Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 30. Day 121. Jazzing it up

Kendall Layt
 So I went grocery shopping and "accidentally" ended up at South Bank. That can happen, well it can to me. It turns out it is International Jazz Day and watching the Tenille West Quartet seemed far more interesting than squeezing avocados to see if they are ready to eat. And it's not as if jazz was the only thing on offer at South Bank today.
Turns out that spending money in the market stalls is more fun than spending money on laundry detergent. Who knew (apart from everybody)?
I didn't even get to the end of South Bank where the Buddha Birthday Festival is taking place. That might be tomorrow's project. Best not to get too distracted by all the fun things on offer especially when there are humans and canines at home thinking I might come home with the ingredients for dinner at some point.
When I did make it through the door I told the humans I decided to jazz things up a bit.
I think they assumed I meant something inspired by My Kitchen Rules or Masterchef rather than losing track of time watching the Quartet..

Friday, April 29, 2016

April 29. Day 120. She Bangs

Well that was awkward. Being seen exiting a man's bedroom just after dawn. I'm not sure I can immediately recall his surname and that's not even the worst of it. Seconds later I was on the couch with another man. What a player, in the sense that all the world's a stage and we are merely players. For a person who lives and breathes the theatre,  surprisingly, I spend no time on stage unless you count dressing up in academic robes for graduation ceremonies which always take place on the QPAC Concert Hall stage. But today was a rare exception. Every Friday, I speak theatre on 612 ABC Brisbane with Spencer Howson. In an awesome new initiative, Spencer and his crew are taking regular road trips to performing arts venues across the region for outside broadcasts. Today the show was broadcast from Beenleigh's Crete Street Theatre so instead of talking to Spencer in the studio we were on stage.  The stage was set for Beenleigh Theatre Group's opening tonight of the bedroom farce Noises Off. A farce needs multiple doors and in that this one doesn't disappoint. Each guest emerged from one of those doors and my entrance was to be from an upstairs bedroom. Well, you can't let an opportunity like that go by can you? I enlisted the help of Brad the Traffic Guy. My name was called, the door flew open and there I was with Brad, looking all disheveled .... It's just as well I have a day job and generally restrict my work in the theatre to reviewing. But it's all a bit of fun and today had that in spades. In a morning that also included performances by a couple of choirs and an orchestra my favourite moment was veteran performer Ian Morrice sang She Bangs. Given this morning's comings and goings, that seems strangely appropriate.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

April 28. Day 119. Very tasty

King Lear. Circa 1981. Torture.
Student A. "Read a line". Then "Next Student. Next line". Analyse. What does that mean? Then write an essay, probably on whether Shakespeare is relevant today. Then shoot yourself because if Lear wasn't a big enough tragedy what Shakespeare in English classes did to generations of school students certainly is.
Shakespeare needs to taken off the page and on to the stage where it will shine and questions about relevance to today's audiences will be instantly silenced.
Every student in Brisbane studying Shakespeare should stand up, walk out of the classroom and into the Playhouse at QPAC and see Queensland Theatre Company's Much Ado About Nothing
From the moment the moon went down and the first rays of the sun rose over the ocean and the wind gentle wafts the curtains of the villa in the opening moments of the performance, it was clear this Playhouse production was going to be something special.

While the original play was set in Messina, a port town in Sicily, this production moves the action to another playground of the idle rich a mythical tropical island off the Queensland Coast.

The men have returned from war and are ready to play and the women are ready for the men.  The genius of Shakespeare is that the could easily be a Rom Com starring Anne Hathaway and Hugh Grant – except the dialogue is too clever. There are acts which we would today call  “slut shaming” or Twitter trolling, weddings that are on and off, a couple that everyone knows will end up together except them and a few songs to boot.

The comic timing is spot on with the bantering between Hugh Parker (Benedick) and Christen O’Leary (Beatrice) just magic to watch.

If you love Shakespeare you’ll love this. If you think High School English killed any chance there ever was of being convinced there is anything to The Bard this could just be the production that changes your mind.It would be a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions to miss this one. Oh, and speaking of tragedies, my heart bleeds for all of you who didn't get an invite to the opening night party at the Convention Centre. Man they do a good spread.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 27. Day 118. Wee Willie Winkle

