became late and boozy nights. I think our husbands started to suspect that Tupperware Party was the name of a bar in town as in "I'm off to a Tupperware Party". But it's been a long time between drinks (and by drinks I mean a party plan party). But you know how it never rains but it pours? Today I accepted invites to not one but two parties - Tupperware in the morning and a Lorraine Lea linen party in the afternoon. Now to be clear I have no problems with the products. Until today I was not familiar with Lorraine Lea but I am a big Tupperware fan. And I love a party but I don't much like it when the two mix. More champagne less hard sell, I say.
Despite this, I agreed to host a party. I was told I shouldn't invite people with the line "I'm having a Tupperware Party. Please come but you don't have to buy anything and you won't have to have a party". Let's be honest, that's what everyone says. So who wants to come to my party? March 8. 7pm. Be there.

February 25. Day 56. Make yourself at home

 They say that guests like fish start to smell after three days. Perhaps, but some people certainly know how to make themselves at home. And some people includes me. There was a time when we moved back to my parents for a month or so between houses. We stayed for a couple of years. It's a phenomenon that even has a name - boomerang kids. My neighbour Margaret has never had kids but she operates her own version of the open door policy. Her bird feeding has graduated from throwing food out the window, to birds collecting food from the window like a Maccas drive through, to birds coming in through the window and doors and helping themselves. Some of these birds are the offspring of her original guests who have arrived as chicks and keep coming back. Normally they stay clear when I visit because more often then not I have dogs with me. Today I was doing a grocery drop alone when a pied currawong decided to pop in. He helped himself to mince and then left. A bit rude to eat and run (or fly as it was) but who am I to judge. Let she who is without sin ...

Friday, February 24, 2017

February 24. Day 55. Mind games

I am a big lover of radio. It is probably both the most portable and the most intimate of mediums. It is with you in the bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom and the car. It can be the voice in your head as you walk. You hear the words and your mind does the rest, creating the pictures. It is a wonderful way of telling stories. Of course, I also love a play, where actors bring the characters to life through the power of their voices, their bodies and a little bit of theatrical magic. Given this, it is really no surprise that a radio play is right up my alley.  A staged radio play presents both a unique challenge to actors and an opportunity to audiences. For actors much of the work is created through voice. But unlike a "real" radio play, the audience enjoys the benefits of facial expressions and gestures. It's a voice acting on steroids. For the audience you get to see this unfold but in addition sound effects are created before your eyes. Shoes bang on the table to create the sounds of steps, water is splashed in a bucket to create the illusion of people swimming, glasses are clinked, paper is crushed. It is the antithesis of how modern story telling is heading. Splashy special effects and computer generated multimedia mean that little is left to the imagination. I think this is a shame and it's part of the reason I head to Nash Theatre in New Farm every year to see their radio play. This year the choice was The Philadelphia Story, a tale about the upcoming wedding of a socialite couple. Throw in the tabloids sneaking around for a scoop, and a hovering ex husband and there are bound to be fireworks. Sound familiar? if you are not familiar with the 1950 Katherine film perhaps the musical remake High Society starring Grace Kelly rings a bell. Either way it's a romping good ride and it works perfectly as a radio play. Seeing Stuart Crisp tinkle the ivories as the cast of nine create the word pictures is a joy to behold. It's worth the admission price alone to see Susie Williams create the sound effects.
More details on how to join the magic are available on the Nash Theatre website.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

February 23. Day 54. Here we go. Here we go. Here we go

I remember my undergraduate orientation - at least up until the all night movies where it got very, very messy. I remember sitting nervously in the lecture theatre and being told to look to the left and look to the right. Of the three of us only one would graduate. Yeah, what kind of a welcome is that? Starting something as big as a university degree is scary and the last thing you need is to be told you have just over a 30 per cent chance of graduating. The worst of it is that it wasn't even true. I don't know the numbers but I reckon at least of 80 per cent of the group have the piece of paper they give graduates. I get that they want to ensure students take the opportunity seriously but in my mind there are better ways.  So I have a very different way of running orientation. My message is that this is day one of a wild, wonderful ride and they should strap themselves in and enjoy it. Work hard but have fun and make friends. There's a whole lot going on in Orientation Week to make the students realise they are part of a big exciting creative community. The thing is that we don't always have students rolling over each other on the street furniture but it wouldn't be unheard of either. You never know exactly what will be going on around the Creative Industries Precinct from one day to the next. That's what makes it so interesting. Let's hope the students make the most of every second of it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February 22. Day 53. Thank you for the music

