Friday, September 30, 2016
Thursday, September 29, 2016
|Take a child to the theatre and see the wonderment in their eyes|
|Sarah Hampson who plays Sleeping Beauty|
|Drama Teen visits his friends in the cast of Sleeping Beauty|
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Talk about diving in the deep end. I'm not a great one for putting myself forward and applying for things but some opportunities seem too good to just let pass you by even if they seem impossibly out of reach. So I saw this course about media innovation being run in Washington and New York, only two of the world's greatest journalism hubs. I put in an application and IT WAS ACCEPTED. Holy Crapolie. In a bit over six weeks I'll be in the US visiting such prestigious centres of journalism as the New York Times and the Washington Post to fill my brain with the possibilities for a bright journalism future for the graduates of tomorrow. Exciting stuff. This, of course, means so much to do so little time. So I immersed myself in a great big bundle of marking until I was gasping for air and then decided it was time to hit the beach. I had no trouble finding recruits to join me. My two love the beach and my sister's dog Shadow came along for the ride. Nudgee Beach will never feature in Lonely Planet unless they bring out a dog version. But the dogs always seem to be every bit as excited about a trip there as I am about a US tour. And their dream break doesn't involve cattle class air travel or an investment of serious $$$$.
They come home exhausted and energised in equal measures. I rather think I'll be just the same. You have to throw yourself in and get a bit dirty if you want to make the most of the experience. I just hope I return home as inspired and refreshed but hopefully not smelling quite as bad.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
I could say my life was highly structured, organised and predictable ... but not with a straight face. Others might get more set in their ways as they grow older. Life has taught me to be more flexible (in a mental but not a physical sense obviously. That's getting less flexible by the second). So when I went to bed last night I thought today would be marking interrupted by a media opening of Holey Moley Golf Club. This morning, the cough was back and the golf was cancelled. And then I got a call asking if a spot of child care could be possible. A bundle of boring or a charm of childhood. No competition. I also know which one the dogs would vote for. Our little visitor had not only as much energy as the fur friends but their love of eating Schmackos was matched only by her love of feeding them. And nothing makes an statement at the cafe or the dog park like dogs dressed like superheros and a girl dressed like a big cat.
Monday, September 26, 2016
I'm a strong believer in what-goes-around-comes- around or, if you prefer, karma.
My dogs love to chase birds.
Actually, strictly speaking that's not true. The dogs love the concept of chasing birds but rarely get beyond barking at them because mostly they are safely on a leash.
When on a beach or in an off leash area they give it a red hot go but birds have an obvious advantage. They can fly. Still a barking dog would be a bit threatening to a small bird even when the dogs are as fluffy and nonthreatening as my two. Today, a bit like a Hitchcock film, the birds had their revenge. We were walking to the duck pond at South Bank. The noisy miners were especially noisy. And then on mass they started swooping at the dogs. It seemed seriously out of character. And then I saw it. A fluffy little miner chick was sitting in the relatively low branches of a strelitzia. It was quite well hidden and sheltered but it was also making a fair bit of noise drawing attention to itself. The adult birds had set up a perimeter squad. Humans seemed to know the secret password to enter. Dogs did not. And who could blame them? There is nothing more fundamental to just about every species and that is a determination to protect the young and vulnerable. It's what we all do but hear this noisy miners. You protect your young but don't blame me if I protect mine. OK?
Sunday, September 25, 2016
We have made a renewed commitment to Sunday being funday. This usually mean brunch or a family movie night. Last Sunday we did both but today was brunch at our favourite Lift cafe just down the road.
We can walk there, it's dog friendly and the gluten free waffles are pretty special. Perhaps it was the sugar hit from the milkshakes or smoothies but the boys were in a slightly crazy mood this afternoon.
Drama Teen started it by trying to water bomb me.
He dropped the bomb and wet himself. Then like father, like son Charles decided this looked like a great deal of fun and started filling up balloon bombs. He missed too but I suppose that wasn't the point. The dropping of the bomb and not the target. And it's all in good fun plus a little water never hurt anyone on a warm Spring day.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
Brisbane is quite the party princess; a sparkling, shiny, dazzling party girl. And good old BrisVegas' biggest annual do is the Brisbane Festival. It's the sort of festival that refuses to go out with a whimper but with a great big bang as befits the princess she is. I have a childlike love of Riverfire. I love how it brings the community together. I love the sense of expectation but most of all I love the skies exploding in a sea of colour. And I love how it celebrates the river. I also love that I live close enough to walk home ....