My neighbour Margaret finds the fact that Winkle wees on her floor to be extremely amusing. I must say the joke is wearing very thin for me. True, Winkle's wee problem is starting to wane but just when I allow myself to think she's a big girl now and all house trained she's at it again. It could be Margaret's floor or like today in the bed in the guest room. It is rather unfortunate that the guest had only left the bed for a minute to visit the bathroom at the time. I console myself that the room is presently "home" to a teen friend of my son we took in because he was facing a temporary accommodation crisis. At least it wasn't a judge from Home Beautiful or a dog obedience trainer or something. Truth is I sometimes forget the little Miss is called Winkle as I more commonly refer to her as Whizzy or Whizzer on account of her toilet issues. And I wonder why she hasn't outgrown it what with all that pressure. And to think no-one actually forces you to have dogs. The additional work (and expense) is absolutely a lifestyle choice. Well, officially it's a choice but for me there's no choice at all. For all the wet spots and chewed shoes there are a million laughs and when when the fur friends curl up together or on my pillow my heart melts and the fact that the carpet smells like a public bar minus the beer is quickly forgotten.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 26. Day 117. Eating like a bird

I eat like a bird, a statement that traditionally means picking at food with little or no appetite. Unfortunately the bird I eat like is an ibis. Those birds have the table manners of toddlers by which I mean as much lands on the floor as in the mouth. But I like their style. I used to think I took my dieting tips from Miss Piggy: "Never eat more than you can lift". But now I know that's not even trying. The ibis didn't seem to let the fact the Nandos leftovers were too big to lift. It didn't even seem to care the chicken was almost like cannibalism. And then just to make sure the ibis decided "yes, the I do want fries with that".  Awesome.

Monday, April 25, 2016

April 25. Day 116. For we are young and free

I see Anzac Day rather than Australia Day as the real time to celebrate living in a nation that is young and free. Australia Day is inherently going to offend those whose ancestors lived here before arrival of the first fleet on January 26, 1788. I confess I used to have concerns about Anzac Day as celebrating or glorifying war. Now I see it remembering and thanking those who have made sacrifices - often the ultimate sacrifice - on our behalf. So I feel bad that I slept through the Anzac ceremonies today. z

 The cough-induced exhaustion continues, as pathetic as that sounds as an excuse. Rested this afternoon, I decided some community event was in order and the Anzac Day band performance in New Farm Park was the best I could find. Naturally the fur friends decided this was an awesome decision. I like to think at least pausing to remember and enjoying the freedom others fought for is a commemoration in its own way.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

April 24. Day 115. Squeaky clean

Dogs are people and little dogs are like little people.
I am pretty sure many of Winkle's plays (and if I'm honest a good many of Rumple's) come straight from the toddler's handbook.
I try to make a bed. A dog jumps on it.
I go to the loo. A dog is at the door.
The phone rings. The puppy suddenly starts a commotion.
And this is me bringing in the laundry today. Winkle is "helping" me because a puppy is just what you want in your clean washing.
Of course I wouldn't have it any other way. The dogs love to be near me and I love having them around. If that adds a degree of complexity to household chores so be it.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

April 23. Day 114. Taking flight

There was a few times today that one creature or another was taking flight. Example one. 10am. Hydrobath. The fur friends don't much like the bathing routine where "don't much like" can be interpreted as hate with a burning passion. Rumple shows his distaste by digging his heel in and having to be lifted in. With Winkle, the problem isn't so much getting her in as keeping her there. During the bath she started leaping towards the top. The assisant and I laughed that if we weren't careful she'd be over the top. The assistant told me only a couple of labradors had ever managed to achieve an escape. While we talked, Winkle executed one giant leap and she was in my arms - on the outside of the hydrobath. Once again the leap dog properties of that one are extraordinary. With the dogs washed I headed off to Redcliffe for an amateur production of The Little Mermaid.
Example Two. 2pm. The lights went down, the orchestra began to play and the air was filled with the unmistakable stench of vomit. A mother escorted the girl in the seat behind me from the theatre. Intermission revealed the full extent of the "damage". It was impressive. I fled the theatre during 20 minute break, hiding at the nearby lagoon to breathe in fresh air while the seats were cleaned.  I must say it smelled a whole lot better in the second act. But before I braved the return to the theatre I couldn't help but notice the seagulls were also just a bit flightly when it came to the penguin sculpture in the middle of the lagoon. At least it wasn't vomit they were depositing ...

Friday, April 22, 2016

April 22. Day 113. What a difference a few days make

Rome wasn't built in a day but a tropical island resort can be whipped up in a whirlwind. When I was at The Playhouse at QPAC on Monday evening, the set for Much Ado About Nothing was little more than a shell.  There were a couple of tree trunks and not much more. The director Jason Klarwein explained the vision of a playground for the rich set on a tropical island some place off the Queensland coast. He explained the revolving set and the technical tricks that would show the passage of time turning day into night and back to day. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one thinking "sounds awesome but you do know the first preview is on Saturday night, right?" Oh me of little faith. Fast forward to noon today and back at The Playhouse. It hardly looks like the same place. That vision the director painted for us on Monday had materialised and it was just as he said it would be and perhaps even a bit better. We were also treated to a scene from the play. Wow. Just wow. I know I am not a lone ranger in saying that high school English could have ruined Shakespeare for me forever. The hideous boredom of going around the class reading lines in turn then trying to analyse them is the stuff of nightmares. 
But see a quality production and you are suddenly convinced that all those experts who say the man is a genius are right. Surprise. Surprise.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

