Friday, June 30, 2017

June 30. Day 181. A little gem

 At some stage of his school career, Drama Teen had to write a piece of description about his favourite place. He chose the Queensland Performing Arts Complex. He wrote about the smell of perfume and champagne. He wrote about the excited chatter before the curtain went up and the thunder of the applause. And he wrote about the electricity in the air. Theatre is not just what happens on stage. Theatre is the experience. For little ones, all that may not be immediately apparent. But there are other ways to build on the sense of excitement attached to the whole day at the theatre thing. Fame Theatre Company does this well. Firstly they have very lovely and kind people working in the canteen (said no-one ever expect me because I happened to be a canteen volunteer today). So firstly there's a colouring competition, the opportunity to take a selfie with the cast or join Snow White in the park after the show. Kids can get all crafty before the show or at intermission and there are singers to keep you entertained before the doors open. The wide-eyed looks on the children's faces prove that  it hits the mark. Of course the real joy is in the theatre itself where the chatter, laughter and looks of pure innocent joy are well worth the admission price. Actually the performance of King Leo alone was enough to cover the admission price. Such a striking resemblance to that talented woman selling drinks, chips, chocolates and other goodies in the canteen ....

Thursday, June 29, 2017

June 29. Day 180. Taking flight

It was all so graceful so elegant so beautiful. And then, suddenly, it wasn't. I frocked up and went to the ballet, the Royal Ballet no less. Now having basically been expelled from ballet lessons at age six for supreme lack of ability to perform as a sea anemone I do not claim to be an expert on the form. But I know what I like and I liked this a lot. This was hauntingly beautiful, moving and challenging. The brilliance of the dancers was matched - perhaps even surpassed - by a technical team who played with laser light and smoke to create a vision of clouds and rainbows that dancer above the stage. It was stunning. I left the theatre on a high. But what goes up can come crashing down and it doesn't always take a lot to pop the balloon. Tonight it was the laptop. This laptop has been out of its box for four days. It was a replacement for the work laptop that really didn't respond well to sparkling mineral water. Just before leaving home I sent an email and shut the lid. On arriving home I opened it to download photos. The screen was a mess. Diffracted light might be spectacular on stage but as an unwanted consequence on a computer screen, not so much. I was devastated. Sure it's only a thing but it was a thing issued into my care. It was a thing with lots and lots of my data on it and it was another thing I'd have to explain to the IT people . This was not a conversation I wanted to have. If humans could fly north for the winter or hibernate in a cave I'd be there. Instead I flapped about with all the grace I' displayed as a six-year-old ballerina. Some thing never change. I live in hope.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

June 28. Day 179. I spy

Never say never again. Last year, with much fanfare and tears, we said goodbye to Fame. Now it's like Drama Teen has never left, perhaps because that's kind of what happened. First he moved directly from "regular" Fame to a special graduate and teacher group. Now this week he's in a Fame holiday show as the only adult cast member. I'm not sure how many times I have seen Snow White since Oliver first saw a Fame show at aged three. But I do know this is the second time he's performed in the production. The joy never fades. If you are on to a good thing, stick to it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

June 27. Day 178. Bend over backwards

In my kitchen there's a small plaque that says "doing housework is like stringing beads without a knot in the end". Never were truer words written. But while I would never do the beading, there's an inevitability about the housework thing. If you don't want to live in squalor, cleaning is an unavoidable fact of life. That doesn't necessarily mean I need to do all of it. This is where the domestic goddess who clean my house come in. Alana and her sister Caityn arrive once a week and bend over backwards to ensure my house is shiny and hygienic. They may only be out the gate for 2.7 seconds before the humans and dogs start to undo their good work but at least I know under the mess it is clean. That matters a lot. So I hesitated for not even a second when Alana asked if she could bring her daughters with her today. It's school holidays and that meant either bringing the girls or taking time off. We all have to do what we have to do to make the work/life thing work. The girls were delightful. Their mum said they would happily sit and colour in and so they did right up until the dogs and I waded in and disturbed them. So the girls entertained me while their mum and aunt cleaned. Now that seems like a deal you can't refuse.

Monday, June 26, 2017

June 26. Day 177. Up the creek


I'm going to spend much of the next week trying to travel up sh*t creek without a paddle. There will be a lot of sh*t and it will all be coming at me from one direction - the television. Now some people would think the incredibly high doses of lifestyle and reality programming I consume is the definition of trash television. By some people I mean people such as my husband. But this week he takes control of the remote control. No, I did not lose a bet. It started with a chance meeting in an op shop between Charles and ABC producer Amanda Dell. In a conversation about the television segment I am involved in, Charles suggested it would be awesome to let him choose the shows I review. Amanda decided to spring the "good news" on me today live on air. It will be a long week filled with footie shows and BBC historical programs. But even I think it is pretty funny and I'd be laughing really hard if the situation was reversed. It could be worse. It could be be a State of Origin week....