Music dierector Alondra de la Parra
Until today I'd never actually heard of Maxim Vengerov but now I have the hugest girl crush. The Queensland Symphony Orchestra's artist in residence is an inspiration. The Siberian-born violinist picked up his first violin at 4 years and 8 months and was in his first concert at five. He could have played the oboe like his father but decided that if he was going to play an instrument he wanted to sit in the front of the orchestra. "No-one can see the woodwind section," he joked. Siberia, he told the audience at QSO's In Conversation, was known for its remoteness and for its exiles but that can be the basis of great music. "During those turbulent times, a lot of great music is created." Music, he said, helps escape the trauma of war and restore the harmony. His passion is undeniable. "Violin is the extension of the soul of the players". But that's not why I have a girl crush. That comes down to two other things he told the orchestra's new music director Alondra de la Parra.
Firstly he talked about taking three years out from playing the violin to study conducting. Alondra pointed out that he didn't need to do that. On reputation alone if he wanted to take up the baton just about any orchestra would have had him. But, he said, conducting was a skill in its own right and deserved to be treated with that respect. He wanted to master the craft. As someone who tires of seeing retired sports people think they can be sports journalists with no training at all, I applaud a man who recognises that just because you've been conducted doesn't mean you can conduct or in my field just because you've been interviewed doesn't mean you can interview. But that's not all. He also talks about how he was approached to work for UNICEF as an ambassador but refused to do so unless they let him visit the children. He took his violin to Uganda, Kosovo and Bosnia and found a universal music and a healing power in music.
"Without people there is no music."  Well Maxim, thank you for the music.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

February 21. Day 52. In a flap

It's Orientation Week. This seems to have an ability to sneak up on me every year. There seems like there is an almost infinite amount of time between the end of second semester and the arrival of the new batch of students. But time is relative. The weeks of semester drag weighed down by never ending piles of marking. The weeks between semester fly eating up the hours in forms and preparation. And then the new semester is there and the paperwork and forms are still there not quite complete. This year is the same but different. While I'm about to orientate students, my teen is about to be orientated. So life in our house is about to get really serious. The only thing to do in this situation when things are starting to hot up is to down tools and go for a walk. Off to the University of Queensland lakes with two very eager dogs. They are about to find a noticeable decline in the availability of humans around the house. Bring it on.

Monday, February 20, 2017

February 20. Day 51. Bending over backwards

Drama Teen and I spend A LOT of time discussing the performing arts. Even though neither of us are big fans of Rodgers and Hammerstein (and that's an understatement) a quote from Richard Rodgers is often pulled out: "No-one leaves the theatre humming the scenery". Perhaps not, but a really dynamic set can and will make your heart sing. This is something I remind the teen of frequently. I love a good set. But the set is only the start of the non performance aspects of a production that make theatre what it is. The technical production - the lighting, the design, the sound, the costumes and that set really can lift a production - or indeed sink it. The good news is for those who create theatre in Brisbane is that those technical categories are now much better represented in the annual Matilda Awards with  best sound design/composition and best audio visual design being added to the award categories. The annual awards were presented at a sell out ceremony at the Powerhouse Theatre tonight. It was a fun-filled, loved filled evening with two Queensland Theatre productions each taking away a swag of awards. The Wider Earth, a piece of magic by Dead Puppet Society, was rewarded for its technical wizardry while the stunning performances in Switzerland saw it take out both the major acting categories and best mainstage production. As the mother about to send her "baby" to study Drama at Queensland University of Technology one name stood out. Emily Weir was still a QUT student when she auditioned for the role as the maid in Tartuffe. She was a stand out, a real show stealer and obviously the judges agreed. She won both the emerging talent award and the best female supporting actor award. You go girl.
Wins for independent theatre companies also reflected the strength of that sector.
And the notable omission? Not one single award for La Boite Theatre Company. It's not that I think any of last year's productions was hard done by. It's more that we all benefit when there are stand out performances across the board and across the city. Still I very much enjoyed Single Asian Female at La Boite last week so perhaps next year. We'll see.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