April 21. Day 112. April showers

In this part of the world, April showers will not bring May flowers. In fact in my very particular part of the world, I can expect something far less poetic from today's downpour - wet dog smell. Nice. Throw into the mix bird poo. Lots of it. When it rains, the local birds enjoy the shelter of the covered pool deck. They sit in the rafters and poo on the outdoor furniture. Who doesn't want their outdoor entertaining area turned into an avian amenities block? Well me for one. Still, a rainy day is somehow more conducive to marking than a bright sunny one. On a glorious autumn day I resent every single second inside with papers. The weather doesn't impact on the work or the drudgery of the task but it does make it slightly easier. This is no parade so the rain's not so bad. Well that's the theory. It still sucks but is marginally better than one of the birds pooping on your head.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April 20. Day 111. The write stuff

 They say that those who can do and those who can't teach. Little wonder then that students flocked to hear from a panel of industry experts about the complex business of feature writing. Benjamin Law, Andrew McMillen and Bonnie Stevens genorosly shared their tricks and tips to students who lapped it up. It was rather gratifying that many of the things they said reinforced rather than contradicted things I have been banging on about all semester (and indeed for years before this). But there were a couple of things I never thought to mention. Benjamin Law's hot tip to his teenage self? Get exercise. Writing, he said, is a lonely business and self care is vital. All day you exercise your mind. Taking time out to exercise your body is good for your physical and mental wellbeing and for your work. Andrew's tip was also surprising. Get a good chair. His set him back $1000 but saved him from the crippling pain of sitting for hours in whatever chair he had salvaged.
But, of course, I liked Bonnie's tip the best. She said: Go to your lectures and your tutes. I didn't even pay her. Had I done so, the end of that sentence may have been "because your lecturers are ace and you will learn so much your brain will explode". Okay, I don't think I could afford to get anyone to say that. Because I didn't pay her she said that lectures and tutes are incredible breeding grounds for contacts and collaboration. She's right of course. You might even learn something.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April 19. Day 110. Going potty

I blame the drugs. Previously when I have been prescribed high doses of steroids, the most obvious side effect is 'roid rage. I want to kill people and when I say people I generally mean my nearest and dearest.  Not today. Today I was seeing things at least that's the only explanation for why first one and then the other fur friend decided that sitting in a pot would be an awesome thing to do. It has to be said the dogs are the only thing living that's been in that pot for a long while. My mother insists she chose the plant after consulting the plant nursery seeking a variety that "thrives on neglect". It seems you can get too much of a good thing because the amount of neglect I administered was clearly too great. I never claimed to be a gardener. I just like painting pots. Any way I was sitting on the back deck with the fur friends dosed on what I hope is bronchitis-curing steroids when Rumple jumped off my lap and into the pot. He quickly decided "nothing to see here" and jumped out. Winkle, never one to let an opportunity pass, then decided she'd have a go. Where Rumple saw only a dead stump, Winkle saw dirt to dig in, things to chew and a place to hide. She'd probably still be there now if the cleaners hadn't rung the door bell. At least that's what I think happened but it could be the drugs.

Monday, April 18, 2016

April 18. Day 109. Much Ado About Nothing

Apparently one of the interpretations of the Nothing of the title the Shakespearean comedy Much Ado About Nothing could be no thing or more specifically no penis. The things you learn about at a Queensland Theatre Company meet the creatives free play briefing at the QPAC Playhouse. Well they do say Shakespeare was a great lover of bawdy humour. I also learned that the difference between a Shakespearean tragedy and a comedy was really how the people caught in tragic circumstances dealt with what the universe sent their way. Also a comedy needs to end with a wedding and a song. Well all these years I never really understood that. I love the QTC briefings where the cast and creatives tell their stories and are generous in their time in answering questions. It was a fascinating insight. It wasn't so much Much Ado About Nothing as much Ado about One Thing. The play. I'm even more excited at the approaching opening of the play.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

April 17. Day 108. Hanging around

"What good is sitting alone in your room ... ?"
So asks Cabaret. I can think of quite a lot of good from sitting alone in my room. For starters there's a bed in my room and I do love a nap. Today being Sunday, I decided to take the day of rest thing seriously partly because I'm lazy but partly because I figure the cough-a-rama that I can't get rid of is probably my body's sign of a need of a little lie down.
But the dogs and the teen don't quite see it like that. The teen needed to be delivered to a social engagement at Kangaroo Point and the dogs needed a walk so I decided to combine the two. Off to the cliffs we went. It's a fairly regular walking destination for us so I fully expected to see the rock climbers and abseilers but dancers? That's a new one for me. Forro in the park Latin Dance apparently takes place in the park once a fortnight but I didn't know. Clearly I have been spending too much time alone in my room ...