Sunday, June 25, 2017

June 25. Day 176. A little bit of theatre

Sunday is the day of rest - if you have no imagination. Personally  I like a bit of theatre in my life. Today I found myself at Gardens Theatre for Mr Stink. Based on the book of David Walliams, this was children's theatre at its best. it managed to combine jokes about bums, poo, farts - and even better farts in the bath - with some pretty worthy themes. This show takes on bullying, homelessness, political expediency and more. That's pretty impressive in an hour. And it does so with a huge amount of humour a high standard of acting and theatrical design. The flyer  said this was theatre for children aged 6 to 12. It's true that the excited laughs, cheers and boos proved it hit the mark. Indeed, I might be a tiny bit older than that but I enjoyed it just the same as did by theatre buddies for today Tiania and Molly neither of whom fall in the target demographic (hear the podcast). Then after the theatre we moved next door to the Botanic Gardens where the weekly markets were underway. Even though I can walk to the markets I have not yet made it there. This is a tremendous oversight. I picked up a few hand-made fashion items and a delicious bowl of noodles. But best yet I was on hand to watch Molly meeting the face painter. It was the second piece of theatre for Miss Molly today which makes it just about perfect for  Sunday.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

June 24. Day 175. 21 Candles

If you spend even a second thinking about it, you realise just how anachronistic the 21st birthday is. Do not get me wrong. I fully endorse 21st birthday parties and as a Party Mamma look forward to many a sleepless night planning Drama Teen's birthday bash when the time comes. But what's the great, big key-of-the-door birthday about any more? You can get the car keys at 17. At 18, the doors to the democratic process, the pub, the strip club and the locked cabinet at the supermarket where the smokes are kept (should you be crazy enough to want any) are unlocked. The 21st birthday is a thing of the past. It was, of course, already a thing of the past when I was 21. Its significance is in tradition and that in itself is a fine, fine reason. So it was with great pleasure that tonight I entered the 21st birthday phase of my life for the seocnd time. In round one, the parties belong to you and your friends. Second time around, it is your kids and their friends. It does make me feel old to be at the 21st birthday of someone I have known since he was a toddler. But it is also special to be part of a celebration that marks the ceremonial coming of age of a fine young man. So congratulations Daniel and congratulations to your mum and dad for raising such a gentleman.
(The YouTube videos of the speeches are dreadful because of the light but they are included for the public record)

Friday, June 23, 2017

June 23. Day 174. Pounding the pavement

The global corporate challenge has me pounding the footpath rather a lot these days. It has taught, or reminded me, of many things:
a) I am very unfit
b) Brisbane is every beautiful, especially at night at this time of year
c) I really lack commitment to any cause. Just about everywhere I go there is chalk art on the footpath advising carnivores (such as myself) that eating meat is cruel and a vegan lifestyle is far preferable to all creatures great and small. I imaged there was a large band of vegans with chalk (quite a good name for a rock band). But on tonight's walk I saw the artists in action and they assured me there was just the two of them
d) Ibis and magpies get all the bad press for being avian annoyances but the noisy miners give them a run for their money. They really are little bullies sticking their beaks in just about everywhere. They have little bird syndrome, overcompensating for their lack of size in attitude. Perhaps if I walked faster I might have less size, more attitude.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

June 22. Day 173. Life imitating art

Okay, disclosure. Half of these photos were taken yesterday. But yesterday my focus was clearly on the once in a lifetime balloon trip over the Gold Coast hinterland. My brain and my blog has no room to process any more than that. But you know what it's like? You can wait two hours for a bus only to have three come at once or your only six social invitations for the year are all for events on the one night? Life is a bit it never rains but it pours. Today was a bit like that. Balloon ride in the morning. Theatre in the evening. Anyway this is my Project 365 so I will do with it as I please. The rules are one photo a day for a year. Now clearly there is always more than one photo a day and the year was up on December 30, 2012. I'm not much one for following rules. So if as well as today's photos I choose to mix in a gallery from yesterday this is my right. I call it art with nature photos from today strategically selected to mimic theatrical photos from yesterday. Let's call it overachieving rather than cheating. It sounds much nicer.