Friday, September 23, 2016
My apologies to the cast of Singin' in the Rain which opens in Brisbane tonight. It's a weird thing. When you have been up all night solving the problems of the world with a tap dancing super stud, sleep deprivation is a non issue. When it is university assignments robbing you of shut eye, the equation is all together different. So I may or may not have been Captain GrumpyPants when I walked through South Bank this morning. In truth I can not blame marking alone (but I totally will). Three Brisbane Festival shows in three nights was another commitment this week but one I do not resent for a second (where I resent every second of marking). I love the festival and feel just a little bit sad that there is only three days to go. It is a wonderful celebration of the arts and everything that is awesome about Brisbane. And might I say pink hats off to the festival organisers, this year's program was a triumph. But now that it's all but over we can all get some sleep ... well I could if it wasn't for the never ending pile of marking ... and the opening of Singin in the Rain.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Phone calls at 5.30am are never a good thing. They just aren't. I mean, to the best of my knowledge the Lotto office keeps regular hours. The Nobel prize committee may operate on Swedish time and ring at all hours but as that is never going to be a problem I'm faced with my default is fearing the worst when the mobile buzzes at stupid o'clock. Seeing my elderly neighbour Margaret's name light up did nothing to ease the anxiety, although in my sleepy haze I did think that at least she was still able to pick up the phone so it could be worse. She'd had a fall, she said. She was on the floor unable to get up. We've been there before and I know what to do. Grab the spare key, find someone able to help lift and go to the rescue. It played out as it has too many times before except for two things. This time there was a nasty big hole in the wall where her head struck and this time she said she thought she needed a panic alarm. Seize the moment, I thought. As soon as it was office hours I was back with the laptop and the phone. I took the dogs as backup and while Rumple licked her feet we ordered an alarm. I even paid for it (she will reinburse) because Margaret doesn't believe in fancy modern things like credit cards. I mean, she doesn't believe in toasters, kettles, radios or microwaves either and I learned long ago there's no point in arguing the toss. You just work around it and wait for her to decide it's her idea and then pounce. The alarm will be with her on Monday. It won't stop the falls. It will offer some comfort.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
There was this story on the radio this week about crows. Apparently crows in a couple of different parts of the world have learned to create tools. The New Caledonian crows, for instance, have been recorded creating hooks to remove food from hard to reach nooks. Researchers say they are the only birds believed to be tool makers. Frankly I am only a bit surprised that birds and not just higher order mammals have the ability. Anyone who has watched birds faced with an eating challenge will know they are both innovative and determined. Today it was the noisy miners at a cafe at the Gardens Point campus. I don't often visit GP but a meeting today took me away from Kelvin Grove. There was lunch provided. You can't argue with that. But before the meeting I had another meeting with a student at a cafe. It was raining. actually, it was bucketing down. Everyone, including the birds, was sheltering under the covered eating area. The humans were ordering and paying for food and coffee. The birds were just stealing everything they could get their beaks into. And they were showing a great deal of creativity in filling their bellies. I love them for that (in fact, I may have borrowed some of their techniques at the buffet table just a few minutes later at the catered lunch meeting). And neither of us was actually bothering too much with "proper" tools.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Monday, September 19, 2016
It's said there's no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing choices. Perhaps so but sometimes the clothing choices are forced upon us. After what might be considered a false summer, it was cold and wet today, at least in Brisbane spring terms. The sensible clothing choice would include little visible flesh. That's all very well but if you are an indigenous dancer performing in traditional dress to an international delegation, the dress mainly involves body paint. There's not much in the way of protection from the elements. The rugged up observers watched in warmth and interest. Even my dogs who happened to be on campus with me today had more on. It is just another example of suffering from your art and being warmed by the reactions of those enjoying what you do. It's not really a substitute for a coat but it's sure better than nothing.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
There's no such thing as a stupid question, or so I tell the journalism students. Often I add that the stupid question is the one you don't ask. I now know I am wrong. Very wrong. Drama Teen wanted to attend Oz Comic-com at the Convention Centre today. He was interested in the panel sessions with Game of Thrones actor Daniel Portman who plays Podrick Payne and Harry Potter actor Devon Murray who plays Seamus Finnigan. Seemed interesting enough so the camera and I tagged along. Even though I have never watched an episode of Game of Thrones I asked a question inquiring about his reaction to the controversy surrounding the rape in the most recent season. You don't need to be a fan girl to be up with the news. Portman said that while he would never condone sexual violence against women, the reaction seemed odd given all the outrageously violent and inappropriate things that happen the GoT universe. He listed