February 19. Day 50. Things are hotting up

Almost unquestionably the biggest event in Brisbane in May is the annual Paniyri Festival.
For those counting down the days, you have 90 more sleeps until you can get your Greek on. But some things are worth waiting for and honey puffs, haloumi and calamari are among those things.
If the wait seems almost too much to bear, consider for a moment the Hellenic Dancers. This year's Paniyiri marks the 40th anniversary of the dance troop. At times in Musgrave Park this afternoon there must have been some dancers who wondered if this might be the last dance.
Those traditional costumes are really cool but really cool they are not.
If a day is a long time in our fast paced world, 90 days is an eternity especially in terms of the weather. February is probably the worst month in Brisbane's climate calendar. May is glorious. Let's be honest, you can eat haloumi in any weather but it's even better when not mixed with sweat.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

February 18. Day 49. A head rest

A picture never lies. As such I knew that dragonflies would land on the head of turtles because my wonderful friend and Project365 buddy Donna Weeks snapped the photograph that proved it a couple of years back. I love that photo. I love the university lakes where it was taken. I spend quite a bit of time at the lakes watching the turtles and I've never seen a dragonfly anywhere near them. Indeed there was no sign of the dragonflies there today either when I walked my little buddy Molly around the lakes to check out the turtles. She was very excited by what she saw so as soon as we got back to her parents on the other side of the lake she insisted we return with her mum. This visit was no more than 10 minutes after the first only this time the dragonflies had flown in. Right in front of me one landed on a turtle's head. So now I have a turtle versus dragonfly photo too. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Friday, February 17, 2017

February 17. Day 48. Just add water

It's POETS day, so one is almost obliged to Piss Off Early Tomorrow's Saturday. And so we did. The dogs and I headed Colmslie Recreation Reserve and the riverside dog park. It's an incredibly well equipped park with a load of agility equipment not often seen in other dog parks. All my dogs did on this equipment was pee. About a hundred metres further on there is a slither of sand along the foreshore. The second we arrived there their excitement levels hit fever pitch. There was sand. There was water. This was heaven. It wasn't much but it made all the difference. The water made the experience. The agility equipment just got in the way. I thought of that tonight at Act One Theatre's performance of The Importance of Being Earnest. The play is set in three locations: A London flat, in the garden of a country home and inside the country home. Each scene was created by an appropriate use of furnishings and props all of which created exactly the right feel. But then they'd added a projected image. It told me nothing not already conveyed through the traditional set. Seriously people. Theatre is not film. You don't need to use multimedia just because you can. Used well it can set mood, define place or add detail and context. But so often in community theatres it tells me nothing, or is distorted, not focused or just a distraction. Be ruthless. Ask yourself. Will this be like the river and it will make the audience's heart sing or will it be like the agility equipment that just sits there until some animal pees on it? Since man began to perform on stage, set designers have been able to create magic without a single projection. Don't let us lose that art.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

February 16. Day 47. Social butterfly

I often say I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do when I grow up. Clearly I have a bit of work to do to get to that stage. Think about it. I still have afternoon naps. I frequently manage to put my clothes on inside out or back the front. I can't tell my left from my right. Trained slugs would have more developed balance and coordination. And I am completely capable of wearing as much food as I manage to shovel into my mouth. Tragic. But while I sometimes wish I could behave a little more like a functioning adult, I don't mind those occasions where I have retained my childlike wonder. As far as I know spending a large amount of time watching bugs and slugs is something "normal" people grow out of. Well good luck to them. I may no longer have a Bug Catcher or a jam jar with holes in the lid but my fascination with creepy crawlies remains. In the words of Monty Python: All things dull and ugly, all creatures short ad squat, Call things rude and nasty, The Lord God made the lot.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February 15. Day 46. Food for thought

Pelicans are awesome.
I love that wide-eyed amazement look they rock pretty much all the time.
I love their ability to own a space with no real effort.
Just being there is enough to make a statement.
Also their colour palette is black and white with a splash of pink. That's pretty much the sort of accessorizing I love.
But of I'm honest that's not the big thing. The big thing is the beak. How can you not love a creature that can shovel so much into it's mouth? That's my attitude to life to.
At the University of Queensland lakes this afternoon the pelicans were putting on a show.
Actually, they were just being themselves. That in itself is a show of awesome.
What made it so special was that they decided to do it right in front of me and my camera caring not at all about my two fur friends also enjoying the display. Love it

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February 14. Day 45. This one goes out to the ones I love

