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