many of them. The questions continued until one woman raised her hand. She said she didn't watch Game of Thrones and had no idea who he was or anything about the character he played. Her question? Can you tell me about your character? Eyes rolled everywhere in the room. That is why Google was invented. Portman said he played The King ... no John Snow ... no Daenerys ... no Cersei ... and while the audience watched awkwardly he confessed he played Podrick Payne. Of course, that meant nothing to her because she didn't watch the show. Pointless and embarrassing. That's the other rule of interviewing I talk to students about: find out as much as you can about the subject so you don't look like an idiot. At the Harry Potter panel I was in more familiar territory. This time I asked about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Rather than just answering he asked me what I thought as well so we ended up having a bit of a chat about whether it would make a good 9th film. We agreed it would be an awesome stage production. Had I not actually read the script I would have looked like a bit of a goose. It was all a bit of fun. It's not that I've become an immediate convert to the fan convention but I found it to be an interesting experiment and an enjoyable way to fill in a few hours on a wet Sunday.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
Friday, September 16, 2016
A friend's 14-year-old daughter confessed to me the other day, in a slightly panicked fashion, that she had no idea what post school career she wanted to follow. Relax, I told her. At 14 you're not supposed to know what you want to do when you grow up. Hell, I'm still trying to work that out. Seriously, I said, few 14-year-old have a plan and those who do will probably change it a million times before they have to put it into fruition (and very likely many times after that). And then I thought about the teenager I know most intimately, the young man I refer to as Drama Teen. He was no more than four when he decided he wanted to be on the stage. It's a passion that has never waivered. Not once. Not for a second. My young man has been steadfast in his determination to pursue a theatre career and since the age of five the Fame Theatre Company has been a large part of that plan. It has served him well but that journey is nearing its conclusion. The theatre's rules mean you can stay for one year after you finish school and that deadline is rapidly approaching. After tonight there will be two more concerts, then tears and then that chapter is closed. It will be a bitter sweet moment. Sweet because it is extraordinary to see just how far he's come in those 14 years but sad because goodbyes always are especially when it involves a group that has been such a large part of your lives for so long. But that's a problem for December. For now it's all sweet. I mean, what mother wouldn't delight in seeing her young man performing an especially camped up Village People medley? And any concert that finishes with a bit of Abba's Thank You For the Music gets a big tick from me.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Hangry according to the urban dictionary is when you are so hungry that your lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated or both. An amalgam of hungry and angry. I suffer from a variation. Humpy. I don't get angry but when the blood sugar drops I become irrationally grumpy and irritable. I don't do hungry (I don't do tired either. That also makes me grumpy). At lunch time today I found myself at Newstead House (well actually in the street right next to the house). I was waiting to collect Drama Teen but due to some misunderstanding he'd already left. The minutes ticked on. The volume of the grumbling increased (in my stomach as well as in the internal monologue). I walked through the gardens of the house and the birds were also grumbling - really, really loudly. There was this ham sandwich which had been abandoned. The noisy minors were being especially noisy. At least it drowned out the stomach noise. And then I found out Drama Teen was already at home. I was out of there.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
You know what it's like when you are watching a horror film?
You need to watch but you can't. There's this thing where you peek between your fingers or watch from behind a cushion in an internal battle between watch and don't watch, or perhaps that's just me.
But it's not just horror films. The truth is drama can be even more difficult probably because it deals with the sort of stuff that inflicts real families far more often than maniacs with machetes. So it was with Offspring, the series finale tonight. The trailers had set it up so the anxiety meter was at crisis point, a setting which seemed not all that unreasonable given that Offspring made the almost unprecedented decision to kill off Patrick at the end of season four. And then there was this bit were the troubled teen Brodie goes into labour. The baby is clearly in distress and isn't breathing when he's born. It's fiction but I wanted to cry ... and then he took a breath. Because that's the thing, the only thing new parents really want and that's a baby who is well. Just hours earlier at South Bank I'd met baby Athena. She's seven weeks old and today was allowed to leave the hospital to experience the great out doors for the first time. For now there's still an oxygen tank in the pram but her parents hope she'll be allowed home in the not too distant future. The little one whose name comes from the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice and, surprisingly, mathematics, was clearly enjoying her first taste of sunshine and even opened he eyes to check out what the dogs were up to. Now if that wouldn't bring a lump to your throat I don't know what would. Her mum says she's like to get Athena a dog but first things first get her safely home and and see how things go. I wish them all health and happiness (and a dog when the time is right).