City of Angels by Beenleigh Theatre Group

The play within a play is a dramatic device used so frequently it has almost become cliched. Shakespeare used it (at least three times in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Love's Labours Lost, and Hamlet) and so have countless others since. A movie within a play is a variation on the theme which runs the risk of being same but different. City of Angels is anything but. in the play we have an author whose novel is being turned into a Hollywood blockbuster with all the trimmings of film noir - guns, dames and hats. His colourful life is reflected in the lighting, the costumes and the characters. The film scenes are all black and white like the films of the period. Clever both artistically and as a visual clue to where we are as the cast slide between play and film. Throw in a revolving set that moves through three different scenes and accommodates oh so many prop changes. It is extremely ambitious. But no amount of clever lighting, costuming or set design is worth a cent if the script, acting, musicians and score aren't up to the task. Fortunately this production excelled in these areas too. It was a rollicking good time from beginning to end. Do you want to see or movie or a play? why don't we have both? 
City of Angels continues at the Beenleigh Theatre Group's Crete Street Theatre until July 8. You can hear our podcast here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June 21. Day 172. Up, up and away

Look closely. That's Brisbane on the horizon
Remember that Monty Python sketch? The one where one of the fourth of the Four Yorkshiremen alleged he "had to get up in the morning at ten o'clock at night half an hour before I went to bed"? That was how I felt this morning. When the clock reads 02.30, more often then not I'm going to bed not waking up. But this morning, 90 minutes or so after I went to sleep, I was up and ready to fly. Literally. This ungodly hour is what is required to be at the Gold Coast to meet the 4am balloon bus. The destination is determined by the winds and today we headed to somewhere near Witheren in the hinterland. It was a bumpy, slightly vomit-inducing bus ride. Indeed buses scare me much more than balloons. In a balloon's basket, the gentle waft is beautiful. The view is sublime. The serenity is unmatched. It is pretty much everything a bus is not. Today was my fourth balloon ride having previously flown over Brisbane twice (something air traffic control restrictions now makes impossible) and the Sunshine Coast. I don't have a favourite. Each is beautiful in its own way. Today's balloon was by far the biggest with a basket carrying 24. You might think that would have everyone fighting for the balloon equivalent of the window seat. In fact not. The basket has four separate compartments with six in each and everyone has a front row view. And what a view it was. My balloon buddy Alison and I had flights cancelled multiple times because the weather was against us but today was balloon flying gold star conditions. If you look closely you can see Brisbane. That early morning mist just added to the impact. Balloons only take off at sunrise and as today was the winter solstice today's departure was as late as it gets. Had we left it a month, I really would have been getting up half an hour before I went to sleep. But it would have been worth it. Who needs sleep? Well me obviously but not today

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June 20. Day 171. Sunrise. Sunset

The winter solstice is tomorrow and thank God for that. These early sunsets are killing me. I've barely arisen from an afternoon nap and it's too dark to take pics on an afternoon walk. Woe is me. As a person who has lived in places much further from the equator I am fully aware just how sooky this is. I still remember walking home from primary school in the dark as a child living in England. We only lived there for a couple of years so it was an adventure for a little Aussie kid. I liked the seriously short bleak days far less during my mid 20s heading out to work in the dark in the UK. Honestly, most of the world would think this is pretty okay for winter. And those who don't really don't know what they are missing. Still I shall whinge because if you can't whinge about the weather what topics are left?

Monday, June 19, 2017

June 19. Day 170. A birdy with a yellow bill

A birdy with a yellow bill, hopped upon my window sill. Cocked its shining eye and said. 'Ain't you shamed you sleepy head. So asked Robert Louis Stevenson in Time to Rise. Am I ashamed of an inability to wake? Am I ashamed of being a sleepy head? No. Frustrated, exhausted and frankly totally p*ssed off, but not ashamed. Being ashamed of pathology is kind of pointless. Sleep apnea may be part of the problem but even my sleep physician thinks the numbers don't reflect the level of exhaustion. The second most likely cause is depression. That would explain a lot. Of course many people will say, go to bed earlier... or drop the afternoon naps. If only it was that simple. No-one who is not a shift worker or a teenager chooses to go to bed at 2am. Bloody annoying is my official diagnosis. So birdy, mind your own business. I saw you bullying just about every other avian species at South Bank this afternoon. Who are you to lecture me?

Sunday, June 18, 2017

June 18. Day 169. Don't worry. Be happy

"You're looking slightly more relaxed," my friend and work colleague said when we met at the University of Queensland lakes today. There were good reasons for this. It was Sunday. I'd had a morning AND an afternoon sleep. But most of all a walk in the sun with the dogs to the lakes makes me happy. Winter in Queensland is pretty awesome. Who wouldn't be happy watching goslings waddle or children frolic? It sure beats marking and spreadsheets and unit outlines. It also beats laundry, dirty dishes and catering. They were all still there when I got home but in the short term I was good to adopt the motto "Don't worry. Be happy".

