Friday, March 31, 2017

March 31. Day 90. I spy

Take  a look at this picture. Go on. What do you see? Wrong. What you see is a noisy miner who hates mince. But hang on, I hear you say (yes I do often have conversations with myself actually), that noisy miner has mince in its mouth and it seems quite happy. How do you know it hates mince? Because Margaret my 89-year-old neighbour told me and she is a self-appointed expert on these things. This mince is curly and will not form nice balls when rolled. These are cardinal sins of mince and happen when you buy the wrong mince. I try not to find myself irritated by such things but some days I just do. When you do all of someone's shopping a little more gratitude might be in order. Mostly, however, the insanity of the shopping situation just amuses me.  I also know that Margaret would be horrified if she thought her comments were anything other than constructive. None of which matters at all to our miner. It was just happy to get away with the mince.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 30. Day 89. Wet, wet, wet

What to do if you find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place - or more specifically between a torrential downpour and two dogs? Tough call. The butcher bird tried a) and then b). My back deck seemed like a dry place to ride out the storm and it would have been. The problem wasn't the moisture. The problem was the two small and furry creatures who love a good game of chase the bird. in the canine world my dogs might be on the pathetic size but when you are a bird and they are barking you are not likely to take any chances. So just as I was lining up a photo, the butcher bird flew off. Today was my lucky day. I missed the shot but I got THE shot and I managed to get it while following the advice of the emergency services to stay home. Yay me. I'm pretty sure the butcher bird avoided any weather damage too. The sheltered pool area has become a make shift aviary. The precious pooches won't travel that far because their paws will get wet.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

March 29. Day 88. Drip fed

Drip, drip, drip. The information fell in drops. Each drop seemingly unconnected in time to the last or the next but together they filled the bucket. But like drips in a bucket it takes quite some time before the drops have very much impact and then is comes like a flood. Splendour at Metro Arts tonight was like that. This is the story of four women - the wife of a dictator, her friend, a foreign journalist and an interpreter - together in a house as  civil war approaches the door. The story is played out in fragments - like a disjointed memory. Imagine four witnesses to a traumatic event - each remembering different aspects from their own perspectives. Like a detective you pull the story together in your head. Memory is like that, not entirely reliable and certainly not objective especially when people don't mean what they say or say what they mean. But truth is a casualty in war and it is not straight forward. This is 90 minutes of pretty heavy-going stuff. The warning says "coarse language, loud sound effects, themes of suicide and depression, graphic descriptions of war and smoking on stage".

 It should also warn you that it is powerful and will haunt you for a long time. It raises as many questions as it answers and the answers it does suggest are not pretty. Drip, drip, drip. 
Splendour continues at Metro Arts until April 8
 Four stars.
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March 28. Day 87. Fashionably late

Generally I look the other way and try to act incredibly busy when people try to thrust brochures in my hand. But there's no need to be stupid about it. So there I was with a group of students in a news meeting when this bloke looking far too stylish for a university walked by. He was handing out brochures for a Fashion Society event - of course he was. And he didn't even look hot given the hideous heat of the day. He later explained that the fabric was far cooler than wool blend but even so. The students sniffed something worth pursuing so off they went and interviewed Cameron Arnold. This young man may be the head of the QUT Fashion Society but his study area is not fashion. He's area of expertise is Economics and Finance- and speaking like a stylist. The passion for clothing was remarkable. Given he had a big event to get to tonight he was remarkably generous with his time. He was probably really organised. But then again if he was late he would be fashionably late ....

Monday, March 27, 2017

March 27. Day 86. The naked truth

 Apparently I am weird. Okay, the apparently is redundant in that sentence. Not once but twice today people questioned my decision to want to take photos of my own body bits. And this is in a world were naked selfies and sexting are a thing. All I was taking photos of was a needle in my arm extracting a bit of blood. The pathologist said she'd worked in the business for 17 years and never had anyone take a photo before. Well I take photos to document my day and that was a "highlight" of the morning. The afternoon's highlight was a pedicure. After five days of World Science Festival work a little reward was called for. The feet seemed like a good place to start. It wasn't much but the little things make a difference. I'm weird like that.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

March 26. Day 85. Passing the acid test

There is something deeply ironic that I have spent the past five days at a World Science Festival. Oh yes, science runs in my family. My parents - a dentist and a physiotherapist - produced a microbiologist, a sports physiologist and a science teacher. And me. The science gene didn't so much skip a generation as skip one individual. By rights I should be covering WTF, the World Theatre Festival. This is much more my thing. Almost all of the love of the theatre in the gene pool landed right with me. Indeed when discussing My Fair Lady last week my brother said he'd rather pour acid in his eyes than see it. By way of clarification, just in case there had been any misunderstanding,  he said it would be sulphuric acid. He is a scientist after all. It's not that I'm disinterested in science, it's just that I'm not that good at it. And like most mere mortals I tend to gravitate away from things I find too hard and towards things I like. Which in a way is the point of the World Science Festival. As well as discussing the big issues it's about getting to kids before they have decided science is hard and reminding them that science is everywhere and it's fun. Only if you are very bad at it does it involve sulphuric acid in your eyes....