Saturday, April 16, 2016

April 16. Day 107. What a catch

Of course I have no daughters but I get to borrow. Like the grandmother who gets to give the grand kids back, having nieces is a win/win situation. You do get to share some of the good times but dodge the homework and other life tragedies. Score. 
Today on the time-with-nieces calendar was the first game of the 2016 lacrosse season with the lovely Scarlett. I admit, I know nothing about the game. 
But while the exact rules still escape me the intent seems pretty clear. 
Use the net on the stick to get the ball into the goal while stopping the other team from doing the same. 
Scarlett managed to score a goal which is pretty bloody awesome. It's kind of like a cross between soccer and hockey and polo. 
It's pretty physical. 
Next time I'll be lending Scarlett my Fitbit to see just what distance she covered over the course of the game. 
And then with the game over I got to go home and have a nap with no need to worry about such things as washing uniforms. Like  said, score.

Friday, April 15, 2016

April 15. Day 106. Come fly with me

Some days you just want to fly off into the sunset. Other days you wouldn't have the energy to do it even if presented with a first class ticket and spending money. Today was a day where declaring a doona day would have been so, so easy. But I'm a good girl I am and failure to meet work and life commitments is not an option, not without the Catholic guilt thing that ensures the sickie makes you sick. The irony is that no-one would begrudge me a day in bed even if it was only to escape having to listen to my cough.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

April 14. Day 105. Phoenix Rises

Some people are d*ckheads. Complete and utter d*ckheads. It wouldn't matter so much if their dicky actions didn't impact so much on others. Look at this tree sculpture in West End. It's not really to my taste but that's not the point. That sculpture is where it is and is what it is because of went before. There used to be a grand old tree on that site but some time in 2012 it was poisoned. Holes were drilled in the base of the tree because it spoiled someone's view or made parking difficult or dropped leaves or goodness knows what. All possible efforts and a great deal of money was invested to save the tree. After all to let the tree die would be to let the d*ckheads win and their agenda, whatever that might be, would be successful. But still the tree died and the tree sculpture is now in its place standing as a permanent reminder of what happened. It's making the best of a bad situation. I only hope that whoever did this sees the tree and somewhere deep inside there is a small amount of remorse. I rather suspect it won't.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April 13. Day 104. Fur's flying

My sister invited me to lunch today. Chicken on the menu but not how anyone expected. Lisa lives on acerage and suggested I should bring my dogs. That seemed like an awesome plan until I remembered her chickens and how much my dogs love chicken. Not to worry, she said. It was easy to keep the dogs and the chickens separated. Well, that was the plan. Needless to say, that's not how it worked out. The fence keeps her dog in but mine are smaller and there was a smallish gap at the corner. Out they got and went straight for the chooks. While the chickens had the advantage of flight the dogs managed to bail them up in a dead end by the pool fence and Rumple had one by the neck. My brother-in-law managed to intervene just in time. There were many feathers lost but all animals survived. We all calmed down and in a great irony ate chicken for lunch. Later, on the way home, I saw roos. The dogs stayed in the car. There had been enough fur flying for one day, thank-you very much.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April 12. Day 103. Pulling the wool over your eyes

I once spent almost entire session with the psychologist defending my decision to be and definition of "nice". This was almost certainly not a good use of a government-funded counselling session but there it is. I said that no matter what "sh*t" was going on around me, the best response I could muster was the face the world and be as "nice" as possible. To the psychologist "nice" had connotations of "nice girls don't" or being a martyr, or always putting others first. Then and now I believe that to be crap and perhaps explains why I no longer seek counselling. I may be still mad but the counselling made me madder which I didn't think was the point, just the opposite, actually. Anyway, for the life of me I can't see what's wrong with being nice. Considering others doesn't make you weak and wimpy. I strongly believe what goes around, comes around and if you think of others, others should think of you. This attitude is what found me and 88-year-old Margaret from next door going wool shopping and getting a new bank book. These days, Margaret needs help with such chores and I'm her go-to girl. It's painfully slow but when you know what a difference it makes to her life, why wouldn't you help? I can get around. She can't. I help. It's really that simple. And it still leaves me time to do the things that I like which today was a dog walk to South Bank where we ran into Fur Clubbers, a group of adults who gather every Tuesday to dress up in fur for no other reason other than they can and it's nice to do so. I like that.