Saturday, June 17, 2017

June 17. Day 168. I'll drink to that

The King and I opening night. I do love an opening night. I love the buzz, the bubbles, the nibbles etcetera, etcetera, etcetera (anyone who is familiar with the Rodgers and Hammerstein script will see what I did there). If I am honest, more than anything I love a small spot of people watching and better still people listening. It could be the journalist in me or just the sticky beak or both. Anyway, what I heard in the reception following Savoyards opening night was glowing. It reminded me that 1) not everyone spends on average three nights a week at the theatre. 2) Not everyone sits in an auditorium with a critical hat on. Most go just to be entertained. After all that's why they paid their dollars and a very important 3) Not everyone hates Rodgers and Hammerstein and those who do probably stay away. It can be sobering to remind yourself of that even after the champagne. Because the production was good I just didn't like it very much and that's Rodgers and Hammerstein's fault not Savoyards. Actually that's not 100% true. I do think theatre companies could try something new rather than recycle the classics especially those that feel dated and really demand a cast of actors from a particular ethnicity you can not hope to fill. But the King and I well and truly passes the bums on seats test even if it fails the Susan' Standard. So knowing the script was going to make me cringe with its inherent sexism and racism, I decided to concentrate on trying to work out what I was missing. I don't think it's the score. Getting to Know You, I Whistle a Happy Tune and Shall We Dance are jolly enough but the rest of the soundtrack is a little forgettable. The costumes and sets are always lavish and beautiful, you have to give it that. There's the cute factor of a tribe of adorable and talented children. And it's a love story and people love a love story. Okay, that's a few points in its favour. But tonight I found something else. As I tried not to dig my fingernails into my skin as our heroine Mrs Anna helped prove the King of Siam wasn't a barbarian by dressing everyone in western clothes, setting a table with western trimmings and stocking it with western food and teaching people how to shake hands and bow appropriately, it struck me. I say the musical is dated but really how much has changed? Is it not true that we are still hear almost daily complaints about cultures whose women should dress more like the west, where the food should be more like "ours" and where they should abandon their customs and integrate? The more things change the more things stay the same. It may be that I was the only one drawing that out of the dialogue not because I'm more analytical but because everyone else was too busy going with it and enjoying it for what it was. That's okay. That's the beauty of the theatre. There's no "right" response. There's no essay challenging you to explain why The King and I remains relevant in today's world. Some of us write one in our head all the while whistling a happy tune, afraid of the take home message. Most just drink the champagne. You can't argue with that. For more of what we thought of the production, listen to our podcast.

Friday, June 16, 2017

June 16. Day 167. Dining out

What's worse than going to a curry house and ordering the omelette? Going to a curry house and ordering nothing at all. I did that tonight. Four small people at the same table ate more than I did (and I must say they did so with great style and gusto). Just in case anyone thinks I'm one of those annoying people on a diet, not so. I'd been out for lunch and the Greek banquet left zero room for another bite. Now a "normal" person might have just not gone. But I was happy to dine out on good company. It's so hard to find a time that suits the "curry club" members that pulling out at the last minute because you couldn't even manage a wafer-thin mint is uncalled for. People may think I'm weird but that won't be the first time.

June 15. Day 166. Big Brother is Watching You

I'm so old that I remember when 1984 was a novel about a dystopian future (although I am not sure the dystopian fiction category had yet been given that label). But even then, 30 plus years after George Orwell wrote it, it was scarily accurate. What is terrifying is that in the 2017 world it seems even closer to the mark than it did in the 80s. The idea of the surveillance state, of thought police, of double speak, these things are scarily familiar. Everywhere you are someone is watching and quite frankly we invite the intrusion into our privacy through a social media obsession. These things were on my mind as I pointed my large lens in the general direction of strangers jumping all over the Brisbane sign. I'd just left the Lyric Theatre after opening night of the touring production of 1984. I've seen the play before but not like this. This was extraordinary theatre. This is the sort of thing that will haunt you in part because of Orwell's incredible vision and captivating writing. But this was the sort of stage production that haunts you in its brilliance. It took an incredible story and delivered it in a way that was not only technically brilliant but likely to mess with your head. Big Brother is watching you. Now is your turn to watch Big Brother at the Lyric Theatre. Our podcast is (mostly) spoiler free, especially if you have read the book. Listen here