Saturday, March 25, 2017

March 25. Day 84. Froth and bubbles

Size isn't everything, or so they say. But there are exceptions to every rule and in some things bigger is most assuredly better. These things include bubbles. Bubbles might just be nothing much more than soap and water - a combination children generally find rather toxic - but bubbles provide almost endless fascination. And when the bubble is big enough to engulf your whole body or durable enough to hold in the palm of your hand, well that's just magic. The thing is, however, that these bubbles were at the World Science Festival not the World Magic Festival so while it may all seem quite magical there are solid scientific principles at play. Don't ask me to explain the principles, I'm the only member of my family without a science-based degree. I know they exist I just have more of an interest in the people who make them and the people who play with them than the science behind it. That put me in a bit of a minority at a science festival. You should have seen the reception given to celebrity scientist Dr Karl. It was of rock star proportions. But this no celebrity behaving badly. Anyone who invites kids to make bunny ears behind his head deserves respect - and a big fat bubble.

Friday, March 24, 2017

March 24. Day 83. Explosive fun

You have to laugh. The day started with watching things being blown up and ended with a comedy debate. Yeah it's all funny until someone gets hurt. Okay the only thing really getting hurt at the moment is the recommended dietary intake and hours of sleep.  I suppose I could have gone home and crashed on the couch after a looonnnggg work week supervising students at The World Science Festival but a girl's gotta have fun. And a comedy debate seemed like just the right distraction. And I learned a lot. Honesty is not the best policy, at least that's what the audience decided. Funnily enough that's not what I heard which goes something like honesty might be the best policy but insanity is the best defence. Which probably proves I'm insane, honestly.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

March 23. Day 82. Hatching an idea

Feathers, fur or fins. It doesn't really seem to matter. Our appetite for baby animals shows no limit. One of the things he organisers of the second World Science Festival in Brisbane tried to do was ensure it was different from the first. That meant all new speakers, all new displays, all new special attractions. But there's no need to be silly about it. Some times if you are on to a good thing stick to it. Baby turtles hatching are 100% in that category. They may have been at the festival last year too but did that stop the crowds from queueing up around the museum building to get a look? No it did not. The baby turtles remain cute and the crowds seek them out. And the cameras (including our own QUT News crew) follow the crowds. Not having baby turtles at the festival would be like not having the animal nursery at the Ekka. You might find something else to put in its place but it wouldn't be the same.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 22. Day 81. Colour my world

Who doesn't like colouring in? I mean, seriously what's not to like especially if you are presented with an extra large box of pencils or a giant canvas or preferably both. It may not be rocket science but it's huge fun. Still it's ironic or sad or telling given all the recent media coverage about coral bleaching that the giant canvas at the World Science Festival is of a white reef. How tragic would a world be if the only colour on coral came in a box. Hopefully by getting children involved change will come. I'll be keeping an eye on the progress of the colouring during the festival (as well as keeping an eye on the journalism students covering the festival. This is, after all, my day job). Just a bit further down the corridor from the colouring in was another piece of temporary art, this one in chalk. Dom Intelisano of Zest Events hadn't completed his chalk robot but was prepared to ham it up for the camera. It might be the last chance he gets because day two of the festival promises to be much busier than day one and by the weekend it will be packed. After all, if you build it, they will come.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March 21. Day 80. Open mouth

When you work around a university, especially one with a fashion department, you grow very used to the idea that just about anyone can get away with wearing just about anything. But even on campus there are limits - or so I thought. To be fair I wasn't exactly on campus but in a community garden between university precincts. Here's the weird thing, in one corner there was a scarecrow, the point of which, I assume was to keep birds away. In another corner was a bloke in his undies feeding bread to the turkeys. It has to be said the sight of a bloke in nothing but his smalls was far more terrifying than the scarecrow. But he was all for encouraging not scaring off the birds. Of course he would have been trying to kill them with kindness. Scrub turkeys are particularly unpopular and wildlife experts strenuously warn against feeding human food to native animals. But I suspect not. A man in his undies doesn't strike me as the type of bloke likely to care much about what other think.