Valentine's Day. The Hallmark occasion to end all Hallmark occasions (if anyone actually sends greeting cards any more). This is the day for love but love comes in many forms. Sure February 14 is the red letter day for the romantic kind of love. But my husband is in Melbourne for a Superannuation conference (what could be more romantic than that?) so this Valentine's Day I shall honour the only other beings invited to share my bed - my dogs. The joy that those two bring into our home is impossible to quantify. They are quite simple hilarious. Rumple is so solid, so loving so dependable. Winkle is as mad as a cut snake, silly and playful. Together the antics this canine odd couple get up to would bring a smile to anyone's face. What's not to love about that? So after days of house arrest due to conditions not favourable for walking when you are covered in fur, it was time to reward my bed buddies with an adventure. We went to the off leash area along Kedron Brook. It was glorious after yesterday's cleansing storms and clearly just about every dog owner in the district had the same idea. At one point there was a great big playful canine cluster. My dogs looked but showed no interest. Like a couple on a Valentine's Day date, they only have eyes for each other all the while making sure I was never out of sight. That's love in my eyes.

Monday, February 13, 2017

February 13. Day 44. The early bird

It's no secret that communication technology advances have changed how when and where we can do just about anything. Which is great for those of us with phones in our pockets and computers on our laps. My neighbour Margaret is not one of those people. She rises before the sun, goes to bed when it's dark, watches TV according to the program guide and uses a phone plugged into the wall. An alien would have more hope of fully grasping how different the way my household operates as she does. So this morning one of the screws on her hearing aid broke. She waited until a "decent" hour to phone me. It was 6.15am.  I'd been working on something until after 3. I'm pretty sure that in her mind there is probably only one profession you can do at home in your bedroom in the middle of the night and she knows that's not how I earn my income. She was dressed ready for me to take her to the hearing aid specialists. She likes to be organised early. I don't think I've ever been ready that early for anything. Actually I know I haven't. I'm a journalist. I don't finish anything much before a deadline. I gently suggested that perhaps I might just take it into the city myself. She was having none of it. After all she already had her shoes on and we could make a day of it and have lunch. Because after all I've been home all day lately so obviously I can just do that. I could have argued but in the end a girl does have to eat. And it ensured I tackled all the projects that needed tackling before the afternoon storms blew in. Plus I was given a very detailed update on who was doing what on The Bold and the Beautiful Margaret's guilty pleasure. And then I had a nap because a flexible work day means you can.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

February 12. Day 43. Starry, starry night

From the time he was a little, little boy, Oliver always knew he wanted to be an actor. He was never in any doubt on that point. Honestly my Drama Teen was born to be on stage and/or screen. I've seen him on many, many stages across the city since he was five but until tonight screen as been a missing link. Tonight was the graduating showcase for his one year Professional Acting for Television program through Film and Television Studio International. He had the best time last year and tonight we had the chance to see the fruits of his labours. I've never been prouder, and let's face it I'm a great, big proud mumma. His scene was from the 2010 American romantic comedy She's Out of My League. It was a perfect choice (although naturally no woman will ever be out of my boy's league. Just the opposite ... isn't it every mother's duty to think that about her son?) And in a couple of weeks he's off to start the Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drama) at QUT. After that, the world's his oyster. It better be. This is my retirement plan...

Saturday, February 11, 2017

February 11. Day 42. If you can't stand the heat ...

What a useless piece of advice that is. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. As though the living room, bedrooms, bathroom or great outdoors are going to be any cooler. It's hot, hot, hot and it's only going to get hotter. We are in the middle of a heatwave, a tropical heatwave. There's no escaping it unless you happen to be in my neighbour Margaret's house. She insists it is cool s a cucumber. Our health authorities are specifically advising us to check on elderly people. Get them into air conditioning for at least part of the day, the warnings say. So I did the right thing. I went over. Big no to air conditioning. Big no to borrowing a large fan because of her fixed belief that these things blow away the breeze. The only concession I got was an agreement to buy fruit ice blocks. So I left hot and bothered. The temperature of her fibro hotbox had me in a lather of sweat and the conversation left me hot under the collar. But what can you do? I went back with the ice blocks and there was zero sign that she was going to change her mind. She did, however, tell me to make sure I kept the dogs cool. No worries there. Our hot dogs spend their day sleeping in air con.