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20. Day 79. Rain, rain go away

 We really needed rain. Everyone has been praying for rain. And we poor city folk were excited - for about 20 seconds. And then it just because tiresome. Today the rain came and went. Came and went. It seemed to want to come at the moments I needed to move about in the great outdoors and go when I was safely inside. Well not entirely. I had promised to take my neighbour Margaret to the dentist. Given just how long it takes to get her into and out of a taxi it would have been a slow and very, very soggy expedition. But on that errand at least the rain held off. Others were not so lucky. Later in the day outside the ABC at South Bank I watched people dealing with the rain. There was quite a lot of standing around waiting for the tropical downpour to ease. Then people would give up and run. Despite a long time standing conducting surveillance the number of people I saw running straight into a large puddle was extraordinary. There will be a lot of very wet footwear in Brisbane tonight. I remind myself we needed the rain and I believe it right until I get another whiff or wet footwear.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

March 19. Day 78. Move Yer Bloomin' Arse

My jaw dropped twice at the Lyric Theatre tonight and that was before the curtain opened.
The first time was when sitting in our seats the penny dropped that Drama Teen had never seen My Fair Lady performed on stage. Never. Ever. Admittedly he was 10 when it was last in town in 2008 but I really didn't think there was any big name musical he'd missed and certainly not one I love as much as My Fair Lady. I have failed as a mother. Again. The second time was when applause rang out for someone sneaking into her seat during the overture. Okay, the "someone" was none other than the amazing Dame Julie Andrews, the production's director, but I have never seen a reaction quite like it. And it was repeated after intermission. Astounding. And totally warranted. She is a phenomenon and the show was phenomenal. The Opera Australia and John Frost production delivers a version that is religiously faithful to the original. There's not even the faintest whiff of the modern obsession with updating and reimaging classic productions for today's audiences. Given that Julie Andrews was the original Broadway Eliza there was little chance of that. But one day someone will present a post- apocalyptic version where Henry is trying to teach an alien Eliza to speak like a human and it will worse than all those things Eliza wants to do to Henry in Just you Wait. But this 60th anniversary version is a nostalgia trip. It's flowing frocks and glittering gowns. It's that Ascot scene where a pretty in pink Eliza shines against the colourless British upper crust. It delivers what every good stage musical should - a smile on your face and a song in your heart. Move yer bloomin arse to QPAC and see it. It's positively smashing.
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

March 18. Day 77. It's a kind of magic

"Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present." I have this Buddha quote on a little green cardboard square thanks to a living statue in the Queen Street Mall today. This golden bloke was apparently hovering mid air and in the process drawing quite a bit of attention to himself, as well he might. It looked awesome. People were gasping but then there were those determined to spoil. Someone who apparently know how it was done was determined to let everyone know just how "clever" he was. I was more than happy to know but heard it anyway which is a shame. For that moment at least I had been living in the present. Kids are much better at that. Just before hitting the Mall I had been at The Cube with my friend Alison and her three-year-old Elliott. He was blown away with the giant interactive screens which allowed he to throw virtual blocks into the air and watch them hover or fall. The massive screens demonstrated gravitational force. Touch the screen and you can move which planet you are on. The sun grows or shrinks and so does the gravity. On some planets it's really easy to propel the blocks into the air. On others almost impossible. Now Elliott is a very bright young thing but I'm pretty sure the finer points of all that were lost on him. But did he care? Not one bit. In that moment he was squealing with delight as he watched things fly and fall. And no-one tried to spoil it for him. Which is how it should be.

Friday, March 17, 2017

March 17. Day 76. Keep your eyes on your fries

There's an ad which is getting rather a lot of airplay at the moment. It's advertising, of all things, advertising. A bloke is under hypnosis in a therapist's office "How do you feel?" the therapist asks. "I feel like a Toohey's," he replies. Every question is met with another advertising slogan. A good copywriter can devise a campaign which will stay in your head at times decades later. Like Macca's (although I don't think we referred to the Golden Arches as Maccas back then). Every time I see the Ibis near my office pinching the chips from a plate I am taken back to 1978 and the Keep Your Eyes on Your Fries McDonald's ads. That was a golden age of McCommercials. I reckon that was around the time when we were told "Choosy cheese choosers always say cheese please when they choose for the cheesy cheeseburgers at McDonald's". And it's decades since I've eaten a Big Mac but I still know it's made from two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun thanks to advertising. Which proves everything - and nothing. It proves advertising can get into your head but it doesn't prove it can get into your wallet. It's just like the ibis that can get into a bowl by handing over no cash at all. Good work if you can get it. Now all we need is another campaign to reming people to protect their food, especially the fries.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

March 16. Day 75. Eat up

 I have a healthy appetite by which I mean I am a greedy pig. Seriously While some people have food fears, I fear not eating far more. As I watch things such as I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and see people getting all precious about eating things such as slugs I think "get over yourself". Why are snails and frogs legs officially food but other creepy crawlies, not so much? Tradition only, I reckon. I'd give it a go. I'd fear getting back to camp and having nothing to eat but two lentils and a chick pea. That would kill me. Deny me of food, the blood sugar drops and the hangry animal comes out. A hungry/angry Susan is not a creature you'd like to meet on a dark night. Actually, I hungry/angry Susan is not someone you'd ever like to meet. When I see other creatures attack food I see me. The gusto with which the little corellas I saw this afternoon were attacking their leaves rather reminded me with a bowl of pasta or a pie. There was no stopping them and the noises of contentment were something else. Bless their little greedy beaks. We are birds of a feather ...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

March 15. Day 74. Wooden performance

One of the techniques suggested for those with  a fear of public speaking is to imagine one's audience in their smalls. As someone who used to suffer from extreme stage fright I'm not sure that would help at all. Fortunately, for reasons I don't understand and completely unrelated to people in their undies, audiences don't worry me any more. If it was a problem, I have a new Susan-patented technique. Imagine the people in front of you as crash test dummies. I think this would work because in many of my lectures, particularly those in the early morning, I secretly suspect the human-like figures in front of me are actually low tech droids created with no intelligence artificial or otherwise and certainly no communication skills. They kind of look the part but it's "lights on no-one home". And I'm not the only one. A colleague says he teaches holograms. Perhaps the problem is I'm wooden and they are just trying to blend in. Who knows. Around campus picking the live creatures from the dummies is obviously a "thing". The trees are full of carvings of wildlife. On a quick glance you can be tricked. Today I thought my eyes were playing tricks. There was a carve cockatoo where I expected it to be and next to it? Those feathers sticking out of the tree looked kind of real and was new. And then it crawled out of the hole and revealed itself as totally alive and kicking. Next week I might even discover life in the lectures. I live in hope.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March 14. Day 73. Infinite possibilities

Infinite possibilities existing together: Director Kat Henry

I reckon we suffer from warning fatigue to the point that it becomes just Blah Blah nudity, Blah Blah course language, Blah Blah stylized cartoon violence. My theory is it comes from being a litigious society. Well here's my warning for you. Take the warning on Constellations, the new production by Queensland Theatre, seriously.  This production contains adult themes (coarse language, sexual references, assisted suicide/ euthanasia). For help or information contact: Lifeline 131 114, beyondblue 1300 224 636, SuicideLine 1300 651 251. 
Which makes it sound all dire and heavy going and it is - except when it isn't. Because here is the genius of Constellations. This is a play about quantum physics and multiverse theory where "every choice you've ever and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes". So it's a love story and a story of love gone wrong and love that might have been of regrets and no regrets all at the same time. It took me right to my dying father's bedside where all those "I wish I'd said" and "I wish I hadn't said" exist in parallel and simultaneously and the tears flowed. Of course in another multiverse version, this play could be dire. The same scenes played over and over with slight variations in words, in intonations, in body language in outcomes could be boring as batshit. Perhaps for some in the audience it was. Perhaps on another night in another mood I would have felt the same. But not tonight. Tonight was a celebration of art meets science (it's the first World Science Festival event and a co production with the Queensland Museum). I loved it at every level Rating 5/5
And one last warning. Not one of the infinite possibilities played out on the Bille Brown Studio stage involves people arriving late. They won't let you in.
Constellations by Queensland Theatre plays at the Bille Brown Studio until April 9 before touring regionally 

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Monday, March 13, 2017

March 13. Day 72. Need a little lie down

Seriously I thought I had turned sleeping into an artform but it turns out my efforts are not as monumental as I believed. Enter Ron Mueck who quite frankly is a show off. His work In Bed is massive. It's huge by which I mean  1.6 metres high, 6.5 metres long and 4 metres wide and created by a sh*t load of polyester resin, fibreglass, polyurethane, horse hair and cotton. It dwarfs just about everything in one gallery of The Gallery of Modern Art. Like the woman in the installation I seriously believe in taking napping seriously. I am not one to doze off on the couch watching TV or slumped in a bean bag or during a movie. If a nap is needed, a proper nap is commissioned wherever possible. Others, I see, are more laissez faire about it. In and around the arts precinct at lunch time people were lying around. I was especially impressed by the woman napping on the bean bags at GOMA. It was National Napping Day, after all. To be fair they looked comfy, the air con is really cool and it's free. If need be there's also rather fast internet. For some, that's worth getting out of bed for.